BOSTON (CBS) – There are more than 1.5 billion credit cards currently in circulation in the U.S. The average consumer is carrying 3.5 credit cards.
Creditcard.com reports that credit cards were used more than 26 billion times in 2012, which was the last year we have numbers for, with the total value of these transactions at about $2.5 trillion. This is big business.
According to The National Foundation for Credit Counseling, 39% of consumers who use credit cards carry more than $8,000 of debt.
And those with the worst debt don’t know how much the debt they have. They have a general idea of the amount but most don’t want to know. If they don’t know maybe, it will go away. If you are serious about getting out debt, you need to know how much debt you actually have.
If you are coupled, you really need to do this together. It will not be successful if only one of you considers the debt a problem.
Make a list of all of your debt. List each credit card and in separate columns list the interest rate and how much you owe on each card. Seeing it written often times is motivation to do something about it.
Get copies of your credit reports and credit scores. Correct any mistakes and begin the process of improving your credit score.
Contact each of the credit card companies and ask them to lower the interest rate on your cards. Take a pledge to stop using your credit cards. No more charges until the debt is paid off. Use cash.
Begin to pay off the credit card with the highest interest rate aggressively. If you have cards with small balances pay those off. If you have a card with a very low interest rate consider transferring your balance from your other cards to that one. Check what the transfer fees will be before transferring.
If you can’t manage it on your own consider using the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.