According to a report from Experian, the average credit card debt in America is $6,354. In Tennessee, the average credit card debt is $5,975. On average, Americans carry 3.1 credit cards to go along with 2.4 retail cards. While many people use credit cards to accumulate rewards points or other perks, it is a good idea to pay the balance off each month. The report found that 43 percent of those who have a balance carry it from one month to the next.

Carrying a balance results in about $1,000 a month spent in interest charges, which makes purchases more expensive. Ideally, a person who carries a balance should aim to get it down to 30 percent of their available credit limit. Doing so can help to keep credit card balances from negatively impacting a credit score.

Paying off a credit card balance can be especially effective if the card is new. This is because applying for a new line of credit can have negative consequences for a person’s credit in the short-term. However, paying down those balances can have a bigger positive impact in the long run. As a general rule, credit cards should only be used if a person can do so responsibly. Otherwise, it could be better to use cash or other options to pay expenses.

Individuals who are seeking credit card, medical or other debt relief might find it by filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. As a general rule, unsecured debts may be discharged at the end of a payment period that lasts either three or five years. Additionally, debtors may be able to keep property such as a home or a car. Creditors are generally barred from foreclosing on a home or repossessing a car during a Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceeding.