PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Chances are good you used a credit card to pay for Christmas holiday gifts this year.
Now comes paying off that debt just as interest rates go up in 2017.
“We’re going to see us as individuals pay more to the credit card and financial institutions,” Better Business Bureau President Warren King told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Tuesday.
Paying a lot more in just credit card interest payments alone, says Wallet Hub in their latest study.
Each quarter point Federal Reserve rate hike like the recent one costs consumers $1.4 billion in additional credit card interest charges, says Wallet Hub.
With additional rate hikes expected in 2017, the cost to consumers will be $2.8 billion in higher interest rates alone.
“On average, a household has around $6,000 in credit card debt,” says King. “That’s a lot of money, and a lot of interest that people are paying.”
King warns many consumers will be vulnerable to debt consolidation scams.
“Companies offering to reduce your debt or improve your credit, because if you have a higher credit score, you’ll have a better interest rate with the credit card companies, and we just want to warn people being careful about those types of companies,” King said.
With credit card debt expected to exceed $1 trillion in 2017, credit counselors say consumers should pay off credit card debt as quickly as possible because those who don’t will end up with higher interest rates.
“The interest rates are extraordinarily high,” says Amy Burd, a counselor with Advantage Credit Counseling Services.
Delano: “So people need to choose their credit card companies carefully?”
Burd: “Exactly, and one of the best ways to do that and get the best interest rate is to keep a decent credit score. I think it all comes back to paying things on time.”
Bottom line: Pay more than the minimum payment and pay it on time.