Unfortunately, it doesn’t take very long for credit card debt to get out of control. Many people have the mistaken idea that if they just charge a little bit of money in a few different places this will be okay. However, this is not always the case. It’s important to be cautious in the way that you manage your finances or they can quickly spiral out of control.
What you need to know about credit card debt
There are some things that everybody needs to understand about credit cards.
First, many people have the mistaken belief that they’re not doing anything wrong if they’re only charging $100 a month or so to their credit cards. However, this can grow very rapidly to $1,000, $2,000 or more. And if you miss just one payment you could have a big a problem. The smart answer is to take care of debt before it spins out of control.
What to do if your debt gets out of control
Many people who have lost control of their debts have gone to their bank or credit union for a debt consolidation loan to pay off their charge cards. This is actually a great way to pay off your debts because it eliminates being hit with late fees or higher interest rates.
If you’re paying just the minimum amounts
One mistake many people make is to think they’re doing fine if they’re making just the minimum payments on their credit cards. However, this is not a good idea because you’re still accumulating interest on your balances owed. If possible, you should always pay more than the minimum amount. Of course, the best idea is to pay off the entire balance each time you receive a statement from a credit card company.
Use a card with a lower interest rate
One simple way to handle credit card debt is to transfer debt from a high interest rate card to one with a lower interest rate. If you do this, you can actually save yourself a lot of money. If you decide to do this, make sure that you cancel the credit card you just transferred the balance from. Otherwise, you might find yourself in the same situation six weeks or so in the future.
If you do transfer your balance from a high interest credit card to one with a lower interest, you should still try to pay as much as you can each month. This can help you eliminate credit card debt very quickly. There are lending institutions that will offer a very low interest rate to win your business. In fact, there are some that will actually charge you zero interest for the first six or even 18 months after you transfer debt to them from other cards. If possible, take advantage of one of these offers.
For an emergency only
The best possible thing you can do about credit card debt is to not have any. Many people have a credit card available for use in emergencies–such as because of an automobile accident or a trip to the hospital. If you have the self-discipline necessary to do this, it’s the best way to handle your credit cards.
No new money
Also, don’t think that just because you have transferred say $18,000 in credit card debt at 18% to one that charges only 10% that you suddenly have new money available. You will still have to manage your debt carefully to make sure that in a few months you are not in worse shape than when you started.