Education Center » Perseverance: the key to tackling your credit card debt

Perseverance: the key to tackling your credit card debt

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Dealing with credit card debt may be easier than you think.

Planning and perseverance are key, as is knowing how your debt factors into your overall financial health. When paying down your debt, some actions help more than others, but every step you take toward managing credit card debt is a step in the right direction. Here’s what you need to know.

The responsible road

The debt ditch

Pay a bit more

Paying more than the minimum can help you become debt-free a lot faster and ultimately lessen the amount you owe.

Pay the bare minimum

Paying the minimum may make your debt seem more manageable in the short term, but the less you pay now, the longer it takes to pay off and the more you pay in interest.

Pay on time, every time

Regular payments help you work toward eliminating debt and show that you are responsible with credit.

Make late payments

Late payments can hurt your credit score. Plus, missing payments can lead to fees and penalties and may even raise your interest rate.

Transfer your balance

Transferring your balance to a card with a lower APR can help you save on interest in the long term, but be sure to look into transfer fees.

Ignore the terms

Pay attention to rate increases and other conditions of your card agreement so you’re not surprised by interest rate changes or fees.

Watch your wallet

If you don’t need something, don’t buy it. Plan for big-ticket items and stick to your everyday budget.

Shop till you drop

Maxing out your card may cause your interest rates to increase and affect your credit.

Two essentials to consider

What “paying the minimum” means

Paying more can lead to significant savings. For example, if you have a $5,000 balance on a card with 13% interest, you could save more than $4,000 in interest by paying a fixed $175 a month instead of the minimum:

Minimum payment1

Higher payment

Payment amount

$100 (first month)

$175

Years to repay

23+

3

Total interest

$5,359

$1,016

What happens to your credit

Keeping your credit score high makes it cheaper to borrow. But maxing out your cards or ignoring payments can hurt your score. Here’s how:2

Potential effect on a 680 score

Potential effect on a 780 score

Maxed-out card

10–30 point decrease

25–45 point decrease

30-day late payment

60–80 point decrease

90–110 point decrease

Don’t ignore your debt—make paying it down part of your monthly budget. Keep in mind that the National Foundation of Credit Counseling (NFCC) recommends that your personal debt, excluding mortgage or rent, not exceed 20% of your monthly income.

Learn more and take action

  • If you’d like a little extra help, consider working with a credit counselor like those available through the NFCC. Learn more about credit counselors from Better Money Habits®.
  • Get even more strategies for reducing your debt by watching this short video from Better Money Habits®.
 
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1 Assumes minimum payment as 2%. Source: Bankrate.

2 Assumes certain conditions. Source: FICO®.

FICO is a registered trademark of Fair Isaac Corporation in the United States and other countries.

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