(WHTM) – More than a third of Americans added personal debt over the past holiday, much of it on credit cards. If you have credit card debt, you need to spend less, and there are smart ways to do that.
Credit card holders owe an average of more than $5,000 in debt on their cards. And with vacation bills coming due, it can be difficult to manage that debt.
Experts say there are different strategies for paying off your credit card balances.
“One is called the debt avalanche method. The idea is that you attack the card with the highest interest rate. Pay minimums on all your cards, but put more towards that card with the highest interest rate because again, it’s your most expensive debt,” said CNet Money editor Farnoosh Torabi.
Get daily news, weather and breaking news straight to your inbox! Sign up for abc27 newsletters here
Another way is to use the debt snowball method.
“With the debt snowball, it’s all about small steps, starting with the smallest balance first. Why? Because in theory it should be something relatively easy to overcome,” Torabi said.
You can also lower your payments by transferring your balances to a card that charges no interest for a period of time, usually 12 to 15 months.
“Now the caveat to that is that if you go over 15 months and you still have a balance on that balance transfer card, the interest rate will go up in some cases very high. And you’ll be back where you were a little over a year ago and you will have to pay interest again,” Torabi said.
Another option is to consider a personal loan with a lower interest rate than your cards.
No matter how you approach your credit card debt, experts say you should always have a spending plan.
“You can’t get out of debt if you don’t have a budget. These two things go hand in hand. So while you’re thinking about reducing your debt, you also need to be mindful of how you’re spending and making sure it aligns with your debt repayment goals,” Torabi said.
Other simple tips to avoid credit card debt: try to pay more than the card’s monthly minimum and automate your payments to avoid costly late fees.