Anchor Intro: If you carry a balance on one or more credit cards, you're not alone. According to the Federal Reserve, nearly half of American families do. And nearly half of American families also have some sort of bank savings accounts. If you have savings, should you use that money to pay off your credit cards? Bankrate.com finds out.
Voice over 1: It's the rare American that doesn't occasionally pull out the plastic when they shop. And about half carry a balance on one or more credit cards to prove it.
Voice over 2: At the same time, many of us, even those with balances on their credit cards, also try to keep money in the bank for a rainy day.
Voice over 3: And that begs the question: Is it smart to use savings or extra cash to pay off high-interest debt?
Voice over 4: When you look at the numbers, the math is simple and compelling:
Voice over 5: Here's really all you need to know: Paying off a debt that's costing you 15 percent, like a credit card, is the same thing as earning 15 percent interest, guaranteed and tax free -- something virtually impossible to do.
Voice over 6: So if you a have a few extra bucks every month or some money in savings, using it to pay off high-interest debt is nearly always the right idea.
Voice over 7: Exception? If you're about to be laid off, fired or are otherwise unstable, gather as much cash as possible.
Voice over 8: And make sure you've stopped racking up debt: There's no point filling in a hole if you're still digging it.
Standup: So it makes sense to have emergency cash. But if you're paying 15 percent while earning 5, you're more likely to create an emergency than solve one. For Bankrate.com, I'm Kristin Arnold.