Consolidating high interest rate credit cards

With a debt consolidation loan, a lender issues a single personal loan that you use to pay off other debts, such as balances on high-interest credit cards.

You’ll pay fixed, monthly installments to the lender for a set time period, typically two to five years.

Look for a site that offers educational tools such as a credit score simulator or guidance on how to build credit.

If you can’t qualify for a loan through a reputable lender, don’t head for a payday lender. For borrowers with good credit, a balance transfer credit card is an alternative to a debt consolidation loan.

Knowing your credit profile before you apply can help set expectations.

Several personal finance websites, including Nerd Wallet, offer free access to your credit score and credit report.

Ideally, that new debt has a lower interest rate than your existing debt, making payments more manageable or the payoff period shorter.

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Fixed payments ensure you’ll pay off debt on a set schedule.The option that best suits you depends on your overall debt load, credit score and history, available cash and other aspects of your financial situation, as well as your self-discipline.Consolidation works best when your ultimate goal is to become debt-free.A higher score will qualify you for more loan opportunities, lower interest rates and better loan terms in the future. Several personal finance websites, including Nerd Wallet, offer a free credit score.Look for a site the offers educational tools such as a credit score simulator plus access to your credit report.Your credit scores can take a hit if you use all or most of the available credit on your cards.A personal loan balance is reported as installment debt, which is treated differently in credit scoring formulas than revolving debt such as credit cards. And while our site doesn’t feature every company or financial product available on the market, we’re proud that the guidance we offer, the information we provide and the tools we create are objective, independent, straightforward –- and free. " Debt consolidation is a strategy to roll multiple old debts into a single new one. We believe everyone should be able to make financial decisions with confidence. This may influence which products we review and write about (and where those products appear on the site), but it in no way affects our recommendations or advice, which are grounded in thousands of hours of research. We're on your side, even if it means we don't make a cent.Once the introductory period expires, the rate on a balance transfer card is usually higher than on a personal loan.In addition to paying off your balance before the rate increases, you’ll want to avoid making further charges.

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