One common way to get a lower interest rate on a loan is to add a co-signer who will also be responsible for the loan should you not be able to make payments. This makes your loan less of a risk, so your interest rate won’t be as high. This being said, you are putting your co-signer’s credit score at risk, so make sure you can meet your requirements.
A debt management plan is offered by a credit counseling agency. It’s similar to debt consolidation in that you’re making one payment, but instead of paying a creditor directly, you pay the agency who disburses payments across your creditors. The agency will try to work with your creditors in an attempt to secure more favorable terms. Payments are usually made on a monthly basis for three to five years.
As you’ll see in the graph below, more than half of the American population has a credit score that is considered fair, poor, or very bad. If your credit score falls in one of these categories, know that you’re not alone. In fact, you’re with the majority of Americans and, good news — there are easy steps you can take to help improve your score in a matter of months.
If you have high-interest credit card balances on multiple accounts, just making those monthly payments can be so tough that you can’t afford the things you really need or want — much less save any money. It may also stress you out. In this situation, debt consolidation might be a smart decision. But before you get started, let’s dig in to understand how debt consolidation can affect your credit scores.
The months and years that follow can make the larger difference to your credit score, but only if you don’t rack up more debt as you pay off the consolidated debt. As you focus on paying down the loan, each on-time payment will be recorded and reported to the credit reporting bureaus and the positive activity will help to strengthen your credit score over time. To put the impact into perspective, your on-time payment history accounts for about 35% of your FICO credit score.
Credit repair can involve fixing your bad credit in any way, shape or form, but when most people use the term ‘credit repair’, they’re referring to the process of disputing errors on credit reports. You can go through this dispute process for free with each of the credit bureaus on your own. This involves filing a formal dispute with the credit bureau(s) in question either online or via snail mail.
A credit card could very well be the source of your credit-score sorrow. But it’s also your score’s best chance at recovery. You can’t remove negative records that are accurate from your credit reports. So the best you can hope for is to devalue them with a steady flow of positive information. And credit cards are perfect for the job because anyone can get them, they can be free to use, and they don’t force you to go into debt. Plus, they report information to the major credit bureaus on a monthly basis.
If you have a poor credit rating, it can be difficult to get a debt consolidation loan. If your credit rating is too low, you may have to first take proactive steps to improve it, and then apply for a debt consolidation loan afterward. In addition, people with less-than-stellar credit can sometimes get a secured debt consolidation loan using a major asset as collateral. For example, people often use their homes as collateral to consolidate their debts with a home equity line of credit. However, if your credit is particularly bad, even a secured debt consolidation loan may be difficult to obtain. In that case, you'll likely have to consider other options to address your outstanding debts.
Your credit history will significantly influence the interest rate quoted for your debt consolidation loan, as most lenders use risk-based pricing. With very good or excellent credit (a FICO credit score of 740 or higher), you will be in a better position to qualify for the lowest interest rate offered by a lender. With a lower credit score, you are a higher risk and will be offered a higher interest rate.
Another potential issue with getting a debt consolidation loan with a "poor" credit score is that the interest rate on your new loan could, in some cases, be higher than the APR on your existing debt. Lenders often use your creditworthiness to establish what interest rate you get, so people with "poor" or even "fair" credit scores should be careful not take on new loans with higher rates.
For example, if you decide to start using your credit cards again after you’ve paid them off, your credit utilization rate may skyrocket and sink your credit rating. Similarly, if you fail to pay attention to the due date on your debt consolidation loan and miss a payment, your payment history may take a big hit as well. So, make sure you’re prepared to address all the challenges you have with credit when you take out a debt consolidation loan; otherwise, your credit rating may pay the price.
Interest savings: If you have multiple sources of debt with high annual percentage rates, you can save on total interest if you get a debt consolidation loan with a lower rate. For example, if you consolidate two credit card balances with APRs of 16.24 and 23.99 percent into a debt consolidation loan with a 15 percent APR, you will save on interest. “Rates can be considerably lower than credit card interest rates, so you’ll save money in interest fees,” says credit expert John Ulzheimer, formerly of Equifax and Experian. “Second, loans have a finite amortization period, generally not longer than a few years. You can’t say the same about credit cards.”