Looking to Lower Your Credit Card Debt? Consider These 6 Top Tactics

For American consumers, credit cards are among the most commonly used tools in the financial tool kit. In fact, according to information from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, more than eight in 10 U.S. adults hold at least one credit card account.

And of course, there are a lot of good reasons credit cards are so popular among U.S. consumers. When used responsibly, credit cards can offer a broad range of benefits, including:

  • Increased purchasing power
  • Simplified bill payments and buying transactions
  • Credit-boosting opportunities
  • Purchase protections
  • In many cases, the chance to earn rewards

Unfortunately, though, credit cards can come with a downside. When the debts they’re carrying are allowed to accumulate or their bills are otherwise not paid off promptly, they can lead to financial troubles — as exhibited by the fact that the average American consumer owes nearly $8,000 in credit card debt.

6 top tactics for paying down credit card debt

By taking more control of their spending and making a concerted effort to pay down their credit card debts consumers can eliminate their card balances and improve their financial well-being. And with March 21 being Credit Card Reduction Day, March is an excellent time to make plans to pay down any credit card debt you may be carrying.

Looking to eliminate your credit card debt? With a solid plan in place, it’s a goal that most of us can achieve. Consider these six top tactics that are widely viewed by experts to be among the best ways to pay off your credit cards:


  1. Use the debt snowball method — Focused on lowering the number of credit card balances you’re carrying as quickly as possible, this debt-payoff method is great for those who are likely to be inspired by the added motivation that can come with early wins. To get started, be sure to make at least the minimum payment required on each of your credit cards each billing cycle. Then, use any additional available funds to pay down your lowest credit card balance each month. Once that card’s balance has been zeroed out, be sure to celebrate your achievement. Then (after minimum payments are made) focus any additional funds available each month on paying down your next-lowest balance. Over time, this method should enable you to eliminate each of your credit card balances, one by one, starting with the lowest.


  1. Employ the debt avalanche method — This payoff method also focuses on paying off one credit card at a time, but instead of first targeting the card with the lowest balance, it starts with the card carrying the highest interest rate. Once again, you’ll start by ensuring that all your cards’ minimum payments are made each month. Then, you’ll devote any additional available funds to paying down the card with the highest annual percentage rate (APR). And once that credit card’s debt is paid off, you’ll move on to targeting the card with the next-highest interest rate until all of your credit card debts are eliminated. This method is especially well-suited to those who might be most motivated by money savings, as it can lead to a lower total amount paid thanks to its earlier elimination of higher-interest debt.


  1. Consider getting a balance transfer credit card — For those looking to put a pause on the interest they’re paying while they knock down their credit card debt, applying for a balance transfer credit card could be worth considering. These cards often offer a very low or even a 0% interest rate, typically for an introductory promotional period lasting 12 to 21 months. While the interest kicks back in once the promotional period is over, in the meantime, the cardholder can transfer all of his or her card balances to this one card, and then pay down his or her total credit card debt without any additional interest accruing. And by consolidating all the cardholder’s credit card balances onto a single card, this tactic can also simplify monthly payments.


  1. Secure a debt consolidation loan — A personal loan providing funds that can be used to pay off all of your credit card debts at once, a debt consolidation loan can often enable the borrower to replace a number of typically higher-interest credit card debts with a single, typically lower-interest loan to repay. (Interest rates on a debt consolidation loan can vary greatly, though, depending on the loan’s terms, the borrower’s credit score, and other factors.) The trade-off can come with some reduced flexibility, though. Unlike credit cards, which typically only require a relatively low minimum monthly payment, the loan will usually have a set monthly repayment schedule with a fixed, typically higher amount owed each month. The total amount of interest charges avoided by taking this route can be substantial, though.


  1. Dial back your discretionary spending — Of course, one of the best ways to have more money for paying down debt is to spend less on non-vital purchases, otherwise known as “discretionary spending.” Take a close look at your monthly spending habits to try to identify any savings opportunities you might be able to take advantage of, then put that money toward eliminating your credit card debt.
    Common ways to save here include:
    – doing less dining out and instead cooking at home
    – making fewer visits to the coffee shop and brewing your own instead
    – opting for a “staycation” in place of a more expensive, travel-required vacation
    – identifying and canceling any streaming services you may not use regularlyAny lifestyle changes you choose to make here don’t have to be permanent — you can revisit your choices and readjust once you’ve successfully achieved your debt-reduction goals.


  1. Consider a debt management plan — For those in a particularly troubling credit situation or who simply can’t seem to keep up with debt payments on their own, a debt management plan may be worth considering. This involves getting professional financial help from a credit counselor, a person trained to closely examine customers’ finances, create a plan for debt repayment, and chart a course to achieving financial well-being. In some cases, a credit counselor may even try to work with debtors to renegotiate interest rates and payment schedules — and depending on the consumer’s financial situation, the plan can take years to complete. But with a professional’s help, the services can often set consumers on the right course to achieving their financial goals.


Whatever route you choose to take, paying off your credit card debt is a great way to elevate your credit score and boost your overall financial well-being — and it can help you free up funds for other financial goals and investments. Make the most of March and Credit Card Reduction Day by using them as inspiration to eliminate your credit card debts!

Proudly serving South Carolina since 1933, Arthur State Bank offers accounts and services to meet a variety of financial needs. To help you achieve all your financial goals, the bank offers in-person service as well as a range of convenient digital solutions. To learn how Arthur State Bank can help you with banking needs ranging from checking and savings to retirement accounts, mortgages, other personal loans, and more, visit arthurstatebank.com.

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AnnualCreditReport.com is the only source for free credit reports authorized by the federal government. Every 12 months, you can get a free copy of your credit report from each agency.

Your credit report has your credit history for all of your credit accounts as well as any credit inquiries and public record court information such as collections. In addition, the report provides personally identifiable information such as your name, address, and employment.

Be sure to carefully review all three reports to identify any problem areas that you may need to clean up prior to applying for a mortgage. If there is any incorrect information, follow the reporting agency’s rules to correct it or add a notation to the report to explain the situation.

Your FICO Score is a score combines data from several areas include payment history, the amount owed, length of credit history, new accounts. Many lenders use this score as a guide. This score is not provided as part of the free annual credit report.

Learn more about how your credit score impacts your ability to secure a loan.


Couple looking over finances

Primary considerations for setting your housing budget require an assessment of your income, debt and current savings for the down payment on the home. The following are generally recommended guidelines; however, you should meet with an Arthur State Bank lender to get personalized mortgage information.


Couple meeting with lender

The pre-qualification/pre-approval letter is included with any offer you make on a house to inform the seller that you have met with a mortgage lender and you are prepared to make an offer. The letter states that based on certain assumptions, the bank is prepared to lend you up to a specified amount of money for a home mortgage.

When choosing a loan officer, we recommend going local to work with someone who understands your community’s real estate market. This blog on first-time home purchases includes questions to ask your lender that may be helpful when preparing for your meeting.

Helpful Resources:


Realtor shaking hands with a client

When a house is sold, the seller typically pays real estate commission to both the listing agent and the selling agent. It is extremely beneficial for the buyer to use their own real estate agent. Loan officers can often recommend selling agents in the area; ask your officer about realtor referrals when discussing your loan.

A good realtor will know the local market and can help you find an ideal home based on your budget, location and desired features. During your search, understand that you will most likely need to compromise on some items, so it’s important to identify your critical needs versus your wants.


Couple searching online for a home

Additionally, when you start with the house search and work backwards, homes can often go off the market while you’re completing steps 1-4. While browsing homes immediately can be tempting, we recommend following these steps in order so that, once you find your dream home, you’ll be well-positioned to take action immediately.

When you find the home you want and you think you are ready to put an offer on it, you will want to make sure you have all the information you need to make a solid offer.

  • Evaluate the neighborhood.
  • Drive by the house at different times of the day.
  • Examine how other houses in the neighborhood are maintained.
  • Consider any potential traffic or other disruptive noise.
  • Is there ample parking for you and visitors?
  • Read the details in any Homeowner Association agreements (HOA fees and rules).

Make sure to do a preliminary check of house details:

  • Check the water:
  • Does it have good pressure?
  • How long does it take to get the water hot?
  • Is it well water or city water?
  • Turn light switches on and off.
  • Open and close doors and windows to make sure they work properly.
  • Review previous utility bill expenses.
  • Consider the property tax bill.


Family meeting with realtor at new house

When writing an offer contract, be sure to pay attention to all of the details.

Offer Price:

Your agent should do a market analysis that pulls data on recently sold comparable houses. The best comparisons will come from the same neighborhood.

If you are asking for the seller to pay some of the closing costs, remember that this cost plus the sales commission determines the net amount you are offering the seller for the house.

Work with your agent on your negotiation strategy. There are many things to consider, such as how badly you want this particular house, whether it is a buyer’s or seller’s market and an assessment of the seller’s motivation to get the property sold.

There isn’t one best strategy.

Be sure to document in writing everything you want included with the house, such as appliances, etc. Your agent should guide you through the contract step-by-step.


  • Home inspection.
  • Mortgage.
  • Final walk through (24 hours prior to closing).

Proposed closing date. Typically, this is 30-45 days from an accepted offer.

A good-faith deposit is required for the offer. This is typically between 1-10% of the purchase price of the house. The deposit is kept in escrow until closing and the money is applied to the purchase price of the house at closing. If the house does not close due to one of the contingency clauses, the buyer receives their money back. However, if the buyer decides not to close on the property, the seller may get the deposit money.

Attach your pre-approval letter to the offer.


Two people in professional meeting

The clock starts ticking for everything documented in the contract, including mortgage application, inspections and closing date.


Woman advising other woman on mortgage application

You will need to decide which mortgage to select prior to the application.

Plan for the following potential fees:

  • Application fee (many banks and mortgage companies charge an application fee; however, there is not an application fee at Arthur State Bank).
  • Credit check.
  • Appraisal (may be paid at closing).
  • Loan origination fee (paid at closing).

Once you have approval for your loan, make sure you don’t change anything that will impact the status of your mortgage. Banks do a final check on credit and jobs just prior to closing, so now is not the time to change jobs or make another purchase on credit such as a car or furniture.


Home inspector going over findings with home owner

Depending on the size of the house, an inspection can cost on average between $300 to $1000.

Many real estate contracts specify how problems uncovered in the inspection will be resolved, up to a certain dollar amount. Should necessary repairs exceed that amount, the buyer has the option to cancel the contract without penalty and receive their deposit money back. Another option is for the buyer and seller to renegotiate who will pay for additional repairs.


Woman happily holding keys to her new home
  • Homeowner’s insurance is required by the lender prior to closing on the loan.
  • Turn on utilities in your name, effective the closing date.
  • Change your address with the U.S. Postal Service.
  • Make moving arrangements.

Three days prior to closing:

  • You should receive your final Closing Disclosure from the closing agency. The final Closing Disclosure shows a column for the seller and a column for the buyer. All closing charges and credits for both the seller and the buyer are documented in the closing statement.
  • Review the closing statement for accuracy prior to coming to closing.
  • The final amount in the buyer’s column shows you the amount of money you need to pay at closing.

The closing office will provide specific payment instructions. Closing funds have become recent targets for cybercriminals. If you are asked to use a wire transfer, call the office and ask to speak to someone you have been working with to double-check the instructions.

Closing day:

In South Carolina, the closing will usually take place at the attorney’s office. Everyone signing for the mortgage must be present to sign the closing paperwork. Make sure you bring the following:

  • Cashier’s check or proof of payment for wire transfer.
  • Driver’s license.
  • Checkbook, just in case there are any additional items that were not on the closing statement.

Be sure to understand this information:

  • How and when you will pay:
  • Your mortgage.
  • Your property taxes.
  • Your homeowner’s insurance.
  • Any HOA dues.
  • Who to call with any questions.

The best practice is to go through the homebuyer’s roadmap in this sequence. However, if you jumped ahead early in your journey, just circle back to address the steps you missed.

Arthur State Bank’s loan officers are closely tapped into local real estate markets and experts at helping clients get what they need on terms that work for them. We also offer mortgage specials for first-time homebuyers.

To start planning your journey to your dream home, try out our mortgage calculator. If you’re ready to talk to a loan officer, contact Arthur State Bank to request personalized mortgage information today. Don’t forget to ask about our first-time homebuyer offer.