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How to escape the credit card debt trap: 6 ways to get out of debt faster

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If you feel trapped by credit card debt, there are strategies you can use to pay your debts off faster. 

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If you carry credit card debt from month to month, you may feel trapped. After all, credit cards generally come with high interest rates, and when you make minimum payments on these accounts, it can seem like little of the money you pay is going toward the principal balance. And if you continue down that path, it can feel like you’ll never get out of credit card debt

Credit card debt is commonplace in the United States, though, and even if you feel like you’re trapped, there are several tools that you can use to get out of debt faster

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How to escape the credit card debt trap: 6 ways to get out of debt faster

Credit card debt can be uncomfortable, but you don’t have to deal with it forever. Here are six things you can do to pay your debt off faster:

Get in touch with a debt relief service

One of the most effective ways to speed up the debt payoff process may be to work with a debt relief service. These companies usually provide one or both of the following services: 

  • Debt consolidation: With debt consolidation, experts negotiate with your lenders on your behalf to reduce your interest rates. Once that process is complete, they set up an affordable yet effective payment plan. You then make a single monthly payment to the debt consolidation company and the company pays your lenders on your behalf. 
  • Debt settlement: The debt settlement company typically sets up a payment plan based on how much money you owe and how much you can afford to pay. You stop making payments to your lenders and start paying your settlement company, which usually stores those payments in a special-purpose savings account. Once you have enough money saved to settle your debts, the settlement company attempts to negotiate lower payoff amounts on your behalf. 

Learn more about your debt relief options today

Consider a debt consolidation loan

Consider a “debt consolidation loan that will combine all the creditors into one payment and one creditor,” says Mark Charnet, founder and CEO of American Prosperity Group. “You should do this with the lender that offers you the best rate and terms.”

There are numerous options for debt consolidation loans, including specific loans geared toward debt consolidation. However, using a home equity loan or HELOC as a debt consolidation loan could help you save on interest and reduce your monthly minimum payments.  

Make more than minimum payments

One of the reasons credit card debt often feels like a trap is that credit card companies usually structure minimum payments to primarily pay down interest charges. A small percentage of your minimum payment typically goes toward your principal balance, but if you want to make a real dent in what you owe, it’s wise to make more than the minimum payments. 

Prioritize your payments

Rather than making minimum payments on all of your accounts, you can pay off your debt more quickly by diverting any extra funds to: 

  1. Your account with the highest interest rate: By sending your extra funds to your highest interest rate account, you’ll pay that account off faster — clearing the debt that costs you the most first. Once you pay off your first debt, focus on your debt with the next highest interest rate and continue to do so until your credit cards are all paid off. 
  2. Your account with the lowest balance: If you put your extra funds toward your account with the lowest balance, you’ll pay that account off faster than you otherwise would. Once it’s paid off, focus on the account with the next lowest balance. The small wins early on may motivate you to continue on your path toward credit card debt freedom.   

Negotiate with your creditors

There are multiple ways to work with your creditors to pay your debts off faster. “You’d be surprised what you can get just for asking the correct people at the creditor’s office,” says Charnet.

You could use your long history as a valued customer to your advantage, apply for a financial hardship program or even stop paying your creditors and attempt to save for a potential settlement. 

Cut frivolous spending

You may buy a cup of coffee at your local coffee shop every day, eat out too much or spend too much money on other simple conveniences. Figure out what your frivolous spending habits are and cut them out of your budget to free up more funds to put toward your debt. 

The bottom line

Credit card debt can feel like a trap you may never fight your way out of — but it doesn’t have to. Consider taking advantage of one of the options above to escape the credit card debt trap faster. 

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