- Bankruptcy isn’t the only option to paying off credit card debt.
- Debt resolution offers professional help negotiating lower debt payments.
- You don’t have to cut expenses or take on a side gig to pay off debt, but they can help.
If you have high credit card debt and you’re ready to tackle it, we hear you. You’ve got options and we’ll break them down..
Here are seven ways to pay off your credit card debt, along with some tips for money moves you can try that might lessen your expenses or even raise your income.
|Payoff method||Minimum credit score||Pay less than you owe?||Negative effect on credit?|
|Debt consolidation loan||580||No||No|
|Balance transfer credit card||670||No||No|
|Debt management plan||N/A||Yes||Yes|
7 strategies to pay off credit card debt
DIY debt snowball: The snowball method focuses on your smallest debt. Make minimum payments on all the other debts, and throw everything you’ve got at the smallest one. Once it’s paid off, do the same with the next smallest debt.
DIY debt avalanche: In the avalanche method, you’ll focus on the debt that has the highest interest rate. Pay as much as you can toward that one, and make minimum payments on all the others.
Debt consolidation loan: A debt consolidation loan is one loan to pay off multiple smaller loans. You’ll reduce multiple monthly payments down to one. You might also get an interest rate that’s lower than what you’re paying.
Balance transfer: You can move credit card balances from one credit card to another. This is a good strategy if you can get a low interest rate, but keep in mind that it won’t last forever. Also, be careful not to charge balances back up on the cards you pay off.
Debt management plan: Accredited credit counselors help you set up a 3–5 year payoff plan. You’ll usually have to close your credit cards.
Debt resolution: With debt resolution, you negotiate with your creditors to accept less than the full amount you owe. You can do this yourself or work with a professional debt resolution company.
Bankruptcy: In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy your debt is erased, but you may lose assets. Chapter 13 bankruptcy puts you on a 3–5 year repayment plan to pay off your debts in full. You can keep your assets.
7 tips to pay off credit card debt faster
If those strategies sound overwhelming, here are a few tips you can use to get started. The sooner you start, the more progress you’ll make in paying down your credit card debt. It doesn’t take long to build up momentum.
It’s not always possible to cut expenses or earn more money, but if you can then you might find your credit card debt more manageable.
Remember, not every suggestion is right for everyone. But give them a try.
1. Ask for a raise. If it’s been a while since your last raise, you may have taken on more responsibilities in the meantime. Your boss may not even know how much you’re doing, so it might be time for a reminder. After all, there’s no harm in asking.
2. Find a new job. Sometimes the easiest way to get a raise is to get a new job. Especially if you’ve been in your job for a while, you may have gained some skills that would make you a better fit somewhere else. Finding a job that uses all of your talents may help you make more money.
3. Sell everything you don’t need. Yard sales, apps, and second-hand stores are some ways to sell unused clothes, electronics, appliances, furniture and anything else you don’t need anymore.
4. Cut unnecessary expenses. Things like subscription services, video games, and dining out can add up fast. Prioritize necessities like food, water, gas, housing, and insurance and cut back where you can.
5. Create a spending plan. A spending plan can keep you motivated by reminding you of your own financial priorities. You get to tell your money what job it has each month. Learn to budget so you can track where your money goes so that you can make sure it goes where you want it.
6. Use an app. Get help tracking credit card debt and managing payments with free debt payoff apps.
7. Use cash. Try not to use plastic and instead pay with cash. It’s easier to spend more with plastic. If you do have to pay by card, use your debit card instead of a credit card.
How long does it take to pay off credit card debt?
It depends on how much credit card debt you have and how much you can afford to pay each month. Most payoff strategies, including bankruptcy, debt management plans, and debt resolution, can take 3–5 years to complete.
No matter what, the more you pay each month, the faster you’ll be out of credit card debt.
How much credit card debt is normal?
What’s normal for one person might be troubling for another. The best amount of credit card debt is the amount that you can afford to pay off when you get the bill.
Is there a credit card debt forgiveness program?
Only Chapter 7 bankruptcy can erase a credit card debt. A debt resolution program won’t entirely forgive a debt, but it’s a way to negotiate with creditors so that they agree to accept less than the full amount you owe.