Many people today are saddled with unmanageable levels of debt. Compounding this problem is the fact this debt is often owed to multiple creditors, which can make keeping them all paid on time rather complicated and expensive. However, paying off debt can be made easier with the help of a debt consolidation strategy, which combines all of your liabilities into a single obligation with one easy monthly payment.
Read on to learn about the basics of debt consolidation.
Debt Consolidation Basics
Debt consolidation firms work in one of several ways. Some file loan applications with different banks on your behalf. Others offer you a loan themselves. Some offer balance transfer cards, which are high limit credit cards that allow you to consolidate your other credit card debt. Some also offer cash-out refinance mortgages, which can provide you with the cash to pay off your existing debts by using the equity in your house. Be especially careful with these though, as you could have to forfeit your home if you can’t meet the terms of the loan.
Once your application is approved, the balance on all of your previously existing debts is paid off, as they will be moved to the consolidation instrument you choose. You’ll then make a single monthly payment to cover that deal. All you need do to get the debt consolidation process started is to fill out a couple of short forms.
That said, there are a few pros and cons of which you should be aware.
The benefits of debt consolidation include:
- Debt consolidation helps you make managing your finances simpler by combining all your debts into one, requiring you to provide only one payment per month.
- Debt consolidation can help prevent you from going into default on your current debts, keeping your credit from taking a major hit.
- Debt consolidation loans generally have a longer term, meaning that you have smaller payments.
- These loans also usually have lower interest rates than the combined rates on the original debts. This makes your monthly payments extra low.
The drawbacks of debt consolidation include
- The main drawback to debt consolidation is the increased term of the loan. While a longer term can mean paying less per month, it also means the total amount you pay can be higher.
- If you have a secured debt consolidation loan, such as a cash-out refinance mortgage, your property could be at risk if you default on the loan.
- The most advantageous debt consolidation offers are generally only available to people with good credit.
- Some unscrupulous lenders have large, hidden fees.
Features of a Trustworthy Debt Consolidation Company
Check the loan terms each company offers to make sure you get a debt consolidation loan from a reputable, trustworthy company. This is one of the fundamental debt consolidation basics. Trustworthy debt consolidation companies offer the following:
- No hidden fees or application fees.
- Short application forms that are easy to fill out.
- Loan fees close to the current national average.
- Good customer service.
Don’t do business with a debt consolidation company that doesn’t have many of these features.
Once you understand the basics of debt consolidation, you can find a company that will best suit your needs. If you take care to properly assess your financial situation and the ways in which consolidation can affect you, applying for debt consolidation could be the best financial step you could take. With all of that said, the most important thing to consider before taking a debt consolidation loan is figuring out why you need one the first place and making sure you’ve corrected the situation to avoid needing another one.