(WHTM)– We’ve seen interest rates climb for months. That’s not helping with already high credit card rates.
If you’re not careful, you can land in serious debt.
“Average credit card rates are the highest that we’ve seen in many years,” Leslie Tayne a financial attorney said.
That, along with recent interest rate hikes, is making it even harder to pay off credit card debt.
“Credit card debt right now is on the rise. It’s doubled since last year and with that, even in my practice, we’re seeing so many more people — consumers — coming to us that are struggling again,” she said.
Tayne says it’s easy to fall behind.
“When you have revolving credit card debt for purchases in the 20% to 27% range, everything that you purchase and you do not pay off the carries interest at rates between 20-27%. Think about that. It’s a huge amount of money for the consumer at that point, everything you buy on credit that you’re not paying off is now carrying a balance with huge interest rates,” she said.
Tayne said that those that are starting to drown in this credit card debt should stop and take a look at how you are using you credit cards.
“If you’re starting to see that you have either multiple credit cards or an inability to pay off your credit card debt, now is the time to stop and take a look at what are you actually putting on those credit cards,” Tayne said.
Then limit your use of those cards.
“Many consumers do use a credit card as a supplement for income because when you don’t have the cash you just think ‘ok i’ll put it on a credit card.’ Try not to go into that mental state.”
Tayne says to take a good look at your budget. If you know you can pay off a purchase, use a credit card.
Many offer rewards ad are important in building credit. But the key is to use them wisely.
“I often see clients come to me with 10, 15, 25 credit cards. So there are lots of store cards and lots of availability of credit cards, but you can just say no and sometimes the discount is not worth taking out the credit card. Every time you take out a credit card it’s a hard inquiry onto your credit report…a hard inquiry does hit your credit and will reduce your credit score,” Tayne said.
Tayne said it’s okay to have some credit card debt as long as you can manage it.
“The challenge with carrying balances is if you have so many credit cards you can’t keep up with it or at any one time, you want to pay it off but you can’t pay it off, where you’re just meeting the minimum payment,” she said.
Instead of just relying on credit cards, look for alternatives.
“Now is a really great time to put your money in an interest bearing savings account. With interest rates high, the upside to that is the interest rates on savings accounts is super high and your money can earn money for you. So when you’re putting money on a credit card your money is not earning money at all, you’re actually losing money in a lot of ways,” Tayne said.
You may also want to consider a balance transfer card to pay down your debt faster.
One more option is to consolidate your credit card debt into a low-interest personal loan.
Do your homework to figure out which will work best for you.