Electronics — specifically gaming consoles — are at the top of consumers' shopping lists this holiday season, according to the experts at RetailMeNot, PriceBlink and BlackFriday.com. PriceBlink pulled data from consumer searches and found that the No. 1 most-shopped item is the recently released Sony PlayStation 5 (PS5).
The PS5 officially dropped in the U.S. nearly two weeks ago, but thanks to a combination of high demand and slow production (a byproduct of the pandemic), big-box retailers are selling out fast. Since the PS5 is so popular, you likely won't see it discounted this Black Friday.
But if you do manage to buy one, make sure you have a plan to pay it off. If you charge the PS5 to your credit card and only make the minimum payments, the end cost could be much more than you bargained for — nearly $100 and two years of payments more.
Credit cards are such a convenient way to pay for holiday gifts, but it's really important that you have a plan to pay off your credit card balance in full. Otherwise, you could get hit with high interest charges, which will considerably increase how much you spend on gifts this year.
Take a PS5 for example. Right now, it's selling on the Best Buy website for $499.99. Imagine you charge that to your credit card with a plan to only make the minimum payments.
For the purpose of this article, we estimated a fixed rate of $25 minimum payments. Typically, when you owe between $25 and $1,000, your minimum payment is often a set dollar amount (usually $25 or $35). We also assumed you're paying a 16.43% interest rate, which is the average credit card APR according to the Federal Reserve's most recent data.
We found that if you only make the minimum payment of $25 each month, it would take you an estimated two years (24 months) to pay off your $499.99 balance. During this time, you would accrue about $88.28 in interest charges alone.
And that's assuming you're only carrying a balance of $499.99. The average American has $6,194 in credit card debt. Paying the just minimum each month on this higher balance would cost them $7,286 in interest charges and 17 years and three months to pay off their debt.
If you're struggling this holiday season, like so many Americans, due to the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, it's OK if the minimum is all you can afford right now. But you may want to rethink your holiday budget, especially if you were planning to take advantage of Black Friday/Cyber Monday deals. These sales won't save you much in the long run if you're paying high interest charges.
If getting your debt under control is a 2021 goal, you might want to consider transferring your unpaid balances to a balance transfer credit card that offers an introductory period of 0% interest. This can be a more cost-effective way to pay off your debt. But you'll want to make sure you can fully pay off your balance by the time the introductory period ends, otherwise you'll start accruing interest again, potentially at a higher APR.
The U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card is a top balance transfer card for consumers with good or excellent credit. It offers 0% APR for the first 20 billing cycles on balance transfers and purchases (after, 13.99% to 23.99% variable APR). And, for those with fair credit, the Aspire Platinum Mastercard®, which offers 0% APR for the first 6 billing cycles on purchases and balance transfers (after, 8.15% to 18.00% variable APR).
Information about the U.S. Bank Visa® Platinum Card and Aspire Platinum Mastercard® has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuers prior to publication.