Stuck with credit card debt? Here are the best ways to pay it off, courtesy of some great comments different finance experts & people who’ve paid down a lot of debt have sent us:
- Consider a debt snowball method where you pay the minimums on all credit cards, and use any leftover money to pay off the card with the lowest balance first (not necessarily the highest interest card) (link). This may seem wrong from a mathematical perspective, but works from a psychological perspective, as you feel like you’re making real progress. The debt avalanche method, by comparison, means paying off the highest interest card first, and there are others that recommend this method depending on your circumstances (link)
- If you’re really struggling and OK with damaging your credit score, don’t pay your credit card bills and wait until you become delinquent on your payments. Then, you can negotiate more favorable repayments with your creditors, and may see a significant reduction in the principal amount you owe (link – see last paragraph). Of course, most don’t recommend this and advise always making the minimum repayments no matter what (link)
- Refinance your debt (link) so you’re paying a lower interest rate.
- Similarly, see if you can open a new credit card with a lower interest rate and transfer the debt from the high interest card to the lower interest card (link). At any time there are usually many credit cards advertising 0% interest on balance transfers for X months — use them if you can! (then you can cancel the new card after you’ve paid off the debt if you no longer need it)
- See if you can get a new rewards credit card with no annual fee, make any necessary purchases using the card, use the rewards to pay back the balance and use any amount saved to help pay off your previous debt (link, link)
- Make a game out of it (link)
- Set up automatic payments (link) and scrutinize every purchase
- Write up a budget and look at everything you’re spending money on each month. You may find a few things you can go without (link)
Below are the submissions in their entirety. Read through them, put a plan into action, and you’ll start making progress. GOOD LUCK!
If you are looking to pay off debt as quickly as possible and without the assistance of debt consolidation or debt relief company you have two viable options: the debt snowball method and the debt avalanche method. Before you begin either approach, it is vital you perform an income and expense valuation and create an extensive financial budget. For any of this to work properly you really need to have your personal finances in order and fully understand where you are spending every penny.
My professional opinion: The debt snowball method is by far the most cost effective and quickest way to get rid of debt. In this approach, you cover the monthly minimum payments on all your credit card bills and designate any additional funds you have towards completely eliminating the smaller balance cards. This approach is the best because it is psychologically rewarding (you never have deal with those smaller credit payments again!) and adds a lot of simplicity to your financial situation (less juggling of minimum payments). This method is by far the most motivational and rewarding approach to use.
The avalanche method instead has you make all your minimum payments and designate any additional funds towards the highest interest account. However, credit card interest accrues daily and putting all your additional money towards paying the highest interest rate card is not the advised approach since you are still getting charged daily interest on the smaller accounts (although the math might have you think the opposite). The idea behind this method as that you are knocking down the highest interest balance first and still left juggling the smaller accounts.
If you are looking to pay your debt off as cheaply and as quickly as possible but do not mind a negative impact to your credit worthiness you can utilize a strategic default method. You would do this by not paying your credit card companies and waiting for settlement offers after you become delinquent on your payments. After you are delinquent for some time you would then reach out to your creditors and try to renegotiate a new repayment. You’ll see a substantial reduction in the principal amount you owe using this method and will in fact be paying back less than what you owe. However, this will have a negative impact to your credit worthiness.
--Adem Selita, The Debt Relief Company
Aside from the obvious get a balance transfer credit card and pay it down, here is a method that few people use and isn't publicized as a technique, but can be quite effective provided you are disciplined. If you can't find a balance transfer credit card, open up a new rewards credit card that has no annual fee and allows you to use your rewards points or cash back earned as statement credit. Make as many purchases as you possibly can on the card, but have the cash to pay the balance off in full to avoid interest accrual. When you can start redeeming rewards, apply your points or cash back to that month's statement balance and use the credit amount that you had saved to pay off your other account. This is an advanced technique that requires discipline, but it is a better alternative to a balance transfer credit card in some cases if you can't find a no fee offer or can't qualify for one. If you can find one, if you couple this method with utilizing a 0% no fee transfer, you can accelerate your debt reduction.
--Russell Nauta, CreditCardReviews.com
It is all about finding the right way for you. I find one of the most successful methods for quickly minimising debt is to make it a kind of challenge or game for yourself. Pay off what you have agreed each month so you keep on top of it, but between paydays start transferring change in to another account - eg. If you spend $9.23 on your card transfer the $0.77 into a second account rounding the purchase up to the nearest dollar. Or if you really want to buy something, but decide not to, transfer the money you would have spent in to the second account. Whatever is left the day before your next payday, pay towards your debt. The benefit of doing this is that you don't leave yourself stressed incase of overspending at the start of the month, and if you need to use it for another reason, you have still covered what you agreed to pay. Its not really about discipline, as much as a challenge for yourself.
--Ethan Taub, loanry.com
Rather recently, I paid off roughly $30,000 worth of credit card debt, and I did it with the debt avalanche method. That strategy involves attacking the debts with the highest interest rates first, focusing on the other ones. I chose this strategy because it is the most mathematically effective, and you decrease what you have to pay interest as much as possible. I maintained the minimum payment required on all other credit cards while focusing my bigger payments on the credit cards with higher interest rates. It worked for me, but it won't for everybody. If you need the psychological lift of crossing a smaller debt off your list (regardless of the interest rate(), then use that strategy. But the one I chose is better financially in the long run if you can handle it. There are a few other strategies out there, like debt wrecking ball and a few others, so be sure to research all of your options.
Bottom line: choose a strategy that works for you, abide by the guidelines and have the perseverance to continue and eventually you should see success.
--David Bakke, dollarsanity
Refinance your debt as soon as possible.
Credit cards have extremely high interest rates. The higher the interest rate, the higher your monthly payments, and the more interest you'll pay over the life of the loan.
By refinancing, you can often lower your interest rate from over 20% down to under 10%.
Your monthly payments will then be significantly lower. However, if you keep paying the amount you were paying before you refinanced, the debt will get paid off much quicker.
--Max Kimmel, One Shot Finance
Consider transferring high-interest credit card balances to lower-interest credit cards. When less money goes toward interest, your balance gets paid off faster.
There are two ways to do this:
1. Consider opening a new credit card with a low introductory interest rate. The low interest rate may last for a matter of months or years, depending on the terms of your new credit card. This could save you a significant amount of money in interest. Just be aware of any fees involved to ensure that the transfer is worth it.
2. Transfer the balance of your high-interest credit card to a lower interest credit card that you already have. Check how much available credit is remaining on your lower interest card, and utilize that amount to pay off your higher interest card.
It’s important to consider how this method can impact your credit score. Opening a new credit card causes a small hit to your credit score. However, this may be well worth it in money saved— especially since your score will recover over time.
--Lisa Torelli-Sauer, Sensible Digs
Use cashback credit card rewards to pay off debt. If you have a cashback credit card, you can use the rewards each month to make extra payments on the debt. For example, USAA has a 2.5% cashback credit card you can use for your everyday spending needs (groceries, gas, coffee, entertainment, etc.). Once you pay the balance off at the end of the month, your account will be credited with 2.5% of the balance paid. You can then put the credit received towards your credit card debt.
This was one of the methods I used to help pay off over $100k in debt.
--Brad Sturgis, The Financial Sailor
1. Use the out of sight, out of mind mentality for paying off your credit cards. Set aside a set amount of money from each paycheck towards debt paydown. It doesn't matter if it is $10 or $500. If you can get in the habit of expecting a paycheck that is lower than your typical paycheck, you won't worry about the money. You can even open a free checking account used exclusively to have money direct deposited in and then used to pay the card. You can set an auto payment on your debt for the amount you have taken from each paycheck. That way it runs fully on auto pilot without you needing to do anything after the initial setup.
2. Whenever you have a desire to buy something that isn't an absolute necessity, forego the unnecessary expense and put the amount toward your debt. Most things that people buy only bring a very short term satisfaction. If you can forego the short satisfaction - whether it's a new shirt, your $5 morning coffee, or a glass of wine with dinner - you will be much happier down the road with less debt. The trick with this is to scrutinize every purchase before you make it and not buy something for the sake of buying it or because you merely want it. This method won't shortchange or strain your budget, but rather allocate more of your expense column to your credit card debt. You will also learn how much you are spending on unnecessary expenses very quickly.
--Patrick Beckman, RaveReviews.org
I have had my fair share of credit card debt in my life. One of the biggest things that I did was put myself on a budget. I looked at all my expenses and asked myself if it was something that I could live without or what I could cut down on to use that extra money to pay off the credit cards. Having a budget will help you stay committed to not overspending each week so you can pay extra on your credit card debt.
If you have a high interest rate you could always reach out to your bank and see if you can get an unsecure loan so you can lower the interest rate and this will help you pay it off faster.
--Emily Adams, emilyadams.net
The first (and most important) thing is pay off minimum monthly payments- When trying to pay off credit cards, your first order of business is to make sure you don't acquire even more debt. The way to do this is to make sure you pay the minimum amount for all your credit cards every month.
This is your absolute first priority, because you can't pay off debt without putting a stop to debt accumulation in the first place, which occurs mainly due to missed payments. Whether it takes creating a budget, setting aside money every month, or strictly controlling your spending, make sure you hit that minimum mark every time.
--Chane Steiner, Crediful
DISCLAIMER: OutwitTrade.com or the contributors above are not responsible for any financial losses you may incur by following the advice above. This article is intended for informational and educational purposes only, and is not a substitute for professional financial advice.