3 Credit Card Moves to Make Before 2021 Comes to an End

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  • If you're carrying credit card debt, it pays to chip away at it or make it more manageable going into the new year.
  • It could also pay to add a new credit card to your mix.

Check these items off your list as soon as possible.

Now that 2021 is winding down, you may be in the process of mapping out some financial goals for the new year. But to achieve them, you may need to take some important steps on the credit card front. Here are three year-end moves worth making.

1. Look into a balance transfer

A big reason credit cards can be so difficult to pay off is that once interest starts accruing on your debt, it kicks off a cycle where your balance keeps growing, even if you're making your minimum payments. That's why a balance transfer could be a good idea.

With a balance transfer, you move your existing balances over to a new card with a lower interest rate -- or, ideally, a card offering a 0% introductory APR. That 0% APR could make it easier for you to get ahead of your debt and avoid racking up costly interest that sets you back.

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To qualify for a balance transfer, you'll generally need to have a decent credit score. If your score is in good shape, it's worth seeing what offers you qualify for.

2. Use bonus cash to pay down an existing balance

Paying down credit card debt would be easier if someone would just hand you a pile of money, right? Well, you may be in luck, since many companies offer year-end bonuses to employees. If yours is doing the same, you have a prime opportunity to knock out some of the credit card debt you've accumulated.

If you're not sure which credit card to pay off first, a good bet is to see which one comes with the highest interest rate (assuming you're unable to consolidate your debt with a balance transfer). Say you get a $500 bonus. You may be tempted to pay off a $500 credit card balance on one card, leaving you with a $2,000 balance to tackle on another card. But if the card with the $2,000 balance charges a higher interest rate, then you'll be better served putting the funds toward that balance first.

3. Apply for a card with a generous sign-up bonus

If you're not deep in the throes of credit card debt and your credit score is in good shape, then the end of the year could be a good time to apply for a new credit card that offers a sign-up bonus. That way, you might score a nice pile of cash to pad your savings going into the new year.

Sign-up bonuses can be tricky to snag because you need to spend a certain amount of money (often a large amount) within a relatively short window of time to qualify. But if you expect your spending to pick up during the holiday season, you may have a relatively easy time qualifying for one of these bonuses.

Say there's an offer for $250 cash back for spending $3,000 within three months of opening a new card. If you normally only charge $800 a month on a credit card, you may have a hard time snagging that bonus. But if you're about to plunk down $600 for holiday gifts on top of the $800 a month you normally charge on your credit cards, that bonus suddenly looks more attainable.

Whether you owe money on your credit cards or want to get money from credit cards, now's a great time to do some strategizing. A few savvy moves could set you up for a successful 2022.

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