Can I consolidate credit card debts?
Yes, it is possible to consolidate your credit card debts into one monthly repayment.
There are several different options available, but the two most common ways to consolidate these debts are to:
• Transfer your existing credit card debts onto a low or 0% interest credit card.
Not only could these methods make your payments more manageable, but you may also be able to clear your debts faster if you have more disposable income each month to put towards them. This is particularly the case with a low or 0% interest credit card.
No matter the method you choose, you’ll likely only have one payment to make each month rather than having to keep track of different balances, payment dates, and interest rates for each card.
You may be able to lower your outgoings or pay off your debts faster, but each type of debt consolidation comes with different terms and conditions to consider. The total amount repayable will depend on the interest rate you’re offered and the time it takes to pay off your debt.
What is a balance transfer credit card?
A balance transfer credit card is a type of credit card that offers a low or 0% interest rate on transferred balances. This rate is often offered for a limited period and a balance transfer fee may also apply (typically around 2% or 3% of your debt balance).
What should I consider before consolidating my credit cards?
• Consider other ways to clear your debt, such as using any cash savings
• Take steps to improve your credit score to qualify for the best possible interest rates
• Check that the interest rate after the initial offer is lower than your existing rate
• Check whether the introductory rate period is long enough to clear your debt
• Find out if a one-off transfer fee applies
What are the pros and cons of paying off credit card debt with a credit card?
|All or some of your debts will be in one place.||You may need to pay a one-off transfer fee.|
|It could make your debt more manageable.||Your interest rate may increase after the low rate or 0% period ends.|
|You may pay less interest overall.||Interest rates can be high if you use the card for new spending.|
|Your credit score may improve if you keep up with your repayments.||You may need good credit to qualify.|
|Your home will not be at risk.||Your financial situation could be harmed if you fail to keep up with your repayments.|
|You could repay your debts quicker.||A penalty charge may be applied if you miss your repayments.|
Using a balance transfer credit card
A balance transfer credit card can allow you to move your existing debts from a card with a high interest rate to one with a low or 0% interest rate. You may need a strong credit score to qualify for the lowest rates.
Once you’ve transferred your balance, you won’t have to pay as much – or any – interest on your debt. This means that you will have more money to put towards clearing the debt and could potentially pay it off faster.
Keep in mind that low or 0% interest rates may only be offered as an introductory or limited-time deal and the credit card’s rates might not be as competitive when the offer expires.
A balance transfer credit card might not be the right choice for you if:
• You have a poor credit score and might not be eligible for a low interest rate card
• You have several different types of debt to consolidate
Tips to avoid credit card debt in the future
Here are three ways to prevent increasing your credit card debt after consolidation:
1. Make your repayments in full and on time
2. Close your credit card accounts so that you’re not tempted to use them again
3. Remember that any new spending will usually not be charged at the reduced rate
What’s the difference between a debt consolidation loan and a balance transfer credit card?
A debt consolidation loan is designed to help you to pay off your existing debts. It might be the right choice for you if you have several different types of debts, a mixed credit history, or a high debt balance.
Depending on your eligibility and the terms and conditions that apply, a debt consolidation loan can often offer a lower interest rate than a standard credit card.
You’ll also likely be offered a structured payment plan and could reduce your monthly repayments by spreading them over a longer loan term.
Will credit card consolidation affect my credit score?
Credit card consolidation, whether it’s via personal loan or balance transfer credit card, is a type of credit and so it can affect your credit score.
Why might it have a negative impact?
• Transferring your existing debt to a new card could increase your credit utilisation rate (the amount of available credit you’re using)
• Opening a new account may decrease the average age of your accounts
• A new hard search on your credit report could affect your score
However, these negative effects can be temporary and are less impactful than missed or delayed payments. Consolidation could even improve your credit score if you pay off your existing debt and keep up with your new monthly repayment.
If you’re struggling with debt, you can access free financial advice and support from a professional debt specialist. Visit Money Wellness, StepChange, Citizens Advice, National Debtline, or Money Helper to find out more.
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