That’s a considerable chunk of change, and if most of that debt is in high-interest credit cards, it can make getting out of debt very difficult. If you owed $20,000 in high interest credit card debt, at 19.99%, it would cost you $3,998 every year, just in interest payments.
This level of debt can be extremely stressful and make saving money impossible for some people. There is an answer, however: debt consolidation. This is the strategy of paying off all of your high interest debts and replacing them with one, low interest loan. This can drastically lower the amount of interest you pay, reduce your monthly debt payments and ease your financial stress.
These are some of the most popular, money-saving ways to consolidate debt, with options for different personal circumstances.
If you own your home, you could have the cheapest debt consolidation option available to you: a mortgage refinance. This is when you increase the size of your mortgage to cash in some of the equity in your home and use the excess money to pay off your debts.
To do this — and to get the best mortgage rates available — you’ll need:
- Enough income to qualify for the extra mortgage amount
- A decent credit score (720 or higher usually)
- Sufficient equity in your home (you can only borrow up to 80% of your home’s value)
Mortgages usually provide the lowest interest rates available for any loans. Let’s say your home is worth $200,000 and your mortgage is $120,000. You may be able to borrow up to an extra $40,000 with a refinance. Be aware though, that there can be some costs involved in arranging a refinance, and if you need to break your existing mortgage to do it, you could pay a hefty prepayment penalty.
Home Equity Line of Credit
Taking out a line of credit secured against the equity in your home brings flexibility and low rates. Your financial institution will arrange a set limit of rolling credit, which you can draw from at any time, for any reason. Some pros and cons include:
- Rates as low as prime plus 0.5%
- The flexibility to pay it off at your own pace as long as you make minimum monthly interest payments
- People with low income and/or bad credit may struggle to qualify
- You need self-discipline to pay it off in good time
- If the prime rate increases, so does your interest rate
Personal Loan/Line of Credit
This is probably the best option for anyone who doesn’t own their home or can’t secure a home equity loan. Depending on your income and credit score, you could secure a loan or personal line of credit at between 5% – 10% interest.
With a loan, repayments are more rigid, but you have a clear timeframe in which you’ll pay off the debt. A line of credit offers more flexibility but requires self-discipline to pay it off in good time.
Low Interest Credit Card Transfer
You could transfer the balances from your high-interest credit cards to one low-interest card. Some credit cards, such as Cornerstone’s Centra Gold Mastercard, offer interest rates as low as 9.9%. This could immediately cut your credit card interest payments in half and speed up the time it takes to pay off your debts.