If you're forced into carrying a balance on a credit card, paying it off while making purchases can seem like an endless two steps forward, one step back. Consumer writer Bob Sullivan suggests keeping a "clean card" to get ahead.
Sullivan, author of Stop Getting Ripped Off: Why Consumers Get Screwed, and How You Can Always Get a Fair Deal, writes at The Consumerist blog that the key to paying off a card with a balance is to stop using it, so as to avoid accruing day-to-day interest charges that start the month you can't pay the balance. For small items of convenience that you know you can pay off by the end of the month, carry a separate "clean card":
Card one is a "charge card." You make all your workaday purchases with this card. You vow to whatever God you believe in that you will pay off this card in full every month on time. To make sure you do that, you sign up for electronic bill pay at your bank and send a payment to the credit card firm automatically every month five days before the due date. You make the payment for your average budgeted amount; you can always manually adjust the amount.
Card two is a " line- of- credit card." You pull it out for big, emergency purposes that you can't pay off in full within thirty days. Then you put it back in your wallet, purse, or holster, with the safety latch on.
Going cash-only until you pay off a credit card is an idealistic but often unmanageable solution to debt problems. This seems like a nice halfway compromise.
How To Save Money Using A "Clean" Credit Card [The Consumerist]