Does consolidation of debts affect your credit?
I'll answer your question in two methods, first discussing your debt consolidation options (since there are several ways that could be considered when evaluating debt consolidation) and then I will discuss credit to help you understand what makes up your credit score.
There is only one form of debt consolidation that will NOT impact your credit, and that is a debt consolidation loan. Generally speaking, a debt consolidation loan should not negatively affect your ability to obtain a mortgage loan, or otherwise negatively affect your credit rating. Basically, a debt consolidation loan replaces one type of debt on your credit report with another; it does not increase the total amount of debt you owe. Since one of the major considerations used in calculating your credit score is your ratio of debt to available credit, and since a debt consolidation loan does not increase your debt, this type of loan should not harm your credit rating. In fact, since the debt consolidation loan will pay off other debts, leaving you with the same amount of debt but more available credit (the available credit on your old accounts), consolidation could actually improve your credit score.
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There are other forms of debt consolidation though that do hurt your credit profile and ability to get a home loan. The four primary concerns for most consumers are: i) monthly payment, ii) time to debt freedom, iii) total cost, and iv) the credit rating impact of the consolidation program. Be sure to evaluate each program, relative to your prioritization of these factors.
Since there are a variety of debt consolidation options, including credit counseling, debt negotiation/debt settlement, a debt consolidation loan, bankruptcy, and other debt resolution options, it is important to fully understand each option and then pick the solution that is right for you.
Credit counseling, or signing up for a debt management plan, is a very common form of online debt consolidation. There are many companies offering online credit counseling, which is essentially a way to make one payment directly to the credit counseling agency, which then distributes that payment to your creditors. Most times, a credit counseling agency will be able to lower your monthly payments by getting interest rate concessions from your lenders or creditors. It is important to understand that in a credit counseling program, you are still repaying 100% of your debts – but with lower monthly payments. On average, most online credit counseling programs take around five years. While most credit counseling programs do not impact your FICO score, being enrolled in a credit counseling debt management plan DOES show up on your credit report… and, unfortunately, many lenders look at enrollment in credit counseling akin to filing for Chapter 13 Bankruptcy – or using a third party to re-organize your debts.
Debt settlement, also called debt negotiation, is a form of online debt consolidation that cuts your total debt, sometimes over 50%, with lower monthly payments. Debt settlement programs typically run around three years. It is important to keep in mind, however, that during the life of your debt settlement program, you are NOT paying your creditors. This means that a debt settlement solution of online debt consolidation will negatively impact your credit rating. Your credit rating will not be good, at a minimum, for the term of your debt settlement program. However, debt settlement is usually the fastest and cheapest way to debt freedom, with a low monthly payment, while avoiding Chapter 7 Bankruptcy. The trade-off here is a negative credit rating versus saving money.
Debt Consolidation Loan
Many people think first of a debt consolidation loan when seeking online debt consolidation. This option typically means a second home loan (or home equity line of credit) or refinancing your primary mortgage. In a debt consolidation loan, you exchange one loan for another. The most frequent form is taking out a mortgage loan, which carries a lower interest rate and is tax deductible, to pay off high interest rate credit card debt. It is important to be aware that shifting unsecured debt to secured debt can create a volatile situation, if there is ever a chance that you cannot afford the new mortgage payment you are now putting yourself at risk of foreclosure! In the case of a debt consolidation loan, most mortgages are 30 year loan, which means that the total cost and the time to debt freedom could be very high… but the monthly payment will be lower than other options and there is no credit rating impact.
Bankruptcy may also solve your debt problems. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a traditional liquidation of assets and liabilities, and is usually considered a last resort. Since bankruptcy reform went into effect, it is much harder to file for bankruptcy. If you are considering bankruptcy, I encourage you to consult with a qualified bankruptcy attorney in your area.
Net-net: while there are many forms of online debt consolidation, many people with good to perfect credit who own homes should look into debt consolidation loans, while consumers with high credit card debt and poor credit may want to explore debt settlement or debt negotiation. However, each consumer is different, so find the online debt consolidation option that fits for you.
Here are some fast tips for your own quick Debt Consolidation Evaluator:
1. If you have perfect credit and have equity in your home - consider a Mortgage Refinance.
2. If you can afford a healthy monthly payment (about 3 percent of your total debt each month) and you want to protect yourself from collection and from going delinquent - consider Credit Counseling.
3. If you want the lowest monthly payment and want to get debt free for a low cost and short amount of time, AND you are willing to deal with adverse credit impacts and collections - then evaluate Debt Settlement.
4. If you cannot afford anything in a monthly payment (less than 1.5 percent of your total debt each month) - consider Bankruptcy to see if Chapter 7 might be right for you.
Bills.com makes it easy for you to apply for traditional forms of debt relief, by following this link: https://www.bills.com/debthelp/debt/
Now, on to credit: It is important to understand how your credit score is calculated. Your credit rating is calculated based on several variables, including:
1) Payment history, which counts for approximately 35% of your score, is the most heavily weighted factor used in calculating your credit score. Consistently paying your bills on time has a positive influence on your score, while late or missed payments will hurt you in this area. If you have delinquent payments, the older the delinquency the less the negative impact on your score will be. Collection accounts and bankruptcy filings are also taken into consideration when analyzing your payment history.
2) Total debt and total available credit, which counts for about 30%. This section looks at how much debt you have compared to the total available credit on your accounts. If all of your accounts are maxed out, you will be considered a poor credit risk, because it appears that you are struggling to pay off the debt you have already incurred. If your account balances are relatively low compared to your available credit, this part of the risk analysis should help your overall credit score. The score calculation also looks at these two factors independently. Having too much available credit, whether you have used it or not, could hurt your credit score, as statistical studies have shown that people with excessive amounts of available credit are a higher credit risk. Unfortunately, the bureaus do not define exactly what they consider excessive, so best tip is to use credit conservatively and to keep your debt to credit limit ratio low.
3) Length of positive credit history, which counts for about 15%. The longer you maintain accounts in good standing, the better your score will be. This shows that you are able to make a long-term commitment to a creditor and are consistently responsible about making your payments. If you have accounts with long history (5 or more years) and no missed payments, you should keep these open and paid off.
4) Mix of types of credit, which counts for approximately 10%. Having several different types of credit, such a credit cards, consumer loans, and secured debt, will have a positive influence on your credit score. Having too much of one type of credit can have a negative impact.
5) The number of new credit applications you have recently completed, which accounts for about 10% of your score. Applying for too much new credit in a short time period makes indicates that you could be credit risk, as you may be desperately trying to keep your head above water. The models make an exception for people who are shopping around for a loan, so if you are simply applying to see who can give you the best rate on a new loan, you need not worry too much about damaging your credit score.
If you would like to learn more about credit reports, credit scoring, and what it means to you, I encourage you to explore the wealth of material offered by Bills.com at http://www.bills.com/credit/
I hope this information helps you Find. Learn. Save.