So you’re up to your ears in credit card debt and you want to get it down below your ankles. Well, having been in the same sinking boat, there are ways to bail out.
If you’re like most people in deep credit card debt, you are maxed out on more than one card. Let’s say for the sake of argument you have three cards and they’re all maxed out. Gather your statements together and check out your APRs on each card. The card with the highest APR is the one you want to pay off first. Why? You’re paying the most in interest – money you never spent in the first place. And the longer you carry a balance on this high rate card, the more money it will cost you to pay off.
What if all of your cards have the same interest rate? Determine which card has the highest balance and work to pay that one off first. The higher the balance, the more you are paying in interest. With your remaining credit cards, try to at least pay off the minimum balance due every month. This keeps your interest rates down and as long as you pay the minimum, you avoid paying late fees and getting dings on your credit score.
Should you consolidate to one card? It’s certainly an option. Lots of cards will allow you to consolidate your debt on to one account – it’s in their best interest to do it because you are now paying all your interest to them instead of to different institutions. This also works in your favor because you can leverage the offers of one card against another. If you receive a off for a 0% balance transfer, study the terms carefully. If you are diligent in paying off your credit cards, it can work in your favor. If not, and you break the terms of the agreement, you’ll likely end up paying enormous interest fees that are higher than what you started with.
Once you pay off a credit card, cut it up but DO NOT CANCEL IT! Canceling a credit card sends a message to the credit reporting agencies that you can’t handle your debt and is a negative mark on your credit score. You can have a hundred accounts open with zero balances and it looks better for your credit than if you cancel three credit cards.
About the Author:
Dylan White is not a certified credit counselor. He is a “debt survivor” having been deep in debt and found his way out. He runs the credit card informational site http://credit-card-corner.blogspot.com and updates it regularly with new links and information.