Credit card use is surging once again – and so is credit card debt. Here’s what to do (and not do) about it.

There’s a “new sign of rising consumer confidence,” says The Wall Street Journal. But says it can also be a dangerous one: For the first time since the new millennium, credit card balances have skyrocketed 13 percent in a single month.

That month was April, the last for which stats are available. “That was the fastest rate of increase since November 2001, when annual growth was 12.33 percent,” The Journal reports.

The Federal Reserve estimates that total household debt in April was $870.44 billion. When debt climbs that high, people will try the craziest things to pay it off. Here’s a quick list of the best and worst ways to do that…

dumbest ways to pay off debt

See anything similar in those crazy ways to pay down debt? All but one involves cashing in on a vital commodity – whether it’s your house, car, or retirement fund. gives you more details on why exactly these are bad for your outlook, along with a few other ideas you should avoid.

So what should you do? Glad you asked…

smartest ways to pay off debt

If there’s a common thread among the smartest ways to pay off debt, it’s about dealing with the debt directly, instead of finding new money to pay it off – which, of course, doesn’t cure the real problem. has more information about debt consolidation (and how it can help, not hurt, your credit score) and finding a good credit counseling agency. We also help you understand the ins and outs of balance transfers, as well as qualifying for a debt management program through a credit counselor.

Peer-to-peer lending is a more recent innovation and can offer a lower interest rate than what you’re paying on credit cards and it’s a fixed rate. Popular companies include Prosper to Lending Club.

Meet the Author

Brian Bienkowski

Brian Bienkowski


Bienkowski is a contributing writer and is the face of's 'By the Numbers' videos.

Credit & Debt

credit card debt, credit counseling, infographic, loans

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Article last modified on December 27, 2018 Published by, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: The 5 dumbest and smartest ways to pay off your credit card debt - AMP.