Best Credit Card Consolidation Loans
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Best for Credit card consolidation loans
Best for Credit card consolidation loans
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Credit card consolidation loans
Should I consolidate credit card debt?
If you’re struggling to keep up with credit card bills, a debt consolidation loan can give you the breathing room you need to pay down debt. It can lower your payments, reduce interest costs and help you get out of debt quicker.
Ideally, the rate you receive on the loan is lower than the combined interest rate on your credit cards. You’ll need good to excellent credit (690 to 850 credit score) to qualify for the lowest rates.
If your credit card debt is unmanageable — you can’t repay it within five years and the total balance equals half or more of your gross income — then debt relief may be more effective than debt consolidation.
How to get a credit card consolidation loan
Take these steps to start the credit card consolidation loan process.
Know your balances and rates: Add up what you owe on the credit cards you want to consolidate, sorted by total balances and interest rates.
Aim to consolidate cards that have a higher rate than the annual percentage rate you can get on a consolidation loan. For example, if the rates on your credit cards are between 15% and 30% APR, look for a consolidation loan of less than 15% APR. This will save you money on interest.
A loan’s APR is its interest rate plus all fees, including origination fees. Personal loan APRs range from about 6% to 36%, depending on your credit score, debt-to-income ratio and other factors, like where you get a loan.
Estimate your savings: Use a debt consolidation calculator to understand how much you can potentially save by consolidating.
The calculator shows your credit cards’ combined APR, and you can view how different rates and loan terms impact your payment and savings.
Compare loan features: When shopping for loans, compare features as well as rates. Some lenders offer direct payment to creditors, which means they send your loan proceeds to your credit card issuers, simplifying the debt consolidation process.
Other features that may be important to you include free credit score monitoring, available rate discounts or hardship programs that temporarily suspend payments if you lose your job. Time to funding is another consideration if you need a loan fast.
Pre-qualify and apply: Pre-qualifying with lenders lets you preview the rates and loan terms you may receive, with no effect on your credit score. It also makes it easier to compare loans from multiple lenders.
After pre-qualifying and comparing options, you can formally apply for a personal loan.
Get approved and funded: Debt consolidation loans can be funded the same day you apply or take up to a week, depending on the lender.
If the lender directly pays your creditors, check to ensure the payments are applied to your balances. If direct payment isn’t offered, you’ll need to pay off each credit card with the money deposited to your bank account.
Get ready to make your first new loan payment, which will likely be one month after funding.
Credit card refinancing vs. debt consolidation
Refinancing credit card debt is similar to consolidation, but instead of getting a personal loan to pay off your credit cards, you get a low-interest credit card and transfer the balance from one or more existing credit cards onto the new card.
Refinancing is often called a balance transfer, and many balance transfer credit cards offer a 0% introductory APR for a period of 15 to 21 months. You'll likely need good or excellent credit to qualify.
» COMPARE: Best balance transfer cards
Unlike debt consolidation loans, there is no set repayment term on a credit card, and rates are often variable instead of fixed.
Balance transfers work best if you have a small balance to consolidate ($15,000 or less), and only if the interest savings outweigh any fee required to carry out the transfer. Aim to pay off the balance in full before the zero-interest promotion expires and the APR resets to its normal, higher rate.
What to do after consolidating credit cards
Plan your payments: One way to manage your loan payments and avoid late fees is by setting up automatic payments. You may even receive a rate discount for using autopay, depending on the lender.
Stick to a budget: The new loan payment should fit into a budget that allocates income toward your needs, wants, savings and debt. Budgeting can help you change your spending habits, spot areas to cut back and boost your cash flow.
Avoid new credit card debt: You’ll have a lot more spending power on your credit cards after consolidating them, and there may be some temptation to use them. Track your spending carefully and aim to keep your credit utilization ratio below 30% on each card.
Last updated on September 5, 2023
NerdWallet’s review process evaluates and rates personal loan products from more than 35 technology companies and financial institutions. We collect over 50 data points from each lender and cross-check company websites, earnings reports and other public documents to confirm product details. We may also go through a lender’s pre-qualification flow and follow up with company representatives. NerdWallet writers and editors conduct a full fact check and update annually, but also make updates throughout the year as necessary.
Our star ratings award points to lenders that offer consumer-friendly features, including: soft credit checks to pre-qualify, competitive interest rates and no fees, transparency of rates and terms, flexible payment options, fast funding times, accessible customer service, reporting of payments to credit bureaus and financial education. Our ratings award fewer points to lenders with practices that may make a loan difficult to repay on time, such as charging high annual percentage rates (above 36%), underwriting that does not adequately assess consumers’ ability to repay and lack of credit-building help. We also consider regulatory actions filed by agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. We weigh these factors based on our assessment of which are the most important to consumers and how meaningfully they impact consumers’ experiences.
NerdWallet's Best Credit Card Consolidation Loans of October 2023
- SoFi Personal Loan: Best for Credit card consolidation loans
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