Debt Relief Through Bankruptcy
Theres little point in entering a debt settlement or debt management plan if youre not going to be able to pay as agreed. We recommend talking with a bankruptcy attorney first, before you pursue any debt relief strategy. Initial consultations are often free, and if you dont qualify, you can move on to other options.
The most common form of bankruptcy, Chapter 7 liquidation, can erase most credit card debt, unsecured personal loans and medical debt. It can be done in three or four months if you qualify. What you should know:
Also, not everyone with overwhelming debt qualifies. If your income is above the median for your state and family size, or you have a home you want to save from foreclosure, you may need to file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Chapter 13 is a three- or five-year court-approved repayment plan, based on your income and debts. If you are able to stick with the plan for its full term, the remaining unsecured debt is discharged. It will take longer than a Chapter 7 but if you are able to keep up with payments , you will get to keep your property. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy stays on your credit report for seven years from the filing date.
How Did We Choose The Best Debt Consolidation Loans
To find the best personal loans for debt consolidation, we combed through the fine print and terms of about a dozen personal loans to find the ones that were best suited to help with consolidating debt. We considered four main features:
- For the most help with debt payoff, a personal loan for debt consolidation needs to have lower interest rates than the credit card or other debts you’re consolidating. We looked for the loans that had the lowest rates possible for each credit range and purpose. The average credit card interest rate was 16.28% in 2020, so we focused on loans that had the potential to beat this.
- Appropriate loan amounts: We looked for personal loans that had the most variety in loan amounts. According to loan comparison site Credible, the median amount of debt consolidated in May 2020 was $18,000. To benefit the most borrowers, we included personal loans with maximum limits over $10,000.
- Minimum credit score requirements: Where available, we considered the minimum credit score requirements for each company. We considered loans for excellent, fair, and poor credit, grouping loans into categories based on these credit score requirements.
- Fees: We considered fees like origination or administrative fees in our decisions, looking for loans with the fewest or lowest fees. None of the best loans listed have prepayment penalties.
- Nationwide availability: We only considered loans with availability in most or all 50 US states.
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To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.
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Get A Debt Consolidation Loan
Talk to a debt consolidation expert:
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 . 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 youre now paying. If youre 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.
If you dont own your home or if you dont have much equity in it the alternative would be to get personal or unsecured loan. These are called unsecured loans because they dont require you to use any asset as collateral to secure them. These loans typically have higher interest rates then secured loans and can be more difficult to get if youre already having a big problem with debt.
Get A Full Understanding Of Using A Home Equity Loan To Consolidate Your Debt
If youre like many Americans, you have a revolving amount of debt from non-mortgage related expenses. There was about $1,071,700,000,000 of credit debt alone in May 2019 according to the Federal Reserve. If that looks like a lot of zeros, its because were up to over $1 trillion. If you were to divide that by the most recently available population estimates for 2018 according to the Census Bureau and other sources, that works out to about $3,275.37 per American. Thats a lot of money.
The first step to using your home as part of a solution to this problem is understanding what home equity is. Home equity is the difference between what your home is worth and what you owe to the lender. For each dollar you pay back to the lender, thats a dollar of your home that you officially own.
Home equity loans are second mortgages that allow you to tap into your equity so you can get access to cash. You can also use the cash loan to pay off other higher-interest debts such as credit card debt and possibly student loan debt. Mortgage interest rates are almost always lower than those of credit card debt.
For example, you might take out a home equity loan with a 4% interest rate to pay off the debt on your 18% interest rate credit card and end up paying less in interest over the long term.
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Why Pick An Air Fryer Over A Deep Fryer
Despite the frequent comparison, air fryers and deep fryers are quite different. Deciding to buy an air fryer rather than a deep fryer comes down to what youre looking for from your oven.
Deep fryers submerge your food in hot oil. The oil itself is the conductor of heat that cooks your food, which allows for even cooking and a delicious flavor.
Many people are wary of submerging their food in too much oil. An air fryer does not cook food in this way. It is far healthier than deep-frying and allows you to replicate the look and taste of fried food without the greasiness.
Consolidating Credit Card Debt Could Help Simplify And Lower Your Monthly Payments As You Work To Become Debt
Consolidating credit card debt is when you combine multiple credit card balances into a single monthly payment that ideally has a lower interest rate than what youre currently paying.
But consolidating your debt takes time, and many methods require an application process to see whether youre approved first, which usually results in a hard credit inquiry that can cause your credit scores to drop a few points.
To help you decide if credit card consolidation is right for you, here are several methods to consider.
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How Does Debt Consolidation Affect Your Credit
Debt consolidation has a positive impact on your credit score as long as you make on-time payments. If you choose a debt management program, your credit score will go down for a short period of time because you are asked to stop using credit cards. However, if you make on-time payments in a DMP, your score will recover, and probably improve, in six months.
If you go with a debt consolidation loan, paying off all those debts with a new loan, should improve your score almost immediately. Again, making on-time payments on the loan will continue to improve your score over time.
The alternative DIY method is obvious: Get rid of your credit cards. Lock em in a drawer and hide the key. Pay for everything in cash. Set aside a portion of your income every month to pay down balances one card at a time, until they are all paid off.
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Reasons Not To Consolidate Your Credit Card Debt
by Lyle Daly | Updated Sept. 15, 2021 – First published on Dec. 13, 2018
Many or all of the products here are from our partners. We may earn a commission from offers on this page. Its how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts opinions arent influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.
Debt consolidation isnt always the best option. Check out these common reasons why you wouldnt want to consolidate your credit card debt.
When youre dealing with the stress of multiple expensive credit card payments every month, debt consolidation can seem like a light at the end of the tunnel. By getting a new credit card or a loan, you may be able to pay a lower interest rate and start making just one payment per month.
There are plenty of times when consolidation is a great idea, but its not always a slam-dunk solution. Here are five situations where you may want to reconsider consolidating credit card debt.
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How Does Debt Consolidation Affect Your Credit Score
Consolidation loans have the potential to affect your credit score in a number of ways. Applying for a loan requires a hard credit check, which can result in a small dip in your credit score. However, the impact of the inquiry on your score will decrease over time and disappear typically after two years. Your credit score may also decrease if you take out a debt consolidation loan, pay off your credit cards and then rack up more debt on those cards.
That said, consolidating loans can be a great way to streamline your payments, reduce your monthly debt service and build healthy financial habits through regular, on-time payments. For that reason, consolidation loans can actually help you improve your credit score over time. Whats more, some lenders even offer credit tools beyond regular lending services to help you manage your credit profile.
When Debt Consolidation Isn’t Worth It
Consolidation isnt a silver bullet for debt problems. It doesnt address excessive spending habits that create debt in the first place. Its also not the solution if youre overwhelmed by debt and have no hope of paying it off even with reduced payments.
If your debt load is small you can pay it off within six months to a year at your current pace and youd save only a negligible amount by consolidating, dont bother.
If the total of your debts is more than half your income, and the calculator above reveals that debt consolidation is not your best option, youre better off seeking debt relief than treading water.
About the author:Amrita Jayakumar is a writer for NerdWallet. She previously worked at The Washington Post and The Miami Herald.Read more
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How To Qualify For A Debt Consolidation Loan
Each lending institution has its own criteria for qualifying borrowers. Common requirements are that borrowers be at least 18 years old, legal residents of the U.S. and not in foreclosure or bankruptcy.
Most lenders look for a minimum credit score in the mid-600s and a debt-to-income ratio below 45 percent. DTI is the percentage of your gross monthly income that goes toward your monthly debt payments. An excellent credit score and low DTI will get you the best interest rate and may qualify you for a larger loan.
Even if you have bad credit, you may find a lender that’s willing to extend you a loan, but you’ll pay higher interest rates. If you’re in this scenario, you may want to apply with a co-signer who has good credit to improve your chances of being approved.
Having a good-credit co-signer improves your overall credit picture, but keep in mind that the co-signer shares responsibility for the loan if you fail to make payments.
% Apr Balance Transfer Credit Cards
While they are increasingly tough to come by right now, some credit cards have introductory offers of 0% APR on balance transfers for a set time period, usually 12 to 18 months. If you can qualify for these card offers, you can save on interest. For a balance transfer card to make sense, youll need to be able to pay off the debt during the 0% period. Just keep in mind the balance transfer fee which can eat into your savings. If possible, apply for a card with no balance transfer fee and 0% APR.
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Benefits Of Debt Consolidation
- Save money: High interest rates on credit cards and payday loans can make getting out of debt feel impossible. Debt consolidation often offers a considerably lower interest rate. In the long run, youll put more of your money into repaying debt not paying interest.
- Simplify budgets: When you consolidate your debt, youll pay a single, fixed amount every month depending on the type of loan, as credit card payments change based on balances. This predictability makes budget planning so much easier. Youll feel a sense of accomplishment as you watch your debt load diminish, month by month.
- Reduce stress: Sometimes, the worst thing about debt is the constant, nagging reminders as bills pour into your mailbox or your inbox every month. Debt consolidation eliminates multiple due dates and invoices.
- Lower credit risk: Slip up on a payment or two, and you hurt your credit score. Debt consolidation streamlines payments, so its easier to keep track. For people with good credit, consolidating debts into one low-interest loan makes it easier to avoid falling behind. For others, it may be the first step to rebuilding bad credit or avoiding bankruptcy.