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.
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Higher interest rates than secured loans and (some) credit cards. If you have excellent credit and can pay off the debt in 12 to 18 months, you can likely get a credit card that has 0% interest on balance transfers for a year or longer. Alternatively, if you are a homeowner, home equity loans often have lower interest rates than personal loans. But be cautious; you’re risking your house by putting it up as collateral.
Payment history is the most important factor in calculating your credit score—accounting for 35% of your FICO® Score—and it is important to avoid paying any loan payments past their due date. Late payments can easily occur when someone has multiple loan payments each month and is not using auto pay. Another advantage of a debt consolidation loan is lowering the amount of interest you're paying on your outstanding debt. People typically use debt consolidation loans to pay off their high-interest debt—like credit card debt, which can have interest rates that range from 18-25%. In most cases, a debt consolidation loan will have a much lower interest rate depending on your creditworthiness, saving you money on interest over the life of your loan.
A second way to get debt under control and ultimately paid off is with a debt consolidation loan. If you own your home and have some equity in it you might be able to get either a home equity loan or a homeowner equity line of credit (HELOC). You would then use the proceeds from the loan to pay off all of your other debts. You would then have only one payment to make a month, which should be considerably less than the sum of the payments you are now making. The reason for this is that either one of these loans would have a much lower interest rate than the average of the interest rates you’re now paying. If you’re paying an average of 15% or even higher on your credit card debts and were able to consolidate them into a variable rate home equity loan, your interest rate could drop to 4% or less. And the interest on an interest-only HELOC might be even lower.
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loan forgiveness or loan discharge — in some circumstances, you don’t have to repay some or all of your loans. You might qualify if, for instance, you work for a government or not-for-profit organization, if you become disabled, or if your school closed or committed fraud. Also, under certain income-driven repayment plans, any balance that remains after 20 or 25 years of payments is forgiven. In some cases, you may owe income taxes on the forgiven or discharged amount.
Secured debt consolidation loans. Secured debt consolidation loans are typically available at brick-and-mortar financial institutions, including banks and credit unions. They use collateral, such as home equity used to secure a home equity loan, and generally have better interest rates than unsecured ones. If you have the collateral and can meet the requirements, a secured loan may save you money on interest as you pay down your debt.