Managing Debt

How to Undo Your Credit Card Spending Binge

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It’s ridiculously easy to lose control of your credit card spending. Reversing it may not be so simple, but there are ways to undo your credit card spending binge and keep your impulse-shopping from wrecking your finances.

Of course, a huge part of fixing the problem involves changing your behavior, so put away the credit cards for a while, and stop adding to your bills.

1. Get Your Money Back

If you can return any frivolous purchases, consider it. Check the retailer’s return policy: Is there a time frame within which returns must be made? Do the tags need to be attached? Can you get a full refund, or will you have to accept store credit?

Store credit isn’t going to help you pay the bills, but if it’s at a store you normally visit for everyday items, it could help your budget. Just make sure going back to the retailer won’t tempt you to drop any more cash.

2. Find Extra Cash

Your ill-advised purchases or unwanted holiday gifts could help you close your spending gap. There are several services that allow you to sell or trade your gift cards, and while you won’t get the full value back, it’s better to have some cash on hand than have gift cards sitting in your wallet, unused. Some options include Plastic Jungle, Card Pool and Gyft, but just like returning physical goods, you want to avoid trading for or buying a discounted gift card you don’t need.

You can also sell something you don’t want, using online communities like Craigslist or creating a seller’s account with a retailer such as Amazon. Remember that you may have to pay shipping costs or surrender some fees to the servicer, but it may be an option.

3. Make a Debt-Defeating Plan

If getting your money back isn’t an option and overspending put you in debt, you have a few options to make it more manageable.

Despite how overwhelming your credit card bills may be, the most important thing to do is pay them on time, even if you can’t pay them in full. Payment history is the largest factor in your credit scores, and one late payment could cost you. Since good credit scores will help you access other forms of credit, you want to do everything you can to have them, so make sure you stay on top of payments and check your credit scores to see where you can improve.

If you have huge bills to pay, you can consider taking out a personal loan, transferring your balance to a credit card with a lower interest rate or taking out a home equity loan — there are many ways to combine your debt in ways that make it easier to tackle and less expensive.

You should not apply for credit you won’t qualify for, so get a good idea of your financial picture before making any decisions. You can see how your debt usage and payment history, among other things, have impacted your credit scores with Credit.com’s free Credit Report Card, through which you can see if there are decent personal loan or balance transfer options available to you.

Sometimes, all you need to do is make a plan that doesn’t require applying for new credit or selling your belongings. Look at your budget (or make one — you really need one), find areas you can trim your expenses and put that extra money toward the debt. The faster you get rid of it, the less it will cost you in the long run.

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