It wasn’t all that long ago that I found myself drowning in debt. I had student loans for $57K and $30K in credit card debt. I talk about how I got into this situation here. I thought that paying off credit cards in full was a pipe dream, but then I turned everything around and paid off $30K in credit card debt in 9 months.
Let’s get right to how I did it…
Paying Off Credit Cards in Full – How to Defeat Debt
There’s nothing worse than having a boatload of debt hanging over your head. It can really make life miserable.
So, I knew I had to take drastic action if I was ever going to get out of the hole I dug for myself.
I approached this massive task in three ways:
- Negotiated with the credit card companies to reduce my debt
- Got a personal loan to consolidate my debt
- Reduced my expenses to the max
I talked about how I got my living expenses down to almost zero a month here. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth the sacrifice to be completely debt-free in 2 years.
(While I paid off my credit card debt in 9 months, I spent another 15 months paying off my $57K in student loan debt.)
Paying Off Credit Cards in Full – Negotiate Like a Boss
Can you negotiate with credit card companies? You bet your bottom dollar you can. They don’t like to advertise it, but you can actually negotiate all sorts of things such as your:
- Interest rates,
- Settlement amount
- Payment date
It’s all about the timing. If you’ve been making your credit card bills on time, then you might be able to ask for and get a better interest rate.
This can save you money in the long run. On the other hand, if you’ve been having trouble making your payments, then you can ask for better payment terms or even see if you can get a grace period where you don’t have to make payments.
This is especially true if you have lost your job or there is an unexpected illness or another emergency.
Keep in mind, if you tell your credit card company that you might start having issues making your payment on time, they may cut off your credit, so do tread carefully here.
What I worked out was a lump-sum settlement payment. This meant I was able to reduce the total amount that I owed. I was lucky in that the 3 companies I owed money to were willing to work with me. That’s not always the case.
After a lot of back and forth, I was able to reduce my credit card bills to $25K, but I had agreed to make a lump sum payment and I had a short time span to do so.
Even so, knocking off $5K was super helpful.
So, this took me to my next step….
Paying Off Credit Cards in Full – Crush that Debt with a Personal Loan
I know it may seem like a crazy idea to fight one debt by going into debt in another way, but if you’re careful, a personal loan can be a great way to consolidate credit card debt for a number of reasons including:
- Lower interest rates
- One monthly payment
- Pay off debt faster
- Lower monthly payments
I was able to get a personal loan for $25K and I used it to pay off all three of my credit cards. That was how I was able to make that lump sum payment I was talking about.
My interest rate went down from 10% to 6%, so even if I wanted to take more time to pay the loan back, I was still saving money like crazy.
Also, my monthly payment was quite a bit lower.
Of course, I planned to go nuts on how much I was paying each month, so the lower monthly payment wasn’t really an issue for me.
In fact, I was paying an average of $2,800 a month.
It took a lot of hard work and coming up with crazy ways to reduce my monthly expenses, but it was all worth it. (You can find out how I did that here.)
There are some really good personal loan companies out there, but it’s important that you only get a non-secured personal loan.
That means you don’t use anything you own, like your car, to secure your loan.
Be sure to stay away from any loan company that wants to use your car or other possessions to secure the loan.
You can get yourself into a lot of trouble with those types of loans. (I talk about the dangers of car title loans here.)
These companies are trustworthy and interest rates start as low as 4.99% and you can get personal loans up to $40K:
- Even Financial
Paying Off Credit Cards in Full – Go Insane on Your Monthly Expenses
If you’re going to be paying large amounts each month to pay off your credit card debt, chances are you’re going to have to reduce your monthly expenses and maybe even increase your income quite a bit.
I go into detail on how I did just that in my post about how I paid off $57K in student loans in 15 months.
Some of my methods may not be for the faint of heart or might simply not be a reasonable option for everyone, but it does show what you can do if you want to pay off debt badly enough.
Before you start to consider how to pay your credit card bill off, you might want to check out a credit card monthly calculator to see where you’re currently at.
A credit card payment calculator will let you play with how much you want to pay each month and how that amount changes the time it will take to get out of debt.
This free calculator will let you change interest rates as well, so you can see how that impacts your debt.
Sometimes, people wonder how to pay off credit card debt with no money, and I’m afraid the answer is you can’t.
However, if you negotiate with your credit card companies, and consider a personal loan, and then work like crazy to make larger monthly payments, paying off credit cards in full is possible and free faster than you think.