If you want to shift your balance, then you’re in the right place. Just follow these five simple tips to clear your debt quicker.
Having credit card debt hanging over your head isn’t something anyone wants, but it’s a part of lending lots of us are all too familiar with. While carrying a balance isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can become a costly concern if it goes unpaid for a long time.
In fact, research by the Bank of England and Financial Conduct Authority found that Brits are trapped in credit card debt for longer than previously thought.
So, if you’ve got a credit card balance you’re looking to clear, here are five ways you could re-set your debt to zero sooner than you thought.
1. Make more than the minimum payment
Credit cards offer some flexibility when it comes to repaying your balance. You can either clear your balance in full, repay a set amount of your choice, or make the minimum payment.
The amount required to tick the minimum payment box will vary from lender to lender. Some charge a set sum - say £3 or £5 a month, while others charge a percentage of your outstanding balance.
Although sticking to the minimum payment satisfies your lender, it means you’ll be paying your balance off over a longer stretch. This means that it’ll take you longer to become debt-free and you’ll end up paying more interest, too.
In an ideal world, you should try to clear your balance in full. But if this isn’t possible, look to at least pay off more than the minimum - the more you can chip away at your remaining balance, the better.
2. Stop spending on your plastic
There’s no use in doing everything you can to put more money towards your instalments if you’re still splashing the cash with your credit card. All you’re doing is undoing all your hard work.
So, unless it’s absolutely essential – like if your car’s broken down and you need to buy a new part right away - try to avoid spending on your plastic until you’ve reached your goal.
3. Be strict with your budgeting
If you want to pay more off each month but you just don’t know where to get the money from, then perhaps it’s time to tighten the leash on your spending.
To see where you could start saving, start by jotting down your income along with all your outgoings - bills, groceries, cinema trips, the lot. Once you’ve got a breakdown of where your money’s going every month, highlight which costs are essential - like heating and food, for example.
You should then be left with a list of what are essentially ‘nice to haves’. See how much you’re splashing out on them and make a commitment to cut back on your spending by £X amount. Then, use the money you save to put towards clearing your credit card balance.
4. Don’t be afraid to haggle
If you’re currently being stung by a high-interest rate on your credit card, pick up the phone and try to negotiate a better rate. Not many people bother trying this option for fear of getting rejected, but if you don’t ask, you don’t get, and it’s actually more common than you might think.
Sticking with the theme of bargaining, why not give it a go with your utility bill providers too? They’ve got tough competition out there and keeping you as a customer is their number one priority, so try and make that work in your favour by haggling down what you currently pay. If they agree, then the amount you save on each bill can be used to wipe your debt sooner.
Many balance transfer cards offer a 0% introductory period (usually for around 15 months, but this will vary from lender to lender), allowing you to focus on clearing your credit - without the cost of interest getting in the way.
It’s worth remembering though, to transfer your outstanding debt from your regular credit card to a balance transfer card, you could be charged a balance transfer fee of around 3%. Make sure this is still a financially savvy move to make and do the maths before you start moving your money around.
Another thing to bear in mind with this option, is that you might not be eligible for balance transfer card if you have a less-than-perfect credit history. So, make sure you get the green light before you apply and use eligibility checkers to see if you’ll be approved.
Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.