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Case Western Reserve University's independent student news source

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Eliminating your Credit Card debt

Imagine that you are an average college student: you enjoy being with friends, sleeping till noon on weekends, and also have $2200 in credit card debt (this number jumps to $5800 for graduate students). Although credit cards offer a great way to boost your credit score and track spending, companies prey on the uninformed and are great at extracting money from students.

College students frequently fall victim to credit cards because they figure that they will go into debt while in school and simply pay it off later with their glamorous, high-paying jobs. What students do not realize is that due to credit cards’ absurdly high interest rates, this is extremely difficult to do. If you were to only make a minimum payment on a balance of $2200, it would take you more than 15 years to pay it off (assuming 14 percent interest).

If you have credit card debt, here are three reasons to get out now:


1. The interest is ridiculous: Credit card companies charge you 14 percent on average for the cost of using their money. Compare this with the less than one percent you are earning from your savings account to see why you are losing money.

2. You are hurting your credit score: 30 percent of your credit score is based on how much debt you have. A low credit score could cost you tens of thousands of dollars in the future when you take out a loan for a car or house.

3. Credit card debt causes stress: In addition to worrying about homework and whether or not it is worth going to chemistry class to see the blonde girl in the front, you have to worry about this debt lurking over your head.


In order to engage in an attack against your credit card debt, follow these steps:

1. If you have multiple credit cards, decide which card to attack first: The strategy here is to pay the minimum balance on all of your cards except one that you will pay off more quickly. Two main schools of thought exist on how to do this. The first is to pay off the card with the highest APR (annual percentage rate) so that you can save money on interest payments. The second is to pay off the card with the lowest balance so that you can eliminate one card completely which will motivate you psychologically. Just pick one and stick with it.

2. Figure out where the money will come from: You will either need to increase your income or cut your expenses. Boost your income by getting a campus job, tutoring high school algebra, or selling some things on Ebay. Increasing your income is a lot more fun than cutting expenses because it allows you to avoid reducing your living standard. However it may be difficult if you are already busy with school. Therefore, consider cutting your expenses to pay off your cards faster. If you have been racking up debt, then you are living above your means. Only go out to bars once per week. Cook for yourself. Do not spend $100 on Jonas Brothers tickets.

3. Negotiate to lower your APR : Most people are too scared of credit card companies to ever try this, but if you want to get ahead, it starts here. This may only work half of the time, but it is well worth the 15 minutes it takes. Call your credit card company and tell them that you are going to start paying off your credit card more aggressively and would like a lower APR. They will probably decline your request by saying, “I’m sorry we can’t offer that right now.” Respond by telling them that another credit card company is offering you zero percent introductory rates and much lower rates than your current company after that. State that you have been a customer for several years and would prefer not to have to switch to a lower rate credit card. If this still does not work, call back every couple of months and try again.


If you have significant debt, the process of paying it off will take time. However, you need to start now. Be richer and smarter than the average college student. Get out of credit card debt.

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