Juggling Multiple Credit Card Balances? 3 Strategies to Employ

If you’re carrying debt on your credit cards, you’re definitely not alone. During the fourth quarter of 2023, U.S. credit card balances increased by $50 billion to $1.13 trillion, according to Federal Reserve data. So clearly, many consumers have recently piled onto their credit card debt, and in a big way.

But while it’s one thing to owe money on a single credit card, it’s another thing to be juggling balances on multiple cards. In that situation, you risk missing a payment by virtue of simply having too many due dates to manage. So if you’re in that boat, here are three moves you may want to consider.

1. Do a balance transfer

With a balance transfer, you move your existing balances onto a single credit card — ideally, one with a 0% introductory APR. The benefit here is that you’ll only have a single monthly payment to make. And getting a reprieve from racking up interest for a period of time could help you get ahead of your debt.

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That said, before you apply for a balance transfer card, read the fine print. See what fees you’ll pay to transfer your balances onto a new card, and pay attention to how long your 0% introductory period will last.

If you think you’ll be carrying your debt well beyond that introductory period, you may want to lock in a fixed-rate loan instead. With a balance transfer, once your introductory period comes to an end, the interest rate on your remaining balance could soar.

2. Consolidate with a personal loan

As just mentioned, if you think paying off your credit cards might be a years-long process, then you may want to look at a personal loan. These loans let you borrow money for any purpose, so you could take one out, use it to pay off your credit cards, and then repay a single loan over time.

With a personal loan, you could be looking at a much lower interest rate than what your credit cards are charging you. And your monthly personal loan payments will be fixed until that debt is gone (assuming you don’t refinance your loan, of course).

3. Consolidate with a home equity loan

If you’re a homeowner, instead of looking to take out a personal loan to consolidate your credit card debt, you may want to consider a home equity loan. You typically need decent credit to qualify for both a personal loan and a home equity loan. However, with the latter, lenders may be a bit more flexible because your home equity loan is secured by your home itself.

Personal loans are unsecured, so if you don’t make your payments, your lender doesn’t have as much recourse. That said, with a home equity loan, there’s the risk of eventually losing your home if you stop making your payments. So that’s something to factor into your borrowing decision.

Juggling several credit card balances at once can be very stressful. And it could trip you up and result in missed payments that damage your credit score. So it’s worth considering these three options that could make your life exponentially easier, not to mention make your debt more cost-effective to repay.

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