Breaking up is hard to do in any situation, but when credit cards start wreaking havoc on your finances, it may be time to reevaluate the relationship. According to a study from WalletHub, the average American household has approximately $7,849 worth of credit card debt. It’s no wonder people are considering breaking up with their credit cards with a number like that!
It may be easy to say you’re done with your cards, but just like a bad ex, you may find yourself tempted to go back. If your relationship with your credit card has gone sour and you’re looking to call it quits for good, check out our three best tips for breaking up with credit cards the right way.
Tell Your Cards You Need Some Space
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Sometimes the best way to get over a breakup is to hide anything that reminds you of your former partner. Simply stashing your credit cards in a place that requires some extra effort to get to may help you avoid the temptation to fall back into a bad relationship! Put them in a filing cabinet, a lockbox, a junk drawer—wherever it happens to be inconvenient to reach the cards. Keeping your credit cards out of your immediate sight is bound to keep them out of your mind and keep more money in your bank account.
Pause Your Card
Take a cue from Ross and Rachel and go on a break with your credit cards! Many cards come with the ability to hit pause on their use without having to report them as missing or stolen. You can do this by logging into your credit card account through your issuer’s desktop site or via your issuer’s mobile app. Just keep in mind that, while you won’t be able to add new charges to your card, you are still responsible for maintaining any payments owed before pausing.
Make It Harder to Shop Online
We’ve all been there: you’re browsing your favorite store online when you see it—the gadget or item you’ve been eyeing for a while is on sale, and it can be yours in a few short clicks. Using your stored credit card information while online shopping may feel great at the moment, but you’ll likely regret your purchase once the afterglow fades.
We recommend deleting stored card information from all your online store accounts (and yes, that includes Amazon!). When you physically take out your card and manually enter the information, you give yourself more time to consider your purchases. This makes using credit cards a lot less tempting and teaches you to be mindful about your spending habits.
Start Seeing Other People
Use Debit Cards
Do you know that rom-com trope where the main character has been dating a terrible person and then realizes that their soulmate was actually their best friend all along? Well, when you start thinking of your credit card as that horrible partner, you may realize that your perfect match has already been in your wallet this whole time—your debit card! Debit cards offer all the conveniences of plastic without all the risks. Because they only allow you to use money you have instead of money you borrow, debit cards prevent you from falling into debt and help you gauge how quickly you’re spending money, resulting in a simple way to curtail or stop excess spending.
Are you looking to part ways with plastic entirely? Try using cold, hard cash. Unlike credit cards, cash forces you to spend only what you have in your wallet. With physical money, there’s no carrying a balance forward, accruing interest, or falling into debt. The red flags of credit cards are replaced with green—literally!
When you create your budget and practice intentional financial planning, be sure to determine exactly how much money you have to spend freely (i.e., your discretionary income). Instead of carrying a credit card, start carrying that amount in cash.
Get Rid of All Your Baggage
Use a 0% Balance Transfer Credit Card
“Wait,” you might be thinking, “aren’t you supposed to be helping me break up with my credit cards?” While it may seem a bit backward to apply for a credit card when your goal is to avoid them, a 0% balance transfer card can actually save you money in the long run if you find yourself strapped with credit card debt.
The key here is to find a card with a lengthy 0% introductory period—around 14 to 18 months—and transfer all of your credit card debt into the 0% card’s account. By consolidating multiple debts onto a single card, you end up with one easily manageable monthly payment.
Get a Personal Loan
It’s no secret that breakups can come with a lot of baggage. If your relationship with credit cards was particularly toxic, then you may have ended up with three suitcases and a duffel bag worth of bills from multiple cards. In cases where you’re saddled with numerous monthly payments, consider using a personal loan to consolidate your debt. Not only can a personal loan help you increase your credit score, but it can also save you money in the long run—the interest rates for personal loans are typically lower than the rates offered by credit cards. If you qualify for an installment loan with a lower rate, you’ll end up paying less money overall!
“It’s Not You; It’s Me”
Kicking your credit cards to the curb may feel challenging to do, but our tips and tricks should make it a bit easier to say “it’s not you; it’s me” to those pesky pieces of plastic!
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