Here are three of the best ways to consolidate credit card debt, and the pros and cons of each method.
My view is that 0% balance-transfer cards are the way to go.
The ideal balance-transfer strategy is as follows: Open a 0% balance-transfer card with low or no balance-transfer fees, transfer your balances to the card, and then file the physical card away somewhere it's inconvenient to access.
Consolidating credit card debt at a low interest rate enables indebted households to pay down debt faster while paying less interest along the way.
From balance-transfer credit cards to personal loans, we'll review some options to find the best way to pay down debt quickly and inexpensively.
But before falling for the low interest rates and longer term to repay the loan, consider the downsides. You may have to pay a substantial amount in upfront fees and appraisal costs to secure a low rate on a home-equity loan, erasing some of the interest-rate advantage.
In addition, it can take several weeks or months to get through the underwriting process, whereas a personal loan or balance-transfer card can be opened and ready to use in a couple of days, certainly less than a week.
That's substantially higher than a 0% APR available from several of the best balance-transfer offers.
Of course, lower rates are available for borrowers with excellent credit scores.
The disadvantages are the increased risk of foreclosure, potentially high upfront costs (documentation fees and appraisals), and additional time and energy spent going through the underwriting process.
This leaves a personal loan or balance transfer as the best possible option.
As an added benefit, the interest you pay on the home-equity loan may be tax deductible, thanks to the mortgage interest tax deduction.