With these tips, you can avoid racking up a nasty, and long-lasting, credit card debt.

Control your credit card debt

1. If you have more than one credit card, pay off your largest debt first. In other words, start paying off the card with the highest interest rate.
2. Pay off your credit card faster by going beyond the minimum repayments. For example, let’s say you have an outstanding balance of $10,000 on a card with an interest rate of 18.5%, with a minimum repayment schedule of $200 each month. If you stuck to this routine it would take over nine years to pay off your credit card ans the total you would have paid would be more than $21,000. Alternatively, if you paid $300 each month, it would take just over four years to pay off your debt, and the total you would have paid would be less than $15,000.
3. Move your debt to a balance transfer card and make sure you pay off your balance within the low-interest-rate period
4. Whichever way you decide to pay off your credit card, set up a direct debit service from your bank account, to force yourself to make repayments regularly 
5. Don’t take on a higher credit limit if you think you can’t afford it
MoneySmart’s Delia Rickard encourages consumers already in debt to use a debit card, rather than a credit card, when shopping online. The credit card should only be taken out for emergency purchases, she says.
Now, if you’re nervous about your child going wild on their first credit card and getting into the same mess you’ve got out of, here are some pointers you can give them.
The latest issue of Your Money Magazine includes  a comprehensive comparison of credit card balance transfer deals. It is available from all good newsagents.
-- By Stephanie Hanna