What are Debt Consolidation Programs?
A debt consolidation program is a service designed to help borrowers pay off their outstanding debt. In these programs, consumers receive the tools to develop a loan repayment strategy with which to manage their existing debts. These programs allow the borrower to make one monthly payment, which goes toward all outstanding debts, usually on a timeline to get the borrower completely out of debt in 3-5 years. A credit-counseling agency or debt settlement company usually manages these debt consolidation programs, and the mission is to help consumers get out of debt and become financially independent.
Although somewhat similar, there are considerable differences between debt consolidation programs and a debt consolidation loan. Borrowers use debt consolidation loans to combine all their debts into a new single loan, usually at a lower interest rate. You don’t receive any sort of counseling during the debt consolidation loan process, and paying down your existing debts remains up to you. With a debt consolidation program, your existing balances remain with the original lenders; however, the debt consolidation company now manages the repayment of those loans for you. Unlike loans, most debt consolidation programs also include a counseling aspect to help borrowers stay on track to becoming debt-free. Finally, some debt consolidation programs may even actively negotiate with your creditors as well, in an attempt to lower the overall debt that you have to repay.
How Do Debt Consolidation Programs Work?
Debt consolidation programs typically start with a screening from a debt counselor to determine whether the program will be able to help. If you qualify for the program and decide to enroll, the debt consolidation program will take over the repayment of all your outstanding debts. Although all your credit card and debt accounts will still exist, you’ll provide the company a single payment each month, which it’ll apply toward your debts. Many debt consolidation companies charge you some sort of fee for their services, so it’s important to understand how that can affect your repayment strategy as well.
When Should Debt Consolidation be Used?
Debt consolidation should only be considered if the monthly debt payments get too burdensome. Also, if you are only able to pay for the minimum on your credit card bills, you will take a really long time to finish because of the financial charges and interest rates that will keep on piling up. This is the right time to go for a debt consolidation program. You need to get rid of the high interest rate debts so you can work on paying off the principal amount.
Having a lot of debts with different creditors can be too much to handle and the possibility of you missing out on a payment is not unlikely. If you consolidate them, you will only worry about one payment and one interest rate every month. You usually end up paying for less – although it will be for a longer payment term. The idea is to have more than enough to save up for your emergency fund.
If you want to opt for a debt consolidation program, make sure you have the income to cover for the new payment scheme. If your finances cannot handle the current outstanding balance of your debts, you need to work on a debt settlement program. This form of debt relief option will aim to lower your outstanding debts to come up with a lower monthly payment. The goal is to have a percentage of your debts forgiven. This program is only ideal for people with real financial difficulties.
Ultimately, you will only achieve freedom from debt if you learn how to manage your finances. You need to come up with a budget plan so you know just how much you can afford to spend every month. This is where a credit counselor or a debt professional can be of assistance. They should be able to provide you with a great advise to help you understand the do’s and don’ts of wise spending.
Do consolidation loans hurt your credit score?
If you use your debt consolidation loan to pay down your outstanding credit cards and become debt-free, then it should help to raise your credit score over the long term. However, it’s possible that applying for and obtaining a debt consolidation loan could temporarily lower your credit score at the outset. Submitting a new credit application often drops your credit score by a few points, as does opening a new credit account. However, as long as you use the debt consolidation loan to pay down your debts, you should see a positive impact on your credit score over time.
Is consolidating credit cards bad for your credit?
Credit card balance transfers are another popular form of debt consolidation. With balance transfers, a borrower opens a new credit card, typically with a lower APR than his or her existing cards, and then transfers all outstanding balances to the new card. Much like other forms of debt consolidation, this lowers the overall interest accumulating on the debt and streamlines debt repayment. Credit card balance transfers affect credit similarly to debt consolidation loans. A borrower may experience a short-term decrease in credit score due to the impact that new credit applications and accounts can have. However, if a borrower uses the balance transfer to pay down outstanding debts successfully, then his or her score should rebound over time.
Is it smart to consolidate debt?
Consolidating debt can be a good option for dealing with high levels of outstanding debt. Combining all your debt into a new loan or debt consolidation program will usually leave you with a single monthly payment at a lower interest rate, which will help streamline your debts and accelerate debt repayment. Many people are able to use debt consolidation loans or other programs to become debt-free much faster than if they merely continued to make minimum payments.
However, debt consolidation in the form of a loan isn’t for everyone. If your outstanding debts are so high that you can barely keep up with the minimum payments, then you may not qualify to pay off your debts this way. Other debt consolidation options include debt settlement, which has no credit qualifications. Like a loan, this method of debt consolidation allows consumers to have one low monthly payment and get out of debt much faster than if they merely continued to make minimum monthly payments.
What’s the best debt consolidation program?
If you’re considering a debt consolidation program, talk to a trusted financial advisor first. Your advisor may be able to point you in the direction of a reputable debt consolidation program nearby that you’ll be able to work with locally. Working locally with a credit counselor and debt consolidation team can be helpful in solving your challenges with outstanding credit card debts. Another option is to consolidate with a debt settlement company such as National Debt Relief. Instead of simply figuring out how to manage your debts and which to pay off first, a debt settlement company will actively negotiate with your creditors to lower your debts. Make sure to review your finances when deciding which program is right for you.
Can I use my credit card after debt consolidation?
Whether you can use your credit cards after debt consolidation depends upon the debt consolidation option you choose. If you opt to participate in a debt settlement program, you’ll likely close all your credit cards and thus be unable to continue using them. On the other hand, if you obtain a debt consolidation loan, you’ll retain control of your credit cards and be able to use them if desired. However, since the purpose of the debt consolidation loan is to pay off those cards and become debt-free, continuing to use them while undergoing debt consolidation could be counterproductive.
Does debt consolidation help your credit score?
Successful use of debt consolidation will normally lead to a higher credit score for most borrowers. While applying for and initially obtaining a debt consolidation loan can result in a temporary decline in your credit, over the long term, your credit should improve. The debt consolidation loan will streamline your debt repayment, so you’ll be able to pay all your debts with a single payment. The same is true of a debt settlement program. You may initially face a decline in your credit score when you stop making your minimum payments, but by the time your program is over, your score should be as high if not higher than when you started. Additionally, as you steadily pay down your overall debt balance, your credit rating should improve as well.
How to Select the Right Program to Trust?
When you are convinced that a debt consolidation program is your best option, select a trustworthy company to work on your behalf. A company that has a current working relationship with creditors and collection agencies will help you get better results. Because of this, a debt relief company that has been in the industry for a long time is a good choice.
Look into their success stories to see just what they are capable of accomplishing. Try not to get your hopes dependent on these results though. Each situation is unique and what works for another may not be the ideal result in your case.
Stay away from companies charging upfront fees. The government prohibits this under the debt relief laws – specifically the TSR or Telemarketing Sales Rule. You need to be very careful in choosing the right company to deal with because you might end up having to pay for more than what you owe. Know your rights and what to expect from legitimate debt relief companies.
If you wish to talk to a debt professional, get in touch with National Debt Relief. We are a legitimate debt management company who will work with you to achieve financial freedom. At the very least, we can advise you on the ideal path that you should take depending on your financial capabilities. Give us a call or fill out the short form on this page. We will have someone get in touch with you. The initial consultation is for free and we will never ask for upfront fees.