If you've managed to rack up a $9,500 balance on your credit card, the time it will take you to clear what you owe will depend on a number of factors, including how much interest you're being charged and the size of your monthly payment. Some 56 million Americans paid their credit card balance in full each in month in 2011, according to Consumer Reports. If you don't follow that practice, getting rid of your debt could take you a while.
Assuming your credit card charged an interest rate of 15 percent, your balance would take you 32 years to pay off if you only made the minimum monthly payment -- starting with a payment of $190 -- according to the Federal Reserve's Credit Card Repayment Calculator. Over this time, you'd pay $14,746 in interest payments to your card issuer. You would end up paying more if your lender hiked your rate or you went out and spent more on your card.
Fixed Monthly Payment
Setting up a fixed monthly payment to clear your card balance could save you a not-so-small fortune and considerably reduce the amount of time it would take you to wipe out your debt. Whacking $250 dollars a month off what you owe would shorten the time it would take you pay off your balance to just four years and save you $11,278 in interest payments. Upping your monthly payment to $300 would see you clearing your debt in three years and only paying $2,670 in interest, according to the Federal Reserve's calculator.
If you really want to get your skates on and pay off your credit card debt as soon as possible, making an $858 monthly payment would allow you clear what you owe in a year and only pay $790 in interest. If that sounds a little ambitious, paying $461 a month would get rid of your debt in two years, at a cost of $1,555 in interest payments.
The cheapest way of paying off your credit card debt will be to transfer your balance to a card that offers a zero percent introductory rate. If you can get one -- and you'll need a good credit score to bag a line of credit to cover your $9,500 -- all you'll have to pay is a balance transfer fee if you can clear what you owe during the introductory period. Assuming you have to pay a 3 percent fee and have an 18-month introductory period, you'll have done away with your debt in a year and a half after paying 18 installments of $543.62. All it will cost you is $285.
Michael Roennevig has been a journalist since 2003. He has written on politics, the arts, travel and society for publications such as "The Big Issue" and "Which?" Roennevig holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the Surrey Institute and a postgraduate diploma from the National Council for the Training of Journalists at City College, Brighton.