Special thanks to Shay for partnering with Stuff Parents Need to make this post possible. As always, all thoughts and opinions expressed here are strictly my own.
Does the title of my post cause you to do a double-take? Does it sound very counter-intuitive, or at the very least, very stupid? I mean, how on earth can a credit card, which is often the source of debt problems, be a helpful tool in paying down debt???
But there are a few tricks that you can employ to put your credit cards to work for you in your efforts to pay down some of your debt!
How to Pay Down Debt Using a Credit Card
1. The best way to help pay down your debt by using a credit card is to wait for a really good balance transfer offer, and then to take full advantage of it. For example, one of your credit card companies may offer you 24 months of interest free payments on any debt you want to transfer over to their card. So let’s say you have a $5,000 debt on a different credit card at that time, and you are currently paying 15% interest on that debt every month. If you can develop a plan to get that $5,000 fully paid off in 24 months, then transferring the debt makes perfect sense. And while you are paying it off, you aren’t having to pay huge interest charges, which saves you even more money!
I also want to mention that if you take all of your debt from one credit card and put it on another credit card, you can then cancel out the old credit card. This is a good thing to do if you find that credit cards are a bit of a temptation for you. If you are trying to improve your credit score, this might also be a good way to go, as creditors take a look at your overall credit available. If you have too much credit at the ready, you become a higher credit risk.
I wouldn’t recommend transferring an amount higher than what you feel very confident that you can repay by the interest-free deadline. Otherwise, this move can bite you in the behind, as some credit card companies will charge you for all the interest you would have paid over that time period if the debt remains after the interest-free period (sneaky, isn’t it?). BUT, if you know you can pay it, then this is actually a really great way to help you get out from under the foot of your debt!
2. The other way you can use your credit cards to help you get out from debt is by taking full advantage of any rewards or perks that your credit card offers. So many people really don’t understand their rewards programs and let the points they are racking up just sit dormant. In many cases those points can be used for airfare, hotels, electronics, or even for cash back. Take a little bit of time to investigate the rewards you are eligible for, and then use them, preferably for something you were planning on purchasing anyway (such as plane tickets for the holidays). You can then take the money that you were planning on spending for those items or services and send it straight to your debt, instead! How cool would it be to take the $1,000 you were planning on spending on your next vacation and put it toward your debt, all the while still getting to take that vacation! That may be more possible than you think, all thanks to those rewards available through your credit card!
And should you find that your credit card offers no rewards (gasp!) or really lousy ones, then it might be a good time to do a credit card comparison. Shop around and see if you can find ways to make your credit card work a bit harder for you. Credit cards, when used wisely, really and truly can help you save money and pay down your debt. It may seem counter-intuitive, but it is true!