For many people, credit card debt is standing between them and financial security. And although many people feel that financial security means having little to no debt, achieving that goal is typically easier said than done.

For nearly 60% of respondents, being debt-free is the No. 1 factor that makes them feel financially secure, according to CNBC’s International Your Money Financial Security Survey conducted by SurveyMonkey.

While there are many different kinds of debt, from student loans to mortgages, by far one of the most expensive forms of debt is credit card debt. That’s partly because costly interest charges can quickly cause your credit card debt to balloon to an unmanageable level if you carry a balance from month to month.

In fact, the average credit card interest rate has nearly doubled over the past 10 years from 12.9% in 2013 to 22.8% in 2023, per the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. As of March, the average APR is around 23%, according to WalletHub.

As of the end of 2023, Americans’ collective credit card debt has soared to over $1 trillion, with individuals carrying a balance of $6,501 on average, per Experian.

“People tend to get into credit card debt for practical reasons (emergency expenses and day-to-day expenses are the top two explanations), but this can be a tough cycle to break,” Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst for Bankrate.com, tells CNBC Make It.

Although digging yourself out of debt is no easy feat, there are strategies that can help. Here are two you may want to consider.

1. Build up your savings

If you have little to no savings, you’re not alone. The majority of Americans wouldn’t be able to cover a $1,000 emergency expense with their savings, per Bankrate’s 2024 emergency savings report.

One way to prevent unexpected emergencies from causing your credit card balance to spike is by building up a healthy emergency savings fund, Matt Schulz, chief credit analyst at LendingTree, tells CNBC Make It.

“If you pay your card debt down to $0 and don’t have any emergency savings, the next unexpected expense, such as an emergency trip to the vet or a flat tire, will just have to go back on your credit card and land you right back in debt again,” he says. “When you have savings, you don’t have to do that.”

Financial experts typically recommend saving enough to cover three to six months’ worth of expenses, but it doesn’t have to be done all at once. It’s OK to start small and work your way up.

One way to get into the habit of saving is to set a certain amount of money to be automatically deducted from each paycheck and sent into a separate savings account.

2. Open a balance transfer card

If interest charges are inflating your credit card balance, you may want to try transferring your debt onto a so-called a balance transfer card.

This type of credit card allows you to move your debt from a card with high interest rates to one that offers 0% interest for a period of generally up to 21 months. It can be useful for consolidating credit card debt and allowing you to chip away at your balance over time without running into interest fees.

“Used properly, one of these cards could save you hundreds or maybe even thousands of dollars in interest,” Rossman says.

However, you’ll typically need a good to excellent credit score in order to qualify for one of these cards. While you don’t necessarily need a perfect credit score, the likelihood you’ll be approved tends to decrease if your score is lower than 670, according to Experian.

It’s important to note that opening a balance transfer card or new credit card in general may temporarily lower your credit score, according to Equifax.

Additionally, be sure to be aware of any payment deadlines that may trigger late fees, as well as any balance transfer fees, which are typically between 3% and 5% of the amount you’re transferring onto the new card.

Lastly, if you’re approved for a balance transfer card, it’s important not to put any new charges on it while you’re paying off the credit card debt you’ve transferred. Although you’re not incurring interest charges, you’re still adding to your balance, which could make it more difficult to pay off in the long run, says Rossman.

“It’s hard to hit a moving target,” he says. “Divide what you owe by the number of months in your interest-free term and try to stick with that level payment plan.”

Want to make extra money outside of your day job? Sign up for CNBC’s new online course How to Earn Passive Income Online to learn about common passive income streams, tips to get started and real-life success stories. Register today and save 50% with discount code EARLYBIRD.

Plus, sign up for CNBC Make It’s newsletter to get tips and tricks for success at work, with money and in life.

Share.

Leave A Reply

© 2024 Time Bulletin. All Rights Reserved.