How long will it take to pay off your credit card? Use our calculator
March 30, 2023
3 min read
What we'll cover
What factors determine how long it will take to pay off your credit card
How to calculate how long it will take to pay off your debt
Your options for paying off credit card debt
Carrying a credit card balance can be stressful. Even if you’re making regular monthly payments, you may feel like you’re barely making a dent. If that sounds like you, we’re here to help adjust your perspective with some helpful methods and a quick calculator to help you strategize paying off your debt.
Easy credit card calculations
Want to find out when you could be out of credit card debt? To figure out how long it will take to pay off your credit card, you need to know your total balance, interest rate and how much you pay each month. Then, let our calculator punch the numbers for you:
Credit card interest rates
When you use a credit card, you’re essentially using a loan from the card issuer. As with most loans, you will be charged interest. The interest rate on your credit card is the percentage of your purchases you pay to borrow the money. For example, say the balance of the principal on your credit card is $1,250, and your interest rate is 15%. You multiply your balance by 15%, adding another $187.50 to your balance.
You may hear the terms interest rate and annual percentage rate (APR) used interchangeably, but they’re not quite the same when it comes to credit cards. APR is the interest rate advertised plus any fees, so APR gives a more complete picture of how much it costs to borrow money using a credit card.
Interest and fees for credit cards also depend on how you use the account. You might have one APR for purchases, another for cash advances and yet another for balance transfers. Don’t forget about additional fees like late payments and annual renewal.
The interest rate and APR on your credit card have a big impact on how long it will take to pay off your debt. You get charged interest every month you have a balance, so the higher the interest rate and APR, the larger the amount you owe becomes. A larger balance will then take longer to pay off if you pay the same amount each month.
How to pay off your credit card debt
The first step to eliminating your debt is knowing exactly how much you owe. Grab your latest bill and note your total balance. Now that you know where you’re starting, you can take a few different approaches to pay it off. If you have the money, the easiest and quickest way is to pay the entire balance in one payment. Unlike other types of debt — like a mortgage or student loan debt — credit card debt is considered riskier thanks to its comparatively high interest rates and the fact that it doesn’t contribute to assets that can increase in value over time (like a home).
More than likely, though, you’ll need to pay over time. You have a few different options for how you can approach paying off your debt.
Particularly if you have more than one source of debt (like multiple credit cards, a car loan or another type of loan), you might consider the snowball method. With this approach, you pay off your smallest debt first, then move to the next smallest and so on. The snowball method is motivating and can help you stay on track.
Another option is the avalanche method. With this approach, you make the most significant payments to the debt with the highest interest rate. It takes longer than the snowball approach, but you pay less interest over time.
Credit card consolidation
If you have multiple credit cards, consolidating your debt may be advantageous. With a balance-transfer credit card, you can transfer your debt to a new card with a lower interest rate (in some cases, you may even be able to get a card with zero interest). But keep in mind you may incur transfer fees. Shop around to see if credit card consolidation could help you pay less and make it to the debt finish line faster.
How credit card debt impacts your credit score
Carrying a balance on your credit card is stressful and can also impact your credit score. This three-digit number, which ranges from 300 to 850, helps lenders determine how likely you are to repay debts. It can affect whether you qualify for a loan, the size of the loan you are eligible for and the APR on that loan.
The primary way credit card debt impacts your credit score is through your credit utilization ratio. This number refers to how much available credit you’re using at any given time. A lower credit utilization rate will have a positive impact on your score. An ideal credit utilization ratio varies by lender, but in general, you should aim for 30% or lower.
Find the right payoff schedule for you
Paying off your credit card can feel like a daunting task. But figuring out how long it will take you to reach that goal can help you stay motivated. Use our credit payoff calculator to determine how long it will take you to become debt-free. Then, put a plan in action to make it happen.