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What are some ways to pay down credit card debt?

Credit cards aren't evil, and they don't create debt in and of themselves. If used properly, they can actually be a good financial tool for families. Essentially, a credit card provides you a short-term loan that is interest free from the date you use the card to the end of the billing cycle. If you pay the balance off before that, the loan is virtually free, although some credit cards do come with fees. Credit cards can come in handy during emergencies or travel.

But credit card debt can build quickly once it does start to build, and many families find themselves with high balances before they realize it. If your credit card debt has snowballed -- for whatever reason -- there are some things you can do to pay it down. Financial experts break into two schools of thought: pay the highest interest card first or pay the lowest balance card first.

Paying the lowest balance first lets you get rid of a debt quicker, which boosts morale and lets you put the money you were paying on the smaller debt to a bigger debt. It's known as a snowball effect: the more debts you pay off, the more you are able to pay on other debts.

Paying the highest interest accounts off first could save you more in the long run, since you reduce the amount of interest you are paying overall. Choosing a debt management strategy is a personal choice. You should consider your own financial situation, goals and needs before deciding on a plan.

In some cases, paying down the debts on your own simply isn't possible. This is especially true for individuals who suddenly have a different financial situation because of job loss, medical issues or other major life events. You aren't left without options, though. Bankruptcy and other debt relief solutions can help you take control of growing credit card debt and reset your financial situation for the future.

Source: Investopedia, "Expert Tips For Cutting Credit Card Debt," Gregory Bresiger, accessed Sep. 22, 2015

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