Our advice for wrangling Christmas credit card and buy now pay later debt.
By Rebecca Styles
Investigative Team Leader | Kaiārahi Kapa Mātoro
Credit cards and buy now pay later services (BNPL) can take a hammering as we juggle finances to pay for presents and travel.
Given the current cost of living pressures, putting purchases on plastic may feel unavoidable. However, here are some tips so Christmas debt doesn’t blight your New Year.
Top tips to get your credit card under control
Avoid minimum payments: If you can’t wipe your debt, try to pay as much as you can rather than just the minimum required. You’ll save
on interest and be debt-free faster.
Pay by direct debit: Clear your whole debt in full every month by setting up a direct debit so you don’t have to worry about missing
the payment date.
Pay in full: Partial payment means you’re paying interest – and you’re likely to be charged interest on any new purchases, as well as
on any fees owing.
Consider a low-rate card: If you’re stuck with card debt, some banks offer low-interest deals when you transfer your credit card
balance. To get the full benefit, you need to pay off the balance
during that low-interest period.
Beware of buy now pay later (BNPL)
Avoid late fees: While BNPL services don’t charge interest, late fees ranging from $2 to $10 can end up stinging. A $50 purchase with
a $10 late fee added on is equivalent to 20% interest. Low-rate credit card interest ranges from 12.69% to 13.5%.
Keep payments manageable: It can be very easy to over-commit and end up with payments you can’t afford.
Only sign up to one BNPL service: If you sign up to more than one service, it can be hard to keep track of payments and you could end
up in a debt spiral.
If your debt is out of control, take immediate action
Ditch the credit card or BNPL service. Talk to your bank and get budgeting advice.
Free budgeting advice is available from MoneyTalks (freephone 0800 345 123). MoneyTalks is run by FinCap (the National Building Financial Capability Charitable Trust), with support from the Ministry of Social Development (MSD).
You can look at the financial support options available via MSD’s Work and Income website, as well as talking to utility providers (for example, your power company) to see what flexibility with payments they can offer.
You might be able to add your card debt to your mortgage. But you’ll need to increase your mortgage repayments to cover the extra and make sure you’re not just paying the debt off over a longer period.
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