‘Credit card debt’ is a much discussed topic in the commercial and social circles. A big section of the population has been bit by this bug called ‘credit card debt’. Can’t blame them much; as such, it’s pretty easy to fall prey to this bug.
The main reason behind so many credit card casualties (rather credit card debt related casualties) is that many people don’t understand the concept of credit cards properly. They treat credit card as free money that is never to be returned. Thus all the discipline, which would otherwise have been exercised with spending hard-earned money, goes for a toss.
That means people overspend and get into credit card debt. They keep spending till they reach the credit limit on their credit card. Some people go to the extent of treating that like a game and consider it a defeat (or consider their credit card under utilised) if they don’t hit the credit limit quick enough.
These unnecessary spends result in a situation where they are not able to payback their credit card bills and end up paying interest on the amount they owe. This keeps building up their credit card debt and they soon find that the interest component has become a regular feature in their monthly expenses and it is there even if they spend nothing on their credit card. That is credit card debt on the prowl.
Soon they find that their current credit card can no longer handle their needs and start looking to get another credit card. With the new power of credit, they let themselves loose again and follow a ‘shop till you drop’ routine. Soon the credit limit of the new credit card is reached too and they again default on payments. This is how credit card debt builds.
Soon they learn about credit card debt consolidation and other credit card debt elimination techniques. They are quick to grab such credit card debt reduction techniques, but that’s not because they are serious about reducing their credit card debt but because of the attractive low APR offers. As if it were booty, they again get back to building up their credit card debt. All the while they are spoiling their credit card rating and they soon realise that no one is ready to lend them money because of their credit history.
They can only get a secured credit card now (where you first deposit money into your credit account and then only you get the privilege of spending it (50-100% of it) using their credit card. Credit card debt collection agencies, auction of their goods and bankruptcy is the next thing that hits them and their dream run is blown away in a moment.
The moral of the story – “Understand the concept of credit cards and treat credit card debt with all seriousness”. Now we will shift our attention to Credit Card Debt Consolidation.
Credit card debt is a nightmare of a problem and unfortunately there a lot of people who face this today (and if others don’t pay heed, they might get trapped into credit card debt too). Credit card debt consolidation is generally regarded as the most important step in credit card debt reduction and elimination.
So what is ‘Credit card debt consolidation’?
Credit card debt consolidation is the process/strategy to consolidate debt from multiple credit cards into lesser number of credit cards (ideally one or two credit cards). Credit card debt consolidation is sometimes also referred as a balance transfer where you transfer your balance on one credit card to another credit card. Generally, the balance transfer (or credit card debt consolidation) is done from credit cards with higher APR to credit cards with lower APR. Credit card debt consolidation can also be achieved by going for a bank loan (at a lower interest rate) and using that towards paying the debt on the higher APR credit cards. This loan is then paid-back to the bank in the form of monthly installments.
As you would have noticed, a lot of credit card suppliers and banks keep coming out with attractive offers for Credit card debt consolidation (or balance transfers). There is no dearth of 0% APR offers for credit card debt consolidation. However, credit card debt consolidation is a serious exercise and you must exercise caution so that you don’t get into deeper trouble.
When going for credit card debt consolidation, you must properly analyze the offers from various banks and credit card suppliers. Check the time period for which 0% APR is being offered and also the APR that would be applicable after the lapse of that period. Generally, 0%APR is valid for a 6-12 month period only. So, if you are confident of paying back a considerable amount of debt in that period, this kind of credit card debt consolidation will work for you even if the APR (post 0% period) is a bit higher.
However, if that is not the case, the long term APR is going to be the most important thing for you. If the long term APR is more than the APR for your current credit card, this kind of Credit card debt consolidation will be futile for you. Also, check processing charges etc before you actually go for balance transfer or credit card debt consolidation with another supplier/bank. Another good idea is to check with your current credit card supplier and see if they can offer a lower APR to you in order to help you in clearing off your debt (you would be surprised that they do oblige at times and hence eliminate the need for credit card debt consolidation).
It’s important that, with credit card debt consolidation, you also inculcate good spending habits; otherwise credit card debt consolidation would really be of no use to you.