Debt consolidation and debt settlement are both options for resolving debt.  However, each method has a different strategy and timeline before you are free of debt. They each can affect your credit score differently.

 Debt Consolidation

Debt consolidation is a debt management strategy in which you combine multiple debts into a single payment, with a lower interest rate.  You can use a balance-transfer credit card, debt consolidation loan, home-equity loan or 401(k) loan. 

Why You Might Choose It:  

  • To get a lower interest rate than you’re currently paying, which saves you money and can help you pay off your debt sooner.
  • To reduce the number of creditors you owe and therefore the number of payments you’re juggling. 
  • Debt consolidation loans may allow you to use assets like your home or car as collateral.

What You Need To Know:

  • Debt consolidation can lead to a small dip in your credit score typically by a few points when a lender performs a hard inquiry on your credit. 
  • You’ll have a longer period of time before you’re debt free.

Debt Settlement

Debt settlement is the process of negotiating with creditors (usually credit card issuers) to reduce the amount you owe in exchange for a one-time lump sum payment to settle the account.

Why You Might Choose It: 

  • Your income is stable enough that you can continue to pay your mortgage or rent and other essential bills in addition to the payments required under a debt settlement.
  • To avoid court-mandated controls of bankruptcy while still lowering the amount of debt you have to pay.
  • Creditors know you can always file for bankruptcy, which could eliminate their ability to collect anything from you which is why they might be willing to accept less.

What You Need To Know:

  • Typically, only unsecured debts can be settled. Unsecured debts include medical bills and credit card debt; but not public student loans, or secured debt (i.e. auto loans or mortgages). 
  • The process of debt settlement requires you to stop making payments on the accounts you want to settle which can damage your credit score.  Typically from 75 – 100 points.
  • Debt settlement will be on your credit report for seven years and can impact your ability to get a loan and the interest rate you pay, if you are approved.

Tackling debt can be an important financial and personal goal. If you have any questions about either of these debt relief methods call me at (800) 822-7120.  I can help!

-Erik Kaplan

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