It does feel very nice to be able to flash a piece of plastic and buy whatever your heart desires, but sooner or later, you’ll discover that your card statement balances are assuming very threatening proportions and the steep interest rates applicable on the rollover amounts are driving them higher. If you are finding it difficult to make your monthly payments, you need to quickly find a way of settling your dues before damaging your credit significantly.
However, climbing out of a credit card debt trap can be more difficult than you’d assume. Not only do you need to find a relief option that will work for you but also avoid actions that can potentially worsen your situation. Some important dos and don’ts of credit card debt management:
What You Should Do
Know the figures
The first step to managing your credit card debt is to know exactly how much you owe and to which issuers. It is important to make a list of the all the debts with the largest outstanding at the top and the applicable interest rate alongside. In case, any of the accounts are overdue, you should also make a note of the number of the months it is late by.
Keep on making the minimum payments
It is very important to keep on making the minimum payments on each account by the due date. By doing this not only will you not attract the late payment charges but also keep your account out of collections. Paying the minimum amounts will enable you to buy time to find a better payment method such as a consolidation loan and avoid the hassle of meeting debt collectors.
Inform your creditors
It is important not to hide from the card issuers but instead to inform them of your cash crunch, and request for lower interest rates, waiver of penalties or even a lesser minimum due for such time you are able to make them regular. Often card companies are willing to work with longtime customers to bail them out of tough situations.
Review agencies before entering into an agreement
While there are a number of debt relief agencies that are legitimate and can help you regain financial stability, there are unfortunately a lot of scams that can drive you deeper into debt. Check out the debt consolidation agency antecedents thoroughly and ensure that they are accredited by bodies like the Better Business Bureau, the Financial Counseling Association of America (FCAA), or the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC).
Maintain the action plan
It is never an easy process to get rid of debt. You will need to commit yourself to an action plan that can entail a lot of financial discipline. It is important to not only start right but to have the motivation of carrying out the plan to its scheduled end and wipe your slate clean. You need to be ready to make enduring changes to your lifestyle and not revert to using your credit card carelessly after having paid off your debt.
What You Should Avoid
Sign up without knowing the costs
While there are plenty of options in the market that can get effective results for you, you should be aware that each of them has its own cost. You should opt for a method only after ascertaining the interest rate and the applicable fees and charges. There is little point in negotiating for a low-interest rate only to find the effect being negated due to high fixed fees and penalties.
Do it yourself
It can be very appealing to try to get out of the debt trap without an agency to help out. However, this is only possible if you have the income, the drive, as well as the credit rating to enable you to consolidate your debts and obtain a personal loan. If you make the wrong choices, you will invariably land up in a situation that is worse than before.
There is little point in hoping that things will get better by themselves. The nature of credit card debt is that due to the steep interest rates applicable on the dues, the situation keeps on growing worse. The longer you wait to take positive action, the more trouble you will have to keep your payments on schedule and keeping your credit score intact. The faster you access professional help in tackling your debt the better it will be for you.
Getting out of credit card debt is not an easy process. You should ideally seek professional financial counseling to help you identify the exact extent of your problem and to seek the best ways of addressing it. Make the choice of the debt consolidation agency carefully, and then having committed yourself, stick to the plan of action till the very end. Avoid returning to the profligate lifestyle that had got you into trouble in the first place.