Working out how long it will take you to clear a credit card debt, and what you'll have to cough up in interest payments before you do so, is a wise move for anybody thinking of carrying balance on a new card. Fortunately, you won't need to spend hours fiddling around with confusing formulas or messing about with spreadsheets to get the answers you're looking for. A number of organizations provide calculators to deal with the precise problem you're faced with.
Establish the two different interest rates you want to check. If you want to calculate the payoff of two different cards you're yet to apply for, bear in mind that the rate of interest you'll be asked to pay will depend on your creditworthiness. You'll pay a higher rate of interest if your credit score is low.
Check out credit card interest and payoff time calculators such as those provided by Bankrate.com, the Federal Reserve and MyArmyOneSource.com.
Enter the balance you're thinking of carrying on your card and the first interest rate you want to check into one of these sites. Some sites will also let you alter the amount you intend to pay off your balance every month. Once you've entered your info, you'll be presented with how long it will take you to clear your debt and how much you'll pay in interest while doing so. Play around with your payment amount to see how much you could save by paying off more of your debt each month. You can then repeat the process for the second interest rate you want to check.
- Avoid carrying a balance on your credit card, if possible. If you can't clear what you owe each month, shop around for a low or no interest balance transfer offer.
- Paying off more than the minimum on your card each month can bring substantial savings.
- The estimates provided by online calculators might not be entirely accurate because they don't account for when you make your payments, how different lenders calculate interest payments, any annual fees you pay, and other variables.
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.