Stretching Your Dollar... Paying your credit cards off sooner

By Maureen O'Boyle - bio l email

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - For the eleventh straight month, shoppers have cut their credit card usage.  While that sounds like good news, experts attribute the drop to joblessness.

Americans still owe an astounding $866 billion in credit card debt, a number that only grows the longer people struggle to pay off those cards.

The average family has accrued about $7,500 in credit card debt.  Most fall into a vicious cycle of paying only the minimum.

We found a web site that helps you figure out what it will take to pay those cards off and how long it will take.

Bankrate.com is a free web site.  They make their money from credit card and bank ads, but they have some great tools for calculating just how much you owe.

We spoke with a credit counselor at United Family Services who says used properly, bankrate.com, can be a big help in climbing out of the hole of credit card debt.

The site has a debt management field that walks you through all the different scenarios.

For example, they have a feature that tells you how much to add to your minimum payment due to see a balance of zero.

We entered a debt of $5,000 at a rate of 15 percent.  We found that if we bumped up the minimum payment due by $100 a month, we cut the payoff time by two decades.

That's right, increasing your payment by $100 a month might get you out of  debt 20 years sooner.

Click here to check out Bankrate.com.