From why it’s good to know to how to do the maths, we’ll walk you through the clearing-your-credit-card calculations.
At one point in time, you might have had to whip out a calculator and do the number crunching yourself to work out when you’ll clear your credit card. But those days are long gone. In this day and age, the maths couldn’t be simpler– because it’s done for you!
And secondly, it can help with planning. For example, if you’ve currently got credit card debt and you’re looking to purchase a property, but you don’t want to be paying off a mortgage and a credit card at the same time, knowing when your plastic will be clear can help you map out future financial situations.
Now, let’s move on to the ‘how’.
Credit card repayment calculators
Nowadays, most credit card providers will have some form of free credit card repayment calculator for you to use - and we’re one of them!
All you need is three numbers: 1) your balance 2) your APR and 3) how much you’re currently repaying each month. With these figures, you can find out how long it’ll take you to get down to that magical £0.
Here’s an example of what it looks like in practice:
- You have an outstanding credit card balance of £1,800
- The APR attached to your credit card is 20%
- And you pay £70 off it every month
- If all these factors remained the same, the time it’d take you to pay off your credit card would be two years and 10 months.
But then let’s say, for whatever reason, you’re no longer able to spare £70 a month, so you drop it down to £50 monthly payments. Based on the same balance and APR, your debt-free date would then be in four years and eight months’ time - a big difference, which is why it’s important to revisit the calculator if your circumstances change.
Although online calculators can give you a good indication of when you’ll clear your credit card debt, they can only base the calculations on the information you give them, and (understandably!) they can’t foresee any changes.
With that in mind, to keep your debt-free date accurate, you’ll need to revisit your credit card repayment calculator if any of the following inputs change:
1) You spend more on your credit card so the amount you owe increases.
2) You’re charged a missed or late payment fee, which adds to your balance.
3) The interest rate attached to your credit card goes up or down.
4) The amount you repay each month changes.
Clearing your credit card quicker
If you’ve got your debt-free date and you want to bring it forward, you can do the maths for that online as well - spoiler, we’ve got a calculator for this equation, too!
For this, you just need your balance and APR rate again, along with how quickly you’d like to clear your balance in months and years.
So, sticking with the same figures as our previous example, this is what the calculator would supply you with:
- You say you have a £1,800 credit card balance to clear
- You reveal it has a 20% APR attached to it
- And you say you want to clear it in one year and six months
- The calculator tells you, you have to make monthly payments of £116.57 to achieve this.
If the number you’re given just isn’t feasible, you can easily play around with the ‘how quickly you’d like to clear your balance’ fields until you find a monthly amount that’s realistic for you.
Clearing your credit card: considerations
Regardless of what date your calculations say you’ll clear your debt by, remember, there are a few golden rules that come hand-in-hand with credit cards.
1) Always make at least the minimum payments. Ideally, you should make more to clear your debt sooner, but don’t ever go lower than this. If you do, you may be charged a fee, and it can damage your credit history for future lenders to see.
2) Stay within your limit. Your credit limit is there for a reason, so make sure you stay within it. If you don’t, as with failing to meet the minimum payment, you could be faced with a fee.
3) Only spend what you can afford to repay. Splashing the cash without thinking about how much you can actually afford to pay back - and when - can be very costly. For this reason alone, especially for larger purchases, it’s perhaps worth doing the number crunching before you make the transaction, so you know what kind of repayment term and plan you’re getting yourself in for.
If we’ve talked you into a bit of number crunching, to use our very own credit card calculators, simply head over here.
Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.