There are few things in life as stressful as feeling buried underneath a mountain of debt.
Folks today are carrying more debt than maybe ever before, especially when you look at the multi-car pile-up of our financial lives — credit cards, all kinds of loans, mortgages, student debt, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Worse, having to navigate different types of debts – which payment has to be made on this specific date, what kinds of interest rates you’re paying here but not over there, and the duration of different debts and loans varying across the board – makes things even worse.
Thankfully, when you choose to consolidate things – condensing ALL of your debt down to a single lender, to a single financing package, and a single monthly payment – you will notice a dramatic change.
Of course, finding the right debt consolidation package and plan for your financial future is nowhere near as simple or straightforward as just jumping on board the first offer you come across.
No, you need to be smart, savvy, and strategic about the type of debt consolidation loan you pursue.
You’ll want to find something that can free you from the financial stress and worry your former bills were causing, simplifying everything across the board while reducing your overall interest rates, and helping you to better manage your finances to become debt-free just as quickly as possible.
That’s why we have created this quick guide.
Below we not only dig into the ins and outs of why you’d want to consolidate your debt in the first place, but we also cover what to look for in these kinds of financing packages and highlight a couple of the best services in the business providing them.
By the time you are done with the inside information in this guide, you’ll know exactly what to do to find the best debt consolidation offers for your specific situation.
You’ll be able to cut down your debt dramatically, reduce your financial obligations significantly, stretch out your payment timelines to fit your budget, and pay less interest – all while enjoying a lot less stress and anxiety about money along the way.
Let’s get right to it!
What Exactly Does Debt Consolidation Mean?
Debt consolidation plans and packages can look a little bit complex and convoluted on the surface, but at their core, they are all really simple and straightforward.
Debt consolidation offers you an opportunity to pull together all of your debt – ALL of your debt – into one lump sum, using that loan to pay off all of your former creditors and lenders, while at the same time condensing things down to a single loan, a single payment, and a single interest rate.
Instead of having to worry about when your car payment is due when your credit card bills are due when your student loans are due, and when your mortgage and other loans are due – having to collect for different amounts of money at different points in time throughout the month – everything gets brought into a single lump sum that you knock out one payment at a time.
A lot of different financial organizations offer these kinds of loans (and we will dig into that in just a little bit) with millions of people taking advantage of them worldwide every year.
The idea is to streamline your financial life, to simplify your financial life, and to remove a lot of the headache and hassle involved in juggling multiple payments and multiple paydays – as well as multiple interest rates – completely.
Think of this as a one-stop-shop kind of solution that brings all of your loans and all of your debts under one roof and into one payment and you’ll have a good idea of what debt consolidation is all about.
Why Consolidating Your Debt is Such a Good Idea
There are a couple of big benefits to debt consolidation, with the biggest one being a more streamlined and easier payoff schedule.
As we just mentioned a moment ago, there’s nothing worse than feeling like bills are slipping through the cracks, like financial obligations are popping up out of nowhere, and like you are always forking over more and more money just to get out from underneath your debt.
When you have a car loan due on the fifth of the month, a personal loan due on the 10th of the month, a mortgage payment due on the 15th of the month, a credit card due on the 20th of the month, and a student loan payment due on the 25th of the month you’re always juggling things around to try and find money to make these financial obligations – almost always living paycheck to paycheck, strapped throughout the week, and feeling anxious and agitated because of it.
By moving forward with a debt consolidation package, you eliminate all of those separate paydays (and all of those different creditors) and instead pay just once a month – on one day a month – that you can plan around.
On top of that, you’re also able to eliminate a lot of the different sky-high interest rates you’re probably dealing with across the board.
Car loans and credit cards, in particular, are known to have pretty high-interest rates attached to them (especially if your credit was less than picture-perfect when you just got started), and those interest rates are always going to be different than the rates you’ll get from student loan packages, mortgage payments, and personal loans.
By bringing all of your debt under one roof, and under one financial package, you’re able to eliminate different interest rates – allowing you to save a lot of money along the way.
Sometimes you’ll even be able to consolidate your debt with 0% APR options through special credit card programs (like some of the offers we highlight below), giving you a big window of time to pay off a huge chunk of your debt all at once with zero interest whatsoever.
That can help you save a mountain of money in both the short and long term.
Lastly, just the overall amount of control you have when you choose to take advantage of debt consolidation programs is better than maybe anything else out there.
These kinds of lending packages understand that you are moving a lot of loans into a single financing deal and are going to be flexible when it comes to repayment terms, repayment lengths, and the day or schedule of your payments each month.
This kind of flexibility isn’t always available with more traditional loans, depending entirely on financier that you are working with and their comfortability giving you a little bit of extra leeway.
With debt consolidation, though, you sit squarely in the driver seat. You’re able to determine and dictate a lot of these key parameters (within reason) that can make these deals a lot more favorable to you than what you’ll find through more traditional financing packages
Preparing for Debt Consolidation Services
Before we start to dive deeper into our five favorite debt consolidation options out there on the market today (we get to that in just a moment), it’s important to highlight some things you want to do to better prepare for leveraging these solutions as best as you can.
Right out of the gate – even before you start to research different offers – you’re going to want to tally up all of your debts so that you can get a feel for the amount you owe, the kind of interest rates you are paying, a detailed breakdown of all your monthly minimum payments, and a bunch of other details as well.
Start by listing out each lender, the repayment schedule you are working with through them, and the specifics regarding the debt that you are paying down right now until you have a complete list.
Tally everything up from there to get a feel for how much you are going to need to consolidate and you’ll be in a much better position when it comes time to run through the application process itself.
The next big piece of the puzzle you are going to want to tackle is getting your hands on your credit report.
As of right now (middle 2020) you can get one free credit report from all three of the major consumer credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) per year. This credit report is going to give you a better picture of your credit history and your credit situation, as well as a good indication of your credit score.
You’ll also want to be on the lookout for items you may need to dispute to clear up any inaccuracies that are holding your credit score down. From time to time these kinds of inaccuracies can wreak havoc on your credit report and your credit score, negatively impacting the types of debt consolidation packages you can get going forward.
Credit bureaus have 30 days (most of the time) to look into and examine your claim, and if they aren’t able to find anything that backs up the issues on your report they have to scrub them from it completely. That allows you to boost your credit score quickly, giving you even more favorable terms when you go for debt consolidation offers.
Of course, while you are doing that you want to make sure that you can pay down as much of your debt as possible (within reason) while specifically targeting high-interest debt right away.
Credit cards and car loans are some of the highest interest rate debts you’re likely to carry right now, and the faster and more aggressively you pay them down the better off you are going to be financially. You’ll want to get your credit utilization rate as low as possible as quickly as possible, as that’s going to have a huge impact on your credit score, too.
The next big piece of the puzzle is researching different debt consolidation packages and credit cards.
We dig a little deeper into the best debt consolidation options on the market today below, helping to jumpstart the process for you. You’ll want to make sure that you do plenty of research and due diligence on your own as well, though.
This is a huge financial decision – one with a long-lasting impact – and not something that you are going to want to jump into without a full understanding of what you are getting into.
As long as you cover those fundamentals and only commit to doing business with 100% legitimate operations out there – companies that aren’t asking for any money upfront before they provided a service, companies that aren’t making unrealistic guarantees about how to help you with your debt, and companies that aren’t aggressively trying to get you to sign on the dotted line before you’re ready – you should be good to go!
Our Five Favorite Debt Consolidation Options
H3 Marcus by Goldman Sachs
With reasonably good credit and looking to consolidate between $3500 and $40,000 of debt are going to find that the online lending department of Goldman Sachs – Marcus – is a fantastic option that helps make life a lot simpler straight out of the gate.
For starters, there are no fees whatsoever to pay to go through the application process, to go through the origination process, or if you’re late with some of your payments. The elimination of fees helps to lower your financial obligations considerably but it also helps to make things a lot less stressful, too.
The loan limit of about $40,000 is pretty decent (though there are certainly organizations out there that offer even more money for consolidation). You might have a tough time fitting ALL of your debt under this kind of consolidation package – especially if you have a lot of student loans, a lot of credit card debt, and a lot of medical debt – before the most part you can consolidate a huge chunk of your debt and simplify things quite a bit.
It’s also important to remember that Marcus by Goldman Sachs provides a lot more control over your loan repayment plans. Not only are you able to set up your specific payment date and your payment schedule, but you’re also able to flexibly adjust things on the fly (every month, if necessary) to help you meet these financial obligations.
Speaking of control, Marcus also lets you choose the monthly payment amount that you are interested in making – adjusting the term on your loan to fit those monthly payments. This may mean you pay a little bit more in the long-term (if your monthly payments are quite small), but it guarantees that you’re able to find a debt consolidation package that fits your regular budget.
Marcus does offer direct payment to creditors for those that are consolidating loans, a huge advantage compared to some of the other organizations out there. You don’t have to worry about juggling all of these payments on your own but will instead be able to lean Marcus to handle the heavy lifting of these logistics for you.
This debt consolidation package provides deferred payments after you make at least 12 consecutive payments on time. This is just another example of Marcus doing very well by their customers.
The only real knock against Marcus by Goldman Sachs is that you do already have to have pretty decent credit to get approved. It doesn’t have to be picture-perfect (credit scores of 650+ are regularly approved) but those with low or poor credit are going to find working with Marcus to be rather difficult.
Discover is regularly recognized as one of the best personal loan organizations in the financing world, and their credit card offers have gotten better and better as time goes on – but it’s their debt consolidation packages that help to separate them from the rest of the pack.
Discover offers incredibly low-interest rates, super flexible repayment terms, and direct payouts to creditors standard across all of their debt consolidation offer – but they also allow you to use up to 30% of your debt consolidation loan for other financial obligations you may have.
Yes, you are reading that correctly.
The folks at Discover require you to use 70% of your debt consolidation loan for debt consolidation purposes (and it’s not a bad idea to use even more than that, up to 100% of it when possible, for this intended purpose) – but the other 30% can help you take advantage of financial opportunities order knockdown other financial obligations not covered by these loans.
A lot of people leaving reviews for Discover debt consolidation loans have made mention that they used the 30% towards home renovations or other major expenses they might not have been approved for otherwise all while reducing their overall debt overhead.
Financial terms for these kinds of loans usually stretch out from between three years and seven years at a time, with clients signing up for these debt consolidation packages having a lot of input into how long their loan repayment schedule is going to last.
As far as monthly payment options are concerned, you’ll be able to move your payment due date around as long as often as twice a year. This isn’t quite as flexible a plan as Marcus by Goldman Sachs offers, but it does allow you to shuffle the deck a little bit to make sure that your debt consolidation plan fits neatly into your monthly budget.
Of course, Discover allows you to choose the frequency of your payments in a way that a lot of other organizations don’t.
Whereas most other debt consolidation companies require you to pay monthly no matter what, Discover allows their customers to pay weekly, biweekly, or even on a semi-monthly basis – skipping a month between payments – in a way that opens up a lot of financial freedom opportunities for sure.
You will need a minimum credit score of 650 (with the average debt consolidation borrower score sitting at 750) to take advantage of Discover debt consolidation packages, though. On top of that, late fees are charged-off at $39 per incident.
If you are looking to consolidate credit card debt exclusively (and have even just halfway decent credit scores) you are going to want to take a closer look at all that Payoff has to provide.
This company does not offer consolidation packages for other forms of debt, but when it comes to credit card consolidation there may not be a company in the business that does it better than these folks will.
Providing very low starting rates (we are talking some of the lowest interest rates in the business), direct payment to creditors to help boost your score and your credit history through your consolidation package, and including a whole bunch of online educational resources to help their clients improve their financial future while paying down their debt, Payoff is a very innovative service in this arena.
You’ll also be happy to know that Payoff does not charge late fees if you miss a payment.
Instead, they have some of the best customer service and support in the industry that’s willing to work with you to find out how to get you back on track. Payoff provides you with a whole host of different options – payment deferral, skipping a payment, or rearranging your payment date – to help you meet these financial obligations.
The interest rates that they charge are some of the best in the industry (as we made mention of earlier), with one example being a $20,000 debt consolidation loan carried over a 48-month block of time resulting in payments of just $587 per month.
The ability to consolidate that much debt with those friendly interest rates (interest rates that can often be even lower as long as your credit score is reasonable) is a big part of why so many people choose Payoff for their debt consolidation needs.
Of course, you won’t be able to consolidate debts that are not credit card- related with Payoff. That is going to be a nonstarter for some people for sure.
While other debt consolidation offers (like the ones that we have already highlighted in this quick guide) provide borrowing limits that max out around $40,000, SoFi separates itself from the rest of the pack by providing debt consolidation loans of up to $100,000 – complete with fixed interest rates that can help you save a mountain of money in a hurry.
Best of all, you don’t need to have fantastic credit to take advantage of debt consolidation packages worth up to $100,000 like you do with other lending companies, either. As long as your credit is reasonable – around 650 or so – you’ll be able to get all of your debt into these consolidation packages without a lot of headaches and a lot of hassle.
At the same time, SoFi does require you to take out at least $5000 as part of the loan packages they provide. Anyone that is looking to consolidate less than $5000 is going to have to look elsewhere, though this shouldn’t be all that big a deal for most people.
SoFi provides loan terms that can stretch out to 84 months (seven years) which goes a long way towards helping people keep their monthly payments low.
You’ll be in the driver seat to determine the length and duration of your lending package for the most part. There is plenty of opportunities to stretch these debt consolidation loans out a bit longer than you might have otherwise to help you better manage your finances.
Best of all, SoFi is usually able to get the cash and capital you need for these kinds of loans into your bank account inside of about seven days. It may take a little longer (and it may happen faster than that) depending on your specific situation, but it shouldn’t take any longer than 10 business days for you to have all the money you need to consolidate your debt effectively.
SoFi does have some minimum income requirements you’ll need to meet to take advantage of these kinds of loans, and they do have a somewhat longer application and origination process than most, but these are to be expected when you’re able to take out up to $100,000 in debt consolidation financing.
If your credit score is less than picture-perfect (or even sits at what summer describes as below average or even poor) that doesn’t mean that you have to sit on the sidelines and let your debt pile up without the help of debt consolidation.
Avant one of the best low minimum credit score debt consolidation loan companies in the business today, allowing you to consolidate a huge chunk of your debt (up to $35,000) even if your credit report is anything but blemish-free.
The interest rates with Avant remain pretty low (anywhere between 9.95% and 35.99% APR), loan repayment terms sit between two years and five years, and they offer plenty of flexibility when it comes to picking your payment dates and your payment schedule.
Avant does require you to have an annual income of at least $20,000 (before taxes) to take advantage of these loans, though your credit score can be 580 or even lower in some circumstances – a credit score that would be almost impossible to get a debt consolidation loan with most anywhere else.
Customer service and support with this company are regularly ranked as some of the best in the business, so it’s nice to know that they are on your side and always willing to help you get your financial future back on track.
So there you have it, our breakdown of the absolute best debt consolidation services available on the market today.
At the end of the day, you really can’t go wrong with any of the solutions that we highlighted above – more answers are here as well.
Each of these five is well-regarded throughout the industry, provide flexible and friendly services to those that want to take better control of their financial future, and are all geared towards helping you get out from underneath crippling debt as quickly as possible (without spending a small fortune in interest rates or fees).
Be sure to take advantage of all the inside information we highlighted above to inform your ultimate decision. You will want to as much research and due diligence on your own as possible before making a decision (for obvious reasons), waiting until you are completely confident that the debt consolidation company you’ve selected is the right one for your specific needs and your specific situation.
We can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that you’ll be happy with any of the five options we broke down above, though. Be sure to start your search there!