5 ways to pay down your credit card debt during COVID-19

Credit card holders may have been granted some respite from their regular monthly payments, however with more and more people unemployed and turning to their credit cards to purchase basic household necessities, we could see debt spiral out of control.

That would be a shame. Before the pandemic, Australian card holders had reduced their total credit card balances by $2.45 billion. This was the lowest level of debt accruing interest since 2006.

The number of personal credit card accounts had also diminished. In November 2019, there were a million fewer accounts than in the same period the previous year – a year-on-year decrease of 6.43 per cent.

The lower number of accounts are due to a number of factors: the inability to gain one due to tighter restrictions, forgoing credit cards to help buy a house and the rise of buy now pay later services. Providers of these services including ZipPay and AfterPay have seen exponential growth and the banks have taken note.

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Rewards points and cashback offers are now the norm amongst credit card providers.

Of course, there are still 13.8 million personal credit cards being used by holders across Australia, so the banks and other providers still service a good chunk of the market.

Some of those holders are well on top of their debt. Some are able to pay it off monthly. Some, pay off the minimum amount only and end up paying more in interest than they paid for their goods.

It’s a vicious cycle.

However, there are ways to manage your credit card debt better and plenty of products to choose from, including low rate, no fee and balance transfer products that will help you pay your debts sooner.

Here are five ways you can reduce your credit card debt while finances are tight.

1. Apply for a balance transfer credit card

By transferring your credit card debt to a new credit card provider, you can secure a lower interest rate that could help you pay off your debt quicker.

There is usually a timeframe associated to paying off the balance transfer, which gives you full transparency as to when the low interest rate period ends. This enables card holders to budget properly and avoid higher interest rate periods.

Look for credit card balance transfers with a 0 per cent offer that allows you to pay off your debt interest-free for a limited time.

The 0 per cent balance transfer is one of the best ways to manage your credit card debt and draw it down quicker.

InfoChoice gives you 72 balance transfer credit card products to choose from. See a sample below:

compare balance transfer credit cards

2. Reduce your credit limit

A reduction in your credit limit from say $5000 to $1000, will reduce your temptation to spend. By reducing your limit, your card becomes an emergency funds provider only. Reducing your limit also enables you to better track your spending. In fact, a reduction in limit could mean a reduction in overall expenditure.

3. Ditch your multiple cards – one is enough

One credit card, one interest rate, one repayment, is much more manageable than having multiple credit cards that add up to thousands of dollars of debt and large monthly repayments.

A one credit card policy also makes it easier to make minimum monthly payments. It is imperative that you do this, to avoid late fees and interest accrual.

One card equals one manageable debt.

4. Find a low rate credit card provider

Much like 0 per cent balance transfers, finding a low interest rate card could help you save money and pay off your debt quicker.

Yu may not even have to change provider to find a lower rate, you may find your provider is willing to switch you over to a lower rate card just to keep your business.

Of course, you should always check out the associated fees and costs, but you’re generally always better off paying 7.49 per cent than 19.99 per cent.

Whether it’s with your current credit card provider or with a new provider, comparison tables can help you compare new low-rate options you might switch to. Just be sure to check out what fees and other costs may be associated with a card swap.

5. Find a provider with no annual fees

If you’re sick of paying annual fees on your credit card, you could save money by swapping to a card with no annual fees. If doing so, also look for a low rate card and make a double saving that gives you the opportunity to pay off your card quicker.

To save money, you need to be astute with how you manage the stuff. Sometimes this means finding better deals for yourself. The thing with credit cards, is there is always one that will offer lower rates, no fees or balance transfers that can help you get your finances back on track.

Take the time to compare credit card products and find one that best suits your needs.

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