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How long will it take you to pay off your Credit Card?

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

The other day we published the article How Much Credit card Debt do Americans Have? where, according to data released by Consumer Federation of America, the average American Household has  $8,500 on credit card debt.

We love numbers, and we started wondering how long will it take the average American Household to pay off their average credit card debt, so we fired up our spreadsheet and we started calculating.

Obviously we had to make a few assumptions.  This is what we used:

  • For interest rate we used 11%, which is an average rate for a low interest credit cards.
  • We assumed that this typical average American family would not accumulate any additional debt.
  • We also assumed that this typical average American family would not charge any additional purchases on the existing credit cards.  As you know we advocate that you keep one credit card for every day purchases and that you pay off the balance each month, therefore incurring in no additional debt, no interest charges, and you get the benefits and protections of using a credit card for your purchases.
  • We assumed that the monthly payment is 1/50th of the balance or $ 10, whichever is higher.
  • Lastly we assumed that this typical American family will continue to make the minimum payment indicated in each statement.

The answer is shocking!  At that rate:

  • It would take 27 years and 4 months to pay off the $ 8.500 debt.
  • It will cost a grand total of $15,441.14 in total monthly payments.
  • This family will be enriching the pockets of their credit card company by a whopping $6,941.14 in interest.

And this family is lucky, they have good credit and they qualify for a low interest credit card.
Families with bad credit have to deal with 18% and more on their credit card debt, but let’s take 18%, in which case:

  • It would take 54 years and 11 months to pay off the $8,500 debt.
  • It will cost a grand total of $32,487.76 in total monthly payments.
  • This family will be enriching the pockets of their credit card company by a whopping $24,309.88 in interest. Remember, it started as a $8,500 debt.

Shocking, isn’t it?  It’s the power of compounded interest, which was the one thing that puzzled and fascinated Albert Einstein.

Without trying to be Einstein, let’s see what happens to the same family once they make the commitment to eliminate debt, leveraging an easy and simple first step: keeping the same monthly payment constant, without decreasing it for any reason.  As the outstanding balances at their credit cards decrease, they continue to send the same amount each and every month.
In the case of the interest rate at 11% that family will:

  • Pay off their credit cards in 5 years and 7 months (instead of 27 years and 4 months).
  • It will cost  $11,422.46 in total monthly payments (instead of 15,441.14).
  • They will paying only $2,922.46 in interest, saving $4,018.68.

What if they have bad credit but they adopt the same strategy and continue to send the same monthly payments regardless of the minimum payment indicated in their statements?
In this scenario the family will:

  • Pay off their credit cards in 7 years and 11 months (instead of 54 years and 11 months).
  • It will cost them  $15,829.00 in total monthly payments (instead of 32,487.76).
  • They will paying only $7,329.00 in interest, saving $16,980.88.

We believe that used correctly credit cards are great tools for personal finances; credit cards offer convenience, protection, perks, and rewards including cash back.  But at times credit cards can become a burden; if that’s your situation, we suggest you rid of your personal debt as fast as you can.  It could take as little as one year, if you take the plunge; but if that’s too radical for you, take a look at your total monthly payments for this month, and continue sending the same amount every month, as you can see from the numbers above it can make a huge difference.

You can find additional tactics to accelerate your repayment schedule in the following articles:

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The fastest way to pay down your credit card debt: the one year plunge

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

Beth sends us an email to our tipline asking:

“I am 27 years old, single, and I have too much credit card debt.
What is the fastest was to pay down credit card debt?

There are questions where if you were to ask 10 people the same question you will get 10 different answers, if not more.  And this is one of them: the fastest, best, optimal, way to pay down credit cards debt, or debt in general.

From a strategic perspective, there are three principles:

  1. Stop accumulating more debt.
  2. Slow down the compounding of interest.
  3. Pay down as much as you can, every month.

From a tactical perspective, what brought you to the point where you have to ask this question, will not take you out of debt, up to today you’ve spent more than you were earning, so a change in habits is overdue.  What got you here, won’t get you there.  And it has to be something that you feel that it is you, that you can “own” and be proud of it.

Most people will tell you to curtail your spending by going on a budget, buying generic brands instead of premium, cutting coupons, walk or take public transportation instead of driving, and these are all good ideas.  But if you are like most people, you look forward to a budget as much as you look forward to a root canal.

So, if you have tried the usual budgeting, cutting back, and coupon clipping and it didn’t work, we are proposing a new creative idea: we’ll call it, take the plunge to get rid of debt right now.  This is the one-year plan, so while it might seem a bit radical, it’s truly like a root canal: it doesn’t last long, and the benefits last a lifetime:

  • Change job: go out there and find yourself a job that pays more and has a shorter commute.  No matter what you hear about the job market there are always companies out there looking to fill a position. It’s very easy to find a job that pays at least 10% more than you current job, and once you get it, put that extra 10% from your paycheck into your monthly credit cards payment.
  • Get a part-time job:  The holiday season is coming, and stores are ramping up by hiring seasonal help.  There are also telecommuting jobs that you can do, they might be using the same skills that you use at your full time job, or you can expand your horizon and follow your dream by getting your feet wet into a market or industry that you’ve always dreamed about working in. Put the extra money to work by increasing your payments to your credit cards.
  • Now that you are looking for a new job and you have a part-time job, you will ave less time to shop.  Give yourself a moratorium on shopping: no new clothes, no new stuff for your apartment for one year.  Go dig into your closet for retro-look clothing, mix the shabby-chic look with funky, before you know you’ll be a trendsetter.
  • No eating out, and pack your lunches.  Do your grocery once a week, and make sure you are covered for your lunches at work, and your dinners at home. You don’t have much time anyway since you have two jobs.
  • Sell your unused stuff: look in your closets, basements, storage area. For sure you have old clothes, electronics, furniture and other objects that you no longer use, or that you have no used in a couple of years.  List them on Craigslist or eBay and sell them off, take the money and sent it to your credit cards company. Not only it will help lower your debt, but you’ll make someone happy by letting them buys something that they want and need at a good price. And you will de-clutter your life as well.  Everybody wins.
  • Social life: you do need a social life, but a friend in need is a friend indeed.  Tell your friends that you are taking the one-year plunge to rid yourself of your credit cards debt, so while you will still be able to go to the movies, and for one drink here and there, you won’t be able to try the newest and greatest restaurants in town, or those awesome concerts coming to town.  In exchange, offer your place as a venue for dinner and a movie (potluck), game board night, cranium night, book club, the possibilities are endless.  Money doesn’t buy friendship.  And if you know any of your friends who could use a break from their own credit cards debt, ask then to pledge with you the one year plunge.
  • Holiday presents: tell your family and friends that this Holiday season you are giving yourself the best present ever: you are getting yourself out of debt, so you will not be able to buy them presents and they should not buy you a present either.  If feasible bake them something like home made cookies just as a token of appreciation, and instead of a ready-made card, get pen and paper and write each one of them an old fashion letter telling them how much you love them, and how much they mean to you, and thank them for their support: past, present and future.  And mean it.

Keep at it, keep a journal, and keep a monthly total of your total credit cards debt, how much you’ve paid down and how long it will take to bring the total balance to ZERO!  And every month celebrate by treating yourself to something nice yet inexpensive, like a movie, or a small dinner with friends or a friend.  Some people have even gone as far as to keeping a very public blog, documenting their progress, getting support, and also collecting donations and advertising their wares for sale.

Think abut this time last year, time flew by, and your credit cards debt is still unmanageable or worse.
Then think about a year from now, how will you feel once you see that all of your credit cards statements say:

Balance = $0.00 PAID IN FULL

How good will that feel, and it was because this article that started it all, that made you take the plunge, and now you have a brand-new job, closer to home, a shorter commute, experience in a new industry where you’ve always dreamed of working, and you are debt free: life doesn’t get any better, does it?

For additional tips on how to lower the rates on your credit cards and how to make the most of your monthly payment see the article: How Many Credit Cards? And How to Reduce Credit Card Debt?


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We are on Facebook, join us there

Saturday, August 16th, 2008

Credit Cards Mojo on FacebookYou are wired, you are on the move, you are social and you are connected to your friends.

So are we.

Credit Cards Mojo wants to establish a conversation with consumers about the topic of credit cards; selection, use, and management.  We firmly believe that credit cards are essential financial tools for personal use and for small businesses.

We present to consumers the best and newest credit card offerings and news in a friendly and approachable manner.  And we want this to be a two way conversation, therefore we invite you to join us on Facebook and to give use feedback by emailing us at our our tipline: MojoTipLine (at) gmail (dot) com.

Related news:

Giving Back: helping ending poverty one blog at a time.

Friday, August 15th, 2008

Blog Action Day 2008

Just a few weeks ago this site was just the embryo of a thought and now, slowly but surely we are working hard to make things better for our audience.
We are getting excellent feedback from you all, and everyday we tweak the site here and there, things that you can see, and things behind the scenes.
Please keep those emails and comments coming, we look at your feedback as something more valuable than any consulting company out there can get us.

But enough about us.

Vincent emailed us asking if we would join Blog Action Day 2008, and we jumped at the opportunity. And this is how you can join us and Blog Action Day:

We are excited about this opportunity to give back something and do something about poverty.

Join us, and have fun doing something good.

P.S.:  Thank you Vincent for emailing us at our tipline: MojoTipLine (at) gmail (dot) com.

Get your free credit report. It’s your right, it’s the law! Meet your new friend: the 2003 Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act

Friday, August 8th, 2008

2003 Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, sounds serious and official, and it is.
Since 2003 everyone has the right to a FREE copy of their credit report from the 3 major credit bureaus:  Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.  It’s the law. Get your copy here (pdf).

And the law not only is very good to you, but it’s also very flexible, giving you 3 ways to get your report:

Annual Credit Report Request Service
P.O. Box 105281
Atlanta, GA 30348-5281

You can request all three credit reports at once, or order one at a time at different times, let’s say every 4 months (each from a different bureau) to monitor your credit for free throughout the year.

Beware that there are a couple of limitation:

  • The FREE offer is good only once every 12 months per each bureau
  • You MUST follow one of the 3 procedures highlighted above, if you contact the credit bureaus directly they will charge you.  If you have a company do it for you, that company will (probably) charge you.  Read the fine print in their advertisement and Terms & Conditions.

Do it now, and mark your calendar for next year.

Can a Credit card replace a bank account? It takes a special Credit Card, but it is indeed possible.

Friday, August 8th, 2008

Can a Credit card replace a bank Account?  It takes a special Credit Card, but it is indeed possible.

Kristine C. contacted us.  She and her husband are suffering the consequences of the snowball effect of her being laid off and his long illness.  They got behind with some bills and their credit and finances are in such a bad shape that they’ve seen all of their credit card accounts closed.  When their checking account was closed as well, they had to resort to check cashing services to cash the husband’s paycheck, and to to the Post Office to get money orders to pay their bills. But such a system is both time consuming and expensive.
Kristine C. was asking if we knew of a better way.  We didn’t.
But after some research, and emails to our network of friends and spotters (some of them are real cheapscapes and know all about money and how NOT to spend it), we got wind of a Credit Card that claims to be better than a bank account.

It’s the people at AccountNow, a pre-paid credit card that promises:

  • 100% approval guarantee (*)
  • $0 upfront fees with direct deposit
  • No overdraft fees
  • Pay Bills Online
  • Shop or use ATM’s
  • Protection from unauthorized purchases with MasterCard’s Zero Liability protection (*)
  • Help build credit by reporting your payment history
  • Member of the Better Business Bureau since 2006
  • Member FDIC

If your situation is similar to Kristine’s, and you are looking to save time, money, and build your credit with peace of mind, give AccountNow a try.


(*) See the official AccountNow Card site for details.

If Platinum is better than Gold. What’s better than Platinum?

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

Q.: If Platinum is better than Gold. What’s better than Platinum?
A.: Plum!

Introducing a new dimension in a Credit Card for Small Businesses, from who else but American Express OPEN.

American Express has listened to the many challenges faced by today’s Small Business, and they have loaded the American Express OPEN PLUM Card with features that ease those challenges in a way that other credit cards cannot:

  • Get an Early Pay Discount of up to 2% if you pay your bill in full within 10 days of your cycle cut * or,
  • Defer payment for up to 30 additional days with no interest if you pay at least 10% of your balance by your ”please pay by” date *;
  • No pre-set spending limit. *
  • Select when your monthly billing cycle ends.


American Express OPEN Plum Card

(*) See the official American Express OPEN Plum Card site for details.

As Seen on TV

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

We HAD to do it!

How many times do you remember a funny and entertaining commercial on TV, you remember what it was for (in this case – of course – credit cards) but you just can’t remember the name of the company or their web site.  We understand.  There are just too many credit card companies out there, and remembering a web site name?  Forget about it, often there’s no MOJO in their name.

So a few people, very resourceful people, have emailed our webmaster asking “what was that credit card with the funny TV ads that lets you build your own card?  You know, the one where you can put the photo of your cat and pick the interest rate and the rewards?”

It’s Capital One’s Card Lab.  Capital One pairs great offerings on their credit cards with highly creative and entertaining TV ads.


Capital One Card Lab

Up to 10% rebate on your Gas purchases!

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

BP is the most innovative company in everything they do, from oil exploration, extraction and distribution, to finding alternative energy sources, and now they extend much needed help to the very people that make BP such a great company:  their customers.

BP has partnered with CHASE to offer a credit card that offers unheard of rewards:

  • 10% rebate on gasoline purchases at all BP locations during the first two billing cycles; 5% thereafter (*);
  • 4% rebate on all eligible travel and dining expenses during the first two billing cycles, 2% thereafter (*);
  • 2% rebate on all other purchases during the first two billing cycles, 1% thereafter (*);
  • Choice of donating your rebate to the Conservation Fund.

Drive your mouse to click and apply, this is a limited offer that won’t last.


BP VISA Credit Card up to 10% Rebate on Gas Purchases

(*) See the official BP VISA card site for details.

Green is the new Black: Green Credit Card to be Good to the Planet

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

We didn’t inherith Earth from our parents, we are borrowing it from our children; it is our duty to leave this Earth in a better state than we found it when we were born. With so much pollution, pesticides, and overdevelopment it’s not an easy feat.  And every little bit helps.

Brighter Planet VISA Card, in collaboration with Bank of America enables you to do more and more just by using their credit card like you would use any other credit card.

Of course, as you use the Brighter Planet VISA Card, you’ll remind yourself to be conscious about what you buy, what you use, and to be Green, positive reinforcement at its best.


Brighter Planet Visa Card