A credit card is a powerful tool and when deftly wielded can be very useful.

Used without knowledge or understanding it is financially deadly. I use a rewards card and pay the majority of expenses including insurance, phones, travel, groceries, fuel, tolls, entertainment, shopping, subscriptions and home maintenance with that card. The rewards pile up. The bill is paid on the due date without interest.

There is only one rule about credit card interest: don’t incur it. That’s it, don’t. Credit card interest gets you nothing. Remember the one rule: don’t.

Credit card debt elimination begins with the first step of spending reduction. It is virtually impossible to reduce debt concurrently while creating it. Resources available for debt elimination are going to come from your spending reductions.

First thing to do when working on credit card debt elimination is to identify resources available for the task. Each dollar you spend, no matter what, is one less dollar for your debt payoff.

Then make a list of all the amounts you owe, the company you owe and the rates of interest you are paying on each. If you have the option of transferring balances to lower rate accounts this is a good place to start. Anything you do to reduce the carrying cost of your credit card debt frees up resources to eliminate debt faster.

When your transfers are made and list complete put the accounts in the order of the most expensive interest first. Define the minimum payments required for each account. Deduct this amount from the total available for your monthly debt payoff. The remaining available is paid on the most expensive card until that balance is zero.

When you pay off the most expensive card first, rather than paying the same amount to each card, you cut the amount of time necessary to pay off your total credit card debt by reducing interest payments.

After the first account is paid off apply the amount you have been paying to that account to the second most expensive account in addition to the minimum payment you had been making to the second most expensive account. After the second most expensive account is paid off, apply the amount you had been paying to that account, including the amount you paid to the first now paid off account to the next most expensive account including the minimum amount you had been paying to the account, and so on until all your credit card account balances are zero.

As you pay off each card, destroy the card and notify the issuer that you want the account closed. When I attempted to close my accounts I encountered heavy resistance from the credit card issuers who wanted me to keep the accounts open “at least for an emergency.” Don’t fall for it, they know the statistics. Statistically you will run your debt back up even after you pay it off.

Some will argue that you should not close unused credit card accounts because it hurts your credit score. Maybe closing unused credit card accounts does hurt your credit score, though I do know that a closed credit card account will no longer be available for future debt. Don’t tempt yourself.

When you are done with your debt reduction, you should keep two credit cards of varying brands for true emergencies, travel and regular purchases with a commitment that you will charge nothing that you could not pay for in cash at the moment of purchase. In addition, the commitment must include paying the balance in full at the end of each billing cycle no matter what; autopay is your friend. Remember rule number one.