If you have $15,000 or more in credit card debt, you are not alone. More than 40% of U.S. households carry credit card debt from month to month with an average balance of $7,938. That’s only the average. A survey by Lending Tree suggests that 43% of people have over $15,000 in credit card debt.

Facing $15,000 in credit card debt can be stressful, but don’t panic. There are steps you can take to manage the heavy debt load and become debt-free.

1. Stop charging & create a budget

The first step in tackling your debt is to stop adding to it. This means you need to put away your credit card. Freeze it, cut it up, give it to a trusted friend. Just stop using it until you have a handle on your debt. Next, create a budget. Write down all your sources of income and all your expenses. Look for areas where you can cut back. The more you can save, the more you can put towards paying off your debt.

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2. Pay more than the minimum

When you only make the minimum payments, the majority of your payment goes toward the interest and very little towards the principal amount. Paying more than the minimum—even if it’s just a little bit more—can reduce your debt faster and save you money on interest.

3. Apply for a balance transfer card

Consider transferring your high-interest credit card balances to a card with a lower interest rate. If your credit score is good, you can apply for a card with an introductory 0% interest on balance transfers. This will give you a head start on paying down your principal. However, be aware of balance transfer fees and make sure you pay off the balance before the promotional period ends or you may be charged interest on the whole balance.

4. Make a debt management plan

A Debt Management Plan (DMP) is a strategy where you consolidate your credit card payments into one monthly payment. This is done through a credit counseling agency, which will negotiate with your creditors to lower your interest rates or waive certain fees. You’ll then make one payment to the agency, and they’ll distribute it among your creditors. This can help relieve your stress, simplify your payments, and may save you money.

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5. Consolidate your debt

Another strategy is debt consolidation. Here you take out a single loan to pay off multiple debts. The goal is to get a loan with a lower interest rate than your current credit card rates. This not only makes your debt more manageable but can also save you money over time. There are plenty of lenders out there who specialize in debt consolidation loans.

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6. Consider credit counseling

Credit counseling agencies can offer guidance on managing your debt, setting a budget, and other essential financial topics. They can help you understand your options and make informed decisions about how to tackle your debt. Be sure to choose a reputable agency, preferably a nonprofit.

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7. Get debt relief

If you’re overwhelmed and unable to manage your debt on your own, then give debt relief a try. These companies work with you to come up with a debt management plan for your individual circumstances to get you out of debt faster. This may include debt consolidation, debt settlement, or negotiating lower interest rates.

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Final Thoughts

If you’re burdened by credit card debt, don’t despair. You can tackle your outstanding balances, even to the tune of $15,000, and be debt-free. It may not be easy. It can take a lot of patience and discipline, but with a little hard work, the right strategy, and some professional help you’ll be debt-free sooner than you think.

About the author

Rachel Alulis

Rachel Alulis has been the lead editor for Moneyfor’s credit cards team since 2015 and for the financial rewards team since 2023. Before joining Moneyfor, Rachel worked at USA Today and the Des Moines Register. She then established a successful freelance writing and editing business specializing in personal finance. Rachel holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and an MBA.