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Debt avalanche calculator

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Save by paying off your highest-interest debts first.

The debt avalanche method is a popular way to pay off large amounts of debt. By tackling your highest-interest debts first, you can reduce the total amount of interest you pay — saving you big in the long run.

How is the debt avalanche method calculated?

The debt avalanche method is calculated by ordering your debts from highest interest rate to lowest. After making the minimum payment on all of your debts each month, you then put any leftover money toward your highest-interest debt first. Once that’s paid off, you put that minimum payment and any extra money toward your next highest-interest debt, and so forth, until all of your debts have been repaid.

Follow these steps to calculate the order you should repay your debts using the debt avalanche method:

  1. Create a budget to determine your cash flow. Figure out how much money you have coming in each month and how much you need for your monthly bills — including the minimum payments to your creditors. If you can cut back on things like a cable subscription or daily coffee, you’ll increase your cash flow and have more money left over to put toward your debts.
  2. List out all of your debts and the minimum monthly payments. For every debt, list your balance, interest rate and minimum payment. This gives you an overview of how much you owe and help you determine which debt to tackle first.
  3. Order your debts from highest interest rate to lowest. The higher the interest rate, the more that debt will cost you in the long run.
  4. Prioritize the most expensive debt. Once you have your debts in order, put any extra cash each month toward the credit card or loan with the highest interest rate. Even $50 over the minimum monthly payment will help pay it off sooner, so there’s no amount too small.
  5. Increase extra payments as debts are eliminated. After you’ve paid off your first loan or credit card, keep the avalanche going by applying your excess monthly cash and your paid-off debt’s monthly payment toward your second most-expensive debt — and so on.

The total time it takes to completely pay off your debts will depend on how much you owe, your cash flow and your ability to stick to a budget.
How to calculate your debt avalanche

The debt avalanche method in action

Let’s take a look at an example: Catherine is a single woman in her early 30s and has finished paying off her federal student loans for her undergraduate degree.

The amount she can spend on her debts each month is $500. She has two credit cards, a car loan and a personal loan. She’s decided to use the debt avalanche method to save on interest in the long run and open up room in her budget for a mortgage payment down the road.

DebtBalanceMinimum paymentAPR
Credit Card A$1,500$4518.99%
Credit Card B$4,000$8015.45%
Personal Loan$3,000$7013.1%
Car Loan$5,000$1206.99%

As you can see, her car loan takes up the majority of her monthly budget, but it’s the two credit cards that are actually the most costly when you order things based on APR.

Since Catherine has $500 to put toward paying off her debts each month, she’d make the minimum monthly payment for each bill — totaling $315 — then put the remaining $185 toward Credit Card A until it’s fully paid off.

After, Catherine would tackle Credit Card B by combining that $185 with the $45 monthly payment for Credit Card A she no longer has, then repeat the process until all of her debts are paid off.

Bottom line

Although it takes a lot of discipline, it’s possible to become debt free and save on interest in the process by using the debt avalanche method. You can learn more by reading our guide to the debt avalanche method.

Or find out how it compares to the debt snowball method to find the best strategy for you.

Compare solutions to pay off your debt

Updated May 23rd, 2019
Name Product Filter Values Minimum Credit Score Max. Loan Amount APR
550
$100,000
3.99% to 35.99%
Quickly compare multiple online lenders with competitive rates depending on your credit.
680
$100,000
5.99% to 16.24%
No fees. Multiple member perks such as community events and career coaching.
640
$40,000
6.95% to 35.89%
A peer-to-peer lender offering fair rates based on your credit score.
Good to excellent credit
$100,000
5.34% to 35.99%
Get personalized rates in minutes and then choose a loan offer from several top online lenders.
620
$50,000
7.99% to 35.89%
Affordable loans with two simple repayment terms and no prepayment penalties.
550
$100,000
3.84% to 35.99%
Get connected to competitive loan offers instantly from top online consumer lenders.
550
$10,000
34% to 155% (Varies by state)
Check eligibility in minutes and get a personalized quote without affecting your credit score.
640 FICO®
$35,000
5.99% to 29.99%
A prime lender with multiple repayment methods.

Compare up to 4 providers

Name Product Intro Balance Transfer APR Balance Transfer Fee Recommended Minimum Credit Score
0% for the first 15 months (then 15.24% to 26.24% variable)
$5 or 3% of the transaction, whichever is greater
680
Earn a $150 bonus statement credit after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Rates & fees
0% for the first 15 months (then 14.24%, 20.24% or 25.24% variable)
$10 or 4% of the transaction, whichever is greater
670
An 15 months 0% intro APR period on both purchases and balance transfers, plus zero foreign transaction fees, makes this is a strong well-rounded card. See Rates and Fees
0% for the first 15 months (then 17.24% to 25.99% variable)
$5 or 3% of the transaction, whichever is greater
670
Earn 3% cash back on all purchases in your first year up to $20,000 spent. After that earn unlimited 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
0% for the first 15 months (then 15.24% to 26.24% variable)
$5 or 3% of the transaction, whichever is greater
680
Earn a $150 statement credit after you spend $1,000 or more in purchases with your new card within the first 3 months of card membership. Rates & fees
0% for the first 15 months (then 17.24% to 25.99% variable)
$5 or 3% of the transaction, whichever is greater
670
0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers.

Compare up to 4 providers

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