How to Pay off Credit Card Debt Fast

If you’re one of the millions of Americans who suffers from credit card debt, then you know the effect it can have on your life. Paying back your credit card debt can seem like a daunting task but it doesn’t have to be. Fortunately, there are some tried and true ways to pay off your credit card quickly. In the following sections, we’ll discuss strategies to pay your debt back fast. 

Advantages of Paying off Credit Card Debt Fast

It’s no secret that getting rid of that looming credit card debt once and for all is in your best interest. Breaking free from financial weight that is dragging you down has many benefits, and the faster you get it done, the faster you can start enjoying them. Some of these life-changing advantages include:

  • More money back in your pocket: When we’re in debt, most of us use a pretty good chunk of our income trying to pay it all back. Getting rid of your debt means its finally time to start using your money for savings or extra spending money. 
  • You can retire earlier: The faster you pay off your debt, the quicker you can start turning that extra cash into a retirement fund. How early you start putting money toward your retirement can have a huge impact on what age you are able to retire. 
  • You’re less at risk: Being in debt can sometimes make the prospect of an emergency savings account sound like a distant dream. Unfortunately, we have no control over life’s sudden curveballs and having a savings in place in the event of a medical issue or job loss is ideal. Digging yourself out of a financial hole can allow for you to start putting money away in an emergency savings. 

Strategies for Paying off Credit Card Debt Faster 

Credit card debt is financial baggage that many Americans are lugging around with them for the long haul, but there are a few ways to get rid of it faster. When deciding which way is best for you to pay down your credit card debt, you will have to choose between two broader routes:

  • Combining all of your debts into one amount.
      • Credit card consolidation loan. 
      • Balance transfer credit card.
  • Paying off your debts individually. 
    • Debt snowball method.
    • Debt avalanche method. 

The sections below discuss each of these strategies in greater detail so that you can get up to speed on tackling your credit card debt. 

Credit card consolidation loan

If you’re looking to combine all of your debts into one balance, taking out a credit card consolidation loan is a popular option. A credit card consolidation loan is a personal loan that you take out for the purpose of combining several accounts into a single loan, with just one monthly payment. 

While one benefit of debt consolidation is the convenience of having a single monthly payment, the goal is to also shoot for a lower interest rate. You’ll use the sum of money you got from the loan to pay off your debts, and then you will make payments on the loan. 

Pros:

  • Interest rates on personal loans are usually lower than credit card interest rates—especially for those of us with a shiny credit score!
  • It simplifies your finances.
  • Certain debt-consolidation are flexible about repayment terms, so you can pick one that works with your budget.
  • You may be able to find a lender who will conveniently send your loan payment straight to your creditors. 

Cons:

  • If you have some dents in your credit history and can’t meet the lender’s eligibility requirements, you might not be able to qualify for a loan or the interest rate they offer you might be close to what you already have on your credit cards. 
  • If you can’t qualify a loan hefty enough to pay down your total credit card debt, you’ll only be able to consolidate a portion of your debts, meaning you’ll still have more than one payment to make. 
  • Some lenders may charge additional fees, making the overall cost of the loan not worth it!

Balance transfer credit card

Placing all of your credit card balances onto a balance transfer credit card is another way to pay off several debts with one monthly payment. In most cases, once you’ve opened the account, you’ll be offered a 0% introductory annual percentage rate (APR) for transferring your balances within a specified timeframe.

Pros

  • If you can manage to pay off your entire balance during the 0% APR introductory period, then you’re off the hook on having to pay any interest. 

Cons

  • Making late payments on your balance transfer card can result in your introductory offer being rescinded. 
  • The introductory period is temporary. For those of us with larger balances, this is something to consider. If you haven’t finished paying off the balance once the introductory period is over, interest will begin to accrue at the card’s usual APR. 
  • There may be a balance transfer fee.
  • You will be given a credit limit on the card, and you can only transfer balances up to that amount. If your total balance is larger than the credit amount you are offered, you might want to reconsider this as an option. 
  • Depending on how high your balances are, it might damage your credit if you transfer over a balance almost as much as your new credit limit. 

Debt snowball method

This debt payoff strategy was built around paying off the card with the lowest balance first. To properly execute the snowball method, you’ll have to:

  1. Make higher payments on the account with the lowest balance while simultaneously making the minimum payments on the rest of the accounts.
  2. Once your lowest account balance reaches zero, use the money that you were using to make the payments on that account and put it towards paying off your second lowest balance. 
  3. Repeat this cycle until all of your credit cards are paid off.

The key to this method is to continue making payments on those steeper accounts so that you avoid late fees and damaging your credit. Meanwhile, paying off your first balance—the lowest one—will gain you confidence and help you to build momentum. Plus, your budget will essentially stay the same, you’ll just be moving your money around. 

If the debt snowball method sounds like it fits your needs, you can get started by making a list of all of your account balances ranging from low to high. Then, start creating a budget that includes the minimum payments on all of your accounts except the lowest one. For the smallest balance, the goal is to put the most extra cash you can afford towards getting it paid off. 

So, let’s say you have three credit cards that have balances:

  • Card 1: $800
  • Card 2: $1,300
  • Card 3: $3,500

You would start by paying off the $800 balance first, then the $1,300 balance, then the $3,500 balance. 

Pros

  • It’s easy to make progress fast. 
  • Getting the smallest one paid off first helps you build momentum.
  • You’re more likely to stay motivated.

Cons

  • You will still need to pay attention to the interest you are being charged on each account.
  • If your higher account balances are also the ones with the most interest, then this method may not be the best choice for you. 

Debt avalanche method

For those of us whose highest account balances are also tagged with the highest interest rates, the debt avalanche method might be something to consider.  This approach to chipping away at debt focuses on tackling the account with the highest interest rates first. Once you’ve paid off the debt with the highest interest rate, you can take the money you were using to pay down that account balance and put it toward the account with the second highest interest rate. The key is to keep repeating this cycle until each balance is paid off. 

For example, let’s say you have three credit card balances with three different interest rates:

  • Card 1: 20%
  • Card 2: 15%
  • Card 3: 10%

You would begin the process by paying down Card 1 first, and then moving on to Card 2, and lastly, Card 3. 

Pros

  • You could potentially save on interest charges. If interest is the biggest concern you have when it comes to credit card debt, this might be a good method for you. 

Cons 

  • If your debt with the highest interest rate also has the highest balance, it could take you a long time to pay it off, which might be discouraging when you’re trying to get a handle on things.