When properly managed, carrying multiple credit cards can be a good way to build credit, earn rewards and cover emergency expenses. However, when combined with student loans, mortgage payments and other expenses, too much credit card debt can become overwhelming. The best debt consolidation loans can help you get your finances back on track.
Best Debt Consolidation Loans
- Fiona: Best Debt Consolidation Loan for Low Credit Scores
- LightStream: Best Overall Debt Consolidation Loan
- SoFi: Lowest Interest Rates on Debt Consolidation Loans
- PenFed: Best Small Debt Consolidation Loans
- Discover: Best Loan for Consolidating Credit Card Debt
These were our runners-up.
1. Fiona — Best Debt Consolidation Loan for Low Credit Scores
Fiona Debt Consolidation Loan Pros:
- Accepts any type of credit
- Provides online loan calculator
- Easy online application
Fiona Debt Consolidation Loan Cons:
- Credit requirements vary by company
- Some lenders charge an origination fee
- Doesn’t directly provide loans
Fiona is the most unusual lender on our top five list because it isn’t a lender at all. Instead, it is a free service that matches borrowers with the best debt consolidation loans for their financial circumstances.
APR on Fiona Debt Consolidation Loans: 4.8/5.0
Fiona has the widest range of potential APRs from 4.99% to 29.99% from their featured partners. Rates outside this range may be available from other lending partners.
As with other lenders, borrowers with the best credit are likely to receive the lowest APRs.
Repayment Terms of Fiona Debt Consolidation Loans: 4.6/5.0
Fiona’s featured partners offer terms between 36 and 60 months. However, since most borrowers are not likely to qualify with every lender, the terms available to specific borrowers may vary.
Funding Fiona Debt Consolidation Loans: 4.5/5.0
As with everything else with this service, the amount you can borrow and how fast you can get your money depends on which lenders make you an offer.
Fiona’s featured partners offer loans from $1,000 to $100,000. Most of Fiona’s featured partners provide funds in one to two business days.
Fiona Debt Consolidation Loan Fees: 4.4/5.0
Some of Fiona’s lending partners offer fee-free loans, while others charge an origination fee between 1% and 6% of the loan amount.
Borrowers with poorer credit are more likely to be required to pay origination fees. These fees are generally subtracted from the funds you receive.
As an example, if you are approved for a $25,000 loan with a 5% origination fee, you may only receive $23,750, but you must pay back $25,000.
Qualifying for Fiona Debt Consolidation Loans: 5.0/5.0
Fiona claims to be able to match borrowers with almost any type of credit with a lender. Borrowers with poorer credit are likely to receive offers with rates at the higher end of the APR range.
However, they may not be offered a loan at all from our other top lenders. If you have poor credit, Fiona is probably your best chance to get matched with a lender willing to loan you money.
You can prequalify online without impacting your credit score to get a list of lenders willing to work with you and the terms of the loans they are offering.
Overall Score of Fiona Debt Consolidation Loans: 4.66/5.0
2. LightStream — Best Overall Debt Consolidation Loan
Lightstream Debt Consolidation Loan Pros:
- No fees or prepayment penalty
- Get your money when you want
- Discounted rate with autopay
Lightstream Debt Consolidation Loan Cons:
- Must borrow at least $5,000
- Need excellent credit for the lowest rates
- Must select autopay before funding
The low annual percentage rates, same-day funding, and lack of origination fees or prepayment penalties make Lightstream our pick for overall best debt consolidation loans.
However, to get the lowest rates and largest loan amounts, borrowers need excellent credit.
APR on Lightstream Debt Consolidation Loans: 5.0/5.0
If you have excellent credit and are looking for a debt consolidation loan with the lowest possible APR, Lightstream’s 4.98% APR is the lowest among the lenders we reviewed.
To qualify for this rate, you must commit to having payments automatically drafted from your checking account before the loan is funded. Otherwise, your rate will be 0.5% higher. Lightstream offers APRs up to 20.49% based on the amount and terms of the loan and the borrower’s credit history.
If you get approved for the same loan with a competitor at a lower rate within a certain period, Lightstream’s Rate Beat Program will offer you a rate that is 0.10% lower than the competitor’s offer.
Repayment Terms of Lightstream Debt Consolidation Loans: 5.0/5.0
When you apply for your loan, Lightstream offers repayment terms of 36, 48, 60, 72 or 84 months. This provides you with the flexibility to save money on interest by opting for a shorter term or lower your payment by selecting a longer one.
However, the exact terms offered vary depending on the loan amount requested.
Funding Lightstream Debt Consolidation Loans: 5.0/5.0
Lightstream offers loans from $5,000 to $100,000, and you can get your funds the same day if all the paperwork is completed in time.
They also allow you to choose your funding date. If you don’t need the funds right away, you don’t have to start paying interest on the loan until you need the money.
Lightstream Debt Consolidation Loan Fees: 5.0/5.0
There are no fees or pre-payment penalties. This means you receive the full amount you borrowed, and if you want to pay it off faster to save money, it won’t cost you anything extra to do so.
Qualifying for Lightstream Debt Consolidation Loans: 4.0/5.0
While Lightstream offers the best APR of the lenders we reviewed, they also have the toughest credit requirements. You must have good credit to qualify for any loan and excellent credit to qualify for the best rates.
Your credit score must be at least 660. There is no prequalification option, so if you want to see if you qualify, you have to agree to a hard credit pull, which can affect your score.
Additionally, only borrowers with excellent credit can get approved for loans of $50,000 or higher. Unlike some other lenders, Lightstream doesn’t just consider your recent credit history.
You need to have several years of solid credit history with a mix of credit accounts, liquid assets and stable and sufficient income. According to the lender, about 25% of applicants qualify for the lowest rates.
Overall Score of Lightstream Debt Consolidation Loans: 4.8/5.0
3. SoFi — Lowest Interest Rates on Debt Consolidation Loans
SoFi Debt Consolidation Loan Pros:
- Low rates
- Direct payment to lenders
- No late fees
SoFi Debt Consolidation Loan Cons:
- Same-day funds not an option
- $5,000 minimum loan amount
- Must qualify for discounts to get the lowest APR
SoFi’s competitive APRs and numerous discount options make it our top choice for the best debt consolidation loans for borrowers primarily interested in low rates.
However, you must meet the requirements for all of the discounts to get the best rates.
APR on Lightstream Debt Consolidation Loans: 4.7/5.0
With APRs ranging from 5.74% to 21.28%, SoFi has the third-best APRs of the lenders we reviewed. However, those rates include discounts of 0.25% each for autopay, direct payment to creditors and direct deposit into a SoFi checking account.
The exact rates you will be offered depend on the length of the loan and your credit history. To get the best APRs, you must have excellent credit and be willing to meet the requirements to get all the discounts.
Repayment Terms of SoFi Debt Consolidation Loans: 5.0/5.0
SoFi offers payment terms that range from three to seven years, providing plenty of flexibility to choose the option that works the best for your goals.
Funding SoFi Debt Consolidation Loans: 4.5/5.0
SoFi offers loans from $5,000 to $100,000, but it can take several days to get your funding. If you need your funds in a hurry, you may want to consider one of the other options.
You can choose to have the company pay your creditors directly or deposit the funds into your account. If you opt for the direct pay option, you get a 0.25% discount on your APR.
SoFi Debt Consolidation Loan Fees: 5.0/5.0
SoFi offers loans with no fees or pre-payment penalties.
Qualifying for SoFi Debt Consolidation Loans: 4.4/5.0
SoFi’s minimum credit score requirement of 680 is the highest of the lenders we reviewed. They also require borrowers to have a job or offer of employment or proof of sufficient income from another source.
In addition to your credit score, they consider your financial history and your monthly income and expenses. On the plus side, SoFi focuses more on your recent credit history and does not require a long credit history to qualify.
You can pre-qualify online without harming your credit score. If you have a SoFi checking or savings account or are willing to open one, you can get a $10 bonus for doing so.
Overall Score of SoFi Debt Consolidation Loans: 4.72/5.0
4. PenFed — Best Small Debt Consolidation Loans
PenFed Debt Consolidation Loan Pros:
- Low APR
- Funding in one to two days
- Can check status and apply online
PenFed Debt Consolidation Loan Cons:
- $50,000 maximum loan amount
- Must be a credit union member
- Lower rates elsewhere for excellent credit
Thanks to the low minimum loan amount, PenFed is the best debt consolidation loans option for borrowers who want to consolidate a small amount of debt and are interested in joining a credit union.
APR on PenFed Debt Consolidation Loans: 4.9/5.0
PenFed offers APRs between 4.99% and 17.99%, placing them second among the lenders we reviewed in this category.
If you are interested in a low rate on a small consolidation loan, this could be your best option.
Repayment Terms of PenFed Debt Consolidation Loans: 4.6/5.0
PenFed offers fewer repayment options than most of the other lenders we reviewed. However, if you are taking out a small loan, you probably won’t need more than the maximum of 60 months to pay it back.
Funding PenFed Debt Consolidation Loans: 4.7/5.0
The $600 minimum loan amount is what made PenFed our top pick for small consolidation loans. PenFed is the only lender on our list offering loans less than $1,000.
However, the maximum amount is also low compared to the competition, at $50,000. You can receive your funds in one to two business days.
PenFed Debt Consolidation Loan Fees: 5.0/5.0
PenFed offers loans with no fees or pre-payment penalties.
Qualifying for PenFed Debt Consolidation Loans: 4.2/5.0
PenFed ranks at the bottom of our list in this category not because their credit requirements are unusual, but because they will only lend money to members of the credit union.
They also consider how long you have been a member as part of their criteria. You only need to put $5 in your savings account to become a member.
If your credit is borderline, you may not be approved or get the best possible APR as a new member. However, you can pre-qualify online without harming your credit score.
Overall Score of PenFed Debt Consolidation Loans: 4.68/5.0
5. Discover — Best Loan for Consolidating Credit Card Debt
Discover Debt Consolidation Loan Pros:
- Multiple debt consolidation options
- No origination fees
- Loan specialists to help with the application process
Discover Debt Consolidation Loan Cons:
- Minimum annual income requirement
- No co-signers
- Minimum credit score of 660
Discover is our pick for the lender with the most options, including some of the best debt consolidation loans. Borrowers can choose from balance transfer cards, personal loans and home equity options.
APR on Discover Debt Consolidation Loans: 4.0/5.0
Discover’s minimum APR of 5.99% on its consolidation loans is the highest among the lenders we reviewed. Borrowers with poorer credit may receive APRs that range up to 24.99%.
Some borrowers may qualify for an introductory APR as low as 0% on balance transfers, but the introductory period generally expires after one year. The rates for home equity loans range from 4.49% to 11.99%.
Repayment Terms of Discover Debt Consolidation Loans: 5.0/5.0
You can customize your repayment terms to suit your borrowing needs with options of 36, 48, 60, 72 or 84 months on personal loans. Home equity loans can be for 10, 15, 20 or 30 years.
If you opt for a balance transfer, you get a revolving line of credit with a required minimum monthly payment that varies depending on your balance and interest rate rather than set repayment terms.
Funding Discover Debt Consolidation Loans: 4.6/5.0
With a minimum of $2,500 and a maximum of $35,000 available for personal loans, Discover has the smallest range of available loan amounts of the lenders we reviewed.
Home equity loans are available in amounts between $35,000 and $300,000. You can opt to have Discover pay your creditors directly and funds can be dispersed the next business day after you are approved.
Discover Debt Consolidation Loan Fees: 5.0/5.0
There are no origination or application fees for Discover’s loan products, and the company will pay your closing costs on a home equity loan so that you do not need any cash at closing.
Qualifying for Discover Debt Consolidation Loans: 4.5/5.0
Discover requires a minimum credit score of 660 and a minimum household income of $25,000 to consider you for a loan.
Like most other lenders, your credit history impacts the APR you receive. Only borrowers with the best credit qualify for the lowest rates. You can prequalify online without harming your credit score.
Overall Score of Discover Debt Consolidation Loans: 4.62/5.0
Other Lenders To Consider
These lenders didn’t make our top five best debt consolidation loans list but may be worth considering for your specific financial needs.
How We Chose the Best Debt Consolidation Loans
We chose our top lenders based on five factors:
- APRs offered
- Flexibility of repayment terms
- How hard it is to qualify
- Lack of origination and other fees
- How fast you can get your money
Most of our top picks do not charge origination fees. Many providers of debt consolidation loans do. Origination fees drive up the APR and reduce the availability of funds, forcing borrowers to borrow more money to get the same purchasing power as loans without origination fees.
We also looked for a balance between low APRs and the ability of borrowers to qualify. While most of our lenders require borrowers to have credit that is good or better, there is an option for almost any type of credit.
Flexibility in repayment terms is an important factor because it affects the affordability of the loan. Many people choose debt consolidation to lower their total monthly debt payment.
If repayment terms are too restrictive, the monthly payment may be too high to accomplish this purpose. By contrast, overly long loans cost borrowers more money in total interest paid.
Finally, we prioritized lenders that provide borrowers with quick decisions and funding. This makes it easier for borrowers to plan their finances without waiting around on a decision from a lender.
Rates, fees and terms are accurate as of this writing but are subject to change.
What You Should Know About the Best Debt Consolidation Loans
What Is Debt Consolidation?
Debt consolidation is a technique you can use to combine separate debts into one monthly payment. People consolidate debt for one or more of these common reasons:
- Reduce interest rates
- Lower monthly payments
- Pay off debt faster
There are a variety of ways that debt can be consolidated. The most commonly chosen option is a debt consolidation loan.
What Are the Different Methods of Debt Consolidation?
Most people choose one or more of five popular methods to consolidate debt:
- Balance transfer credit card
- Borrow from 401(k) savings
- Debt consolidation personal loan
- Home equity loan
- Debt management plan
Balance transfer cards allow you to transfer the balance from your existing credit cards to a new credit card with a 0% introductory APR. These cards may be a good option for borrowers who can pay off the entire balance transferred before the introductory APR expires.
401(k) loans often have lower APRs than other types of loans. However, they also usually have shorter repayment terms and may result in significant penalties if you are unable to repay. Additionally, borrowing from your 401(k) can negatively impact your retirement savings.
Debt consolidation personal loans make it possible for borrowers with good to excellent credit to borrow money at a lower APR than what they are paying on their existing debt. This can save money on interest payments and shorten repayment time. However, borrowers with poor credit may have few options for such loans.
Home equity loans have the benefit of lower APRs than most personal loans and the credit requirements to qualify are usually lower. However, you must have equity in your home, and if you are unable to make your payments, the bank may foreclose.
Debt management plans offer fixed monthly payments and may be able to reduce your interest rates by as much as half. However, you may have to pay startup and monthly fees and you will usually have to pay your debt off in three to five years.
Can I Consolidate All of My Debts?
Most types of debt, including credit cards, medical debt, personal loans, auto loans, payday loans and student loans, can be consolidated. However, credit card regulations prevent lenders from paying off credit card accounts owned by the lender with loan proceeds.
Some debt consolidation lenders place restrictions on what you can use your money for. Others simply provide you with the funds and allow you to choose what to do with them.
What Are the Pros and Cons of Debt Consolidation?
There are five main benefits of debt consolidation:
- May improve your credit score
- Could lower your interest rate
- Makes finances easier to track
- Helps you pay off debt faster
- Could result in a lower monthly payment
There are also several potential disadvantages:
- Some lenders charge fees
- May pay more interest over the life of the loan
- Doesn’t fix money management issues
- Could increase your interest rate
- Risk of not being able to afford the payment
- May encourage additional credit card spending
When Is Debt Consolidation a Good Idea?
If you have multiple high-interest credit accounts and your credit is good enough to get a debt consolidation loan with a lower APR, it may make sense to consolidate.
However, if your credit has gotten worse since you initially acquired those debts, you may not be able to get a low enough APR to benefit from consolidation.
Additionally, it is important to assess how well you can manage your revolving debt. Paying off your credit cards with a consolidation loan and then charging more purchases could put you in a worse position than where you started.
How Do I Choose the Best Debt Consolidation Loans for Me?
The best option for you depends on your financial goals and circumstances. If your goal is to pay your debt off faster, look for a loan with a short repayment period and low APR.
If you want to lower your monthly debt payment, consider personal loans with longer repayment periods or home equity loans that may provide you up to 30 years to pay your debt.
If you need to consolidate your debt quickly, consider lenders, such as Lightstream and PenFed, that can provide funding the same or the next day.
If you have poor credit, shop for lenders that are willing to work with you without charging an APR that is higher than what you are already paying.
Many loans for people with poor credit have origination fees, so look for low fees and the option to pay early without penalty. This leaves open the possibility of refinancing your debt again when your credit improves.
Finally, to avoid harming your credit score, give preference to lenders you are either confident you can qualify with or that offer prequalification without doing a hard credit check.
Consider using online tools, such as Discover’s debt consolidation calculator, to assist you with your decision-making process.
5 Best Debt Consolidation Loans Comparison
- Best feature: Options for most credit types
- APR: 4.99% – 29.99% (varies by lender)
- Loan amounts: $1,000 – $100,000 (varies by lender)
- Terms: 36 – 60 months (varies by lender)
- Best feature: Same-day funding
- APR: 4.98% – 20.49% (with autopay)
- Loan amounts: $5,000 – $100,000
- Terms: 36 – 84 months
- Best feature: Can qualify without lengthy credit history
- APR: 5.74% – 21.28% (with discounts)
- Loan amounts: $5,000 – $100,000
- Terms: 36 – 84 months
- Best feature: Low minimum loan amount
- APR: 4.99% – 17.99%
- Loan amounts: $600 – $50,000
- Terms: Up to 60 months
- Best feature: Multiple options for credit card consolidation
- APR: 5.99% – 24.99%
- Loan amounts: $2,500 – $35,000 for personal loans, $35,000 – $300,000 for home equity loans
- Terms: 36 – 84 months
Check out these alternative lending options..
Best Debt Consolidation Loans: Final Thoughts
The best debt consolidation loans provide borrowers with options to lower interest rates, reduce monthly debt payments or pay off debt faster. These five options offer the lowest APRs, most favorable qualification criteria, fewest fees and most flexible payment terms.
Whatever your financial circumstances are, we feel confident that one of these lenders is a good choice for your debt consolidation goals.
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