Are you juggling too many credit card bills? Paying off credit card debt or any type of debt for that matter is not an easy task. You’ll need to get organized and determine the right strategy.
If you’re looking to pay off multiple credit cards, you don’t have to cut your cards up or deprive yourself. Yes, it may take some time to adjust to not overspending and living above your means with credit cards, but it’s definitely doable.
Here are some of the best ways to pay off multiple credit cards.
Start With the Highest Interest Rate
The average credit card interest rate is between 17% and 20%. However, some cards have an APR around 24% or higher. Your interest rate often depends on the type of card and your creditworthiness.
Regardless, credit card interest rates are notoriously high when you compare it to other types of debt and that’s even if you have a great credit score. That said, when you’re trying to pay off multiple credit cards, it may make sense to focus on the card with the highest interest rate first.
You can often find your credit card interest rate by looking at the card details you received when you got approved for your card. Or this information may be on your statement or the cardholder’s mobile app.
List out each of your cards and commit to paying off the card with the highest interest rate right. While you’re doing this, continue to pay only the minimum payment on all your other cards. Once you pay off a credit card, move on to the next highest interest rate, and so on. This method of debt payoff is commonly referred to as the avalanche method.
Start With the Lowest Balance
Another way to pay off multiple credit cards is to start with the lowest balance. We all have to start somewhere and even small debt payments matter in the grand scheme of things.
This could be a great way to jumpstart your motivation if you’re looking at several different credit cards. Let’s say you have 5 credit cards with balances of $1,200, $500, $2,242, $250, and $1,500 respectively.
With this particular strategy, you’d focus on the card with the $250 balance first. This may be easy to pay off in a month or two if you really focus on it. Then, you can move on to the $500 balance and work your way up. Yes, you’ll end with the $2,242 balance and it may take some time to pay it down. However, once you get there you’ll only have 1 credit card left and not 5.
Consolidate Your Credit Card Debt
If you’re continuing to have trouble with managing multiple credit card payments and balances, consider consolidating your credit card debt. There are several ways to do this.
You could obtain a low-interest personal loan and pay off all the credit cards with the loan funds. Then, you’d just have the one loan payment to repay over time.
Or, you can do a balance transfer if you get approved for a high enough credit limit. Here’s how it works.
A balance transfer allows you to transfer your balance from one credit card to a new one. The new credit card often has a 0% APR for a few months. This allows you to pay off your balance alone without paying interest. If you stick with your current credit card, it may be harder to pay it off since you’ll also be paying a higher interest rate.
With a balance transfer card, you may pay a fee that’s 3% (of the credit card balance) or $5 – whichever is greater. This varies depending on the offer, though. Still, this may be an option that saves you money and simplifies your monthly payments if the numbers make sense.
Try Negotiating Interest Rates and Fees
When you’re looking to pay off multiple credit cards it’s worth it to try negotiating some of your fees or even your card’s interest rate. Don’t set your expectations too high, but also make sure you make a solid effort.
If you’ve been paying your credit card bills on-time and are in good standing, you can try asking your cardholder if they can lower your interest rate. Express to them that you are trying to pay the balances down and could do that more effectively with a lower rate. If your credit score has recently gone up, mentioning this could also be grounds to request a lower interest rate.
If any of your credit cards have an annual fee, you can also try asking the credit card company to wave it. Any extra money you can free up to go toward your credit card balances is worth it. Companies have been a lot more lenient this year so it’s worth it to ask and see what happens.
Stop Using Your Cards and Direct All Extra Funds Toward Your Debt
This should go without saying, but it’s important to realize that the best way to pay off multiple credit cards is to slow down on accumulating more debt and maximize your payments.
If you keep using your credit cards while you’re trying to pay them off, this will just make it even harder as you’ll make a payment then cancel it out by adding to the balance.
Remove your credit cards from your wallet and create a budget that enables you to work with the existing income you have. This may involve cutting some expenses or making some temporary sacrifices.
If you’re earning extra money or receiving windfalls, direct that money toward your credit cards and commit to avoiding lifestyle inflation.
Summary – Pay Off Multiple Credit Cards By Simply Getting Started
Less than one-third of consumers have really bad credit according to research gathered by BadCredit.org. Avoid falling into this camp by managing your credit card debt and keeping balances low. Getting started may be the hardest part of this whole thing. Maybe you’re looking at all your credit card debt feel overwhelmed. The key is to choose a strategy and just get started with one card.
Once you start to dig yourself out of debt, you’ll gain more motivation and free up more of your income in the process.