By Rachel Morey


5 Min. To Read

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Credit card debt is at a new all-time high as of November 2017. Consumers owe $1.02 trillion according to the latest report from the Federal Reserve. The average American made $1,054 in new charges to their credit cards during the holiday season.

In a December 2017 survey conducted by YouGov, 30% of respondents said they believe that they will never get their credit cards paid off. Nearly 40% said they don’t know when they’ll get them paid off. That means that 31 million Americans believe they will die with their debts.

Almost 60% of Americans consider credit cards a form of “bad debt”; 53% said they think mortgages are a “good debt”. They also see home equity loans and auto loans as a better type of debt than student loans and medical debt.

Of those that think they’ll pay off their credit cards, the average estimate of how long it would take to bring those balances to zero was nine years. Only 13% of Americans are comfortable piling on new debt in 2018 and 45% said they do not want to add to their current debt load.

Getting motivated to pay off credit card debt is no easy task. Expert financial planners recommend imagining what you could accomplish without the debt. If it’s keeping you from the life you want, paying it off becomes a much more attractive goal.

Paying off credit cards after the holiday season is an important goal for some consumers. That debt will probably get more expensive in just two months. Analysts predict that the Fed will raise interest rates during their upcoming March 21 meeting. Variable rate credit cards don’t have to follow the 45-day rule when there’s an increased interest rate on the horizon, so a higher interest rate is an uncomfortable reality for many cardholders.

One way to make sure more of your monthly payment amount is going toward paying down the principal owed as opposed to interest and fees is to get a 0% card and transfer the balance.

Slate from Chase, Citi Diamond Preferred, and Bank Americard MasterCard offer 0% interest on balance transfers for a limited introductory period between 15 and 21 months. For many people, that’s enough time to get the balance paid off. Be aware that there may be balance transfer fees, depending on the card you choose.

Some cards offer a low introductory rate for purchases as well as balance transfers. It’s important to understand the details of the offer before using the card. Balance transfer cards generally require good credit. However, some credit card companies offer a lower interest rate of 2.99% to applicants with less-than-great FICO credit scores.

Some balance transfer cards require new cardholders to complete their transfers within a certain amount of time to get the 0% APR deal. If you aren’t ready to transfer the balance, wait to apply for the card.

If avoiding high finance charges for a few months is inspiring, getting a balance transfer credit card with good terms may be just the motivation you need to get those holiday debts paid off before spring.

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