A new app aims to fix a $1 trillion problem by making credit cards cheaper and easier to manage

Jasper JasonCourtesy of Jason BrownTally cofounders Jasper Platz and Jason Brown.

Collectively, Americans are approaching $1 trillion of credit card debt.

“That sum would come close to the all-time peak of $1.02 trillion set in July 2008, just before the financial crisis intensified, and could signal an easing of frugal habits ingrained by the recession,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

On a more individual level, NerdWallet found the average US household with debt carries $15,762 in credit card debt.

Entrepreneurs Jason Brown, who was previously an associate at venture capital firm Voyager Capital, and Jasper Platz, who previously worked as a senior associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, teamed up with credit experts and engineers to present their own solution to this $1 trillion problem: Tally, a new app that aims to manage your credit cards for you and help pay off high-interest credit card debt by offering a new line of credit with a lower APR.

The average APR (annual percentage rate) — which is the amount of interest a credit card charges on unpaid balances — is 15%. This can end up costing thousands of dollars in the long run if you only pay the minimum on your balance each month. In fact, NerdWallet found that the average US consumer with credit card debt pays $2,630 in interest annually.

TallyTallyAfter adding your credit cards to the app, Tally runs a credit score check to see if you’re eligible for a Tally credit line.

Here’s what the San Francisco-based startup will do for you: If you get approved for a “Tally credit line” — there’s currently a waitlist on its website and you must have a credit score of at least 660 to qualify — Tally will pay off your high-interest cards and then charge you a lower interest rate on the same balance. Your new (and lower) rate is determined after Tally analyses your credit history.

It’s like getting a personal loan, just … via app.

Tally is free to download and makes money like a typical a credit card company does — by charging interest on the amount you borrow. However, that amount is guaranteed to be less than you would have paid to your credit card. As Brown tells Business Insider, “We only make money if we are able to save you money.”

Even if you pay your balance in full and wouldn’t benefit from the lower APR, Tally also serves as a convenience tool: It aims to eliminate the hassle of managing multiple credit cards by automatically paying your bills.

This feature eliminates the danger of late fees, which is a key source of revenue for credit card companies: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimated that American consumers paid over $7 billion in late fees between 2011 and 2014.

TallyTallyTally manages your credit cards and automatically pays your bills.

There’s only one consumer who
can’t benefit from the app, Brown explains: “Someone who has one credit card, never pays a late fee, and makes payments in full each month.”

Of course, there’s still the barrier of actually getting approved for a Tally credit line, and some experts worry that “the people that need help the most are people that most likely wouldn’t quality for the service in the first place.”

Brown says this is a common misconception: “Many individuals believe that people who carry a balance have bad credit, when in fact, it is quite the opposite.”

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) found that 81% of all balances are carried by individuals with prime (FICO scores between 660 and 719) and superprime (FICO scores greater than 720). “The bottom line is that the vast majority of individuals who carry a credit card balance have good credit,” Brown says. “Yet despite their good credit, they continue to be unfairly charged APRs.”

In sum: If your current APR is high and costing you hundreds or thousands of dollars in interest, or if you have trouble managing a bunch of credit cards, Tally could be a solution worth considering.

If you’re on the waitlist — or simply not sold on the idea — you have some options. Try renegotiating the interest rate on your debt and automating your credit card payments yourself.

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