The Federal Reserve and the U.S. Census Bureau spent time evaluating the debt crisis in America in 2016. The information gathered by both companies shows the total credit card debt in the United States exceeds $747 billion. The average American household carries $16,000 in just credit card debt. This doesn’t include car notes, exorbitant student loan debt, or their mortgage payments. Americans are drowning in debt, and the interest rates they pay on their credit cards make it even worse. Because credit card debt is unsecured, the rates are much higher for these debts than many others. This leaves families who already live paycheck-to-paycheck struggling to make even the minimum payment, extending the life of their debt by years and thousands of dollars.
Debt consolidation is the only light at the end of the tunnel for so many American families. It works for many because they’re able to take their numerous credit card payments and turn them into one payment with one interest rate. One interest rate is better than multiple interest rates, and it’s how families finally break the cycle of endless debt payments and very little progress. The issue now is finding a way for families to consolidate their debt. There are various options available, and finding the right one for your family depends on your credit score, your financial situation, and your debt.
Home Equity Lines of Credit
Consumers who own their homes and have equity in their homes might be eligible to take out a line of credit on their home. This is only an option if your credit score is high enough. The home equity line of credit works much like a credit card in that you have a limit, which is the equity you borrow, and you draw on that limit when you need the funds.
Say you have $100,000 equity in your home. This means you owe $100,000 less on your home than your home is worth. Your lender is willing to provide you with cash from that equity to help you consolidate your debts, but only up to a certain percent. It’s usually up to 80% of the value of your equity, so you could qualify for as much as $80,000. If you only need $30,000 to pay your debts off, borrow only that much. Now pay off all your debts. You’re going to have one low payment with a much lower interest rate in your line of credit, and typically 10 years to pay the balance in full. It’s a lot more cost-effective, and it saves consumers thousands of dollars each year, which equates to tens of thousands of dollars in interest payments consumers can save over the life of their home equity line of credit.
Zero Percent Balance Transfer Card
Another great option for consumers is to apply for a new credit card with a 0% APR introductory offer. Most card companies offering this incentive offer it for approximately 1 year. This leaves you 12 months to pay off all your credit card debt without paying interest. There are some cards that offer a longer introductory period with 0% APR, but no card offers a longer time frame than 21-months. Most card companies allow their new cardholders a few weeks to transfer their balances to take advantage of this offer, and interest does accrue on any balances that aren’t paid in full by the time the introductory period ends. It equates to ample savings if consumers are disciplined enough to pay their credit card debt off or down as quickly as possible.
Debt Consolidation Loans
Consumers who have a good relationship with their bank or credit union can apply for a personal loan to use for debt consolidation purposes. This loan is expressly used to pay off debts, and it’s done at a much lower interest rate. If your credit is a little bit on the imperfect side as a result of your credit card debt, you might try using your local credit union as a lender. They love working with customers with whom they have a good relationship to get them back on financial track.
Debt consolidation can be done easily by anyone who has the drive and willpower to do it. Other options are available if you cannot apply for a loan, and they might include a 401(k) loan from your retirement account or even a life insurance loan. However, these loans have a major financial impact on your future, and it’s not recommended you take either if you can help it.
Create a debt repayment plan, pay as much toward your credit card debt as possible each month, and you’ll see the light at the end of the tunnel become bigger and more impressive much faster. There is hope for families with credit card debt. Let yourself feel the motivation of paying off your debts, and you’re less likely to go into debt again.