Financial Tip – Reduce Credit Card Debt

Many Americans share the goal of paying down credit card debt. In the United States, the average household with credit card debt has an estimated $6,929 in balances carried from one month to the next (

Credit card debt can be intimidating to tackle but it’s doable with a little help. Here are some tips to chip away at it.

Negotiate a lower interest rate

A lower interest rate can make a big difference when managing credit card debt. Before you make a plan to tackle your debt, call your credit card company and ask if they can give you a lower rate (it helps to mention how long you’ve been a customer, your record of paying on time, and your good credit score).

Develop a strategy that works for you

Idea 1: Tackle the debt with the highest interest rate.

This strategy can save you money because a high interest rate means you’re paying the highest amount of interest based off the principal balance. Accruing interest is what can make debt snowball out of control, so minimizing the principal quickly can pay off in the long run. Pay the minimum balance on all cards, but focus on putting extra cash into the account with the highest interest rate until the debt is gone for good.

Idea 2: Pay off the card with the lowest balance first.

Say you have a total of $5,000 in credit card debt between two cards. One card has $4,000 and the other has $1,000. If you focus on paying off the $1,000 balance first (while continuing to make the minimum payment on the $4,000 debt), once the debt is gone, it can be very motivational, and you can refocus your efforts to attack the larger debt.

Redesign your budget to tackle debt faster

The only way to conquer credit card debt quickly is to pay more than the minimum balance. Take a look at your budget to see where you can cut out expenses in order to free up some extra cash. Remember, the faster you pay off debt, the less you pay in interest, saving you money in the long run.

Cut the cards

Once you’ve freed yourself from your lingering credit card debt, now is the time to decide if you want to keep your cards. You don’t have to get rid of all of them, but take note of the features of each one. Does one have a higher interest rate than another? Does one have an annual fee? Cutting back on credit card usage can prevent you from racking up debt again. Try a First County Bank debit card, which works like a credit card but instead of getting a bill, your purchases are paid directly from your checking account.