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A Closer Look at How Credit Card Debt Consolidation Works

A Closer Look at How Credit Card Debt Consolidation Works

    In recent times many individuals, especially US citizens, are knee-deep in credit card debt. People can incur credit card debt due to many reasons, like medical expenses, extravagant vacations, renovating houses and paying bills due to low income. No matter how you get into debt, you must try to come out of it as soon as possible. You may pursue either credit card debt consolidation, debt settlement, debt management, or even file bankruptcy to wipe off the credit card debt. But remember, debt consolidation has certain advantages over other methods of debt elimination. Before you proceed with the process of credit card debt consolidation, you must know how it works.

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    What is credit card debt consolidation?

    Credit card debt consolidation is a program that allows you to consolidate all your multiple debts into one monthly payment. With debt consolidation, you can lower the interest rate and therefore reduce monthly payments. Thus, credit card debt consolidation helps you pay off your debt as soon as possible. This is the best way to wipeout debt without injuring your credit.

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    Ways to consolidate credit card debt

    • A primary way of consolidating credit card debt is to take out a loan at lower interest rate and merge all the debts into the loan. If you own a home, you may put it up as collateral in order to get a lower interest rate loan. This loan is also known as a home equity loan.
    • Another way of consolidating credit card debt is a balance transfer. Transfer the balance on your credit card to a new form of credit that offers zero or low-interest rate.
    • You may also apply for a personal loan or unsecured line of credit to consolidate and pay off the credit card debt.

    Define your goals

    1. Amend the inflow of cash. Try to reduce the size of your monthly payments over time so that the amount lowers gradually and eventually increases the inflow of your cash.
    2. Rid your debt sooner. Try to erase your debts as fast as possible. This will enable you to save some money and prevent your credit report from getting damaged.
    3. Do not miss payments. Never miss monthly payments and bills. That would certainly add up to the total debt amount — and create stress as well.

    A few important tips before considering debt consolidation

    1. Before you choose the method of consolidating your credit card debt, you must contact creditors in order to find out the outstanding balance on each of your accounts. Then, obtain a personal loan or unsecured loan to pay each creditor in full.
    2. If you are planning to transfer your balance you will have to provide your creditor with billing information, an account number and the balance on the account you are transferring. After you have paid off each account in full, you then have to decide whether you want to close the accounts or want to leave them open.

    The difference between debt consolidation and debt management

    There are many people who think that debt consolidation is the same as debt management and credit counseling. The fact is debt management and credit counseling involves debt consolidation through a company. When you hire the services of a credit counselor or a debt management company, they negotiate with creditors and reduce the interest rate on each account. Then they collect a fixed monthly payment from you and disburse it to creditors in order to pay off your existing credit card debt.

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    Conclusion

    Debt consolidation is the most viable method to pay off the credit card debt. But before going for this option, you must consider some factors associated with it. If you take out a consolidation loan while putting up collateral, you must remember that you cannot afford to miss a monthly payment. If you default on loan repayment, you may lose your asset. So make sure to choose the debt consolidation option through giving it careful thought and analyzing your fiscal situation.

    (Photo credit: Colorful stack of credit cards via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on March 4, 2019

    How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

    How to Use Credit Cards While Staying Out of Debt

    Many people will suggest that the best thing to do with your credit cards during these tough economic times is to cut them up with a pair of scissors. Indeed, if you are already in huge debt, you probably should stop using them and begin a payback strategy immediately. However, if you are not currently in trouble with your credit cards, there are wise ways to use them.

    I happen to really love my credit cards so I will share with you my approach to how I use mine without getting into deep financial trouble.

    Ever since about 1983 when I got my first Visa card, I continue to charge as many of my purchases as possible on credit. Everything from gas, groceries and monthly payments for services like my cable and home security monitoring are charged on credit. Despite my heavy usage, I have maintained the joy of never paying any interest fees at all on any of my credit cards.

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    Here are some tips on how best to use your credit cards without falling into the trap of paying those nasty double-digit interest fees.

    Do Not Treat Credit Cards as Your Funding Sources

    Too many people treat their credit cards as funding sources for major purchases. Do not do this if you want to stay out of trouble. I use my credit cards as convenient financial instruments so I do not have to carry around much cash. In fact, I hate carrying cash, especially coins. When you buy things on credit, the purchases are clean and you will not get annoying coins back as change.

    I do not rely on my Visa, MasterCard or American Express to fund any of my purchases, large or small. This brings me to my golden rule when it comes to whether I will pull out any of my credit cards either at a retail or online store.

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    I never purchase anything with my credit cards if I do not have the actual cash on hand in my bank account.

    If I really cannot pay for the item or service with cash that I already have at the bank, then I simply will not make the purchase. Remember, my credit cards are not used as funding sources. They are just convenient alternatives to actual cash in my pocket.

    Make Sure to Always Pay Off Balances in Full Each Month

    The next very important part of my overall strategy is to make absolutely sure that I pay the balances in full each and every month no matter how large they are. This should never be a problem if the cash has been budgeted for my purchases and secured in the bank. I have always paid my full balances each month ever since my very first credit card and this is why I never pay interest charges.

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    Using Credit Cards with Rewards

    Most of my credit cards are of the “no annual fees” type, including one MasterCard on a separate account I keep at home as a spare in case I lose my wallet or incur any fraudulent charges. However, I do use a main Visa card which does have an annual fee because all purchases on that card reward me with airline frequent flyer points. For me, the annual fee is worth it since I do travel and I get enough points to redeem many free flights.

    You have to decide for yourself if you will charge enough purchases on credit each year without paying interest charges to warrant a credit card that rewards you with airline points (or other rewards). In my case, the answer is “yes” but that might not be the case for you.

    I occasionally use a MasterCard or American Express card on small purchases just to keep those accounts active. Also, I have been to the odd retailer that accepted only a certain type of credit card, so I find that having one from each major company is quite handy. Aside from my main Visa card which earns the airline points, the rest of my cards are of the “no annual fees” variety.

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    So this is how I use my credit cards without getting into any financial trouble with them. This strategy is recommended only if you are not in debt, of course. In fact, it is worth keeping in mind once you’re out of debt so that you can keep your credit cards active and treat them responsibly.

    What are your credit card usage strategies? Let me know in the comments — I’d love to hear what methods you use.

    Featured photo credit: Artem Bali via unsplash.com

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