How to Use Personal Loans for Debt Consolidation

November 16, 2023 Personal Loans

Key Takeaways

Debt consolidation personal loans can be an invaluable tool for individuals facing multiple intimidating debts. The process lets you roll multiple debts together, refreshing your loan terms, amount, and rates with a new loan provider.

Finding the right debt consolidation lender can help you save on borrowing costs and obtain suitable repayment terms. Here are some reputable debt consolidation loan providers.

  • Credible
  • LightStream
  • Discover
  • SoFi
  • Upgrade
How to Use Personal Loans for Debt Consolidation

Individuals with multiple debts often struggle to juggle all the different interest rates and payments. A valuable solution to alleviate your burden is to consolidate your loans. This financial process lets you combine multiple debts into one, streamlining your debt.

In this guide, we go over strategies for effective debt consolidation to help you make informed financial decisions.

Understanding debt consolidation

Debt consolidation definition

Debt consolidation involves combining multiple debts into a single more manageable payment or arrangement. This simplifies the repayment process and can reduce the overall interest rate.

Two financial tools for debt consolidation are most commonly used: balance transfer credit cards and debt consolidation loans. Each option has its pros and cons.

Lower interest rates and a simpler payment process

A personal loan for debt consolidation can help you obtain a lower overall interest rate for the combined debts. This enables you to save money in the long run on interest. However, be aware of possible fees lenders and creditors might charge you when consolidating debt.

Another great advantage to consolidating debt using a personal loan is you can enjoy a streamlined, simpler payment process. Instead of having multiple daunting debt obligations with different terms and schedules, you only need to focus on one loan repayment.

Stress reduction

Another great benefit to reducing many of your debts into a single obligation is stress reduction. Managing multiple debts can cause feelings of anxiety. So many different interest rates, payment dates, and creditors can add to your psychological burden. Stress often leads to a lack of productivity at work and can exacerbate health issues.

After you consolidate all of your various high-interest debts, you only need to worry about a single debt payment every month. This can noticeably decrease your stress levels and even boost your productivity.


When to consider a personal loan for debt consolidation

Assess your debt situation

First, you need to look at what kinds of debts you have that can be consolidated. Debts that typically can be consolidated include:

  • Credit card balances
  • High-interest personal loans
  • Student loan debt

Identify your needs

Debt consolidation serves to simplify the debt repayment process and can reduce the overall interest rate of all of the combined debts. Securing lower rates helps you save money in the long term, making debt consolidation a valuable tool.

However, note that the process doesn’t necessarily help everyone. For example, if you have poor credit, the debt consolidation loan that you obtain may have an even higher interest rate, resulting in losses in the long run. In addition, if your existing debts come with penalties when you try to consolidate them, these additional charges should be considered.

Credit cards have an average interest rate of over 20 percent, whereas personal loans average around 11.5 percent. Many individuals seek to consolidate their highest-interest debts, converting them into a lower-rate personal loan. If you’re having a hard time paying down your credit card balance, consider consolidating that debt so that you can save potentially thousands of dollars in interest accumulation.

Evaluate your credit score

Your credit score expresses your creditworthiness to those who perform credit checks on you. There are two main credit scoring models accepted by creditors: FICO and VantageScore. The higher your credit score, the more likely you can qualify for advantageous debt consolidation loans.

Credit scores are affected by factors including:

  • Credit utilization
  • Payment history
  • Credit history length
  • Credit mix
  • Amounts owed

In general, it’s advised to pursue debt consolidation if you are confident you can obtain a reasonable interest rate that approaches or is lower than the overall interest rate of your existing debts. If you can boost your interest rate before applying for a debt consolidation loan, it might be a good idea to try.

Here are some effective strategies for increasing credit score:

  • Pay down your credit balances
  • Make loan and debt payments on time
  • Use free credit-tracking services to monitor credit changes
  • Dispute any discrepancies on your credit report (such as unauthorized inquiries)

Choosing the right personal loan

Comparison of interest rates

A major advantage to obtaining a debt consolidation loan is the potential to secure a lower interest rate for all of your debts.

When comparing the cost of borrowing, make sure you look at not only the interest rate, but also the annual percentage rate (APR). The APR is a more comprehensive rate that takes into account interest rate and fees, conveying the annual cost of borrowing.

Understanding loan terms and their implications on your repayment plan

The loan tenure (AKA loan term) refers to how long the repayment period lasts. Take the time to consider what repayment period works best for your new combined debt. Since you’re consolidating debts, it might benefit you to choose a longer repayment period for ample time to gather funds. Just be careful about interest accumulation, especially if the debt consolidation loan amount is significant.

The application process

1. Research lenders

When searching for the right debt consolidation loan, a critical step is to research your lender options. Lender reputation is essential to consider. Read online customer reviews to see whether your lender is known for responsive customer service and fair loan terms.

2. Prepare documentation

To be more time-effective, it’s a good idea to prepare your personal information and documentation prior to applying for a loan. Different debt consolidation loan providers will have their own eligibility criteria and application requirements, but in general, here are the documents that you need for a loan application.

  • Income verification: Examples include pay stubs, bank statements, and tax returns.
  • Proof of identity: Loan providers usually require you to show two forms of valid ID, such as your passport, driver’s license, and Social Security card.
  • Employment information: The lender may request an employment verification letter from your employer.
  • Collateral information: If you’re seeking a secured loan, you can expect the lender to ask for additional information related to your collateral asset.

Check the lender’s online website to see if they share a checklist for applicants.

3. Fill out the application and double-check for accuracy

Now that you have all your documentation on hand, it’s time to fill out the application. Review your loan application before submitting it to the prospective lender. This gives you a chance to fix any mistakes, which can prevent delays during the application process.

4. Monitor for updates

After submitting the loan application, make sure you monitor your application for updates. If you have missing or inaccurate information, the lender may ask you for more details.

Tips for a smooth approval process

To facilitate a fast, seamless, and successful loan approval process, consider the following:

  • Apply for only as much as you need
  • Add a co-signer or guarantor if you have poor credit
  • Prequalify for debt consolidation loans before formally applying
  • Double-check the accuracy of your loan application
  • Enhance your credit score before applying

Calculating the cost-benefit of debt consolidation

Debt consolidation isn’t the optimal choice for every debtor. First, it’s important to calculate how much you can save in total interest accrual via debt consolidation.

In addition, early debt payoff may come with penalties. If you try to consolidate debt with a new loan provider, other creditors may charge you a prepayment penalty. This is either a flat fee or a charge based on the outstanding balance of the loan.

Before taking out a debt consolidation loan, make sure you find out whether your existing creditors charge prepayment penalties for early repayment.

Executing debt consolidation effectively

Strategies for paying off your debts with personal loan funds

Taking out a new personal loan is a strategy that can help you streamline your debt repayment process. If you want to execute the process effectively, you will need to keep certain things in mind.

  • List out all of your debts
  • Mark down each debt’s interest rate, minimum payments, and total amounts owed
  • Add up all the debt amount to determine how large of a debt consolidation loan is needed
  • Find out what the overall interest rate is for your debts
  • Search for a debt consolidation loan with more favorable rates and terms

Pitfalls to avoid

A common pitfall of consolidating debt is accruing additional debt post-consolidation. While debt consolidation is a valuable strategy that can alleviate your financial burdens, it’s important to avoid pitfalls and predatory lending practices.

Here are pitfalls and red flags to watch out for when consolidating debt using a loan:

  • Guaranteed approval loans
  • Interest rate that is drastically different from the typical rate
  • Hidden fees and penalties
  • Unrealistic promises from the lender
  • Aggressive and high-pressure sales techniques
  • Lender encourages “loan flipping” (i.e. repeated refinancing of debt consolidation loans to avoid repayment)

Budget and plan

As with any debt obligation, creating a practical budget and plan for repayment improves your chances of success. If you’re struggling with your loan repayment planning, consider a consultation with a professional financial advisor. They can grant you individualized guidance suitable for your circumstances and needs.


Managing your consolidation loan

Proactive loan management can improve your financial stability. Here are some helpful guidelines to keep in mind.

Prioritizing debt repayment

Paying back your debt consolidation loan should be considered a priority after utilities and rent. Even if the interest rate is lower, it’s important to make the installment every billing cycle. Otherwise, you face late payment fees and more financial difficulties.

Adapting your budget

As you begin making loan payments, it’s good practice to appropriately adapt your budget. You might need to cut back on non-essential expenses while you have active debt obligations.

Communicating with lender

If life changes or financial challenges arise, disrupting your ability to pay back the loan, you might want to communicate with your lender.

Long-term financial health post-consolidation

Debt consolidation often brings a breath of relief to individuals who have felt burdened by debt. Here are some key points to keep in mind after you’ve consolidated your debt so you can enhance your financial stability.

Building an emergency fund

Emergency funds play a vital role in maintaining good financial health and stability. A good rule of thumb to follow is to stash at least three to six months’ worth of living expenses in a separate savings account. These emergency funds should only be accessed in case of urgent needs.

With a healthy emergency fund, you can fall back onto it like a safety net when necessary. This greatly improves your financial security and ability to deal with unforeseen expenses.

Planning for future financial goals

It’s advisable to not rely on excessive borrowing as long as you can comfortably avoid it. Debt consolidation and loans can lead individuals down a path of rapid debt accumulation if they aren’t careful.


Alternatives to personal loan debt consolidation

Discuss other debt consolidation options such as balance transfer credit cards

Balance transfer credit cards are a popular alternative to debt consolidation loans. Credit card companies often offer introductory 0 percent interest rate options to attract new applicants.

If you can obtain a 0 APR new credit card and expect to pay off the combined debts within the introductory period, this method can be more suitable than taking out a debt consolidation loan. Beware high interest rates post-introductory period and balance transfer fees that can catch you off guard.

The role of home equity loans or lines of credit in debt consolidation

Home equity loans and lines of credit are rarer options for debt consolidation. By using your home equity as collateral in what is essentially a second mortgage, you can secure a loan with lower interest rates. However, failing to pay back a home equity loan risks losing your home.

When to seek professional debt counseling or consider other debt relief options

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your financial obligations, an expert debt counselor can help you form a personalized strategy.

About The Author

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Ru Chen

Content Writer

Ru Chen is a content writer with several years of experience in creating engaging and well-researched articles. She mostly writes about business, digital marketing, and law. In her free time, she can be found watching horror movies and playing board games with her partner in Brooklyn.

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