A lot of Americans are in credit card debt — about 39%, according to data from the Pew Charitable Trusts — and there’s a new tool that could help them pay down their credit card balances while saving money: SimplyCredit.
The tool started out as a way to save on credit card interest, according to Karthik Sethuraman, SimplyCredit’s co-founder and CEO. It’s an invite-only product where consumers can sign up for a revolving line of credit at a fixed interest rate (as opposed to compounding interest), which they use to pay off their credit card balances in full. Users then make payments toward the line of credit, which presumably has a lower interest rate than their credit cards do. Consumers expressed interest in using SimplyCredit to organize and pay off their credit card balances without the line of credit, and SimplyCredit plans to open that tool to the public in the coming weeks.
How the New Tool Works
You connect your credit cards to your SimplyCredit account, as well as your checking account. You set an amount you will pay out of your checking account every month (as well as a minimum amount that must always remain in that account), and SimplyCredit will use that amount to pay your credit card bills according to your priorities: You can choose to pay according to what will minimize what you pay in interest or what will improve your credit score. These are things you could figure out on your own by calculating interest or applying payments to cards with balances that are close to their credit limits, but SimplyCredit does the math for you and automates the payments. (You can use a credit card payoff calculator like this one to do the math.)
The option to have someone else do the calculations for you is part of what makes the tool appealing, as is the ability to set up automatic payments. Again, you can also do that with your credit card issuer, but if you want to manage multiple cards from one place, SimplyCredit is an option. You tell SimplyCredit when your card payments are due, and it makes those payments seven-to-10 days in advance of that date, to avoid a late payment, Sethuraman said.
Doing Your Due Diligence
Of course, it’s important to check and make sure your payments are posting as planned, regardless if you’re using a credit card payoff tool or just scheduling payments yourself. Credit card payments more than 30 days past due could have a seriously negative effect on your credit score or make your interest rates on your credit cards go up. (That’s something the credit-line version of SimplyCredit helps you avoid, because it pays the credit card companies in full, and you work with one lender. The product services fewer than 100 people right now, Sethuraman said.)
No matter how you plan to pay off your credit card debt, the important thing is to use a strategy you’re comfortable with and choose reasonable goals. As you pay down your credit card balances, you may see your credit score improve. You can review your credit reports for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com and check your credit scores for free every 30 days on Credit.com.
More on Managing Debt:
- The Credit.com Debt Management Learning Center
- How to Pay Off Credit Card Debt
- 5 Tips for Consolidating Credit Card Debt