According to CreditCards.com, there are over 600 million credit cards currently being held in the U.S., and, for households that carry credit card debt, the average amount is $15,799.
So, what’s the problem with credit card debt? Well, there are several problems. But always remember: it’s never too late or too early to start paying off your debt. Here are my personal top three reasons to get out of credit card debt.
1. Credit Card Debt is Expensive Debt
Credit card debt is unsecured debt, meaning there is no asset like a house or car backing it up. And, as there is no asset to lose in the case of default, unsecured debt can seem like a great idea to a borrower. But debt that is not backed up by an asset is usually loaned at a (much) higher interest rate. Payday loans and their ilk aside, credit card debt is some of the most expensive debt you can hold.
2. Fees and Interest are on the Rise
Recent legislation designed to protect consumers has placed more restrictions on credit card issuers. As a result, credit card companies are looking for new ways to make up the revenue they’ve lost. One way they’re doing that is by increasing the number and amount of fees they charge. Annual fees, over-the-limit fees, late payment fees, and balance transfer fees are all subject to change when it comes to getting more money from the customer, and we all know with credit card issuers “change” means “increase.”
Credit card interest rates probably won’t be dropping any time soon. Many credit card interest rates are tied to the U.S. prime rate, which is near a historic low. So, if it moves, it will likely go up. It would be wise to pay off balances before any increases in interest rate hit.
3. Balance Transfer Credit Cards are Harder to Get
In the past, if a credit card customer wasn’t satisfied with her card or its terms, she could relatively easily transfer the balance to a new card with a better rate or terms.
But that’s no longer as simple an option. The economy stinks, people have lost jobs, banks are losing money, and qualifying for a new card is much harder than it used to be, especially if your credit score is low. While credit card companies used to regularly offer free balance transfers in order to get your business, most now come with a 3% – 5% balance transfer fee.
Even if you do get approved for a 0% balance transfer offer, the fees mentioned above may still get you.
Are you working to get out of credit card debt? What were some of the reasons you decided to start down your path toward financial independence?
Julie Mayfield is a freelance writer and blogger who writes about everything having to do with personal finance. She shares money saving and debt reduction tips on her blog, The Family CEO. When she’s not reading or writing about money, you can usually find her hanging out with her friends and family and cheering on the Kansas Jayhawks.