It's easy to get in debt in just a short amount of time, but it can be incredibly difficult to dig your way back out of it. Making just the minimum payment on your credit cards guarantees that it will take years to pay them off. Tackling your credit card debt can free up more money for pursuing your goals or even having fun. Implementing strategies for lowering interest rates and paying more than the minimum will help cut your debt much faster.
Stop using credit cards while you pay down your debt. Use cash or debit cards to avoid adding to your bills.
Call your credit card companies and negotiate. Bank on the idea that they want to keep you as a paying customer and ask for a lowered interest rate. A lowered interest rate will mean more of your payment will go toward the principal owed. As a result, you can reduce your credit card debt faster.
Transfer balances to credit cards with lower interest rates. The 0-percent balance transfers are particularly helpful for paying off your debts.
Set a goal for cutting your credit card debt. Either pay some cards off entirely and maintain your other accounts with their current balances, or reduce the balance on each card by 50 percent. If some of your credit cards have very high interest rates, pay them off first, and make the minimum payments on those with lower interest rates. You can tackle them later.
Pick a deadline for cutting your debt in half and calculate your monthly payments based on that time frame. You can use CNN Money's debt reduction planner to calculate how much you'll have to pay on each credit card to meet your goal deadline.
Cut some expenses to have more money available for eliminating debt. Spend less on gifts, luxury items, vacations and nights out on the town while you work to reduce your credit card debt.
Concentrate on the card with the highest interest rate first. This is usually the credit card that is costing you the most money. Once you've paid that one off or reduced its balance to your goal amount, start paying extra on the card with the next highest interest rate. Continue until you've paid off the cards on your list or reduced each balance to 50 percent or less.
- Keep your cards open after you've paid them off to prevent a dip in your credit score. To ensure that your creditors continue to update your credit report, use the cards for something small every few months or so. Always repay the balance in full when the bill comes to avoid getting into more debt hot water.
- Avoid credit card balance transfers that will result in high interest rates once the introductory rate is over. The only way such a deal will benefit you is if you are certain you can pay the credit card off before the introductory rate ends.
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