If you are ringing in the new year with substantial credit card debt, then now is the time to create a strategy for paying it off in 2015. Doing so will allow you to save tremendously on interest charges while likely increasing your credit score and reducing your stress levels.
So here are five ways to pay off your credit cards in 2015 and be debt-free by the time you go to your next New Year’s Eve party:
1. Stop Using Credit Cards for New Purchases
As the saying goes, when you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging. The fact that credit cards are so easy to use makes it so easy to get into debt. Furthermore, each new charge adds to your average daily balance, increasing the interest charges. So the first step is to leave your credit cards at home and switch to a different method of payment for your daily expenses, such as a debit card, cash or checks. Then, focus on using your remaining funds available to you each month to pay off your debt.
2. Get a 0% APR Balance Transfer Offer
There are many credit cards that offer interest-free promotional financing on balance transfers, but usually with a 3% balance transfer fee. However, the Chase Slate is currently the only credit card offered with 0% APR financing on balance transfers, and no balance transfer fee. These 0% APR balance transfer offers allow cardholders to take a break from interest payments for 15 months. Avoiding interest charges will not only allow you to save money, it will also give you the opportunity to pay more of your debt off sooner.
3. Create a Budget
Cardholders with debt need to sit down and create a realistic spending plan while setting goals for debt repayment. Once you have a clear picture of your income and expenses, you can make the choices necessary to reach your goal.
4. Develop a Schedule
Figure out how much you can pay per month, or check to see how much you will need to pay each month to be debt-free this time next year. (Credit.com has a debt payoff calculator that can help — and you can plug in varying interest rates, balances or payment times to find one that makes sense for you.)
5. Pay Down Your Debt Early & Often
Whether or not you have your debt covered by a 0% APR promotional financing offer, it’s smart to make frequent payments when you are able. For example, you could schedule payments shortly after you receive your paycheck, or when your tax refund arrives, rather than waiting for the next due date. If your debt is accruing interest charges, paying before the due date reduces your account’s average daily balance, which will minimize interest charges. And even if interest is not being charged, paying early will prevent you from changing your mind and using the money for something else.
Note: It’s important to remember that interest rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products frequently change. As a result, rates, fees and terms for credit cards, loans and other financial products cited in these articles may have changed since the date of publication. Please be sure to verify current rates, fees and terms with credit card issuers, banks or other financial institutions directly.
More on Managing Debt:
- The Credit.com Debt Management Learning Center
- How to Pay Off Credit Card Debt
- 5 Tips for Consolidating Credit Card Debt