If you’re carrying balances on several credit cards, you might be considering a debt consolidation loan. If you don’t own real estate your options are limited to unsecured consolidation loans.
There are two reasons to consider doing a loan like this. First is to get better terms than you have on your credit cards. Second is to make managing your debt repayment more convenient. The theory is that the loan pays off your cards and when you’ve paid off the loan, you’re out of debt.
Debt consolidation loans are typically not for someone who is in trouble and drowning in debt. If your debt situation as gotten to this point you are unlikely going to be approved for any kind of additional credit and you will be better off with another type of credit card debt relief program.
Unsecured consolidation loans depend on you having outstanding credit and sufficient income to support the loan. Let’s say you owe $18,000 in credit card debt. You’re making the monthly payments but it’s a hassle to make six credit card payments each month. Let’s also assume that you can obtain an unsecured loan at lower interest than the majority of your credit card interest rates. You take out a loan for $18,000 and pay it off in 48 or 60 months. Sounds good. You go from making six payments each month down to one. Your payment is a little lower and with the lower interest rate you’ll theoretically get out of debt faster. That all sounds great in theory. In practice it doesn’t really work out as well.
The first problem is that this type of lending is loaded with scam artists, hidden fees and a relatively high cost to take out the loan. No one lends money for free. Consolidation loans are high risk loans for reasons discussed below. Therefore lenders are going to charge as much in fees as they can get away with. Those fees are often rolled into the loan. If you want to have $18,000 to pay off your credit cards, you may have to take out for several hundred dollars more to cover the costs of the loan.
You have to beware of illegal operations out there that offer “debt consolidation loans” to people with bad credit. They will illegally demand an up front fee at the time they take your application. If you are ever asked for money in advance for any loan, do not pay it. Just walk out the door. You’re dealing with a scam artist.
Here’s the ugly truth about debt consolidation loans (secured or unsecured) – they almost always backfire. You can get a great loan with great terms and pay off your credit cards with it and then have it backfire on you later. How? Using our previous example of $18,000 in credit card debt, you would have a $18,000 to $20,000 debt consolidation loan and $18,000 in available credit that was feed up when the cards were paid off. That’s $18,000 in credit that you can use any time you want. There is nothing to prevent you from racking up another $18,000 in debt before you pay off the consolidation loan. The ugly truth is that most people who borrow money to “pay off” credit cards do exactly that, ending up in a hole that may be twice as deep as the one they were trying to crawl out of. You simply can not borrow your way out of debt. Ever. It does not work.
Debt consolidation loans are a bad idea if they are looked at as a way to “get out of debt.” They rarely achieve that result. You can’t borrow your way out of debt. Debt consolidation loans transfer the debt to a different creditor with better terms, nothing more.