Are you dealing with some financial hardship and looking for convenient solutions? If so, it may be a good idea to consolidate debt with a personal loan. Personal loans can help you take care of existing debts while also providing competitive rates, convenient repayment terms, and more.
Here, you will learn about the best debt consolidation loans you can take advantage of so you can get your finances back on track!
What Is a Debt Consolidation Loan?
A debt consolidation loan is a form of funding that takes multiple debts and combines them into one monthly payment. Instead of keeping track of multiple balances and being charged interest over and over again on all your debts, you can consolidate everything into one convenient loan. That way, you can make one payment a month that takes care of a plethora of expenses.
Unsecured Personal Loans vs. Secured Personal Loans
Most funding types can be divided into two categories: secured or unsecured. A secured loan is funding that requires collateral, while an unsecured loan (also referred to as unsecured debt) is funding that does not require collateral. Collateral is a piece of property with equity that borrowers can use to secure loan funds. Common pieces of property used as collateral for secured loans are vehicles and real estate. Borrowers who own a vehicle may use the title as collateral for car title loans, and borrowers who own a home or another type of real estate may use the equity of the property as collateral for mortgage loans.
While borrowers who take out unsecured loans do not have to put any property up for collateral, lenders tend to rely more on credit scores and credit history when it comes to approval for these types of loans. However, don’t be discouraged if you have less than perfect credit, there are still great unsecured bad credit loan options available for debt consolidation!
What Kinds of Debt Can I Pay With a Consolidation Loan
People can use debt consolidation loans for consolidating credit card debt, or to organize other debts like:
- Student loans.
- Auto loans.
- A home equity loan.
- High-interest debt like an online payday loan.
- Medical bills.
- Funeral expenses.
- Unexpected traveling costs.
- Financial emergencies.
How To Use a Personal Loan for Debt Consolidation
Below is a step-by-step process on how you can make the most of debt consolidation loans.
Using a Personal Loan as a Debt Consolidation Loan: Step One | Calculate Your Total Debt
This first step of debt consolidation is to calculate how much debt you have in total. To do this, make a list of all your loans, credit card balances, as well as any past due balances on any existing debt, and add up the totals. The amount you come up with is your total amount of debt.
Once you know how much debt you need to pay off, you can start thinking about short-term financing vs. long-term financing. If you have a few thousand dollars or more to pay off, you may want to consider getting a long-term loan plan. That way, you can space out your monthly payments and not be stressed while paying back your debt consolidation loan.
Using a Personal Loan as a Debt Consolidation Loan: Step Two | Check Your Credit Score
After you know how much debt you need to take care of, you want to next check on your credit score. Your credit score will be a great guide to help you decide what kinds of loan products you should consider. For example, if you have a lower credit score, you may have a more challenging time getting a debt consolidation loan with a bank and would be better off going with a bad credit private lender. But, if you have a higher credit score, you most likely will have an easier time finding approval on loans with a high loan amount and convenient repayment terms from just about anywhere.
Using a Personal Loan as a Debt Consolidation Loan: Step Three | Research Personal Loan Lenders
Once you know what type of loan you are qualified for, it’s time to compare lenders and see who offers personal loans that best suit your budget. Review different lenders and the loan amounts, interest rates, loan terms, and fees that come with their loan products.
If you want flexibility in your repayment schedule, make sure to go with a lender who does not tack on prepayment penalties. A prepayment penalty is a fee charged to borrowers who make their monthly loan payment before the designated due date. Or, some lenders may charge origination fees. A loan origination fee is a charge some lenders require at the time of signing a loan contract.
Once you’ve narrowed down your search to a few select lenders, give each of them a call and discuss your personal financial situation and debt repayment goals. The loan agent may be able to give you helpful advice or information as to whether their loan product will be a good fit for you or not.
Using a Personal Loan as a Debt Consolidation Loan: Step Four | Compare Interest Rates
Interest rates are one of the most influential factors of a loan. The interest rate of a loan determines how long it will take for the borrower to pay off their loan balance as well as how much they will end up paying for their loan in total. If you have a high-interest rate, you may have to take years to pay off your balance and find that you’ve spent hundreds of dollars or more than your original loan amount! To make sure you get the most beneficial loan deal for yourself, pay close attention to the kinds of interest rates many lenders are willing to offer you.
Also, consider what kind of interest rate may work best for you. Some common types of interest you may come across during your search for a debt consolidation loan are:
- Variable rate installment loans.
- Fixed-rate personal loans.
Variable rates mean your interest charges may change from month to month. While this may be convenient some months when rates are lower, you must also be prepared to pay a bit more if your rates go up. Fixed rates on a loan mean the interest rate stays the same throughout the life of the loan. A fixed interest rate may be an excellent option for debt consolidation borrowers looking to keep their finances steady and organized.
Using a Personal Loan as a Debt Consolidation Loan: Step Five | Finalize Your Debt Management Plan
Once you’ve found an appropriate lender with the right loan product for you, fill out an application. Many online lenders will have a convenient virtual application that you don’t even have to leave your house in order to complete!
If your application is approved, the lender will next ask for a few documents. Those documents may be:
- A government-issued photo ID.
- Proof of income.
- Proof of residency.
- Bank account information.
After your lender processes your documents, they’ll draw up a loan agreement for you to sign. Read your contract and ensure everything makes sense, then sign and receive your money. From there, you can take care of your debt consolidation needs!
What Are My Options for Debt Consolidation?
Depending on your financial situation, you may be able to find debt consolidation loans with a financial institution like:
- Credit unions.
- Online lenders.
- Private lenders.
- Direct lenders.
Debt Consolidation Loans vs. Debt Settlement
Depending on your financial situation, you may be contemplating between debt consolidation or debt settlement. As discussed, debt consolidation involves combining multiple debts under one debt management plan. While borrowers can save money by using personal loans for debt consolidation, they are still ultimately responsible for paying off all of their balances in total. Keep in mind that debt consolidation can take time but won’t have nearly as much of a negative impact on your credit history that settling debt will.
Debt settlement involves working with a settlement company and negotiating a payoff amount with a borrower’s various creditors. People who settle their debt are typically utilizing the process as a last resort when they have absolutely no other way of meeting their debt payment obligations. While debt settlement can be a faster way to get rid of debt, this choice may negatively affect your credit report for seven years or more.
Other Tips for Debt Consolidation
Check out some helpful tips below on consolidating debt.
Pay More Than Your Minimum Amount Due
If you can, pay a bit more than the amount due on your monthly debt payments. By paying more than your minimum amount, you may not only pay off your loan early but save money on interest rate charges in the process!
Keep Your Finances Organized
When consolidating debt, it’s essential to keep your ingoing and outgoing finances in order. If you have not created one already, make a monthly or yearly budget. You also may want to perform a soft credit inquiry and check your credit reports at least once a month to monitor your progress.
Try Balance Transfer Credit Cards / Credit Card Balance Transfer
A balance transfer credit card is a line of credit used to consolidate credit card debt. This kind of card is designed to help people save money on interest rates. However, balance transfer credit cards may not be the best choice if you have an extensive amount of credit card debt. In a situation like this, you would most likely be best off taking care of your credit card debt with debt consolidation loans.
Utilize Debt Relief Services
If you are having trouble getting your finances back in order, consider working with a credit counseling agency. These agencies offer both free and paid services that can help you learn more about finances and how you can improve your overall situation.
The Bottom Line: Debt Consolidation Loans
Borrowers have many debt consolidation options to pick from, but not all loans are the same. When looking for personal loans for debt consolidation, it’s important to research different lenders and see what kind of interest rate, loan term, and funding amount they can offer you.
Check out the CreditNinja blog for more free resources on improving your finances, bad credit funding options, and more!
Best Debt Consolidation Loans | Forbes Advisor
Dealing with Debt | USAGov