How to Pay Down Your Credit Card Debt
Credit card debt can feel like an anchor weighing down your chances for financial progress. It can lower your credit score and reduce your options in terms of housing, vehicle purchases, and other items. Paying it down is the first step to true financial freedom and a brighter future. Here are four strategies to help you finally get free of credit card debt:
Improve Your Credit Score
Although improving your credit score won’t, by itself, eliminate your debt, it is a critical step in this journey. A better credit score can open up your options—by offering you lower interest rates on loans and credit—that could ultimately help speed up the process of paying down what you owe. It is therefore important that you are aware of your credit score and what you need to do to maintain or improve it (i.e., paying more than the monthly minimums, paying on time, etc.).
Negotiate Lower Interest Rates (or Transfer the Balances)
Contact your credit card companies and ask them to lower your interest rate as much as possible. This will help minimize additional costs of interest being added to your debt. If they’re unable to either cut your rate or offer you a substantially better rate, you may be able to transfer the balance to a new card. Moving the balance to a new card with a lower interest rate can effectively accomplish the same goal of saving on the burdensome costs of high interest.
Tackle Cards with High Interest Rates and Low Balances
Considering high interest rates simply add to the amount of debt you owe, it is best to address those accounts first. If interest rates are equal, strive to first pay off the cards with the least amount of debt—having fewer accounts hanging over your head has a positive psychological effect that can inspire even faster progress. An effective way to do this is through a personal loan that could offer a lower interest rate than your credit cards.
Pay Off Your Debt with a “Cash-Out” Home Equity Loan
If you’re a homeowner who has built up equity in your property, you may be able to get what’s known as a “cash-out” refinance or home equity loan. This could offer you a loan for the cash difference between the value of your home and the amount you may still owe on it. You could use the funds to immediately pay off all your high interest credit card debt. Although your existing mortgage would be replaced by a new loan, the amount you could save on credit card interest would be well worth the exchange.