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I guess the question comes down to this. Is it ALWAYS better to pay off your credit card debt COMPLETELY before you start investing?

The answer is maybe.

Actually, in your case, with these numbers, contributing will be better in 20-30 years. Short term, you pay interest, but the growth will out pay that.

If you have debt running 12% a year, year after year, then paying off that debt is smarter. Carrying debt for one year and paying it off and not running it up again simply isn't going to compare much over time.

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