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Debt Consolidation Companies in The United States

Consolidation
Looking to streamline your debts into one manageable payment? Our comprehensive guide lists the top-rated debt consolidation services of 2024, detailing their plans, advantages, user experiences, and more. Navigate through various options, find answers to common questions, and start your journey towards financial stability with confidence
Offers: 9
Updated:
16.02.2024
12:41
Rating by Finanso®
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The rating by Finanso® is determined by our editorial team. The scoring formula includes a financial product type as well as tariffs, fees, rewards and other options.

Recommended FinScore™
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Mariner Finance
Debt Consolidation
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Apply
ClearOne Advantage
Debt Relief
Rating by Finanso®
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Recommended FinScore™
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Freedom Debt Relief
Bankruptcy
Rating by Finanso®
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The rating by Finanso® is determined by our editorial team. The scoring formula includes a financial product type as well as tariffs, fees, rewards and other options.

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Accredited Debt Relief
Debt Consolidation
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$1,000 - $100,000
Term
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Loan term for the financial product

12 - 48 months
Americor
Debt Consolidation Loans
Rating by Finanso®
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The rating by Finanso® is determined by our editorial team. The scoring formula includes a financial product type as well as tariffs, fees, rewards and other options.

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National Debt Relief
Debt Consolidation
Rating by Finanso®
i

The rating by Finanso® is determined by our editorial team. The scoring formula includes a financial product type as well as tariffs, fees, rewards and other options.

Recommended FinScore™
0
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1000
Americor
Bankruptcy
Rating by Finanso®
i

The rating by Finanso® is determined by our editorial team. The scoring formula includes a financial product type as well as tariffs, fees, rewards and other options.

Recommended FinScore™
0
300
650
1000
Freedom Debt Relief
Debt Management
Rating by Finanso®
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The rating by Finanso® is determined by our editorial team. The scoring formula includes a financial product type as well as tariffs, fees, rewards and other options.

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Reviews
CreditFresh
4.8
The application process was a breeze, and I received a response within minutes. This straightforward and prompt procedure proved to be a great help to me during a crucial time of need.
Review
JG Wentworth
4.6
The assistance I received was exceptional. My representative handled my case with care and provided all the necessary information...
Review
OneMain Financial
4.4
The loan application process was straightforward, and the representative I interacted with displayed patience, provided informative answers, and was quite pleasant throughout...
Review
My Funding Choices
4.6
The process was swift and straightforward, which was particularly helpful during a time when, despite my reluctance to seek assistance, I genuinely needed help.
Review
Plain Green Loans
2
The interest rate is shockingly high, and it feels like taking advantage of individuals facing financial challenges when unexpected expenses arise...
Review
Advance America
4.6
I have never encountered any issues with this company. They consistently deliver funds on time, and the repayment process is straightforward...
Review

The world of finance can be complicated, but if you're feeling overwhelmed by multiple debts, debt consolidation might be the beacon of hope you're searching for. Here, we will delve deep into understanding how debt consolidation works, its advantages and disadvantages, and how you can embark on this financial journey.

Debt consolidation is a financial strategy wherein multiple debts are merged into a single, more manageable monthly payment, typically with a lower interest rate. The primary aim is to simplify your financial life, pay off high-interest debt, and make debt repayment more efficient.

Features

  • Simplifying Multiple Debts. The primary feature of debt consolidation is its ability to consolidate debt payments, often from multiple credit cards or loans, into a singular monthly payment. This eases the management of debts, making it less likely for one to miss payments or get overwhelmed.
  • Fixed or Variable Interest Rates. Debt consolidation loans can come with either a fixed interest rate or a variable one. A fixed interest rate stays the same for the duration of the loan, guaranteeing consistent monthly payments. Conversely, a variable interest rate, which is linked to market benchmarks, might change over time, possibly altering your monthly payments.
  • Loan Terms and Duration. The duration of a debt consolidation loan can vary. Some might be short-term loans spanning a few years, while others might extend over a decade or more. The chosen term can influence the monthly payment amount and how much interest you'll pay over the life of the loan.
  • Secured vs. Unsecured Loans. Debt consolidation loans can be secured or unsecured. Secured loans, such as home equity loans, require collateral like your home. They often come with lower interest rates but carry the risk of losing the collateral if you default. An unsecured loan, like a personal loan, doesn't require collateral but might have higher interest rates due to the increased risk for the lender.
  • Potential for Lower Monthly Payments. Due to the possibility of obtaining a lower interest rate or extending the loan term, monthly payments on a debt consolidation loan can be lower than the combined payments of the original debts. This can free up cash flow in the short term.
  • Fees and Charges. Some debt consolidation loans may come with upfront costs, like origination fees, which can add to the cost of borrowing. It's crucial to be aware of any additional fees or penalties for early repayment.
  • Credit Impact. While initially, the hard inquiry on your credit report might slightly lower your credit score, over time, by making consistent payments and reducing your credit utilization ratio (especially if you consolidate credit card debt), your credit score can see positive effects.
  • Potential for Debt-Free Timeline. One often overlooked feature is the clarity a debt consolidation loan offers. With a defined loan term and a clear monthly payment, borrowers can see a definitive timeline as to when they will be debt-free, provided they don't accumulate additional debt.

How debt consolidation works

  1. Application. The borrower, someone juggling multiple debts, applies for a debt consolidation loan through a lender. This lender can be a bank, a credit union, or an online financial institution.

  2. Review and Approval. The lender reviews the application, taking into consideration the borrower's credit score, income, and overall financial health. If the borrower meets the lender's criteria, they approve the loan.

  3. Paying Off Existing Debts. Once approved, the lender typically disperses the loan funds, not to the borrower, but directly to the creditors of the existing debts. This ensures that the multiple debts are paid off in full. In some cases, the funds might be transferred to the borrower's bank account, and the borrower is responsible for paying off the existing debts.

  4. New Loan Terms. Now, instead of multiple debts, the borrower has a single debt consolidation loan. This loan usually has its interest rate (often lower than the average rate of the previous debts), a defined term length, and a set monthly payment.

  5. Repayment. The borrower now makes monthly payments to the lender based on the terms of the new loan. The goal is to consistently make these payments until the debt consolidation loan is paid off in full.

  6. Completion. Once the debt consolidation loan is fully repaid, the borrower has effectively cleared all the debts that were consolidated. It's vital at this stage for the borrower to be cautious and avoid accumulating new high-interest debt, as it can lead back to the cycle of multiple debts.

Pros and Cons

Pros

Simplified Financial Management. Instead of multiple debt payments, you make one payment monthly.

Potentially Lower Interest Rates. Debt consolidation loans often come with a lower interest rate, especially compared to credit card debt.

Improved Credit Score. Over time, as you consistently make monthly payments, your credit score may see an upward trajectory.

Pay Off Debt Sooner. With a potentially lower interest rate, you might end up clearing your debt faster.

Cons

Potential for More Debt. Without a solid financial plan in place, there’s a risk of accumulating more debt.

Higher Overall Cost. If the term of your new loan is long, you might pay more interest over the life of the loan, despite a lower interest rate.

Fees. Some debt consolidation loans come with origination fees or closing costs.

How to get a debt consolidation loan

  1. Evaluate Your Debts. Begin by listing all your current debts, including credit card balances, personal loans, and any other obligations. Knowing the total amount will help determine the size of the consolidation loan you need.

  2. Check Your Credit Score. Your credit score greatly influences both your loan approval chances and the interest rate you might receive. Ensure you have a good credit score or work on improving it before applying.

  3. Research Lenders. Different lenders, from banks to credit unions to online platforms, offer debt consolidation loans. Research and compare their terms, interest rates, and any fees involved.

  4. Apply. Once you've chosen a lender, complete their application process. This will typically involve providing details about your financial situation, including income, existing loans, and more.

  5. Review the Offer. If approved, you'll receive a loan offer. Review the interest rate, monthly payments, loan duration, and any fees. Ensure the terms align with your financial goals.

  6. Finalize the Loan. Upon accepting the offer, the lender will typically pay off your existing debts directly. Alternatively, they might deposit the loan funds in your bank account, and you'll need to settle your debts yourself.

  7. Begin Repayments. With your multiple debts now consolidated into one, start making consistent monthly payments based on your new loan's terms.

Requirements

  1. Credit Score. A good credit score increases your chances of approval and can secure you a better interest rate. Some lenders may offer loans for those with lower credit scores, but they may come with higher interest rates.

  2. Proof of Income. Lenders want to be sure you have a steady income to make the monthly payments. This can be in the form of recent pay stubs, tax returns, or employment verification.

  3. Debt-to-Income Ratio. This ratio represents your monthly debt payments versus your income. A lower ratio indicates you are not overly burdened by debt, making you a more attractive borrower.

  4. Credit History. A history that shows you've been responsible with credit can work in your favor. This includes on-time payments and a mix of credit types.

  5. Purpose of Loan. Some lenders might want to know the specifics of the debts you're consolidating, such as credit card balances or other loans.

Conditions

  1. Loan Amount. This represents the total amount borrowed. Ideally, it should cover all your existing debts you wish to consolidate.

  2. Interest Rate. This can be fixed or variable. It's the rate at which you'll pay interest on the loan amount.

  3. Loan Term. The duration over which you'll repay the loan. It can range from a few years to several years, affecting your monthly payment size.

  4. Monthly Payments. The set amount you'll need to pay the lender each month.

  5. Fees. Some loans come with origination fees or other charges. Ensure you're aware of any additional costs.

  6. Early Repayment Penalties. Some lenders might charge a fee if you pay off the loan before the end of the term.

  7. Default Consequences. If you fail to make the monthly payments, there could be repercussions such as late fees, increased interest rates, or even legal actions.

Best debt consolidation companies

  1. A division of Truist, Lightstream is renowned for its competitive interest rates and transparent fee structure. They cater to borrowers with a solid credit history, offering them a wide range of loan amounts. Their straightforward online application process and commitment to customer satisfaction make them a top choice for many seeking debt consolidation solutions.

  2. Discover, a well-known name in the credit card industry, also offers personal loans tailored for debt consolidation. Their fixed interest rates, flexible repayment terms, and absence of origination fees give borrowers a clear picture of their debt repayment journey. Plus, their helpful online tools, like the debt consolidation calculator, aid in making informed decisions.

  3. Marcus is Goldman Sachs's answer to personal lending and debt consolidation. It provides loans with no fees and offers customizable loan terms to fit the borrower's needs. Their on-time payment rewards and user-friendly mobile app are bonuses that make managing and repaying the loan a breeze.

  4. Happy Money takes a unique, holistic approach to debt consolidation. Beyond just lending, they focus on helping borrowers cultivate a positive relationship with money. They offer competitive interest rates, no hidden fees, and digital tools that empower borrowers to track and manage their debt efficiently.

  5. Specializing in debt relief solutions, Accredited Debt Relief offers more than just loans. They provide a range of services, including debt management and settlement. Their team of experts assesses each borrower's financial situation and recommends the best course of action, ensuring a personalized approach to debt consolidation.

  6. As one of the most established companies in the debt relief industry, Freedom Debt Relief has resolved billions in debt for its clients. Their focus is on creating tailored plans that help individuals overcome large debt loads. With a team of knowledgeable consultants, they guide borrowers through the process, offering both consolidation and settlement options based on the individual's needs.

How to choose a debt consolidation company

  1. Research & Reviews. Start by looking at online reviews and ratings. Feedback from previous clients can offer insights into the company's reliability and effectiveness.

  2. Accreditation. Ensure the company is accredited by recognized industry bodies. This is a sign of legitimacy and adherence to industry standards.

  3. Transparent Fee Structure. A reputable company will be clear about their fees. Avoid companies that have hidden charges or are vague about costs.

  4. Interest Rates. Compare interest rates among different companies. Opt for a company that offers competitive rates, especially if you have a good credit score.

  5. Customizable Terms. The company should be flexible enough to provide terms that suit your financial situation, allowing you to manage repayments comfortably.

  6. Customer Support. A reliable company will have a responsive customer service team to address any concerns or queries promptly.

  7. Educational Resources. Companies that provide resources, tools, or counseling show they're not just about business but also about helping clients understand and manage their financial health.

  8. No Advance Fees. It's generally a red flag if a company asks for fees before they've provided any services.

  9. Clear Agreements. All terms, conditions, and expectations should be laid out transparently in any agreement or contract.

  10. Recommendations. Word of mouth is still powerful. Ask friends or family if they've had good experiences with any debt consolidation companies.

Things to pay attention to

  1. Total Cost. Ensure that the overall cost of the consolidation loan (including interest and fees) doesn't exceed the combined cost of the debts you're consolidating.

  2. Monthly Payments. Your monthly payments should be affordable and align with your budget. Be wary of solutions that offer lower payments by merely extending the loan duration significantly.

  3. Interest Rates. Make sure you're getting a competitive interest rate. Sometimes, the rate might be lower, but if it's variable, it could increase over time.

  4. Fees & Charges. Be cautious of any hidden fees, like origination fees, late payment charges, or early repayment penalties.

  5. Loan Term. A longer loan term might offer lower monthly payments, but you'll likely end up paying more in interest over time.

  6. Secured vs. Unsecured. Understand the difference. If you're taking a secured loan, such as a home equity loan, you're putting an asset (like your home) at risk.

  7. Impact on Credit Score. Consolidating your debts can affect your credit score. While it can improve over time with timely payments, there might be a temporary dip initially.

  8. Reputability of Company. Ensure the company you're working with is reputable and accredited by recognized industry bodies.

How to repay a debt consolidation loan

  1. Create a Budget. Start by outlining a clear budget that accommodates the monthly payments for your debt consolidation loan. This ensures you always have funds set aside for this purpose.

  2. Set Up Automatic Payments. Automate your monthly payments. This reduces the chances of missing a payment and incurring late fees or damaging your credit score.

  3. Pay More Than the Minimum. If possible, pay more than the required monthly payment. This approach can help you clear the debt sooner and save money on interest.

  4. Allocate Windfalls. Dedicate any unexpected funds, like tax refunds, bonuses, or gifts, towards the loan repayment. This can significantly reduce your debt load.

  5. Avoid Accumulating More Debt. With previous debts consolidated, there might be a temptation to use credit cards again. Be cautious and avoid accumulating more debt while paying off your consolidation loan.

  6. Review and Adjust. Periodically review your financial situation. If you find yourself with extra funds, consider making additional payments.

  7. Stay in Touch with Your Lender. If you face any financial hardships, communicate with your lender. They might offer solutions or temporary relief options.

Alternatives

  1. A balance transfer credit card provides an opportunity for individuals with high-interest credit card debt. These cards allow the transfer of balances from several credit cards onto one card, usually accompanied by a promotional period with low or 0% interest. This approach simplifies repayments and can reduce interest costs. However, it's essential to repay the balance before the promotional period ends, as the interest rate can spike afterward.

  2. A home equity loan allows homeowners to borrow against the value of their homes. They provide a lump-sum amount, typically with a fixed interest rate, which can be used to pay off high-interest debts. While this can secure a lower interest rate and consolidate debts, it comes with the risk of using your home as collateral. Failing to repay can result in the loss of the property.

  3. Debt settlement involves negotiating directly with creditors to agree upon a reduced amount to settle the debt. By working with a debt settlement company or on your own, you might be able to reduce your debt significantly. However, it can negatively impact your credit score, and there's no guarantee that creditors will agree to a settlement.

  4. A debt management plan (DMP) is a structured repayment plan set up and managed by a credit counseling agency. They negotiate with creditors to potentially reduce interest rates and waive fees, then consolidate your debts into a single monthly payment made to the agency. This solution can help streamline and potentially reduce your payments, but it's crucial to work with a reputable credit counseling organization.

Editorial opinion

The rise of debt consolidation as a primary strategy to manage burgeoning debts speaks to its effectiveness for many individuals. Its primary advantage lies in the simplification of multiple debts into one monthly payment, often with the added benefit of reduced interest rates. This streamlined approach can lead to improved financial management and a clearer path to becoming debt-free.

However, as with any financial strategy, it's essential to approach debt consolidation with a discerning eye. Not every consolidation option will be right for every individual, and some might even find themselves deeper in debt if they're not careful. Factors like the total cost of the loan, potential hidden fees, and the reputability of the consolidation company all play crucial roles in determining the success of this approach.

Additional resources

Sources

FAQ

Do debt consolidation loans hurt your credit?

Debt consolidation can have varying impacts on your credit. In the short term, applying for a debt consolidation loan can result in a hard inquiry on your credit report, which might cause a slight dip in your credit score. However, if managed correctly, consolidating your debts can lead to more consistent on-time payments, reducing your credit utilization ratio and potentially improving your credit score in the long run. It's essential to ensure timely payments on the consolidation loan to reap these potential benefits.

Is using a debt consolidation company a good idea?

Employing the services of a debt consolidation company can be beneficial for many individuals, especially those feeling overwhelmed with multiple high-interest debts. These companies can help streamline monthly payments, negotiate lower interest rates, and provide a clearer path out of debt. However, it's crucial to do thorough research and choose a reputable company. Some predatory firms might promise results they can't deliver or charge exorbitant fees, exacerbating financial woes.

Do you lose your credit cards after debt consolidation?

Debt consolidation doesn't necessarily mean you'll lose your credit cards. However, if you're consolidating credit card debt, it's often recommended to refrain from using those cards to avoid accumulating more debt. Some debt management programs might require you to close your credit cards to ensure you don't accrue additional debt during the program. It's essential to discuss specifics with your lender or credit counselor to understand the terms.

Is it okay to consolidate your debt?

Consolidating debt can be an effective strategy for many individuals, particularly if it leads to lower interest rates and simplifies monthly payments. It can offer a more manageable way to pay off debt and save money in the long term. However, it's not suitable for everyone. Before consolidating, one should assess their financial situation, understand the terms of the new loan, and ensure they can commit to the new payment plan.

What is the average credit score for debt consolidation?

The average credit score required for debt consolidation varies depending on the lender and type of loan. Generally, to qualify for the most competitive interest rates, a good credit score (typically 670 or above) is favorable. However, some lenders might offer debt consolidation loans to those with lower credit scores, but they may come with higher interest rates or less favorable terms. It's always a good idea to check specific lender requirements and shop around to find the best deal for your credit profile.