- Credit cards are notorious for high interest rates, which can greatly prolong your debt repayment schedule if you're not proactive.
- To pay off your debt quickly, consider asking for a lower interest rate, consolidating your debt, or doubling your monthly payment.
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Americans of all ages are mired in credit-card debt .
Having credit-card debt isn't always a sign of irresponsible spending habits. Unexpected expenses crop up for everyone and sometimes credit can seem like the only lifeline.
The good news is that credit-card debt isn't a financial death sentence. But, the sooner you pay it off, the sooner you can improve your credit and put your hard-earned dollars toward more exciting goals.
Here are five strategies for getting out from under debt quickly.
1. Ask for a lower interest rate
Most people don't know you can call your credit-card issuer to ask for a reduced APR (annual percentage rate), which can make a difference of hundreds of dollars in interest payments. Eight in 10 credit-card holders who asked for a lower interest rate in the past year were granted one, according to a survey from CompareCards.com. The average reduction was six percentage points.
2. Double your minimum payment
Paying the minimum payment on your credit-card won't make any significant dent in your total debt load. If your main objective is paying off your debt as fast as possible, concentrate any extra funds you have left after covering your non-negotiable expenses (namely, housing and food) to this payment. Start small and make a goal to double your minimum payment and go from there.
3. Open a balance transfer card
If you have debt on multiple credit cards, consider consolidating your balances into one so you can make a single monthly payment.
A balance transfer card allows borrowers to transfer their balances onto a new credit card , typically with a 0% interest rate for an introductory period of time. If you're able to pay off your debt within the promotional period at a 0% interest rate, you have the potential to save a lot of money on interest. Note that you'll be responsible for paying a transfer fee between 3% and 5% of the total balance.
4. Take out a personal loan
This strategy may seem counterintuitive at first: Why take out another line of credit to pay of an existing line of credit? Because personal-loan interest rates can be as low as 6% to 7%, compared to 17% to 24% on a credit card.
A personal loan will give you quick access to cash, which you can put directly toward your outstanding balances. After that, you'll have one fixed monthly payment to repay your loan. You can find personal loans easily online through lenders like SoFi or loan comparison sites like Credible .
5. Tackle the most expensive debt first
If you don't want to consolidate your balances or take on another line of credit, focusing on paying off the most expensive debt first the balance with the highest interest rate can speed up the entire repayment process as you save money on interest (experts call this the debt avalanche method ).
Even an extra $100 a month can make a huge difference , shaving months or even years off your repayment period.
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