CHARLOTTE — More people who have credit cards are carrying over balances from one month to the next, according to Bankrate.com.
Bankrate.com says last year 39% of cardholders carried over debt each month. Now, 46% of cardholders are carrying over debt, and that’s with the average interest rate at around 20%, which is close to a record high.
“It’s easy to get into credit card debt and hard to get out of it,” Bankrate.com’s Ted Rossman told Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke. “More debt, more expensive debt, more people carrying it, for a longer time too.”
“You can’t just hide from it because, unfortunately, if you have the average credit card debt, which is about $5,500 according to TransUnion, at the average rate, minimum payments will keep you in debt for 17 years,” Rossman added.
Brittany Wiafe is a graduate student in the health field. She’s conscious of her financial health as well, so she’s avoided credit card debt. That was until she needed a new laptop for school. “I usually pay (my credit card) off, so now it’s kind of being in an unfamiliar situation,” she said.
How can you control those costs?
1. Don’t be afraid to negotiate. See if your credit card company will give you a better rate.
2. If you have a major purchase coming up, you may want to open a new credit card that offers 0% interest. Just make sure you read the fine print.
3. Consider consolidating your debt with a personal loan or what’s called a “balance transfer” credit card. But be careful about that:
- Usually, you need good credit to qualify for these cards.
- Most of these cards charge a transfer fee.
- The interest rate will go up after the promotional period ends.
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