Best Debt Consolidation Loans for September 2021

When you’re drowning in debt, it can feel like there’s no way out when interest keeps mounting with every passing day. A debt consolidation loan will replace all of your debts with one single loan, monthly payment and interest rate to help you keep track of your debt payoff journey. The best debt consolidation loans have low interest rates, flexible loan amounts and longer terms to help you save money in the long run.

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      We use our proprietary SimpleScore methodology to weigh your available options and find the very best lenders for easy consolidation loans that will eliminate your debt with the lowest rates.

      The best debt consolidation loans of 2021

      Debt consolidation loans at a glance

      LenderAPRLoan AmountTermsFees
      LendingClub8.05%–35.89%$1,000–$40,0003–5 yearsOrigination and late fee
      Prosper7.95%–35.99%$2,000–$40,0003–5 years2.4%–5% origination fee
      PersonalLoans.com5.99%–35.99%$1,000–$35,00090 days–6 yearsVaries by lender
      LightStream4.98% – 19.99% w/AutoPay $5,000–$100,000 24–48 monthsNo fees
      Avant9.95%–35.99%$2,000–$35,0002–5 yearsAdministrative fee: 4.75%
      Upstart6.95%–35.99%$1,000–$50,0003–5 yearsOrigination and late fee
      OneMain18.00%–35.99%$1,500–$20,0002–5 yearsOrigination and late fee
      Best Egg5.99%–29.99%$2,000–$35,0003–5 yearsOrigination and late fee

      *Rates accurate as of September 2021

      Best for joint borrowers – LendingClub

      Lending Club is the largest online lender with its own easy grading system that will determine your rates.

      APR Range
      Loan Amount
      36–60 months
      3.2 / 5.0
      SimpleScore LendingClub 3.2
      Rates 2
      Loan Size 5
      Customer Satisfaction 3
      Support 3
      Fees 3

      Lending Club has a minimum credit score of 600, and there is a joint loan option that’s especially helpful if your credit score needs some help. You can even qualify with a soft credit check, so there’s no damage to your credit score if you don’t get approved or decide not to move forward. You can apply online in just minutes, but you’re going to have to be patient with processing since most customers don’t receive funding until after four days or more.

      In The News

      LendingClub in February announced a $185 million purchase of Radius Bancorp to secure a more stable and cheaper source of funding. “What a bank charter does for LendingClub is it allows us to take what is the leading digital loan provider online and combine it with a leading digital deposit gatherer,” Scott Sanborn, CEO of LendingClub, told CNBC following news of the takeover.

      LendingClub Disclosure

      All loans made by WebBank, Member FDIC. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, and credit usage and history. The APR ranges from 8.05% to 35.89%. For example, you could receive a loan of $5,700 with an interest rate of 7.99% and a 5.00% origination fee of $300 for an APR of 11.51%. In this example, you will receive $5,700 and will make 36 monthly payments of $187.99. The total amount repayable will be $6,767.64. Your APR will be determined based on your credit at time of application. *The origination fee ranges from 1% to 6%; the average origination fee is 5.2% (as of 12/5/18 YTD).* There is no down payment and there is never a prepayment penalty. Closing of your loan is contingent upon your agreement of all the required agreements and disclosures on the website. All loans via LendingClub have a minimum repayment term of 36 months or longer.

      Best peer-to-peer lender – Prosper

      Prosper doesn’t really deal with chump change, so this is really only best when you have significant income.

      APR Range
      Loan Amount
      36–60 months
      3.2 / 5.0
      SimpleScore Prosper 3.2
      Rates 2
      Loan Size 5
      Customer Satisfaction 3
      Support 3
      Fees 3

      Prosper is a solid option for peer-to-peer lending if you have a lot of money to stash in the bank.

      A minimum credit score of 640 or more is recommended, as well as a minimum 50% debt-to-income ratio. Prosper moves a little faster with its processing, but not by much, so you’ll still have to wait three days for funding. The origination fee can take a nice chunk out of your earnings, but you have up to five years to pay back the loan. Read our full Prosper review.

      In The News

      Prosper announced in November 2019 it was partnering with BBVA to provide its customers with a new way to apply for a home equity line of credit, which the company says will require far less paperwork than in the past, as well as a faster approval process. “Working closely with BBVA, we’re excited to be able to offer our customers the opportunity to quickly and easily apply for a HELOC online, which can be a smart and affordable financing option for things like home improvement and debt consolidation,” said David Kimball, CEO of Prosper Marketplace.

      Prosper Disclosure

      For example, a three-year $10,000 personal loan with a Prosper Rating of AA would have an interest rate of 5.31% and a 2.41% origination fee for an annual percentage rate (APR) of 6.95% APR. You would receive $9,759 and make 36 scheduled monthly payments of $301.10. A five-year $10,000 personal loan with a Prosper Rating of A would have an interest rate of 8.39% and a 5.00% origination fee with a 10.59% APR. You would receive $9,500 and make 60 scheduled monthly payments of $204.64. Origination fees vary between 2.41%-5%. Personal loan APRs through Prosper range from 7.95% (AA) to 35.99% (HR) for first-time borrowers, with the lowest rates for the most creditworthy borrowers. Eligibility for personal loans up to $40,000 depends on the information provided by the applicant in the application form. Eligibility for personal loans is not guaranteed, and requires that a sufficient number of investors commit funds to your account and that you meet credit and other conditions. Refer to Borrower Registration Agreement for details and all terms and conditions. All personal loans made by WebBank, member FDIC. Prosper and WebBank take your privacy seriously. Please see Prosper’s Privacy Policy and WebBank’s Privacy Policyfor more details. Notes offered by Prospectus. Notes investors receive are dependent for payment on unsecured loans made to individual borrowers. Not FDIC-insured; investments may lose value; no Prosper or bank guarantee. Prosper does not verify all information provided by borrowers in listings. Investors should review the prospectus before investing.

      Best bad credit marketplace –

      When you’re struggling with bad credit, gives the flexibility you need.

      APR Range
      Loan Amount
      90 days–72 months
      3.8 / 5.0
      SimpleScore 3.8
      Rates 2
      Loan Size 5
      Customer Satisfaction N/A
      Support 3
      Fees 5 falls among the lower median of the interest rates here, which is surprising given that it caters to a crowd with less-than-stellar credit. You also have the option to choose payments twice a month to pay off your loan even faster.

      Best debt consolidation lender for great credit – LightStream

      You can find yourself debt-free after saving a fortune on fees with debt consolidation from LightStream.

      APR Range
      4.98% – 19.99% w/AutoPay
      Loan Amount
      24–84 months
      4.8 / 5.0
      SimpleScore LightStream 4.8
      Rates 5
      Loan Size 5
      Customer Satisfaction 4
      Support 5
      Fees 5

      You will need great credit if you plan to work with LightStream for a low-interest consolidation loan. The website indicates that you need a minimum credit score of 660 and a pretty spotless payment history. If you can meet those requirements, you could be rewarded handsomely.

      In The News

      A 2019 LightStream survey undertaken by Wakefield Research had its findings released in September 2019, and revealed that many Americans are now discarding negative connotations of debt, and are instead viewing it as a valuable tool that can help in the responsible management of an overall financial plan. “While we would never encourage someone to spend beyond their means, incurring purposeful debt can be a valuable financial tool when used to achieve specific goals,” said Todd Nelson, LightStream senior vice president of strategic partnerships.

      LightStream Disclosure

      Disclaimer: Your 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 may be 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 4.99% APR with a term of 3 years would result in 36 monthly payments of $299.66

      © 2020 Truist Financial Corporation. SunTrust, Truist, LightStream, the LightStream logo, and the SunTrust logo are service marks of Truist Financial Corporation. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Lending services provided by Truist Bank.

      Best debt consolidation lender for average credit – Avant

      Here, you’ll need good enough credit to stand on your own, because Avant doesn’t allow joint debt consolidation loans.

      APR Range
      Loan Amount
      24–60 months
      3.2 / 5.0
      SimpleScore Avant 3.2
      Rates 2
      Loan Size 5
      Customer Satisfaction 2
      Support 4
      Fees 3

      Most borrowers will find Avant refreshingly approachable with reasonable requirements for the average credit.

      Avant won’t make payments to your creditors for you, but it will work with your credit more than other lenders. There is a minimum credit score of 580 for debt consolidation loans, which is the lender’s primary bread and butter. That means Avant knows debt consolidation well and can provide greater support than the average lender. Read our full Avant review.

      In The News

      In September 2019, Avant rebanded its Powered by Avant service to Amount. Amount is a full service platform offering loan origination, verification and fraud services, decision hosting, analytics, marketing and servicing. The rebranding is all part of founder and CEO Al Goldstein’s long term vision for the company.

      Avant Disclosure

      The actual loan amount, term, and APR amount of loan that a customer qualifies for may vary based on credit determination and state law. Minimum loan amounts vary by state. Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank, member FDIC.

      Best credit health tools – Upstart

      When your credit is still new, Upstart will lend a helping hand and jumpstart your debt consolidation process with terms that are reasonable.

      APR Range
      Loan Amount
      36–60 months
      3.4 / 5.0
      SimpleScore Upstart 3.4
      Rates 2
      Loan Size 5
      Customer Satisfaction 4
      Support 3
      Fees 3

      Upstart will help you rebuild your burgeoning credit using your job history or college degree.

      Upstart sits on the cusp of technology, using advanced machine learning to analyze your application for earning potential. It considers things like your job history and education instead of basing your approval entirely off your credit score. Just be prepared for the fees, because Upstart definitely doesn’t won’t give you a pass there. Read our full Upstart review.

      In The News

      Upstart, announced in June 2020 it would begin offering auto loans as a part of its consumer lending platform. The new service allows banks to offer refinance and purchase auto loans with a seamless digital experience, higher approvals, and potentially lower loss rates, all enabled by AI. “Personal loans were the right first step for AI lending — now, we’re expanding to auto,” said Dave Girouard, co-founder and CEO of Upstart. “The days of randomly priced auto loans with confusing and laborious processes both for consumers and banks are nearing their end.”

      Upstart Disclosure

      * The full range of available rates varies by state. The average 3-year loan offered across all lenders using the Upstart Platform will have an APR of 19% and 36 monthly payments of $35 per $1,000 borrowed. There is no down payment and no prepayment penalty. Average APR is calculated based on 3-year rates offered in the last 1 month. Your APR will be determined based on your credit, income, and certain other information provided in your loan application. Not all applicants will be approved. ** Estimated savings are calculated based on the credit profiles of all loans originated by Upstart-powered lenders using the Upstart Platform as of April 1, 2019 in which the funds were used for credit card refinancing. Estimated savings are calculated by deriving current credit card APR using minimum monthly payment and 1% of the principal balance. The estimated credit card APR is then compared to the accepted loan to determine median savings per borrower. To evaluate savings on a loan you are considering, it is important to compare your actual APR from your existing debt to the APR offered on the Upstart Platform. More than 303,000 loans have been originated on the Upstart platform as of July 1, 2019. Images are not actual customers, but their stories are real. † If you accept your loan by 5pm EST (not including weekends or holidays), you will receive your funds the next business day. Loans used to fund education related expenses are subject to a 3 business day wait period between loan acceptance and in accordance with federal law. ‡ While most of our borrowers opt for automated recurring payment for ease of use, we also accept payments by check or one time electronic payments. Borrowers have the flexibility to choose the repayment method that works best for them. 9 out of 10 Upstart users surveyed internally reported that they would recommend Upstart. †† When you check your rate, we check your credit report. This initial (soft) inquiry will not affect your credit score. If you accept your rate and proceed with your application, we do another (hard) credit inquiry that will impact your credit score. If you take out a loan, repayment information will be reported to the credit bureaus. § Your loan amount will be determined based on your credit, income, and certain other information provided in your loan application. Not all applicants will qualify for the full amount. Loans are not available in West Virginia or Iowa. The minimum loan amount in MA is $7,000. The minimum loan amount in Ohio is $6,000. The minimum loan amount in NM is $5,100. The minimum loan amount in GA is $3,100.

      Best debt consolidation lender for poor credit – OneMain Financial

      The fees may be high, but OneMain has your back when everyone else says no.

      APR Range
      Loan Amount
      2–5 years
      3.3 / 5.0
      SimpleScore OneMain Financial 3.3
      Rates 2
      Loan Size 3
      Customer Satisfaction N/A
      Support 5
      Fees 3

      When you’re struggling with poor credit, there are very few companies that are better equipped to help than OneMain Financial.

      OneMain Financial has made a name for itself by offering loans to those with bad credit, but we also love the fantastic accessibility that it offers, as well. You have the option of applying online or via chat with a live loan specialist, or you can choose to visit one of the many nationwide brick and mortar branches for extra support one-on-one. Read our full OneMain review.

      In The News

      In April 2020 OneMain Financial announced support for its hardworking customers and communities suffering the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The measures implemented include payment relief options, a $1 million donation to organizations that support food banks and health care providers and providing free educational tools for K-12 students while schools are closed to physical instruction. “We have all been dramatically affected by this crisis,” said president and CEO Doug Shulman. “Many of our customers and the communities we serve have been severely hurt by the coronavirus and its economic fallout. We are committed to helping them get through this difficult period.”

      OneMain Financial Disclosure

      Not all applicants will qualify for larger loan amounts or most favorable loan terms. Loan approval and actual loan terms depend on your ability to meet our credit standards (including a responsible credit history, sufficient income after monthly expenses, and availability of collateral). Larger loan amounts require a first lien on a motor vehicle no more than ten years old, that meets our value requirements, titled in your name with valid insurance. Maximum APR is 35.99%, subject to state restrictions. APRs are generally higher on loans not secured by a vehicle. The lowest APR shown represents the 10% of loans with the most favorable APR. Active duty military, their spouse or dependents covered under the Military Lending Act may not pledge any vehicle as collateral for a loan. OneMain loan proceeds cannot be used for postsecondary educational expenses as defined by the CFPB’s Regulation Z, such as college, university or vocational expenses; for any business or commercial purpose; to purchase securities; or for gambling or illegal purposes.

      Borrowers in these states are subject to these minimum loan sizes: Alabama: $2,100. California: $3,000. Georgia: Unless you are a present customer, $3,100 minimum loan amount. Ohio: $2,000. Virginia: $2,600.

      Borrowers (other than present customers) in these states are subject to these maximum unsecured loan sizes: Florida: $8,000. Iowa: $8,500. Maine: $7,000. Mississippi: $7,500. North Carolina: $7,500. New York: $20,000. Texas: $8,000. West Virginia: $7,500. An unsecured loan is a loan which does not require you to provide collateral (such as a motor vehicle) to the lender.

      Best for high-income earners – Best Egg

      Best Egg simplifies the process with an easy online quote process and an even faster approval process.

      APR Range
      Loan Amount
      3–5 years
      3.8 / 5.0
      SimpleScore Best Egg 3.8
      Rates 4
      Loan Size 5
      Customer Satisfaction N/A
      Support 3
      Fees 3

      Best Egg is an all-around great choice for debt consolidation, simplifying the loan process so you can begin tackling your debt immediately. You only need average credit to take advantage of the better rates currently available, and Best Egg won’t pull your credit before giving you a quote. With 24-hour loan approval and 72-hour funding, it makes it pretty easy to handle debt consolidation. However, to secure the best rates with Best Egg, you’ll need to earn $100,000 a year.

      In The News

      Best Egg announced in July 2020 that it would begin offering all current customers the ability to access their current FICO® score through the Best Egg platform. The addition was made as a way to help consumers understand how their finances are being viewed by lenders and financial institutions, and to give them the opportunity to monitor the factors that are influencing their credit score. All active customers will be able to access a six-month trend of their score as well as their top score factors from FICO®. Scores will not be real-time, but will be updated monthly so that customers can track how changes they may be making are impacting their credit score.

      Best Egg Disclosure

      Best Egg loans are unsecured personal loans made by Cross River Bank, a New Jersey State Chartered Commercial Bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender. “Best Egg” is a trademark of Marlette Funding LLC. All uses of “Best Egg” on this site mean and shall refer to “the Best Egg personal loan” and/or “Best Egg on behalf of Cross River Bank, as originator of the Best Egg personal loan,” as applicable. Loan amounts generally range from $2,000-$35,000. Offers up to $50,000 may be available for qualified customers who receive offer codes in the mail. The minimum individual annual income needed to qualify for a loan of $50,000 is $130,000. Borrowers may hold no more than two open Best Egg loans at any given time. In order to be eligible for a second Best Egg loan, your existing Best Egg loan must have been open for at least six months. Total existing Best Egg loan balances must not exceed $50,000. All loans in MA must exceed $6,500; in NM and OH must exceed $5,000; in GA must exceed $3,000.

      What is a debt consolidation loan?

      It is all too easy to fall down the rabbit hole of debt. One debt becomes another and then another, and before you know it, you are so buried in debt that you don’t see the way out. When your debt grows wildly out of control, a debt consolidation loan can be a great solution to resolve your debt in one fell swoop. By taking out one big loan, you can pay off all of your existing debts and only have to worry about one loan going forward. A debt consolidation loan can also reduce the amount you pay each month and also shorten the total length of your financial obligations, so you get out of debt that much faster.

      When does a debt consolidation loan make sense?

      A debt consolidation loan doesn’t make sense for everyone. But how do you know if it’s right for you? Here are some reasons why a debt consolidation loan might make sense:

      • You’re having a hard time keeping track of each bill’s due date, risking late fees and penalties
      • You have several high-interest credit cards or loans you’re struggling to pay minimums on
      • Your debt is split between several variable interest loans or credit cards

      A debt consolidation loan can be easier to manage, with just one payment due a month. These types of personal loans come with fixed interest rates, which can be lower than your current interest rate, depending on credit score.

      It makes sense to take out a debt consolidation loan if you:

      • Can get a better interest rate than you currently have on your outstanding debt
      • Don’t plan to take on more debt while repaying your existing debt
      • Understand the fees and payment terms associated with the loan
      • Are going to save money by consolidating versus paying each one off individually
      • Know you can easily pay on time each month until the loan is paid in full

      [ Next: Here’s the Average Debt in Every State ]

      How debt consolidation loans work

      When you have bad credit, you face far higher interest rates than if you have good credit. A debt consolidation loan is a personal loan that gives you a large sum upfront that you use to pay off your debt. From there, you only have to repay your loan for an easier, more convenient way to eliminate your debt. It can also restore your credit that much faster because there are not multiple debts being reported to the credit bureaus each month. Your new debt consolidation loan should offer a lower interest rate than those associated with your outstanding debt. Debt consolidation lenders use FICO scoring to approve or deny your loan, and while there are lenders who work with bad credit, you will have far more options available to you when you have excellent credit.

      Debt consolidation is a useful financial tool that consumers can use to help them overcome credit card debt, student loan obligations and other financial liabilities.

      Usually when you consolidate your debt with a debt consolidation loan, you agree to new terms, new interest rates and hopefully a shorter path to becoming debt-free. There are plenty of different types of debt consolidation loans, which will help borrowers with multiple types of debt.

      Debt consolidation loans

      Debt consolidation loans are a common offering from traditional banks and the newer peer-to-peer lenders. It is an accepted way for consumers to manage their debts that have either grown to large or simply have too many lenders. They are specifically designed to pay down multiple high-interest debt obligations.

      Balance transfer

      One way to consolidate credit card debt is to transfer it all to a single new credit card. Typically this new credit card offers low or no interest for a period of time. This is most effective if the credit card debt can then be paid off before the lowered interest rate on the new card expires.

      Home equity loans

      A home equity loan or home equity lines of credit are both excellent ways for homeowners to consolidate high interest debt since the interest rate is typically much lower than other loans. Another benefit of these types of loans is that the interest is tax deductible, which offers additional savings.

      Student loan consolidation

      There are federal student loan consolidation options through the Federal Direct Loan Program. These loans consolidate federal student loan debt and the new interest rate is a weighted average of the prior loans. This type of loan is not available for private loans, but there are a number of lenders that offer student loan refinancing.

      What you need to apply for a debt consolidation loan

      The first step to take before applying for any debt consolidation loan will be to pull a copy of your credit report to see where you stand with your credit score and your total debt picture. With that information you can get an idea of which lenders you can approach for a debt consolidation loan, and which would be a waste of your time. You need to ensure you have the creditworthiness and income to qualify for a loan, particularly if you are applying to a new lender.

      And of course you want to make sure you will have the necessary income to commit to whatever repayment terms come with the debt consolidation loan.

      The documentation you’ll need is going to depend on the lender and your credit history, but you can expect the lender will require the following common information:

      • Bank statement or recent paystubs
      • Employment verification
      • Government-issued identification or passport
      • The 10-day payoff amount for your loans, if applicable
      • The most recent credit card statements for your accounts, if applicable
      • Letters from creditors or repayment agencies, if applicable

      What to do before applying for a debt consolidation loan

      If you’ve determined that a debt consolidation loan makes sense for your financial situation, there are some things to do before applying for a debt consolidation loan:

      1. Check your credit score. By checking your score, you can get an idea of how good (or bad) your credit standing is. This can prepare you for a range of interest rates you’re eligible for when applying for the loan.
      2. Know what you owe. Gather all your outstanding debts and list out who you owe, how much and the interest you’re paying. Doing this before you apply will make the application process easier and faster.
      3. Don’t take on more debt. This can be harder for some than others, but you have to stop taking on more debt until you get your current debt under control.
      4. Commit to a plan. Debt consolidation loans have a specified amount of time to repay your debt in full. Check your budget and determine how much you can set aside to go towards your debt. Stay committed to your plan so you can come out the other side debt-free.

      [ More: 11 Ways to Get Out of Debt Faster ]

      Average debt consolidation loan rates 

      As of October 2020, consumer loan rates are down about 2% compared to the previous year — showing about 9.34% for a 24-month personal loan according to the Federal Reserve.

      Lower interest rates offer a great opportunity for consumers who are trying to pay off debt. By consolidating your debt into a single, low-interest loan, you can pay it off quickly and improve your credit score. Debt consolidation loans are great for paying off credit debt, installment loans, student loans and more. Unfortunately, the lower rates also mean lending is highly competitive, and it’s less easy for consumers with poor credit to secure new loans.

      [ Read: Best Personal Loans for ]

      States where people have the most debt 

      Sometimes it can feel very lonely being in debt. You think you’re the only one, you may be embarrassed or angry about your situation, expecting that no one else understands what you’re going through.

      In reality, many people are in various stages of debt. It happens in every state across the country, and some states have higher debt-to-income ratios than others.

      We pulled the available Q4 2019 data from the Federal Reserve to research the average household debt in each state. These are the top 10 states with the highest average household debt.

      • Washington, D.C.: 88,450
      • Hawaii: $74,230
      • Colorado: $73,890
      • California: $73,400
      • Maryland: $72,310
      • Washington: $67,440
      • Virginia: $66,140
      • Massachusetts: $65,500
      • Utah: $62,090
      • Connecticut: $59,840

      Depending on how much debt you have, it can be overwhelming, and you may feel there is no end in sight. There are benefits to getting a debt consolidation loan to help you get out of the debt you’re dealing with right now.

      [ Read: What Is Debt Consolidation? ]

      Impact of COVID-19 on debt consolidation loans 

      The COVID-19 pandemic caused financial hardship for many families due to job layoffs and higher unemployment rates. Since the federal stimulus ended in July 2020, many consumers are looking for new options to help pay off debt. During this time, lenders are less likely to take on more risky borrowers, which may make it more difficult to find a debt consolidation loan. Yet, the Federal Reserve has set lower interest rates to help improve access to funds for more consumers. If you can secure a debt consolidation loan, it’s a great time to work on lowering your debt.

      Pros and cons of debt consolidation loans

      Single monthly payment
      Helps improve credit quickly
      One interest rate on debt
      May be subject to higher interest rates 
      Hard credit check may apply
      New origination or application fees apply

      Benefits of debt consolidation 

      • Payments are easier. With a debt consolidation loan, you only have one payment due date to worry about, so you don’t have to fear a missed payment. 
      • Lower interest rate. Credit cards almost always have higher interest rates than personal and debt consolidation loans, depending on your credit score. The lower rate may save money in the long run or help you pay off your debt quicker.
      • Less stress and anxiety. Consolidating your debt can feel like a breath of fresh air, knowing you only have one bill to pay. Taking control of your finances with predictable, manageable payments can be a huge stress and anxiety reliever.
      • Pay it off faster. Using a debt consolidation loan, you may be able to accelerate your payments, paying it off much faster than you could have before. Just watch for any prepayment penalties.

      [ More: Best Credit Repair Companies ]

      Making the most of your debt consolidation loan

      People who want to get out of debt faster or even just simplify their bills can benefit from debt consolidation. Whenever considering consolidating debt, it’s also important to remember not to take on additional debt. This is especially important with credit card debt consolidation — once you have the balance paid off via a consolidation loan, it’s important to not run up your credit card with charges while you make payments on your new loan.

      Basically there’s no one-size-fits-all plan for debt consolidation loans. You need to find the best option for your circumstances by first deciding what you need to accomplish with the loan, whether that’s consolidating a large amount of debt, finding the lowest interest rate, low or no fees, fast funding or different repayment terms.

      Many people begin to feel a sense of relief once they consolidate debts, but it’s important to remember that you aren’t out of the woods until the consolidation loan is paid off. It’s good to know there’s an end date to the payments, but in the meantime it’s important to manage your spending and make sure you’re making payments on time.

      Debt consolidation loan vs. balance transfer credit card 

      Two of the most common debt consolidation strategies used to lower interest rates while paying debt off more quickly are debt consolidation loans and balance transfer credit cards.

      The key point between using one or the other is often how many debts are being consolidated. If it is only a couple high-interest credit cards then a balance transfer strategy makes more sense, but for a larger number of loans or higher balances a debt consolidation loan is often the better strategy.

      A balance transfer is when high-interest credit card debt is transferred to a new credit card featuring a 0% interest rate for usually six, 12 or 18 months.

      A debt consolidation loan, by contrast, takes all outstanding debts and rolls them into one larger loan, typically with a smaller monthly payment, although sometimes the length of the loan is more important. These consolidation loans often have much lower interest rates when compared with credit cards, allowing borrowers to save considerably over the life of the loan. Using either method to consolidate debt is an effective strategy in corralling debt and paying it off. However debt consolidation does not address the spending habits that led to this place.

      Consumers need to establish a realistic budget to avoid running up additional debts after using a debt consolidation strategy. Otherwise the consolidation loan is for naught and you’ll end up even further in debt than before.

      How to get a debt consolidation loan

      Many lenders will allow you to prequalify using a soft credit check that won’t ding your credit. This will help you get a general idea of how much you can qualify for, as well as some of the other details regarding that particular lender’s loan. Every loan is different with its options; while many loans have terms of three to five years, you will find some lenders who offer shorter or longer terms. How much you can borrow will also depend on each lender, so if you are looking for a larger loan, you may not have as many options as if you were looking for a $5,000 loan. Fees are another area where lenders can vary; while some loans may carry steep origination fees or prepayment penalties, others may feature significantly lower fees or none altogether. The difference can amount to thousands of dollars over the life of your loan.

      How to consolidate debt with bad credit

      1. Pull your credit reports. Get copies of your credit scores to help you understand which lenders will or won’t accept your application. If possible, take the time to improve your credit score to open yourself to more lending opportunities.
      2. Compare lenders. Research bad credit lenders that offer solutions to consumers with poor credit, such as online lenders and credit unions. Check your rates with each lender using a soft credit inquiry to see what interest rates, loan amounts and fees will apply to your loan.
      3. Apply for the loan. Once you’ve checked your rates with multiple lenders, move forward with the application process for the best bad credit debt consolidation lender that offered favorable rates and fees. You’ll have to provide personal information, your Social Security number and contact info during the application. When it’s approved, review the paperwork carefully and sign the loan agreement when you’re ready.
      4. Continue making payment to previous creditors. Although your new loan is approved, you will have to continue making payments to all your previous creditors — credit card issuers, lenders and more — until the loan amount is approved and you can send it to your creditors or until your new lender sends the money to them on your behalf.
      5. Start making payments to your new lender. Once your previous creditors have been paid, you can start making payments to your new lender. Make sure to pay on time every month and you will start to see your credit improve with each on-time payment.

      [ Read: How to Save Money and Pay Off Debt at the Same Time ]

      How to choose the best debt consolidation loan for you

      1. Prepare your finances. Before you apply for a debt consolidation loan, it’s a great idea to comb through your credit report. Repaying your smaller debts can improve your credit score and allow for a much lower interest rate on your loan. You should also take this time to resolve any late payments so you borrow as little as possible for your debt consolidation loan.
      2. Itemize your debts. Before you can apply for a loan, you need to figure out how money you actually need. Create a detailed list of all of your debts and calculate the total to calculate the total for your loan.
      3. Consider your lender. While banks are the most traditional type of lender for a debt consolidation, they are far from your only choice. There are also online-based lenders who can provide faster, more efficient service, and credit unions can use their not-for-profit state to cater to those who struggle with their credit.
      4. Shop your options. It is important to still shop your options, even if you find that you prefer one kind of lender over another. You may be surprised by the rates that you find. The difference of just a few points can make an enormous difference in how much the loan will cost you, and you can save a ton of money if you can find a lender with low or no fees.
      5. Apply for a loan. There are certain things you will need to provide when you apply for a loan. Be prepared to provide personal identification and information regarding your employment. You may also have the option to add a co-signer to your loan so you can qualify for better rates.

      Alternatives to debt consolidation loans

      A debt consolidation loan is not your only option. You can pay off your debts using a few different methods. These may take longer but will cost far less than the interest that would accompany an installment debt consolidation loan.

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      These are some popular alternatives to debt consolidation loans.

      1. Snowball method. If you want to pay down your debt yourself, the snowball method is a great way to tackle your debt. This means that you begin working from the smallest debt to the biggest. Once you pay off the smallest debt, you take the money you would pay on it each month and apply it to the next debt, gradually increasing the amount you’re paying on each debt as the previous one is wiped.
      2. Avalanche method. If you will sleep better knowing that your biggest debts are paid, you may want to use the avalanche method. This method involves paying off the loans with the highest interest first, so you tackle the largest, fastest-growing debt before it balloons out of control. Financially this is the most logical method for paying down debts. By tackling the debts with the highest interest rate you can substantially slow down the growth of your debt and begin paying down the principal amounts much faster.
      3. Budgeting. Sometimes, all it takes is a little organization. If you feel that your debt is manageable, you could benefit from reorganizing your budget. Changing the way that you spend your money and tackle your debt could be all the change you need to eliminate your debt and get back on track. If you don’t have a budget, starting one might be the first step to a newfound sense of financial freedom. If you already have a budget, reorganizing is something you should be doing anyway to keep spending in check and ensure you’re allocating your income effectively.
      4. Balance transfer cards. A balance transfer involves transferring existing debt to a new credit card, usually one with a lower rate, or even an introductory 0% rate. Using this method can be a good alternative if you will be able to pay off the debt before the introductory rate expires. It’s also important that you stop adding to your credit card debt once you transfer to the new card otherwise you could find yourself in even worse shape.

      Debt consolidation loan FAQs

      If you have multiple types of debt that you’re struggling to pay off, debt consolidation can make it more manageable. With a debt consolidation loan, you’ll have one monthly payment and one interest rate to worry about instead of juggling several bills throughout the month. 

      If you have multiple types of debt that you’re struggling to pay off, debt consolidation can make it more manageable. With a debt consolidation loan, you’ll have one monthly payment and one interest rate to worry about instead of juggling several bills throughout the month. 

      Student loans are a popular reason to use a debt consolidation loan, and it uses a specific kind of loan called a Direct Consolidation Loan. You can use this loan to pay off a single or multiple student loans, while enjoying just one convenient monthly payment.

      Debt consolidation may hurt your credit, but it depends on your financial habits. If you take on more debt or struggle to pay off debt once it’s consolidated, your credit score will dip. You might also harm your credit briefly if you’re working with lenders that perform hard credit inquiries.  

      We welcome your feedback on this article and would love to hear about your experience with the debt consolidation loans we recommend. Contact us at with comments or questions.



      The SimpleScore is a proprietary scoring metric we use to objectively compare products and services at The Simple Dollar.

      For every review, our editorial team:

      • Identifies five measurable aspects to compare across each brand
      • Determines the rating criteria for each aspect score
      • Averages the five aspect scores to produce a single SimpleScore

      Here’s a breakdown of the five aspect scores and their rating criteria for our review of the best personal loans of 2020.

      Why do some brands have different SimpleScores on different pages?

      To ensure the SimpleScore is as helpful and accurate as possible, we developed unique criteria for every category we compare at The Simple Dollar. Since most brands offer a variety of financial solutions, their products and services will score differently depending on what we’re scoring on a given page.

      However, it’s also possible for the same product from the same brand to have multiple SimpleScores. For instance, if we compare NetCredit’s personal loans according to our criteria for the best personal loans, it scores a 2.3 out of 5. But when we compare NetCredit according to the criteria for the best bad credit personal loans, it scores considerably higher, since the criteria for the latter review are more lenient (lenders who serve borrowers with bad credit will always offer higher rates, so we needed to adjust our category methodology to account for different industry standards).

      Questions about our methodology?

      Email Hayley Armstrong at


      We looked at the maximum APR for each lender — the lower their maximum rate, the higher their score.

      Loan Size

      We awarded higher scores to lenders with more generous loan sizes.

      Customer Satisfaction

      We leveraged the J.D. Power 2019 Personal Loan Satisfaction Study℠ to see how customers rated their experience with each lender. (If a lender wasn’t included in J.D. Power’s study, we skipped this aspect and averaged the four remaining aspect scores.)


      We awarded higher scores to lenders with the most channels for customer support.


      We looked at the three most common fees — origination, late payment, and pre-payment — and penalized lenders for each fee charged.

      Steven Walters

      Contributing Writer

      An avid traveller and hiker, Steve has been writing in the personal finance, investing, and blockchain spaces for nearly a decade. His writing has been featured on Financial Samurai, Free Money Finance, Coin Bureau, and a number of other personal finance and investing sites.

      Reviewed by

      • Courtney Mihocik
        Courtney Mihocik
        Loans Editor

        Courtney Mihocik is an editor at The Simple Dollar who specializes in personal loans, student loans, auto loans, and debt consolidation loans. She is a former writer and contributing editor to,, and elsewhere.