Do the math: See what a debt consolidation loan will cost you in the long run compared to your current debts. A debt consolidation loan may give you a lower payment or a lower interest rate, but if you choose a long-term loan, you may end up paying more in interest charges by the time your term ends. LendingTree, MagnifyMoney’s parent company, has a debt consolidation calculator so that you can run the numbers.
Getting out of debt is a multi-step process that could include making changes to how you spend and save. If you’re not sure how you accumulated so much debt in the first place, consolidating won’t do anything to change your spending behavior. It also won’t stop you from accumulating more debt in the future. Debt consolidation can, however, be a step in the right direction.
After you’ve resolved the negative items on your credit report, work on getting positive information added. Just like late payments severely hurt your credit score, timely payments help your score. If you have some credit cards and loans being reported on time, good. Continue to keep those balances at a reasonable level and make your payments on time.
Credit cards with zero percent APR balance transfer introductory offers allow you to transfer existing debt at a zero percent APR for a certain period of time, usually 12 to 21 months. They typically allow credit card debt transfers, but some allow transfers of other types of debt. With a zero percent APR balance transfer offer, you will get time to pay down or pay off your debt without accumulating any new interest.
You may have heard that some creditors are willing to settle your debt for pennies on the dollar. In reality, credit card debt forgiveness is rare and tricky, and can be very costly. You have to first be in serious arrears. Then you have to convince your creditors that you don’t have the means to repay your debt and your situation isn’t likely to change. If you manage to work out a debt settlement agreement, the creditor is all but guaranteed to report your forgiven debt to the IRS. The forgiven debt is considered taxable income.
Your best bet is to call and ask to see if they can put you on a payment plan where you can afford to pay them (even if it’s just the bare minimum a month) or if they will possibly settle for less money. A tip: anything that has your name attached (banking account,utility bills, credit cards, anything you finance, student loans, medical bills, car loans, home loans, your apartment, etc) that you miss a few payments on or don’t pay at all can be reported to the credit agencies and sold to collections companies.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
After getting a debt consolidation loan, 68 percent of respondents changed their spending habits for the better. More than 30 percent said they now pay bills on time, 22 percent monitor their credit reports and 13 percent stopped using consolidated accounts. However, not all respondents changed their habits for the better, with 10 percent reporting they accrued more debt, which is in line with the 9 percent who said they also accrued more debt when asked if the loan was a good choice. Seven percent maxed out credit lines and 7 percent made charges on consolidated accounts.