If you're looking at a significant amount of credit card debt and fear you're stuck paying minimum payments every month, don't worry -- there are many ways to help you lower your credit card debt, even if you don't have much income to spare for large payments. Credit card debt can be difficult to get rid of because of their ease of use and high interest rates, but if you're serious about cutting down on this debt, here are three things you can do:
Focus on One Card First
Taking out one card's worth of debt is a vital first step, as it frees up more income to focus on paying down other cards. The trick is choosing which way you want to do this. One method is to pay off the card with the highest interest first, thereby saving you a significant amount of money in the long run; alternatively, you can focus on the card with the lowest balance, which will give you more money to pay down other cards faster. Either method is valid, but should be tailored to your circumstances. For example, if you're only a few hundred dollars away from paying off one card, don't switch to one with a few thousand dollars in the balance just because the interest rate is higher.
Take a Debt Consolidation Loan
It might seem like the last thing you want to do when in debt is take out a loan, but a consolidation loan helps in multiple ways. First, you'll probably get a lower interest rate, which means saving money in the long run. Two, it combines all your monthly payments into one, which makes it easier to keep track of. If you mention to your bank that you're seeking a loan for consolidation, they can even help you close the accounts you're paying off. You should avoid closing your accounts if you want to up your credit score, as total available balance is a factor in your score, but if you have trouble with temptation this might be a good option.
There are two types of loans you can take. First is an unsecured personal loan, which might be a little more difficult to get if your credit score is low. The second is a secured loan which uses collateral, such as your car. The latter may be easier to get, but is riskier if you fall behind on payments, so make absolutely sure you know what you're capable of paying before you go in.
Use Balance Transfers
One creative way to handle credit card debt is to open new credit cards, then transfer the balance of your old cards to your new ones; this is because many new credit cards offer introductory periods of low to no interest. By transferring your balance from one card to another, you're essentially almost eliminating your interest and potentially lowering your monthly payment -- provided you pay the balance off before the special time period ends. Try to stick to opening and paying off one account at a time to avoid hurting your credit score.
All of these options require some level of restraint so you don't put yourself in even deeper debt. With a steady financial plan, some dedication, and patience, you can work toward getting rid of that debt without nearly as much interest.