Best debt consolidation loans in April 2021

As of

Debt consolidation loans are fixed-rate, unsecured personal loans you can use to pay off or reduce balances on multiple unsecured debts. If the interest rate on the debt consolidation loan is lower than your current interest rates, you could save thousands of dollars in interest and pay your debt down faster. They’re offered by brick-and-mortar banks and credit unions, as well as online lenders. Check out our eight top lenders for debt consolidation loans and find out what it takes to qualify and how to apply.

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4.6

Bankrate Score
APR from

5.95%*

with AutoPay
Term

2-7yr*

Max. loan amount

$100,000

Next

4.7

Bankrate Score
APR from

5.99%

3 or 5 year term
Term

3-5yr

Max. loan amount

$50,000

Next

4.6

Bankrate Score
APR from

5.99%

with AutoPay
Term

2-7yr

Max. loan amount

$100,000

Next

4.6

Bankrate Score
APR from

5.99%

Term

2-5yr

Max. loan amount

$35,000

Next
APR from

6.49- 17.99%

Term

1-5yr

Max. loan amount

$20,000

Next

4.8

Bankrate Score
APR from

6.94- 35.97%

with AutoPay
Term

3-5yr

Max. loan amount

$50,000

Next

4.8

Bankrate Score
APR from

6.99- 19.99%

Term

3-6yr

Max. loan amount

$40,000

Next

4.6

Bankrate Score
APR from

7.95- 35.99%

Term

3-5yr

Max. loan amount

$40,000

Next

4.5

Bankrate Score
APR from

9.95- 35.99%

Term

2-5yr

Max. loan amount

$35,000

Next

4.5

Bankrate Score
APR from

10.68- 35.89%

with AutoPay
Term

3-5yr

Max. loan amount

$40,000

Next

4.4

Bankrate Score
APR from

15.49- 34.99%

Term

2-5yr

Max. loan amount

$25,000

Next

3.9

Bankrate Score
APR from

18.00- 35.99%

Term

2-5yr

Max. loan amount

$20,000

Next

The Bankrate guide to choosing the best debt consolidation loans

by Libby Wells
As of Sunday, April 18, 2021

Why trust Bankrate?

Bankrate has been comparing and surveying lenders and financial products for over 40 years. Hundreds of top news organizations rely on Bankrate as a trusted source of information. Bankrate strives to help you make smart, informed decisions about your finances. We follow strict guidelines to ensure that our editorial content is not influenced by advertisers. Our editorial team receives no direct compensation from advertisers, and our content is fact-checked to ensure accuracy.

When shopping for the best debt consolidation loan, look for the lowest interest rate, a loan amount that meets your needs, an affordable and workable repayment term and low to no fees. Loan details presented here are current as of the publish date. Check the lenders’ websites for more current information. The top lenders listed below are selected based on factors such as APR, loan amounts, fees, credit requirements and broad availability.

Best debt consolidation loan rates in April 2021

Lender
Est. APR
Loan Term
Loan Amount
Best for
Best Egg
5.99%–29.99%
3–5 years
$2,000–$50,000
High-income earners with good credit
Payoff
5.99%–24.99%
2–5 years
$5,000–$40,000
Consolidating credit card debt
LightStream
5.95%–19.99% (with autopay)
2–7 years
$5,000–$100,000
High-dollar loans and longer repayment terms
PenFed
5.99%–17.99%
6 months–5 years
$600–$35,000
Smaller loans with a credit union
OneMain Financial
18.00%–35.99%
2–5 years
$1,500–$20,000
Fair to poor credit
Discover
6.99%–24.99%
3–7 years
$2,500–$35,000
Good credit and next-day funding
Upstart
7.86%–35.99%
3–5 years
$1,000–$50,000
Consumers with little credit history
Marcus by Goldman Sachs
6.99%–19.99% (with autopay)
3–6 years
$3,500–$40,000
Consolidating large debts

Summary: Debt consolidation loans in 2021

What is debt consolidation?

Debt consolidation involves paying off multiple debts with a single loan that has one fixed, monthly payment. When you consolidate your debt, you'll typically take out a loan with a lower interest rate to save money on interest.

The most popular type of debt to consolidate is credit card debt, since it typically has some of the highest interest rates. However, you can also consolidate other types of debt, such as personal loans, payday loans and medical bills.

What is a debt consolidation loan?

A debt consolidation loan is a type of personal loan that can help you combine several high-interest debts into a new (hopefully lower-rate) loan. When managed responsibly, a debt consolidation loan can help you save money on interest and potentially get out of debt faster.

How debt consolidation loans work

With a debt consolidation loan, you'll apply for a loan for the amount that you owe on your existing debts. Once you're approved for the loan, you'll receive the loan funds and use them to pay off your credit cards or other loans. In some cases, the funds can be sent directly to your creditors. From there, you'll begin making monthly payments on your new loan.

Benefits of a debt consolidation loan

Consolidating your debt can save you money. If you have several credit cards with double-digit interest rates and you qualify for a debt consolidation personal loan at a lower rate, you can save a heap of money in interest and, potentially, fees.

It also simplifies your finances. A debt consolidation loan combines multiple debts into one monthly payment and has a fixed rate and a set repayment term, so your monthly payments stay the same and you know when the debt will be paid off. Credit card rates are variable, so your monthly payments differ depending on your balance, and it can be hard to know when your debts will be paid off.

Additionally, using a consolidation loan to pay off multiple debts, especially credit card accounts, might have a positive impact on your credit score. Credit scoring models, like FICO and VantageScore, place a lot of weight on your credit utilization ratio (the relationship between your credit card limits and balances). When a new consolidation loan has the effect of lowering your credit utilization ratio, your credit score might climb as a result.

Of course, you’ll need to avoid making late payments or charging your credit card balances back up again on your recently paid-off accounts. Otherwise, you could put your credit into a worse position.

How to qualify for a debt consolidation loan

All lenders have their own requirements for potential borrowers. A common requirement is a credit score in the mid-600s, but some lenders may also look for a minimum annual income and a low debt-to-income ratio — the portion of your income that goes toward existing debts.

Even if you have bad credit, you may be able to find a lender that's willing to extend you a loan, although you'll be offered higher interest rates. If you're in this scenario, you may want to try applying with a co-signer who has good credit. Having a good-credit co-signer improves your overall credit picture, but keep in mind that the co-signer shares some responsibility for the loan if you fail to make payments.

Will a debt consolidation loan hurt my credit score?

Applying for a debt consolidation loan may temporarily hurt your credit score, since the lender will have to do a hard credit check in order to approve you. However, if you keep up with your monthly loan payments, you should see significant improvements in your score. Just ensure that you make on-time payments on your loan; missing payments could damage your credit.

Debt consolidation loan vs. balance transfer credit card

Sometimes, it may be cheaper to consolidate your debt with a 0 percent balance transfer credit card. With a balance transfer card, you shift your other credit card debt to a new credit card with a 0 percent introductory rate. The goal with a balance transfer card is to pay that balance off before the introductory rate expires, saving money on interest in the process. (When you calculate potential savings, make sure you factor in balance transfer fees.)

Keep in mind that using a balance transfer card to pay off existing credit card debt likely won’t lower your credit utilization as effectively as a debt consolidation loan. As a result, a balance transfer card might not initially have the same positive impact on your credit score. Additionally, a debt consolidation loan may be a better way to stay disciplined with paying debt off since you'll have fixed monthly payments throughout the life of your loan.

Alternatives to a debt consolidation loan

Debt consolidation loans can be useful, but they’re not the perfect fit for everyone. If you’re looking for alternatives to debt consolidation loans, the list below breaks down some additional options you may want to consider.

Tapping into home equity

One popular way people pay off existing debt is tapping into the equity in their homes. Home equity loans and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) often allow borrowers to secure lower interest rates by using their homes as collateral in exchange for financing. Just be sure to factor the risks in if you’re considering this option. If you can’t afford to make your payments, the lender may be able to seize your home.

Debt relief services

Debt relief services, commonly referred to as debt settlement companies, offer another way to deal with your debt if you’re in over your head and can’t qualify for a consolidation loan. These companies can reach out to your creditors and debt collectors on your behalf in an effort to settle what you owe for a lesser amount.

If you decide to pursue debt relief services (perhaps as an alternative to bankruptcy), you should be aware that the fees these companies charge can be steep. Take your time to fully research fees, reviews and other details before applying. It’s also wise to compare multiple debt relief companies before you commit.

Credit counseling

An alternative to debt relief services that can help you take control of an out-of-control debt situation is credit counseling. Credit counseling companies are often (though not always) nonprofit organizations. In addition to debt counseling, these companies may also offer a service known as a debt management plan, or DMP.

With a DMP, you make a single payment to a credit counseling company, which then divides that payment among your creditors. The company negotiates lower interest and fees on your behalf to hopefully lower your monthly debt obligation and help you pay your debt off faster.

Keep in mind that even with nonprofit organizations, DMPs are rarely free. You may have to pay a setup fee of $30 to $50, plus a monthly fee (often $20 to $75) to the credit counseling company for managing your DMP over a three- to five-year term.

Details: Debt consolidation loan rates in 2021

  • Best for high-income earners with good credit: Best Egg
  • Best for consolidating credit card debt: Payoff
  • Best for high-dollar loans and longer repayment terms: LightStream
  • Best for smaller loans with a credit union: PenFed
  • Best for fair to poor credit: OneMain Financial
  • Best for good credit and next-day funding: Discover
  • Best for consumers with little credit history: Upstart
  • Best for consolidating large debts: Marcus by Goldman Sachs

Best for high-income earners with good credit: Best Egg

Overview: Best Egg offers unsecured personal loans for a variety of purposes, including debt consolidation. The best rates and terms go to borrowers who earn $100,000 or more and have a credit score of at least 700, which is “good” on the FICO scale. Loans range from $2,000 to $50,000.

Perks: There is no penalty if you pay your consolidation loan off ahead of schedule. Application and approval are done online, and it’s possible to get your money within a single business day.

What to watch out for: Origination fees range from 0.99 percent to 5.99 percent, and the fee is taken off the top of the loan. So, if you borrow $10,000 and pay a 1 percent origination fee, $9,900 will be disbursed to you, but you still pay back $10,000. There is also a $15 fee for late payments.

Lender Best Egg
Bankrate Rating 4.6 / 5.0
Min. Credit Score 600
Est. APR 5.99%–29.99%
Loan Amount $2,000–$50,000
Term Lengths 3 to 5 years
Min. Annual Income Not specified
Fees Origination fee: 0.99% to 5.99% of loan amount; Late fee: $15; Returned payment fee: $15

Read Bankrate's expert Best Egg Review

Best for consolidating credit card debt: Payoff

Overview: Payoff is different from other lenders in that its personal loans can only be used to consolidate credit card debt. The application and approval process are done online.

Perks: There are no application fees, prepayment penalties, late fees or annual fees. Borrowers with a credit score of 640 or higher may qualify. As with any debt consolidation loan, there’s a chance that you can raise your credit score if you abide by the terms of your loan.

What to watch out for: Origination fees range from 0 percent to 5 percent. Additionally, Payoff does not issue loans in Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska or Nevada.

Lender Payoff
Bankrate Rating 4.5 / 5.0
Min. Credit Score 640
Est. APR 5.99%–24.99%
Loan Amount $5,000–$40,000
Term Lengths 2 to 5 years
Min. Annual Income Not specified
Fees Origination fee: 0% to 5%

Read Bankrate's expert Payoff Review

Best for high-dollar loans and longer repayment terms: LightStream

Overview: LightStream offers unsecured, fixed-rate debt consolidation loans as big as $100,000, with up to seven years to repay. But you must have excellent credit and sufficient assets and income to qualify for a jumbo-size personal loan.

Perks: There are no origination fees or penalties for paying your debt consolidation loan off early. The application and approval process is done online, making it possible to get approved and have the money deposited into your account on the same day.

What to watch out for: You must have a credit score of at least 660 to qualify, and loans that aren’t set up with automatic payment have interest rates that are 0.5 percentage points higher.

Lender LightStream
Bankrate Rating 4.6 / 5.0
Min. Credit Score 660
Est. APR 5.95%–19.99% (with autopay)
Loan Amount $5,000–$100,000
Term Lengths 2 to 7 years
Min. Annual Income Not specified
Fees None

Read Bankrate's expert LightStream Review

Best for smaller loans with a credit union: PenFed

Overview: Pentagon Federal Credit Union, known as PenFed, offers unsecured, fixed-rate personal loans for debt consolidation. Credit unions generally have lower costs and fees than other lenders because they are not-for-profit businesses owned by their members.

Perks: PenFed does not charge origination fees, annual fees or prepayment penalties. You can borrow as little as $600. The application and approval process can be done online or at one of PenFed’s branches, with approval in as little as one business day.

What to watch out for: You must become a member of the credit union to receive a loan, and there is a charge of $29 for each late payment. Also, all loans are subject to a minimum monthly payment of $50.

Lender PenFed
Min. Credit Score Not specified
Est. APR 5.99%–17.99%
Loan Amount $600–$35,000
Term Lengths 6 months to 5 years
Min. Annual Income Not specified
Fees Late fee: $29; Returned payment fee: $30

Best for fair to poor credit: OneMain Financial

Overview: OneMain Financial offers unsecured, fixed-rate personal loans to consumers with damaged credit. Loan amounts are smaller and rates are higher than typical debt consolidation personal loans, but the lender is still a good alternative to risky payday lenders. Your credit history, income and debt load determine whether you qualify.

Perks: There is no penalty for paying the loan off early. If you do not qualify for an unsecured personal loan, OneMain may accept your car, boat, RV or motorcycle as collateral, provided it is insured and is appraised at a sufficient value.

What to watch out for: OneMain charges an origination fee, which varies by state, and rolls it into the monthly payments. Late fees also vary by state. OneMain Financial does not operate in Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont. Additionally, borrowers in North Carolina have unsecured loan limits of $7,500.

Lender OneMain Financial
Bankrate Rating 3.8 / 5.0
Min. Credit Score Not specified
Est. APR 18%–35.99%
Loan Amount $1,500–$20,000
Term Lengths 2 to 5 years
Min. Annual Income Not specified
Fees Origination fee: 1% to 10% or $25 to $400; Late fee: $5 to $30 or 1.5% to 15%; Nonsufficient funds fee: $10 to $50; all fees vary by state

Read Bankrate's expert OneMain Financial Review

Best for good credit and next-day funding: Discover

Overview: Discover offers unsecured personal loans for debt consolidation, with the option to pay creditors directly. The average Discover borrower has very good credit.

Perks: Discover personal loans have no origination fees, closing costs or prepayment penalties. It’s possible to get an approval decision the same day you apply and get your money the next business day, provided your application is accurate and complete.

What to watch out for: There is a $39 penalty for late payments, which is higher than the late fee for many other lenders. Co-signers are also not permitted.

Lender Discover
Bankrate Rating 4.8 / 5.0
Min. Credit Score 660
Est. APR 6.99%–24.99%
Loan Amount $2,500–$35,000
Term Lengths 3 to 7 years
Min. Annual Income $25,000
Fees Late fee: $39

Read Bankrate's expert Discover Review

Best for consumers with little credit history: Upstart

Overview: Upstart offers unsecured personal loans for debt consolidation to consumers who don’t have much credit history but have a regular income. Upstart considers an applicant’s education, area of study, earning potential and job history.

Perks: Upstart does not charge prepayment penalties. The initial application generates a soft credit pull that does not hurt your score, and you can get your loan money in one business day after approval.

What to watch out for: You must have a U.S. bank account. Upstart also charges origination fees of up to 8 percent, which is steep.

Lender Upstart
Bankrate Rating 4.5 / 5.0
Min. Credit Score 620
Est. APR 7.86%–35.99%
Loan Amount $1,000–$50,000
Term Lengths 3 or 5 years
Min. Annual Income Not specified
Fees Origination fee: up to 8%; Late fee: the greater of 5% of the unpaid amount or $15; Returned check fee: $15; One-time paper copies fee: $10

Read Bankrate's expert Upstart Review

Best for consolidating large debts: Marcus by Goldman Sachs

Overview: Marcus by Goldman Sachs offers unsecured personal loans for debt consolidation to consumers who don’t have much credit history.

Perks: You can change the due date of your monthly bill up to three times during the life of the loan, and the $40,000 loan limit can accommodate borrowers with a lot of debt to consolidate.

What to watch out for: No co-signers are allowed, and it can take five days to receive your loan funds. Consumers with lackluster credit may not qualify.

Lender Marcus by Goldman Sachs
Bankrate Rating 4.8 / 5.0
Min. Credit Score Not specified
Est. APR 6.99%–19.99% (with autopay)
Loan Amount $3,500–$40,000
Term Lengths 3 to 6 years
Min. Annual Income Not specified
Fees None

Read Bankrate's expert Marcus by Goldman Sachs Review

Next steps

Once you decide whether or not a debt consolidation loan is the right move, shop around to find a lender that will provide you with the most competitive rates and fees based on your financial history and credit score.

You'll also need to become acquainted with the lender's requirements before you apply. This will ensure that you don't get hit with multiple hard credit checks while applying for loans that you aren't eligible for.

FAQs about debt consolidation loans

How do high interest rates affect my debt?

When you repay a loan, you're not just paying back the amount you borrowed — you'll also pay an additional sum each month in the form of interest. If you have a high interest rate, you'll be charged more on your outstanding balance, so it could take longer for you to pay off your debt.

Say you have $5,000 in credit card debt and a card that requires a minimum payment of 2 percent of your balance. Using a credit card calculator, you can see that your minimum payment starts at $100. If you have a 5 percent interest rate on that card, roughly $20 of your minimum payment would go toward interest and $80 would go toward your principal in the first month.

If you have an 18 percent interest rate, however, $75 of your payment would go toward interest and only $25 toward the principal in the first month. This would also more than double the amount of time it would take to pay off the loan, and the amount of interest you would pay during the repayment period would exceed the initial credit card balance.

What are the risks of a debt consolidation loan?

One of the biggest risks of a debt consolidation loan is the potential to go into deeper debt. Unless you can rein in the spending that got you into debt in the first place, a debt consolidation loan will not help you. If you use the loan to pay off your credit cards and then start running up card balances again, you'll dig yourself into a deeper debt hole.

The monthly payments can also be high. Because you are paying off several debts with the loan, your monthly payments can be steep — it’s not like making minimum monthly payments on several credit cards. You have to be sure you can handle the payments until the loan is repaid.