How can I get rid of my credit card debt? | finder.com
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How to get out of credit card debt

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Practical and simple steps you can take to pay off your credit card balance for good.

If you’re struggling to deal with credit card debt, following a debt relief plan can help get you back on the path to financial freedom. If you need a little more help than that, there are free services you can access for personalized assistance and advice.

How to get rid of your credit card debt

These steps are designed to form a path to financial freedom, and even following them one at a time will help you along the way.

  1. Avoid making new purchases. To get rid of your debt, you have to stop adding to it. Stop spending and start using that money to pay down your existing balance. Remember that your ultimate goal is to be debt free. You can treat yourself again once you’ve achieved that.
  2. Calculate the total amount of money you owe. It’s time to face the hard truth. This process might be painful, but it’s necessary and short-lived. Get all your account balances together and make a list. Include your debt amounts, the interest you’re paying on each of those amounts and any other charges. Add them up and take a good, long, hard look before you say your goodbyes.
  3. Create a budget. Start with your monthly income and figure out your essential monthly expenses. It’s time for tightening measures, so expenses should include only the bare necessities such as bills, groceries, gas and other living expenses you need. After establishing your income and expenses, it’s time to create a monthly schedule for repaying your debts. Work out how much you can pay off each month, but be practical and leave a margin for emergencies. Use our budget planner if you need help.
  4. Set up automated payments. Using your budgeted monthly payment amount, set up automated payments to make sure you actually pay what you plan to. Set up the payments to come out of your bank account the day after you get paid this is a sure-fire way to stay committed to your budget.
  5. Contact your credit card provider. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your debt, it might be worthwhile to appeal to your credit card provider for a renegotiation of terms. Creditors are sometimes willing to allow a temporary postponement of payments or a slightly more favorable interest rate. Generally they would rather give you a discount than risk you defaulting on your debt.
  6. Consider a balance transfer. Balance transfers can buy you time to repay your debt without incurring any more interest. This is because balance transfer credit cards offer low or 0% interest on your transferred debt for a promotional period of time, sometimes for as long as 24 months. This might be exactly what you need to get rid of that debt more quickly, not to mention what you’ll save on interest fees that add hundreds of dollars to your debt every year.
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    Balance transfer credit cards

    Name Product Filter values Introductory Balance Transfer APR APR (Annual Percentage Rate) for Purchases Annual Fee Minimum Credit Score
    0% for the first 15 months (then 16.99% to 25.74% variable)
    16.99% to 25.74% variable
    $0
    670
    0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers.
    0% for the first 15 months (then 16.99% to 25.74% variable)
    16.99% to 25.74% variable
    $0
    670
    0% intro APR for 15 months from account opening on purchases and balance transfers.
    0% for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 25.99% variable)
    14.99% to 25.99% variable
    $0
    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 12 months (then 14.99% to 25.99% variable)
    14.99% to 25.99% variable
    $95
    670
    Earn $200 bonus cash back after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Rates & Fees
    0% for the first 15 months (then 14.99% to 25.99% variable)
    14.99% to 25.99% variable
    $0
    680
    Earn up to $250 back. Earn $150 back after you spend $1,000 or more in purchases with your new card within the first 3 months of card membership. Plus, earn an additional $100 back after you spend an additional $6,500 in purchases within your first 12 months. Rates & Fees
    0% for the first 15 billing cycles (then 13.99% variable)
    13.99% variable
    $0
    670
    A low, variable APR on purchases, balance transfers and cash advances.
    0% for the first 15 months (then 14.99%, 18.99% or 24.99% variable)
    14.99%, 18.99% or 24.99% variable
    $0
    670
    Earn unlimited 1.5% cash rewards on purchases. See Rates and Fees.
    0% for the first 18 months (then 12.99%, 16.99% or 20.99% variable)
    12.99%, 16.99% or 20.99% variable
    $0
    670
    An 18 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 billing cycles (then 16.99% variable)
    16.99% variable
    $195
    740
    Enjoy unique excursions, privileged access to exclusive events and insider opportunities.
    0% for the first 15 billing cycles (then 16.99% variable)
    16.99% variable
    $495
    670
    Receive an annual $100 air travel credit toward flight-related purchases including airline tickets, baggage fees, upgrades and more.
    0% for the first 15 billing cycles (then 16.99% variable)
    16.99% variable
    $995
    740
    Earn points every time you spend. Luxury Card enhances your purchasing power by providing you with one (1) point for every one dollar ($1) you spend. Every purchase gets you closer to the rewards you want.
    1.99% for the first 6 monthly billing cycles (then 16.24% to 22.24% variable)
    16.24% to 22.24% variable
    $0
    670
    1% cash back to the nonprofits, K-12 schools, colleges and religious organizations of your choice.
    9.95% for the first 6 months (then 17.99% fixed)
    17.99% fixed
    $39
    300
    Borrow up to $10,000 and get your credit score back on track.
    0% for the first 12 statement closing dates (then 15.24% to 25.24% variable)
    15.24% to 25.24% variable
    $0
    720
    Earn more cash back for the things you buy most.
    NASA Federal Platinum Advantage Rewards Credit Card
    NASA Federal Platinum Advantage Rewards Credit Card
    7.9% for the first 90 days (then 11.9% to 17.99% variable)
    11.9% to 17.99% variable
    $0
    670
    Enjoy perks and save money while gaining points with every purchase.
    10.99% for the first 6 months (then 24.99% variable)
    24.99% variable
    $0
    580
    2% Cashback at restaurants or gas stations on up to $1,000 in combined purchases each quarter. Plus 1% cash back on all other credit card purchases.
    20.99% variable
    $25
    300
    Establish credit history - with responsible use you may be upgraded to an unsecured credit card.
    21.99% variable
    $39
    300
    Help establish, strengthen - even rebuild your credit
    20.99% variable
    $29
    300
    Establish your credit and reap the benefits. Get worldwide purchasing power and flexibility as you work to build or re-establish your credit history.
    24.99% variable
    $0
    300
    Take control and build your credit with responsible use.
    Aspire Platinum Mastercard®
    Aspire Platinum Mastercard®
    0% for the first 6 billing cycles (then 8.9% to 18% variable)
    8.9% to 18% variable
    $0
    580
    We'll help you score major savings with a 0% introductory APR* on purchases and balance transfers for 6 months.

    Compare up to 4 providers

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    What if I have multiple credit card debts?

    • Consolidate your debts onto one card. This follows on from step 6, where you can consider a balance transfer to help with your debt consolidation. As well as giving you the opportunity to save money on otherwise expensive interest fees for a promotional period of time, this will mean you only have to pay off one account. It could also help you save on additional charges, such as credit card annual fees.
    • Pay off the card with the highest interest rate first. You’ll save the most money by paying off the account with the highest interest rate first, followed by the account with the next highest interest rate and so on. You’ll still have to make minimum payments on your other cards during this time.
    • Pay off the card with the lowest balance first. For some people, paying off the card with the lowest balance first is more motivating. This strategy will reduce the number of outstanding accounts sooner and cuts down on interest charges in the process. Of course, you’ll also need to make minimum payments on your other cards at the same time.

    Read our complete guide to balance transfer cards

    credit-card-advise

    Other tips to help get rid of credit card debt

    In addition to the steps above, following these tips can also prove very helpful:

  • Switch to a card with a lower annual fee. This helps with reducing overall expenses, but can be doubly effective when combined with a balance transfer offer. If you want to minimize your outgoing card fees, you should consider a 0% balance transfer credit card with no annual fee.
  • Cancel cards you don’t use. This tip will help save on annual fees and other charges that you may be paying on your cards. Also, this will help reduce the temptation to spend more money.
  • Use your savings. Since your savings account could never offer an interest rate as high as the one you’re probably paying on your credit card, it follows that you should be using your savings to pay off your credit card debts. Use the cash under your bed, that rainy-day fund and every penny you can find to pay off those debts, because they’ll just swell up with interest if you don’t. And once they’re paid off, you’ll have more money you can put towards your savings.
  • Make weekly payments. Even though your statement comes monthly, credit card interest is actually calculated on a daily basis. This means that increasing the frequency of your payments can help to reduce the total interest you pay over time.
  • Seek professional help. Gaining control over your debts can be very difficult, especially at the beginning. It can be helpful to get professional advice and there are even a range of free services for debt management that you can consider.
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Bottom line

Credit card debt can often seem overwhelming, but by setting a budget, planning out your debt relief strategy and getting a balance transfer card if you need one, you can get rid of credit card debt and make lasting, sustainable changes in your financial life.

Frequently asked questions

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