Managing debt is an important part of overall household management in the United States. Credit card debt accounts for a major slice of that debt. This type of debt can also be pernicious and hard to control for two reasons: there are hidden fees associated with some cards and the interest rates can change on relatively short notice.

For that reason, it is important for people who find their credit card debt rising to understand the options they have, up to and including declaring bankruptcy to resolve their personal debt.

Organizational steps

The first round of coping with credit card debt should focus on establishing a system for handling the bills as they come and go. If you can get this organized before debts get out of hand, it’s even possible to limit the balance on the account and to work on reducing that debt without taking further steps. The Federal Trade Commission offers these tips for organizing around debt:

1. Make a budget and stick to it. You need to know what you can afford to spend so that you can schedule the necessary expenses as much as possible.

2. Contact your creditors, and deal with them as needed. If you get in touch with your lenders as soon as you start to have trouble making ends meet, they will often work with you to avoid having your situation worsen.

3. Pay your secured debt first. Credit card debt is hard enough to manage without losing your assets due to nonpayment. Make sure you take care of those loans before coping with the card.

Seeking debt relief

Often, it’s not enough to simply organize your payments and work with your credit card companies. When that the amount owed is more than what’s saved in an account, there are debt relief programs and other options you should consider. Credit counseling can help you to organize a way through the debt. If counseling is not enough, options include debt settlement and debt relief services. These services specialize in helping people discharge their debt without having to file for bankruptcy.

Of course, there is always bankruptcy protection. Due to the nature of that choice and the limitations bankruptcy places on your credit activity in the years to follow, it is important to try other options first. Should all other options be exhausted, bankruptcy is a form of protection that may provide the best way through a debt situation.