Most consumers know the pain of opening their credit cards statements in January. Seeing the holiday totals after all the fun is over can be quite a shock. However, few people take the time to do the math and see how long it will take to actually pay off the holiday debt load.
According to a British report, it can take up to 12 years to pay off a holiday tab. At 18.12% interest, a moderately-sized credit load can eat up a dozen years of payments if you only pay the minimum each month. (On US credit card bills, the CARD Act now requires that card issuers put a disclosure window on your statement telling you just how long it will take to pay off your credit card by paying only monthly minimum payments.)
Using the right card during the holiday season becomes even more important when you consider the length of time it may take you to pay it off. Find one with a low interest rate rather than fancy points or miles if you intend to use the card heavily during the holidays. This will reduce the amount of interest you will have to pay on top of the cost of gifts.