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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.

Compare 0% Balance Transfer Credit Cards

Rates last updated May 22nd, 2018
$
% p.a.

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Name Product Balance transfer rate (p.a.) Purchase rate (p.a.) Annual fee Amount Saved Product Description
Westpac Low Rate - Online Offer
0% p.a. for 26 months with 2% balance transfer fee
13.49% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($59 p.a. thereafter)
Take advantage of 0% p.a. for 26 months on balance transfers with a one-time 2% balance transfer fee and a $0 first year annual fee.
HSBC Platinum Credit Card
0% p.a. for 22 months with 2% balance transfer fee
19.99% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
Offers a 0% p.a. for 22 months balance transfer, $0 annual fee for the first year and an annual fee refund each year when you spend $6,000.
St.George Vertigo Platinum - Online Offer
0% p.a. for 24 months with 1% balance transfer fee
12.74% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter)
Platinum card benefits including complimentary insurance, plus first year annual fee waiver and 0% p.a. for 24 months on balance transfers.
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 and enjoy a discounted annual fee of $64 for the first year.
HSBC Low Rate Credit Card
0% p.a. for 20 months with 2% balance transfer fee
13.25% p.a.
$79 p.a.
Receive up to 20 months interest-free on balance transfers with a 2% BT fee. Also enjoy exclusive offers with the home&Away Privilege Program.
NAB Low Fee Platinum Card
0% p.a. for 24 months with 2% balance transfer fee
19.74% p.a.
$90 p.a.
Offers 7 complimentary insurance covers, a 0% p.a. for 24 month balance transfer and access to a 24/7 concierge service for a $90 p.a. annual fee.
Citi Simplicity Card
0% p.a. for 15 months with 1.5% balance transfer fee
19.99% p.a.
$0 p.a.
Save with 5% cashback on eligible purchases (capped at $50 per month) for the first 90 days from approval. Plus, a 15 month balance transfer offer.
Virgin Australia Velocity Flyer Card - Balance Transfer Offer
0% p.a. for 18 months
20.74% p.a.
$64 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter)
Take advantage of 0% p.a. on balance transfers for up to 18 months. $64 in the first year ($129 p.a. thereafter), plus, bonus Velocity Points.
NAB Low Fee Card
0% p.a. for 18 months with 2% balance transfer fee
19.74% p.a.
$30 p.a.
Receive complimentary purchase protection insurance, a 18 month balance transfer offer and special offers from Visa Entertainment.
Virgin Money Low Rate Credit Card
0% p.a. for 14 months
11.99% p.a.
$49 p.a.
Offers a discounted annual fee, $100 cashback when you meet the spend requirement and up to 14 months on balance transfers.
Citi Rewards Platinum Credit Card
0% p.a. for 26 months with 2.5% balance transfer fee
20.99% p.a.
$49 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($149 p.a. thereafter)
Earn reward Points per $1 spent, take advantage of a 0% p.a. for 26 month balance transfer offer, plus complimentary international travel insurance.
Bank of Melbourne Vertigo Platinum Card - Online Offer
0% p.a. for 24 months with 1% balance transfer fee
12.74% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter)
Online only: Enjoy 0% p.a. interest for 24 months on balance transfers (with a one-time 1% BT fee). Plus, a $0 first year annual fee.
St.George Vertigo Visa
0% p.a. for 18 months with 1% balance transfer fee
13.74% p.a.
$55 p.a.
Enjoy a 0% p.a. for 18 months balance transfer offer. Plus, up to 55 days interest-free on purchases.
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, enjoy a long-term balance transfer offer, a discounted first year annual fee and complimentary travel insurance.
St.George Rainbow Vertigo Visa
0% p.a. for 18 months with 1% balance transfer fee
13.74% p.a.
$55 p.a.
Available for a limited time, all the great low cost features of the Vertigo Visa with a rainbow design in support of the LGBT community.
BankSA Vertigo Platinum - Online Offer
0% p.a. for 24 months with 1% balance transfer fee
12.74% p.a.
$0 p.a. annual fee for the first year ($99 p.a. thereafter)
Online only: A low rate platinum card with 0% p.a. on balance transfers for 24 months. Plus, $0 annual fee for the first year.

Compare up to 4 providers

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 an editor 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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Related Posts

Credit Card Offers

Important Information*
Westpac Low Rate - Online Offer
Westpac Low Rate - Online Offer

Interest rate

13.49

Annual fee

59
HSBC Platinum Credit Card
HSBC Platinum Credit Card

Interest rate

19.99

Annual fee

129
NAB Low Fee Card
NAB Low Fee Card

Interest rate

19.74

Annual fee

30
Citi Platinum Credit Card - 100k Bonus Points
Citi Platinum Credit Card - 100k Bonus Points

Interest rate

20.99

Annual fee

149

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