One thing is typically true as credit card debt balances increase: Disrupting your spending habits and staying laser-focused on paying off debt will put you on the right financial path sooner than just dipping your toes in.
With that in mind, Motley Fool analysts Michael Douglass and Nathan Hamilton discuss in the below video three tips for people wanting to pay off credit card debt faster. So tune in to uncover a simple three-step plan anyone can implement to get on the right financial path.
Michael Douglass: All right, Nathan. Let's talk about credit card debt. So a lot of people find themselves in the spot where they have credit card debt, and frankly they haven't taken the steps to meaningfully start chipping away at their high-interest debts. Let's talk about some ways to put the odds in their favor.
Nathan Hamilton: This is a matter of not so much dipping your toes, but actually getting in and doing the work to make some progress on chipping away at your debt. And the first one (we'll look at three steps here) but the first one is rather simple. Just request an increase in your credit limit with your credit card providers. Why this makes sense is it impacts your FICO score favorably which, down the road as you're paying off your debt, allows you to get lower interest rates on a mortgage [or] another balance transfer credit card. It just puts you in a position to more easily pay down your debt.
Michael Douglass: Absolutely. And we've talked about the balance transfers before, but this can be a particularly good tactic. Essentially you're able to transfer a balance that is charging you interest on one card to another card and you get it interest-free for six months, a year, [or] whatever the specific offer is. But that can save you quite a bit in interest.
Yes. Getting into the second step and looking at it is take that credit card out of your wallet...
Michael Douglass: Yes...
It's a rather simple one, kind of like the first one we mentioned, but it's just a matter of credit cards are easy to spend money on. They're convenient. They're super simple. You just whip it out [and] pay for it later. It's a perfect combination until you have to pay interest on it.
Michael Douglass: Right.
So the easiest thing to do is take your high interest credit cards [as] the ones you're trying not to spend more on and just take them out of your wallet. If it means cutting it up, do that. Whatever you can do to make it less easy to use that credit card.
Michael Douglass: Absolutely. And then third [is] balance transfers as we discussed a little bit.
Yes. Once you do the first two steps, you'll be set up to then get possibly a better balance transfer card. You mentioned 12 months. There are some cards that go as long as 21 months.
Michael Douglass: Wow!
Some cards — 15 [to] 18 months. To get those, you do have to have at least good credit or better, so the steps you are taking [are] to get your credit score, improve it, and then apply for a balance transfer card. As you mentioned, 0% introductory APR for, say, 21 months can help you a lot, considering many people are paying 18%+ on their credit cards.
Michael Douglass: And just to give you a sense, if you have a $5,000 balance that you pay off over 18 months, and you're paying that 18% APR, that's $703 in interest charges.
Money out the door.
Michael Douglass: But with a balance transfer, that's $703 you're saving. I don't know about you, but I could use the money.
And it makes it easier to pay down debt quicker and really if you look at our mantra, it's "pay down debt quicker so you can invest sooner." That's really the goal.
Michael Douglass: Absolutely. So check us out at fool.com/credit-cards for our list of the best balance transfer credit cards and for more information about how to manage credit.