Almost half of Americans with credit cards don't pay off their balance in full each month. And over the past five years, carrying a balance has gotten significantly more expensive. Here are five easy things you can do to cut your interest costs and get out of debt faster.
Pay off highest-rate cards first
To save the most money and eliminate your debt in the shortest amount of time, pay off your cards in order of annual percentage rate. Make the minimum payment on each card, then put all your leftover money toward the card with the highest rate.
Double your minimum payment
One simple way to make a huge impact is to pay double the minimum. Say you owe $2,000 on a credit card with a 20% APR and a $40 monthly minimum payment. If you could find an extra $40 in your budget and you paid $80 each month, you would save $1,727 in interest and get out of debt more than six years faster.
Apply any extra money to your payment
It pays to put any money saved on credit card interest toward reducing your card debt. Say you owe $5,000 on a credit card with an 18% APR and a minimum payment of $100. It would cost you $4,311 in interest if you just paid the minimum. But what if you cut your monthly expenses by $25 and made a $125 payment each month instead? You would save $1,618 in interest charges and almost three years of payments.
Split your payment in half and pay twice
Credit card interest isn't calculated based on how much you owe on the due date or at the end of a billing period. Instead, if you carry a balance from one month to the next, your interest is based on your average daily balance. Because of this, making smaller payments more frequently can reduce the amount of interest you owe.
Transfer your balance to a 0% credit card
If you have a credit score of 690 or higher you may be able to transfer your balance to a credit card with a 0% introductory rate that lasts 12 to 18 months. With no interest to worry about, you can focus on whittling down the core debt as fast as possible. If you choose this route, make a plan to pay off your full balance before the introductory period ends to avoid accruing interest charges.