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5 ways to be free of credit card debt by the end of the year

5 ways to be free of credit card debt by the end of the year

strategies pay off debt quick

Ian Gavan/Getty Images

Don't let credit-card debt hold you back.

  • Credit-card debt can damage your credit score and hinder your ability to build wealth.
  • Credit cards are notorious for high interest rates, which can greatly prolong your debt repayment schedule if you're not proactive.
  • To pay off your debt quickly, consider asking for a lower interest rate, consolidating your debt, or doubling your monthly payment.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Americans of all ages are mired in credit-card debt.

Nearly half of Gen Xers are more focused on paying off debt than saving for retirement right now, while one in four millennials say credit cards are their main source of debt, not student loans.

Having credit-card debt isn't always a sign of irresponsible spending habits. Unexpected expenses crop up for everyone and sometimes credit can seem like the only lifeline.

The good news is that credit-card debt isn't a financial death sentence. But, the sooner you pay it off, the sooner you can improve your credit and put your hard-earned dollars toward more exciting goals.

Here are five strategies for getting out from under debt quickly.

1. Ask for a lower interest rate

Most people don't know you can call your credit-card issuer to ask for a reduced APR (annual percentage rate), which can make a difference of hundreds of dollars in interest payments. Eight in 10 credit-card holders who asked for a lower interest rate in the past year were granted one, according to a survey from The average reduction was six percentage points.

2. Double your minimum payment

Paying the minimum payment on your credit-card won't make any significant dent in your total debt load. If your main objective is paying off your debt as fast as possible, concentrate any extra funds you have left after covering your non-negotiable expenses (namely, housing and food) to this payment. Start small and make a goal to double your minimum payment and go from there.

3. Open a balance transfer card

If you have debt on multiple credit cards, consider consolidating your balances into one so you can make a single monthly payment.

A balance transfer card allows borrowers to transfer their balances onto a new credit card, typically with a 0% interest rate for an introductory period of time. If you're able to pay off your debt within the promotional period at a 0% interest rate, you have the potential to save a lot of money on interest. Note that you'll be responsible for paying a transfer fee between 3% and 5% of the total balance.

4. Take out a personal loan

This strategy may seem counterintuitive at first: Why take out another line of credit to pay of an existing line of credit? Because personal-loan interest rates can be as low as 6% to 7%, compared to 17% to 24% on a credit card.

A personal loan will give you quick access to cash, which you can put directly toward your outstanding balances. After that, you'll have one fixed monthly payment to repay your loan. You can find personal loans easily online through lenders like SoFi or loan comparison sites like Credible.

5. Tackle the most expensive debt first

If you don't want to consolidate your balances or take on another line of credit, focusing on paying off the most expensive debt first - the balance with the highest interest rate - can speed up the entire repayment process as you save money on interest (experts call this the debt avalanche method).

Even an extra $100 a month can make a huge difference, shaving months or even years off your repayment period.

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Personal Finance Insider team. We occasionally highlight financial products and services that can help you make smarter decisions with your money. We do not give investment advice or encourage you to adopt a certain investment strategy. What you decide to do with your money is up to you. If you take action based on one of our recommendations, we get a small share of the revenue from our commerce partners. This does not influence whether we feature a financial product or service. We operate independently from our advertising sales team.


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