Should You Try To Consolidate Credit Card Debt?

by Leon on February 21, 2013

should I consolidate my credit card debtThe general consensus these days is that carrying debt on multiple credit cards is a big no-no. In fact, having several credit cards tends to be a bad idea for most people most of the time, simply because we are raised with a consumer mentality that urges us to continue spending even if we are living beyond our means. Further, we are usually not well trained in how to budget, plan, save, or otherwise manage our finances, making it easy to get into debt but much harder to dig our way out. And while credit cards will certainly try to entice you with hooks like zero interest payments for the first year, extra discounts at the stores for which you hold particular cards, or reward programs that deliver discount or free travel with points, the truth is that all of them encourage you to spend your money before you’ve even earned it. So while it’s definitely a good idea to have a card on hand for emergency situations, a multitude of cards could get you into hot water rather quickly, especially if you’re not particularly good at controlling your urge to splurge.

This brings us back to the question of whether or not to consolidate debt, and generally speaking, debt consolidation is an excellent idea for a number of reasons. For one thing, you’re bound to have certain credit cards that come with much lower interest rates. So transferring debt from a card with a higher rate will help you to save on your interest payments in the long run. As a bonus, once you have transferred all of the debt off the card with less attractive options you can cancel the account and cut up your card, alleviating the temptation to use it in the future. In addition to paying down your debt faster as a means of ditching the cards that charge greater interest, you might also want to plan to get rid of the cards with the highest limits. If you have a problem controlling your spending, a lower limit is bound to get you into less trouble.

But what about other means of consolidation? Can’t you try to refinance your home and roll your credit card debt into the deal? As a matter fact, you can. But this is probably not a good way to consolidate credit card debt and many lenders will caution you not to go through with it. And when you give it a little thought you’ll understand why. Consider that you are currently paying down a credit card on which you owe a few thousand dollars. Even though the interest rate is higher than your home loan (say 8-9%), you could have it paid off in a few months to a couple of years, depending how much you pay each month, provided you buckle down and stop spending. And the more you pay, the less interest is accumulated.

However, rolling it into a home loan means that you’ll be paying it off over the next 30 years. Even with interest rates of 4-5%, you’ll end up paying a lot more. The point is that there is a right way and a wrong way to consolidate your credit card debt and you need to carefully consider your options before you follow through with a course of action. You wouldn’t say, “Give me my structured settlement cash!” without first reading the fine print to determine whether it’s in your best interest to give up annuity payments, and neither should you jump into credit card consolidation without first reviewing all possible options. But if you do your homework you’ll likely find that rolling your debt onto the card with the most favorable terms is the best way to save money and cut spending in the long run.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

consumer credit counseling services non profit organizations July 12, 2013 at 4:26 am

Very good write-up. I certainly appreciate this site.
Keep it up!

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