Calculate your minimum monthly credit card repayments
For the unsuspecting consumer, credit cards can be a very rocky road to financial ruin. Spiralling interest rates and late charges can turn an incidental unpaid balance into a monstrous debt that takes years to recover from.
Handy But Dangerous
Credit cards are accepted at almost all retail outlets around the world. They are also essential for making online purchases, and handy for having in an emergency. However unpaid balances and interest charges make a deadly combination, and one that can catch even the most frugal of consumers by surprise.
If you happen to find yourself facing a large unpaid balance what should you do?
How To Cope
The very first thing you need to do is to stop using your credit card. It's very easy to spend money you don't have with a card, and locking your card in a safe place where it cannot be used is the easiest way to ensure you don't increase your debt any further.
The next thing you need to do is to come up with a sensible payment plan that enables you to pay the debt of sooner rather than later. Remember the longer you leave it the bigger the debt will become when interest starts to compound on itself.
Try to find a good balance transfer deal and switch your unpaid balance to the new card. By doing this you'll save a fortune in interest fees and this will give you time to pay off the debt quicker.
If you are using this tactic, be sure to know how long you receive the low interest rate on the new card. Try to pay the balance in full by the time the rate ends, or think about making another credit card switch to another low rate card. This technique is known as stoozing and can be a useful way of dealing with lower and more manageable debt.
But what happens if the debt is too big for you to cope with, and meeting just your minimum monthly payment becomes hard?
Dealing With Major Debt
If your credit card debt has reached a level where meeting your minimum monthly payment has become impossible you need to take action straight away. The first thing you should do is to contact your credit card provider.
Most have very understanding customer service departments, and most will do whatever they can to help you. In some cases you may be able to set up a flexible payment plan. Your lender will look at your budget and will come up with an affordable way for you to pay the debt.
Normally you will be required to cancel your card before you'll be allowed to start a flexible payment plan but this isn't a bad thing. Making any further purchases on a card with that much debt is a very bad move!
The Cost Of Credit Card Debt
Once you begin the cycle of being in debt it can be very hard to escape. If you've had to set up a flexible payment plan with your lender there's a very good chance it will show on your credit file. This in turn may make it harder for you to obtain credit in the future.
The easiest way to deal with credit card debt is to avoid it all together. Here are some ways to stay out of trouble:
- Only spend what you can afford to pay back. Don't make the mistake of thinking a credit card is free money. You have to repay what you spend and if you don't interest will be charged.
- Set yourself a limit. Give yourself a maximum amount of spending power each month. Work out how much you can afford to pay back comfortably each month and make sure you never spend over that amount.
- Set up automatic payments. If you happen to make a credit card payment late you will be charged for it. These late fees go onto your outstanding balance and will also accrue interest. By setting up an automatic payment you ensure your payments will never be late, and you'll never have the worry of keeping track of when the bill is due.
- Don't withdraw cash. Cash withdrawals on credit cards are very expensive and will normally be charged at a much higher rate of interest than a standard purchase. If you need to withdraw money from an ATM use your debit card instead, or if that's not possible make purchases using the credit card itself instead of cash.
- Work out your monthly minimum repayments with an online calculator. Although you want to pay your credit card balance in full each month when possible, your monthly minimum payment can be a good indicator of how high your current outstanding balance is.
An online credit card repayment calculator will be able to tell you what your minimum monthly repayment will be by looking at your current balance, and credit card interest rate.
All you need to do is pop in the relevant figures into the calculator and press "calculate". You'll then be shown the estimated minimum monthly payment your card provider will be expecting from you. It's a very good idea to keep going through this process each month, because if you notice your monthly minimum payments increasing it's a sure sign that your outstanding balance in on the rise too.
Staying In Control
Controlling your spending, working to a sensible budget, and using free online tools like the minimum credit card repayment calculator are good ways to keep yourself out of credit card trouble. The most important thing is to recognise when you're getting into trouble so you can deal with the problem straight away. If you do spot a problem do not be scared to let your card provider know.
They are on your side, and remember it's in their interests to help you find an alternative way to pay your bill.
Smaller credit card debts can be easily dealt with when caught early enough. Leave it too long and you could end up in a much trickier spot.Back to top