If you’re like many Americans with rising credit card balances, you may be looking for ways to get your debt under control. Debt consolidation loans are one option that can reduce your debt and help you pay it off sooner.

Debt consolidation is the process of combining multiple debts — such as credit cards, medical bills and payday loans — into one debt with a fixed monthly payment. Consolidating debt with a personal loan works best if the rate on the loan is lower than the combined interest rate on your existing debt.

When comparing debt consolidation loans, look for low rates, flexible terms and consumer-friendly features such as direct payment to creditors.

Debt consolidation loans for average to bad credit

It may be difficult for borrowers with fair to bad credit (roughly coinciding with a FICO score between 300 and 689) to qualify for a low-interest debt consolidation loan. But some lenders consider factors beyond credit scores or cater to borrowers consolidating debt.

Payoff, which lends only to people consolidating credit card debt, requires a minimum credit score of 640 and two years of credit history. It offers financial guidance to help you stay on top of loan payments.

Upgrade requires a minimum credit score of 620, and some borrowers with high debt-to-income ratios may qualify. It also offers direct payment to creditors, which means it sends your loan proceeds directly to creditors, saving you the effort of paying off each debt.

You can also use an Upgrade loan to refinance an existing personal loan.

Consider Avant if you’re consolidating high-interest debts, such as payday loans. It has a relatively low minimum credit score requirement of 580, and about half of its customers use their loans to consolidate debt.

4.5 NerdWallet rating

• APR: 5.99% – 24.99%.

• Loan amount: $5,000 – $35,000.

• Loan terms: 2 to 5 years.

• Minimum credit score: 640.

• Time to funding: 1 to 7 business days.

• Fees: Origination fee of 0% to 5% of loan amount. No late fee.

Read our review.

4.0 NerdWallet rating

• APR: 7.99% – 35.89%.

• Loan amount: $1,000 – $50,000.

• Loan terms: 3 or 5 years.

• Minimum credit score: 620.

• Time to funding: 24 hours.

• Fees: Origination fee of 1.5% – 6% of loan amount.

Read our review.

4.5 NerdWallet rating

• APR: 9.95% – 35.99%.

• Loan amount: $2,000 – $35,000.

• Loan terms: 2 to 5 years.

• Minimum credit score: 580.

• Time to funding: As soon as the next business day.

• Fees: Administrative fee of 4.75% of loan amount; fees for late payment and unsuccessful payment.

Read our review.

» MORE: Personal loans for bad credit

Debt consolidation loans for good to excellent credit

Online lenders Marcus, Discover and Laurel Road are options for borrowers with good to excellent credit (roughly coinciding with a FICO score of at least 690). All three lenders have starting rates that are lower than the average rate on credit cards and no origination fees.

Marcus and Discover offer direct payment to creditors and flexible repayment options. After 12 consecutive monthly payments on a Marcus loan, borrowers can skip a payment at no extra cost. With a Discover loan, borrowers can change payment due dates or defer payments.

Laurel Road allows you to add a co-signer, which can help you get a lower rate on a debt consolidation loan.

5.0 NerdWallet rating

• APR: 5.99% – 28.99%.

• Loan amount: $3,500 – $40,000.

• Loan terms: 3 to 6 years.

• Minimum credit score: 660.

• Time to funding: Usually 2 days.

• Fees: None.

Read our review.

4.5 NerdWallet rating

• APR: 6.99% – 24.99%.

• Loan amount: $2,500 to $35,000.

• Loan terms: 3 to 7 years.

• Minimum credit score: 660.

• Time to funding: Next-day, up to a week.

• Fees: No origination fee. Fee for late payment.

Read our review.

5.0 NerdWallet rating

• APR: 8.01% – 16.30% (with autopay).

• Loan amount: $1,000 – $45,000.

• Loan terms: 3 to 5 years.

• Minimum credit score: 700.

• Time to funding: 5 business days.

• Fees: No origination fee; late fee is the lesser of 5% of payment or $28.

Read our review.

» MORE: Personal loans for good credit

Debt consolidation loans: Compare your options

How much will your new loan cost?

Use the calculator below to see estimated rates and payments for a debt consolidation loan based on your credit score range. Choose a loan amount that covers the entire debt you want to consolidate.

Loan terms on debt consolidation loans generally range from two to seven years. A shorter loan term will have lower total interest costs but higher monthly payments. Aim for a repayment term that has affordable monthly payments.

Get the most with a debt consolidation loan

Shop around: Compare rates and terms at multiple lenders before applying for a debt consolidation loan. Most online lenders let you pre-qualify with a soft credit inquiry, which has no impact on your credit score.

Plan ahead: Before your loan is funded, create a budget that allocates a percentage of your income toward debt repayment, and track your repayment progress with a budgeting and saving app.

Curb spending: Avoid big expenditures on your credit cards as you pay off debt, but don’t close any of the cards. Canceling credit accounts can hurt your credit score.

» MORE: 4 keys to successful debt consolidation

Summary: Debt consolidation loans

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