Best Debt Consolidation Loans of June 2021

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Credit card debt is common, and sometimes we end up in over our heads before we even realize it.

The average credit card balance is $5,315, according to Experian’s latest data. And while that number has dropped since 2019, even debt in the low four-figures can cost you a lot in interest when you only make the minimum payment.

If you’re stuck in a no-win situation with credit card debt you can’t afford to pay off (but also can’t afford not to), a personal loan for debt consolidation might be your ticket out.

Debt consolidation also helps people with multiple student loans lump them together into one loan, ideally with a lower interest rate.

One obvious draw of using a personal loan for debt consolidation is that it helps you avoid getting overwhelmed by too many bills and too many different due dates. Imagine taking all those payments you’re juggling and streamlining them into one monthly bill. That’s one of the big benefits of a debt consolidation loan.

However, there are a few considerations to make when looking for the right debt consolidation loan. You’ll want to make sure you are getting the best interest rate and that the repayment plan works within your budget.

Select rounded up the top personal loans for debt consolidation, looking at fees, interest rates and flexible repayment options for different credit scores. (Read more about our methodology below.)

We tried to prioritize loans with no origination or sign-up fees, but we also included options for borrowers with lower credit scores. Some of the options ahead have origination fees and/or APRs — make sure you understand the terms of the loan before you sign up. For loans with no origination fees, check out our best personal loan list.

Select’s picks for best debt consolidation loans

Debt consolidation loans FAQs

Best for student loan consolidation

SoFi Personal Loans

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

    5.99% to 22.56% when you sign up for autopay

  • Loan purpose

    Debt consolidation/refinancing, home improvement, relocation assistance or medical expenses

  • Loan amounts

  • Terms

  • Credit needed

  • Origination fee

  • Early payoff penalty

  • Late fee

Pros

  • No origination fees, no early payoff fees, no late fees
  • Unemployment protection if you lose your job
  • DACA recipients can apply with a creditworthy co-borrower who is a U.S. citizen/permanent resident by calling 877-936-2269
  • Can have more than one SoFi loan at a time (state-permitting) 
  • May accept offer of employment (to start within the next 90 days) as proof of income
  • Co-applicants may apply

Cons

  • Applicants who are U.S. visa holders must have more than two years remaining on visa to be eligible
  • No co-signers allowed (co-applicants only)

Best for fair/average credit

Upstart Personal Loans

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

  • Loan purpose

    Debt consolidation, credit card refinancing, home improvement, wedding, moving or medical

  • Loan amounts

  • Terms

  • Credit needed

    FICO or Vantage score of 580 (but will accept applicants whose credit history is so insufficient they don’t have a credit score)

  • Origination fee

    0% to 8% of the target amount

  • Early payoff penalty

  • Late fee

    The greater of 5% of monthly past due amount or $15

Pros

  • Open to borrowers with fair credit (minimum 580 score)
  • Will accept applicants who have insufficient credit history and don’t have a credit score
  • No early payoff fees
  • 99% of personal loan funds are sent the next business day after completing required paperwork before 5 p.m. Monday through Friday

Cons

  • High late fees
  • Origination fee of 0% to 8% of the target amount (automatically withheld from the loan before it’s delivered to you)
  • $10 fee to request paper copies of loan agreement (no fee for eSigned virtual copies)
  • Must have a social security number

Best for consolidating debt while improving financial literacy

Upgrade Personal Loans

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

  • Loan purpose

    Debt consolidation/refinancing, home improvement, major purchase

  • Loan amounts

  • Terms

  • Credit needed

  • Origination fee

    2.9% to 8%, deducted from loan proceeds

  • Early payoff penalty

  • Late fee

    Up to $10 (with 15-day grace period)

Pros

  • No early payoff fees
  • Loans up to $50,000
  • Fixed interest rates (no surprises)
  • Can pay creditors directly (may take up to two weeks)
  • Fast funding in as little as four days

Cons

  • No joint applications or co-signers
  • Origination fee of up to 8% (deducted from your loan)
  • Not available in Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Maryland, Vermont and West Virginia

Why Upgrade is the best for financial literacy:

  • Free credit score simulator to help you visualize how different scenarios and actions may impact your credit
  • Charts that track your trends and credit health over time, helping you understand how certain financial choices affect your credit score
  • Ability to sign up for free credit monitoring and weekly VantageScore updates

Best for paying creditors directly

Marcus by Goldman Sachs Personal Loans

On the Marcus by Goldman Sachs secure site

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

    6.99% to 19.99% APR when you sign up for autopay

  • Loan purpose

    Debt consolidation, home improvement, wedding, moving and relocation or vacation

  • Loan amounts

  • Terms

  • Credit needed

  • Origination fee

  • Early payoff penalty

  • Late fee

Pros

  • No origination fees, no early payoff fees, no late fees
  • Will send direct payment to up to 10 creditors (for debt consolidation)
  • Monthly VantageScore updates
  • Earn a one-month payment vacation (interest-free) after making 12 on-time consecutive payments
  • Ability to choose your due date when you accept the loan (and again up to two more times after that)

Cons

  • Does not accept joint applications and/or co-signers
  • Not the fastest funding (can take a week or 10 business days)
  • Slightly tougher approval requirements (especially for larger loans/lower interest)

Best for staying motivated

Payoff Personal Loans

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

  • Loan purpose

    Debt consolidation/refinancing

  • Loan amounts

  • Terms

  • Credit needed

  • Origination fee

    0% to 5% (based on credit score and application)

  • Early payoff penalty

  • Late fee

    5% of monthly payment amount or $15, whichever is greater (with 15-day grace period)

Pros

  • Peer-to-peer lending platform makes it easy to check multiple offers
  • Loan approval comes with Payoff membership and customer support
  • No early payoff fees
  • No late fees
  • Fast and easy application
  • U.S.-based customer service

Cons

  • Higher loan minimums ($5,000)
  • Must submit soft inquiry to see origination fees and other details

How Payoff is designed to help you stay motivated:

  • Offers borrowers a dedicated “Empowerment Science” team that is available to take questions and provide encouragement
  • Free personality tests, stress assessments and cash flow trackers to help borrowers understand their money management style and nail down better habits
  • Free FICO tools help members track their progress*

*Based on a study of Payoff Members between February 2020 to August 2020, members who use a Payoff Loan to eliminate at least $5,000 of credit card balances reportedly see an average FICO Score boost of 40 points. (Results may vary and are not guaranteed.)

Best for good to excellent credit

LightStream Personal Loans

On LightStream’s secure site

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

    2.49% to 19.99%* when you sign up for autopay

  • Loan purpose

    Debt consolidation, home improvement, auto financing, medical expenses, wedding and others

  • Loan amounts

  • Terms

  • Credit needed

  • Origination fee

  • Early payoff penalty

  • Late fee

Pros

  • Same-day funding available through ACH or wire transfer
  • Loan amounts up to $100,000
  • No origination fees, no early payoff fees, no late fees
  • LightStream plants a tree for every loan

Cons

  • Requires several years of credit history
  • No option to pay your creditors directly
  • Not available for student loans or business loans
  • No option for pre-approval on website (but pre-qualification is available on some third-party lending platforms)

Best for joint applicants

Prosper Personal Loans

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

  • Loan purpose

    Debt consolidation/refinancing, home improvement, auto/motor, medical or dental, big purchase and more

  • Loan amounts

  • Terms

  • Credit needed

  • Origination fee

     2.41% to 5.99%, deducted from loan proceeds

  • Early payoff penalty

  • Late fee

    5% of monthly payment amount or $15, whichever is greater (with 15-day grace period)

Pros

  • Co-borrowers are permitted
  • Repeat borrowers may qualify for APR discounts
  • Option to change your payment date according to when works best for you
  • Wide range of loan amounts
  • No prepayment penalty

Cons

  • High late fees
  • Origination fee of 2.41% to 5.99%, deducted from loan proceeds
  • Only two loan terms to choose from (3 or 5 years)

Debt consolidation FAQs

1. What is a debt consolidation loan?

A debt consolidation loan is a personal loan that’s used to pay off existing debt across other accounts, including credit cards, student loans and other installment loans.

Debt consolidation loans should not be confused with debt settlement or debt negotiation. If you want one of these loans, most lenders require that you:

  1. Apply for and get approved for a new personal loan.
  2. Use the personal loan money to pay off your old accounts.
  3. Set up monthly payments on the new loan (usually starting within 30 days).
  4. Pay off the full amount of your loan (typically the combined total of your old balances plus interest), plus any applicable fees.

2. What are the benefits of consolidating debt?

Now just imagine if they had two or three credit cards with similar balances and APRs.

The average personal loan interest rate is currently 9.65% APR. While that’s still high, it’s still much less than the average credit card APR of 16.28%.

3. Does debt consolidation hurt your credit score?

Consolidating your debt into a personal loan can have a positive impact on your credit score and overall finances, but it’s important to understand the process so you can ensure the greatest benefit.

Debt consolidation will impact your credit score and credit report in the following ways:

  1. It will add at least one hard inquiry to your credit report.
  2. It will add an active installment loan to your credit report.
  3. Your monthly payments will be tracked and reported to the credit bureaus until the loan is paid off.
  4. Your credit utilization ratio will drop when you move revolving credit card debt onto the new installment loan.

Personal loan applications require a credit check, so you’ll want to make sure you know your credit score before you apply. There’s no direct penalty for getting denied a loan but having too many applications on your credit report could be a red flag to future lenders.

4. How does debt consolidation work?

Personal loans deliver cash directly to your bank account, which you then use to pay off your existing debt. Within 30 days, you’ll start making a fixed monthly payment on the new loan until all of the debt is paid off. Most personal loans come with fixed-rate APRs, so your monthly payment stays the same for the loan’s lifetime.

In a few cases, you can take out a variable-rate personal loan. Before you choose this option, make sure you’re comfortable with your monthly payments changing if rates go up or down.

Personal loan APRs average 9.65%, according to the Fed’s most recent data. Meanwhile, the average credit card interest rate is around 16.28%. Your interest rate will be decided based on your credit score, credit history and income, as well as other factors like the loan’s size and term. Most loan terms range anywhere from six months to seven years. When choosing your repayment terms, pick the monthly payment that fits best with your budget, but also note how much interest you’ll pay over the lifetime of the loan.

Be sure to check if the lender charges an early payoff or prepayment penalty, especially if you think you might pay your loan down faster than your agreed-upon term. Sometimes, lenders charge a fee if you make extra payments to pay your debt down quicker, since they’re losing out on that prospective interest

Once you’re approved for a personal loan, the cash is usually delivered directly to your checking account within a week or less. You can sometimes ask your lender to pay your credit card accounts directly. Any extra cash leftover will be deposited into your bank account or returned to the lender.

5. Do you have to close credit cards after debt consolidation?

You can keep your credit cards open even after you take out a debt consolation loan. Ideally, you should use your loan to pay off credit card debt, then use credit cards only to pay for what you know you can afford to pay off at the end of each month. If you’re worried about racking up credit card debt all over again, look into how closing the account(s) will impact your credit score.

You might decide to keep one or two cards open for emergencies or daily spending, and close the rest of your credit cards. Use a credit score simulator like CreditWise from Capital One to see how much your score might drop before you start closing accounts.

Our methodology

To determine which personal loans are the best for consolidating debt, Select analyzed dozens of U.S. personal loans offered by both online and brick-and-mortar banks, including large credit unions. When possible we chose loans with no origination or sign-up fees, but we also included options for borrowers with lower credit scores on this list. Some of those options have origination fees.

When narrowing down and ranking the best personal loans, we focused on the following features:

  • Fixed-rate APR: Variable rates can go up and down over the lifetime of your loan. With a fixed rate APR, you lock in an interest rate for the duration of the loan’s term, which means your monthly payment won’t vary, making your budget easier to plan.
  • Flexible minimum and maximum loan amounts/terms: Each lender provides more than one financing option that you can customize based on your monthly budget and how long you need to pay back your loan.
  • No early payoff penalties: The lenders on our list do not charge borrowers for paying off loans early.
  • Streamlined application process: We considered whether lenders offered same-day approval decisions and a fast online application process. 
  • Customer support: Every loan on our list provides customer service available via telephone, email or secure online messaging. We also opted for lenders with an online resource hub or advice center to help you educate yourself about the personal loan process and your finances.
  • Fund disbursement: The loans on our list deliver funds promptly through either electronic wire transfer to your checking account or in the form of a paper check. Some lenders (which we noted) offer the ability to pay your creditors directly.
  • Autopay discounts: We noted the lenders that reward you for enrolling in autopay by lowering your APR by 0.25% to 0.5%.
  • Creditor payment limits and loan sizes: The above lenders provide loans in an array of sizes, from $1,000 to $100,000. Each lender advertises its respective payment limits and loan sizes, and completing a preapproval process can give you an idea of what your interest rate and monthly payment would be for such an amount.

Note that the rates and fee structures advertised for personal loans are subject to fluctuate in accordance with the Fed rate. However, once you accept your loan agreement, a fixed-rate APR will guarantee your interest rate and monthly payment will remain consistent throughout the entire term of the loan. Your APR, monthly payment and loan amount depend on your credit history and creditworthiness. To take out a loan, lenders will conduct a hard credit inquiry and request a full application, which could require proof of income, identity verification, proof of address and more.

*Your LightStream loan terms, including APR, may differ based on loan purpose, amount, term length, and your credit profile. Excellent credit is required to qualify for lowest rates. Rate is quoted with AutoPay discount. AutoPay discount is only available prior to loan funding. Rates without AutoPay are 0.50% points higher. Subject to credit approval. Conditions and limitations apply. Advertised rates and terms are subject to change without notice. Payment example: Monthly payments for a $10,000 loan at 3.99% APR with a term of three years would result in 36 monthly payments of $295.20.

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.

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