Updated November 01, 2018
Are you stuck under an overwhelming pile of consumer debt? Do you feel like it might be impossible to get out? Fortunately, there are tools that can help you get out of debt faster.
Debt consolidation loans could be a good answer. With a debt consolidation loan, you would use the loan proceeds to pay off credit card debt, medical debt or any other form of debt. You would then have a loan at a fixed interest rate and a fixed term.
Debt consolidation provides three benefits:
- Make payments simple: If you owe a lot of lenders and are having a tough time keeping track of all the payments, then consolidating will make your life easier. You’ll only owe one lender and have to keep track of one due date. There’s less of a chance of anything falling through the tracks.
- Lower your interest rate: This is where you have to run the numbers to see if debt consolidation makes sense for you. What’s the average interest rate you’re paying on your debt? If it’s quite high (which is likely if you have a lot of consumer debt), you may benefit from consolidating under better terms. Just remember to only use a personal loan if the interest rate is lower than the one you are already paying.
- Improve your credit score: If your credit cards are currently maxed out, your credit score will suffer. When you pay off your credit card debt with a personal loan, you will often receive a boost to your credit score, so long as you don’t start using your cards again. LendingClub did a study and determined that there is an average score increase of 21 points within three months for people who use loans to eliminate credit card debt.
If you think debt consolidation makes sense for your situation, we have a list of the best debt consolidation loans you can use to refinance your consumer debt. Read on for our recommendations.
Personal Loans to Consolidate Credit Card Debt
Start Shopping Here – LendingTree
At LendingTree, you can make dozens of personal loan companies compete for your business with a single online form. When you fill out the form, LendingTree will do a soft pull – which means your score will not be negatively impacted. Dozens of lenders will compete and you may be matched with lenders who want your business. You may be able to compare and save in just a few minutes. We recommend starting here. You can always apply directly to other lenders – but many of the lenders we recommend already participate in the LendingTree personal loan online tool.
Minimum 500 FICO
Minimum Credit Score
LendingTree is our parent company. LendingTree is unique in that you may be able to compare up to five personal loan offers within minutes. Everything is done online and you may be pre-qualified by lenders without impacting your credit score. LendingTree is not a lender.
Below are some leading lenders you could also consider:
SoFi – Excellent, Good Credit Required
You can borrow between $5,000 and $50,000, which is the most out of the personal loans recommended here. The fixed APR ranges from 6.99% to 15.49% if enrolled in autopay. You can choose a term of 36 to 84 months. Variable interest rates range from 6.40% – 12.70% APR. Although SoFi does not use FICO, you need to be “prime” or “super-prime” to qualify. That means you must be current on all of your obligations and must never have filed for bankruptcy. There is No origination fee or prepayment penalty associated with a personal loan from SoFi.
Minimum Credit Score
No origination fee
SoFi offers some of the best rates and terms on the market. ... Read More
Fixed rates from 6.99% APR to 15.49% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 6.26% APR to 13.99% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of October 26, 2018 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. See APR examples and terms. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 6.26% APR assumes current 1-month LIBOR rate of 2.22% plus 4.285% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.
To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull.
See Consumer Licenses.
SoFi Personal Loans are not available to residents of MS. Maximum interest rate on loans for residents of AK and WY is 9.99% APR, for residents of IL with loans over $40,000 is 8.99% APR, for residents of TX is 9.99% APR on terms greater than 5 years, for residents of CO, CT, HI, VA, SC is 11.99% APR, and for residents of ME is 12.24% APR. Personal loans not available to residents of MI who already have a student loan with SoFi. Personal Loans minimum loan amount is $5,000. Residents of AZ, MA, and NH have a minimum loan amount of $10,001. Residents of KY have a minimum loan amount of $15,001. Residents of PA have a minimum loan amount of $25,001. Variable rates not available to residents of AK, TX, VA, WY, or for residents of IL for loans greater than $40,000.
Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi's underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)
Some of the leading lenders for people with less than perfect credit include:
LendingClub – Minimum FICO of 600
This is a peer-to-peer platform, which means individual investors are contributing to your loan. You can borrow between $1,000 to $40,000
with LendingClub, and its APR ranges from 6.95% – 35.89%, depending on the type of loan grade you’re eligible for. Be aware there are origination fees (ranging from 1.00% - 6.00%) associated with this personal loan, but there are no prepayment penalties. You can borrow on terms 36 or 60 months. The minimum credit score needed is 600. LendingClub is not available in Iowa or West Virginia.
Minimum Credit Score
1.00% - 6.00%
LendingClub is a great tool for borrowers that can offer competitive interest rates and approvals for people with credit scores as low as 600.... Read More
Prosper – Minimum FICO of 640
Prosper offers loans from $2,000 to $40,000, and APR ranges from 6.95% to 35.99% . It offers loans terms of either 36 or 60 months. Your APR is determined during the application process, and is based on a credit rating score created by Prosper. Your score is then shown with your loan listing to give potential lenders an idea of your creditworthiness. Origination fees range from 2.41% - 5.00% and are based on your Prosper score. In order to qualify, you must:
Prosper is a flexible alternative with a low-end APR that usually beats a credit card.
Minimum Credit Score
2.41% - 5.00%
Prosper is a peer-to-peer lending platform that offers a quick and convenient way to get personal loans with fixed and low interest rates. ... Read More
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.
[Check out other Personal Loans on Our Comparison Table Here]
A Loan or a Credit Card to Consolidate Debt?
Personal loans can be an excellent way to consolidate your debt. Personal loans are best when you have a lot of debt or your credit score isn’t perfect. However, if you have a smaller amount of debt and a great credit score, you can get rates as low as 0% with a balance transfer. If you do have a good credit score, you should apply for a 0% interest balance transfer credit card.
Wait: I Have Student Loan Debt
If you’re thinking about refinancing or consolidating your student loans, there are a couple of things to know.
First, what’s the difference between refinancing and consolidating?
- Private Loan Consolidation: This involves combining all your loans into one loan so you only owe one lender and have to make one simple payment.
- Federal Loan Consolidation (Direct Consolidation Loan): Only have Federal student loans? You can combine them through a Direct Consolidation Loan with the government. According to studentaid.ed.gov, “The fixed rate is based on the weighted average of the interest rates on the loans being consolidated.” This doesn’t save you much money, but your payments will be more manageable. For a complete list of Federal loans that can be consolidated, check here.
- Refinancing: This is when you apply to a completely new lender for new terms – you’ll have a new loan, and your new lender will pay off your old loan.
The difference isn’t all that big – when you consolidate private (or private and Federal) student loans, you’re essentially going through the refinancing process.
If you currently have Federal loans, you need to be aware refinancing or consolidating means giving up certain benefits that come with federal student loans.
That means income based repayment, deferment, forgiveness, and forbearance options disappear. A few of these benefits are forfeited even with the Direct Consolidation Loan. These benefits could get you through an otherwise rough time, so make sure refinancing makes sense beforehand.
If you do have federal student loans, and you’re thinking of refinancing or consolidating, first see if you’re eligible for deferment or forbearance. There’s no reason to go through the process of having your credit checked if you can lessen your student loan burden another way.
If you have private student loans, you can also check with your lender to see if it offers payment assistance. Many lenders are making improvements to their student loan refinance programs and including forbearance and deferment options.
Also, once you consolidate or refinance your student loans, there’s no going back. This applies to the Direct Consolidation Loan as well.
Okay, still think refinancing or consolidating is right for you? You can shop for the best lender to refinance your student loans here.
Shopping Around is a Must When Consolidating or Refinancing
The goal of refinancing or consolidating is to ultimately make your debt less of a burden on you. That means getting the best rates and terms offered. The easiest way to accomplish this is to shop around with different lenders. If you do so within a 45-day window, FICO will not punish you for shopping around. All of your student loan inquiries in the 45-day period will only count as one inquiry. Plus, there are many lenders out there who will give you rates with just a soft credit inquiry (though a hard inquiry is required to move forward with a loan). Always put yourself first, as you’re never obligated to sign for a loan you’re approved for.