Mar 26 2020

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Best loan companies for bad credit


Best Debt Consolidation Loan Companies for 2019

The average adult with a credit card carries $5,839 in credit card debt, according to data. Further, 38% of U.S. households carry revolving debt each month because they aren’t able or willing to pay off their balances. If you’re in debt, these figures probably don’t surprise you, and they may even seem small. But even relatively small amounts of debt can impact your life and make getting ahead financially significantly harder than it should be.

Fortunately, debt consolidation loans make it possible to craft a plan that might get you out of debt faster and with lower costs. With a debt consolidation loan, you may be able to combine several high-interest debts into a new loan with a lower interest rate and better terms. With less of your payments going toward interest each month, you can pay down debt faster and save money in the process.

Whether you have good or bad credit, there could be a debt consolidation loan option for you. We wrote this guide to introduce you to the best debt consolidation loan companies and what they have to offer. Keep reading to learn more about debt consolidation loans and how they stack up.

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While it’s not as drastic as debt settlement or debt management, debt consolidation has its own pitfalls that you need to be aware of. If you need help educating yourself on your debt consolidation options, start with the section titled “What is Debt Consolidation?” If you already know debt consolidation is the right path for you, scroll down for the section on whether debt consolidation is the right path for you.

What Is Debt Consolidation?

Think about all the debts and credit card balances you currently have. What if you could lump them together into a new fixed-rate loan, and pay it off with one single monthly bill? Simply put, that’s what debt consolidation is.

Debt consolidation rolls high-interest debt — like credit card balances, personal loans, and medical bills — into a single, lower-interest loan with one monthly payment. It’s a way for consumers to simplify their debt obligations and reorganize multiple bills with different interest rates, payments, or due dates.

So how do you get started? There are a number of ways to go about consolidating debt, including making a balance transfer to a zero- or low-interest credit card, applying for a home equity loan, or taking out a debt consolidation loan.

Pros of Debt Consolidation Loans

Cons of Debt Consolidation Loans

Debt consolidation is true to its name. When you consolidate your debts, you’re taking out a new, bigger loan to pay off a bunch of your existing debts. Instead of paying several different creditors, you’ll be paying a single bill for the new loan. Your monthly payment will likely be lower with the new single loan than the combined payments of your previous debts. Unlike debt settlement, you do not actually reduce the principal amount you owe — you’ll still be paying the full amount.

Debt consolidation is not without risks. Experts warn against consolidation unless you’re truly struggling to make minimum payments on your debts each month and are ready to turn over a new leaf with your spending habits.

What Kinds of Debt Consolidation Loans Are There?

Secured Loans

Secured consolidation loans are tied to some sort of collateral — a valuable asset that the lender can take in the event you no longer pay your bills. Common collateral includes your house or car. It’s easier to qualify for a secured loan since there’s less risk to the lender. For the same reason, it’s also usually easier to get a larger amount at a lower interest rate. The interest may also be tax-deductible.

Of course, while it’s easier for you to land this kind of loan, you could also lose your assets if you default. You may also be paying down this kind of loan for much longer. Home equity loans are among the most common kind of secured debt-consolidation loans.

Unsecured Loans

In contrast, an unsecured consolidation loan isn’t tied to collateral. Because of that, it’s less risky to you — by defaulting, you’re mainly risking credit damage instead of your house, car, or other assets. Unsecured loans also usually take less time to pay down.

However, getting an unsecured loan is tougher, especially if your credit is tarnished. Because the lender takes on more risk with unsecured loans, you’ll probably be offered a higher interest rate and a smaller amount, and there are no tax benefits. Personal loans, credit-card balance transfers, and loans offered solely for the purpose of debt consolidation are among your options here.

Where Do I Get a Debt Consolidation Loan?

If you need a secured loan to consolidate your debt, you’ll likely be limited to a brick-and-mortar lender such as a bank or credit union. If you’re considering an unsecured loan to consolidate your debt, you’ll have more options.

It’s hard to beat the convenience of online lenders, several of whom we’ll review below. You can also apply for a personal loan at most local banks and credit unions — while the lending process can move slowly, you can get more personal service this way.

Finally, if you can roll your debt onto a credit card with a very low introductory rate, this is a viable option, too. However, you’ll need to be disciplined enough to pay it off before your introductory rate expires and leaves you with the (much, much) higher ongoing interest rate.

You may also be wondering about debt consolidation companies that will make you a loan to pay off your existing debts. It can be very hard to find a debt consolidation company that isn’t actually pushing debt management or settlement plans, both of which I describe below. Above all else, the best debt consolidation companies are transparent about their methods. For more about avoiding scams, keep reading.

Check Your Personal Loan Rates

Answer a few questions to see which personal loans you pre-qualify for. The process is quick and easy, and it will not impact your credit score.

But first, here’s a preview of the best debt consolidation loans revealed by my research:

The Best Debt Consolidation Loan Companies for 2019

Next, I’ll dive into more detail on each company. I’ll later describe my methodology for choosing these three companies as the best debt consolidation loans online. I’ll also explain what debt consolidation is, different types of debt consolidation loans, where to get debt consolidation loans, alternatives to debt consolidation, and how to avoid scams.

Best for Good Credit and High-Dollar Loans: LendingClub

  • Will only allow 36- or 60-month terms.
  • You might have to wait a week or more for your loan to be funded.
  • Slightly pickier about borrowers.
  • Charges a check-processing fee.

LendingClub is the nation’s largest peer-to-peer lender, but that’s not the only reason it’s at the top of our list. APRs on LendingClub personal loans can range from 6.95% to 35.89% with amounts up to $40,000. All of this information as well as a clear description of the streamlined lending process can easily be found on their clean, transparent site experience.

LendingClub also requires a minimum credit score of 600 and has slightly stricter criteria for making a loan than other leading debt consolidation loan companies, including a stricter debt-to-income ratio and more reliance on credit history. LendingClub also charges a $7 check-processing fee every time you pay with a check.

Disclaimer: All loans made by WebBank, Member FDIC. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, and credit usage and history. The APR ranges from 6.95% to 35.89%. For example, you could receive a loan of $6,000 with an interest rate of 7.99% and a 5.00% origination fee of $300 for an APR of 11.51%. In this example, you will receive $5,700 and will make 36 monthly payments of $187.99. The total amount repayable will be $6,767.64. Your APR will be determined based on your credit at time of application. *The origination fee ranges from 1% to 6%; the average origination fee is 5.2% (as of 12/5/18 YTD).* There is no down payment and there is never a prepayment penalty. Closing of your loan is contingent upon your agreement of all the required agreements and disclosures on the website. All loans via LendingClub have a minimum repayment term of 36 months or longer.

Best for Connecting You to Lenders:

  • Website is only a referral service.
  • You might have to wait to learn full details about APR or fees attached to loan.] can help connect you with lenders in all 50 states. APRs range from 5.99% to 35.99% for loans up to $35,000. Several types of loans are on offer (though eligibility will vary by state): peer-to-peer loans, bank loans, and installment loans.

The site is informative and well designed, but this is only a referral site. That makes it difficult to know in advance what kind of APR you will be offered, what fees might come attached to your loan, and other crucial information that can be easier to discern with a direct lender.

Best for Fast Funding: Avant

  • Available in all 50 states.
  • Borrow from $2,000 to $35,000*.
  • Funds available in as little as the next business day.
  • BBB accredited with A+ rating.
  • Higher advertised APRs (9.95% to 35.99%).
  • $25 late payment fee.

Avant focuses on offering access to loans to borrowers with slightly lower credit scores than LendingClub. Avant is not a peer-to-peer lender and offers access to loans through its lending platform. That can be an advantage for borrowers who need cash more quickly because through the Avant platform, you could have your funds as soon as the next business day.

I received answers to my questions through a helpful online chat service, which was a nice bonus with Avant. However, you’re subject to higher APRs with Avant, which means this probably won’t be the best choice for those with good or excellent credit.

* The actual loan amount, term, and APR amount of loan that a customer qualifies for may vary based on credit determination and state law. Minimum loan amounts vary by state.

Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank, member FDIC.

Upstart is a relatively new peer-to-peer lender that focuses on younger buyers who might have trouble getting loans due to shorter credit history. As a result, they factor in elements such as a borrower’s alma mater, job history, major, GPA, and even test scores when determining the APR. The only loan terms offered are three-year and five-year.

OneMain is a solid option for borrowers who may not have the best credit. Though you can apply online, the company has nearly 1,600 branches around the country for those who want to do business in person. Secured loans may be an option at OneMain, too.

The company has an A+ rating and is accredited with the BBB. OneMain is only an option in 44 states, however. The company’s website also offers some nice educational information about loans.


While LightStream offers debt-consolidation loans from $5,000 to $100,000 at APRs ranging from 6.14% to 14.24% with AutoPay, there is a catch. You’ll need excellent credit, proof of significant income, and substantial assets to qualify. On the plus side, however, LightStream does offer flexible terms from 24 to 84 months and there are no fees.

* Rate is quoted with AutoPay discount, which is only available when you select AutoPay prior to loan funding. Rates under the invoicing option are 0.50% higher. If your application is approved, your credit profile will determine whether your loan will be unsecured or secured. Subject to credit approval. Conditions and limitations apply. Advertised rates and terms are subject to change without notice. Rates as of 12/15/18.

Prosper, though it requires a minimum credit score of 640, offers unsecured personal loans from $2,000 to $40,000 and competitive APRs from 5.99% to 35.99%.

Prosper takes into account a range of factors other than your credit history when determining your APR. Its website is easy to navigate, with clearly disclosed rates and fees. Prosper does charge an origination fee of 1% to 5% of your loan, and there are fees for late payments ($15 or 5% of the outstanding amount) and unsuccessful payments ($15 per occurrence).

Best Debt Consolidation Loans: Summed Up

How I Picked the Best Debt Consolidation Loans

The best debt consolidation loans have a balance of low fees, competitive interest rates, and flexible terms. Here is a full list of the criteria I considered while making my “best of” consolidation loan picks:

After considering all of these criteria, LendingClub, Avant, and rose to the top of my list. But before you take out a debt-consolidation loan with these or any other lenders, read on to make sure you know as much as possible about debt consolidation. I’ll cover the basics of debt consolidation, types of loans, how it differs from other debt-relief programs, risks, alternatives, and how to avoid scams.

Debt Consolidation Loans for Bad Credit

If you’re working with a credit score that falls into the “fair” or even “poorcredit territory, debt consolidation loans may still be an option. Just know that the interest rate will very high — around 30% — which can ultimately defeat the main purpose of a debt consolidation loan.

Alternatives to Debt Consolidation

If debt consolidation loans don’t seem quite right for your situation, there are several other debt-relief methods. Of course, all of these strategies have their own pros and cons, and only you can decide whether they are better or worse for your unique situation.

With Tally you can use the app to scan your credit cards and, if you qualify (you’ll need at least a 660 credit score), Tally will pay off your individual cards for you to minimize your interest charges. That leaves you with just one bill to pay each month (to Tally), and ensures you don’t miss a payment or incur late fees.

Unlike most consolidation loans, there are no fees to worry about with Tally, and the interest you pay on your line of credit should be lower than what your cards are charging you, helping you get out of debt faster. Depending on your credit history, your APR will work out to between 7.9% and 19.9%. Similar to credit card APRs, it will vary with the Prime Rate. (This information is accurate as of December 2018).

However, with APRs that hit the double digits, a 0% APR balance transfer card may still be a better consolidation option for borrowers with good credit (though it’s worth noting the 0% on transfer cards is nullified by late or missed payments). Tally is currently available in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Texas, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin.

Credit Counseling

Counselors working on behalf of reputable nonprofit credit-counseling agencies can help you create a plan to better manage your money and budget for debt payments. Of course, this strategy doesn’t actually reduce your debt, but it also has fewer risks than consolidation or settlement and debt management, discussed below.

Debt Settlement

As I mentioned above, debt consolidation doesn’t reduce your loan principals. Debt settlement does. A debt settlement company negotiates with creditors on your behalf.

When you sign up, you’ll likely begin contributing to a special account set up by your debt settlement company. Once it reaches a certain level, the company will reach out to your creditors in hopes that they’ll accept a lump sum that’s less than what you actually owe. After that sum is paid, you’re no longer indebted to the creditor.

How long it takes largely depends on how quickly you can save enough to begin negotiations, but most companies allow two to four years for the process. Settlement has big risks, though, including big fees, damage to your credit score, and tax liability. Take a look at my separate post on debt settlement companies for more details.

Debt Management

In debt management, a company negotiates with your creditors to lower your interest rates and monthly bills, but the principal remains the same. You’ll pay the debt management company, and it distributes the money to your creditors.

Lower rates can save you a lot of money, and you’ll have an easier time staying organized. But your credit can take a hit from participating in these programs if the company isn’t on the ball with payments, and potential lenders might shy away if they know you’re in a debt management program. You’ll also have to close all of your accounts and agree not to open new ones.

Finally, it can also be tricky to separate legitimately helpful programs from scams and shady fly-by-night companies. Take a look at my separate post on debt management companies for more details.


For most people, bankruptcy is the nuclear option. The negative implications of bankruptcy can certainly be severe, including a massive impact on your credit.

If you’re able to consolidate your debt with a loan that you can comfortably pay off and can avoid acquiring new debt during the process, debt consolidation is a much less drastic option than bankruptcy. That’s because your credit won’t suffer any more of a hit with consolidation when it’s done correctly.

Beware of bankruptcy lawyers who tell you bankruptcy is better than debt consolidation. They have a vested interest in clients using their services, and many also confuse debt consolidation with debt management or settlement, discussed above. These two services can hurt your credit, making bankruptcy a more viable option if you’re considering them.

Can I consolidate my student loan debt?

Absolutely! You have two options when it comes to consolidating student loan debt:

Both options allow borrowers to combine their existing loans into a single loan with a fixed interest rate. But aside from that, there are a few differences:


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