Reading The Fine Print: The Pros And Cons Of A Personal Loan Reading The Fine Print: The Pros And Cons Of A Personal Loan Many Americans are in a battle with their credit card debt and are stuck in a vicious cycle of seemingly never-ending payments. Holding large credit card balances, in which you may be struggling to keep up with, not only impacts your cash flow, credit score and overall financial health, it also can affect your physical well-being if it is causing you stress. While it may seem impossible to dig yourself out of all of this debt, there are ways you can conquer and win the credit card debt battle. Taking out a personal loan can be a good way to pay off your credit card debt, but you should also be aware of the pitfalls. Here is some insight into understanding what a personal loan is, as well as the pros and cons that come along with it. What Does it Mean When You Pay Off Credit Card Debt With a Personal Loan: Paying off credit card debt with a personal loan typically falls under the category of a “credit card consolidation loan.” Credit card consolidation loans are term loans in which the borrower will have a repayment plan, and the debt will be paid within a definitive time frame with a set interest rate. Having a set interest rate and time frame can be helpful in keeping track of how much interest you are actually paying for the duration of the loan as opposed to carrying credit card balances. Carrying a credit card balance each month could cost you more in interest than you may have anticipated if you only pay the minimum amount required. "Consolidating your high-interest credit cards into a personal loan with a lower interest rate could save you a significant amount of money in the long run" The Pros in Paying Off Credit Card Debt With a Personal Loan: Obtain a Lower Interest Rate: While it’s not guaranteed, you may be able to get a lower interest rate than you currently have on your credit cards. Consolidating your high-interest credit cards into a personal loan with a lower interest rate could save you a significant amount of money in the long run. Having a fixed interest rate for the duration of the loan will keep your monthly payments the same each month and will help you better budget and keep track of you expenses each month. One Single Monthly Payment If you hold numerous credit cards with high balances, consolidating them all into one personal loan will give you a single balance under one interest rate. Not only does this make managing your credit card debt simple, but it can also help you keep better track of your finances as well as making on-time payments. Having a single monthly payment may be beneficial to those who may be prone to financial procrastination and have a hard time managing their finances. It could also be a good opportunity to “turn over a new leaf” and embrace financial literacy as well as embark on a journey to a debt-free life. Quicker pay-off time Unlike credit cards, a personal loan can be paid off in a shorter amount of time. Credit cards do not have a set repayment period. When only paying the minimum amount required on credit cards, you could be facing decades of payments, leaving you with double or even triple the original balance. Try comparing how long it will take you to pay off a personal loan as opposed to sticking to making monthly minimum payments. Making a comparison will be easy to do because every credit card company is required by the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure Act (CARD) to have an explanation on statements as to how long it will take you to pay off the credit card debt if you just make the minimum payments. Having this information may not only be an eye-opener but can help you make your decision on opting for a personal loan. The Cons of paying off credit card debt with a personal loan: Interest Rate Could Be Higher Typically the interest rates on personal loans are lower than the interest rates associated with credit cards. However, the interest rate you are given will depend on whether or not you have good credit. If your credit is less than desirable, then you may not getter a better interest rate deal. Even those who are considered to have good credit may not get an interest rate that would make sense to opt for a consolidation loan. It’s always important to do your homework and make comparisons to decide what will work best for your individual financial situation. Monthly Payment May Not Work Within Your Budget You may very well be able to obtain a personal loan to pay off your credit cards. However, you have to make sure that the monthly amount fits within your budget. If you don’t think you can swing the monthly payment on your current budget, see where you can make cuts to your expenses that will work and make sense. If the payments are not affordable, then you may have to seek other options in paying off your credit card debt. For example, you may have to take on a side-job to bring in more income to pay more than your minimum balance or cut back on expenses such as dining out and cable bills. "If your credit is less than desirable, then you may not getter a better interest rate deal. Even those who are considered to have good credit may not get an interest rate that would make sense to opt for a consolidation loan" Fees May Be Involved Before signing on the dotted line, make sure you read the fine print. Some personal loans may have origination fees that may add a substantial amount to the loan. Make sure that the fees do not outweigh the benefit of consolidating your credit card balances. If you decide to opt for a personal loan to pay off your credit cards, it’s extremely important to understand how you got into credit card debt in the first place. Get to the root of the problem, so it doesn’t happen again. If your credit card debt was due to impulse buying and poor spending habits and you don’t take action to correct the behavior, then taking out a personal loan to pay off your credit cards will only be a temporary fix. Create a budget to keep track of how much you have coming in vs. how much is going out for expenses. Whether you have credit card debt or not, Budgeting is a great tool for everyone, and by utilizing a budget, you will be on your way to a debt-free future! Leslie Tayne Leslie H. Tayne has more than 15 years' experience in the practice area of consumer and business financial debt-related services. Speaker, Author of Life & Debt, Attorney and Founder of the Tayne Law Group, P.C., Leslie is working towards reshaping the debt industry by offering real, proven solutions to help her clients get back on the road to financial freedom.