Consolidating all school loans

One of the first things you’ll want to do is check your credit reports for accuracy.

An error on any of your credit reports could prevent you from qualifying for the debt consolidation help you need, so .

You can get your free annual credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies — Trans Union, Equifax and Experian.

And, Credit.com’s free credit report summary can help you understand what’s inside your credit report. There are several safe and smart ways to consolidate credit card debt, so you’ll want to research them before deciding what’s best for you.

By consolidating your credit card debt into a personal loan, you’ll have a definite plan for paying off your old card debt.

You may be able to consolidate your debt with a personal loan from your bank or credit union.

The best way to consolidate credit card debt — and whether consolidation will work for you at all — depends on your situation, so you might want to consult a non-profit credit counselor about your best options.

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Whichever option you choose, you will use it to pay off your multiple balances.Keep in mind a debt management plan may have a negative impact on your credit during the course of the program because your creditors will close or suspend your accounts while in the program, and this can affect your credit utilization.So make sure you are ready to live credit card free for a while.Then you’ll only have one monthly payment: the loan, the credit card or the debt management plan.Not only does that simplify your debt payments, it can also help you save money.(Not every creditor has to participate, so you may be able to keep a credit card out of the debt management plan if you need it to remain open for travel or business purposes, for example.)Once you complete your plan, some of your creditors may re-establish your credit based on your new, debt-free status and the on-time payment history you established through the course of the debt management plan.Other ways credit card consolidation can hurt your credit: Applying for a new line of credit results in a hard inquiry on your credit report, adding a new credit account can lower the average age of your credit history and a new personal loan will show that you have a high level of outstanding debt (your scores should improve as your remaining balance shrinks from where it started). Adding a personal loan to your credit history can improve your mix of accounts (it’s good to have a combination of installment and revolving credit, like credit cards).A lender may lower the interest rate on your credit card balance when you participate in a debt management plan.Debt management plans typically last three to five years.It’s also a good idea to stay clear of websites and lenders that charge you big upfront fees for a debt consolidation loan.With a debt management plan, you make one monthly payment to a credit counseling agency and the agency pays each of your credit card lenders.

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