Credit cards have their uses and advantages, but they can easily be misused and abused, which can lead to devastating debt. If you can’t remember the last time you saw a zero balance in your bill, read on. We’ll show you some useful tips to pay off your credit card debt once and for all.

1. Stop using your credit cards.
The most logical thing to do when you have debt is to prevent yourself from getting into even more debt. If your credit balance is nowhere near zero, pull the plug on your credit card usage. Try different methods to keep yourself from using your cards: leave them at home, hand them over to a person you trust, or cut them in half and throw them away.

2. Pay more than the minimum amount.
You’ve probably heard this before but it’s worth reiterating : Always pay more than the minimum amount in your credit card bills. If you can, pay for the balance in full. Keep in mind that if you just pay the minimum each month, you’re only paying off the interest and you’re barely scratching the surface of your actual debt. You’ll only see that balance grow larger and larger each month, and that makes it even harder to zero out.

3. Pay the credit card with the highest interest first.
Pay off credit card debt by starting with the highest interest first. If you have multiple credit cards, compare their interest rates then channel the bulk of your payments to the card that is charging the highest interest. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should ignore the balances on your other cards. Keep paying the minimum but be aggressive in zeroing out the balance in your highest-interest card. Once you’ve paid off that debt, you can direct the extra cash to next highest-interest card, and so on.

4. Pay the credit card with the lowest balance first.
Another way to pay off your debt is to prioritize the card with the lowest outstanding balance first. Soon enough, you’ll have one less bill to pay. Then, apply the extra money to pay off the next card with the lowest balance, and so on. Experts call this strategy the “debt snowball method” because by eliminating the lower debts first, you can channel more cash to paying off the higher ones, like a snowball rolling downhill and gathering more snow. Also, getting to zero balance on one credit card gives you a psychological boost and creates a positive momentum for tackling your remaining debts.

5. Pay for everything in cash.

Developed the habit of paying for everything via credit card? It’s time to break the streak. Go back to the old-school way of paying for purchases solely with cash. This does two things: One, you don’t add on to your existing balances; and two, you become more aware of the gravity of your expenses. Given that paying in cash can be painful and can even cripple your bank accounts (if done impulsively), you’ll be forced to think twice and make wiser spending decisions.

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6. Liquidate some of your assets to pay for credit card debt.
If you’re short on cash to pay for your credit card bill, why not look around the house for some money-generating assets? If you have second-hand gadgets that can use a new home or old furniture that are just collecting dust, you can sell these online or at garage sales to generate extra funds. Aside from earning a little extra to pay off your debt, you declutter your place at the same time.

7. Consolidate debts by making a balance transfer to a low-interest credit card.
If you have mounting balances in a number of credit cards and you have a hard time keeping track of everything, you can opt to transfer your outstanding balance from one credit card to another with low or zero-interest. This way, your debts will be easier to manage (since it’s all in one place), and you also get to save up on interest payments in the long run. However, be mindful of all the terms and conditions governing balance transfers. Take the time to shop around for the lowest balance transfer rates and take the time to read and understand the fine print before doing anything.

8. Channel all windfalls and extra cash to credit card payment.
Got any 13th month pay left? Expecting a salary increase or bonus within the year? Before spending the money on other things, use the bulk of it to pay for your credit card balance. It might not be as fun as going on a road trip or a pampering sesh at the spa, but it’s a surefire way to alleviate your money worries and give you a better financial footing. If the windfall is significant, you can even eliminate your debt overnight with the extra cash.

9. Be realistic about how many credit cards you can manage.
It’s tempting to keep signing up for credit cards because of their unique rewards schemes and promo tie-ups with brands. If your credit card applications get approved quickly or your bank constantly sends you new cards, you’ll soon find yourself juggling five or more card payments at any one time. To prevent this, you have to be realistic about how many cards you can manage. Review the pros and cons of each card and just keep the ones that you are able to maximize and those that suit your needs. Rule of thumb: Two is enough and three is too much.

10. Practice delayed gratification.
Credit card debt is usually a result of impulsive spending habits. You see something you like, you take out your card and before you know it, you’ve maxed out your limit. If you want to curb this habit, you need to learn how to delay gratification. Fancy those snazzy red heels at the store display? Look at the price tag then save up for it. A classy tote bag on sale caught your eye? Sleep on it for a week to determine if you really want it (and if you have the cash to spend for it). Learn to resist the itch of smaller treats (like weekly shopping binges) so you can get better, more enduring rewards later on (like being in zero debt and having more money to spend). Great things come to those who wait!

PHOTO: media.digest/Flickr Creative Commons; GIFS:

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