How Long Does Credit Card Debt Reduction Take?

Setting limits on the timing of your debt reduction strategy.

Get ready to erase your debt with credit card debt reduction

When it comes to high-interest credit card debt, repayment can take decades if you’re only making minimum payments – no kidding! If you have a $5,000 debt on a credit card at 18% APR and you only make minimum payments, it will take you 273 payments to pay off the debt completely on a standard minimum payment schedule. That’s almost 23 years of your life!

The information below can help you understand why debt repayment on a minimum payment schedule takes so long, as well as what you can do to build momentum so you can reach zero faster. If you’re struggling to get ahead of your debt payments and you need help finding a solution to eliminate your debt faster, we can help. Call Consolidated Credit today at or complete an online application to request a confidential debt and budget analysis from a certified credit counselor at no charge.

Why minimum payment debt reduction doesn’t work

Minimum payment schedules pay off a small percentage of your current balance, typically between one and five percent. For examples on our site like the one you see above, we set minimum payments at 2.5% of the balance, which is standard for most major credit issuers.

While minimum payment requirements give you the luxury of paying the debt you take on off over time, there are several issues that make a minimum payment schedule a less-than-ideal way to pay off debt:

  1. With typically high interest rates of 15% APR or more, the majority of each payment you make goes to paying off interest charges accrued on your balance instead of the principal debt.
    1. So on the initial example, your starting minimum payment requirement on that $5,000 debt would be $125.00
    2. However, interest charges eat up $75, so you really only paid off $50 of the debt
  2. After a certain point in a minimum payment schedule, you hit the $15 minimum threshold, which you pay over and over again, but barely make a dent in your debt
    1. So out of that 273 payments you made on your $5,000 debt, every payment made after payment no. 212 is $15
    2. Again, about $8 of that goes to interest charges, so you’re essentially maintaining a cycle of debt by making minimum payments

So on a minimum payment schedule you wind up paying off the debt for 22 years and 9 months and over that time you’d pay $6,923.13 in interest charges. That’s right – with minimum payments only, you actually pay more in interest charges than amount of debt you originally incurred. The total cost of your debt elimination would be $11,923.13.

This is why you want to pay more than the minimum requirements on your credit cards.

Credit card debt reduction with fixed payments

You can accelerate the timeline for credit card debt reduction by making larger payments on each of your credit cards one at a time. It’s more efficient to focus on one credit card debt at a time, making minimum payments on the others while you put all of your extra cash to reducing one individual debt. This usually works better than just putting a little extra cash towards every credit card debt at the same time – you save money and pay off your debts faster.

Ideally, fixed payments are the most efficient way to pay off a large credit card debt. You determine how much money you have available to pay and pay that amount every month. Even if you just set initial minimum payment requirement as a fixed payment it helps immensely.

As you can see, the more you can increase the amount of money you put towards your credit card debt, the faster you can pay it off – which, in turn, also minimizes interest charges.

The five-year threshold in debt reduction plans

As you develop a plan to reduce your debt, you want to aim for a strategy that allows you to eliminate your credit card debt in full within five years. Experts agree, if a debt reduction strategy takes longer than five years to execute, you may be better off looking for alternative methods of repayment, such as debt consolidation and credit counseling. So if you can’t make payments large enough to pay off all your debt within five years, it’s time to start looking for alternative methods of debt relief.

In this case, your first stop should be to chat with a certified credit counselor for a free debt and budget analysis. They can look at your income and budget, while taking your debt and credit into account to help you find the best, most expedient way that you can get out of debt. It’s a good way to get an expert opinion on your situation so you can have peace of mind that you’re choosing the right solution that will work in the right amount of time.

How long does reduction take after consolidation?

In most cases when you’re looking for a debt relief strategy that will allow you to pay back everything you owe as quickly as possible, you’ll generally choose between one of three options for debt consolidation. This is where you roll your debts into one simplified payments that’s lower than what you’re paying on all of your debts in total.

The timing on reduction using a debt consolidation method really depends on your situation and which option you choose:

"We are really proud to recommend Consolidated Credit" Kathleen Cannon, President & CEO of United Way of Broward County. Consolidated Credit Counseling Services, Inc. is pleased to announce our partnership with the United Way as a United Way Chairman’s Circle Organization.

"We are really proud to recommend Consolidated Credit" Kathleen Cannon, President & CEO of United Way of Broward County. Consolidated Credit Counseling Services, Inc. is pleased to announce our partnership with the United Way as a United Way Chairman’s Circle Organization.

All Consolidated Credit counselors are certified personal financial counselors (CFC) We've helped 5 million people get out of debt! Call us today and see what we can do for you.

Consolidated Credit is honored to receive the 2012 Excellence in Financial Literacy Education (EIFLE) Nonprofit Organization of the Year award. The EIFLE awards acknowledge innovation, dedication and the commitment of organizations that support financial literacy education worldwide. See what Consolidated Credit can do for you.

Consolidated Credit is honored to receive the 2012 Excellence in Financial Literacy Education (EIFLE) Nonprofit Organization of the Year award. The EIFLE awards acknowledge innovation, dedication and the commitment of organizations that support financial literacy education worldwide. See what Consolidated Credit can do for you.

The National Industry Standards for Homeownership Education and Counseling are a set of guidelines for quality homeownership and counseling services. Industry professionals who adopt these standards can be trusted to provide consistent, high quality advice.
Click here to learn more.

Consolidated Credit Consulting Services, Inc. has been verified as the owner or operator of the Web site located at www.consolidatedcredit.org. Official records confirm Consolidated Credit Consulting Services, Inc. as a valid business. Call us today and see what we can do for you.

Consolidated Credit is a Certified ISO 9001 company, as verified through Bureau Veritas Certification.

Time tested and customer trusted. Consolidated Credit Counseling Services has been a BBB Accredited Business since 1998 and has a current A+ rating. Call us today and see what we can do for you.

View the Consolidatedcredit.org review status

Time tested and customer trusted. Consolidated Credit Counseling Services has been a BBB Accredited Business since 1998 and has a current A+ rating. Call us today and see what we can do for you.

View the Consolidatedcredit.org review status

Consolidated Credit is proud to be an ANAB accredited member. Accreditation by a recognized and respected body such as ANAB ensures the impartiality and competence of our company. To see what we can do for you, give us a call.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development - HUD's mission is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. Consolidated Credit is proud to be a member of HUD and also part of the Hope Now Alliance.

You can save!

With this amount of debt, you'd pay around $xx.xx on a DMP.

FREE Debt Consultation