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5 Ways To Pay Off $10,000 in Credit Card Debt

Consider a debt consolidation loan, 0% balance transfer card, or the debt snowball method.

By Jessica Martel

Written by

Jessica Martel


Jessica Martel is a professional researcher, freelance writer, and mother of two rambunctious little boys. She specializes in the areas of personal finance, financial literacy, and women and money.

Edited by Meredith Mangan

Written by

Meredith Mangan

Senior Editor

Meredith Mangan is a Senior Editor for Personal Finance, specializing in personal loans. Since 2011, she’s helped steer content creation in the areas of mortgages and loans, insurance, credit cards, and investing for major finance verticals, including Investopedia, Money Crashers, Credible, and The Balance Money.

Updated April 4, 2024

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If you’ve accumulated what seems like a mountain of credit card debt, you’re not alone. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the total outstanding credit card debt in the U.S. has surpassed $1 trillion. More borrowers are carrying credit card balances from month to month or falling behind on their payments, making it difficult to break free from debt.

Read on for five ways to pay off $10,000 in credit card debt and work toward a fresh financial start.

1. Debt consolidation loan

Debt consolidation allows you to roll multiple debts into one monthly payment, and potentially reduce your interest rate — which could mean paying less monthly toward debt or paying it off faster. One way to consolidate credit card debt is with a personal loan. But you could also use a home equity loan if you have a home with sufficient equity to qualify. 

There are several benefits to consolidating credit card debt with a single loan. First, it can simplify the debt repayment process. Instead of having to juggle multiple debts with different payment deadlines, interest rates, and creditors, you can focus on one monthly payment. Second, if you can secure a lower interest rate than what you are paying currently, you can save money on interest and potentially reduce your monthly payment.

But if you have a poor credit score, you might struggle to find a debt consolidation loan with a low enough rate to make it worth it. Quickly gauge whether a debt consolidation loan makes sense by doing the following:

  1. Prequalify for a personal loan with multiple lenders to get a sense of your rates. 
  2. Then, use a personal loan calculator to see if any of the rate quotes and repayment terms could save you money or lower your payment.
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Debt consolidation loans may carry upfront fees, like an origination or administrative fee. To see the true costs of any loan, look at its annual percentage rate (APR), which accounts for both the interest rate and upfront fees.

Related: How To Consolidate Bills

2. 0% balance transfer credit card

A 0% balance transfer can help you save a lot of money on interest if you’re able to pay off all of your debt, or most of it, during the introductory period. After this time, your rate will increase to the card’s standard APR.

First, you need to find a balance transfer offer with a 0% or low introductory rate. Check cards you already own for 0% balance transfer offers, or apply for a new 0% APR card. Then, transfer your high-interest credit card debt to that card. Introductory rates typically last from six to 21 months, depending on the card. Just know that balance transfer cards charge a transfer fee, which usually ranges from 3% to 5% of the amount transferred. 

If you have a high credit score, you’re more likely to qualify for a balance transfer credit card with a high credit limit or a low standard annual percentage rate (APR). If you have a low credit score, scour your current cards for 0% balance transfer offers, since it will be difficult to get approved for a new card with one.

Related: Debt Consolidation vs. Balance Transfer

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You can only transfer as much debt as your credit card’s limit allows.

3. Make a budget

If you have a hard time managing your money, you’ll probably benefit from a budget. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be restrictive or complicated.

Think of a budget as a plan, or even an outline, for where your money goes. You can decide in advance how you want to spend your hard-earned dollars, and budget for future goals like paying off a certain amount of debt, taking a trip, or buying a new car. A budget provides an opportunity to align your spending with your priorities. It can even be empowering.

If you don’t know how to build a budget, there are many free online budgeting tools and budgeting apps. You could also use pen and paper or an online spreadsheet. If you need help building a budget, consider reaching out to a nonprofit credit counseling agency. These often provide workshops on budgeting and debt management.

4. Use a debt repayment method

The debt snowball and debt avalanche methods are two strategies for paying down credit card debt.

The debt snowball method involves paying off your smallest debt first, while continuing to make minimum payments on all other debts. When you are finished paying off the smallest debt, apply the funds you were putting toward it to the payment on your next smallest balance, and so on. This method is best suited for those who need an early win in their debt repayment journey to stay motivated.

With the debt avalanche method, you focus on paying off highest-interest debt first, while making minimum payments on other debts. Once the highest-interest debt is paid, move on to the debt with the next highest rate, and so on. The goal of this method is to pay less interest over time, and can result in quicker debt payoff.

5. Negotiate credit card debt

If the methods above haven’t worked for you, try to negotiate with your creditors to reduce your debt or improve your terms. Credit card issuers are sometimes open to negotiating because they’d rather get some money from you than risk getting nothing.

When you speak to creditors, ask them to lower your interest rate, reduce your monthly payments, or remove fees.

If you don’t feel comfortable negotiating on your own, consider working with a nonprofit credit counseling agency, and getting on a debt management plan (DMP).

With a DMP, your credit counselor negotiates with creditors on your behalf to create a new payment plan. The aim is to make your monthly payments more affordable. Your counselor may negotiate a lower interest rate or the elimination of fees. If your creditors agree to the plan, you are responsible for making one monthly payment to your credit counselor, who will pay your creditors for you.

Before deciding if a DMP is right for you, consider if there are any initial setup fees or monthly fees to participate. Also, know that you may have to close any credit cards included in the DMP. This can reduce your access to credit overall, and may negatively impact your credit score by reducing available credit. Not participating in a DMP and missing payments, however, can have an even more negative effect on your credit.

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Be wary of debt settlement companies. These attempt — for a fee — to negotiate your debt down, but may require you to stop paying creditors as a negotiating tactic, which can result in late fees, harm to your credit, and even legal action.

Paying off credit card debt FAQ

How to pay off credit card debt fast

To pay off credit card debt fast, consider using a debt consolidation loan or a 0% balance transfer offer on a credit card. Both strategies allow you to pay off multiple credit card debts using one loan or credit card.

How to pay off $20,000 in credit card debt

To pay off $20,000 in credit card debt, you can utilize debt repayment strategies like the debt snowball or debt avalanche methods. You might also consider using a debt consolidation loan to reduce your interest rate and/or payments. If you need help, speak with a credit counselor about creating a budget or starting a DMP.

How to pay off credit card debt without a loan

To pay off credit card debt without a loan, you could consider enrolling in a debt management plan, or utilize a repayment strategy like the debt snowball or avalanche methods. You could also try negotiating with your creditors to try and land a lower monthly payment or more favorable terms.

How long will it take to pay off $10,000 in credit card debt?

How long it takes to pay off $10,000 in credit card debt will depend on several factors, including your interest rate and how much you pay per month. If you only make the minimum payments, it could take up to a decade or more to repay your debt.

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Meet the expert:
Jessica Martel

Jessica Martel is a professional researcher, freelance writer, and mother of two rambunctious little boys. She specializes in the areas of personal finance, financial literacy, and women and money.