It’s easy to find yourself in a situation where you’re struggling to keep on top of your credit card bills, often feeling that the debt will never be paid off. Indeed, if you pay only the minimum payment amount each month, the debt may well never be paid off! This may be a depressing fact but understanding it is key to getting rid of your credit card debt once and for all.
The minimum payment for your credit card is normally calculated as a percentage of your overall bill and is normally a small percentage at that. This may seem attractive when it comes to paying the bills at the end of the month but paying only the minimum amount will see you stuck with the debt for a long time. The credit card company would rather you keep paying the debt as long as possible, that way they get much more interest, but that is certainly not a good deal for you.
Often, paying the minimum amount will mean that all you’re paying each month is interest, with the debt itself not getting any smaller. So, you’re struggling to make sure you pay your bills each month but are not actually reducing the debt that you owe. The key to paying the debt off for real is making sure you pay more than the minimum amount if possible.
If you have multiple cards, it may be worth looking at balance transfer options, particularly if you’re paying high rates of interest. However, do bear in mind that initial interest rates may only be for a short time.
To set about paying off your credit cards, start by working out the total minimum that you need to pay towards them each month. Then, figure out how much, over and above this, you think you can pay each month towards reducing the debt, budgeting as well as you can.
Next, look at the interest rates that you’re paying on each card, bearing in mind that some transactions may have incurred a higher rate than normal, for example if you’ve had any cash advances on the card. Work out how much of your monthly bill is going towards interest and how much, if any, is going towards the debt itself.
Whatever you can pay over the minimum amount each month should initially go towards the card with the highest amount of interest, this is the one you should look to pay off first as it’ll be the one costing you the most in the long term. Working through your cards in this way may take a while but it’s far less frustrating to pay your bills at the end of the month if you at least know you’re working towards the debt being gone.
Finally, it might seem obvious, but stop spending on your credit cards if you possibly can. Think carefully if you do use them, remembering that you’re increasing the credit that you’re working towards paying off.
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