Illustration of man kneeling down while carrying box full of credit card debt

Running up $50,000 in credit card debt is not impossible. About two million Americans do it every year.

Paying that bill? Well, that’s not impossible either, though it is considerably less fun.

Some of the best ways to address that much debt include:

  • Put your card in the freezer and create a budget that includes a line item for reducing debt
  • Get a second job and devote that income to retiring debt
  • Downsize everything from house to car to nights out on the town
  • Negotiate a deal with the card company for a lump-sum payment to settle the debt
  • Automate payments so funding and paying become automatic

Accumulating $50,000 of credit card debt almost always starts innocently and ends badly. You can dig a deep hole of debt by eating at restaurants or getting takeout three or four nights a week, picking up bar tabs a few times, buying new furniture or appliances, taking on an expensive hobby like golf or skydiving or just going on vacation.

All you’ve got to do is show them the credit card.

The real key to growing debt to unmanageable status is to take on multiple credit cards and make only minimum payments on each one. More than 200 million American adults have at least one credit card and the average consumer with a credit card carries four of them. The average credit limit for cardholders in 2020 was $30,365, according to Experian’s end-of-the-year U.S. credit assessment. With that much credit available, you don’t even have to max out your credit cards to get to $50,000 in credit card debt.

So, the question remains: How do you get out?