Credit card debt can be a scary situation to find yourself in. Luckily, you arent alone. Millions of Americans not only have credit card debt, but many are also carrying balances of $10,000 or more. Plus, recent studies have shown that most Americans hold at least four credit cards, with 14 percent holding 10 or more cards. Thats a lot of credit cards, which can equal a lot of debt.
Using credit cards can quickly lead to debt, especially if you dont keep a close eye on how much you are spending. One of the simplest ways to keep credit card debt from taking over is to take the cards out of your wallet, keeping only one for emergencies. However, if you know you will not be able to keep it in your wallet without using it, take them all out.
Close out cards that you dont need. You should not close out a credit card that still carries a balance, or the only card you have with available credit. You must pay off a credit card in full or transfer the balance before you can close the card. Also, if you have maxed out your cards, do not close the only one with available credit – you may need it for an emergency situation. Also, try not to close your oldest card as most credit bureaus base their rating off how long you have had credit. You may get turned down for a credit card in the future if it seems you have a short credit history. If you cant close the account, shred the cards. This way you can still pay down the balance, but you wont be tempted to use the cards.
Having credit cards requires a great deal of responsibility. To keep your credit rating in good standing, managing your balances and paying them on time is vital. It only takes a few late or missed payments for creditors to report you with bad credit to one of the three major credit bureaus. Preventing this from happening is easy – monitor your bills and make sure to pay on time. Many credit card companies or banks have automatic bill pay features that will deduct a balance you determine from your account on a specific day. You can set up the automatic bill pay to deduct only the minimum payment, that way if you want you can pay more later but at the very least, you will know your credit card bill was paid on time.
Monitoring your individual credit rating is vital for all parts of consumer shopping. Your consumer credit score affects the interest rate you will receive not only for other credit cards, but also car and home loans, personal loans, or any other type of loan you may need to obtain in the future. It will also affect whether or not you are approved in the first place for the loan or consumer credit.
If making the minimum payment on your current cards is overwhelming and it seems like the balance may never be paid off, you can also ask your creditors to lower the interest rates on your card.
For consumers who make at least the minimum payment on time each month, many credit card companies are willing to lower the interest rate at least a point, if not more. This could save hundreds or thousands of dollars in the long run, you simply have to call and ask.
Or, consolidate your debt with a personal loan or low interest balance transfer. Both options will allow you to make only one payment with a lower interest rate. This also helps consumers see an end date for paying off debt, as most loans or balance transfers are shorter term, less than five years.
Credit cards are a financial tool that can be intimidating or extremely helpful; it all depends on how you chose to manage them. It is important to stay on top of credit card payments, as with any other payments, in order to not become a slave to credit card debt.