As the economy continues to improve and Americans feel more secure in their jobs, they’re increasingly relying on credit.

Consumer borrowing has grown by nearly a third over the past five years, fueled partly by historically low interest rates and a slight ease in credit availability.

While Americans are borrowing more, they’re also getting more concerned about how to pay it back.  A recent report by BMO Wealth Management (PDF) found that the single most important priority for nearly one-third of Americans was to pay off debt.

“The more debt that you accrue, the higher your monthly fixed outflows become,” says Jason Miller, BMO’s National Head of Wealth Planning. “Over time, you have less wiggle room in your budget, and you’re more constrained in your spending.”

That goal may become even more important over the next few years if interest rates on some of that debt begin to rise. After keeping interest rates near zero since 2008, the Federal Reserve raised the target federal funds rate a quarter of a point to 0.5 percent last December.

The federal funds rate is the rate that banks charge each other, and as it goes up, the rate that banks charge consumers typically goes up as well. Many economists believe that the Fed will approve additional rate hikes in the coming year.

Prioritize Your Debt Payments

Take these steps to pay off debt and make sure that rising rates don’t hurt your bottom line:

Understand which debt is affected. Fixed-rate debt, like most mortgages and some student loans and car loans, isn't affected by rising rates.

If you’ve got variable-rate debt, however, from credit cards or a home equity line of credit, rising rates could push up your monthly payments. Look at your loan terms to find out how often your rate adjusts and whether there is a cap on how high it could go.

Keep in mind that credit card rates generally adjust each month, while variable-rate mortgages reset once a year. While credit cards typically carry a much higher interest rate than a mortgage does, the balance on a mortgage is likely to be much higher.

If interest rates increase from 4 percent to 5 percent, for example, the payments on a $200,000 mortgage would jump nearly $120 per month. So you may want to consider paying down your mortgage debt first, says Bruce McClary, a spokesman with the nonprofit National Foundation for Credit Counseling.

Pay off your credit cards. Credit cards carry the highest interest rates of any loans, and they’re the most sensitive to the Fed’s interest rate moves.

“If those rate hikes keep coming, that snowball of destructive debt will get worse,” says Shon Anderson, chief wealth strategist at Anderson Financial Strategies. “This is a prime time to get rid of that debt.”

One in three U.S. adults say their household carries credit card debt from month to month, and 14 percent say that they roll over $2,500 or more on their cards (up from 11 percent in 2015), according to the NFCC.

If you’re carrying a balance, stop using your credit cards and look for ways that you can trim down your monthly spending. Pay the minimums on all your cards and direct any extra cash toward the account with the highest interest rate.

Once you pay off debt in that account, start paying down any debt in the account with the next-highest interest rate.

You may be able to buy yourself some time by taking advantage of the generous interest-free balance transfer offers that many card issuers are now offering. Just be sure that you’ll be able to pay off the balance before the promotional rate expires.

Lock in a fixed rate. If you can’t pay off debt related to your mortgage, consider refinancing it. That can be a good idea for an adjustable-rate mortgage, for example, or private student loans.

While refinancing from a variable rate to a fixed rate may cause you to pay a slightly higher rate in the short term, you’ll likely be grateful you refinanced when interest rates rise and your monthly payments remain the same.