Are you struggling to make your current loan payments? When you consolidate debt, you can save money with a lower interest rate. And, interest rates are projected to rise in the near future. Today can be the best time to consolidate your debt! Doing so means you secure the best rate and save more money than if you wait.
It doesn’t matter what debt you have. Most of these companies can help you consolidate your debt into a single loan. This change means one loan payment each month. And, you pay less interest. So, you have more money to pay on the actual debt balance.
Table of Contents
- What is Debt Consolidation?
- The Best Companies to Consolidate Debt
- Why Consolidate Your Debt?
- How to Consolidate Your Debt
- Avoid These Types of Companies
- What to Do When You Consolidate Your Debt
- Alternatives to Debt Consolidation Loans
What is Debt Consolidation?
You consolidate your debt by combining several loans into one new loan. Now, you have one loan with one payment.
For example, you consolidate two credit card balances and an existing personal loan. Instead of having three monthly payments, you now have one payment. More importantly, you have a lower interest rate.
Only consolidate your debt when you get a lower interest rate. And, when you will pay less in total interest.
These loans are best for your high-interest debt such as:
- Medical debt
- Credit card debt
- Personal loans
The interest rate for these loans is above 10% for most people. If you have high interest rates, you have wiggle room to lower it with a new loan.
Just as home loans and student loans have different interest rates, so do these loans. And, some loans have more time to repay than others. Usually, high-interest loans have the shortest repayment terms. When you consolidate, your interest rate depends on the debt type and your credit score.
So, you may want to consolidate your student loans and credit card debt separately. This is because student loans have sharply lower rates than credit cards.
In fact, if you want to consolidate student loans, check out this link. Refinance your student loans separate for a lower interest rate.
The Best Companies to Consolidate Debt
Sadly, there are lots of shady characters in this space. So, you must do your due diligence when you consolidate your debt. Thankfully, our list helps you find companies we trust. You can get a loan that won’t surprise you with hidden fees.
And, don’t forget to sign up for automated monthly payments. Some lenders give a 0.25% interest rate discount when you automate. Just make sure you have enough cash in your checking account on the payment date.
It’s also a good idea to get a quote from at least three different lenders. Interest rate shopping lets you get the best rate. After all, why overpay if you’re going to consolidate?
Credible is one of the easiest ways to consolidate your debt quickly. You can use them for personal loans and student loan refinancing! Remember, the sooner you consolidate, the more money you save. Your lower interest rate goes into effect right away with a new loan.
What makes Credible easy is that you can compare the rates of multiple lenders. With a single search, you instantly get loan offers from at least three lenders. While you can apply with each lender, you save time by with Credible. This is because you only have to complete one form instead of three!
For example, Credible lets you consolidate your credit card debt with interest rates as low as 4.99%. If you currently pay 15% or 20% with your credit card, imagine the savings.
And, you can refinance your student loans through Credible. You can compare the rates of nine lenders at once!
Fixed interest rates and 36-month or 60-month terms are what to expect from Upgrade. You can also get a loan balance up to $50,000. And, you won’t pay a prepayment penalty with Upgrade.
After you’re approved, the money lands in your bank the next day. So, you can literally start saving money right away!
If you prefer to mail your payment to Upgrade, you won’t pay an extra fee. Other online lenders charge a fee for mail-in payments. Of course, automated payments may still be the best option with Upgrade. Yes, they offer an auto-pay discount too.
With a $1,000 borrowing minimum and an APR as low as 6.99%, Upgrade is one of the most affordable lenders.
At LendingClub, you can consolidate up to $40,000 of debt. You must choose either a 36-month or 60-month lending term. As of September 27, 2018, Iowa residents can’t borrow from LendingClub.
What makes LendingClub unique? Well, it’s a peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platform. Your loans are funded directly by solo investors instead of a bank. You send your monthly payment to LendingClub which divides it between your loan investors. That’s why you have more flexible options than a regular bank!
While you still pay interest with LendingClub, it can be less than a regular bank. So far, more than two million customers have used LendingClub. You can save money on interest and become debt-free sooner! And, you never pay a prepayment penalty if you repay your loan early.
4. Even Financial
Even Financial is another lender comparison site. You get quotes from several lenders with one request. And, it’s completely free to get a quote! First, you submit a loan request from $1,000 to $100,000.
To get an instant quote, you must provide these details:
- Your credit score
- Desired borrowing amount
- Loan purpose
- Personal contact information.
If you don’t know your credit score, you can get it for free.
Your interest rate can be as low as 4.99%, and your loan length can be as short as 24 months or up to 84 months.
Payoff only refinances your credit card debt. When Payoff approves your loan, you send your funds to your credit card company. Instead of sending payment to your bank, it goes to Payoff instead.
Your balance must be between $5,000 and $35,000 to apply. And, you must also meet the following requirements:
- FICO score of 640 or higher
- 50% or less Debt-to-Income ratio (i.e., Your debt must be less than $20,000 if you make $40,000 per year)
- Three years of good credit
- Two active credit accounts with current balances and no more than one new installment loan in the last 12 months
- No delinquent accounts in the last 12 months
If you meet the basic requirements, you can get pre-approved for free. This process doesn’t hurt your credit score.
According to Payoff, the average borrower sees a 40-point credit score increase. This happens once you pay your loan in full!
If your balance is at least $10,000, FreedomPlus offers competitive loans. Rates start at 6.99% for a two-year term. FreedomPlus approves most loans within three hours. And, you will receive your funds within 48 hours. That is, once sign all the paperwork. Besides the quick turnaround, FreedomPlus let you choose your payment date.
For a FreedomPlus loan, you must meet these three minimum requirements:
- 640 credit score or higher
- An annual income of $34,000 or higher
- A debt-to-income ratio below 40%
When you qualify, you can get a loan with a two to five-year repayment term. And, you can get an extra rate discount when you add a co-signer. To get the discount, they must have at least $40,000 in retirement savings!
Prosper has helped 600,000 people–just like you!–consolidate more than $9 billion in debt. You can consolidate up to $35,000 in debt with a three or five-year loan term. And, interest rates start at 6.95%. This is one of the lowest rates around! If you qualify, that’s a fraction of your current credit card interest rate!
SoFi offers the following debt consolidation loans:
- Personal loans
- Student loan refinancing
- Medical resident refinancing
- Mortgage refinancing
These loans have three to ten-year repayment terms. So, you may have up to 10 years to repay your loan with a lower interest rate.
One loan benefit unique to SoFi is unemployment protection. If you lose your job, SoFi suspends your payments for up to one year! SoFi even helps you find a new job with their career coaching team.
With your loans in forbearance, interest still accrues that you need to pay monthly. Or, they add it to your current loan balance when the unemployment protection ends. Then, you pay “interest on interest” as your loan costs go higher. If this happens to you, do everything possible to pay the interest each month.
There’s a second way to receive a six-month payment delay. It’s with SoFi’s Entrepreneurship Program. With this program, you focus on launching a business. You can use the extra money to get your business running. This program is another benefit unique to SoFi.
Founded by ex-Google employees, Upstart is a lending pioneer. Young professionals with minimal credit history should consider Upstart. Instead of only using your credit score, Upstart uses these factors too:
- Work history
- Field of study
- Future potential salary
Being in a lucrative career field means you can get a lower interest rate. This process makes Upstart unique.
You can refinance these debt types with Upstart:
- Credit cards
- Personal loans
- Student loans
With Upstart, your balance can be up to $50,000. Either a three-year or five-year loan term are your two options. It takes two minutes to see if you qualify. If so, Upstart sends you the loan funds the next day.
LendingPoint is an option if you have near-prime credit near the 600 credit score range. While they don’t have the best interest rates, it may be cheaper than your current rate.
After all, some relief is better than nothing. And, each lender helps people with different credit scores. Having a second chance from LendingPoint is nice.
Your only two repayment options are 12 months and 24 months. So, you need to be serious about paying off your debt fast. To maintain momentum, LendingPoint collects two payments a month. Multiple payments can help you pay less in interest.
While LendingPoint sounds like a payday lender, it’s not. You won’t pay the sky-high fees that payday lenders charge. And, you can improve your credit score with each payment!
LightStream is the online lending division of SunTrust Bank. Maybe, there’s a local SunTrust branch near you! With a minimum balance of $5,000, you can consolidate your debt. Plus, you do not have to be a SunTrust member to have a LightStream loan.
If you have problems with the loan application, LightStream offers a $100 loan experience guarantee. They will also beat the rate of a competitor too (conditions apply).
CashUSA provides you with access to a network of lenders. You can get loans up to $10,000. With other lenders, only one lender sees your application. But, at CashUSA, multiple lenders see your request at once. This perk saves you time in getting approved.
You can use the loan for practically any purpose. But, you should consolidate your debt first. And, CashUSA doesn’t charge any fees for their service.
Your repayment term can be as short as 90 days or up to 72 months. And, CashUSA approves loan requests in minutes! Even when you have “less than perfect credit,” you can get instant approval. To submit your loan request, you must have these traits:
- At least 18 years old
- Steady monthly income of at least $1,000 after taxes
- Have a personal checking account
- Ability to provide work and home phone numbers, plus a valid email address
Avant offers loans for borrowers with average credit. Average credit is between 600 and 700. You can borrow between $2,000 and $35,000. And, you still pay less interest than your current loan interest rate.
The lowest interest rate is 9.95% APR. So, you’ll only want to consider this loan for your credit cards. Your new rate can be 5% to 10% lower with Avant.
Besides low interest rates, Avant also offers next-day deposits. They need to approve your application by 4:30 PM Central Standard Time. Other lenders offer next-day deposits too, so pick one with the lowest rate. However, other lenders might take up to seven days to deposit your cash. If you pay the same interest rate with these lenders, why wait a week?
Another internet favorite is PersonalLoans.com. This is because you can get a loan as small as $1,000.
PersonalLoans.com isn’t a direct lender. Instead, they connect you with trusted lenders. They offer loans up to $35,000. Although these are personal loans, you can use them to consolidate debt.
Like other lenders, two minimum requirements include:
- Minimum 580 credit score
- Monthly income of at least $2,000
When you meet these two basic requirements, PersonalLoans.com will connect you with their lending team. You can then find the best rate from multiple lenders. And, you only have to submit one loan request!
The PersonalLoans.com partners include banks and peer lending sites.
Tip: See if you can get a better rate from LendingClub.
15. Discover Personal Loans
It can pay to discover with Discover Personal Loans. You can consolidate debt for only 6.99% APR. Your repayment terms are between 36 and 84 months. To get the best interest rate, choose the shortest loan term possible. But, only if you can afford the monthly payment.
One reason to use Discover Personal Loans is the fast application process. Discover sends your loan money directly to your lender. In an instant, your high-interest debt gets paid off. Other banks give you the cash first. Then, you must send it to your current lender. With Discover, the whole process is fast and easy. Now, you can focus your time on other things.
16. Wells Fargo
Sometimes, it’s hard to beat the convenience of a local bank. Brick and mortar bank interest rates aren’t always higher than online lender rates.
Wells Fargo offers competitive loan rates. And, they have higher borrowing limits than some online lenders. So, you can consolidate all your debt with one loan!
Another benefit of using Wells Fargo is that you can make in-person payments. If the bank is next to your work, it can be easier to walk in than mail payment.
Wells Fargo offers relationship discounts for current customers too. With these discounts, your interest rate can be cheaper than other lenders. Still, it doesn’t hurt to compare rates to help you save money.
Peerform is another P2P platform that can be cheaper than a bank. Sometimes, this is your best option with a 600 to 700 credit score.
But, the application process can take longer than using a bank. You must wait for investors to fund your loan. When you can wait, you can save you hundreds of dollars in interest charges. Sometimes, it does pay to wait for a better deal.
Why Consolidate Your Debt?
These loans help you pay off your debt without hurting your credit score. When you’re up to your eyeballs in debt, you feel helpless. In truth, not everyone is trying to take your last dollar. They want to help you get out of debt as soon as possible.
Save Thousands in Interest Payments
When you consolidate debt, you pay off your current credit card balances. As a result, these accounts become “current” again. You still have to repay your balance but at a lower interest rate. In the process, you can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars in interest. This is all because you have a lower interest rate.
And, these loans also have a fixed payment plan. Now, you know exactly how much to pay each month. If you have a three-year loan, you repay the whole balance in that time! With credit cards, you pay what you feel like paying. If you don’t pay enough, you’re in debt for the rest of your life!
And, credit cards are a revolving account. This means you can still make new purchases. So, you must pay your existing balance and your new balance too. Any payment you make applies to new purchases first. Let’s say you make $500 in new purchases and pay $505. Only $5 is used to pay your old balance that earns interest.
It’s common for people to close their credit cards after they consolidate debt. Doing so is a hassle, but it keeps you from going into debt further.
How Much Can You Save When You Consolidate Debt?
Is it worth the hassle to consolidate debt? The answer depends on how much money you can save.
Here’s a quick scenario of how much money you can save. Let’s assume you have $15,000 in credit card debt. It has a 15% interest rate. Right now, the whole balance is on your credit card.
Option 1: Make the minimum monthly payment
To be clear, with this option you don’t consolidate your debt. Also, this example assumes you don’t add to the balance amount.
Your estimated minimum monthly payment will be $337 for the next 376 months. That’s 31 years of payments! And, you pay $18,229 in total interest. Remember, your original $15,000 balance becomes $36,458. Or, twice your original balance amount.
Option 2: Consolidate Your Debt for 5.99% Interest
This option is a two-year loan and 5.99% interest. You make higher payments each month, but only pay about $1,000 in interest. That’s a savings of $17,000 when you consolidate debt! Even if you need to get a five-year loan, you can still save money.
To see these savings, you need a two-year loan with a $655 monthly payment. It might seem hard at first, but pinching pennies for two years is worth the reward.
This is only one example. You need to use your own figures to see how much you can save. Use a debt consolidation loan calculator to see your savings. Once you see how much you can save, you might feel more apt to get a loan.
How to Consolidate Your Debt
There’s a right way and a wrong way to consolidate your debt. We’ll show you the correct way so we can save you money and stress.
First, you must get a loan with the lowest interest rate possible. To get the lowest interest rate, compare these two factors:
- Choose the loan with the shortest repayment term. (two years vs. five years)
- Borrow as little as possible. (Maybe you only borrow $5,000 instead of $15,000)
To borrow as little as possible, sell any items you don’t need. Maybe these are items you still pay interest on. When you make a sale, put the entire sale towards your debt balance.
Reducing your balance before you consolidate gives your more options. You can choose how many years you want the loan to have. With a large balance, your only option might be the longest term. Remember, longer loan terms mean higher interest rates. And, higher interest rates mean less money you can save.
For now, choose the shortest loan terms possible you can afford. It’s still better than your current interest rates.
Only Consolidate Your Debt When…
In most cases, you save money when you consolidate debt. But, there are exceptions to every rule. Only apply for a new loan for these two reasons:
- You will pay less cumulative interest and fees
- You will get out of debt sooner
Before you accept the first loan offer, look for the total loan costs. Most quotes show how much you pay in interest and fees. Make sure the savings are worth the application. And, don’t forget to compare lender quotes to find the best offer.
As a side note, only accept an offer if you can afford the monthly payment. Lower interest rates don’t mean smaller payments. Since you have a repayment schedule, you may need to make large payments to stay on track. If you can’t afford large payments, get a longer loan term. When your income grows, you can make extra payments later.
Our starter budget can help you maximize your monthly spending and saving. This budget can help you find money to pay larger monthly payments.
Maybe you can’t afford the payments on a two-year loan. With a budget, maybe you can get a three or four-year term instead. Regardless, pick a loan that allows penalty-free extra payments. No hidden fees can be as vital as lower interest rates.
What Legit Companies Look Like to Consolidate Your Debt
There are dozens of companies that can consolidate your debt. Maybe they call you or send a postcard in the mail. These might be legit companies, but be careful. They might not be working in your best interest if they have hidden fees.
You should look for a company that doesn’t charge these fees:
- Application fee
- Early payoff penalties
- No temporary or “teaser” interest rates
Many lenders don’t charge a loan opening fee. Some lenders call this an origination fee. If they charge this fee, it can be up to 6% of the opening balance. Always read the “fine print” for any lender before you accept their offer.
Fixed Interest Rates vs. Variable Interest Rates
In most cases, apply for a fixed interest rate loan first. You pay the same interest rate for the entire loan term. Even if interest rates rise, your rate stays the same.
With variable rate loans, your payments increase if rates rise. Make it easy, secure a fixed rate today. You will know exactly how much to pay each month until you pay the loan in full.
Only get variable rate loans when you can pay off the balance in one year. For most people, it’s better to hedge your bets and choose a fixed rate loan. You still save money compared to your original interest rate. And, you have the extra peace of mind that comes with a fixed interest rate.
Some lenders only offer fixed interest rates. This makes the loan process easy since you only have one option. Then, you just have to decide on how long the loan term needs to be.
Avoid These Types of Companies
Remember how not every company works in your best interest?
You want to avoid debt relief and debt management companies. There are legit companies in this sector, but they are more expensive. To save money, consolidate your debt yourself.
These companies charge a monthly fee between $50 and $100 to help you. Debt management companies will negotiate lower rates. And, they will help you apply for a debt consolidation loan. So, they do help you. But, you can do both of these tasks alone.
For the convenience, these companies are better than nothing. If it’s the only way to consolidate your debt, do it. You only have to make sure enough money is in your bank account each month.
You might also consider these companies if you have sub-prime credit. That is a credit score below 580. They lend you money from their own savings. However, many banks won’t lend you money to consolidate debt with this credit score. Make sure your monthly fees don’t cause you to pay more than you already do. It’s still possible to save money and make a plan to become debt-free.
If you go this route, verify the company is legit. Ask the National Foundation of Credit Counselors. For many, this is the leading agency for credit counselors.
What to Do When You Consolidate Your Debt
This is not a “get out of jail free card” to borrow more money. You must still repay your current balance. The only difference is that you’ll pay less in interest.
These three tactics below will help you stay on track.
Follow the Debt Snowball Method
To repay your debt faster, you should pursue Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps. His debt snowball strategy focuses on paying the smallest debt balance first. If you have two identical balances, choose the highest interest rate first.
Sell Your Unused Items for Extra Payments
The lenders we recommend won’t charge you an early payment penalty!
Challenge yourself to pay off your debts sooner by making extra payments.
An easy way to do this is to sell your unused items. Use the proceeds to make extra monthly payments. The sooner you make an extra payment, the less interest you pay overall. Even if it’s only an extra $20 a month, it’s still progress.
To help us get out of debt, I sold my $20,000 car. Instead, I bought a $4,000 one. The extra cash was used to pay debt. You can also find some extra cash by selling some of these items:
Make Extra Money with a Side Hustle Too
When selling your used items isn’t enough, you can start a side hustle. You can earn extra cash with your knowledge and muscle! The beauty of side hustles is that they are a source of recurring income. You work as much or little as you want with side hustles. So, flexible gigs let you can balance work and family too!
Alternatives to Debt Consolidation Loans
In some cases, it doesn’t make sense to consolidate debt. Usually, this is if you won’t get a lower interest rate. Or, you don’t have enough debt to consolidate. Here’s what you can do instead to save money.
Negotiate a Lower Interest Rate With Your Current Lender
If you have a history of on-time payments, ask your lender for help. Call your credit card company or bank to see if you can get a smaller rate. In some cases, they might reduce your rate for several months. Or, maybe for the entire loan! This reprieve may be enough time to pay off your balance.
And, it’s less hassle than applying for a new loan.
Whether or not your lender discounts your rate, repay your balance ASAP! Do this to pay less total interest.
Sign up for a 0% APR Credit Card
A credit card with a 0% APR can save you big money too! You won’t pay interest during the promotion period. This is also called a “balance transfer offer.” You can put your credit card debt from one card to a no interest card.
Just make sure you can pay off the balance before the 0% interest ends. For most cards, you have between 12 and 18 months. After this time, you pay the regular interest rate again. That is most likely around 20%.
Also, only choose this option if you are responsible with credit cards.
Pull From Your Savings
Maybe your balance is too small to consolidate. In this case, your only choice is to pay off the balance early. That means making extra payments.
When possible, make a large payment from your savings account. Make sure you don’t pull from your emergency fund though. Once you repay the loan, pay yourself back with the old monthly payment amount. Do this until you rebuild your savings account balance.
Even if you consolidate your debt, make a large payment when possible. Smaller loan balances still mean you pay less in interest.
In brief, you can consolidate your debt to lower your monthly interest payments. And, you get out of debt sooner as a result. First, use one of the best lenders to consolidate debt. As a result, you will avoid hidden fees that add to the loan cost. And, you can improve your credit score in the process.
What’s your #1 reason to consolidate your debt?
For example, a three-year $10,000 loan with a Prosper Rating of AA would have an interest rate of 5.31% and a 2.41% origination fee for an annual percentage rate (APR) of 6.95% APR. You would receive $9,759 and make 36 scheduled monthly payments of $301.10. A five-year $10,000 loan with a Prosper Rating of A would have an interest rate of 8.39% and a 5.00% origination fee with a 10.59% APR. You would receive $9,500 and make 60 scheduled monthly payments of $204.64. Origination fees vary between 2.41%-5%. APRs through Prosper range from 6.95% (AA) to 35.99% (HR) for first-time borrowers, with the lowest rates for the most creditworthy borrowers. Eligibility for loans up to $40,000 depends on the information provided by the applicant in the application form. Eligibility is not guaranteed, and requires that a sufficient number of investors commit funds to your account and that you meet credit and other conditions. Refer to Borrower Registration Agreement for details and all terms and conditions. All loans made by WebBank, member FDIC.
Loans made through Upgrade feature APRs of 6.99%-35.97%. All loans have a 1% to 6% origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Lowest rates require Autopay. For example, if you receive a $10,000 loan with a 36 month term and a 17.98% APR (which includes a 14.32% yearly interest rate and a 5% one-time origination fee), you would receive $9,500 in your bank account and would have a required monthly payment of $343.33. Over the life of the loan, your payments would total $12,359.97. The APR on your loan may be higher or lower and your loan offers may not have multiple term lengths available. Actual rate depends on credit score, credit usage history, loan term and other factors. Late payments or subsequent charges and fees may increase the cost of your fixed rate loan. There is no fee or penalty for repaying a loan early.
Accept your loan offer and your funds will be sent to your bank via ACH within one (1) business day of clearing necessary verifications. Availability of the funds is dependent on how quickly your bank processes this transaction. From the time of approval, funds should be available within four (4) business days. All loans made by WebBank, member FDIC.
All loans available through FreedomPlus.com are made by Cross River Bank, a New Jersey State Chartered Commercial Bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender. All loan and rate terms are subject to eligibility restrictions, application review, credit score, loan amount, loan term, lender approval, and credit usage and history. Eligibility for a loan is not guaranteed. Loans are not available to residents of all states – please call a FreedomPlus representative for further details. The following limitations, in addition to others, shall apply: FreedomPlus does not arrange loans in: (i) Arizona under $10,500; (ii) Massachusetts under $6,500, (iii) Ohio under $5,500, and (iv) Georgia under $3,500. Repayment periods range from 24 to 60 months. The range of APRs on loans made available through FreedomPlus is 4.99% to a maximum of 29.99%. APR. The APR calculation includes all applicable fees, including the loan origination fee. For Example, a four year $20,000 loan with an interest rate of 15.49% and corresponding APR of 18.34% would have an estimated monthly payment of $561.60 and a total cost payable of $7,948.13. To qualify for a 4.99% APR loan, a borrower will need excellent credit on a loan for an amount less than $14,000.00, and with a term equal to 24 months. Adding a co-borrower with sufficient income; using at least eighty-five percent (85%) of the loan proceeds to directly pay off qualifying existing debt; or showing proof of sufficient retirement savings, could help you qualify.
All loans made by WebBank, Member FDIC. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, and credit usage and history. The APR ranges from 6.95% to 35.89%. For example, you could receive a loan of $6,000 with an interest rate of 7.99% and a 5.00% origination fee of $300 for an APR of 11.51%. In this example, you will receive $5,700 and will make 36 monthly payments of $187.99. The total amount repayable will be $6,767.64. Your APR will be determined based on your credit at time of application. The origination fee ranges from 1% to 6%; the average origination fee is 5.2% (as of 12/5/18 YTD).*There is no down payment and there is never a prepayment penalty. Closing of your loan is contingent upon your agreement of all the required agreements and disclosures on the www.lendingclub.com website. All loans via LendingClub have a minimum repayment term of 36 months or longer.