Military personnel and their families make the ultimate sacrifice for the United States of America, yet for all they do for the country, they can be burdened with tens of thousands of dollars in credit card debt. Despite how frustrating that can be, there are ways that the brave men and women who serve the United States can help get themselves out of debt, including asking for benefits that they have earned, starting new jobs, and taking out loans to help them pay off existing debts.
Negotiate with Lenders
Though this is not an option for just military members, it is always worth asking the lender if there is any way to re-negotiate the interest rate on the card or see if the debt on the card is higher than it needs to be. If there is a disputed charge, get in contact with them and submit proof to the card company and so that it can quickly be resolved and so that no one has to pay for more than they absolutely have to. Even if there is not a disputed charge, it is a good idea to make sure that the credit card statement is accurate before taking any action to try to pay the debt.
Use interest rate calculators and call financial advisors to make sure that the rate is fair and competitive for the type of credit card. Another proven tactic for negotiation is to remind them that other lenders and other credit cards exist out there, with possibly lower rates, that you can take advantage of. Credit card companies will often lower rates when the debtor threatens to deactivate their card or switch credit card companies. Though sometimes deemed a dirty tactic, after honorably serving your country for years, it is not too much to ask for a lower interest rate, and threatening to take your business elsewhere, if they do not comply. You’ve endured many years of hardship in order to secure the freedoms that millions of Americans, including those working at credit card companies, take for granted every day, and you should at least be given the courtesy of being able to negotiate your credit.
Apply for VA Programs
There are many financial institutions, including some credit card companies, that offer Veterans Affairs discounts and rewards offers that will definitely help reduce debts no matter what type of credit you may have. It depends on the type of credit card or account that you have that will determine what benefits may be extended to you.
For example, if you separated from the military within the past year, you are eligible to apply for USAA’s cashback rewards card , which will give you some cash back with every purchase, which you can then put towards repaying debts from past cards or paying the debt that will come from this one.
Some cards may not offer cash back, but they can offer extremely low interest rates and APR’s. Sometimes those rates depend on credit, but those institutions are often extremely understanding and willing to work with veterans and their families so that you do not have to face extraordinarily high interest rates on your credit cards. You should also discuss the option of trying to apply for a new credit card with the same company that offers benefits to veterans and see if that will make them adjust their rate for the existing card. It may make the company feel pressured to do something to save the account rather than opening a new trade line.
Get a Loan with a Low APR
Other than cards, veterans can also apply for VA loans to help pay off some of their debts. While often misunderstood, these are bank-provided loans that are backed by the VA so that whenever a member of the military finds themselves in need of money quickly, they can rely on the VA to help them get it. The loans depend upon the bank, so you should call your bank and discuss their VA loan options to help determine if this will help you get out from under your debt.
However, there are loan options besides VA loans in the event that it doesn’t give you the options, and under the conditions, that you’re looking for. Personal debt consolidation loans as well as other options, depending on the type of debt and the financial institution involved, are available. All you have to do is ask, and you’ll be provided with all of the options that your bank and credit card provider can offer.
Freelance Your Way to Lower Debt
When taking a well deserved day off, veterans and military members can market some of the skills that they learned in the military through freelance work. By simply creating a freelance profile on LinkedIn or on a freelance-specific platform, you can start working on projects for small businesses or individuals to help get some extra money and pay off debts. There are freelance jobs on the market for doing just about everything, from writing creative works to coding new websites, so there are plenty of ways to get involved in the freelance community, especially for such specially trained individuals as military service members.
Not only that, but when the day comes for you to retire or separate from the military, having a resume full of freelance work and projects will be good to help get a job you want that doesn’t necessarily draw on the skills you gained in the military. These types of low-stress, self-paced, at-home work could be the perfect thing for you to do to not just enjoy retirement while earning money, but to help repay debts. Because freelancing allows so much room for input when starting a project, pay can be whatever you need it to be in order to pay the debt quickly, while also being fair to your employer, so it puts you in a greater position of power.
These four ways to get out of credit card debt should help you as one of the many brave men and women of the American military get your way out of the debts that you may find yourself in. After talking with lenders and taking up a side job, your credit card debt should be drastically reduced. This will hopefully take the pressure off of you, as well as your family, so that they you live the happy, peaceful, debt-free life that you fight so hard to secure for us, every day.