How can I pay off the credit card debt I racked up over the holidays?
Provided By: Duane J. Silbernagel
It’s a common occurrence once the holiday season winds down — you reluctantly look at your credit card statement and wince at all the purchases you made over the holidays. Fortunately, there’s no need to panic. Consider using one of the following strategies to help pay it off.
Make a lump-sum payment. The best way to pay off credit card debt is with a single lump-sum payment, which would allow you to pay off your balance without owing additional interest. Look for sources of funds you can use for a lump-sum payoff, such as an employment bonus or other windfall. However, most individuals find themselves getting into credit card debt due to a lack of cash on hand in the first place, so this may not be an option for everyone.
Pay more than the minimum due. If it’s not possible for you to pay off your balance entirely, always be sure to pay more than the required minimum payment due. Otherwise, you’ll continue to carry the bulk of your balance forward without actually reducing your overall balance. You can refer to your monthly statement for more information on the impact that minimum payments will have on your credit card balance.
Prioritize your payments. If you have multiple credit cards that carry outstanding balances, another payoff strategy is to prioritize your payments and systematically pay off your credit card debt. Start by making a list of your credit cards and prioritize them according to their interest rates. Send the largest payment to the card with the highest interest rate. Continue making payments on your other cards until the card with the highest interest rate is paid off. You can then focus your repayment efforts on the card with the next highest interest rate, and so on, until they’re all paid off.
Transfer your balances. Another option is to transfer your balances to a card that carries a lower interest rate. Many credit card companies offer highly competitive balance transfer offers (e.g., 0% interest for 12 to 24 months). Balance transfers may enable you to reduce interest fees and pay more against your existing balance. Keep in mind that credit cards often charge a fee for balance transfers (usually a percentage of the balance transferred).
I get so many credit card reward offers. How do I know which one to choose?
Credit card reward programs are more popular than ever. In order to keep up with such high demand in a competitive market, credit card companies are coming up with new and more enticing offers every day. How do you know which one to choose?
Are you the type of credit card user who likes to travel and/or frequent a particular hotel or airline? If so, then a travel rewards credit card might be the right option for you. Typically, a travel rewards card allows you to earn points (sometimes referred to as miles, depending on the card) for every purchase you make on the card. Typically, cards offer a reward that is equal to 1% of your purchase, which means that for every $100 you spend, you will earn 1 point or mile. Some credit card companies offer even greater incentives, such as double points for specific types of purchases or bonus points when you open up an account. Before signing up, however, be sure to read the fine print. Many travel rewards cards have specific rules that apply to point redemption and may charge a hefty annual fee.
Don’t want the hassle that sometimes goes along with redeeming points on a travel rewards card? Consider a cash back rewards card. While not as thrilling as racking up points to take a trip to some far-off, exotic destination, cash back rewards cards may be better for individuals who aren’t frequent travelers and who tend to use credit cards for everyday purchases. Most cash back rewards cards offer a flat cash reward on general purchases. Others offer higher rewards for different spending categories (e.g., dining or entertainment purchases). Consider your credit card spending habits to determine which cash back rewards card would be appropriate for you.
Finally, it’s important to remember that rewards cards work best when you pay off your account balance each month. Be sure to charge only what you can afford to pay off and avoid spending over your budget just to earn more rewards. Otherwise, the unpaid balance you carry forward will create finance charges that may cancel out the value of any rewards you accumulate.
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This article is meant to be general in nature and should not be construed as investment or financial advice related to your personal situation. Waddell & Reed does not provide legal or tax advice. This information is prepared by an independent third party, Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. and is provided for informational and educational purposes only. Waddell & Reed believes the information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but does not guarantee the accuracy of the information provided. This information is not meant to be a complete summary or statement of all available data necessary for making financial or investment decisions and does not constitute a recommendation. Please consult with a tax professional regarding your personal situation prior to making any financial related decisions. Also note that the information provided may include references to concepts that have legal, accounting and tax implications. It is not to be construed as legal, accounting or tax advice, and is provided as general information to you to assist in understanding the issues discussed. Neither Waddell & Reed, Inc., nor its Financial Advisors give tax, legal, or accounting advice. Nothing contained herein is intended as a solicitation or an offer to buy or sell any product or service mentioned and they may not be suitable for all investors.
Duane Silbernagel is a Financial Advisor in Lincoln City, Oregon offering securities through Waddell & Reed, Inc., Member FINRA and SIPC. He can be reached at (541) 614-1322 or via email at DSilbernagel@wradvisors.com.
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