You are not alone if you have trouble paying off credit card debt. Lending Tree published a survey showing that, at last check, Americans owed a total of $804 billion on their credit cards, with an average delinquent debt of $6,569.
From the third quarter of 2021, the average interest rate for credit cards, expressed as an annual percentage rate (APR), was 14.54%. In other words, interest eats up a sizeable chunk of the average consumer’s credit card debt payment. Paying this interest rate or a higher one makes it more complex (and expensive) to eliminate credit card debt.
Fortunately, many methods are available for dealing with debt and eliminating credit card balances for good. Therefore, if you have an obligation you can’t seem to get rid of, maybe one of the below strategies will help you.
Debt avalanche strategy
The debt avalanche strategy aids consumers in eliminating debt most efficiently and effectively possible, mathematically speaking, as opposed to the debt snowball technique. Participants make a list of all their debts and sort them by interest rate, with the highest interest percentage loans being paid off first.
With the debt avalanche method, you pay the bare minimum on your low-interest obligations and then prioritize paying off the loan with the highest interest rate. After some time, the loans that had the highest interest rates are paid off. When this occurs, you “avalanche” the funds you were paying into the obligation that had the subsequent highest annual percentage rate (APR).
At first, you’ll focus on paying off the bills with the most significant interest rates, followed by the loans with the lowest interest rates, and finally, the debt with the lowest interest rate. Because you’ll be paying off bills with the highest interest rates first, you’ll save the most money.
Consider the following hypothetical situation: you owe money on four credit cards with interest rates of 20.00%, 15.00%, 10.00%, and 5.00%, respectively. The debt avalanche strategy entails making the most significant payment possible toward the debt with the highest interest rate (in this case, the 20.00% rate) first, then toward the debt with the 15.00% rate, then toward the debt with the 10.00% rate, and finally toward the debt with the 5.00% APR.
- Pay less interest over time by first paying off loans with the highest interest rates.
- It can be disheartening to realize that you must tackle your biggest bills first.
- It can take more time before you see a decrease in the number of payments you make every month.
Debt snowball strategy
The debt snowball strategy aids debt repayment by allowing clients to achieve early “psychological gains.” Participants in this technique make a list of all of their debts, from least to most significant, and then prioritize paying off the most negligible obligations first.
The debt snowball strategy entails making the required minimum amounts on all your most significant obligations and then using any leftover funds to pay off the loan with the smallest balance first. The “snowball” method directs the surplus funds to the next lowest-interest debt when the smallest obligation is paid off.
To pay off debt, the debt snowball approach involves gradually paying off the lowest bills until only the largest ones remain. Eventually, the highest obligation remains to be paid off, and the user is finally debt-free.
Let’s imagine you have $4 cards and the amounts on them are $1,000, $2,000, $3,000, and $4,000 respectively. Using the debt snowball method, you would make the largest payment toward the smallest balance first ($1,000), then ($2,000), then ($3,000), and finally ($4,000).
Each strategy for paying down debt has advantages and disadvantages, and there is no silver bullet. Here are the benefits and drawbacks of using the debt snowball technique.
- Paying off small bills first might provide you with a psychological boost.
- Streamlines the procedure by which you pay your bills, hence lowering your overall payment load.
- In the long run, this could mean paying more in interest.
Credit cards with balance transfers
Applying for a credit card with a balance transfer option is yet another method for paying off existing debt. Credit cards in this category typically provide 0% APR on balance transfers and debt consolidation loans for a promotional period of time, typically 21 months. Although there is a balance transfer fee, those who can pay off their loans during the promotional period can save significantly on interest and make significant progress toward debt repayment.
Consider the following scenario: you have a total of $10,000 in credit card debt spread across four cards with very high-interest rates. In exchange for paying a 5% balance transfer fee, one card offers 0% APR on balance transfers for 21 months. After debt consolidation, you’d owe $10,500 (including the fee). Still, you could pay it off in 21 months at no additional cost, provided you made $500 payments each month.
- Debt interest is waived for an extended period of time.
- The yearly fee is typically waived for balance transfer credit cards.
- Having solid credit is usually a prerequisite.
- There is a time limit on the introductory 0% APR offer, after which the usual variable APR will apply.
Debt consolidation strategy
Debt consolidation loans and personal loans are additional options for consumers trying to reduce their financial obligations. In this plan, you consolidate your debt by taking out a personal loan large enough to cover your credit card balances, then start making only one payment per month toward that loan.
Since personal loans typically have fixed interest rates, fixed monthly payments, and fixed payback terms, they can be a viable option for those looking to consolidate debt. This means that you have a complete picture of your financial situation at all times, including the amount you owe and how soon you’ll be debt-free.
To illustrate, imagine you have $10,000 in credit card debt spread over four cards, all of which have relatively high annual percentage rates. To consolidate your debt, you might take out a personal loan for the total amount and use the money to pay off your credit cards over seven years. At a 6% interest rate, your monthly payment would be $146 for 84 months (seven years). Total interest over that time would amount to $2,271.
- A single monthly payment will help you keep track of your expenses.
- Transfer your debts to a single lender who can provide you with a lower interest rate than what you currently pay.
- Learn the exact date that you will no longer be in debt.
- There is usually no yearly fee or surprise costs associated with personal loans.
- Personal loans with favorable interest rates and repayment schedules are only available to those with high credit scores.
Alternative strategies for reducing debt
Getting out of debt will require you to make some sacrifices, at least temporarily. Some simple things you can do to stay on track are:
Identify the most effective strategy for paying off your debt
Make sure the plan you employ to pay off debt fits with who you are and how you live. Don’t apply for one if you think you’ll be tempted to make purchases with a balance transfer credit card.
Don’t go into further debt
You could end up with a mountain of credit card debt if you don’t stop using them. Avoid using credit cards altogether and rely on cash or debit alternatives while working to pay off your existing debt.
Find the simple methods to cut costs
It would be best to examine your habits more closely to find where you may be wasting money. Save money by taking advantage of food store bargains, preparing more meals at home, and staying away from locations or people that could tempt you to spend too much money.
Create a monthly budget and stick to it
Put your income in one column and your regular bills and expenditures in another, and compare the two. You can keep your eye on the prize—debt repayment—if you have a written budget to guide your spending.
It’s easy to rack up debt, but paying it off is a real headache. The good news is that you can use these debt reduction strategies to save money or reduce your debt load more quickly.
If you’re having trouble coming up with an approach that works, we hope one of the methods outlined in our article can help you. You can seek assistance from a credit counseling service if you are worried about credit default or coming up short on payments.
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