Despite our best efforts to cover our expenses, sometimes life throws the curveballs at us, like home or car repairs that can’t be delayed. When this happens, it’s pretty easy to build up a credit card balance.
If you owe money on your credit cards, you might be wondering if consolidating that debt through a personal loan is the right choice. And the answer? It might be.
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The advantage of personal loans
In many cases, you will be entitled to a lower interest rate on a personal loan than your credit cards charge you on your debt. This is especially true if you have a high credit score. As such, using a personal loan to pay off credit cards could make your debt cheaper to eliminate.
Plus, as long as you make your personal loan payments on time, having that loan shouldn’t hurt your credit score. On the other hand, too much credit card debt can hurt your credit score.
One factor that goes into calculating your credit score is your credit utilization rate. This ratio measures the amount of available revolving credit you are using at one time.
The higher this ratio, the more damage it can cause. But personal loan balances are not factored into this ratio because they are not considered a revolving line of credit. Rather, personal loans are installment loans that are repaid in fixed amounts over time. So, from a credit score standpoint alone, a personal loan might be a smarter way to pay off debt.
The downside to personal loans
If you are a homeowner and have a mortgage, you might remember that when you closed your loan you had to find a pile of cash for closing costs. Well, personal loans work the same way in that you will usually pay the closing costs on the amount you borrow. These charges could reduce your savings by lowering the interest rate on your debt.
Additionally, if you have good credit, it might be beneficial to consider a balance transfer before consolidating your credit card debt with a personal loan. A balance transfer allows you to transfer your existing credit card balances to a single card. Often times, this new card will come with an introductory 0% APR which will help you avoid accumulating interest on your debt for a period of time. So, if you think you will be successful in paying off your debt before this introductory period expires, a balance transfer may be a better bet than a personal loan.
Finally, personal loans generally impose borrowing minimums. If you don’t have that much credit card debt, it might not be a good idea to take out a personal loan. In this case, a balance transfer may be a more suitable option to explore.
The bottom line
Using a personal loan to pay off credit card debt is a reasonable step. But before you embark on this path, make sure it’s the right choice for you. In some cases, a balance transfer might actually prove to be a more cost effective way to pay off the debt you’ve accumulated.