Fix Your Credit Card Debt and Enjoy Life!
Credit Card Debt is one of life's miseries that most consumers have become accustomed to living with. There are reports that say credit card debt is taking a toll on our physical and social health. The debt can lead to fatigue, headaches, muscle tension, and strained relationships with family and friends.
Before I discuss tips for fixing your credit card debt, I want to reveal some things about the credit card issuers.
Credit card issuers have a love-hate relationship with their credit card customers. The card issuers place customers into different categories based on the customers swiping patterns.
Once they track your swiping habits you are placed into one of 4 categories: super-prime customers, prime customer, subprime customers, and deep prime customers.
Which of these 4 categories of credit card user are you? If you have multiple credit cards you may think that you are a super-prime customer with one card issuer and a subprime customer with another.
Well, that’s not how it works. Your category is determined by your total credit history.
Now, I want to give you a view of the American total credit card debt.
Total Consumer Credit Card Debt
One year ago the U.S. credit card users owed a total of $834 billion in credit card debt. According to the Federal Reserve, the average American household has roughly $16,425 in credit card debt.
Don’t be surprised when I tell you that this debt level is more than 6% higher than in 2016. In all likely-hood, the debt will continue to rise as consumers are encouraged to swipe more and more.
Perhaps you are thinking about the purchases you made that contributed to this whopping $834 billion. My thoughts are how could this crisis happen? You are not totally the blame?
How did we get here?
Credit cards have become one of the major ways for conducting cashless transactions in our modern society. Credit card issuers approve high credit limits to credit card owners, thereby influencing the cardholder's burden.
This makes it easy for consumers to buy products when they may not have the cash to pay for the products. Many customers use credit cards to hold them over until the next pay period.
Often times when they do get paid they never pay off the credit card debt. The remaining debt is rolled over to the next month.
With a balance already on the card, they add more charges to hold them over again. As a result, this process repeats itself month after month until the debt is out of control.
Most consumers may not fully understand how credit cards work. Credit Card issuers are required by law to include a section with your monthly billing titled: Important Information About This Account. This section tells you how the credit card works.
It includes such topics as Paying Interest, Total Interest Charge Computation, How We Allocate Your Payments, Important Information About Payments By Phone, Your Credit Lines, Miscellaneous, Calculation of Balances Subject to Interest Rate and Payments.
Only a few cardholders even bother to read the information about the account. The reason for not reading the information is the print is too small and it is usually not easily understood.
Now that we know why we have credit card debt and how credit cards work, let’s discuss the various cardholder types.
Which Type of user are you?
Most credit card issuers place their credit card user into 4 categories:
Super-prime credit – People with super-prime credit have credit records that are so pristine that they are offered the best available terms by those extending credit. No exact score divides the super-prime tier of credit from its lesser credit cousins prime, subprime, and deep prime; it depends on the product and each creditor sets its own rules.
Prime credit - Borrowers with prime credit can expect to pay slightly higher interest rates and slightly smaller credit limits than borrowers with super-prime credit since they are considered to have a slightly higher risk of not repaying their debts.
Subprime credit - Subprime borrowers may have a tarnished or limited credit history. These borrowers carry more credit risk, and as such, are offered higher interest rates and lower credit limits as well.
Deep prime credit – People with deep prime credit ratings are very high-risk customers. Borrowers in this category may be denied credit opportunities or offered the highest interest rate allowable by law.
So, the question is again which type of user are you? If you would like to improve your credit category here are some steps that anyone can take to fix your debt.
Steps to reduce your credit card debt
- It is always recommendable to reduce the number of credit cards. Having too many credit cards will have a negative impact on the credit score of the cardholder and his/her ability to borrow. If the numbers of cards are less it will be easy to track and manage. The more credit cards you have the better chance you have of getting deeper in debt.
- Not paying off the credit card balance full is a big mistake, this should be avoided. Carry debt to build credit is actually a myth.
- New credit card users should try to pay off their balances in full, but also keep balances below 30 percent of your credit limit. Because credit utilization -- or how much of your total credit you actually use -- typically makes up a portion of your credit score. Carrying a high balance from month to month can be devastating to credit score.
- Sharing the credit cards with others may lead to overspending, misuse of the card and related disputes. It may also disturb the personal budget of the cardholder.
- Cash advance is an attractive option to get quick cash, but interest rates on cash advances can be double your standard interest rate in some cases. Not only have that cash advances also typically had additional fees. Because of these reasons, it is better to avoid cash advances at all cost.
- Payment history is an extremely influential factor in credit score, and just one late payment could damage the credit score. Credit card holders can avoid late payments by checking their credit card statements regularly.
A Few More Helpful Steps
- Paying the minimum amount is a blunder. The best strategy is to pay off the balance monthly.
- Checking the statement will help the card holders not only to pay their bill promptly but also allow them to make sure that the charge on it is correct or not. Waiting too long to dispute a charge is essentially accepting it.
- In these days of ID theft, it is always better to check your bills regularly and on time.
- Credit card holders should avoid late payments because a late payment leads to late payment charges, which could be higher than minimum payments. It may damage the credit score and make it harder to get better terms for future loans and accounts.
- In order to avoid late payment, it is recommendable to set up an automatic payment system via your bank. But when we set up an automatic payment system make sure you have enough money in the bank to pay the bill or overdraft protection.
- Switching to a debit card is a better precedent to get you in the habit of thinking in terms of declining balance and the cost of a purchase rather than getting in the habit of maxing out credit limits.
- Get a secured credit card. Secured credit cards work just like any other credit card, with the main difference being that you control the credit limit. Rather than have the credit card company set your credit limit, you deposit a sum of money, and that’s your credit limit. It also acts as collateral; the bank knows you can at least pay back, say, the $1,000 deposit.
Since modern society forces us to use this plastic at some point in our lives, we should learn how to use it wisely. When used wisely, credit cards can offer many financial benefits that will allow your money to become your friend and not your enemy.
Here is a quotation to remember: “Take charge of your credit card life and believe in transformation” – Unknown
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