Struggling with a credit hangover? Get our tips for paying off your credit card fast!
Feel like your credit card debt *suddenly* gotten out of hand? The average amount Aussies owe on their credit card is $2728 according to the website Finder and many find themselves in a tight spot with growing balances.
Credit cards can be beneficial (who doesn’t love a great rewards program) but only when you spend what you can afford and repay the balance in full each month.
Card balances spiral fast if you’re only making minimum repayments. This strategy barely makes a dent in what you owe while interest continues to grow.
After the frenzy of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas and Boxing Day sales, end of year is prime time for a credit hangover. It’s easy to stick ‘just one more thing’ on the card and promise to deal with it later, right?
Well, later has arrived. If you want to crush your credit card debt quickly, it will take more than making just the minimum repayments. Time to hunker down and start paying off your credit card fast!
Do a credit card detox
Commit to a credit detox while you get your balance back to $0.00.
Unlike all the weird, extoic ingredients in a juice cleanse, this detox only calls for two things:
That you stop using credit and only pay with cash or your debit card.
This will a) stop adding to the balance and b) break your habit of relying on plastic.
Breaking your credit card habit is the key to getting your spending under control and paying off your credit card fast. Even if you pay off the balance, if you haven’t shifted your mindset, you’ll be back to your old spendy plastic habits in no time.
Cut them up, freeze them, lock them away, do whatever you can to crush the temptation of using your credit cards. Unsubscribe from sale notifications and avoid stores you know will trigger a purchase.
Attack credit card debt with the “Snowball Method”
If you’ve got multiple credit cards, attack them with a credit card repayment “snowball method.”
The idea of the snowball strategy is to focus on paying off one card at a time before moving to the next one. It accelerates your repayment results faster than trying to simultaneously pay off all cards at once.
This is how the credit card snowball method works:
Step 1: List your credit card balances from smallest to largest (regardless of interest rate).
Step 2: Except for the card with the smallest balance, make minimum payments on the other cards.
Step 3: Pay as much as possible on your smallest balance.
Step 4: Once the smallest card is cleared, move to the next card on the list and repeat until each credit card balance is paid.
Tackling one balance at a time also helps keep you motivated. You get a “quick” win knocking out the smallest debt and feel like you’re making headway. If you’ve got a large amount of credit card debt to pay off finding ways to stay motivated is super important.
You could also choose the “avalanche” method.
With this approach, you focus on paying off the credit card with the highest interest rate first, while making minimum payments on the other cards. Once you’ve cleared the highest interest rate, move onto the card with the second highest rate, and so on.
Be ruthless with your expenses
Paying off your credit card fast means *finding* more money to use towards repayments.
Drastically cutting your expenses, even temporarily, is one way to increase the amount of money you can throw at your debt repayments.
Track your spending for 30 days then review your outgoings and see what you can cut - discretionary spending is the easiest place to start trimming the fat.
> Holidays / leisure activities
Don’t forget to go through your transactions and review direct debit payments for services and subscriptions you no longer need. Small “first month free!” type subscriptions can slip by unnoticed each month one the billing cycle kicks in but they add up.
If you do need the service, shop around and see if you can find a better deal.
Side-hustle your way out of credit card debt
Aside from cutting expenses, boosting your income will help your debt repayment efforts.
Try a side hustle to bring in some extra cash! Anything from ridesharing or freelance consulting in your area of expertise to doing one-off jobs on sites like Airtasker - mowing lawns or assembling furniture, for example.
Consider a balance transfer to a card with a 0% interest offer
Depending on your situation, you could consider a balance transfer offer to give you some breathing room on interest repayments.
With a balance transfer, you transfer high-interest credit card debt to another card with a lower interest rate. Some cards even offer an initial interest-free period so depending on the size of your balance and repayment plan, you may even pay it off before the interest kicks in!
Or if you're looking for zero interest on new purchases, check out our pick of the top interest free credit cards in Australia with 0% purchase rate offers.
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