Tips for managing credit card debt

By Michael Jerkins, MD, Panacea Financial

As a doctor, you’re likely incredibly busy, so it can be easy to reach for the convenience of a credit card. If not managed carefully, credit card debt can build up quickly and become overwhelming.

One quarter of physicians are paying off credit card debt, according to Medscape. If you are carrying credit card debt month to month, here are tips for managing it and using refinancing/consolidation.

Seven tips for overcoming credit card debt

  • Create a budget. Assess your income and expenses to help you understand where your money is going. Designate portions of your income to essential expenses and to discretionary spending.
  • Prioritize debt repayment. Understand your debt balance and pay off the highest interest debt first.
  • Whenever you can, pay more than the minimum payment. Squeeze an extra $100 out of your budget every month and put it towards your debt.
  • Schedule payments. If you regularly forget to make payments on time, set up autopay.
  • Get a daily notification of your credit card balance via app, text, or email. This will help you stay aware of how much you owe and be mindful when making future purchases.
  • Ask for help! Speak with a financial advisor to help you make a plan for paying down your credit card debt.
  • Refinance or consolidate to simplify and reduce your payments.

Options for consolidating/refinancing debt

Balance transfer cards charge no interest during a promotional period (often 12-18 months) but require good credit, carry a balance transfer fee, and have a high APR after the promotional period. This could be a great option if you are able to repay the full balance during the promotion but could present greater challenges if you are not.

Credit card consolidation/personal loans offer fixed interest rates and lower APRs but sometimes carry an origination fee and are not the best option if you have a low credit score.

Home equity loans typically offer lower rates than most personal loans but require homeownership and equity in a home, which may not be the case for many — especially young doctors.

Managing your debt

Overcoming toxic credit card debt can have a profound impact on your life by raising your credit score, improving mortgage lending rates and options, reducing financial stress, and more. If paying down your debt directly isn’t possible, consider consolidating or refinancing your credit card(s) with one of the options above.


Michael Jerkins, MD, is the president and co-founder of Panacea Financial and a practicing physician in Little Rock, Ark. As an FMA preferred vendor, Panacea works with the FMA to provide member-exclusive discounts on personal loans, student loan refinancing, and practice loans. Panacea Financial is a division of Primis, a member of the FDIC. To learn more, visit .