As January comes around, credit card bills begin to hit people’s doormat, as many feel the repercussions of Christmas spending.
It’s important that you don’t worry or try to ignore the bills you’re facing and understand how to manage your payments and take control of your credit card debt.
Here are 5 top tips when dealing with your credit card bills:
1. Don’t keep using your credit card
Try not to use your credit card unless it’s for an emergency or any planned purchases. This will help stop you from making too many costly purchases.
2. Start making payments as soon as possible
If you are paying interest on your credit card debt, then the faster you pay it off, the less you will pay overall. Don’t buy anything more on your credit card if you can avoid it – this will mean you can clear the debt sooner.
3. Work out what you can afford
You should usually try to pay at least the minimum payment if you can. If you don’t, the company will charge a fee and your credit rating might get worse. Set up a direct debit to cover the minimum payment every month and then pay any extra if you can afford to. This will make sure that the account is kept up-to-date.
Still pay essential household bills like rent, and any priority debts you have – even if it means you can’t afford the minimum card payment. It’s more important to stay in your home or avoid court action. We can help you work out how to pay off your credit card.
4. Prioritise card with the highest interest
If you have more than one credit card, pay the minimum payments for each card if you can. If you can’t afford to pay all of them, then prioritise the card with the highest rate. This is the one that will cost you the most in interest payments. If you can’t afford the minimum payment then contact your credit card provider and work out an affordable repayment plan. Please be aware that this may register as a default on your account and affect your credit file. Please seek further advice if you are in this situation.
5. Ask to pause payments
Your credit card company might let you pause your card payments if you can’t afford them because of a temporary problem – e.g. if you’ve lost your job. You’ll need to start paying again when you have more money – such as getting a new job. The card company are more likely to let you pause your payments if you get advice and make a plan to deal with your debts.
Citizens Advice offer a free budgeting tool that will help you understand what you’re earning and spending and prioritise your expenses, including credit card bills you may have. This budget tool takes at least 30 minutes to complete.
For help and support around debt and finances, you can get in touch with our team who are here to help.