This Is the Average Consumer's Credit Card Balance. How Does Yours Compare?

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  • During the first quarter of 2023, the average credit card balance reached $5,733.
  • The sooner you're able to pay down your credit card debt, the less money you stand to lose to interest.

Consumers commonly rely on credit cards to finance purchases. And using them can be a bit of a mixed bag.

On the one hand, charging expenses on a credit card means getting to rack up rewards or cash back. That's basically free money (or the equivalent in something like gift card form) for items you were already planning to purchase, like groceries.

On the other hand, failing to pay off a credit card balance in full could have negative consequences. For one thing, too high a balance could damage your credit score -- and that holds true even if you're able to make your minimum payments month after month.

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But perhaps even more problematic is the fact that the longer you carry a credit card balance, the more interest you might accrue. And you could reach the point where you end up paying more money in interest than the amount you originally charged on your card.

As of the first quarter of 2023, the average U.S. consumer with a credit card balance owed $5,733, according to TransUnion. That's a pretty big jump from the average balance a year prior, which was $5,010.

But no matter what your credit card balance looks like, it's best to do what you can to get it paid off as quickly as possible. Here are some tips for doing that.

1. Get on a budget

The more detail-oriented you are when it comes to your money and spending, the easier it might be to free up cash month after month and apply it to your outstanding credit card debt. So take an hour out of your week to set up a budget, and then make a point to stick to it, even if it means having to limit what you buy. The money you don't spend is cash you can use to get out of debt and avoid losing even more money to interest.

2. Pick up a side job

Even if you do a great job of not spending your entire paycheck and freeing up cash for your credit card balance, if you owe somewhere in the ballpark of $5,733, putting $100 here or $200 there into your balance might still have you paying it for quite some time. In that case, it's a good idea to get a side hustle and use your earnings to chip away at your debt more aggressively. That job can be pretty much anything that works for your schedule and allows you to earn a decent wage.

3. Look at a balance transfer

Part of the reason so many people get trapped in a cycle of credit card debt is that they keep accruing interest at a rapid clip. That's why it pays to look at a balance transfer. Many of these offers allow you to move your existing credit card balances over to a new card with a 0% introductory interest rate. By getting a reprieve from racking up interest for a period of time, you'll have an opportunity to chip away at your principal balance in the hopes of eliminating it for good.

Maybe you owe more than $5,733 on your credit cards. Or maybe your balance, thankfully, is quite a bit lower. Either way, the sooner you're able to shed that debt, the better, so take these steps to rid yourself of your credit card balance as soon as you can.

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