How to pay off credit card debt

These tips will help you create a payment plan that isn’t overwhelming.

Tags: Credit, Debt, Budgeting, Credit cards
Published: June 27, 2018

The average amount of credit card debt held by balance-carrying U.S. households is more than $16,000, according to Federal Reserve figures for 2017. Are you one of the many Americans searching for the best ways to pay off credit card debt?

Follow these suggested tips to help you pay off your debt and keep more of your hard-earned money in your pocket.
 

Assess your credit situation

The first step to managing your credit card debt is to get the details on paper. Write down line by line each of your debts — including interest rates — as well as your income and other expenses. Once you’ve documented these numbers, you have the foundation for creating a budget, which allows you to design a realistic plan to pay it all off.


Paying it off: Make a plan and stick to it

Create a strategy that outlines how much you will realistically pay toward your credit card debt each month and how long it will take to achieve your repayment goals. Then — and most importantly — adopt the best practices that will help get you in the right mindset and ensure that you will commit to your plan.

1. Try to pay high-interest-rate credit cards first.

2. See your credit card as a tool for convenience, not extra cash you have to spend.

3. When possible, make more than the minimum payment each month.

4. Start with the right card. Find banking programs that offer credit card management tools like payoff calculators, budgeting help and credit management tips.
 

Use tools for paying down debt

Get help from financial tools to help you organize and understand how to pay off credit card debt.

  • Cut expenses and use the savings to lower your balance — Make every effort not to add to your balance. Take a look at your spending and see what you can cut out. It may seem small, but a change in habits like making your lunch for work rather than dining out could net you $120 or more a month to put toward debt. Read more about how to make small changes add up.
  • Pay off debt faster — When you carry a balance, credit card companies must state the amount of time it will take to pay off your debt if you pay only the minimum amount. To speed up the process, pay more than the minimum whenever possible. For instance, if you’re making a debt payment of $300/month, you could use the $120 saved from the example above to turn your payment into $420/month, which will also save you more in the long run because you’ll avoid accruing additional interest.
  • Credit card debt consolidation — Consolidating your credit card debt can simplify multiple debts and possibly offer a lower payment. It can also take some of the stress out of managing multiple accounts.
  • Zero percent introductory APR on balance transfers — If you are carrying a large balance on a high interest credit card that you can pay off over the course of nine or 12 months, you may want to consider a credit card that offers a zero percent introductory APR on balance transfers. While there may be fees based on the amount of the balance you transfer, the additional fees should be offset by the amount of money you will save in interest over the term of the introductory APR period.
  • Work with your credit card company — You may see it as a last resort, but your bank will be more than willing to speak with you about interest and payment options. Don’t be shy about making inquiries.
     

Resolve to pay your credit card bill in full every month

Once you’ve paid off your debt, don’t let it build up again. The best way to keep that from happening is to pay your credit card balance in full every month. Determine how much you can honestly afford each month and keep track of what you’re putting on your card so you don’t ever go over that amount.

As a last note, it’s important to remember that with credit card debt consolidation and balance transfers you still have the same amount of debt. You are just using a money management tool that will save you either time or interest charges while you pay it off.

 

Paying off your debt may take time, but it will be a sound investment that pays dividends in improved management skills to make your money work for your future. Continue reading to learn more about U.S. Bank credit cards.