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Using a Home Equity Line Of Credit To Repay Credit Card Debt

Aug 17, 2007
Two financial phenomena have taken place in the UK over the last decade. On the one hand, we have increasing become a nation of debtors, running up trillions of pounds in short-term debt. On the other hand, house value have increased exponentially during this period and many of us now have massive amounts of in-built equity value in our homes. It may seem natural, therefore, to use the proceeds of one to pay off the debts of the other. However, using a home equity line of credit (HELOC) may not be the best method of debt consolidation available to you.

What is a HELOC?

Essentially HELOC is exactly what it says it is. As a homeowner you have an asset, your home. Because housing prices in the UK have increased dramatically in the past decade, many of us have positive equity in our homes. To repay outstanding debt, you can free up some of this equity with a loan, against which you provide security, your home. You have now just completed a HELOC.

Why is this a good way to consolidate my UK credit card debt?

Many see HELOC as a good way to consolidate their UK credit card debt because, as a secured debt, the interest rate on the loan is much lower than the interest rate they're currently paying on their existing outstanding unsecured credit card debt. In addition, the repayment terms of the consolidated debt may be more affordable, i.e. the monthly repayments may be lower.

Why is this a bad way to consolidate my UK credit card debt?

There are essentially two principal reasons why HELOC may be considered a bad way to consolidate your debt. On the one hand, and very importantly, if you elect to consolidate your debt using a HELOC, you need to be aware that you are literally gambling with your home. If you fail to make repayments under the line of credit provided to you, as a secured loan, you stand to lose your home. Consequently, this can be seen as an extremely risky way to pay off unsecured debt, against which a claim against your biggest asset, your home, would be far more remote.

The second reason why HELOC are seen as not being a particularly good way to consolidate credit card debt is because, unlike in the past, there are now other alternative methods that credit card debtors can use to try and consolidate and pay off their credit card debt. Examples of this may be the unsecured personal loan or even the 0% interest offered as a promotional incentive to transfer your credit card balance to another UK credit card provider. In short then, HELOC are seen as an extreme measure to a short-term problem.

Having said there are two principal reasons why HELOC is seen as a bad way to consolidate credit card debt, there is in fact a third reason. In most cases credit card debtors use HELOC as a short-term measure to consolidate their credit card debt. Most credit card debtors who consolidate their debt with HELOC financing do not cut up their credit cards, rather, shortly thereafter, the credit card debtor will have run up another line of credit against their credit card. To repay this line of credit the homeowner will arrange another line of credit against the residual equity in their home. Before long, the home no longer has any residual equity left, the homeowner has a number of loans they need to repay, and another line of credit remains outstanding on their UK credit card. This type of financial mismanagement is all too easy to do today, but it coffin nail to your long-term financial future, so think long and hard before using a HELOC to consolidate your UK credit card debt.
About the Author
Joe Kenny writes for the Credit Card Guide, offering views on credit cards in the UK, visit them today for some great 0% balance transfer offers and start clearing credit card debt today.
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