When using a credit card, it’s important that you never lose track of one important detail: the fact that a payment will come due sooner rather than later.
When your statement arrives, you’ll see two things:
- Total balance
- Minimum payment
If the total balance blows you away, it’s easy to turn your attention to the minimum payment. After all, this number is sure to be much smaller and easier to digest.
The problem with this is simple: if you fall into a minimum payment trap, you’ll soon realize that you’re paying an insane amount of interest. Not to mention the fact that you’ll be stuck paying down your debt for a longer period of time.
So, rather than let this trap bog you down, it’s critical that you consider your other options. Here’s what you can do to escape and get back on track:
1. Review Your Account Details
This is the first thing you need to do. Answer questions such as:
- What is your total balance?
- What is your minimum payment?
- How long will it take to you to pay off your balance if you only make the monthly minimum payment?
- What is your interest rate?
Once you answer these questions, it’ll become clear as to where things stand and what you can do next.
2. Review Your Budget
This is an important step, as you need to review your budget with an eye toward finding additional funds.
Even if it’s only a few extra dollars every month, it’s better than nothing. Add this to your minimum payment and watch your balance drop quicker than expected.
3. Contact Your Credit Card Company
This isn’t something you always have to do, but it’s an idea to consider. Here are some of the questions you may want to ask:
- Is there any way to reduce my minimum payment for the time being?
- Would you accept a lump sum payment for less than my total balance, as I am dealing with a financial hardship?
- Is there any way to secure a lower interest rate?
If nothing else, you can ask these questions to feel out your credit card company and better understand if they’re willing to help you. You may be surprised to find that they present you with at least one intriguing option.
The best way to avoid a minimum payment trap is to use your credit card in a responsible manner.
Of course, mistakes happen when it comes to your finances, so this is easier said than done.
If you’ve been making the minimum payment on your credit card, consider using the tips above to your advantage.