The facts tell us that the average amount owed by all the Americans households that owe money on credit cards is $14,500. That’s almost five times what Clive Clueless, the intrepid mountain climber, found himself owing, but the logic is the same: if you make only the minimum payment on a credit card balance, it’ll take forever to pay off and cost significantly more than what you borrowed in the first place.
The average American has a little better deal on their card than Clive Clueless as a first-time credit card user:
• 14% APR
• $100 annual fee
• Minimum payment on this card is “interest plus 1%” or at least 2.167% of their balance a month (14% APR divided by 12 months = 1.167% plus 1%)
All that translates into a monthly payment of $300. And means credit card Joe is paying $170 a month just in interest.
Payment - $300
Amount that goes to pay interest - $170
Amount that goes toward paying off his balance - $130
And average credit card Joe has to earn $400 to come up with that payment because of income tax.
Joe's earnings - $400
Tax rate - 25%
Income taxes he pays - $100
Net after taxes - $300
If Joe makes the minimum payment, it’ll take over 30 years to repay his debt and cost him over $16 grand. Even paying $400 a month (and forgo buying that new car), it will take 4 years to pay it off.
|Pay-off Plan Comparisons|
|Make large payments||Make medium-sized payments||Make minimum payments|
|Beginning credit card balance||$14,500||$14,500||$14,500|
|Number of payments||21||48||370|
|Balance after 24 months||$0||$8,149||$11,392|
|Interest paid so far||$1,887||$3,249||$3,626|
|Balance after 48 months||$0||$8,951|
|Interest paid so far||$4,460||$6,474|
|Balance after 10 years||$4,341|
|Interest paid so far||$11,852|
|Balance after 20 years||$1,300|
|Interest paid so far||$15,401|
|Balance after 30.8 years||$0|
|Interest paid so far||$16,417|