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credit & debt

3 Simple Steps to Break Out of Credit Card Debt

Follow these steps to keep from getting bogged down by payments.

Step 1

Check for zero-interest balance-transfer offers from your credit card issuers in your mailbox or online, or call customer service to ask if an offer is available. Find out what the fee is for a balance transfer and how long you can pay at the 0% rate. Compare offers on cards you have with other offers at CardHub.com.

Typically, 0% offers last 12 months and come with a 3% fee. Chase’s Slate card offers free balance transfers if you make the transfer within the first 60 days of getting approved.

Step 2

Once you’ve selected a balance-transfer offer, you can complete the transfer online. Enter the account number of the card with the balance you wish to transfer and the amount. Keep in mind that you can’t transfer more than the 0% card’s limit and that it may take up to a week to process the payment. If you’re counting on the transfer to pay off a big balance and you’re close to your due date, make the minimum payment, just in case.

Step 3

Plan to pay the card off before the introductory rate expires. To retire a $3,000 balance on a card charging 18% in one year, the monthly payment would be $276 a month, including interest. Transfer that to a card with a 0% APR and a 3% fee, and you’ll pay $258 a month (including the fee) and no interest.

The payoff

You’ll get breathing room on payments and save on interest.

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