Debt Consolidation Options to Consider When You're Juggling Debt
If you’re trying to pay off multiple credit card debts, keep track of payment amounts, due dates, interest rates and the money needed to pay them on time each month, it might be worth considering debt consolidation.
This is the strategy of rolling many debts into a single payment as a way to save money on interest and to pay off the debts faster. Better yet? You don’t have to hire a company to help you do it. Here are some ways to tackle debt consolidation on your own.
Balance Transfer Credit Card
Some credit cards advertise themselves as balance transfer cards. They have high credit limits that allow customers to roll over balances from other cards. The annual percentage rate, or APR, is low enough to make it a better deal than any of the other cards you have.
The best ones charge no interest for an introductory period of up to 18 months before switching to a low interest rate. If you can pay off the consolidated debt before the introductory rate expires and don’t add new debt to your credit cards, this can be a great way to pay off your debt without paying any interest.
However, be aware that balance transfer cards often charge a fee of 3 – 5 percent of the amount transferred. And when the introductory rate ends, you could then be charged a variable APR that can be higher than what you had before.
Home Equity Loan or Line of Credit
Equity in your home—the difference between its appraised value and how much you owe on the mortgage—can be borrowed against as a loan or line of credit to use when you need it.
The interest rates on home equity loans are often lower than the rates for credit cards and the loan amounts can be larger than your credit card limits. Most will have a fixed rate and a fixed monthly payment, making budgeting easier. Repayment terms can last as long as 30 years.
The biggest potential downside is that your home becomes collateral to secure the debt. Credit cards don’t require any collateral. If you don’t make timely payments on a home loan, your home could be repossessed.
If you have a good credit score to qualify for a low interest rate, and enough money to pay your debts on a comfortable repayment term, then a personal loan from a bank could help you consolidate your credit card debt.
Personal loans are unsecured, meaning you won’t have to put up collateral, so your credit profile is important in getting a loan with a low interest rate. The rates are fixed and typically lower than credit cards, and monthly payments are fixed.
This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as professional advice.