The total credit card debt for all Americans is now more than $1 trillion and more than half of all Americans carry their credit card balance from month to month.
If you are determined to start paying down your credit card balances, there are ways to attack the problem.
Experts say there’s usually a good reason why credit card debt can start to grow.
“It’s usually either a one-time emergency expense, like a home repair or a car repair, a medical bill, something like that, or it’s just day to day expenses outpacing your paycheck. It’s not usually a vacation or a shopping spree,” Ted Rossman, a senior industry analyst at Bankrate.com said.
Rossman says debt can add up quickly.
“You know, if you have the average balance, which is about $6,000 at the average interest rate, which is about 21%,” he said. “If you make minimum payments, you’ll be in debt for almost 18 years and you’ll end up paying almost $9,000 just in interest.”
Rossman says one good way to attack your credit card balance is to change your credit card.
“My favorite tip is to sign up for a 0% balance transfer credit card,” Rossman said. “I’m actually really pleasantly surprised how generous and abundant these offers have continued to be. So my tip there would be open one of these cards, but don’t add new purchases. Just divide what you owe by the number of months in your 0% term.”
If you’re carrying debt on multiple cards every month, experts say consider focusing on paying off the balance on the card with the highest interest rate, or the one with the lowest balance. This can save you money on interest payments and motivate you to keep going.
Just remember to pay at least the minimum balance on all of your cards to avoid trouble.
If you have a lower credit score or higher debt, you might consider working with a reputable nonprofit counseling agency.
“They can often negotiate something like a six or 7% rate over four or five years, and they’ll walk you through the process,” Rossman said. “They’ll help you pay off this debt.”