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    14 Practical Ways To Pay Off Credit Card Debt, According To People Who Tried Them

    Credit card debt? I don't know her.

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    When it comes to paying down credit card debt, it can often feel like you're taking one step forward and two steps back.

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    So to get a few great repayment tips on your radar, I asked members of the BuzzFeed Community how they managed to pay down their credit card debt. I even threw in a few strategies I personally used to become credit card debt-free.

    Here are some tips that worked for others (and could work for you):

    1. Create a budget to see if you have room to make larger payments toward your bill.

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    This was probably my best strategy for paying down my debt. Instead of just guessing the amount I could afford for my bill each month, creating a budget showed me that I had more room to make an even bigger monthly payment.

    I also shifted some things around — canceled unnecessary subscriptions and budgeted less in areas I didn't care about as much. This freed up extra cash for me to use toward my payments. By doing this, I paid off my debt twice as fast as I would have otherwise.

    2. Figure out if your interest is calculated based on your average daily balance. If that's the case, the longer you wait to make a payment, the more interest the balance will accrue.

    Person using calculator
    Krisanapong Detraphiphat / Getty Images

    "If interest is calculated on average daily balance, pay as early as possible instead of holding onto your cash until the due date. If you get paid weekly, try to pay whatever you can out of each paycheck. That way, the daily balances and your calculated interest for the month will be lower."

    benevolentspirit

    3. Then, make off-cycle payments whenever possible — it'll lower your balance faster.

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    "If you can, try to pay something toward your balance every week, or even multiple times a week. It's a lot easier to budget for that way."

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    4. Open a new card with a lower interest rate and transfer your balance to that card, if you can. It's a major plus if the card doesn't have any balance transfer fees!

    Person holding credit cards
    Boy_anupong / Getty Images

    "Transfer as much of your balances [as you can] to new cards offering 0% balance transfer fees, for as long a period as possible. Then, aggressively attack the highest-interest balances left over while making at least minimum payments on the transferred balances."

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    A balance transfer is a type of debt consolidation. While "consolidation" implies combining multiple debts, it's totally possible to consolidate a single debt for a lower interest rate. Learn more about debt consolidation here, and check out this selection of balance transfer credit cards for ideas on where to get started.

    5. Freeze your credit cards — and I mean this in the most literal of ways.

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    "In order to start paying down my credit cards, I actually put my credit cards in a jar, filled it with water, and stuck it in the freezer. When I got the impulse to use my cards, I had to defrost them, which gave me time to think about whether I wanted to sit there and wait for the ice to melt. Most of the time, I abandoned the process and stuck them back in the freezer."

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    6. Automate your monthly payments so you don't incur late fees on missed due dates.

    Person typing card info into computer
    Luis Alvarez / Getty Images

    Late payment charges = even more money that you'll have to put toward your credit card.

    When life gets a little extra busy, it can be way too easy to miss a bill — even when you're usually so good about making on-time payments! Automatically setting up your credit card payments for a specific day each month takes some of the hassle away.

    7. Give the avalanche method a shot, and watch your credit card debt slowly roll into lower balances.

    Comedy Central

    "If you have multiple cards you’re trying to pay off, pay off the one with the highest interest rate first. At the same time, make the minimum payment on your lower-interest cards. You’ll end up saving a lot of money because the longer you accrue interest, the more you’ll end up owing in the end. I learned this the hard way in my twenties."

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    8. Or, use the snowball method which focuses on throwing large payments toward your smallest debt balances first.

    Person tossing a snowball in the air
    Szabo Ervin-edward / Getty Images

    If you have multiple credit card balances, this method allows you to focus on paying off your lowest balance first while still making the minimum payment on cards with higher balances. This way, you wipe out an entire credit card faster (and feel super accomplished when you make that progress).

    9. Banish any saved credit card info from your phone and computer, and turn off autofill forms. It just makes it *too easy* to order items when you don't even have to get up to grab your card.

    Lifetime

    "Delete the credit card numbers that are saved on your phone, computer, online shops, and PayPal. It doesn’t literally help pay down the debt, but it does stop the debt from getting worse."

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    10. If you feel comfortable, consider taking out a personal loan at a much lower interest rate and using it to pay off your balance.

    Person handing over money
    Boonchai Wedmakawand / Getty Images

    "I took out a personal loan at a much lower interest rate and paid off my credit card. I’m paying my balance off three times faster this way. Oh, and I wrapped my credit card in wrapping paper after that, so I really had to make that decision to open it to use it."

    jaylyne

    11. Avoid using your credit card for a cash advance. You'll likely accrue even more interest this way.

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    "Whatever you do, don't use the credit card account for a cash advance (don't withdraw money from it as cash or transfer it to your checking account). I did this a couple of years ago when I needed cash in a hurry. I didn't realize that the interest rate was much higher on cash advances, so my credit card bill skyrocketed in the months following that."

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    12. Prioritize your credit card debt above any low-interest debt.

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    Jasmin Suknanan / BuzzFeed

    Credit cards have some really high interest rates — the average rate is currently 16.05%, according to CreditCards.com. The longer you let your balance sit, the more interest you'll pay in the long run.

    13. Pick up the phone, call your credit card company, and try to negotiate a lower interest rate.

    The CW

    Did you know that you could potentially get a lower interest rate on your credit card just by asking? Shout out to Ramit Sethi for teaching us this game-changing tidbit in his book, I Will Teach You To Be Rich.

    Sethi mentions that if you've been a customer who consistently makes on-time payments, it may be easier to make a case for yourself when asking for a slightly lower interest rate. And again, a lower interest rate means that you'll have less money to pay off, which in turn means you can obliterate your debt quicker.

    While this isn't guaranteed to work, it doesn't hurt to try!

    14. Lastly, keep an eye on your credit usage — but don't fret if you can't keep your balance super low right off the bat. These things take time.

    Person checking credit card info on phone
    Maskot / Getty Images

    I know experts recommend keeping your credit utilization below 10% but let's face it, that just isn't the current reality for a lot of people — it wasn't the reality for me!

    So instead, I decided to make 50% my cut-off; if I got close to using 50% of my credit limit, this was my cue to step on the brakes and stop making some purchases. This allowed me to feel more in control of my credit card debt, and the lower my balance got, the easier it was to pay off. Now I have fully paid off my credit card, I can stick to a credit utilization of less than 10% — baby steps!

    BTW, 50% doesn't have to be your designated number — it actually may not work for everyone. A big factor to consider is what your credit limit is in the first place (for example, 50% of a $10,000 limit is still A LOT of money). Maybe you've already used 70% of your limit; make 80% your cut-off. And if you've maxed out your card, set a doable limit after your next payment. Pick a cut-off percentage that works for your situation.

    If this sounds like music to your ears (and bank account), check out more of our personal finance posts.

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