Credit card debt isn't any fun, and the more you have the worse it is. One method a lot of people turn to is consolidation. This is where you combine all of your debts into a single debt, with a single payment. This single payment can be significantly lower than the total amount you were previously paying. However, credit card consolidation isn't right for everybody, and there are a few things you should know. With that in mind here are some tips to help you consolidate more effectively.
- Read any terms of service carefully, and be sure that you understand them. This tip applies to those who will consolidate by themselves through moving higher interest balances to a single card or two with lower interest rates.
You need to know if there are any fees for balance transfers, how long the lower rate will last, how much of the transferred balance falls under the low rate, and so on. All of these things can have a major impact on how much you pay, and the goal is to pay less, not more.
- Check into any credit counseling agency or debt consolidation company you are thinking of using. In a perfect world you would be able to trust all companies that offer such services, but the reality is that some of them are only after your money, and won't do anything but make your credit situation worse.
These types of companies advertise heavily on television, radio and the internet, but that doesn't automatically mean you can trust them. Look for unbiased reviews and check with the Better Business Bureau to see if there are any consumer complaints.
- After you have consolidated all of your credit cards, do not use them. Remember, you will be reducing your overall expense, and this can give you the illusion of having more money to spend. But that isn't the case. You need to stop adding to your debt, and do whatever you can to pay off your consolidated card.
If you find you are in a true emergency situation after you've started credit card consolidation, then (and only then) charge that emergency expense to the card that is carrying the balance of what you owe. You should never start charging on the cards that have a new zero balance, as it will only lead to trouble.
- No matter what company you go with, and whether you do it yourself or not, you have to read all of the terms of the agreement. This can't be overstressed. Don't go by what somebody tells you face to face. What counts is what the paper you are signing says. In legal matters, a written contract holds more weight than a verbal one.