credit card billHave your monthly credit card bills been keeping you up at night? With high credit card interest rates and rising credit card debt, as noted by Experian, you’re not alone if you’ve been feeling overwhelmed about your monthly credit card bill. Before you miss a payment and damage your credit, learn how to lower your credit card payments and make them more manageable. Keep reading as we detail 5 strategies for lowering your monthly credit card bill.

Make larger payments

Credit card issuers use a percentage (usually 1% to 5%) of your total balance at the end of a billing cycle to calculate what your minimum-due payment will be. The percentage will depend on the company and the type of card you have. Some cards require a minimum dollar amount for low balances and a percentage for higher balances. For example, Citi (a NextAdvisor advertiser) charges a $35 minimum payment for very low balances and a 1% minimum balance plus the current interest rate (you can find this cardmember agreement information online under the payments section).

Because of this minimum-payment-due calculation structure, making the minimum payments on your cards will keep you in debt forever. If you’re carrying high balances on your credit card, the only way for you to lower your credit card payments and get out of debt will be to make larger payments. Here’s why: If your bill is $6,500 with an APY of 18.9% and you only make minimum monthly payments of $130 (2% of the balance), it would take you over 30 years to pay off. You’ll end up paying over $25,433.70, according to our friends at Bankrate.

The easiest way to start making larger payments to your credit card is to adjust your household budget and direct as many resources as you can toward tackling those credit card payments until you can get your credit card balances paid off.

Stop using the card … for now

You can get your credit card balances paid off quickly if you stop using your credit cards and reduce spending altogether. Consider putting your cards in secure storage, such as a locked drawer at home, for a few months, but remember it’s not a permanent solution. This hiatus will be until you get your balances paid down and under control.

Credit cards are useful tools that offer better layers of fraud protection for everyday purchases in ways that cash and debit cards can’t. But for now, using cash on hand (in the form of debit cards or actual cash) might be wiser to help you manage and lower your debt.

Negotiate a lower interest rate

You can lower your credit card payments by leveraging the fact that credit card issuers want to keep their customers. Companies have entire retention departments dedicated to managing ways to keep customers happy, so it pays to ask for things like lower interest rates and credit limit increases.

If you are a long-time customer and have a good standing with on-time payments, use that and politely ask if they would reduce your annual percentage rate (APR). Explain your situation, tell them you have a budget and a plan to pay down the current balance and that a reduction on the interest rate would make balance pay-off faster so you can get back to using the card sooner.

They may or may not give it to you, or they may offer you a balance transfer card (keep reading), but it’s worth a try.

Transfer the balance

You can save a lot of money by transferring your balance to a credit card that offers a long 0% intro APR period. Balance transfers are also the quickest way to avoid interest on credit card debt. Here’s how they work: transfer the balance from your existing credit card to a new card with a long 0% intro APR on balance transfers. You then make payments on the new credit card, which isn’t charging you interest, so every payment you make will be going straight to the principal. Some of our favorite balance transfer credit cards give you up to 21 months to pay off your balance!

Although you’ll likely have to pay a balance transfer fee of 3% to 5% of the balance transfer amount, this one-time fee is often worth paying when you compare it to your current interest rate and how long the 0% intro APR is. Additionally, be aware of your payment timeframe, as you want to be sure you pay off the balance before the 0% intro APR runs out.

Work on boosting your credit scores

Knowing ways to improve your credit score will get you into a higher tier of borrowers. You’ll get access to better rates, which can lower your monthly payments. Your current credit score will also affect whether or not you’ll be able to get a reasonable rate on a balance transfer card.

It’s important to understand the difference between your credit score and credit history. Your credit history contains all the information about you (name, address, employment history, a list of lenders and any credit and payment history), while your credit score is a numerical value that sums up your creditworthiness. And there are different scoring models, FICO and VantageScore being just two. Lenders and other entities use scoring models to sum up whether you’re a good candidate to lend to, which is why improving your credit score by paying down your balances and managing debt properly is so important.

Things to remember

Having high credit card payments every month is very stressful, but taking these steps to reduce payments can make the burden more bearable. If your score won’t allow you to get a good balance transfer rate, first work to get a better credit score by putting away the credit cards and maxing out your payments.

You can avoid future credit card debt and interest by paying off your balance in full each month, using the card for only purchases you can afford (don’t overextend your credit utilization) and reducing your credit card spending by budgeting all credit card purchases.