It might take some time, but it is possible to get out of credit card debt.
- Credit card debt is at an all-time high, with Americans owing nearly $1 trillion as of the end of 2022.
- Paying off your credit card debt can be challenging, but it’s worth doing.
- There are several strategies you can use to begin paying off your credit card debt today, such as bringing in extra money to send to your debt.
The latest credit card debt statistics are staggering. Americans now owe a collective $986 billion to credit card companies as of the end of 2022, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. That’s a new record high, and even if you only make up a tiny sliver of that, it can still cause a lot of stress.
Credit card debt isn’t always easy to get out of once you’re there, but it is possible. Here are three things you can try.
1. Rework your budget
You need extra cash in order to pay back your credit card debt, and there are a few ways you can get it. First, you could reduce your monthly spending. Cut out discretionary purchases, like dining out, and put that extra money toward your debt repayment.
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If this isn’t doing enough for you, try increasing your income as well. You could do this by working overtime at an existing job, negotiating a raise, or starting a side hustle. You could also apply for better-paying jobs elsewhere. Again, put any extra money you bring in toward your debt repayment first. When that’s done, you can start spending the extra or saving it for other goals.
2. Use a balance transfer card
Balance transfer credit cards temporarily halt the growth of your balance so any payments you make go toward the principal. The length of time you have until your balance begins accruing interest again depends on the card’s 0% introductory APR period. Some may only last for a few months while others can last more than a year. Try to choose a card with an introductory APR period that’s long enough to enable you to pay back all your debt.
Note that you’ll pay a fee in order to do a balance transfer, and you can’t transfer a balance to a new credit card with the same issuer you already owe. Also, if you don’t repay the full balance before the introductory APR period is up, your balance will begin accruing interest again.
You can find balance transfer cards with just about any popular credit card issuer. But don’t expect much in the way of rewards. The 0% introductory APR is their key draw. Once you’ve paid off your debt, you may wish to switch to a rewards credit card instead so you earn a little back on your purchases.
3. Try a personal loan
Personal loans are unsecured loans — loans that don’t require collateral — that you can use for just about anything, including debt repayment. It’s often possible to borrow thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the loan provider and your credit. This gives you a predictable monthly payment, so you don’t have to worry about additional interest charges on your credit card. You’ll know exactly what you have to pay each month and how long until you’ll be debt-free.
Personal loans still charge interest, though, and their rates can be higher than many other types of loans, like auto loans or mortgages. This is especially true for those with poor credit scores.
The lender may charge origination fees as well. These can vary depending on the size of the loan and the lender. It’s a good idea to compare options from a few companies before deciding which you’d like to work with.
Stick with it
Unless you happen to win the lottery, you probably won’t pay your credit card debt off overnight. And that’s OK. Accept that it will take time, and don’t let that discourage you from trying. Weigh the strategies above and decide which works best for you. Then, give it a shot. You can always try something different down the road if your initial approach doesn’t pan out.
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