Reducing debt was the third most common New Year’s resolution this year. Saving money was first and spending less was second, but reducing interest on credit cards would work on all of the top three. Here are some ways to do it.
* Zero percent interest on balance transfers. Financial advisors say if you owe $5,000 on a 15 percent APR card, you could save $750 in interest during the next 12 months. To get the zero percent offer, your credit score will probably have to be 700 or higher. Even if you opt for a 2.99 percent offer, you’ll save money. Whatever amount you transfer, it should result in savings that are more than the 3 percent or 4 percent up-front fee you will pay.
Never sign up for a balance transfer offer unless you are sure you can make at least the minimum payment each month. Just one late payment will cause your interest rate to rise by a huge amount. If you don’t pay the amount you borrowed by the end of the time it’s offered, the rate will skyrocket on the balance owed, both on this credit card and others. Never charge new purchases to a low-interest offer card even if new purchases are covered. It just makes the card more difficult to pay off.
Debt consolidation loans
Some banks and credit unions offer unsecured consumer loans at 10 percent interest or less.
Debt consolidation only works if you can make loan payments without charging again on your credit cards.
It’s important to create an emergency fund so you will not be forced to use credit cards for unexpected expenses, such as medical bills or auto repairs.