The FTC Sheds Light on the True Cost of Minimum Payments

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By now we all know that making only minimum payments on a credit card isn’t ideal. However, do you have a true sense of how much it can set you back? The FTC has recently released an article highlighting just how detrimental the “minimum payments only” strategy can be to your finances.

The Problem with Minimum Payments

Initially, the premise of credit cards can seem pretty appealing. “Buy now, pay later,” and in some cases you even earn rewards for your purchases. But if these purchases aren’t paid off by the end of the month, the amount becomes debt. And credit card debt is one of the main obstacles to achieving financial freedom.

That’s in large part because these cards are set up to lock you into paying for an item for months (and often years) after the initial transaction. Plus, with interest rates as high as 20% or more on some cards, buying on credit and making minimum monthly payments means that you’ll be paying far more than the original price.

What’s one surefire way to ensure that you’ll be paying for years on a small initial purchase? Making only minimum payments. These are payments suggested by your credit card issuer to cover your accrued interest but almost none of your principal. These payments aren’t intended by the credit card company to help you get out of debt but rather to acquire a reliable monthly stream of payments from you. The problem is, you wouldn’t necessarily know that unless you read your credit card statement carefully. And that’s how the prevalence of credit card debt has become such a problem.

For direct evidence of the  financial effect of making minimum only payments, check this calculator out and plug in your numbers. The results may shock you.

How You Can Work Your Way out of the Minimum Payment Cycle

If you’re stuck in a monthly minimum payment cycle, there is hope for you to break free! By targeting one account and paying extra on that, you can speed up your repayment and pay less overall interest over time. Two methods of doing this are the debt snowball and debt avalanche – with the snowball focusing on the smallest balance first and the avalanche focusing on the highest interest rate first.

Not sure how you can apply any more to your payments than you already are? One way to get around this is to re-do your budget to look for areas you can reduce in frequency or cut altogether. You could also explore ideas to earn extra income. Even a small amount extra on top of your minimum payment can make a huge difference over time!

There’s no better time than now to take control of your credit card debt and create a repayment plan that schedules above minimum payments that are keeping you in the red. Go above and beyond – especially when it comes to monthly payments!

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  • TheBrokeProfessional

    Great post. If you make minimum payments month after month, you’re right where the credit card companies want you!

    • Claire Murdough

      Thanks!! The moment I realized what little impact I was making on my student loan repayment by paying minimums was quite a shock. Yikes!

  • Six Figures Under

    I wrote a post on the myths of minimum payments recently. I think it’s an important topic that people really need to learn about. I was astounded as I crunched the numbers to see if you can get out of debt by making only minimum payments.

    • Claire Murdough

      I just read your post and it’s great! Crunching numbers is such an eye opening experience. Shocking, to say the least!