If you’ve been trying to get out of credit card debt, you’ve probably heard about 0% APR credit cards that offer balance transfers. They are so well known that it can be disappointing every time you see a headline proclaiming some great idea about how to pay off your debt, only to find out it’s just another description of interest free balance transfer offers.
While these offers can be incredibly valuable, they’re only one of the ways you can reduce your credit card interest payments, and ultimately get rid of your debt. Here are five smart strategies that go beyond interest-free balance transfers.
1. Make multiple payments throughout the month
Every month, each credit card account issues a statement, along with a due date and a minimum payment. In addition to always paying more than just the minimum payment, you should also consider making more than a single payment each month.
Credit cards incur interest charges based on your account’s average daily balance, and anything you can do to reduce the balance each day will reduce your interest charges. If you can make an additional payment before the due date, you’ll lower your average daily balance. (See also: The Fastest Method to Eliminate Credit Card Debt)
2. Pay your balance early
Even if you can’t make multiple payments throughout the month, just making your payment a week earlier will save you money. When the payment gets credited to your account, the average daily balance will be lower from that day forward. (See also: 6 Smart Reasons to Pay Your Credit Card Bill Before It’s Due)
3. Wait to make big purchases
You can avoid interest charges by paying your statement balance in full every month. But if you aren’t sure you’ll be able to do that next month, there’s a little trick you can use to reduce your next statement balance. Find out when your statement closing date is, and postpone large purchases until after that date. Charges processed after the end of your statement will appear on your next statement, giving you an additional month to pay it in full. And even if you incur interest, every day you can postpone making a large purchase will reduce your average daily balance. (See also: How a Simple “Do Not Buy” List Keeps Money in Your Pocket)
4. Keep a “clean card” that you pay in full each month
When you have to carry a balance, the smaller the balance, the less interest you’ll incur. One strategy to reduce your balance is to put some charges on a different credit card, one that you can avoid interest charges on by paying in full each month. For example, let’s say you need to spend a total of $1,000, but you charge $500 to two different cards. Pay one off in full, and you will have avoided much of the interest you would have paid if you charged the entire $1,000 to a card and only paid off half of it. (See also: 6 Secrets to Mastering the Debt Snowball)
5. Ask for a lower interest rate
Your credit card’s interest rates were set based on your creditworthiness when you applied for your account. But that could have been a long time ago, and your credit may have improved since then. If you have a strong record of making on-time payments, then it’s possible that you may qualify for a lower standard interest rate. Furthermore, it never hurts to ask. Contact your card issuer and ask for a lower rate. You may even let them know that you’re considering transferring your balance elsewhere. Credit card users are very profitable customers, and banks will often make special offers when they fear losing your business.