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It's time to assess your post-holiday credit card debt

In the weeks leading up to the holiday season, our blog spent some time discussing a few simple steps that consumers could take to avoid credit card mishaps. Now that the last of the cookies are gone, the ornaments are packed away and everything else associated with "the most wonderful time of the year" is officially behind us, it's time to assess how you did.

If it turns out that your credit card statement shows that your holiday season was perhaps a bit more merry and your wallet left a bit more light than you anticipated, experts indicate that you don't have to panic.

At the outset, experts advise people left with a sizeable post-holiday credit card balance to resist the temptation to ignore the matter. Instead, they urge them to address the issue head-on, paying down as much of the debt as they can as quickly as possible.

While this can often be accomplished by setting up a rigorous repayment schedule and exercising the necessary self-discipline, experts indicate that there are other viable options for people to consider.

Balance transfers   

One option for those with solid credit, say experts, is to consider taking advantage of credit cards with promotional offers of zero percent balance transfers. This essentially means transferring the holiday balance to one of these cards and accumulating no interest as the debt is paid down within the applicable timeframe, which can last anywhere from 12 to 21 months.

Experts indicate that those considering this option should be aware that the failure to pay off the entire transferred balance within the promotional timeframe will mean that any remainder is suddenly subject to double-digit interest rates. In addition, if the balance is too large, it might not be possible to transfer it in its entirety.

Personal loan    

While it may seem somewhat surprising, experts indicate that traditional banks and credit unions are now offering personal loans to help pay off credit card debt with fixed interest rates (typically 5 to 6 percent for those with good credit), and a repayment period of three to five years.

Here, experts caution that there might be relatively steep upfront fees for these loans and even less wiggle room in terms of repayment, as uniform monthly payments must be made no matter what.

While it's likely reassuring for people to know that they multiple options for paying down holiday debt, they can always take comfort in the fact that they still have options if their it becomes unmanageable despite their best efforts.  

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