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Credit Consolidation Or Debt Settlement?

Jun 2, 2008
Which is right for you? That depends on many factors, mainly your current and projected financial situation. There are many misconceptions about these two options and in this article I will explain the positives and negatives of each.

Credit Consolidation is to combine outstanding debts into one or several loans. The important thing to remember is that with a consolidation you are not reducing the principal debt amount you owe. In most cases your principal debt will increase at first because of closing costs or transfer fees. A Credit Consolidation can be a good move but only if the new loan is at a lower interest rate than the individual debt items. Over the years I have advised hundreds of clients on how to get out of debt. It seems that initially most people want to consolidate their debts to not only reduce interest but to make their lives easier by making only one payment. I recommend that if you get approved for a consolidation loan to only accept if the interest rate is substantially lower than the loans you are consolidating. It makes no financial sense to consolidate loans to make your life easier. This is especially true if you refinance your mortgage to pay off credit cards. Remember, only consolidate for a lower interest rate and take all closing costs into consideration. Another potentially useful situation to consolidate is if you are struggling with minimum monthly payments. In some cases you can buy yourself some time if you're able to consolidate and have a substantially lower payment, although this will generally prolong the amount of time it takes to actually pay the debt off.

Debt Settlement is also known as Debt Reduction. Debt Settlement is different than Credit Consolidation because the goal is to reduce your principal debt amount. This is done through negotiating with your creditor to lower your debt amount based off your specific financial hardship. If you are not in a hardship the program will not work because the creditors will have no reason to lower your debt amount. What qualifies as a hardship? As always, this depends on your situation. Some people are already behind and can't afford their minimum monthly payments; this is definitely a financial hardship. If you're current but are in danger of falling behind in the near future, you also might qualify for Debt Settlement. Debt Settlement is usually the fastest way to get rid of unsecured debt besides bankruptcy. The main tradeoff is that it's not good for your credit score. If you have decent credit, your payment history will be negatively affected which is enough to pull your credit score down into the "poor" range. In order for Debt Settlement to make sense for you, the benefit of paying off your unsecured debt in less than three years must outweigh the fact that your credit score will be compromised. Once the debt is paid off you can begin to rebuild your credit.
About the Author
Adam Jasa is the Founder of Select Debt Relief www.selectdebtrelief.com. Previously Adam worked with the Freedom Financial Network in their Financial Consulting Department. He is an expert in the different options available to consumers with unmanageable debt burdens. His company, Select Debt Relief is a member of Debt Resolution Partners which currently manages over $950 million of consumer debt.
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