What are some strategies for paying off credit card debt?
Nowadays, it's easier than ever to get caught up in the cycle of credit card debt. In fact, it's become a growing problem for many Americans. According to the Federal Reserve, total U.S. credit card payments reached 111.1 billion in 2016, up 7.4% from 2015. 1
If you find that you are struggling to pay down a credit card debt balance, here are some strategies that can help eliminate your credit card debt altogether:
Pay off cards with the highest interest rate first. If you have more than one card that carries an outstanding balance, prioritize your payments according to their interest rates. Send as large a payment as you can to the card with the highest interest rate and continue making payments on the other cards until the card with the highest interest rate is paid off. You can then focus your repayment efforts on the card with the next highest interest rate, and so on, until they're all paid off.
Apply for a balance transfer with another card. Many credit card companies offer highly competitive balance transfer offers (e.g., 0% interest for 12 months). Transferring your credit card balance to a card with a lower interest rate can enable you to reduce interest fees and pay more against your existing balance. Most balance transfer offers charge a fee (usually a percentage of the balance transferred), so be sure to do the calculations to make sure it's cost-effective before you apply.
Pay more than the minimum. If you only pay the minimum payment due on a credit card, you'll continue to carry the bulk of your balance forward without reducing your overall balance. As a result, try to make payments that exceed the minimum amount due. For more detailed information on the impact that making just the minimum payment will have on your overall balance, you can refer to your monthly statement.
Look for available funds to make a lump-sum payment. Are you expecting an employment bonus or other financial windfall in the near future? If so, consider using those funds to make a lump-sum payment to eliminate or pay down your credit card balance.
1Federal Reserve, 2017