Many people get trapped in the merry-go-round of credit card debt. It is the easiest thing to do when you get a card and are not aware just how the credit system works. Having that piece of plastic comes with responsibilities and sometimes we find out a little too late that when we do not use it responsibly, it can hurt us later on.
Some key factors to remember when using credit cards are:
- Make sure you pay at least the minimum payment
- Make sure you make your payment on time
- Make sure you look over your bill for any discrepancies
- Call your credit card company if you lose your card immediately.
Here are some options that may help to pay off your credit cards if you’ve found yourself on that merry-go-round.
Pay off that High-Interest Card First
If you have more than one card, as many of us do, there are probably not many cards in your wallet that share the same interest rate, if any. I like to look at it as if they have their own qualities. Which one is going to give me the most hassle if I take it out, or, if you are single, you could look at it as which one is going to be the most expensive date? The point is, credit cards are not cheap and can cost you quite a bit if you do not respect what their intended use is (credit card companies make their money when you make monthly payments, not when you pay off your credit cards.) Pay off the high maintenance card first; just remember to make the minimum payments on the other cards while you are doing this.
Now you have to be patient, this will take time, and can be disheartening at times. It is definitely not for the faint of heart, but it does give you a super sense of accomplishment when you have paid that first card off. Not to mention, it boosts your morale to continue on to your next highest interest rate card.
It may get hard at times, especially on a small income when you have to live paycheck to paycheck. You may even be tempted to use a credit card. If you have to, just be responsible about it, and don’t beat yourself up about it. You will pay off your credit cards; it is just a minor setback. Just keep your eyes on your goal.
Pay off Your Lowest Balanced Credit Cards First
This option is for the “right now” type of people, of which I group myself in. It is all about seeing the results as fast as possible. Of course, this does include paying the minimum balances of the other credit cards as well, but I like to see things getting accomplished a bit faster than the previous option. I like the term “snowball effect” for this option. When one card is clear, the money that was used to clear the first card can be rolled over to the next card, making a big dent in that debt. Keep applying that amount to that card until it zeros out and dump that amount on the next. Depending on how many cards there are in your wallet, you could pay off your credit card debt in no time, snowballing your payments to each card until they are all paid off.
Unfortunately, when you look at the cards you have and see the amounts you have on them; you probably still are going to be paying on your high interest rated card while using this method. Probably the high-interest rate pushed that card to that high a debt to begin with.
Divide and conquer to Pay off Your Credit Cards
Now, for those of you who prefer to stick to a budgeted amount that will cover a specific amount divided equally to pay off your credit cards, great, as long as it will cover your highest minimum balance. Just make sure that your payment is more than your finance charge. As an example, if you have $400.00 a month to pay your credit cards and you have five of them; make sure that $80.00 is over the minimum due on each and more than any of their finance charges because you have not paid off the balance. Otherwise, you will be paying interest on the interest for the cards.
No matter what advice you try to pay off your credit card debt, the point is that you try. Ultimately, it will benefit you greatly to know that you want the best for you and those for whom you care. After all, paying off your credit cards is a part of your credit score.
[Read: Ways to Pay Your Debts]
If you are having difficulty getting your head wrapped around a solid plan to get control, there are free services accessible online for limited advice, helps you with credit cards, and paying off credit card debt, and allows you an overview of your credit score.