Do you feel stuck in a never-ending cycle of credit card debt? If every month you find yourself paying just the minimum balance due or carrying a high balance on your credit cards, you have what’s known as revolving debt. Unfortunately, this kind of debt has a negative effect on your credit score. However, it is possible to pay off credit card debt and end this cycle, once and for all.
Here’s a list of six clever ways to pay off your credit card faster:
- Get organized. Before you can come up with a plan for the best way to pay off debt, it helps to know exactly what you’re dealing with financially. This means breaking out the paperwork, looking at your online accounts and writing some things down. Your goal is to create a list of all your debts—including bills, loans and credit cards—with their interest rates and balances due.
- Choose a method. Have only one credit card? Simply make the biggest payment you can afford to each month until your balance gets to zero. If you have multiple credit cards, start by paying the minimum monthly balance due for each. Then, choose a paying down method:
- Avalanche method: Put as much extra money as you can towards the debt with the highest interest rate (avalanche method) (snowball method) and, once you pay it off, move on to the next one. It takes longer to see progress with this method, but you’ll pay your debt off more quickly and save money on interest.
- Snowball method: Put as much money as you can towards the smallest debt, and once you pay it off move onto the next one. This has the psychological advantage of allowing you to see immediate progress, but will take longer overall and may cost you more in interest.
- Use balance transfers to your advantage. One of the best ways to pay off credit card debt is by transferring the balance of the card(s) with the highest interest rate to the card(s) with the lowest interest rate. Basically, you’re paying off one credit card with another. While some credit cards offer 0% APR balance transfers for no fee, you’ll probably have to pay a balance transfer fee if you go this route.
- Negotiate debt settlements. If you’re able to make a large one-time payment, contact your credit card company or collection agency to find out if they’d be willing to settle your debt for less than the original balance. Keep in mind, though, that you may be required to pay taxes on the forgiven amount.
- As a last resort, declare bankruptcy. If you’ve tried all of the ideas listed above and still aren’t able to pay off your debts, you can declare personal bankruptcy. However, this option should be your last, since it’s a lengthy and expensive process that will destroy your credit. Seek the advice of a credit counselor or debtor educator before filing for bankruptcy.