Practical, Actionable Advice to Reduce Credit Card Debt
Accumulating debt on your credit cards can send you into a downward spiral financially. As spending and card balances increase, digging out of debt becomes more difficult as each month passes.
High double-digit credit card interest rates are [unfortunately] the norm and can be brutal to your financial health. Moreover, card interest rates are likely to climb as Federal Reserve rates increase, according to U.S. News and World Report. Therefore, taking action now to reduce credit card debt is essential to stop mounting debt. The following will help reduce credit card debt and get you on the path to financial strength.
Request an interest rate reduction.
Call your credit card company and ask to have your interest rate lowered. According to a poll by creditcard.com, 78 percent of requests for interest-rate reductions are granted. So pick up the phone, call your card issuer, and ask for a lower rate. Chances are quite good that you will be successful. Even a reduction of one or two interest points can make meaningful difference in how much money stays in your pocket rather than the profit pool for credit card issuers.
Pay more than the minimum amount due.
Credit card companies list the minimum payment required on their monthly invoices. This is typically ten percent of the outstanding balance. Rather than pay the stated amount, increase your payment as much as you are financially able. Even 10 or 20 dollars more per month will help shorten your payoff time, save on interest costs, and reduce the total amount of money you give the issuer over time.
Stop credit card use.
This is a tough one. But, it is key. Pay cash for your purchases. Only spend what you have. Do not charge more purchases to your credit cards. It will only increase what you owe and make your credit cards more difficult to pay off. Cut your cards in half and dispose of them.
Seek advice from a qualified credit counselor.
Credit counseling may help you proactively bring your credit card debt under control. Agency services typically include developing repayment plans, negotiating lower rates, credit card consolidation, budget counseling, and assistance with money management. It is important to note that some independent credit counseling agencies charge for their services – and the amount can vary significantly from one agency to the next.
Therefore, contact the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) in Washington, D.C. at (800) 388-2227 or (202) 677-4300. The NFCC offers free counseling and educational services to reduce credit card debt. Each year, the organization’s member agencies help more than three million people return to financial health by providing free budgeting advice, debt management plans, counseling referrals, financial education and more. Services are provided in person, online and over the phone.
Pay on time, every month.
Stop late fees that add to your debt. Always pay credit card bills by the due date. Put payment deadlines on your calendar and set up reminders. Most credit card companies allow you to schedule payments online directly from your bank account.
Consider credit card consolidation.
By rolling over balances owed on multiple credit cards to a single card with a lower rate, you can manage credit card debt more effectively. You only make one payment versus multiple payments per month, which is easier to manage. In addition, you can save significant dollars over the long term with a lower interest rate. For more information on consolidation options, click here: Consolidating Credit Card Debt.
Card issuers sometimes have incentives for transferring other credit card balances to their cards. Some may offer a zero-interest rate for an introductory period or other financial enticement. The key is to have an aggressive payment plan once you roll over your balances to a single credit card. Pay as much as possible each month and always make payments on time.
Create a budget and stick to it.
Make a budget that details your income sources and all of your expenses each month. Knowing where you are spending your money will allow you to prioritizing expenses, cut out unnecessary cash outlays, and determine how much you can pay each month to reduce credit card debt. For budgeting tips, click here: How to Make a Budget.
Once you have created your budget, use it. Refer to it weekly and check that you are on track with your revenue and spending. Make adjustments as needed.
Look for new ways to save money.
There are many practical ways to save money from packing your lunch to saving on electricity to reducing media costs. Every dollar you save can be put towards reducing your debt. Click on these article links for ways to save: Money Saving Ideas, Techniques for Saving, and Frugal Living Tips.
Increase cash flow for debt payment with new income streams.
Look for ways to increase your revenue each month. Consider getting a part-time job or doing the following.
Of course, there are many more ways to supplement your income. Search the web for ideas and talk with friends about income-generating opportunities.
For more information on how to reduce credit card debt, please see the article listed below.
Free Credit Card Debt Help
Credit Card Debt Services
Debt Management Plans
Questions to Ask Before Signing Up for Counseling Services
Credit Score Ratings
Introduction to Credit Card Consolidation
Determining Whether to Consolidate or Stay the Course
The Budgeting Process
Frugal Living Tips