7 Tips to pay off and consolidate your credit card debt faster

While Australia is getting better at managing credit card balances – the amount earning interest is currently sitting at just over $32 billion – many individuals still struggle with paying off the money they owe on the plastic.

Here are seven tips for speedy credit card repayment:

1. Pay more than the bare minimum

Your credit card debt won’t shift if you’re only paying the bare minimum at the end of every month. Credit lenders usually set the minimum repayment per month at around 2% to 3% of the balance. That means minimum payments are actually just paying off some of the interest, and making minimum repayments does not make a dent in your actual balance. Pay off a little extra every month, and you’ll be happy to see your balance shrink.

2. Multiple cards? Deal with one at a time

It’s important that you pay the minimum on each card, but after that you should focus on one card and work away at it until it’s completely paid off. You generally want to pay off the card with the highest interest rate, or the smallest balance. Once it’s paid off, why not remove it from your wallet?

3. Make use of your savings

You may be hesitant to empty your savings account for the sake of paying off a credit card balance, but consider the fact that any interest you would earn on those savings would be much smaller than the money you’d end up owing in interest on your unpaid card balance. It’s worth weighing up your options.

4. Examine your spending

Pick apart your monthly spending, and look for unnecessary spending, or areas where you can cut back. Perhaps do a written budget. Then apply the newly freed up money to reducing your credit card balance.

It can take a while to get your credit card balances back to zero  – after all, the debt often takes a while to build up in the first place. The earlier you make a start though, the sooner it will get done.

Compare Credit Cards with Canstar

Canstar’s Research Manager, Mitchell Watson shares three options for how to consolidate and pay off your credit card debt:

5. Consider a balance transfer

Many financial institutions offer balance transfer deals – essentially a credit card with a low introductory rate. Rates can be as low as 0%, for up to 12 months.

Do be aware though that credit cards offering a balance transfer deal tend to revert to a higher than average interest rate once the deal is done. So, make sure you carefully check all the terms and conditions, to avoid any nasty surprises from your new bank in the future.

If you want to check out the current 0% balance transfer offers available in the market, you can see a snapshot from our database in the table below. This table below displays the 0% balance transfer offers with $0 annual fees, with links to providers’ websites, sorted by the length of the 0% balance transfer period (longest to shortest).

Compare Balance Transfers with Canstar

6. Choose a low rate card

The interest rate applied to credit cards on Canstar’s database currently ranges from 7.99% up to 23.5% – and even higher for cash advances! So unless you are on a super-low rate already, you could probably save money by changing your card. The lower the interest rate the better – that means more of your payments are going towards clearing the debt and not paying interest. Look for a credit card with a rate in the low teens.

In the table below you can see a preview of the current low-rate credit cards available on the Canstar comparison tables, sorted by Purchase rate (lowest first). Please note that this table has been generated based on an average monthly spend of $2,000 and features links direct to the providers’ website.

Compare Low Rate Cards with Canstar

7. Consolidate your debt into a personal loan

This is a more structured way to clear your debt and will ensure that your debt disappears gradually over the term of the loan – because it has to.

Compare Personal Loans with Canstar

credit cards in pocket

What’s next?

Whichever option you choose, you have made the first step towards getting rid of the festive financial hangover.

Next, you need to create a plan to pay off your debt.

Learn more about Credit Cards

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