There’s a lot of advice out there on how best to pay down your credit card debt, but a lot of strategies aren’t realistic or reasonable. Who could possibly cut their grocery budget in half or skip out on every opportunity to spend time out with friends just pay off an extra $500 on an already sprawling credit card bill? There’s a smarter, quicker, and completely legal method that will drop your balance down to $0 and save you money in the process.
Follow these simple steps to get you from scrambling to make monthly payments, to making long-term plans.
Step One: Stop Paying Interest on Your Balance Right Now
When you first signed up for your credit card, you were probably enticed by luxurious rewards and a too-go-to-be-true introductory APR. The goal of those offers is to encourage you to build up a balance and then spend as much time and money as possible to pay it off. But what if you secretly took advantage of those introductory offers to pay down your balance even faster? Despite what the banks want you to think, the right credit card can be used as a powerful tool to put you back in control of your money.
The secret is to use a credit card with an extended 0% APR promotional rate. These cards charge zero interest on the balance for a longer period of time, and some even offer cash rewards on top of that. Your first step is to transfer over your balance as soon as possible. This will allow you to start paying directly on your debt instead of your payments being swept up in interest and additional fees.
Step Two: Build a Solid (and Doable) Repayment Plan
Once you’ve made the transfer and stopped paying interest, it’s time to take advantage of the 0% APR promotional period. First, write down your entire balance due. Then, divide it by the number of interest-free months during your promotional period. The number you come up with is the payment amount you need to make each month to totally bottom out your balance.
Think of it like this: Let’s say your balance is $10,000 and you have a 0% APR promotional period of 18 months. You would need to make a payment of $555 per month to completely wipe out your debt by the time the promotional period ends. Even if you decide to pay half of that amount ($277) each month, you’d still manage to crush $4968 of your debt. By contrast, if you never transfer over your balance, you’d only pay down one-tenth of your debt in that same amount of time. Take a look at the chart below.
If that’s not motivating enough, consider how much interest you’re paying on your current balance. If you make the exact same payment amount with a standard 20% APR, only half of your money actually goes toward paying down your debt. The other half is straight interest. At that rate, you’re only paying $1662 per year toward your balance.
Step Three: Make Your Money Work For You
You and your bank account deserve better than that. Instead of working so hard to pay off your debt, focus on finding the right credit card that will help you do it faster. Some cards even offer cash rewards or zero balance transfer fees, which means you can put even more money toward your balance. Here are the best credit card offers we’ve found that will help you be debt-free in no time.
The Peace of Mind Card
BankAmericard® Credit Card
Perfect for paying down hefty balances or making in bigger purchases, the BankAmericard® Credit Card offers an incredible 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for balance transfers made in the first 60 days. This is an excellent card for anyone with a large balance who doesn’t want to break the budget while they’re paying down their debt. There is a 3% balance transfer fee, but you’re looking at savings into the thousands by kicking interest charges to the curb. Small price to pay for the peace of mind of paying down debt while still being able to enjoy your life.More Details >
The Cards That Give Back
Chase Freedom Unlimited℠
This is a solid card for both introductory APR and cash back bonuses. The Chase Freedom Unlimited℠ offers a 0% Intro APR on Balance Transfers intro APR for 15 months and a 1.5% cash back rate. Even better? There are no spending categories or restrictions and you don’t have to worry about activating anything to lock in your cash back. And for a limited time, new cardmembers get a $150 cash bonus when they spend $500 on new purchases in the first three months. The one downside is the balance transfer fee, which is Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.. So this card is recommended for those with moderate balances who also plan to make a few new purchases.More Details >
Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card
Another great option for a card with cash rewards is the Capital One® Quicksilver® Cash Rewards Credit Card. This card offers a 0% intro on balance transfers for 9 months, as well as an industry-leading 1.5% cash back rate. There are no hidden agendas—no restrictions or limits on what you can charge to earn your cash back. If you’re looking for a card you can use to pay off smaller balances while also earning some cash, this card will get you to your goals quicker.More Details >