Should You Use a Personal Loan to Pay Off Credit Card Debt?
Consolidating your credit card debt can be hugely helpful, but make sure that it's right for you - and that it doesn't land you in worse debt. We've got the answers you need.
How nice it would be if there was just one single best method to pay off credit card debt. Sadly, nothing like that exists. Each family has to come up with their own formulas. My husband and I have tried many ways to solve our debt problem, each with mixed results.
After several attempts, we hit upon a strategy that is well known, but that we hadn’t tried before: refinancing our credit card debt into a personal loan
Tried and Failed Methods
First, we tried the “snowball” method by paying our smallest debt balance first and then going down the list from smallest to greatest. Second, since we were determined to knock this debt out, we started paying it down very aggressively. We would pay off the entire balance, but then we’d have to charge it up again with regular living expenses and household costs. Third, we tried the juggling method of making monthly debt payments while making many, many balance transfers to 0 percent APR cards
Each method we used to try to pay off our debt had its benefits and drawbacks, but none were as difficult as the third – juggling.
Yes, the juggling act we did was the easiest on our wallet, but with that came the endless balancing act and constant vigilance needed to make sure that everything was getting paid on time.
After many, many long talks about our money, my husband suggested that we put a stop to this unending tension by paying all our credit cards off in one fell swoop. We chose to use a personal loan to consolidate our credit card debt.
Pluses of Personal Loans
A personal loan is a great answer to your situation when you’re paying high interest rates on multiple credit card accounts. Here’s why:
Low Interest Rate
The average credit card interest rate in 2015 was in the 13.12 to 22.99 percent range. When we were comparing personal loan rates, we compared four different companies and landed on an interest rate of only 10.89 percent. That’s significantly lower than the average credit card interest rate, and it will save us a large chunk of money over the long-term.
A Single Payment
The ease of having just one, smaller payment to make each month seemed like it was a lot less than the four different payments we were making.
It was nice not to have to pay multiple small amounts throughout the month. It was nice not to stress about when the next 0 percent APR deadline was. And it was nice not to do the juggling act – to only send a single check each month.
Simplify Your Debt Payoff
One of the main reasons that we decided to use a personal loan to pay off our credit card debt was because we wanted a simple debt-payoff plan that would finally work for us. Since going this route, we’ve been able to avoid the long discussions about how to handle our debt. These planning discussions are now quick updates about the progress we’ve been making towards becoming debt-free.
If you’re considering using a personal loan for debt consolidation, we have a few ideas for you. Get all the true, trusted information you need about top personal loan companies from our buyer’s guide before you make a decision.
Drawbacks to Using a Personal Loan
Debt consolidation strategies like using a personal loan have both pros and cons. Before making a decision, research all your options and make sure that you know the drawbacks before proceeding.
Paying More Interest
If you don’t have good credit, you may not be able to qualify for a personal loan with a lower interest rate than your credit cards. Personal loan interest rates can be as low as six percent or as high as 35 percent. You don’t want to end up paying more than the original credit card interest, so choose carefully.
You May Go Deeper Into Debt
Once your credit cards are free and clear, it’s all too tempting to use your new lines of credit as a cash flow and get back into debt even deeper than before.
Just because you consolidated your credit card debt into a personal loan doesn’t mean you can stop creating better spending habits.
Make a pact not to use your credit cards anymore, and faithfully pay back your personal loan every month. Any extra money you save should go to your personal loan balance. If you’re not sure about your willingness to budget and save, a personal loan may not be the best choice for you.
Slower Debt Payoff Plan
When my husband and I consolidated our debt from four credit card accounts into a single personal loan, our monthly debt payment dropped from $891 to $517. While the extra cash flow has helped our budget, it’s easy to use it for discretionary spending. Doing this will slow down our debt payoff plan and keep us in debt longer.
The right answer is to use the extra funds to build up a small emergency fund as a backup to help keep you from getting further into debt and to continue trying to make larger debt payments every month. You want to use the personal loan as a jumpstart to getting out of debt sooner, not to use it as a way to stay in debt longer.