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Category:  Money

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Micropayments: a Strategy to Cut Credit Card Debt

Multiple Monthly Payments Slash Debt, but Watch the Rules

By Erin Peterson

Many people get into credit card debt not because of a single big purchase, but because of many smaller ones. Whether it's too many restaurant meals or too many extra purchases tossed into the shopping cart each week, small amounts quickly add up.

If you're smart, you can use that same principle to work for you, not against you. Instead of making a single credit card payment each month, you can spread the bill out over several smaller (and less painful) payments.

Multiple payment advantages

Multiple payments can:
  • More closely align paychecks and payments. Paid every week? Make a small payment every week instead of one big one each month. You'll even out your monthly cash flow.
  • Pay down credit card debt more quickly, in the same way a biweekly mortgage works. With biweekly mortgages, homeowners pay half their monthly mortgage amount, but they pay it every two weeks. With 52 weeks in a year, that means 26 half payments -- or 13 monthly payments instead of 12. On a mortgage, biweekly payments can shave about seven years off a 30-year mortgage. The same principle would work if you divided your monthly payment in two and then paid that amount every two weeks.
  • Take advantage of windfalls. Once you get in the habit of paying multiple times, credit card payments will come to mind if any windfalls come to your wallet.
  • Build good payment habits and increase satisfaction. Seeing your balance fall day by day keeps you focused on the task of climbing out of debt and builds a sense of accomplishment.

Melissa Gullickson has paid off three of her five credit cards in the past year by paying at least the minimum payment twice a month. She times the payments with her paychecks and makes additional payments when she gets a windfall, like this year's stimulus check.

Gullickson says the double (and triple) payments help her even out her cash flow and give her a real sense of headway. "Paying twice the minimum really helps make actual progress on the balance," she says. "Just paying $50 a month on a $2,000 [debt] gets you nowhere."

Some people get even more ambitious about frequent payments, putting a few dollars toward their debt every few days. The tactic offers immediate gratification for those who need more incentive to dig out of debt. If you resist buying the latest DVD or pair of shoes while you're at the mall, you can put the money you saved toward your debt the same day.

While the major credit card issuers are all fairly flexible about making such payments, check the chart below before you consider this tactic to tackle your debt. Several companies limit the number of online payments you can make each month.



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Category:  Money

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