A credit card is a useful way to spread payments throughout the month and means you don’t need to carry too much cash with you. You could also use your card to obtain a loan for a small amount over a short period. However, credit cards should not be used as a way of borrowing money over a long period. The less you pay off the more interest you will end up paying and the rate is likely to be much higher than a bank loan.
If you do not pay the full amount due on your credit card each month then a credit card debt will soon mount up. Credit cards are easy to use and it can be tempting to continue spending with no plans to repay the debt in full. If credit card debt is ignored then at some point it will have an impact on other areas of your personal finances.
Even if you make the minimum monthly payments this may only be 3% of the total bill. You will be charged a high rate of interest on the remainder so within a few months you may find your debt spiralling out of control.
If you are in this situation then you need to take action to reduce your credit card debt. First you should aim to limit your spending and ideally stop using the card. If you cannot clear the debt then at least aim to pay off more than the minimum each month. This will reduce the amount of interest added.
You could consider switching cards as many providers offer special deals on balance transfers. For example you could get a low, or even zero, interest rate for six months. If you can clear your debt within the low rate period then it is worth switching. However, if not then you will quickly loose any advantage once the rate reverts to normal.
Credit card debt settlement can also be achieved using a debt consolidation loan. This would involve taking out a personal loan at a lower rate in order to pay off your credit card debt. However, make sure you check all the small print for unexpected charges and restrictions on any new loan. Also remember that credit reference agencies keep track of credit and loan applications, and also report on your payment records. If lenders think you have too much outstanding credit then further applications may well be refused, particularly if you have missed payments.
Brian Wilton is prolific provider of clear and simple advice and tips on all areas of debt management. His latest card debt advice can be found at http://www.card-debt.co.uk