Making a late payment on your credit cards may not seem like a big deal, but when you’re late, you’re considered delinquent. Anything more than 30 days past and your credit card company will report it to the credit bureau, which can have a negative impact on your credit score.
With a Bankrate survey finding that credit cardholders are increasingly carrying balances month-to-month, credit card debt is rising nationally, with an increase of 10% since 2021 to 49% of cardholders in November 2023. Meanwhile, credit card interest rates are still high—at 24.59%, according to LendingTree. Rather than just making payments when you can, now is the time to make a plan.
If you want to pay off your credit card debt, here are some tips to follow:
Take a look at your household expenses
The first step is to see where your money is going, including food, gas, entertainment, and any loans. Then, make a budget if you don’t already have one. Doing so lets you decide how much money you have left over to pay toward your credit card bills.
Try a repayment method
There are different methods you can use to help pay off your loans. One is the debt avalanche, where you pay the minimum payment on other cards and remaining funds on the one with the highest interest rate. Once that’s paid off, you’d allocate remaining funds to the next highest and so on. The debt snowball, on the other hand, has you pay the card with the lowest balance first (while paying the minimum on your other cards), and then paying off the second lowest—and so on.
Use multiple accounts to help you budget
Some financial experts recommend budgeting with more than one bank account. By allotting a checking account to household bills and expenses and another one for recreational activities like eating out and shopping, you can ensure you don’t overspend.
Transfer your balance
To help offset high interest rates, think about transferring your balance to a new credit card with an introductory 0% interest rate, often available for up to 21 months. The downside is you may have to have a credit score of 700 or above to qualify.
Get credit counseling
Paying back on credit cards can be hard to do, so if you need help, contact a credit counselor. They can help you create a workable budget, provide financial education, and help you get into a debt management program (DMP). Through a DMP, your counselors can work with your lenders to reduce your interest rate and consolidate your monthly payments, helping you pay off your debt and improving your credit score.
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