In some cases, credit card debt can be a bad thing. For example, if it's allowed to pile up, the interest charges can quickly take a $1,000 debt and double or triple it. This means it can take years to climb out of debt.

Since so many people have and use credit cards, many in not the most responsible manner, it pays to hear some solid advice before running out and charging it up.

If you're new to having a credit card, here are some ways to ensure debt doesn't become a problem:

* Only charge what you know you can pay for.
* Pay balances at the end of the month when possible.
* Stick with only one or two cards. More offers will come in, but does anyone really need 20 credit cards?
* Shop smart for credit cards. Avoid those that have high interest rates and annual fees. Although if you have no credit or bad credit, you may need these cards to build or rebuild credit. Once your rating has gone up, pay off the card, close the account and replace it with a better offer.
* Don't view credit as a license to spend. This is how people get into trouble. Remember, credit is there for emergencies and special situations. Don't get in over your head by viewing your credit line as your personal savings account.

While solid credit advice can be followed to a tee, sometimes bad things happen to good people. A card that was meant to be paid off at the end of a month can be brushed aside if a person loses a job, illness strikes or other circumstances arise. There are many good people who have bad credit, large amounts of debt and situations that seem helpless.

Bankruptcy may seem like the only option in a case of desperation, but that's not always the best route to go. Often times, if the debtor uses a little common sense, cards can be paid off. Here are some tips for making those balances go away:
* Tackle cards one at a time. Take the smallest one and pay extra on it each month while making sure other cards have at least their minimum plus interest paid. Once the smallest cards has been paid off, close the account if the card is no longer desired, and move on to the next biggest card. Rinse and repeat.
* Make certain to pay more than the minimum on all cards whenever possible. If you don't, the interest will continue to pile up and make your balances go up.
* Stop using your cards. When possible pay with good old fashion cash. If it's an absolute emergency, do what needs to be done, but a night out is not an emergency.

Should you be unable to handle your debt on your own, there are still alternatives to bankruptcy. There are many credit debt busting companies that can help you consolidate your debt and negotiate settlements with credit card companies. Many times this can be done for pennies on the dollar. With a settlement in place, you receive a single payment to handle, interest is generally frozen and bankruptcy is avoided.

Handling credit wisely is a simple thing to understand, but not always easy to practice. If you find yourself in over your head, don't go for the most extreme route first. There are ways to save your credit, pay your bills and keep yourself out of court.

Copyright (c) 2006