Debt Consolidation

Debt Consolidation

Debt consolidation is the solution people automatically tend to think of when facing problem levels of personal debt. At first glance, it makes sense to consolidate various higher-interest balances into one monthly payment at a lower interest rate. It sounds great in theory, but even after consolidating, many people often find themselves slipping deeper into debt and are merely borrowing more money to pay off debt. They’re just “buying time”.

 

There are essentially three types of borrowing methods available. There are debt-consolidation loans, balance transfers to another credit card, and home equity loans or lines of credit. While any of these methods may help some people get a handle on high interest debts, many others only find temporary relief and are right back where they started. in debt and in need of a real solution for paying it off. According to statistics, 70 percent of Americans who take out a home equity loan or other type of loan to pay off debt end up with the same or higher debt amount within two years.

Debt Consolidation Loans

Offers for these financial products may show up in your mailbox or e-mail everyday suggesting this as the solution to your growing debt problem. A major selling point of consolidation loans is convenience. Instead of paying multiple creditors who are charging different rates at different times of the month, you can potentially take out one big loan to pay off all your accounts.

 

The biggest myth about debt consolidation loans is that they’re easy to get. While these loans may promise a low rate and no-hassle solution, many people in debt don’t qualify for the advertised rate due to a high debt-to-income ratio or previous late payments on their credit report.

 

Even if you do qualify for one of these loans, it doesn’t automatically translate to savings. Before you sign on the dotted line, be sure that the costs of the new, bundled loan will truly be less than what you’re already paying various creditors. For many consolidation-loan candidates, their current credit woes mean they won’t get the lowest-available interest rate. Plus, when there is nothing to secure the loan (such as your home), expect the lender to bump up the rate.

Home Equity Loan or Line of Credit

Home equity loans or lines of credit are often advertised as a quick and easy way to get out of debt. By leveraging your home equity, the sales pitch goes, you can get money to pay off your debt and perhaps get a tax break as well.

 

While this option can work for some debt-burdened homeowners, borrowing against your house can backfire. Although you may be reducing your credit card payments, you now have a larger mortgage payment, for a much longer period of time. Over the life of the loan with all the additional interest, you will end up paying back your original debt many times over. With these types of loans you are converting unsecured debts into secured debts which ultimately leads to the biggest risk for a homeowner. If you run into trouble again and have difficulty making the payments on the new loan, you could risk losing your home to foreclosure!

Balance Transfers

Some people turn to low or zero interest credit cards to transfer debt. With this option, timing, discipline, and excellent credit are required.

 

Many credit card companies offer these rates as teasers – to lure you in to switch credit card vendors. Most of the time, these credit card companies target consumers with better credit. Just because you receive a pre-approved offer for a low rate balance transfer doesn’t guarantee that the rate will be lower or that you will even be approved at all.

 

If you do qualify for a zero-percent or low interest rate, that promotional rate won’t last forever. Most promotional rates increase significantly after 6 to 12 months which often leaves you once again with higher payments or struggling to find a new balance transfer offer.

 

Promotional interest rates only last if you pay on time. One late payment and the credit card company will jack up the rate. Also look for hidden fees and charges that can increase the actual cost of credit.

 

In most cases, the balance transfer game is a short-term fix. Many people find themselves merely transferring balances from one new card to another before each promotional rate expires. Opening new credit card accounts every six months, however, could negatively affect your credit rating. Very soon, those new credit card offers you depended on might disappear.