Paying down your credit card

These five hassle-free tips can help you to reduce your credit card balance

Paying down your credit card

Being caught in the credit card debt trap can be frustrating and expensive, but these five hassle-free tips can help you to reduce your balance. The minimum payments you make on your credit card each month go towards paying exorbitant interest charges, while your actual debt reduces slowly.

So how do you pay down your credit card debt without tightening your budget to the extreme? It may sound impossible, but here are five methods to consider:

1. Conduct a balance transfer
Take a look your statement and find out what interest rate you’re being charged on your credit card debt every month. Then, find a balance transfer offer which comes with a reduced rate, allowing you to pay off more of your debt and less interest. Many of the balance transfer deals on offer tend to last for around six months. If you have a larger debt, try to find one that extends for 12 or even 18 months.

2. Increase your repayments
Combine a balance transfer deal with higher repayments and it can help reduce your balance. Why? Higher repayments mean more of your money will go towards your debt rather than interest, and because a balance transfer eliminates hefty interest charges this effect is accelerated.

3. Pay before you save
It is worth considering using the money from your high interest savings account to pay off an outstanding credit card balance. The interest from a credit card is generally higher than the interest earned from a high interest savings account, which means that the money used for saving will be more effective paying off the outstanding credit card balance sooner and avoid the interest building up over time.

4. Pay more, more often
Just because your credit card statement says you need to make at least one monthly payment of the minimum amount stated, this doesn’t mean you can’t divide that payment up and pay it more often. Divide your regular monthly payment into four and pay that smaller amount on the same day each week.

For example: if your minimum monthly payment is $100, divide this figure by four and pay $25 per week instead.

When you pay smaller amounts more frequently, you should find it’s much easier to budget for. There’s another huge benefit to making your payments this way. Your bank calculates interest on your outstanding balance at the end of every day. If you can reduce your balance even a little bit every week, the amount of interest you pay is automatically reduced. As a result, your payments end up paying your debt off much faster without you paying any more.

5. Give up luxuries and stop adding to your debt
Perhaps the most important part of reducing credit card debt is to immediately stop adding to it. Don’t pull out your credit card to pay for unexpected bills. Call your provider and arrange a payment plan with them directly instead. Don’t put any non-essential items on your credit card, and stop spoiling yourself with new purchases. If you don’t think you can trust yourself you may even have to cut up your credit card, or freeze it into a block of ice.

The key to paying off your credit card debt without any hassle is to find out what works for you. Think about which options will benefit your budget and your income. Work out your plan of attack and stick to it. Before long, your credit card balances should be back under control and you won't have the worry of debts hanging over your head.

Find a balance transfer offer that comes with a reduced rate

This was written by Jeremy Cabral, the personal finance publisher of Finder.com.au which includes CreditCardFinder.com.au, a free online comparison service to help Aussies make informed decisions.



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    COMMENTS

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    wally
    22nd Jul 2013
    5:47pm
    Have you thought of sharing this advice with Kevin Rudd and Chris Bowen?
    FrankC
    22nd Jul 2013
    7:26pm
    Another tip, is to pay more than you have to as soon as the statement comes in. That way you are not paying more interest on the days between it arriving with you and when you decide to make the monthly payment. Also check the dates on your billing cycle. Ignore the 55 days interest free, that only works when you take out your credit card for the first time. Try to not use it halfway through the billing cycle, because you will be paying interest on what you bought from the first day of the cycle, e.g. If you cycle starts on the 10th of the month, don't buy anything a few days before that,i.e. the 8th, because your interest will start from the 10th of the previous month, (you can check that out), so buy on the 11th or 12th.then you will only have one or two days of interest added, which you can pay off when you get your statement
    Michael
    22nd Jul 2013
    7:52pm
    All this advice is well and good as long as one is in the position to make payments of any significance. What advice do you make available to people who are not in this position?
    talofa
    23rd Jul 2013
    4:25pm
    my advice is save some money....get a DEBIT card which works as well as a credit card.....
    then take a big pair of sissors & cut up the CREDIT card forever....talofa
    Michael
    23rd Jul 2013
    6:55pm
    Best advice yet !!