Consolidating credit card debt into personal loan

Consolidation works best when your ultimate goal is to become debt-free.

This type of credit card charges no interest for a promotional period, often 12 to 18 months, and allows you to transfer all your other credit card balances over to it.

Most issuers charge a balance transfer fee of around 3%, and some also charge an annual fee.

Before you choose a card, calculate whether the interest you save over time will wipe out the cost of the fee.

"We were property-rich and income-poor," says Jo Ann.

Let's start with the basics: debt consolidation refers to the act of grouping all your different debts into one single debt.Sometimes what appears to be debt consolidation isn't.For example, a debt management program (DMP) through a credit counseling agency allows you to make one monthly payment to the counseling agency, and in turn, the agency pays all of your participating creditors.Options to consolidate your credit card and other debts include a balance transfer credit card, an unsecured personal loan, a home equity loan or line of credit and a 401(k) loan.

The option that best suits you depends on your overall debt load, credit score and history, available cash and other aspects of your financial situation, as well as your self-discipline.You’ll need a good to excellent credit score — above 690 — to qualify for most cards.

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