Credit cards can quickly turn from friend to foe, if you are not careful. For example, imagine that you receive your first credit card, and faithfully pay the bill in full every month. Then one day, the expensive smartphone you’ve been eyeing is released and you just have to have it. So you charge it to your credit card, rationalising that you can just settle the minimum payment every month. But owing to the power of compounding interest, you soon find yourself knee-deep in debt and getting deeper every month.
Fortunately, if you find yourself in that situation, credit card debt relief is possible. Below are some tips on how you can stay on top of your credit card debt.
1. Pay More Than The Monthly Minimum Payment
For most credit cards, the monthly minimum payment is about 5% of what you owe, which pays the interest and finance charges, not your debt. To effectively reduce your debt, you have to pay more than that:
- First, stop charging more expenses to your card and focus on settling the debt.
- If you have more than one credit card, pay off the one that has the highest interest rate first.
- Determine how much you can afford to pay every month, which should be more than the minimum payment. Tap into your savings, if necessary.
- Pay your credit card bill before the due date.
2. Ask Your Bank For Repayment Options
Check if your bank allows you to settle your credit card debt in manageable monthly instalments over a longer period. It’s worth a try as they may prefer it rather than having you default on their debt:
- Prepare a monthly budget taking into consideration your monthly, quarterly, semi-annually and yearly expenses. This will help you determine the actual surplus income you have that can go into your debt repayment.
- Based on the above budget, propose to your bank an alternative payment instalment plan that you can afford.
- You can also suggest that the bank lower the interest rate to make it easier to settle the debt.
3. Do A Balance Transfer
If your bank rejects your debt repayment proposal, you can switch to another credit card company. Some banks allow you to transfer your balance from a different bank at a much lower rate, which offers some wiggle room to reduce your debt:
- Typically, you need to have a good credit rating to qualify for the balance transfer. You can check your credit rating for free from credit rating agencies such as Credit Tip-Off Service (CTOS) or Rating Agency Malaysia Credit Information (RAMCI).
- Read the fine lines, compare rates and ensure that you are getting a good deal instead of digging yourself further in debt.
- Choose to transfer to a card with a temporary 0% interest rate.
4. Get An Overdraft Facility
If you are a home or property owner, you can apply for an overdraft (”OD”) facility and use it to pay off your credit card debt:
- The OD normally offers a much lower interest rate than credit cards.
- It’s a way of consolidating your debt into a low-interest loan, which you can pay off earlier if you wish, unlike a term loan.
5. Contact A Debt Counselling Agency
If the self-help debt relief methods mentioned above seem overwhelming to you, The Credit Counselling and Debt Management Agency (AKPK) can give you the assistance you need, free of charge.
- AKPK debt experts will analyse your debt situation, help map out your budget and assist in negotiating with your credit card companies on your behalf.
- They can stop the stressful collection calls, help you save on hefty interest and even avoid bankruptcy.
- However, don’t wait too long to reach out to AKPK. The earlier you start seeking help, the better.
Protecting Your Family From Debt
Often times when we are in debt, getting insurance coverage is the last thing on our minds. However, if something should happen to us, our next of kin will be saddled with our debts. The good news is, it doesn’t cost much to protect your family in the event of accidents and unexpected emergencies. A comprehensive protection plan such as EZCergas offers 24-hour protection from accidents as well as additional cash payouts if you are hospitalised and unable to work. This coverage gives you peace of mind and only costs as low as RM10 a month. For more information on EZTakaful’s personal accident plans, click here.