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How can I get a handle on credit card debt?

If you find that your credit card debt is spiraling out of control, you may be weighing your options. While you might ultimately need to file for bankruptcy or pursue credit counseling, working on your spending now is still recommended to ensure your correct any bad habits. RealSimple.com offers the following tips to help you eliminate debt and seek out a responsible financial future.

Try to get a lower interest rate

While you won’t always get approved for a lower interest rate, it certainly doesn’t hurt to ask. Your credit card company is more likely to grant your request if you have a good credit score and have been a customer for a long time. It also helps to have no late payments on your record. You can also make them aware of a competitor’s offer to see if they won’t match those numbers.

Focus on one card

If you have multiple cards you’re working on, try to get at least one paid off now. Select the card with the lowest balance and start making payments well above the minimum. Or, if you want a boost to your credit score, look into which card has a high utilization rate. This is the number you get when you take the balance and divide it by your credit limit, and your credit rating is decreased when you use more than 20 percent of the available balance.

Double up on minimum payments

If you normally only make the minimum payment on a monthly basis, see if you can’t double up some payments. This will help control interest rates, which are actually calculated by the day. Be sure you’re paying at the least the minimum by the date it’s due (to prevent damage to your credit report), then make the same payment again about two weeks later.

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