4 Smart Ways To Deal With Credit Card Debt

You already know a lot about credit cards. You’ve heard that consumer debt in this country-particularly credit-card debt-is at an all-time high, while our savings rate is lower than ever before. You realize that the boom in online shopping, with its absolute dependence on credit cards, is further fueling their use. You are well aware that running a balance on your plastic-and paying the unconscionable interest rates that come with it-is one of our most basic and widespread financial blunders. And you suspect that the sheer volume of direct-mail credit-card solicitations with low teaser rates must be devastating the forests of northern Idaho.

Still, credit cards are a fact of 21st century life, and it only makes sense to understand how to use them wisely. While it’s probably impractical to keep all plastic out of your wallet, it is prudent to limit the number of cards you have, and, of course, to pay all balances in full every month. Indeed, having only a traditional American Express card, which doesn’t allow you to carry a balance, can be an excellent way to impose fiscal discipline on you and your family-although, as the Visa ads point out, not everyone accepts American Express. For the rest of us, who do occasionally dabble in credit-card debt, here are a few ways to keep your habit under control.

1. Take advantage of frequent-flier programs tied to credit cards, but keep in mind that interest payments on a high balance can quickly turn “free” flights into outrageously expensive ones. At a dollar per mile, running up a debt of 25,000 may get you a plane ticket, but it will also saddle you with $4,500 in yearly interest payments, assuming an 18% annual rate.

2. Look very closely at credit-card offers before you bite. Obviously, most of those 2.99% and 3.99% rates will be in effect for only a few months. But there may be other catches as well. Making a late payment, even if it arrives only a day after it was due, may immediately trigger a permanent rate hike. Also, low initial rates sometimes apply only to transferred balances, and you could get charged a fee for making the transfer. Check, too, to see whether there is an annual fee, or charges for exceeding your credit limit or even for closing an account.

3. Avoid amazing grace-period tricks. What you’re looking for is a provision that says you’ll never be charged interest as long as you pay your bill in full by the due date. But some cards have no grace period, calculating interest from the moment you make a purchase, while others give you only a limited time after making a charge before interest is imposed. That period of 20 days or so may end before your payment is due.

4. Don’t forget to cancel cards you no longer use. If you don’t, they’ll show up on credit reports, and that could be a problem, particularly if you’re applying for a home mortgage. Your would-be lender may be reluctant to make a loan to someone who has a cumulative credit-card limit of $50,000, $100,000, or even more.

Advice On Credit Card Debt Consolidation

Credit cards can be a great boon to many people, and have been since the introduction of the first one, BarclayCard, back in 1966, which then enjoyed a credit card monopoly into the seventies, when, in 1972, Access was launched. Nowadays every major ( and minor) Bank, large store, etc, have added to the virtually thousands of cards to choose from. The introduction of so many plastic money sources, for many of us, has caused an uncontrollable temptation to spiral into consumer debt.

Do you really know how many credit cards you carry and what their balances all are?

Do you know what the rate of interest is on these cards?

Do you have a list of long-pending bills?

Do you know your exact financial situation?

But these credit card producing companies only have one thought in mind. They are not thinking of the convenience that plastic money brings to us, or for those of us that use the credit card interest free period, but for those of us that take the easy temptation into debt not considering where the real money will come from to repay these credit card debts.

Worse of all, there are virtually no controls whatsoever over these card issuing firms, especially over their extortionate interest rates. I saw one card, with an interest rate of 35%.

Because this temptation is so easy, it doesn’t matter whether you’re already deep in debt or whether you are on the verge of getting into it; in many cases you need some advice on debt consolidation–and not informally from friends–but from experts.

Where can you get expert advice on debt consolidation for your credit cards?

You can get advice on credit card debt management from banks and financial firms. There are loads of debt consolidation companies around who will supply you with a financial expert or councilor to help solve your problems. You may also find some helpful advice online on debt management.

All you are required to do is to fill-out a form, giving them information about your credit rating, your secured and unsecured debts, and the list of your creditors. They will chalk out a plan just for you and advise on which steps you should take next.

Another advantage of debt advice is that your advisor will also suggest you some lifestyle changes you can make in the future to changes in your lifestyle to prevent another credit card debt pile up.

That’s great, but how much do you have to pay?

Don’t worry! Most of the advisory part is done free of charge. Although the price can only be known once you have chosen the company or bank with whom you wish to work. There are definitely online sites and other firms which will offer you advice free of cost but this is for you to decide.

Credit Card debts should not be neglected and it is always better to take advice from the right source. Choose your company with utmost care and you will find your way out of debt.

Also, if you ever get into debt, do not become an ostrich. Sticking your head in the sand will actually not make the situation any better. As well as debt counseling, you should inform your credit card company ( or companies) as soon as you get into trouble.

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