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Greg McBride

Greg McBride: Ready for higher rates?

By Greg McBride · Bankrate.com
Tuesday, December 1, 2015
Posted: 6 am ET

Higher interest rates may be here soon. Better make sure you're prepared.

Take defensive measures

The Federal Reserve seems to be itching to raise a key interest rate later this month, and rates in general are expected to rise over the coming year or more. There are certain action steps consumers can take now to protect or insulate themselves as rates start climbing off the rock-bottom low levels that we've been accustomed to for years.

Don't waste any time. Grab the 0% balance transfer and promotional introductory offers now while you still can, as the availability of those teaser deals will eventually diminish.

the-fed-raised-rates-mcbride

Shed variable-rate debt, if you can

Be wary of other variable-rate debts such as home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) or even some private student loans that carry variable rates. Pay those down now or look to refinance into a fixed rate. Some lenders will even let you fix the interest rate on the outstanding portion of your home equity line to protect against a rising rate environment.

And if you have an adjustable-rate mortgage that could adjust upward, now is a great time to unload it and refinance into a fixed rate. Otherwise, a series of interest rate hikes could produce some nasty payment increases a year or two down the road.

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