Are you regretting the Christmas credit card binge?

Do you regret your credit card spending, especially over the Christmas season? The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) have advice on how to start tackling that debt.

Lifestyle Reporter

Reporter:

Lifestyle Reporter

Are you regretting the Christmas credit card binge?

Tackle your credit card debt once and for all.

We’ve all been there …that impulse purchase, the deal of a lifetime, the “I deserve it” item that we threw on the credit card and forgot all about.
All too often it is only when our credit card bill arrives that we begin to regret some of our spending. If this sounds like you don’t panic - you are not alone.
Here are some of the credit card regrets you told CCPC about in 2017.

Your top five credit card regrets
- impulse buying something you never use;
- buying a “deal” in the sales that ended up not being a great deal;
- buying too many toys for the kids that they never played with - in many cases they preferred the box the toy came in!;
- taking out cash with your credit card;
- maxing out your card but still paying items off years later.

Time to tackle your credit card debt
It’s never too late to tackle your debt. There are some simple steps you can take to bring your balance under control even if you can’t pay it all off in the short-term:

1. Face up to it
Ignoring your bill won’t make it go away. At least pay the minimum balance to avoid late payment fees and your credit record being damaged.
Look at your past spending. Take a typical month and look at what you are using your credit card for. Is it for essential spending or are there items – for example monthly subscriptions - you don’t use? If you forensically examine your spending you will usually see a pattern emerging.

2. Stop using your card if you can
Now that you know what you are using your credit card for can you change your spending habits? For example, if you are using your card to buy your lunch out every day why not bring your lunch in and maybe limit eating out to once a week.
Work out how much you can repay each month. Try and pay as much as you can off your balance each month. The clearing your credit card calculator on www.ccpc.ie will show you the impact of paying extra off your balance.
For example if your credit card balance is €1,000 and you pay off €50 each month at an interest rate of 17%, the calculator shows you that it will take two years to repay the balance, provided you stop using the card. If you increase your repayments to €100 per month, you could clear your balance in 11 months (13 months earlier) so every cent counts.

3. Switch to a 0% or low interest card
See if you can switch to a credit card that has a lower rate of interest, or 0% interest on the balance you transfer. Check out the credit card comparison on www.ccpc.ie to see what rates are currently on offer. If you are able to move your balance to a credit card with 0% interest for a period of time, then every cent you pay will reduce your debt.

4. Check your balance regularly
Choose a credit card where you can access your balance online. This will help you keep track of your credit card balance and how much you are spending.

5. Go nuclear and get rid of your card altogether
Would a debit card be a better option for you? Or, you could get a prepaid card that can be used wherever a credit card is accepted.
For more help on ditching your credit card debt visit the CCPC’s website - www.ccpc.ie

Don't forget, if you find your self in debt and need help there are plenty of places you can go for advice.
MABS - Money Advice and Budgeting Service - is a free service which will help you to tackle your debt.
Contact the MABS Helpline on 076 1 07 2000. The helpline is open Monday through Friday from 9am until 8pm. Take that first step and get the help you need.