Having credit card debt can be stressful, especially if you find yourself making late payments. Nationally, credit card debt is on the rise, with the Federal Reserve Bank reporting that credit card balances rose by $48 billion in the third quarter of 2023—4.7% up from the previous quarter.
With average credit card interest rates still high (24.59%, according to LendingTree), now is a good time to make a plan to pay down your credit card debt.
Here are some ways you can pay off your debt without racking it back up:
Know what you owe
Make a list of all your expenses so you know what you’re spending each month. This includes groceries, loans, entertainment, and recreation. This way, you can budget how much extra you have each month to pay toward your debt.
Don’t underestimate a good payment method
Two popular methods of repayment are the debt avalanche and the debt snowball. With the avalanche, you pay minimum payments on all your cards and the leftover (usually the most) funds toward your card with the highest interest rate (and so on until they’re all paid off). The snowball is similar, except you designate the remaining funds to the card with the lowest balance.
Try two accounts
To help you not rack up more debt on a card you’re paying off, try maintaining two checking accounts—one for household bills and expenses and one for fun activities like going to a restaurant or shopping. Once the money runs out in your fun account, you just wait until the next pay period when you can put more money in.
Look for low introductory rates
Credit card companies often run 0% introductory rates that are available up to 21 months. If you qualify (typically, you need a 700 credit score), you can transfer your balance and eliminate your interest rate, saving you hundreds of dollars.
Book a credit counseling session
Your plan can be to get help through a credit counseling agency, where a counselor will help you create a budget and plan for your future. They may also help you enroll in a debt management plan, which allows them to negotiate with your creditors to get a reduced interest rate and your monthly credit cards consolidated into one monthly payment—all designed to be paid off in three to five years.
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