Credit Card Debt

The 5 Best Ways to Pay Down Credit Card Debt during COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has compounded the stress of credit card debt for many Americans today.  Consumers have relied more than ever before on their credit cards to cover bills and necessary purchases due to the financial impact related to job losses and shutdowns.  The following methods can prove to be helpful for consumers looking to pay down their credit card debt during the COVID-19 crisis.  

Debt Snowball Method 

One method of paying down credit card debt which many consumers have had success with is known as the debt snowball method. This method works by focusing all payments on the credit card with lowest balance first while paying the minimum payments on all others. Once that card is paid in full, the consumer then focuses on the one with the next lowest balance and so on until all credit cards are paid in full. By taking the smallest balance first, the consumer is likely to see progress towards that paying down his or her first debt. Seeing the actual progress can be motivation to keep paying down all remaining credit cards. This method is not a quick fix, however, although it does work successfully over time.  

Debt Avalanche Method 

The debt avalanche method works similarly to the snowball method. However, this process focuses on the debt with the highest interest rate first. Normally, these debts tend to be the hardest to pay down over time due to the high interest rates. The consumer takes as much money as he or she can handle and puts it towards that one card first. Once that card is paid in full, the card with the next highest interest rate is paid next until all are paid off in full. Like the snowball method, the avalanche payment method does take time and dedication for it to be truly successful. 

Payment via Personal Loan  

Many consumers have had success in paying down their multiple credit cards by consolidating their debt through a personal loanIf a consumer has multiple credit cards with high interest rates, using a personal loan to pay off all these outstanding balances can be one way of successfully consolidating multiple monthly payments into one. Personal loan interest rates tend to be lower than credit card interest rates and having one payment makes the process easier to handle in terms of budgeting. 

Balance Transfer Credit Card 

Another method of paying down multiple credit cards is to transfer balances to one credit card. Many credit companies will offer balance transfer cards with a zero percent APR for a set period of time, allowing the consumer to pay down the balance without incurring interest every month. However, it is imperative that the consumer pay the card down in full before the promotional period expires. Otherwise, the interest rates could end up being as bad as the ones before, making the process even more difficult.  

Credit Counseling and Alternative Methods 

Many times, it is a matter of needing help in organizing oneself and analyzing the situation. If a consumer is struggling to pay down his or her credit cards, working with the card issuer can be a good first step. The consumer may qualify for credit card hardship relief, especially if the person is financially struggling as a direct result of the COVID-19 crisis. Additionally, the cardholder may be willing to work with the consumer on reducing the interest rates, waiving fees, or temporarily lowering the minimum monthly payment. It may be worth contacting a non-profit credit counseling bureau, so long as the consumer researches the agency first to ensure it is credible before working with them. A professional may be able to advise how to best handle the situation from an unbiased point of view. If the situation is impossible and the consumer still is not able to continue paying on his or her debts, it may then be advisable to consult a bankruptcy attorney.  

Please click here to read more.  

If you have questions on this topic or are in financial crisis and considering filing for bankruptcy, contact an experienced Miami bankruptcy attorney who can advise you of all of your options. As an experienced CPA as well as a proven bankruptcy lawyer, Timothy Kingcade knows how to help clients take full advantage of the bankruptcy laws to protect their assets and get successful results. Since 1996 Kingcade Garcia McMaken has been helping people from all walks of life build a better tomorrow. Our attorneys’ help thousands of people every year take advantage of their rights under bankruptcy protection to restart, rebuild and recover. The day you hire our firm, we will contact your creditors to stop the harassment. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade Garcia McMaken website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.   

Medical Debt

How Medical Debt Affects Your Credit

Medical debt is a financial stressor for many Americans. A vital medical procedure or trip to the emergency room can set someone back thousands of dollars in medical bills, even with insurance coverage. However, if the patient is not able to pay back these bills, that medical debt can turn into an even bigger problem if it’s reported to the credit bureaus.

According to a study from Families USA, approximately 5.4 million Americans were laid off, losing their health insurance coverage between February and May 2020. This figure is 40 percent higher than the previous recorded annual losses. Without health care coverage, it is safe to assume many of these bills will go unpaid.  

Coronavirus, Debt Relief

Mortgage Debt Reaches Record High of $10 Trillion

The American housing market is booming, even though various aspects of the nation’s economy are struggling due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  During the last quarter of 2020, the nation’s mortgage debt load reached a record high of $10 trillion, according to figures from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Low interest rates for home mortgages is a big catalyst for this boom in the housing market.  

Consumers are taking advantage of record low interest rates when making home purchases. At the start of November 2020, mortgage rates reached a 12th record low in 2020.  As a result, mortgage debt jumped by $85 billion between July and September 2020, reaching a high of $9.86 trillion.  

Business Bankruptcy, COVID-19

Stimulus Relief Fails to Save Hundreds of Businesses

The financial ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic have been significant for countless businesses throughout the United States.  At the start of the pandemic, federal stimulus funds were issued in various forms to help businesses survive the economic crisis. However, as the virus continues, many of these businesses are being forced to close.  

According to a Wall Street Journal analysis of legal filings and government data, over 300 U.S. companies that received approximately half a billion dollars in stimulus relief have also filed for bankruptcy this year. These 300 companies employ a total of 23,400 workers who are being adversely affected.  

Credit Card Debt

What to Do After Paying Off Your Credit Card Debt

Credit card debt is a source of stress for many consumers. Once a large balance is accrued, the high interest rates can make credit cards nearly impossible to pay off.  Whether you have been able to pay off your credit card debt or have had the debt discharged in bankruptcy, it is important to modify your financial behavior moving forward.   

Monitor Your Credit Score 

Consumers should monitor their credit reports on an annual basis to ensure that there are no inaccuracies. Once a credit card is paid off in full, that should reflect on the person’s credit report. Additionally, paying down a large sum of debt will have a positive effect on the consumer’s credit score. As the person’s credit score goes up, his or her chances of being approved for financing in the future also improves. After paying off debt, the consumer should check his or her credit report to ensure that this payment is reflected on his or her score. To make sure that the consumer’s credit score improves, periodic monitoring of his or her credit report should also occur.  

Debt Collection

Debt Collectors Will Soon Be Reaching Consumers via Text and Social Media

Debt collectors will soon have another way to reach consumers. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released a ruling outlining how collectors will soon be able to reach consumers via text messaging and social media The federal government has cleared the way for collection agencies to send unlimited texts, emails and even instant messages on social media platforms. 

Debt collectors will be required to include instructions on how to opt out of these messages within the text of the communication. The CFPB will also limit collectors to calling consumers to seven calls per week per debt.  

Credit Card Debt, Debt Collection

Debt Does Expire- Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Wait for the Clock to Run Out

At some point, consumer debt is so old that it is no longer legally collectible. At this point, the debt is said to be past the statute of limitations, meaning no creditor or debt collector can take the consumer to court to collect on the debt. However, even though creditors cannot collect on debt past a certain time period, it does not mean this is the best strategy for consumers to seek in cancellation of this debt.  

Every state has a set of laws that govern how long a party has to pursue a legal cause of action. After the timeline has passed, the individual can no longer file a lawsuit. For debt collection, the statute of limitation hinges on the type of debt. In Florida, the statute of limitations for debts involving written contracts, such as personal loans, is five years. The statute of limitations is four years for debts that stem from oral contracts or revolving accounts, the most common of these being credit card debt. After that point, the creditor is not able to legally collect on the debt. 

student loan debt, Student Loans

Baby Boomers and Higher-Income Earners Carry Largest Amount of Student Loan Debt

Student loan debt affects more than 44 million Americans, a collective $1.67 trillion in outstanding student loans.  Members of the Baby Boomer generation owe the largest portion of student loan debt, as well as borrowers who earn higher incomes. 

According to a recent study by Fidelity, that surveyed 250,000 outstanding student loans, Baby Boomers owed 33 percent (33%) more debt in 2020 than they did in 2019. The biggest reason for this increase has to do with the number of Baby Boomers who took out Parent Plus loans to help their children and grandchildren attend college.  

Coronavirus, COVID-19, Credit Card Debt

How the Pandemic is Changing Americans’ Credit Card Habits

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has changed the way of life for consumers in both good and bad ways. One change has to do with the way Americans utilize their credit cards post-pandemic. 

A recent study conducted by Money and Morning Consult surveyed how American consumers have been using their credit cards during this crisis. What the study found was Americans are continuing to use their cards. However, the way by which they are using their cards has changed.  

Bankruptcy Law

What Happens When You File for Bankruptcy? 

The bankruptcy process is meant to give consumers who are struggling financially a fresh start. However, many consumers hold off due to the fear of filing for bankruptcy, even if it is the best option. Bankruptcy cases have both positive aspects, as well as negative ones, that go along with beginning and successfully finalizing a case. It is important to understand how a bankruptcy case works before moving forward with filing so that the person filing knows what to expect.  

Automatic Stay 

One of the most positive aspects of proceeding with a consumer bankruptcy case is the automatic stay that accompanies the filing. As soon as a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy case is initiated, an automatic stay of all collection efforts against the filer is issued. What this means is the consumer’s creditors are temporarily blocked from moving forward on collecting any outstanding debt. This stay also stops wage garnishments, foreclosures, or completion of legal collections cases. The purpose of the automatic stay is to give the consumer a chance to work with the bankruptcy trustee on determining how various debts should be handled. A creditor can file a request to continue collection even though an automatic stay has been issued, but they can only continue if the request is granted.