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Debt Consolidation vs. Debt Settlement

debt consolidation vs debt settlement

You may have heard the terms debt consolidation and debt settlement, but which may make the most sense for your situation?

The two options are very distinct. Debt consolidation is the process of paying off debt from a number of different creditors with a single loan. Debt consolidation may be a smart tactic for taking control of debt. Debt settlement, which is typically a process for people who may be struggling with making payments and want to avoid bankruptcy, involves negotiating an agreement on your debt with one particular creditor.

Let’s delve in deeper to understand the potential advantages or consequences of both choices.

Debt Consolidation

If you currently hold debt from a number of different creditors, debt consolidation may well be the route you want to pursue.

It can be difficult juggling different amounts of debt from several creditors, each possibly with their own interest rate and minimum payments.

By consolidating several debts into one single loan to pay off, it can make things significantly less complicated. As a bonus, debt consolidation loans may come with a reduced interest rate and lower monthly payment, making it easier to pay the debt off.

Debt Settlement

On the other hand, debt settlement is most often (though not exclusively) used to settle one single substantial debt from a single creditor.

Upon negotiating with your creditor, you may be able to settle your debt for less than what was originally owed. You may be able to lessen the amount you need to pay, while the creditor is able to be paid more quickly.

While this is easier to manage with just one creditor, it can be done through negotiations with multiple creditors.

An important thing to keep in mind with regards to debt settlement is that there’s no guarantee this will be an option you can pursue.

Your creditor is under no obligation to settle the debt for less and may simply refuse. This is also not something that can be done overnight – the average debt settlement case takes 2-3 years, and some far longer. In the meantime, your bills will continue to come.

Debt Consolidation vs. Debt Settlement: Which is Best for Your Needs?

So, which option is best?

Generally, the specifics of your circumstances may dictate it for you. If you owe a large amount of money to a single creditor, debt consolidation may serve no purpose. Alternately, if you owe money to a large number of creditors, debt settlement could be far trickier.

However, if you find yourself in a situation where both options are viable (for instance, owing money to only two or three creditors) there are a few factors to consider when deciding whether debt consolidation vs. debt settlement is right for you.

  • While you may be paying less total with a debt settlement, you’ll still need to pay a lump sum of whatever number you negotiate down to. This may be substantially more than both your original monthly payment and your monthly payment after a debt consolidation.
  • Debt settlement may be achieved through a representative of a debt consolidation company, which may mean additional fees. Anything you pay to a debt consolidation creditor may be in lieu of paying off your original debts, not in addition to it.

In the end, the decision of debt consolidation vs. debt settlement will depend on your current financial situation.

To learn more about how debt consolidation works, check out our infographic.

If you’d like to estimate your payments and potential savings with a personal loan, enter your current balances and APRs using our debt consolidation calculator.