How to improve your credit, get out of debt
According to the Federal Reserve, credit card balances hit $1.0645 trillion in 2019, which is the highest they've been since the Great Recession in 2017.
CompareCards chief industry analyst Matt Schulz spoke to FOX Business about the best methods to improve your credit while getting out of credit card debt.
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When it comes to handling credit cards, Schulz said people tend to overthink it.
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"It's about paying your bills on time, every single time, keeping your balances as low as possible and not going too crazy applying for too much credit too often," Schulz told FOX Business. "If you do those three things, your credit is going to be just fine."
Schulz admitted that can be easier said than done, however, because "life is expensive in 2019." But he has a trick to help with that.
"One of the best things you can do is to automate as much as you can," Schulz said.
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Schulz said the key is to figure out how much you can afford to pay every month toward your credit card balance and to connect your bank account so that it automatically withdraws that amount. As long as that amount is above the minimum the bank is requiring you to pay toward your credit card bill, then you're golden.
"The more you can automate things, the more you take the choice out of your hands of sending that money in or not sending it in, the better off you'll be, the more likely you will be to pay on a regular basis."
How to get out of credit card debt
Schulz said the good news is there are a lot of ways people can not only get out of debt but also improve their credit.
"Obviously, the best way to improve your credit is to get that balance as low as you possibly can," Schulz said.
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While that can seem daunting, Schulz suggested asking for a higher credit limit. He said that would impact your credit utilization, which is a statistic calculating how much credit you have compared to how much debt you have.
"If you're using more than about 30 percent of your available credit in a balance, then that's when things can get a little dicey with your credit," Schulz said.
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Another method to try is to ask for a higher credit limit, he said.
"Obviously, the big caveat in all of that is don't just see that higher credit limit as an excuse to spend," Schulz said. "Otherwise, you're undoing all the good that you might have done."
"It really does sound counterintuitive to say that you should tackle credit card debt by potentially getting another credit card because people are scared when they're in debt. People are scared of anything that can potentially bring them into more debt."
Schulz said when thinking about getting another credit card, it's crucial to shop around for the best card for your lifestyle.
"A balance transfer card can be a huge savings to folks who are in credit card debt because it can allow you to transfer that balance and not pay any interest on it for a year or 15 months or even 18 months," Schulz said.
A huge key to knocking down the interest you're paying on credit card debt can make a big difference.