Wednesday, September 10, 2008

How to pay down credit card debt in 2 years

Credit cards are confusing. What seemed like a good safety net at one time can turn into a death trap. That's because so many cards have complicated APR calculations or clauses that can bump your rate just because you were late on an unrelated credit payment. Ugh!! There are so many ways they can get you.

To get the credit monkey off your back you've got to take a practical approach. But what's that? There's tons of advice out there, but here's the best way--really--to get out of the problem.

Pull out your highest interest rate card and throw money at it. Don't even look at the balance, you're only object is to get out of sufficating interest rates. Anything you can afford to pay above the minimum, do it. Look at this example.

Let's just say for example you've got a high-interest card with a $10,000 balance.
Here are few payment strategies:

Paying the Minimum Payments
Interest rate: 26.99%
Balance: $10,000
Min payment: $345
Time to payoff At minimum payment: 22yrs, 2 months
Interest paid: $16,344.45

Double the Minimum
Interest rate: 26.99%
Balance: $10,000
Min payment: $690
Time to payoff At minimum payment: 1yr, 6 months
Interest paid: $1,910.52

How much more do you need to pay?
Experts advice to pay 2-3 times the minimum but really any significant amount above the minimum will help. Let's play with the numbers from the example above. You've already seen what affect a double payment has, what about something less...

Paying just $150 over the minium for a total of $495
Time to payoff At minimum payment: 2yrs, 3 months
Interest paid: $3,127.87

It might seem a little odd not to go for the lowest balance card first. You could do that, if you want, but you're more likely to be paying out more interest that way. And if you don't believe these outrageous examples? You can plug in your own crazy credit card balances into this calculator from CNN Money. Be sure to click on the full strategy detail to see how your payments should go.

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