Paying off credit card debt can help you save money on interest and improve your overall financial well-being. Whether you have just one credit card or many, you can use this calculator to figure out how long it’ll take to pay off your debt and how much interest it’ll cost you.
†The information provided is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as financial advice. Experian cannot guarantee the accuracy of the results provided. Your lender may charge other fees which have not been factored in this calculation. These results, based on the information provided by you, represent an estimate and you should consult your own financial advisor regarding your particular needs.
How to Use This Calculator
For each credit card you have, enter the current balance, the annual percentage rate (APR) and your monthly payment. When you enter the balance and APR, an estimated minimum payment will automatically show up in the third field, but you can change it based on your actual payment amount.
When you click the Calculate button, you’ll see several things to help inform your debt payoff strategy, including:
- The month and year you’ll be debt-free
- The number of payments you’ll need to make
- Total interest you’ll pay
- Total payment amount, including interest and principal
You can also click on the Payment Schedule tab to see exactly how much of each payment will go toward interest and how much will go toward paying down your balance.
Remember, you can add multiple credit cards to the calculator. And as you define your strategy for eliminating credit card debt, you can enter different payment amounts to see how much time and money you’ll save.
How to Pay Off Credit Card Debt
Depending on your situation, you may have several different options to pay off your credit card debt. If you’re not planning to consolidate your credit card balances (see below for more), there are two approaches you can use: the debt snowball method and the debt avalanche method.
The debt snowball method involves making just the minimum payments on all of your credit cards except for the one with the lowest balance. Take any extra money you have to put toward your debt every month, and apply it to that card.
Once that card is paid off, you’ll take the monthly payment you were putting toward it and apply that to the card with the next-lowest balance (on top of its minimum monthly payment). You’ll continue that same strategy until all of your balances are paid off.
The debt avalanche method works similarly, but instead of targeting cards based on their balance, you’ll work on paying off the cards with the highest interest rates first.
Neither method is inherently better than the other, so choose the right one for you based on your goals and preferences. With the debt snowball method, for instance, you’ll be guaranteed to pay off smaller balances first, which can give you the wins you need to keep your motivation going.
With the debt avalanche method, focusing on higher interest rates first could save you more money on interest charges. Depending on the makeup of your credit card debt, however, those savings may not be much higher than what you’d achieve with the debt snowball approach.
How Does Credit Card Debt Consolidation Work?
If your credit score is in good shape, debt consolidation may be an excellent way to pay off your debt faster and save money along the way.
Consolidating credit card debt involves paying off your existing debt with a new credit card or personal loan, preferably with better terms. Here’s a breakdown of how each debt consolidation option works:
- Balance transfer credit cards: With a balance transfer credit card, you can transfer debt from one or more existing cards to a new one. Many balance transfer cards offer an introductory 0% APR promotion, which means you can pay off your debt interest-free during the promotional period. Some of these cards charge an upfront fee of up to 5% of the transfer amount, but that may be worth it for the interest savings.
- Personal loans: You can use personal loans for just about anything, including debt consolidation. On average, personal loans charge lower interest rates than credit cards, and you may be able to get a rate in the single digits if your credit is excellent. Personal loans also offer the benefit of set repayment terms instead of just giving you a minimum payment.
Regardless of which option you choose, it’s important to avoid racking up balances on your paid-off credit cards—otherwise, you could end up in an even more difficult financial situation.
How Does Credit Card Debt Impact Your Credit Score?
Your credit utilization rate—the percentage of your available credit that you’re using at any given time—is an important indicator of how you manage debt. As a result, it’s one of the major factors that help determine your credit score.
If you’re bumping up against your credit limits, it could be damaging your score considerably. In other words, paying off your credit card debt can improve your credit and your overall financial well-being.
As you work on paying down your debt, make sure to check your credit score regularly to keep track of your progress. This practice can also help you spot other areas of your credit history that you can address to increase your credit score.