Ultimately there are 2 ways to pay off credit card debts
(i) Pay off your debts in full. This means paying the full interest and principal.
(ii) Pay less than what you owe. This means keeping the maximum amount in your pocket and paying the minimum amount to your creditor.
Now there are 4 ways to pay less than what you owe:
- Debt settlement
- Debt management
- Credit card balance transfer method
- Bankruptcy – Chapter 7 and Chapter 13
Debt settlement brings down your outstanding balance by more than 40%. The figure varies depending on the creditor and the overall amount.
Debt management pulls down the interest rate depending on your affordability.
Bankruptcy brings down your payoff amount through the court’s intervention.
The credit card balance transfer method is a smart way of consolidating your debts. Here you can transfer your balance to a 0% interest credit card and pay off the outstanding balance within the introductory rate period. You can skip paying the high interest on your card.
There is yet another logical way to pay off your credit card debt. You pay a set amount on all your credit cards. Dedicate the remaining amount on the credit card with the highest interest. This is the optimal behavior.
|The best and the most logical way to pay off credit card debt is to attack the card with the highest APR.|
This process seems to be easy and practical right? But most people aren’t knocking off credit card debt in this way.
How are consumers paying off credit card debt?
A recent study of 1.4 million credit cardholders with revolving balances revealed a few startling facts. The study was conducted to determine how these people are splitting payments between credit cards. Are they splitting payments depending on interest rates or an overall balance?
- Debtors are allocating only 51.5% of their extra payments to the credit card with high APR. But the right way to pay off a credit card is to devote 100% of your extra payments to the highest interest credit card.
- Only 10% of credit cardholders are paying off debts the right way.
- Debtors are evenly splitting their payments on credit cards irrespective of the interest rate and the number of cards in their hands.
- Debtors are losing money on interest payments annually. Those who have 2 credit cards are losing $90 every year due to unnecessary interest payments. Those who have 5 credit cards are losing $327 every year for the same reason.
- The top 10% of debtors with 5 or more credit cards are wasting $1000 every year due to improper allocation of payments.
The psychology behind the illogical consumer behavior
Some financial experts suggest debtors pay off their smallest balances first for easy wins and motivation. But credit card holders are not doing that. What is the psychology behind it?
If you study all the payment models minutely, then you’ll realize that the “balance-matching” model describes the card holder’s peculiar behavior perfectly. In the ‘balance-matching model’, “individuals match the share of repayments on each card to the share of balances on each card”
Suppose a cardholder owes $12,000 on one card and $6000 on another one. He can afford to pay $1500 a month on the 2 cards. There is a greater probability that the cardholder will pay $1000 on the first card ($12,000) and $500 on the second one, irrespective of interest rates.
The psychology behind this behavior is that balance is the first thing that comes to mind when cardholders think of credit cards. The balance is shown at the top of the credit card statement in big prints. Moreover, individuals have a greater tendency to use “’matching’ heuristics in decision-making.” Cardholders mostly make payments in relation to balances instead of interest rates. They are giving more importance to numbers instead of statements.
Most consumers don’t have any idea of where to start when they have huge credit card debt. They become clueless and thus start repaying debts in a completely wrong order.
People are confused. They don’t know how their APR changes their monthly outstanding balance. This involves loads of calculations – daily rates, annual rates, daily balance, etc. It’s not that easy.
What is right and what is wrong?
Tough to say. Some financial experts recommend paying off the smallest debt first due to emotional motivation. The psychological boost is a big thing for many debtors. Plus, this appears to be the simplest thing to do.
But is this the right financial move?
If you want to keep the maximum amount in your wallet, then this isn’t the best financial move. You should target the credit card with a high APR and try to knock it off as soon as possible. Just look at the last part of the multi-page credit card statement. You’ll get the APR information there.
Use free online debt payoff calculators to figure out how much you can pay and save on your existing debt. Use this interactive APR calculator to figure out your yearly interest payments and other expenses. Apart from these calculators, you can use a credit card payment calculator for eradicating your credit card balances.
Are you confused like most Americans? Do you want to pay off your credit card debt in the right way? If so, then call or make an appointment with a reputed financial company and get advice on paying off your debts.