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From the Experts at

Tips for Paying Off Credit Card Debt

Advertiser Disclosure by Lucy Lazarony

Paying Off Credit Card Debt

Want to take charge of your financial life? Pay off your credit card debt.

High balances and high finance charges can put a real drain on your wallet and limit your financial options. And if you let those balances linger long enough, they could keep you from achieving other important goals and dreams, such as buying a home.

Plus high balances on your credit cards can be bad for your credit scores. Low credit scores usually mean you will pay high interest rates, and with high interest rates, it’s harder to pay off debt. It’s truly a vicious circle. You can find out exactly how your debt is impacting your credit by checking your credit score for free at You’ll get a truly free score – two in fact – plus you will learn exactly how your debt impacts your credit.

Whatever your financial goals and dreams, paying off high-interest credit card debt is the first important step in the right direction. These pay-down tips and strategies will show you how.

Get organized. Step 1 is getting organized. Gather up all your credit card information. Make note of the balance, interest rate, due date, and minimum payment for each card. How bad is it?

Do you have lots of balances spread out over lots of different cards? Do you have one big balance and several small ones? Have you consolidated your debt to one card but can’t seem to make any headway on your balance? Have you been playing the balance transfer game for months and months?

Next, add up the minimum payments on each of your credit cards. How much money must you pay each month just to stay current on your credit card bills? Can you afford to pay more than the minimum payment on one or more of your cards? If so, get ready to do it.
Debt can pile up for all kinds of reasons. Paying it down is pretty straightforward. Pick a pay down strategy and stick with it until your balances are paid off in full.

Three Different Credit Card Pay-Down Strategies

Pay Off the Balance with the Highest APR First

From a dollar and cents point of view, this strategy makes the most sense. With this strategy, you increase your payment on the credit card with the highest annual percentage rate while continuing to make the minimum payment on the rest of your credit cards. Once you pay off the balance on the card with the highest interest rate, you move on to the card with the second highest interest rate, and so on.

Doubling or tripling your minimum payment on the card with the highest interest rate is a good way to start. Whatever payment boost you can afford, do it and stick with it. If you start by paying $150 on a credit card, keep on paying at least $150 each and every month until the card is paid off.

Be sure to stick with your boosted payment amount even as your balance and minimum payments slip lower and lower. Remember: the aim is to get your balance to zero. Easing up on your payments as your balance creeps lower will slow your progress.

Pay Off the Card with the Lowest Balance First

This strategy is a great way to build up a little momentum. With this strategy, you increase your payment on the credit card with the lowest balance, while continuing to make the minimum payment on the rest of your credit cards. Once you pay off the card with the lowest balance, you move on to the card with the next lowest balance, and so on.

It’s quicker and easier to pay a $500 balance down to zero than a $2,500 balance. And it feels good to pay a credit card bill in full, no matter what size balance you begin with. Plus, every low balance card that you pay in full is one less minimum payment that you have to pay each month. By knocking out one or two smaller balance cards, you’ll have more money to focus on larger balances.

Consolidate Your Debt to a Single Card or Loan

Like things simple? This pay-down strategy might be for you. By consolidating your credit card debt to a single card or debt consolidation loan, you have a single payment to make each month rather than four or five. One payment to pay each month – that’s it. You can even automate payments so you never have to worry about paying late. Just be sure to choose a payment amount much more than the minimum each and every month so you can make some real progress on paying off your debt.

This payment strategy makes things easy, but it also makes it easy to let things slide. So pick a payment amount, double or triple your minimum payment (or whatever you can afford), and be sure to stick with it.

Stop charging. Whatever pay-down strategy you choose, it’s essential that you curb your credit card spending. It’s awfully hard to pay down credit card debt when you keep ringing up new balances each month. Put your credit cards on ice while you focus on paying down card debt. Pay with cash, check, or debit card instead. If you must use your credit card, only charge items you can pay off in a month or two.

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Credit Experts

    What do you mean by paying the apr (annual percentage rate)? Do you mean paying the minimum payment? If your balance is below 30% of your credit limit (less than 10% is even better), paying the minimum should not affect your score much. You can read more about it here: Making Sense of Your Credit Score

  • Credit Experts

    It probably is not. In addition to the 10% penalty, you will pay taxes on your withdrawal (the money grows tax-free until you take it out — and then you pay taxes on what you withdraw). So, if you were in the 28% tax bracket, you’d likely spend nearly 40% of what you’ve saved for retirement. (Also, if your financial situation is so desperate that bankruptcy might be an option, be aware that retirement savings are often protected.) Please get some professional advice before deciding how to proceed. but in general withdrawing retirement savings to meet current debts is a very bad idea. These resources may help:
    5 Questions to Ask Before Using Retirement Funds to Pay Bills
    Filing for Bankruptcy: The Difference Between Chapters 7, 11 & 13

  • Gerri Detweiler

    You’re right: card issuers will not settle if you are current. So you have to look at all your options and decide which one is best for your overall situation. We wrote about them here: 5 Ways To Get Out of Debt: Which Will Work for You?

  • Marie

    Hi, Is it true that if a credit card company lowers your interest rate then reduction only applies to future purchases? Thanks, Marie

    • Credit Experts

      It might be. It’s important to be sure you understand what you are negotiating. A reduction on your current balance? Future purchases? Or both?

  • Credit Experts

    It will depend on how the rest of your credit picture looks. Among other things, the amount of available credit you are using (anything higher than 30% will hurt your score, even if payments are on time), the mix of credit, the amount of time your account has been open and other factors are considered in calculating your score. But the biggest thing you can do is make payments as agreed. Here are more resources that may help you:
    Making Sense of Your Credit Score
    Credit Score Updates: How Long Will It Take?

  • Michael Bovee

    What is the situation with the bills? Are some of them already many months behind? Is he oversimplifying paying off a car loan you just got, and losing the benefit of seasoned payment history (which is not really “hurting” the credit score)?

    Need more details.

  • shauna

    I have been knocking out my credit cards by hitting the highest apr first and snow balling it. I am almost at the point where I am done with credit card debt! Now I am looking at a truck note with 3 years left on it and my student loans. I have about 55K in student loans and 12K on my truck. My student loans have a higher apr than my truck, but I am tempted to pay off the truck first because it will “free up” almost $350 a month. Which would be better?

    • Credit Experts

      Shauna —
      If you wanted to continue to use the snowball method, it seems you would pay the truck off next, because the balance is smaller. (And, if you were able to put the additional truck payment toward your student loan debt, you could make some rapid progress there.) Also, the truck loan isn’t as likely as the student loan to be gone forever once it’s paid off (meaning you are more likely to get a replacement vehicle and new loan than to get another student loan).

      But you definitely should go the way that makes the most sense and feels the most motivating to YOU.

  • Credit Experts

    Scenario 2 is probably better, depending on your credit limit. You’ll want to keep your balance below 30% (and below 10% is even better). Either strategy accomplishes the important goal of avoiding paying interest. It is impossible to guess which day your balance will be recorded for credit-scoring purposes. Some people choose a third option and pay most purchases off immediately so that the balance stays very low even if they would have otherwise used a higher percentage of available credit.

  • Credit Experts

    You can also see your free credit score at That also offers a personalized analysis of why your score is what it is. It is updated every 30 days, so you can monitor your (hopefully increasing) score. Good luck to you.

  • joan

    We have a credit card at 18% interest that we transferred $5000 to a 0% interest for 18 mo card. We are budgeting to pay off the amount on the 0% in 12 months. We are thinking we will pay just above the minimum on the 18% card. Is that the best plan?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      I am sorry – I don’t follow. You transferred the 18% balance to a 0% card right? So where does the minimum payment on the 18% card come in? I thought that balance was paid off – no?

  • Andrew

    I transferred $5500 on a 0% interest credit card that lasts for the next 12 months at 0% with a limit of $6500. I have a another credit card that has a $10,000 limit with $1000 balance at 15% interest. I’m paying more than my monthly minimum on both cards. I’m getting a decent size cash gift for Christmas and would like to use it on paying off my debt. What should I do with lets say a $2000 gift?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      It really depends on what your goal is here. Paying off the card with the small balance of 15% interest is going to save you money. But paying down the card that is nearly maxed out will probably be more beneficial for your credit score. One option might be to pay off the card with the $1000 balance and then put the other thousand dollars toward the other card. You may find that once the card with the $10,000 limit is paid off, you may get a balance transfer offer you can use if the other one isn’t paid off when the 0% deal expires. But that’s never guaranteed.

  • RJ

    Hello. I have approx 6k in credit card debt with credit cards and they are basically at 90% full. I have an another 5k in an american express gold card that was charged off last year and I am in a payment program with them but only $100 a month towards it. I have 3k cash that I earned to apply to my cards to bring the balance down below 30%, but I was wondering if I should pay down the charged off credit card to get that paid first instead, not sure what to do. Trying to buy a new car at the end of the year. Thank you.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Before you do anything, it might make sense for you to put that cash toward a car if you need to get one in order to have reliable transportation. You can pay it toward the charged off credit card but it probably won’t boost your credit score in the short term because the charge-off will still be there and it’s negative no matter what. You could also try using it to bring down the other balances, but I’m not sure how much that will change your overall score because of the charge-off. It just depends on everything in your report. My thinking is if you can find a relatively inexpensive car and make a decent down payment, that may be your best bet. On the other hand if those card balances are at a very high interest rate and you can get a car loan at a lower rate you may save money that way.

      Why don’t you see what kind of car loan you can get preapproved for through a credit union? Here is a list of credit unions that offer car loans nationally.

  • Gerri Detweiler

    What were the reasons you were declined for the card? Do you know what your credit scores are? I ask because a personal loan may be another good option.

  • Ian

    Should I pay off my debt in one payment or pay as much as I can when I can? I have small debts, 2k-3k on three cards.

    • Credit Experts

      Pay when you can, making sure you are keeping all your cards current. Do not pay so much that you have nothing left for an emergency fund. Here’s another post that may be helpful:
      5 Ways To Get Out of Debt: Which Will Work for You?

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Under the Credit Card Act, issuers must apply any amount above the minimum payment to higher interest rate portions of your balance. Are you paying more than the minimum?

  • Gerri Detweiler

    Utilization is calculated on each card individually and all of them in the aggregate. So if your goal is to improve your scores, your best bet is to get them all down to 20 – 25% or less of your available credit (there’s no exact #).

    • Lisa

      How long does it usually take for positive things like paying down a balance to affect your credit score?

      • Gerri Detweiler

        Lisa – It can happen quickly. A credit score is calculated at the time it is requested based on information available at that time. So if the updated balance has been reported (and most creditors report monthly) that’s what will be used to calculate credit scores.

  • Eric

    My wife and I have a total of 32 credit cards between store, gas, and regular V/MC cards. Total credit is about $46000 and debt as of today is like $24000. I took on a different strategy while paying down credit cards to raise my score to get my mortgage. First, we pay for EVERYTHING with credit cards then pay nearly every dime on my cards come pay day, and try to use the rewards cards as much as we can to get cash back, then I pay off every card I can pay off to a zero balance, and on the others pay at least enough so the balance is no higher than the prior month. We had our usage down to about 20% but while on vacation, we cooked the motor in our RV so had to have that fixed, get a hotel while there instead of a cheap campground, and do a one way rental car to get back home, then fly down and drive the RV back which after all of that put about $9000 further in debt.
    Now I have been trying to pay off or at least the prior month’s balance on as many cards as I can. This leaves me with most cards in one of two groups, either paid off or low and I pay no interest, or a balance around 70-80% of my limit, and paying interest on them.
    Which would be better, paying cards off and paying what I can on others and carrying high usage, or having a balance on every card and having lower usage on the ones over 70%.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      If your credit scores are your primary concern then your goal should be to pay all of them down to 20 – 25% or less of the available credit. Less than 10% is ideal, but the interim step should help. If your goal is to get out of debt then I’d suggest you create a written plan for all the debts, targeting the highest interest rate one to pay off first, and then so on down the line.

      Those two goals may not line up perfectly so you may have to choose between one and the other.

      • Eric

        I appreciate the response, but is it worth sacrificing cards that were paid off the prior month and not paying the last month’s balance to be able to pay down higher usage cards? My fear is that if I pay minimums and not last month balances, I will be paying interest on cards that haven’t been charging me interest so more ends up going to interest than balance. I was also told elsewhere that having 6-10 of my accounts with no balance is good for my credit score and not paying those off to put money elsewhere could hurt my score more than dropping an account from say 85% usage to 75%

        • Gerri Detweiler

          I am sorry my answer was not very specific but I am having a little trouble following your scenario. It’s hard for me to tell what’s going on with each card.

          I agree with you here: “My fear is that if I pay minimums and not last month balances, I will be paying interest on cards that haven’t been charging me interest so more ends up going to interest than balance” I don’t want to see you pay interest on those cards either.

          As for utilization it is calculated individually and in the aggregate. But if I understand your situation, you want to continue paying the ones you can pay in ful in full and then tackle the ones with balances one at a time starting with the highest rate balance first. If you want, when you get one of those with balances down to 25% you can move on to the next highest rate but ideally you want to get your high rate cards paid off so more money is going toward principal (on the others) than toward interest.

          Make sense?

        • Kate

          Not a professional here, just a person who had been in major credit card debt. My advice to you, Eric: Pay off all but 3 cards and close the rest of them. Get off the credit-card wheel. Save up a big, fat emergency fund. If you just have to have more cards in the future, I’m sure the credit-card companies will be happy to load you up, but you should be striving for independence from the cards. They mean you are a debtor, and it’s not a good thing.

  • Paulette Cogshell

    Hi Miranda. Before I had file Chapter 7 bankruptcy 10 years ago I once had fair credit after bankruptcy of course my credit score is poor and I’m unable to qualify for any unsecured credit cards including Credit One Bank. I don’t recommend filing bankruptcy have you talk to a credit expert just like the website recommend have you consider a debit consolidation loan?

  • Paulette Cogshell

    My credit card issuer has closed and transferred to collections agency and will be removed off the credit report May 2015? $800.00 debt. Should I pay more than minimum payments before May or not?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      That’s really your choice. Paying more before that time probably won’t boost your credit scores, if that’s what you’re asking. It really depends on whether you just want to get this debt paid off or not. This article may help: The 7 Biggest Questions About Debt Collections & Your Credit

  • Carolyn Mossey

    I had very poor credit and lots of cc debt. I filed bankruptcy and did not regret it. It took me out of debt and my credit didnt hurt much bc it was aleady poor. The worst part was waiting for it to come off my credit report but it gave me time to rebuild credit while I was waiting for the bad stuff to come off. I consider it ” lesson learned”.

  • Crystal

    Hello I have several credit cards totaling debit to around 20K, I was just approved for yet another personal loan to of 13K. Should I use this money to pay down my debit and if so should I apply it to the highest interest rate first or the lowest balances? Should I just refused the personal loan? I feel like im drowning lately

    • Credit Experts

      You need a strategy for attacking your debt. Is the interest rate on the personal loan lower than the interest rate on your debt? And do you have a plan to cut expenses? Because if the personal loan serves only to pay off the cards so that you can run them up again, you will have actually lost ground. Here are some ideas for repaying debt (and sometimes what you will need is a way to make additional income . . .): 5 Ways To Get Out of Debt: Which Will Work for You?

  • Aisha

    I am currently just under $18k in high interest debt, spread across 6 accounts. Two of the accounts are at just under $5k with 90% utilization (different airline cards with an annual fee of $96 each), two are around $3500 with 90% utilization (no fee), one is just under $1k with equal utilization (no fee), and one is an account that was closed a few years ago and the balance is under $1k. I had two closed accounts I paid off in full within the last month (about $2200 total). I can maximize $900 a month in paying down high interest debt. Seeing as most of my accounts have a similar balance, utilization, and interest rate, what would be the optimal strategy for overall debt reduction? Since I’ve recently paid off two accounts, I’m feeling pretty good about manageability, but I want to be able to turn that $900/month into retirement savings and investing as quickly as possible (I turn 30 in six months). Part of me wants to pay down my two cards with the lowest balance first so I can keep feeling successful, but not if it would make more financial sense to devote the largest percentage to cards with higher balances. Increasing my score isn’t my largest priority since I do have access to credit and don’t plan to buy a car or home anytime in the next 3 years.

    • Credit Experts

      Aisha —
      The secret to debt repayment is using a plan that you’ll stick with. You may want to consider dividing your payments so that you can bring down your credit utilization. And once you pay off an account, please don’t close it. An old account (still open) can help you in the areas of credit age and credit utilization. If you close the accounts, your overall utilization will go up. You can (and should) keep tabs on your credit scores during this process. Here’s how to monitor your credit score for free. Good luck in putting that debt behind you.

  • Santiago

    Is it better to pay off the debt and close the account or leave it open?

  • Credit Experts

    What are the interest rates? You might consider paying the one with the highest interest rate first.

  • Jordan

    I have a credit card with a $2,000 balance at 26% apr (open for 4 years now). I also have an old credit card (I’ve had it open for 8 years now) with a balance of $1,200 at 7.5% apr. I’ll be receiving a substantial amount of money in the next few weeks and was wondering if it would it be smarter to pay more than half of what’s owed on the card with the higher apr or to pay off the older card with the lower apr off completely. The card with the larger apr is KILLING me in interest fees. I’m obviously trying to get my score back up. It’s ‘Good’ right now, but I don’t want to make the wrong decision and hurt it in the long run.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Pay off the more expensive card. You don’t have to close it unless they are charging an annual fee you don’t want to pay and they won’t waive it. Not sure why you are worried that paying it off will hurt your credit…?

      • Jordan

        Thank you! I was only concerned about it hurting my score because of the amount of time the older card has been open. I guess that is somewhat irrelevant since I’ve always paid on it and not faulted payments. Thought it could be better to pay it off, but I’m going to pay on the higher apr.

  • hmii

    I have two credit cards and they closed the account : will paying Ln these cards open the account again and will this affect my crier positively?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      I am not sure I understand your question clearly but paying the balance probably won’t reopen the account though you can always ask. If not, you may need to get a secured credit card to rebuild your credit.

  • Carissa Gage

    So I have 3 Credit cards and two have 1000 dollars on them and the third one has a high Apr and I have 3000 dollars . should I pay the smallest first or start on the card with the high Apr?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      You will save the most money by paying off the credit card with the highest interest rate first. Does that help?


    I have one card with $1900 balance on a $5000 Limit. I make $2000/month, is it damaging my credit to consistently have this balance be around $1500 a month? i make bi-weekly payments of at least $150, sometimes more, but i also continue using it

    • Gerri Detweiler

      A $1900 balance on a card with a $5000 limit is a 38% debt ratio. That’s on the high side. It probably affects your score. Have you checked your grade for this factor with a free credit score from

  • Andrea F

    Should I borrow from my 401K to pay off high interest credit cards?

  • Kristen Dressel

    I have a credit card that has a limit of $5000. My current balance including pending transactions is $4929.79. I have never been good at paying per statements, I always pay per current balance as I am worried of going over my limit and ruining my credit. What is the best way for me to get this balance down? Christmas always bring the balance up and it’s hard for me to get it down. I read somewhere in one of your replies to “use a debit card for purchases instead of the credit card” so as you pay off the card, the balance isn’t rising from purchases still. Please help :)

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Kristen – I am not sure I understand your question. Do you pay in full each month? Or are you constantly finding your balance near the limit and hard to pay down? If the latter you may want to consider talking with a non-profit credit counselor. If you pay in full, then you can make payments throughout the month so that your reported balance is lower.

      • Kristen Dressel

        Hi Gerri – Before Christmas, I was always paying my card down in full each month. Since Christmas, I seem to be behind each month and I am unable to get card down. I am constantly close to the limit.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          Kristen – If you are having trouble catching up, I would encourage you to talk with a credit counseling agency. They may be able to help you get back on track so you can pay the debt off. We wrote about that here: Does Credit Counseling Work?

  • Trishy Lopez

    Hi I am getting 43,000.00. I Am in 24,000 in credit card debt. Should I pay it all off?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Is there a reason why you wouldn’t? Do you have emergency savings? Will it be $43,000 before or after taxes?

      It’s a more complicated question than it may seem!

    • Credit Experts

      We can’t make that decision for you. Are there reasons you would not want to use the money that way?

  • Mariahmcc

    I have 5,000 on a high interest card. I have 3,000 from my tax refund. should I continue to make the minimum payment while I save for the other 2,000 so I can pay off balance in full or make the 3,000 payment now and continue to make monthly payments on the remainder?

    • Credit Experts

      We can’t make that decision for you. If your goal is to help your credit, you might want to consider paying off more of the credit card (particularly if your balance is more than 30% of your credit limit). The very best thing you can do for your credit is to pay on time. But only you know what your other financial obligations are, whether you have an emergency fund and more . . . And choices about how to use your money are rightly yours.

  • Shea

    I am close to $8000 in credit card debt, and thanks to emergencies popping up (such as needing a new engine, surgery, etc.), I am consistently late on two of my cards, raising both the interest and the fees. I tried applying for a debt consolidation loan, as if I could consolidate it all into one payment, I could easily afford a payment of up to $450 a month, paid on time and in full. But every place I try will only approve me for a loan of $500 max because of my credit score. I have a firm budget in mind that should see everything paid off in full by this time next year, but in order for it to work, I’d need to at the very least get those two cards current again. What am I supposed to do?

  • Dre Napper

    Hello I owe, about $9000 on one credit card the minimum payment is $252, I just played today $300. Will this lower my minimum payment?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      It may slightly lower it but probably not significantly. Most of your payment probably went toward interest and the actual balance declined only a small amount.

      • Dre Napper

        What is the best way to lower my Apr, I never missed a payment. Is it possible to transfer the debt to a new credit with a lower apr

        • Gerri Detweiler

          We’ve written an article about that. I’d suggest you start with your current issuer and if that doesn’t work, try the other methods. Please read: How to Lower Your Credit Card Interest Rates

  • Richard Matthew

    I get these credit cards that’s interest free for 15 months. One time I got it up to 7000 on it , I managed to pay it off before the interest free offer was up. Even if I went over the the time limit I only pay interest on what I owe. Not like a Dept. store where if you pay balance after due time you pay interest on the whole time you had a balance. I now have 3000 I owe on one card buy I have 13 months to pay off before the interest charge kicks in. I get these kind of offers all of the time. I think its great. It really helped me out on many things from Dental work to get roof on part of me house. The question I am asking is if I do this enough times even though I pay off balance every single time will it hurt me later on?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      It shouldn’t. The only problem I can see is that your debt usage ratios may be high while you are paying them off, but after the fact it shouldn’t hurt your scores. Generally speaking, credit reports display current (not historic) information about balances and credit limits. TransUnion is doing historical reporting on those items but it’s not widely incorporated into credit scoring models at this point.

  • Jim Hernandez

    Negotiate what???? You used that invisible money, now step up and be responsible for your mistakes!!!!! The problem with America these days is the free ride. Nobody should get a free ride. If people worked for what they purchased, they would appreciate the value of the dollar more. We buy with invisible money that we never worked for in the first place, and then over time we find ourselves under the debt mountain and it’s hard to climb out from underneath. So where do we get our sense of value from? The TV which gives us what is “in” so then we go out and buy buy buy and the cycly starts all over again. I can only say this because I was in the same trap for years and finally stuck with my goals and got out. If I can do it, anyone can. I never wanted help and I owned up to my mistakes. It’s like being an alcoholic. You will never get the upper hand until you really want to. Then and only then will you kick the habit … spending or drinking, or whatever has control over you.
    You can do it!

  • janet

    when you pay off a credit card is it better to close it or keep it open with a zero balance

    • Credit Experts

      Janet —
      Closing it could hurt your score. But even better than keeping it open with a zero balance is keeping it open and occasionally using it. You can read more here:
      The Biggest Credit Mistake People Make

  • Debbie

    I closed an account with Sears many years ago and cut up the card. At the time I had a $6000 balance, which I have paid down every month (I owe a little more than $2000 now). I seem to remember when they first sent me statements, they would print “this is not a bill or request for payment”. But I paid every month anyway, and a little more than the minimum. In June 2015, I accidentally forgot to pay. I sent the payment as soon as I realized and before the next bill was due. Then I paid the next bill on the due date. They gave me a late fee, which I requested be removed, but my next payment was for a double amount. They were adamant I HAD to pay this double amount. I don’t get it? Can they demand I pay a certain amount now?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      It’s really hard to say. It could very well be a mistake or it could be part of the terms of your hardship agreement. If you can come up with that amount somehow it might be your safest bet. If you can’t, then I’d suggest you try to appeal to someone higher up. You could also try filing a complaint with the CFPB.

  • Terri

    What if you don’t have enough cash to live on if you out the credit cards down. If I did this we would not have enough for food

    • Gerri Detweiler

      I’m so sorry to hear you are struggling. Did you know that some counseling agencies offer a variety of free services for consumers in difficult financial straits? I wrote about that today here:
      6 Places to Get Free Help With Your Credit Problem

  • TC

    Hello, I am very determined to pay off all credit cards. At this time I have 17,000 in CC debt at 18.9%. Should I apply for a 0% transfer CC for 15 months with a 3% fee, enabling me to pay off that balance quicker? Thank you.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      It may be tough to get a card with a large enough limit to pay that off. But you could use such a card to pay off your highest interest rate debt and then work your way down. Have you tried our free credit card pay-off calculator to see how much you’ll save that way?

  • Andrew Jennings

    I have 3 credit cards, totaling $2,300 in debt. I’ll be getting $1,700 in cash. With that I can pay 2 of my cards off completely. Is it more beneficial for my credit score to pay them completely off right away or to make monthly payments over the minimum until they’re all paid off?

    • Credit Experts

      Great question, Andrew. You want to keep an eye on “debt utilization,” your balance relative to your credit limit. These are calculated both overall and individually. You want the percentage to be no higher than 30% for any card (and less than 10% is better). Paying them off completely won’t help your score any more than keeping balances low and paying on time.

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  • Meet Our Expert

    lucy_lazarony GravatarLucy Lazarony is a freelance personal finance writer. Her articles have been featured on Bankrate, MoneyRates, MSN Money, and The National Endowment for Financial Education. Prior to freelancing, she worked as a staff writer for Bankrate for seven years. She earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Florida and spent a summer as an international intern at Richmond, The American International University in London. She lives in South Florida.
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