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How to Pay Off a Credit Card Fast

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Credit cards can be a useful financial tool. But credit card debt is often bad news. Owing money on a credit card doesn't make you financially irresponsible. But if you're in this situation, you'll want to get rid of that credit card debt as quickly as possible. Here's how to pay off a credit card fast.

Why it's important to pay off a credit card quickly

The longer you have an outstanding balance on a credit card, the more interest you'll rack up on your debt, making it cost more. If your credit card has a high interest rate attached to it, then it's even more important to try to pay off your balance as soon as you can. You can use this credit card interest calculator to see how much interest your balance may be costing you.

Paying off a credit card fast can also help your credit score improve. One factor that goes into calculating your score is your credit utilization ratio, which measures the amount of available revolving credit you're using at once. Even if you make your minimum payment on time every month, your credit score could go down if you carry too high a balance.

How to find more money to pay off a credit card

To pay off a credit card fast, you'll need extra money to put toward your debt. To that end, here are several steps you can take to get your hands on more cash.

Rework your budget

You may already be living pretty frugally and spending money mostly on essential expenses, like rent, food, and transportation. But if there's any wiggle room at all in your budget, it pays to cut back in those spending categories that allow for it.

Get a roommate

Housing may be the largest expense you grapple with every month. If it's possible to lower that expense by splitting your rental costs with a roommate, it'll help free up cash to put toward your credit card debt.

Get a side job

If you're already spending minimally and can't do anything to reduce your housing costs, getting a second job could help you get more money to put toward your credit card debt. Even if you only have time to work a few extra hours each week, earning more money could help you make a dent in your credit card balance.

How to pay off credit card debt strategically

If you've managed to scrounge up some extra money to pay off your debt, you can use a debt payoff strategy to tackle it instead of (or along with) debt consolidation, which we'll cover in a minute.

Here are two ways to pay down your debt:

  • Snowball method: You pay off your debts in the order of smallest balance to largest balance, regardless of interest rate.
  • Avalanche method: You pay off your balances in order of highest interest rate to lowest interest rate.

There are pros and cons to each approach, but if your goal is to shed your debt quickly, you may want to also consider consolidating your debt.

RELATED: Check out The Ascent's debt snowball calculator to see which debts you should pay off first when using this method.

MORE INFO: See The Ascent's complete comparison of debt snowball vs. debt avalanche.

The most efficient ways to pay off credit card debt

If you owe money on multiple credit cards, debt consolidation could be your ticket to paying it off faster. There are several ways you can consolidate credit card debt.

A balance transfer

With a balance transfer, you move your existing credit card balances onto a new balance transfer credit card and then pay off that single card every month. Often, balance transfer credit cards come with a lower interest rate than what your current credit cards are charging you. And many balance transfer cards come with a 0% introductory APR, where you pay no interest at all for a limited period of time.

Now to qualify for a balance transfer offer, you'll need to have a good credit score. If you don't, this may not be an option.

Also, even if you get a balance transfer card with a 0% introductory APR, you may not manage to pay off your entire balance by the time interest starts accruing. Plus, some balance transfer cards charge a fee for moving over your credit card debt. Read the fine print on your balance transfer agreement to make sure a balance transfer really makes sense, especially if you're not sure you can pay off your balance by the time your introductory period ends.

Though balance transfers have their drawbacks, it's an option worth looking into because it could make your debt much less expensive to pay off. You can use this balance transfer calculator to figure out how much you stand to save with a balance transfer.

If a balance transfer seems like the right move for you, take a look at our list of the Best Balance Transfer Credit Cards to see if one is the right fit for your needs. You can also check out these three balance transfer cards that we rate highly.

As of May. 17, 2022
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Image for
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Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer Discover it® Balance Transfer
Apply Now for Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card

On Wells Fargo's Secure Website.

Rates & Fees Rates & Fees

Credit Rating Requirement:

Good/Excellent (670-850) Info Icon Circle with letter I in it.

Credit Rating Requirement:

Good/Excellent (670-850) Info Icon Circle with letter I in it.

Credit Rating Requirement:

Good/Excellent (670-850) Info Icon Circle with letter I in it.

Welcome Offer:

N/A

Welcome Offer:

N/A

Welcome Offer: Info Icon Circle with letter I in it.

Cashback Match

Rewards Program:

N/A

Rewards Program: Info Icon Circle with letter I in it.

Up to 2% cash back

Rewards Program: Info Icon Circle with letter I in it.

1% - 5% Cashback

Intro APR: Info Icon Circle with letter I in it.

Purchases: 0% intro APR, up to 21 months from account opening

Balance Transfers: 0% intro APR, up to 21 months from account opening on qualifying balance transfers

Intro APR:

Purchases: N/A

Balance Transfers: 0%, 18 months

Intro APR:

Purchases: 0% Intro APR, 6 months

Balance Transfers: 0% Intro APR, 18 months

Regular APR:

13.74%-25.74% Variable APR

Regular APR:

14.74% - 24.74%, variable

Regular APR:

12.24% - 23.24% Variable APR

Annual Fee:

$0

Annual Fee:

$0

Annual Fee:

$0

Highlights:

  • 0% intro APR for 18 months from account opening on purchases and qualifying balance transfers. Intro APR extension of up to 3 months with on-time minimum payments during the intro and extension periods. 13.74% to 25.74% variable APR thereafter; balance transfers made within 120 days qualify for the intro rate and fee of 3% then a BT fee of up to 5%, min $5
  • $0 Annual Fee
  • Get up to $600 of cell phone protection when you pay your monthly cell phone bill with your eligible Wells Fargo card (subject to a $25 deductible).
  • Through My Wells Fargo Deals, you can earn cash back in the form of a statement credit while you shop, dine, or enjoy an experience simply by using your eligible Wells Fargo Credit Card
  • Select "Apply Now" to learn more about the product features, terms and conditions

Highlights:

  • Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases.
  • To earn cash back, pay at least the minimum due on time.
  • Balance Transfer Only Offer: 0% intro APR on Balance Transfers for 18 months. After that, the variable APR will be 14.74% - 24.74%, based on your creditworthiness.
  • Balance Transfers do not earn cash back. Intro APR does not apply to purchases.
  • If you transfer a balance, interest will be charged on your purchases unless you pay your entire balance (including balance transfers) by the due date each month.
  • There is an intro balance transfer fee of 3% of each transfer (minimum $5) completed within the first 4 months of account opening. After that, your fee will be 5% of each transfer (minimum $5).
  • The standard variable APR for Citi Flex Plan is 14.74% - 24.74%, based on your creditworthiness. Citi Flex Plan offers are made available at Citi's discretion.

Highlights:

  • INTRO OFFER: Unlimited Cashback Match – only from Discover. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of your first year! There’s no minimum spending or maximum rewards. You could turn $150 cash back into $300.
  • Earn 5% cash back on everyday purchases at different places each quarter like Amazon.com, grocery stores, restaurants, gas stations and when you pay using PayPal, up to the quarterly maximum when you activate. Plus, earn unlimited 1% cash back on all other purchases – automatically.
  • Redeem cash back any amount, any time. Rewards never expire.
  • No annual fee.
  • Get your free Credit Scorecard with your FICO® Credit Score, number of recent inquiries and more.
  • Click "APPLY NOW" to see rewards, FICO® Credit Score terms, Cashback Match™ details & other information.
Apply Now for Wells Fargo Reflect℠ Card

On Wells Fargo's Secure Website.

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A debt consolidation loan

Debt consolidation loans are personal loans you take out for consolidating and paying off existing debt, like credit card balances. The upside of using a debt consolidation loan to pay off credit cards is that the interest rate you pay on your loan will generally be a lot lower than what your credit cards charge.

Also, with a debt consolidation loan, you'll typically get more time to pay off your credit card debt at a reduced rate than what a balance transfer will give you. It's rare for a balance transfer card's introductory rate to last more than 24 months, and in many cases, those 0% offers run out after 12 to 18 months. With a debt consolidation loan, you might easily get five years to pay off your credit cards at a lower interest rate.

Another good thing about a debt consolidation loan is that it won't hurt your credit score the same way a high credit card balance will. And if you make your monthly payment on time consistently, it could actually help your credit score improve.

A cash-out refinance

If you have a lot of home equity in a property you own, you may be able to consolidate your credit card debt via a cash-out refinance. With a cash-out refinance, you borrow more than your existing mortgage balance, and you can use the rest of the money for any purpose.

Say you owe $300,000 on your mortgage and do a $320,000 cash-out refinance. You'll get a check for the remaining $20,000. If that's what you owe on your credit cards, you'll be able to pay off those balances immediately. You'll then have to pay off your larger mortgage, but the rate attached to your home loan will generally be much lower than what credit cards charge. This is especially true if you have a high credit score.

You could be debt free before you know it

Paying off credit card debt quickly boils down to two things -- coming up with money to put toward your debt, and finding the most efficient way to pay that debt off (which generally involves consolidating it in one way or another). Now that you know what it takes to pay off your credit cards, you can move forward with your plan rather than spend your days letting your debt stress you out.

FAQs

  • You can pay off a credit card debt more quickly by consolidating that debt and being strategic about coming up with extra money. A balance transfer is a good way to consolidate debt, but you can also look at a personal loan -- or a cash-out refinance if you own a home.

  • You may not have money to pay off a credit card now. But certain changes could help you come up with the cash you need to knock out your debt. Those could involve getting a roommate to lower your housing costs or taking on a side job.

  • Yes. A debt consolidation loan is a personal loan used to pay off debt. This can be an affordable way to pay off credit cards. If you own a home, you can also do a cash-out refinance, which is a mortgage loan that can be used to pay off debt.

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