Credit card debt can be crippling. Aside from the obvious negative effects it has on your credit score, it also sort of feels like having a dark cloud hanging over your head everywhere you go. Credit card interest rates are so high because they’re designed to deter users from carrying a balance on their cards. However, the downside to this is once you find yourself in debt, it becomes increasingly difficult to pay off. It requires discipline and patience.
Here are a few different strategies you can employ to mitigate the effects of these high interest rates, so you can pay off your credit card debt once and for all.
Debt consolidation onto one credit card is one of the most common ways to start paying off your credit card debt in a more organized and practical way. Unlike rewards credit cards that are designed to give you points for spending money, balance transfer credit cards offer a promotional period (usually less than one year) in which they charge you a reduced interest rate on balances you transfer from other credit cards. For example, they’ll charge you 0% on balance transfers for the first 12 months.
There are, however, certain things to be aware of when doing a balance transfer. First, you need to plan ahead in order to ensure that you’ll be able to pay off your transferred debt before the promotional period ends. If you’re still in debt and the promotional period is up, then you’ll go back to paying a high interest rate on what you’ve transferred—only it’ll be on a new credit card. Second, you usually have to pay a fee for the amount you transfer. This fee is typically reflected as a percentage of the full amount transferred. So if you plan on moving your debt to one card, it’s best to do it in as few transactions as possible in order to avoid paying multiple transaction fees. Finally, although the promotional period of a reduced interest rate can range from six to 12 months, the time window to actually transfer your debt is usually 90 days. The promotional period of however many months starts when you make the transfer.
Here are three of the most popular low-interest and balance transfer credit cards that can help you pay off your debt faster:
Line of credit or personal loan
Although the previous tip talked about “debt consolidation,” it referred only to consolidating all your debt onto one credit card that offers a lower interest rate. However, there are other ways to consolidate or “pool” your debt into one place so that it’s more easily managed.
Another way to consolidate debt is to obtain a line of credit from the bank. Much like how a credit card has a limit that you cannot exceed, but is reusable when it’s paid off, a line of credit affords you the same luxury. Apply once, and then borrow money up to your credit limit and pay interest only on the amount you use. Personal lines of credit often offer you lower interest rates than credit cards so it’s a very viable option for those who are weighed down by their debt.
The bank also offers personal loans. These differ from a personal line of credit in that your regular payments are a combination of the principal amount of the loan and interest charges. Another big difference is that the money is not “reusable” as it is with a line of credit. Once you spend it, it’s gone. Depending on your borrowing needs, one of these options may be an excellent alternative to paying the high interest charges that come with a credit card.
Although personal loans from a bank are a great option for those who can obtain them, financial institutions tend to be averse to risk and may not accept everyone that comes to them asking for a loan. If this is the case for you, then borrowing via a peer-to-peer lending platform may be the way to go. These are online lending platforms meant to connect borrowers with lenders. What makes them so popular is the fact that lenders set their preferred interest rate so both parties are happy. While financial institutions have their personal interests invested, their offered interest rates likely don’t represent the most affordable thing available to the borrower. Peer-to-peer lending platforms like Grow serve essentially as a middle man, providing a forum for lenders and borrowers to meet. This makes the interest rates available much more attractive.
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