Consolidating debt with a personal loan can streamline your debt payoff journey, and it can also save you money if you get an interest rate that’s lower than the rates on your existing debts.
Typical interest rates on debt consolidation loans range from about 6% to 36%. To get a rate at the low end of that range, you’ll need an excellent credit score (720 to 850 FICO). But even a good credit score (690 to 719 FICO) could help you get a better rate than you have now.
Borrowers with fair credit (630 to 689 FICO) and bad credit (300 to 629 FICO) may not be able to qualify for a rate lower than their current debts. Building your credit can improve your chances of qualifying in the future.
Current debt consolidation loan interest rates
Interest rates and terms can vary based on your credit score, debt-to-income ratio and other factors.
How's your credit?
28.7% (Lowest scores unlikely to qualify.)
Source: Average rates are based on aggregate, anonymized offer data from users who pre-qualified in NerdWallet’s lender marketplace from Jan. 1, 2020, to Dec. 31, 2020. Rates are estimates only and not specific to any lender.
How does debt consolidation work?
If you have multiple debts — for example, if you’re carrying balances on a few different credit cards — you can get a debt consolidation loan to pay them off all at once. Then, you make one payment toward the new loan.
But how does this save you money? The key is to choose a personal loan with an annual percentage rate that’s lower than your existing debts.
Let’s say you have $9,000 in total credit card debt with a combined APR of 22% and a combined monthly payment of $450. It will take just over two years to be debt-free, and cost $2,250 in interest.
But if you consolidate the cards into a loan with a 14% APR and a two-year repayment term, you’d save $879 in interest. Your new monthly payment would be $432, and you could apply the extra monthly savings toward the loan to pay off the debt even faster.
Use our debt consolidation calculator to plug in your current balances, interest rates and monthly payments. Then, see how much you could save with a debt consolidation loan and compare options based on your credit score.
How to choose a lender
A good first step is comparing what each lender can offer you. Online lenders let you pre-qualify to see what rates, repayment terms and loan amounts you may qualify for. Pre-qualifying with multiple lenders can help you compare rates and terms, and it won’t hurt your credit score.
» SEE YOUR OFFERS: Pre-qualify on NerdWallet
It’s a good rule of thumb to go with the lender that offers the lowest rate, but you should also pay attention to the repayment term. Longer terms mean more interest, though your monthly payment is more affordable.
» MORE: Best debt consolidation loans
You can also look for lenders that specialize in debt consolidation. These lenders will offer perks like sending loan funds directly to your creditors and offering free financial education to help you manage debt.
NerdWallet has reviewed more than 30 lenders to help you choose one that’s right for you. Though borrowers with higher credit scores will likely receive the lowest rates, there are still bad-credit loan options.