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Make Credit Card Interest Work For You

Jan 2, 2008
According to CardTrak, the typical American family had about $6,600 of credit card debt in 2007. That might sound pretty normal to you, but did you know that just by learning to use their credit cards more intelligently, those families could save up to $1,500 a year? To really see the benefits of intelligent card use, think of how that $1,500 could become $45,000 by retirement age - and much more if it was invested.

Yes, little things like interest and fees really add up over time. Fortunately for card holders, there are several ways to reduce the amount of money they throw away on interest each month.

First, try to negotiate a lower interest rate. Call your bank or card issuer and politely let them know that you've been offered a lower interest rate by one of their competitors (even if you haven't). To be successful, stay jovial and polite. Be realistic about the interest rate you request. The average interest rate in America at the time of this writing is 12-15%. The higher your credit score, the lower the rate you can reasonably expect. Also, you'll need to have a positive history with this card issuer that you can point to when asking for reduced rates. If you've been delinquent on payments, they won't be as eager to set a lower rate for you. Remember, card companies make their money from the interest and fees you pay. If they think you are a credit risk, they will increase those fees to minimize their financial losses.

Next, prioritize your credit card payments. If you have two or more cards that you pay for each month, pay a higher amount to the card with the highest interest. You want to get that one paid off first, because it's costing you the most money. Then pay the next-highest amount to the card with the second-highest interest rate, and so on. If you have a lot of outgoing payments, you should check with your bank or credit union to see if you qualify for a low-interest loan. With a loan, you can consolidate your credit card payments into a single monthly payment with lower interest.

If you have a small amount of debt that you can pay off in six or twelve months, look into a 0% interest credit card. By transferring the debt to such a card, you can put all of your payments toward the principal balance, not toward interest. Just be aware that most 0% cards have an introductory period that lasts from three to fifteen months, with six months being the most common. After that period ends, you will be responsible for interest on your balance.

To plan for the future, take all the money you would have spent on credit card interest and put it in a savings account. When you've got enough, invest it in a mutual fund. Forget about it. Then, when you're ready to stop working, you will have quite a chunk of change to fall back on. Who would have thought that credit card interest payments could be managed in a way that would lead to a comfortable lifestyle in your later years?
About the Author
This article is courtesy of CreditorWeb.com, where you can compare business credit card offers and apply for credit cards online.
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