(WJET/WFXP) – People across the United States had a total of almost $900 billion in credit card debt at the beginning of 2021.
Fortunately, according to a study of the 50 states plus the District of Columbia from personal finance website WalletHub, Pennsylvania has been one of the most responsible.
Residents of the commonwealth have a median credit card balance of $1,871 dollars, and based on average payments of $134 per month, the average timeframe to pay off that balance is the sixth fastest in the U.S., at just under 10 and a half months.
Cindy Tullio, credit card manager of Erie Federal Credit Union, said she is not surprised
“More and more, what we have seen is that consumers have become more aware of the negative financial impact of long term credit card debt,” said Tullio. “Consumers are no longer relying on their credit cards for spending… [also,] less travel, vacations and overall expenses that consumers may normally use a credit card for have declined due to the pandemic and stimulus money. Conversely, economic fear, the unemployment rate and other similar factors have added to the use of less credit and the paydown of debt.”
Stacy Lundell, branch manager of the Tendto Credit Union in Girard, said a lot of people have used their stimulus money wisely during the pandemic.
“Personally, I’ve seen a lot of people being more cautious about their debt,” said Lundell. “Some of the reliefs they’ve gotten, they’re looking to pay that off and have a chance to get ahead on things.”
Representatives from both credit unions helped put together this list of helpful tips for credit card users:
- Budgeting is always important so you can see where you’re spending your money and make adjustments
- Always make on-time payments to avoid any late fees or additional charges
- Focus on paying off higher-interest rate cards to see how you can pay them off faster, because they can cost you more in the long run
- Try to pay more than the required monthly minimum payment. This will help to pay off the balance sooner.
- If you can, pay off your credit card balance in full each month. By doing so, this will save money and avoid any interest being accrued on your account balance.
- If you are having trouble making payments, never just stop paying. A delinquency on your credit report can have a huge impact on your credit score and affect your financial future for years.
- Balance transfer offers can be good or bad. Be aware of fees and terms. Those that offer no-interest rates only do so for a certain amount of time
- Consider doing the consolidating loan — signature or home-equity. Having that pay-off set date rather than the revolving credit means you know that you will eventually pay it off.
- Finally, if any hardship should occur, make sure to discuss with a certified financial counselor to develop a strategy and plan.