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How to deal with credit card debt

Beat your credit card debt with a strong strategy for achieving financial freedom.

If you find yourself filled with dread at compounding interest fees and struggle to make monthly repayments on your credit card, you are not alone. As of 2016, there were more than 16 million credit cards in circulation in Australia. This translates into a whopping national debt of approximately $32.5 billion. On average, an Australian credit card holder makes a monthly repayment of $1,716 and carries an interest-accruing balance of $1,950 (see here for more stats). At that rate, it’s little surprise that one in three Australians also default on their credit card payments.

Since defaulting on your credit card payments is best avoided (particularly if you want to remain eligible for any form of credit over the next five to seven years), it’s important to take positive steps to regain control over, and ultimately eliminate, your debt.

Use this guide to discover how you can manage your credit card debt and achieve financial freedom.

How to manage your credit card debt

Develop a strong strategy by implementing a combination of these tips. Your plan will be more likely to succeed if you act on at least three of the suggestions below.

  • Talk to a credit advisor. Seeking professional advice is often the first step towards financial freedom. A credit advisor or debt counsellor can offer practical financial tips on budgeting and creating a feasible repayment plan. If you’re hesitant about spending money you don’t have on such a service, free help for debt management is also available. See our free budget planner for more tips on organising your finances when managing debts.
  • Create a repayment plan. A repayment plan is essential when it comes to chipping away at your debt. Many borrowers fall into the mentality of thinking they just need to make the minimum monthly repayments on their credit card. The wiser move is to pay off as much debt as soon as possible. This will help minimise interest charges over the long term. Establish a budget, designate your monthly repayment amounts beforehand, then stick to the plan!
  • Get a 0% balance transfer credit card. Consider applying for a new balance transfer credit card. These balance transfer promotions can often offer you 0% interest on your debt for up to 24 months. This can result in substantial interest savings on your debt if you’re able to repay the full amount before the interest-free promotional period ends. With these promotions, it’s important to also factor in a possible balance transfer fee (up to 3% of your transferred balance) and the reverting interest rate that will kick in once your promotional period ends. All things considered, however, a 0% balance transfer credit card could be just the tool you need to take control of your debt.
  • Reduce your expenses. Reducing your expenditure will mean creating less credit card debt moving forward and availing more immediate funds for paying off existing debt. It will also help you develop smart spending habits to avoid falling into debt again.

NAB Premium Card - Exclusive Offer

0% p.a. for 24 months on balance transfers
Exclusive to finder.com.au

Offer ends 12 November 2017

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Exclusive finder.com.au Balance Transfer Offer

The NAB Premium Card features a range of platinum benefits and a long-term balance transfer offer exclusive to finder.com.au.

  • 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 24 months on a new NAB Premium Card. BT reverts to cash advance rate (currently 21.74% p.a.)
  • No balance transfer fee when BT requested upon application.
  • Receive seven complimentary insurance covers including overseas travel insurance, plus, access to the 24/7 NAB Concierge Service.
  • Request an additional cardholder at no extra cost.
  • Must apply through finder.com.au to take advantage of this offer.
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Compare 0% Balance Transfer Credit Cards

Rates last updated October 21st, 2017
$
% p.a.

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Name Product Balance transfer rate (p.a.) Purchase rate (p.a.) Annual fee Amount Saved Product Description
NAB Premium Card - Exclusive Offer
0% p.a. for 24 months
19.74% p.a.
$90 p.a.
Exclusive to finder.com.au and available until 12 November 2017, enjoy a no BT fee, long-term balance transfer offer and complimentary insurances.
Woolworths Everyday Platinum Credit Card
0% p.a. for 14 months
19.99% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($49 p.a. thereafter)
Receive a $50 eGift Card when you apply by 31 January 2018 and make an eligible purchase by 28 February 2018.
Westpac Low Rate Card - Online Only Balance Transfer Offer
0% p.a. for 24 months with 2% balance transfer fee
13.49% p.a.
$59 p.a.
Take advantage of 0% p.a. for 24 months on balance transfers with a 2% balance transfer fee. Plus, use of the Westpac mobile banking app.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Bonus Points Offer
0% p.a. for 18 months
20.74% p.a.
$64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
Earn up to 60,000 bonus Velocity Points in the first 3 months on eligible spend and enjoy a discounted annual fee of $64 for the first year.
St.George Vertigo Platinum
0% p.a. for 24 months with 2% balance transfer fee
12.74% p.a.
$99 p.a.
Offers complimentary travel insurance, complimentary purchase insurance and access to a 24/7 personal concierge service.
Citi Rewards Platinum Credit Card
0% p.a. for 24 months with 1.5% balance transfer fee
20.99% p.a.
$49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($149 p.a. thereafter)
Receive a long-term BT offer, to earn Citi Reward Points on everyday spend and receive complimentary travel insurance.
HSBC Platinum Credit Card
0% p.a. for 22 months with 2% balance transfer fee
19.99% p.a.
$99 p.a.
Earn 1 Reward Point per $1 of eligible spend and receive complimentary travel and purchase protection insurances.
Bank of Melbourne Vertigo Visa Credit Card
0% p.a. for 18 months with 2% balance transfer fee
13.24% p.a.
$55 p.a.
Receive up to 55 days interest-free on purchases and the protection of Verified by Visa online purchases.
ANZ Platinum Credit Card - Exclusive Offer
0% p.a. for 12 months
0% p.a. for 3 months (reverts to 19.74% p.a.)
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($87 p.a. thereafter)
An exclusive credit card offer through finder.com.au that offers 0% on purchases and balance transfers and complimentary insurance covers.
NAB Low Fee Card
0% p.a. for 16 months with 2% balance transfer fee
19.74% p.a.
$30 p.a.
Receive complimentary purchase protection insurance, special offers from Visa Entertainment and up to 44 days interest-free on purchases.
Virgin Money Low Rate Credit Card
0% p.a. for 14 months
11.99% p.a.
$49 p.a.
Receive a discounted annual fee, $100 cashback when you meet the spend requirement and up to 44 days interest-free on purchases.
HSBC Low Rate Credit Card
0% p.a. for 15 months with 2% balance transfer fee
13.25% p.a.
$55 p.a.
Receive up to 55 days interest-free on purchases. Also enjoy exclusive offers with the home&Away Privilege Program.
Citi Platinum Credit Card - 100k Bonus Points
0% p.a. for 15 months with 1% balance transfer fee
20.99% p.a.
$49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($149 p.a. thereafter)
Earn 100,000 reward Points, take advantage of a long-term balance transfer offer and receive complimentary travel insurance.
St.George Vertigo Visa
0% p.a. for 18 months with 2% balance transfer fee
13.24% p.a.
$55 p.a.
Receive up to 55 days interest-free on purchases and the ability to make contactless payments with Visa payWave technology.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Balance Transfer Offer
0% p.a. for 18 months
20.74% p.a.
$129 p.a.
Apply by 31 October 2017 to receive a no fee balance transfer and a $129 Virgin Australia Gift Voucher each year.
Bank of Melbourne Vertigo Platinum
0% p.a. for 24 months with 2% balance transfer fee
12.74% p.a.
$99 p.a.
Get a range of complimentary insurance covers, access to a 24/7 concierge and up to 55 days interest-free on purchases.
American Express Essential®  Credit Card
0% p.a. for 12 months with 3% balance transfer fee
14.99% p.a.
$0 p.a.
Receive a $50 credit when you apply online, are approved and spend $750 on your new card within the first 3 months of card membership.
Qantas American Express Ultimate Card
0% p.a. for 12 months with 1% balance transfer fee
20.74% p.a.
$450 p.a.
Take advantage of a high Qantas Points earn rate and 2 American Express Airport Lounge entries each calendar year.
BankSA Vertigo Visa
0% p.a. for 18 months with 2% balance transfer fee
13.24% p.a.
$55 p.a.
Get up to 55 days interest-free on purchases and be protected by a 24/7 fraud monitoring service.
Bankwest Breeze Platinum Mastercard
0% p.a. for 13 months with 2% balance transfer fee
0% p.a. for 13 months (reverts to 12.99% p.a.)
$99 p.a.
Receive complimentary international travel insurance, extended warranty cover and 0% foreign transaction fees.
BankSA Vertigo Platinum
0% p.a. for 24 months with 2% balance transfer fee
12.74% p.a.
$99 p.a.
Take advantage of purchase protection, extended warranty and overseas travel insurance, plus a 24/7 concierge.
Bankwest Breeze Classic Mastercard
0% p.a. for 13 months with 2% balance transfer fee
0% p.a. for 13 months (reverts to 12.99% p.a.)
$79 p.a.
Receive up to 55 days interest-free on purchases and free worldwide emergency card replacement.

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Read more about 0% balance transfer credit cards

Working yourself out of debt might be a long-term challenge, but remember that your debt didn’t appear overnight either. With a strong desire for financial freedom, some discipline and commitment to your repayment plan, you can reduce, or eliminate your debt. Plus, you’ll also learn how to better manage your money through the experience.

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Sally McMullen

Sally McMullen is a journalist at finder.com.au who is a credit cards, frequent flyer and travel money expert by day and music maven by night.

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NAB Premium Card - Exclusive Offer
NAB Premium Card - Exclusive Offer

Interest rate

19.74

Annual fee

90
ANZ Platinum Credit Card - Exclusive Offer
ANZ Platinum Credit Card - Exclusive Offer

Interest rate

19.74

Annual fee

87
St.George Vertigo Platinum
St.George Vertigo Platinum

Interest rate

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Annual fee

99

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