If you’re carrying a large amount of credit card debt, it’s time to get serious about paying it off. While there are a few different ways to get out from under debt quickly, these are the four most effective methods.
1. Get a debt consolidation loan
Debt consolidation works by combining multiple debts into one lower-interest loan. This can reduce your overall monthly payments, giving you more money toward your principal balance. Suppose you have a good history on your credit report. In that case, you might get more competitive rates by looking up loan options for debt consolidation by credit score, as a good credit score will show lenders you’re responsible with your credit and would be a great candidate to lend money to.
Your credit score is generated based on a number of factors, including the number of late payments, your total credit usage, and various other metrics. The easiest way to improve your credit score for a debt consolidation loan is to ensure you keep making your minimum payments on your credit cards by the payment deadline every month and keep the amount of credit utilization low.
If you’re $5,000 in debt and have a credit line of $10,000, lenders will see you have a 50% utilization rate on your credit and have a few late payments, and they’ll be wary of working with you. However, if you can show a history of making your payments on time and keep your utilization under 20% ($5,000 in debt would mean you should have a total credit line of $25,000 to reach 20% utilization), you have a higher chance of getting a debt consolidation loan.
If you need to increase your utilization but can’t pay off your debt without a consolidation loan and have a good history with your credit card company, request a credit limit increase instead. If approved, your new available credit will be raised, lowering your utilization and making you a more attractive candidate for a loan.
2. Pay off high-interest debt first
If you have higher-interest debt costing you more in interest payments each month, it’s worth trying to pay that off first. This will reduce the amount of money you need to spend on principal repayments each month and speed up your goal of getting out of debt completely. This is often referred to as the “Debt Avalanche” method, which focuses on reducing the amount of interest you’ll pay overall.
3. Pay off your smallest debt first
If you’re a person who likes to see quick progress to stay motivated, consider instead organizing your credit card debts by amounts owed instead of interest rates and paying off the smallest debt first. This is known as the “Debt Snowball” method and is excellent for getting the ball rolling on removing your debt.
4. Get a 0% interest card and transfer your balance to it
One final method is to get a 0% interest card and transfer your remaining balance from your high-interest cards. While this won’t get you out of debt completely, it will reduce the amount of money you need to pay each month and can significantly speed up your goal of getting debt paid off in full.
The bottom line
No matter which method you choose, be sure to stay focused and keep track of your progress over time. The more effort you make to reduce your debt, the faster you’ll knock down that $5,000.