This can also ding your credit score, as lenders may see you with an increased ratio as less financially stable. Extending the loan term: A vital part of taking control of your personal debt is to determine how you got into debt in the first place — and take steps to avoid a repeat performance. You may be pledging your property as collateral against much larger amounts than you had previously. Your monthly payment and interest rate might be lower, thanks to the new loan. If it is substantially longer that that of your previous debts, you might be paying more in the long run. Once you pay off one debt, move the payments to the next set in a waterfall payment process until all your bills are paid off. It's also essential that you read the terms and conditions of any offers carefully to ensure you're getting as good a deal as you think you are, and watch out for additional fees. Consolidating debt alone does not get you out of debt; improving spending and saving habits does. You should also look to balance an affordable monthly payment with reasonable financing charges to avoid overpaying for your loan and undercutting your consolidation savings. For example, using a home equity loan or line of credit puts your home at risk if you fail to make the required payments. High interest fees are the holey scoops of the credit card world, making it feel nearly impossible to bail yourself out of credit card debt. Credit scores favor longer-standing debts with longer, more-consistent payment histories.
Extending the loan term: However, if you consolidate credit card debt and end up improving your credit utilization rate — that is, the amount of potential credit you have that you're actually using — your score could rise later on as a result. In addition, closing out the old credit accounts once they're paid off and opening a single new one may reduce the total amount of credit available to you, raising your debt-to-credit utilization ratio. Losing special terms or benefits: Your monthly payment and interest rate might be lower, thanks to the new loan. If you take out a loan, always repay the credit card debt and destroy the card so that you're not tempted into using it again. We strongly recommend you get expert debt advice before consolidating your credit card debt. Shorter loans will have higher monthly payments, but lower overall costs due to fewer interest rate fees, while the opposite is also true. Once you pay off one debt, move the payments to the next set in a waterfall payment process until all your bills are paid off. The actual process of consolidating your credit card debt with a personal loan is simple, as most personal loans will be deposited into the bank account of your choice within a few days of approval. However, these offers are usually for a limited time period so it's important to look closely at the details and make sure you won't be paying more than you need to once the offer expires, making you worse off. You may be pledging your property as collateral against much larger amounts than you had previously. This allows the lender to make a tidy profit even if it charges a lower interest rate. Then compare that to the length and cost of the consolidation loan you're considering. Although each lender will probably require different documentation depending on your credit history, the most commonly required pieces of information include a letter of employment, two months' worth of statements for each credit card or loan you wish to pay off, and letters from creditors or repayment agencies. And you may not need them. For example, consider Cindy, who has three credit cards with balances she would like to consolidate, which have the APRs and balances shown in the chart above. At that point, your loan is essentially cash that can be used to pay off any credit card balances you wish to consolidate, using whichever manner in which you typically make your credit card payments through your online account, in a bank branch, etc. And, of course, just as with any other type of credit account, a missed payment on a debt consolidation loan goes on your credit report. You should also look to balance an affordable monthly payment with reasonable financing charges to avoid overpaying for your loan and undercutting your consolidation savings. This can also ding your credit score, as lenders may see you with an increased ratio as less financially stable. You also are listed as having assumed a larger, newer debt, which increases your risk factor. Moving the debt from one place to another is rarely the answer if you cannot afford to pay off your debts. StepChange Debt Remedy , our online debt advice tool, can identify the best debt solution for your personal circumstances, and we can help you every step of the way. Credit card debt solutions Always remember that if you have financial problems, you're very unlikely to solve them by debt consolidation. She cuts up her credit cards, but leaves the accounts open.
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