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What happens when you don't pay off your credit card balance in full

Kathleen Elkins

Nearly half of Americans have been carrying a credit card balance for two or more years . And the average household with revolving credit card debt owes $6,081.

But not making payments in full and carrying a balance can add up , thanks to exorbitant, oftentimes double-digit interest rates.

To give you an idea of just how costly it can be to only pay the minimum on your credit card, personal finance site NerdWallet crunched the numbers and determined the interest costs of paying off debt. It assumed credit card debt of $6,081 and an interest rate of 14.99 percent.

Here's the breakdown of how much interest would accrue if you:

Just make the minimum payment: $4,064
Make double the minimum payment: $1,509
Make the minimum payment plus $100: $1,409

Ideally, you'll want to make your payments in full and owe zero interest but, as the charts show, even tacking on an extra $100 to the minimum payment each month can save you thousands of dollars.

NerdWallet also notes that only paying the minimum means you'll be in the red for years.

Here's how long it would take to pay off $6,081 worth of credit card debt if you:

Just make the minimum payment: 169 months (about 14 years)
Make double the minimum payment: 65 months (about 5.5 years)
Make the minimum payment plus $100: 41 months (about 3.5 years)

If you're already in debt, there are two popular ways to tackle it : the avalanche method and the snowball method. The avalanche prioritizes paying down the debts with the highest interest rates first, while the snowball focuses on knocking out the smallest debts first. NerdWallet's debt guide can help you choose the strategy that's best for you.

Once you're debt-free, get in the habit of making payments in full. It will save you thousands of dollars in interest which, as Mark Cuban points out, is probably a better return than you could get from your investments .

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