Considering Debt Consolidation?

Review our simple guide below


A DIY Guide to Consolidating Debt

It can be difficult to keep on top of payments when you bear heavy debt, particularly if your debts are spread through several different types of credit cards and loans. If you are looking for ways to make repaying your debt simpler, consider consolidating the debt. 


Consolidating your debts means moving your loans to a single lending institution. You will only have to make a single monthly payment to the one lender in exchange. And depending on your creditworthiness you can be qualified for a lower interest rate and reduced fees when you combine your debts.

Is Consolidation Right for You?

In the right conditions, debt consolidation can be an effective method. Here are a few indicators that debt consolidation may be right for you: 


  • Forget to pay one or more bills each month? 
  • Feel like you have a grip on spending, yet debt continues to grow? 
  • Do not have enough to pay bills after each payday? 
  • Are you willing to commit to being free of debt through a long-term plan?
  • Does thinking about money give you anxiety and stress?


Common Options for Debt Consolidation:

Credit Card Balance Transfer

Consider converting your credit card balances into a single credit card if you have good credit. Ideally for the first year, the credit card will have a zero percent introductory APR. 


As you might expect, you will not qualify for these types of cards if you have less-than-stellar credit. If you do manage to qualify, you may not be eligible for the type of interest rates and terms needed for the transfer to make financial sense. 

Add up all debts you have. This includes the sums due, interest rate, monthly minimum payments, lender and duration of repayment. If you have not checked in on your debts for a while, you'll want to confirm all the details before you search for a credit card.

Request a credit report and have your score reviewed. In a 12-month span you will get one free report from each of the three main consumer credit card bureaus — TransUnion, Equifax and Experian. Since you are entitled to a free report each year with one of the three bureaus, pick one report and save the other two for later use. Receive your free report from

After receiving your credit report, look carefully for inconsistency in the report details. One place you want to pay careful attention to is your accounts history regarding payments. If you notice your information seems incorrect, it could throw off your repayment plan. If the information is not accurate, we highly suggest filing a dispute. Usually, the offices have one month to investigate your request. 

Getting a credit score is something you can do, or credit monitoring services can also provide this information for free. A lot of financial management apps and credit card lenders nowadays offer credit scores to consumers for free. Note that there are multiple credit scoring models out there, so the score you receive from a credit card bureau may have slight differences from FICO ® or VantageScore ®.

Shop around for credit cards to see which ones you qualify for. As you consider a credit balance transfer, make sure your limit is high enough to cover one or more of your cards by speaking to the lender you have chosen.

Keep a mental note: when applying for a new credit card, your credit score may be negatively affected.  This is due to a hard inquiry which is done when a lending institution checks your credit for lending worthiness.  Make sure you have done diligent research and that you are confident you are ready to submit a new application.   Hard inquiries typically can stay on your credit report for up to 24 months.   (Conversely, soft inquiries, done by a person or company as part of a background check, do not affect your credit score.) 

The ideal factor for debt consolidation is having a good credit score. If you have a low score, debt consolidation may not be your best option. That is where debt management plans come in to help.

A sound goal with a balance transfer card is to pay off your balance within the introductory period. If you do not pay off your debts within the introductory period, you will get hit with normal interest rates for the remaining payments. Keep in mind, the interest rates may potentially be higher than your old cards, so be cautious. If you can commit to this kind of long-term repayment plan, a balance transfer card may be a good option for you.

We highly suggest not accruing any further credit cards or debt. This is particularly important! If you think you will be tempted to continue spending on your credit cards or creating more debt, you’ll want to consider closing your old cards. If you do close your cards, be aware your credit utilization ratio will be lower.

Debt consolidation loan is another option you can choose. This allows you to consolidate your current debt regardless if they are credit cards, personal or, payday loans or even medical bills. Since these types of loans are personal loans, they qualify for a debt consolidation loan.

The first step is to know what kind of loans you have and to write down each loan and these categories: List the lender, amounts from each lender, remaining payment period, and the interest rates for all your cards. This may feel daunting but rest assured, once you have the facts written down you may just realize you are more in control than you have previously thought.

There are a few options to consider when pursuing a debt consolidation loan. Checking with your local bank, credit union, or a trusted online loan consolidator are good places to start. Please note, there are two types of debt consolidation loans: secured and unsecured. Secured loans are connected to an asset also known as collateral, which allows banks to offer lower interest rates. Unsecured loans have no collateral, which means interest rates are higher since banks are taking a risk without an attachment of collateral. You will want to keep a keen eye on interest rates, payments, length of the loan, any additional fees and if you will get hit with a penalty by paying off your loan early. You should consider comparing all this information with your current lender and others by shopping around.

Your goal is to find a new loan that has lower interest rates but know that with a new loan, a new length of loan repayment, you may end up paying more in interest over the new length of your debt consolidation loan.

As there are many options for debt consolidation out there, consider how much you can afford to pay each month. Once you figure that out, it will help direct you to decide which loan to transfer to.

During tough financial times, it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. There are ways to help you pay down your debts, especially with your new loan. Seeking extra hours at your current job, a second part-time job or a side hustle may be enough to help pay down your loan faster. This secondary source of income should not stress you out or break you down but instead lift you up, knowing this extra money will go towards paying off your debts and getting your closer to being financially free!

Another approach to debt consolidation is a Debt Management Plan (DMP), usually offered by a nonprofit credit counseling organization. A DMP consolidates your monthly payments rather than the loan entirely. This means you are paying off several debts by making a single payment that gets disbursed to multiple creditors monthly.

Some significant benefits to a DMP are that most creditors will grant reduced interest rates and waived fees when enrolled in this type of plan.  These can include late payment fees or over-the-limit fees, and possible significant reductions in interest rates depending on your situation & creditors.  These substantial benefits are not always available without the assistance of a credit counseling organization.  

Another bonus to a DMP is it fits within your budget, which makes payments realistic and obtainable. Usually DMP’s are completed within 48 months. Ready to start your DMP journey, if so, you will need to connect with a certified credit counseling organization. 

When enrolled in a DMP offered through a credit counseling organization, you may be required to take part in financial education to receive the benefits of a debt management plan.  Do not let this deter you, as the information you gain will support your goals of financial health both short and long term.

Business People


New Client Inquiry: 800-918-6709
Existing Clients Only: 800-656-6207
Our office is open from
7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Pacific Standard Time.