Managing Debt

Debt Consolidation Q&A

Couple discussing what is debt consolidation and how they should go about it

Debt consolidation loans can be a great way to manage your debt, especially if you have a lot of high-interest unsecured debts that overwhelm you. Below, we’ve listed the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about debt consolidation loans. 

What is Debt Consolidation?

Debt consolidation rolls several debts into one lower-interest payment. It’s a strategy you can use to reduce your total debt and reorganize it to help you pay down your debt. Although there are several types of debt consolidation methods, a debt consolidation loan is the most common one.

What is a Debt Consolidation Loan?

A debt consolidation loan involves taking out a new loan to pay off one or more  debts you already have. It allows you to bundle your debts with a loan that features one manageable monthly payment at a lower interest rate. To qualify for a debt consolidation loan, you will likely need good credit.

What Types of Debts Can I Consolidate?

You can use debt consolidation to merge a variety of debts, including credit cards, personal loans, medical debt, auto loans, student loans, and payday loans. Virtually any  debt  is eligible for debt consolidation. Due to credit card regulations, there are limitations on a given lender’s ability to pay off credit card accounts with the proceeds of a loan from the same lender. For example, Discover Home Loans® cannot directly pay off a Discover Card account with a home equity loan or mortgage refinance that Discover originates. However, we can provide you with a cash out to use as you choose. 

How Do Debt Consolidation Loans Work?

To consolidate your debts, you take out a debt consolidation loan (either through a home loan or a personal loan) to pay off your current debts. A good debt consolidation loan helps you in two ways: it spreads out your debt repayment over the life of the loan (which usually ranges from 5 to 30 years) or it reduces the interest you are paying on the debt. By lengthening your repayment term and reducing your interest rates, you should see lower monthly payments on your debt and will only need to manage one bill payment each month.

Can You Use Your Home Equity to Consolidate Debt?

Yes. In fact, debt consolidation is one of the most common reasons homeowners take out home equity loans. Whether you use a traditional home equity loan or a home equity line of credit (HELOC) to consolidate debt, you’ll enjoy a single payment, lower interest rate, and the peace of mind of knowing when your debt will be paid off. 

Discover Home Loans offers home equity loans ranging from $35,000 to $200,000 with low fixed rates and zero origination fees. With this in mind, debt consolidation with Discover Home Loans can often be a great option. 

How to Get a Debt Consolidation Loan

A good first step in getting a debt consolidation loan is to understand the current status of your debt: how much you owe and what interest is charged against each debt. Our debt consolidation calculator allows you to list your debts and suggests the best options to consolidate your debt. 

If you own a home, a home equity loan can be a great option to lower your interest rates and spread out your repayment term: see how much your home’s equity can allow you to borrow with our loan amount calculator.

Once you know if a personal loan or a home loan is the best option for your debt consolidation, you can see your likely monthly payments with our monthly payment calculator.

If these monthly payments are less than your current minimum monthly payments against your existing debt, then it is a potential good solution for your debt consolidation needs.

Couple reviewing how to consolidate credit card debt with a home equity loan

The most noteworthy benefit of debt consolidation is that you will only have to worry about one debt payment every month.

When Should You Consolidate Debt?

There are three main reasons to consolidate your debt:

  • If you’re having trouble managing all your debt payments, debt consolidation can give you one easy-to-manage payment each month.
  • Good debt consolidation loans help you secure a lower interest rate on your debt, lowering what you pay against the debt.
  • Many debt consolidation loans can spread out the repayment term, which can reduce your monthly payments. 

What are the Advantages of Debt Consolidation?

The most noteworthy benefit of debt consolidation is that you will only have to worry about one debt payment every month. You may also be able to save big on interest, especially if you have a lot of high interest debt and are able to lock in a lower interest rate with your debt consolidation loan. Finally, debt consolidation can help you to pay off your debt and avoid missed payments, which can help you improve your credit score.

What are the Disadvantages of Debt Consolidation?

The relative benefits of a debt consolidation loan depend on your individual circumstances and actual debt payments. You will save on interest payments when you pay the new, lower interest rate debt monthly in an amount equal to or greater than previous payments towards the higher rate debts being consolidated. Keep in mind, though, while your monthly payments will be lower, in the long term you may pay more interest if the debt is extended.

Also, if you’re having trouble controlling your spending, debt consolidation won’t solve your problem. You may be better off working with a financial planner so you can get to the root of your problem. Debt consolidation loans may also include upfront costs like origination fees and closing costs.

Discover Home Loans does not charge any origination fees or closing costs. 

Debt Consolidation and Credit

How Can I Consolidate Debt with Bad Credit?

It may be difficult to get a debt consolidation loan if you have bad credit, however there are other options to help. Debt management, and debt settlement may be able to improve your debt situation without good or excellent credit.

Do Debt Consolidation Loans Help or Hurt Your Credit?

Your credit score is mostly dependent on your ability to make on-time payments each month. While a debt consolidation loan can completely pay off your credit cards, the addition of the loan to your credit report will balance that off: leaving you with the same overall amount of debt. If a debt consolidation loan lowers your monthly payments and makes managing your bills simpler, you may be better able to make your scheduled payments: which will drive your credit score higher. If, however, you continue to add new debts to your account (through credit card use or other loans and bills), a debt consolidation loan may not prevent your credit score from dropping. 

Are there debt consolidation options that don’t include loans?

Can debt management consolidate your debt?

Debt management solutions may help you manage your debt, but you will probably not be given a solution that combines all your payments into a single payment. 

Debt management involves working with a third-party to design a plan that’ll help you manage your debt and achieve your goal of becoming debt-free. A credit counselor may counsel you and work with your creditors to restructure your debt or help you take better control of it. Debt management may make sense if you’re in a financial position where you can handle your debts but don’t how to do so.

Can debt settlement consolidate your debt?

Debt settlement services may be able to consolidate your debt into a single payment, but more often debt settlement services work with your creditors to find a price point resolution for your multiple debts.

The goal of debt settlement is to convince your creditors to accept less than the total amount of debt you owe.  While you can attempt to settle your debt on your own, you’ll likely get better results with a professional debt settlement company. A debt settlement company is well-versed in negotiating with creditors and can make the process less intimidating. 

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