24 Smart tips for paying off credit card debt

If you're getting behind on your credit card bills, it's time you take steps to manage your debt and avoid high balances and interest charges which can limit your financial options. Given below are 15 tips which can help you pay off credit card bills without leading you to debt problems.Check out the following sections to know about the debt consolidation benefits in detail and find out how the community helps you


Settle your debts on your own

When you cannot make monthly payments on your credit card bills, contact your creditors and settle the debt on your own. Know how to settle your debts yourself so as to get rid of credit card bills faster.

Make on-time payments

Try to make payments within the due date. You may use check or set up automatic payment plans to avoid making a late payment. Thus, you can eliminate chances of a late fee being charged on your accounts.

Use savings and investment

You can cash out your savings and investment returns in order to pay off credit card bills, provided the after-tax return on investment is lower than the after-tax interest rate expense on your debt.

Do not acquire new debt

Do not apply for new credit cards or loans till you pay your way out of debt and bring your finances back in order. It's difficult to pay down credit card debts when you keep accumulating new balance every month. Avoid using your cards when you're making a purchase. Instead, use plain cash, check or debit cards to pay for a purchase.

List your debts

Prepare a list of your credit card accounts along with the account number, interest rate, outstanding balance, payment due date, credit limit and the minimum payment. This will give you a clear idea about how much you owe on your accounts and help you manage your bills responsibly.

Plan your budget

Prepare a budget including a list of your monthly income, expenses and bill payments. The budget will help you track exactly where your money goes. You can even cut down unnecessary expenses. Use the budget worksheet in order to maintain a record of your income and expenses.

Build up an emergency fund

Try to save a certain part of your monthly income in an emergency fund. It will relieve you from the stress of dealing with emergencies. Make arrangements for automatic deposit into your emergency fund. Start off by saving $1000 and build up an emergency fund worth 3-6 months of expenses to help you plan for emergencies such as job loss, sickness, home improvements or car repairs.

Negotiate a low interest rate

If you're in financial problems or your bills are getting out of control, call the credit card company and tell them about your situation. If required, negotiate a low interest rate at which you'll find it easier to make your credit card payments.Alternatively, you can request a different payment plan that's more affordable for you. As your situation improves, you can inform your creditors and have your payments raised so as to pay off your bills faster.

Change your lifestyle

If your financial situation is tight and you're thinking of using credit cards to carry out your daily expenses (such as gas, utility bills and groceries), change your lifestyle. Try for a part-time job, commute by public transport or relocate to a less expensive home, before you have to use up credit cards for your daily expenses. You may also sell off old items online and earn some extra cash to repay credit card bills.

Pay off the lowest balance first

If you're not comfortable with paying down the high interest debts first, try paying off cards with low balances. Start with the card having the lowest balance and make extra payments (paying more than the minimum) towards it every month. Continue to pay the minimum on other cards. As soon you pay off the lowest balance, move on to the card with the next higher balance and repeat the same process.

This method makes you feel good as you get rid of a credit card bill faster, no matter how low the balance may be.

Balance transfer

You may transfer the balances on high interest cards to a card having a low rate and thus consolidate multiple credit cards into a single payment. In case you don't have a low interest card, you may look out for one. If possible, you may even get a card at 0% introductory rate. However, you need to check the duration for which the introductory rate would remain at 0%. If it's quite long, then you'll have enough time to pay off your credit card bills at 0% rate of interest. That'll save you good amount of dollars.

Now, when you request a balance transfer, ask your creditor if they charge a fee for the transfer. Request him to waive the fee as a one-time courtesy.

Pay off high interest cards first

This is a credit card debt reduction strategy that helps you to get rid of high interest bills first. You start off with paying more than the minimum on your credit card having the highest rate, while making minimum payments on all other cards. For instance, if you're paying $200 on the high interest card, try to stick to that amount every month even though your balance and minimum payment gets lower day by day.

Once you pay off the entire balance on the high interest card, start paying more than the minimum on the next high interest card and so on.

Pay more than the minimum

Try paying more than the minimum payment each month. The minimum payment includes mostly the interest on your account. So, if you pay only the minimum amount, the credit card company makes more interest while you lose the cash in your pocket. Moreover, it'll take you longer to get out of debt. But paying more than the minimum reduces your balance and helps you pay off credit cards fast.

Borrow against your insurance

If you have life insurance, consider taking out a loan against the policy. The interest rate on such a loan is well below the commercial rates. So, you won't have a problem in repayment. In case you pass away before the loan is paid off, the outstanding balance plus interest is deducted from the face value of the insurance policy and the rest is then paid to the beneficiary.

Figure out your debt scenario

You need to unravel all the latest credit card statements and calculate the total amount of credit card bills you need to pay. Moreover, you should write down all the interest rates charged on your cards in a single place. You'll find these information in the statements issued to you by your creditors. However, if you don't find any such information, then do call up your creditors and get the necessary information from them. It is important to make a debt list that has the following details like type of credit card, name of the credit card/creditor, present payable balance and rate of interest levied on the bills.

Stay away from your cards

Keep all your credit cards out of your sight. However, it should be accessible enough to be used in case of utter emergency. You may put those cards in your attic or basement, the key here is to remove from your mind that you own credit cards. This will lower the chances of misusing them. Once you are done with this, take to all your online credit accounts where you've been using your banks cards on a regular basis and clear off all your card details from there. Ensure that you've deleted your card details from each and every place where you had subscribed for online services. This is because you need to do away with the habit of making payments without using the actual money.


Spend as per your financial means

If you use a credit card for making everyday purchases and other expenses, then it may get difficult for you to ascertain whether or not you are spending as per your financial means. By using a plastic card for regular expenses and another for other expenditures, you can determine whether or not you are living within your means. If you see that your expenses are much more than your income, make adjustments to your lifestyle accordingly.

Increase your cash flow

You'll need money to make your debt repayment process faster. The more money you have, the better. You can invest in commodity markets, currency markets, stock markets, etc. to make quick money. Use this extra money to eradicate your credit card bills. Make sure you understand the modus operandi of these markets before investing any money. You can't possibly afford to lose any money when you're going through financial hardship.


Differentiate between needs and wants

Learn to differentiate between needs and wants. It is human nature to want every single beautiful item in the world. However, you don't actually need every single item in life. Prioritizing between needs and wants is the key to get rid of credit card debt. Use your credit cards primarily on the items you need in life. Try to make your purchases in cash instead of the credit cards. This will help you buy only those items which you need in reality.

Shun all sorts of rewards trap

It’s tempting to flash your credit cards at the drop of a hat for every purchase to collect as many rewards points as possible. You might bite off more than you can chew. In other words, you could end overspending and thus, you continue adding excessive amount of outstanding balance to your credit accounts by the end of every month. For example, if you’re getting a cash back of 1% while you’re made to pay 15% towards your outstanding balance, then whatever the rewards points be, you’ll end up losing far more money than you thought you’ve saved. The matter will turn worse, if you don’t pay off your balances in full every month. However, money smart people never fall into the lure of rewards points provided by the creditors.


Always shop with a list

Apart from the above causes for credit card debt, impulsive shopping or rather reckless spending is one of the major ones. If you’re tempted to purchase something you never planned to, then walk away from the item. Finish your shopping and spend time buying other items, very soon you’ll overcome the urge to purchase that unnecessary item and thus, you may save a good amount of the greenbacks. However, if the thought of buying that same item lingers through your mind, then go home and think whether or not it's essential for your life. If not, then let it pass.

Leave the plastics at home

If you plan to spend a certain $35 on dinner, then carry an amount of cash that would cover your dinner expenses, besides conveyance along with other essentials. But, if you carry your credit cards with you, then it’s very likely that you’ll include add-ons to your main course like appetizers, extra glasses of wine, carbonated drinks, etc. The same wouldn’t happen if you are to carry cash. Be it a dine out or a shopping spree, when pay in cash, you’ll feel the pinch and this feeling would make you reluctant not to part with your hard earned dollars easily. Moreover, when you run out of cash and spend time looking for an ATM nearby you’d keep playing in your subconscious mind whether to spend on a particular item or not.


Make it hard to lay your hands on credit cards

This is an extreme habit, but may be ideal for those who have had credit card issues in the past, yet don't want to get rid of their card for emergency purposes. Always keep your credit cards away from. Place in such a place where you won't be able to reach out easily. Try to condition your mind in such a way so as to use credit cards only during emergencies.

Take professional help

You may go for professional help and guidance in paying off credit cards. Contact a debt relief company and get enrolled in credit card debt consolidation or debt settlement depending upon how much you can afford to pay.

When you pay off your credit cards and the balance reaches zero, contact your creditor and try to close the accounts one by one. However, if you've thought of buying a home shortly, avoid closing the accounts because it'll reduce the length of your credit history and bring down your credit score. This in turn will affect your chances of qualifying for a mortgage with suitable terms and conditions. So, depending upon your financial goals, you may not close your credit cards right after you've paid off the balances. Just stay away from the cards and make sure you don't use them till you're in better control of your money.

Last Updated on: Tue, 13 Oct 2020