How do I choose the best debt consolidation lender? - Bankrate.com

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We are an independent, advertising-supported comparison service. Our goal is to help you make smarter financial decisions by providing you with interactive tools and financial calculators, publishing original and objective content, by enabling you to conduct research and compare information for free – so that you can make financial decisions with confidence.
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If you’re searching for ways to consolidate your debt, there’s no shortage of lenders who can assist you. However, not all are worth considering if you are serious about meeting your debt payoff goals.
Ideally, you should start by deciding which debt consolidation method is best and evaluating your financial and credit health to determine if you’re a good fit for debt consolidation. Once you’ve taken those steps, you can move on to researching and evaluating lenders to find the best fit to help you pay those overwhelming debt balances off sooner.
The first step is to evaluate debt consolidation options and select the method that will work best for you. Common methods include:
Lenders want to know that you’re creditworthy and have the means to make timely payments on the loan or credit card you use to consolidate debt. So, you can expect the lender to assess your credit score, credit history and debt-to-income ratio to determine if you’re eligible for a debt product.
Also, know that the most competitive interest rates are generally reserved for borrowers with good or excellent credit scores. A lower credit score doesn’t always mean you’ll automatically be denied a loan or credit card. Still, you’ll typically get a steep interest rate if approved to offset the risk of default posed to the lender or creditor.
You may also find that it’s not sensible to consolidate your debt if you have bad credit if you only qualify for a higher rate than you’re currently paying.
Research lenders who offer the type of debt consolidation you’re seeking. Most offer online prequalification with a soft credit inquiry. If you’re considering a debt consolidation loan, you’ll also get a sneak peek at potential loan costs to more effectively compare your options.
Getting prequalified takes the guesswork out of finding lenders willing to work with you. Furthermore, you’ll avoid applying to lenders who could deny you a loan or credit card and getting an unnecessary hard credit inquiry.
Once you have a shortlist of at least three lenders, here’s what to look for:
Before you apply for a loan or credit card to consolidate your debt, weigh your options to decide which type of debt consolidation makes the most sense. Also, get prequalified with at least three lenders to view potential loan quotes and compare your options. Doing so will enable you to make an informed decision, meet your debt payoff goals faster and save money.
Bankrate.com is an independent, advertising-supported publisher and comparison service. Bankrate is compensated in exchange for featured placement of sponsored products and services, or your clicking on links posted on this website. This compensation may impact how, where and in what order products appear. Bankrate.com does not include all companies or all available products.
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