Tricks to paying off credit cards

tricks to paying off credit cards

Some tricks to paying off credit cards include paying more than your minimum payment due, immediately paying your credit card purchases as you make them, or making bi-weekly payments so your individual installments don’t seem so overwhelming.

Millions of Americans carry credit card debt. According to Experian, credit card holders have an average balance of $5,910!1 If your credit card balance is starting to overwhelm you, know that there are plenty of tricks to paying off your credit cards. Learn how to pay off high-interest debt and become debt-free!  

How Much Credit Card Debt Is Too Much?

Carrying credit card debt is not an issue if you can successfully manage payments and keep your utilization rate low. But if you use more than 30% of your total credit limits, you may negatively affect your credit score. 

Credit card utilization affects FICO scores by 30%, which is a significant amount. Credit utilization is the difference between your total credit card balance and your total spending limit. 

Using more than 30% of credit accounts can significantly decrease credit scores.     

You can calculate your utilization ratio by following these steps:

  • Step 1 – Add up your total credit card balances and spending limits
  • Step 2 – Divide your entire balance by your total credit limit
  • Step 3 – Multiply your answer from Step 2 by 100 
  • Step 4 – Get your credit utilization percentage! 

If you are having difficulty improving your credit score, it may be because your utilization ratio needs to be lowered. Paying down your credit card accounts may give your credit a major boost. 

Quick Tips Credit Card Debt Paying

Strategy DescriptionProsConsBest For…
Bi-weekly Payments Instead of monthly payments, pay half the amount every two weeks.Reduces interest over time; faster payoff. Requires budget adjustment.Those with steady income and budget control.
Round-Up PaymentsRound up your payments to the nearest $50 or $100. Accelerates debt reduction.Slightly higher payment. Those looking to make a simple change. 
Windfall Investments Use unexpected money (e.g., tax refunds, bonuses) to pay off debt. Large debt reduction in one go. One-time solution, not regular.Those receiving bonuses or refunds. 
Expense ReductionCut back on non-essential expenses and redirect savings to debt. Consistent extra money for debt. Requires lifestyle changes. Those willing to adjust spending habits. 
Debt Repayment AppUse an app designed to help manage and pay off debt. Automated, easy to track. May have fees or costs. Tech-savvy individuals seeking convenience.
Credit CounselingSeek professional advice for debt management plans. Expert guidance; structured plan. May involve fees; not a direct debit payment. Those needing professional financial advice. 
Side Hustle/ Part-Time JobEarn additional income through extra work. Direct increase in payment capacity. Time-consuming; may be tiring. Those with the time and energy for extra work. 
Reward Points RedemptionRedeem credit card rewards to make payments. Utilizes existing rewards for debt. Only feasible with significant points. Those with high rewards points accumulation.
Automated Payment IncreaseSet up automatic payment increases in payment amount over time. Gradual, manageable increase in payments. Requires future financial stability. Those expecting income growth. 
Refinancing for Lower Interest RateRefinance the debt to a lower interest rate through a new credit line. Reduces overall interest paid. Involves new credit application. Those with good credit seek lower rates. 
Disclaimer: Please note that the strategies outlined in the above chart for paying off credit card debt faster are general suggestions and may not be suitable for everyone’s financial situation. It’s important to consider your individual financial circumstances and, if necessary, seek advice from a financial professional before implementing any of these strategies. The effectiveness of each method can vary based on factors such as your income, spending habits, and overall financial goals.

Is It Bad To Make Minimum Payments?

Credit cards are more convenient than installment loans because borrowers have payment flexibility. The minimum payment is the lowest amount a borrower can pay on their credit card. 

You may wonder, “How do credit card companies calculate a credit card payment?” Minimum payments are either based on a percentage of the balance or a flat fee. Your card’s terms and conditions will detail how the issuer charges payments. While paying the minimum is convenient, continuously making only the minimum payments can deplete your wallet! 

Paying at most the minimum will result in excess interest charges that can add up to hundreds or thousands of dollars each year! You will also prolong the payoff date of your credit cards if you only pay in small increments. Paying more than the minimum each month is one of the best tricks to paying off credit cards quickly.

How to Quickly Pay off Credit Card Balances

Credit card debt can quickly add up and overwhelm borrowers. But luckily, there are plenty of financial strategies available to pay down credit card debt! The best method depends on your desired level of effort and financial priorities.  

Use a Balance Transfer Credit Card

A balance transfer card is a credit card that borrowers can use to consolidate debt. If your rates are too high, you can save money by transferring your credit card debt to a different card with a lower interest rate. Many credit card companies offer a zero-interest promotional period to new applicants. You can save money by paying off your debt before the promotion ends! However, expect to pay balance transfer fees for transferring your debt. Balance transfer fees are typically 3% to 5% of the total debt amount. 

Consolidate Debt Using a Personal Loan

Credit cards typically have higher interest rates than debt consolidation loans. If you have a lot of debt to consolidate, you may benefit from loans with monthly installments. A debt consolidation loan provides a more affordable interest rate and solid repayment date. You do not have to calculate your own payment schedule with installment loans! You will know exactly how much to pay monthly and when your final payment date is. Plus, eligibility for a personal loan is flexible! You may still qualify despite a bad credit history.  

Use the Snowball/Avalanche Method

You can start budgeting if you want to avoid applying for a new financial account! The debt snowball and avalanche methods are great options for quickly paying off credit cards!  

Snowball Method

The debt snowball method is a budgeting plan that prioritizes your smallest balance first. If you have multiple credit cards, you pay them off from smallest to largest. The debt snowball method can be beneficial because it keeps you motivated. Pay as much as you can each month on your most minor credit account and make minimum payments on all the rest. 

Paying off a lot of debt can be overwhelming, but starting with your smallest balance can make the task easier. However, you may end up paying more in interest when you neglect higher balances with the debt snowball method.    

Avalanche Method

The debt avalanche method can help borrowers save money on interest fees! This budget method is the exact opposite of the debt snowball method as it focuses on paying off the credit card with the highest interest rate first. Borrowers end up paying more out of pocket when interest charges are high, so paying off your high-rate debt first can save you a ton! Prioritize paying your high-rate credit card monthly while paying the minimum on the rest of your accounts.  

The avalanche method is ideal for people that are self-motivated because you don’t see quick results like you would with the snowball method. But over time you will notice that you have more money to spend at the end of each month!   

Borrow Money From Family or Friends

If you can borrow money from friends and family, that is an ideal option! Typically loved ones do not charge interest on loans or set strict repayment dates. One person may be unable to provide enough money to cover your entire credit card debt. Still, you can try asking for multiple small loans from different people. You will end up saving a lot of money on interest fees! You can set up repayment schedules to ease financial tensions, so your lenders know when to expect payment.   

How To Use a Credit Card Wisely and Avoid Too Much Debt

Once you pay down your credit cards and achieve a low utilization rate, you can start using your credit cards again! Credit cards are beneficial because they can help you build credit and get rewards from everyday purchases. In addition, credit cards offer more financial protection than debit cards. But how can a consumer use a credit card wisely to avoid too much debt?

Read Your Policy Agreements

Many people do not take the time to read through long policy agreements, but it can offer some financial clarity. A credit card agreement has helpful information on interest rates, rate structures, fees, and more. You may actually be spending more money than you know by using certain credit card services. For example, withdrawing cash from your credit card is convenient, but cash advance fees may be costly.  

Spend Within Your Means

Spending within your means is the best way to avoid credit card debt. It may be wise to reconsider a large purchase if you cannot fully pay your statement balance by the due date. If you want to buy an expensive item, consider how long it will take you to pay it off. If you can pay it off within a reasonable timeframe, then treat yourself! But remember that carrying a credit card balance will result in additional fees. Putting off payments will only dig you further into a debt hole, so tackle debt head-on.  

Make Monthly Payments on Time

If you carry a credit card balance, ensure you make every monthly payment on time! Late payments will decrease your credit score, appear on your credit report, and result in a fee. You can seriously affect your financial opportunities if you make multiple late payments. Thankfully, most credit card issuers allow automatic payments, which are super convenient. You can link your checking account, so you do not have to worry about missing payments. 

Keep a Low Utilization Ratio   

FICO scores are one of the most common credit scores used by lenders. The amount of debt you have counts for 30% of your total FICO score. Credit utilization is the amount of debt you have compared to your total available credit. Financial experts recommend consumers use less than 30% of their credit to avoid negatively affecting their credit rating. Keeping a low credit utilization ratio can help you obtain a high credit score and reduce the interest fees you must pay.  

Avoid Opening Too Many Accounts Within a Short Period

Opening too many credit card accounts within a short period of time is unwise and can damage your credit. Submitting applications for accounts requires a hard credit check, which appears on your credit report and decreases your credit score. In addition, juggling multiple credit accounts can make it harder to keep track of your balances and due dates. Financial experts typically advise consumers to keep two to three credit card accounts at a time. 

FAQ: Paying Off Credit Card Balances

What are some effective ways to find extra money to pay off credit card debt faster?

To find extra money for credit card payments, consider budgeting more strictly, reducing discretionary spending, or finding additional income sources like a part-time job or freelance work. Selling unused items or cutting back on subscriptions can also free up funds.

How does paying off credit card debt impact my credit score?

Paying off credit card debt can positively impact your credit score by lowering your credit utilization ratio, a key factor in credit scoring. Consistent, timely payments also demonstrate responsible credit management.

Is borrowing money to pay off credit card debt a good strategy?

Borrowing money can be a viable strategy if it consolidates your debt at a lower interest rate, such as a personal loan or home equity line of credit. However, it’s crucial to avoid accumulating new debt and to have a clear repayment plan.

Can negotiating with credit card companies help in paying off debt?

Yes, negotiating with credit card companies can sometimes result in lower interest rates, waived fees, or more manageable payment plans. It’s important to communicate financial hardships and ask about available hardship programs.

What should be prioritized: saving money or paying off credit card debt?

Generally, paying off high-interest credit card debt should be prioritized due to the compounding interest. However, it’s also important to maintain a basic emergency fund to avoid falling back into debt in case of unexpected expenses.

How can I avoid accumulating credit card debt again after paying it off?

To avoid future credit card debt, create and stick to a realistic budget, use credit cards judiciously, monitor your spending, and build an emergency fund to cover unforeseen expenses without resorting to credit.

What are the risks of using a debt settlement service to pay off credit card debt?

Debt settlement services may promise to negotiate your debt down, but they come with risks like high fees, potential damage to your credit score, and no guarantee of successful debt reduction. Thoroughly research and consider all implications before using such services.

Is it better to pay off one credit card at a time or spread payments across all cards?

This depends on your strategy. Paying off one card (especially the one with the highest interest rate) can save on interest costs, while spreading payments can help maintain good standing on all accounts. Consider your financial situation and goals when deciding.

Can balance transfer cards really help in paying off credit card debt faster?

Balance transfer cards with low or 0% introductory APR offers can help by reducing the interest on your debt, allowing more of your payments to go towards the principal. However, be mindful of transfer fees and the regular APR after the introductory period.

How does consolidating credit card debt with a personal loan work?

Consolidating credit card debt with a personal loan involves taking out a loan with a typically lower interest rate to pay off your credit cards. This can simplify your payments into one monthly installment and potentially save money on interest.

A Word From CreditNinja on Paying off Credit Cards

Paying off credit cards seems like an impossible task, but it can be done! By adopting better spending habits and sticking to a repayment plan, you can take steps to get out of debt and become financially independent! Credit cards offer various financial benefits to borrowers and can be a great asset when used wisely. Keeping track of your spending to avoid a high credit utilization ratio can help you save more money and build credit!   

Looking for more tips on paying credit cards, getting a debt consolidation loan, and more? Check out the CreditNinja dojo for tons of free resources!


  1. Average Credit Card Balances up 13.2% to $5,910 in 2022 | Experian
  2. How Many Credit Cards Should I Have?│Equifax
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