It feels like the walls are closing in when you're high in credit card debt. The interest rates and late fees can really make the situation insurmountable, especially if it happens on a few different cards. Suddenly, your $10 minimum monthly payment skyrockets to $400 and you're paying $40 late fees, as well as a 19.92% interest rate to boot!
If you were previously a good customer, then you can often negotiate on your own by simply calling your creditor. If you've slipped behind and failed on your promises for several months now, it's a good time to seek credit card debt reduction services.
You can get rid of bad credit debt by taking out a loan. To alleviate credit card debt, you may be able to take out a second mortgage or a home equity line of credit to pay off all your other balances. Be aware that this could be do or die situation for you because if you don't pay off that loan, then you could lose your house!
You'll have to pay interest on your loan, as well as "points" (1 point for every 1% you borrow). One good thing about a home equity loan is that you'll receive tax credits that aren't available with other forms of debt repayment.
To prevent credit card debt, you should first only take advantage of offers you actually need. There is no reason to ever have more than two or three credit cards. Having an unsecured credit card you never use is worse than just buying one thing per month and paying it off each month.
To build your credit wisely, you may want to use a secured credit card, where you pay the bank your limit upfront and then only take out what you have put in, which is sort of like a debit card, only this one gets reported to all three bureaus to show your progress.
Speaking of debit, use your credit card as you would a debit card, subtracting each purchase from your savings to be sure you're not overspending. Ideally, you'll want to pay on-time and in full because only paying off the minimum balances can take years to pay off the full amount, given the interest.
Be sure you don't max out your credit cards as well. If you're using over 30% of your available limit, then your credit score will go lower.
There are several credit card myths that lead to credit card debt. Myth #1 is that "credit card companies wouldn't send me offers in the mail if I couldn't afford it." In fact, they will offer risky clients more credit in hopes of increasing your limit and interest rates to suck more money out of you. Myth # 2 is "The more cards I have the more financial security I'll have."
In reality, the temptation will be greater and the more available credit you have, the more likely you'll be turned down for a mortgage or other loan. Myth # 3 is "It's ok if I take advantage of the cash advance feature to keep me ahead." Interest is super high for cash advances, so you should avoid using that function at all costs. Myth # 4 is that "As long as I make the minimum payment each month, I'll be fine."
But did you know that you will end up paying $2,300 in interest if you pay the minimum monthly payments on a balance of $2,500 over five years? Bad credit debt is sometimes a matter of lying to ourselves. The sooner people realize this, the faster they can get back on track.