Can a Personal Loan Help You Dig Out of Debt?

What you need to know before signing on the dotted line

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Credit card debt — most of us have had it at some point in our lives. According to a recent WalletHub study, American families owe an average of $7,800 on their credit cards and total credit card debt in the U.S. is more than $926 billion.

If you are one of those with a lot of credit card debt, a personal loan may help you pay down your balances. Personal loans are best for people with good to excellent credit, because you’ll be able to get low interest rates. 

Forbes Advisor experts say they’re good for debt consolidation, especially if you have multiple credit cards or ones with high interest rates. 

“The advantage of this is that you now have one debt payment per month,” said Mike Cetera, Loans Editor at Forbes Advisor. “And you’ll pay it off in a fixed amount of time, whereas credit cards you can go on paying those forever if you don’t pay them off.”

Cetera says you should keep some things in mind when shopping around for a personal loan.

First up, research lenders and make a list of a few to compare. Look beyond your own bank because you may find a better rate somewhere else.

“Yes, your bank at the corner of your subdivision offers these, credit unions offer them, but you can also find them at a wide range of online institutions,” Cetera said.

Next, pre-qualify if it’s an option with the lender. It won’t ding your credit and you’ll get a better idea of the APR and terms of the loan.

Then, find out the fees associated with the loan. You’ll want to know if there are any penalties for paying it off early or any origination fees.

“If you do get charged an origination fee, what typically happens is they’ll just take that fee out of the loan. So you may have asked for a $5,000 loan but with an origination fee tacked on you may only get $4,500,” said Cetera.

Lastly, find a lender who has a track record of good customer service. Read reviews on multiple sites to be sure you’re getting the full picture of the company’s history with its customers.

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