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How to Beat Credit Card Debt

May 24, 2008
The simplest way to beat credit card debt is to avoid it. OK, easier said than done! But seriously, credit card debt is evil. If you cannot avoid it (like most Americans), at least keep it manageable. Following are five tips to keeping your credit card debt manageable, and with a little luck, avoid it altogether.

1. Don't impulse purchase. Said another way; don't buy things the same day you see them. Sleep on it. If still in doubt, sleep on it for a couple of days. I have found that after a day or two of reflection, I usually realize that what I wanted is not necessarily something I really needed.

2. Pay with cash whenever possible. It's not easy, but it's amazing how differently you think about spending money when it's cash versus a credit card. You are less likely to shell out hard earned cash (real Dinero's) for "nice to have" things.

3. Negotiate the interest rate with your credit card company. If you are like most Americans, you get several credit card offers each week. Play those credit card companies against each other. When you get that next offer, call them up. Tell them the interest rate and benefits you get from your favorite credit card company and ask them if they'll match it. Half of the time, they'll meet or beat the deal you are currently getting.

4. Watch your credit card statement. As crazy as it sounds, I have experienced establishments that round up (in a big way!) when you make a credit card purchase. Get a 15 dollar haircut; your credit card is charged 20 dollars. Have a nice 75 dollar meal; your credit card is charged 95 dollars. It seems small in the whole scheme of things, but it adds up. Don't get taken for a few dollars here and there. Save your receipts and verify your credit card statement each month. Don't be afraid to call your credit card company and dispute a charge. If a charge is total BS, your credit card company will do the legwork and contact the vendor to dispute the charge. I have found that in most cases, your credit card company will resolve almost any charge that you do not agree with.

5. Number Five is the most important (and hopefully simplest) tip; Pay off your balance each and every month! This may be an incredible challenge, as credit is all too readily available, but it is essential to you and your family's well being. If you avoid carrying a credit card balance, you avoid paying interest charges to the credit card companies. The credit card companies fool you by offering a low "minimum monthly payment". Don't be fooled. That minimum monthly payment is available only so you drag out your payments and rack up interest payments to your credit card company. It is not in your interest (no pun intended) to pay the minimum monthly balance. Be sure to pay off your balance each and every month!

So assuming you mastered 1 through 5 above, how can you beat the credit card companies? Take money from them! There are a number of credit card companies that offer cash back on the purchases you make. I did a ton of research on cash back credit cards and wrote up my finding on my blog about Getting Things Done. I would highly recommend that once you get your credit card finances in order, you find yourself a high quality cash back credit card and take money from the credit card companies!
About the Author
Check out another article of mine for details on how I found the best cash back credit card. Also, check out http://www.mygtdstuff.com for more about Getting Things Done!
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