The country as a whole is in over $11 billion of credit card debt, so it’s safe to say that most of us are trying to find a way to pay down our credit card bills. Sure, it can seem overwhelming, but if you are armed with the right tools, it can be easier than you think. Here are some tips for the best ways to pay down your credit card debt.
Do a Balance Transfer: This is the best way to avoid paying extra interest on your credit card debt. Most balance transfer credit cards offer an introductory APR of 0%, so you won’t be paying interest anywhere from 6 months to a year and a half. This will help you make direct payments on your credit card debt and keep you from adding to your debt with extra interest.
Afraid your credit isn’t good enough for a balance transfer card? There are several balance transfer cards that cater to people with average credit, although they usually only offer a 0% introductory period of 6 months, so you’ll need to make payments quickly. You can also use a credit repair service to try and raise your credit score so you can qualify for a better balance transfer card. Here is a list of some of the best credit repair services, including our top pick, Lexington Law.
Negotiate a Deal with Your Credit Card Company: Many lenders will negotiate with you to pay down your debt. In reality, they just want their money, so they will make it easier for your to pay them if they can. If you can pay off the entire debt in a lump sum, many credit card companies will drastically reduce the amount you owe. It’s best to contact your lender and discuss your options with them. Just be aware of how they are reporting your deal with the credit bureaus. If they are reporting the deal as “not paid as agreed,” it will hurt your credit score. Make sure they are reporting it as “paid as agreed” so your credit score doesn’t take a hit.
Apply for a Short-Term Loan: While those two are the best options for paying down your debt, it might be a good idea to get a short-term loan from the bank to help you pay off your credit card debt. This is a tricky solution, as you have to have a solid credit history to be approved for a loan, and you need to make sure that the loan’s APR is lower than what you are paying on your credit card debt. Otherwise, it’s not worth it. But it doesn’t hurt to talk to your bank and see what your options are. If you don’t think you can qualify for a bank loan, you can check out online loan sites, which are easier to get approved for.
Pay As Much As You Can When You Can and Avoid Fees: If you don’t qualify for a balance transfer card, can’t get your credit card company to make a deal and can’t get a loan from the bank, your best course of action is to pay off as much of your debt at a time that you can. This will drive down the amount of interest that is being added to your debt every month. If you can get your balance below your credit limit, you can also avoid paying the over-the-limit fees. And above all else, always pay your bills on time, or you’ll be adding unnecessary late fees to your debt. The best plan of attack is always to pay the least amount possible; then it is easier to get ahead of the debt.
If the Debt Is Too Much to Handle, Talk to a Debt Consolidation Service: Services like LearnVest and National Debt Relief specialize in helping normal people out of debt. They have specific tools to help you figure out the best plan of action for getting out of debt. LearnVest actually has some pretty cool online tools that can help you track your progress. If you are unsure about a debt relief company, check out this review of Freedom Debt Relief to get a better idea of how debt relief works. This Accredited Debt Relief review also does a good job of explaining.
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If you have any other tips that you’ve used or questions about your credit card debt, please post them in the comments!