Debt happens. When it does, there are multiple ways to handle it. You could borrow money from a friend or family member, but this can get sticky or uncomfortable with repayments. You can also try to cover one credit card debt using another credit card, but this can turn into a vicious cycle that leaves you crushed under major, insurmountable debt. A better option is to take out a personal loan that will cover your entire debt at the same time.
A personal loan is easy to manage, readily available, and comes with no strings attached. Here’s how debt consolidation is taken care of with this type of loan.
Before we get into how to find the right loan, what characteristics make up the best loan for you, and what taking out a loan in general means, let's explain some terms. Generally speaking, when a person seeks a solution to their debt issues it's because the amount, variety, and depth of debt have become unmanageable or more stressful than they'd like to deal with. In this case, getting a cash advance from a relative probably won't be enough to resolve the debt, and the problem will resurface the next month. That's why debt consolidation becomes a good solution.
Debt consolidation is a term used for a financial plan that combines all your loans into a single one. This is helpful because one monthly payment is a whole lot easier to manage and keep track of than several monthly payments. Let’s review an example:
That means you are making 4 different payments each month to cover the various forms of debt outstanding on your account. Between the different amounts for each payment, different payment due dates, and varying interest rates, it's easy to get things confused. When this happens, payments are missed, and you end up paying more unnecessarily. Debt consolidation loans help you pay off all of your combined debt at once and give you a single monthly payment to focus on. That's one payment date, one APR, and one amount to think about. Much simpler.
And the best part of using a personal loan to consolidate your debt is that there are no strings attached. Unlike other loans that require some form of collateral or need to be used for a specific purpose, personal loans are totally free from any restrictions. You can use the money however you see fit, and you won't have to put anything down to get the loan. It's the most flexible type of loan out there.
Everyone claims to be the absolute best, but how do you know which loan provider is really going to do the most for your debt consolidation purposes? The most important features to look for in this type of service are:
This is the most important factor because it'll tell you how much you'll pay overall for your debt consolidation loan. The higher the interest rate is, the more you will pay over time. Try to get the lowest rate possible, and use a comparison tool to compare various offers.
Sometimes all you need is a little cut on your monthly payments. If that’s the case, taking out a personal loan that can be paid off over a longer period of time can help you minimize your monthly payments. See how long each loan provider will allow you to stretch repayments, and make your decision like that.
Online lenders are a dime a dozen, but not all are as reputable as others. Read online reviews, check out their BBB ratings, and browse their websites to get an idea of how reliable each service is before you sign on the dotted line.
Now that you are ready to clear your slate, it’s time to apply. When applying for a debt consolidation loan, you should go through a few steps including:
Step 1: Calculate how much you need to be debt-free, and then take out a loan for that amount. It's typically a good idea to give yourself some wiggle room too for legal fees, transaction fees, and other unforeseen charges that might come up during the process. You may need to work with your credit card company, your bank, and even your boss to get all the numbers crunched, so get organized before you sit down to apply.
Step 2: Check your credit report. The better your credit looks, the better the terms you'll qualify for. Check your personal credit report to make sure there are no errors that could hurt your chances of approval.
Step 3: Apply for the loan. This can generally be done online and takes only a minute or two.
Step 4: Wait to hear from the loan provider about terms and rates. Sometimes if your credit is poor, you may have to apply to several providers before you find one that is willing to work with you. Don’t give up though, because there are definitely lenders that specifically work with poor credit borrowers, like Monevo and Fiona.
APR is an acronym for annual percentage rate. It combines the charges, fees, and payments to tell you the grand total of what your loan will cost you per year. The lower the APR, the less you are going to pay in the long run.
The APR calculation on personal loans will vary depending on your lender, but it will typically be lower than what you would receive from a payday or short-term loan – usually starting at 10% and capping at 35.99%. It is not ideal to owe any money, but if you require a loan, then a personal loan could certainly be a viable option.
APR rates mentioned include associated fees.
Full repayment for the loans displayed range between 61 days to 180 months.
Representative example: assuming a loan of $10,000 over 60 months at a fixed rate of 3.1% per annum and fees of $60.00. This would result in a representative rate of 3.3% APR, with monthly repayments of $180.80, for a total amount paid of $10,848.00.
* LightStream Terms and Conditions:
Your loan terms, including APR, may differ based on loan purpose, amount, term length, and your credit profile. Rate is quoted with AutoPay discount. AutoPay discount is only available prior to loan funding. Rates without AutoPay may be higher. Subject to credit approval. Conditions and limitations apply. Advertised rates and terms are subject to change without notice. Payment example: Monthly payments for a $10,000 loan at 5.95% APR with a term of 3 years would result in 36 monthly payments of $303.99. © 2020 Truist Financial Corporation. SunTrust®, Truist, LightStream®, the LightStream logo, and the SunTrust logo are service marks of Truist Financial Corporation. All rights reserved. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Lending services provided by SunTrust now Truist Bank.
* Marcus By Goldman Sachs® Offer Terms and Conditions:
Your loan terms are not guaranteed and are subject to our verification of your identity and credit information. To obtain a loan, you must submit additional documentation including an application that may affect your credit score. The availability of a loan offer and the terms of your actual offer will vary due to a number of factors, including your loan purpose and our evaluation of your creditworthiness. You may be required to have some of your funds sent directly to creditors to pay off down certain types of outstanding unsecured debt. Rates will vary based on many factors, such as your creditworthiness (for example, credit score and credit history) and the length of your loan (for example, rates for 36 month loans are generally lower than rates for 72 month loans. Your maximum loan amount may vary depending on your loan purpose, income and creditworthiness. Your verifiable income must support your ability to repay your loan. Marcus by Goldman Sachs is a brand of Goldman Sachs Bank USA and all loans are issued by Goldman Sachs Bank USA, Salt Lake City Branch. Applications are subject to additional terms and conditions
* LendingClub Terms and Conditions:
A representative example of loan payment terms is as follows: you receive a loan of $13,411 for a term of 36 months, with an interest rate of 12.16% and a 5.30% origination fee of $711, for an APR of 15.99%. In this example, you will receive $12,700 and will make 36 monthly payments of $446.46. Loan amounts range from $1,000 to $40,000 and loan term lengths are 36 months or 60 months. Some amounts and term lengths may be unavailable in certain states. APR ranges from 8.05% to 35.89% and is determined at the time of application. Origination fee ranges from 3% to 6% of the loan amount. Lowest APR is available to borrowers with excellent credit. Advertised rates are subject to change without notice. Loans are made by LendingClub Bank, N.A., Member FDIC (“LendingClub Bank”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of LendingClub Corporation, NMLS ID 167439. Loans are subject to credit approval and sufficient investor commitment before they can be funded or issued. Certain information that we subsequently obtain as part of the application process (including but not limited to information in your consumer report, your income, the loan amount that your request, the purpose of your loan, and qualifying debt) will be considered and could affect your ability to obtain a loan from us. Loan closing is contingent on accepting all required agreements and disclosures at Lendingclub.com. “LendingClub” is a trademark of LendingClub Bank.
* Eloan Terms and Conditions:
Rates from 7.99% up to 19.49% APR. Your APR will be determined based or your risk score and credit history. Loans start from $2,000 up to $35,000. The loan amount will be subject to credit approval. Eloan is a Division of Banco Popular de Puerto Rico. Subject to credit approval and meeting the parameters set forth by Banco Popular de Puerto Rico (“Banco Popular”). This offer applies to personal loans without collateral. Offer subject to presenting evidence and verification of acceptable income to Banco Popular. Banco Popular may deny your application if you do not meet the parameters and the established conditions. Other terms and conditions may apply.
‡ Upgrade Terms and Conditions:
Personal loans made through Upgrade feature APRs of 5.94% - 35.97%. All personal loans have a 2.9% to 8% origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Lowest rates require Autopay and paying off a portion of existing debt directly. For example, if you receive a $10,000 loan with a 36-month term and a 17.98% APR (which includes a 14.32% yearly interest rate and a 5% one-time origination fee), you would receive $9,500 in your account and would have a required monthly payment of $343.33. Over the life of the loan, your payments would total $12,359.97. The APR on your loan may be higher or lower and your loan offers may not have multiple term lengths available. Actual rate depends on credit score, credit usage history, loan term, and other factors. Late payments or subsequent charges and fees may increase the cost of your fixed rate loan. There is no fee or penalty for repaying a loan early. Personal loans issued by Upgrade's lending partners. Information on Upgrade's lending partners can be found at https://www.upgrade.com/lending-partners/.