Clark Howard, Clark.com
As lenders continue to approve more people for credit card use, a growing number of Americans find themselves paying with plastic. This can be a good thing if you’re the type of credit card holder that likes to pay your balance off at the end of the month. But if you let your credit card bills slip into delinquency, debt can quickly get out of control.
Young adults are especially vulnerable to higher credit card debt as they typically are newer to credit and how it works and thus run more of a risk of getting into financial trouble. Bearing that out, a recent study says that many millennials don’t even know what their credit card interest rate is. The LendEdu survey polled 500 young adults, asking them various questions about using credit cards and their borrowing habits.
Survey: Most young adults don’t know their credit card interest rate
One of the more striking results of the survey showed that nearly half of them — 44.6% — had no idea what they were paying in credit card interest rates.
Additionally, most of them were also unaware that they had the right to contest an interest rate increase from their credit card company. The survey showed that 68.4% of millennials thought they had to accept increased interest rates, while 31.6% said correctly that they could contest the hikes under the Credit Card Accountability and Disclosure Act.
How to figure out your credit card interest rate
If you want to figure out your credit card interest rate, there are a few things to understand. First, know that a credit card’s interest rate is typically displayed on your bill as a yearly tally, called the annual percentage rate (APR). It’s what the card issuer is charging you to borrow money. It can be different for different cardholders of the same card and influenced by many factors, including your credit score and payment history.
To see what you’re paying in interest daily, you must convert your APR into a DPR (daily percentage rate or daily periodic rate). You do this by dividing your APR into 365, the number of days in a year.
At the end of each day, the card issuer will multiply your current balance by the daily rate to come up with the daily interest charge. That charge is then added to your balance the next day, a process called compounding.
This is why money expert Clark Howard always tells consumers that the best way to use a credit card is to pay the debt off at the end of the month, avoiding the finance charges altogether.
In his guide to paying off credit card debt, Clark says the key to tackling credit card debt is to get serious about it.
“Once you decide to make your debt a priority, you need to start paying more than the minimum monthly payments. That will allow you to eliminate the debt faster, save money on interest — and most importantly, stay motivated to get the job done and behind you!”