When it comes to your credit card bills, there’s no hard and fast rule about how much you should pay above the minimum payments.
But generally speaking, if you can’t pay off your balances in full each month, you should strive to pay as much as possible to keep your debt from spiraling out of control.
It’s especially important to make payments above the minimum required if you’re continuing to use your credit cards, as most people do.
When feasible, I typically tell people to shoot for paying two to three times the minimum payment.
In a tight economy, this obviously isn’t always possible.
If you can’t pay well above the minimum due, just pay whatever you can afford, even if it’s just $10 or $25 extra. Every little bit will help.
For an eye-opener on your bills, try using this calculator from Bankrate.com.
It lets you see the true cost of making just the minimum payment on your credit card debt.
Paying so-called minimum payments now actually ends up costing you more – a lot more – over the long haul.
The math behind some of the calculations that determine your interest rate can be tricky.
And I won’t get into all the complex, and sometimes mind-boggling formulas that are used to calculate your Annual Percentage Rate (APR).
But suffice to say that for every $1,000 you owe, if you paid a minimum of say 4%, you’d only be paying $40 a month.
With just $2,500 in debt on a card with an 18% interest rate, you’d spend 10 years paying it off and you’d pay more than $1,400 in finance charges on top of what you originally spent.
Read more about the impact of making minimum payments in this article.