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  Category: Articles » Finance » Personal Finance » Article

Changing your credit card can help with debt management

By Martin McAllister

Consumer debt is currently spiralling higher by the week. As various credit card companies, consumer groups and government agencies try to dispense advice to consumers about how to manage their debt, it's important for people to understand that they have a large variety of options available to them when it comes to avoiding a debt-management crisis. One such option that some credit card owners can opt for is to change their credit card provider.

Changing your credit card provider is a sensible option to take if you're struggling to pay off your current credit balance. In fact, many credit card companies offer extremely low - sometimes zero percent - rates on balance transfers. So if you think you can pay off your existing debt within six months - and the zero per cent interest rate is valid for the same period of time - then changing your credit card provider is surely an obvious move to make.

However, it's important to research thoroughly before you take this step: once the initial low or zero per cent interest rate offer has passed, the rising monthly repayments can soon offset any benefit that the introductory interest rate may have given you. Most banks will warn you when the low interest period is over, but it's vital that you maintain your financial sense and keep track of changes in your interest rate.

However, there can also be disadvantages to changing your credit card provider: credit agencies monitor the number of credit cards individuals carry, and you can obtain reports from credit card issuers to gain advice on how to deal with them. However, you may be refused if a particular lender decides you have too much outstanding credit, so take as many precautions as you can when attempting to manage your credit card debt. Make sure that you check your bill for errors every time it arrives - and it's always best to pay the whole balance if you can. Paying the minimum amount (usually only 3 per cent of the total amount) can be a dangerous way to slide into debt.

If you decide to apply for another credit card, it's vital to find out exactly how much credit will be made available to you, and what your rate of interest will be. Credit card issuers occasionally offer deals as well, thereby offering you a lower rate of interest for a longer period of time if you stay with their services. Taking such action can often be more appropriate than taking out a personal loan, although it's important to keep in mind that different financial options should be chosen depending on your personal circumstances.
About the Author
Many credit card companies offer extremely low - sometimes zero percent - rates on balance transfers.
Martin McAllister is an online freelance journalist. He lives in Scotland.

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