Should You Use a Personal Loan to Pay Off Credit Cards?

personal loan to pay off credit cards

The average U.S. household has $6,662 in credit card debt and $37,172 in student loan debt. Talk about a scary combination.

But despite the lower average balance, credit cards might pose a greater threat to your financial well-being than student loans. Between sky-high interest rates and low minimum payments, there’s no end in sight for some borrowers.

So, if you’re neck-deep in credit card debt, find out how using a personal loan to pay off credit cards could be a good option for you.

How to use a personal loan to pay off credit cards

A personal loan to pay off credit cards is often called a credit card consolidation loan.

The idea is to get a credit card consolidation loan with a lower interest rate than what you’re paying on your credit card as well as a set repayment period. That way, you get a defined repayment plan.

For example, let’s say you have a $4,000 balance on your credit card with an 18.00% APR. If you qualified for a three-year personal loan with 12.00% APR, your monthly payment would be $133, and you’d pay $783 in total interest over the life of the loan.

If, however, you kept the debt on the credit card and paid $133 per month, it’d take you close to three and a half years to pay off the debt, and you’d pay $1,359 in interest during that time.

In other words, you’d save $576 by opting for a credit card consolidation loan.

Here’s a quick recap:

Product Repayment Term Total Interest Paid
Personal loan (12.00% APR) 36 months $783
Credit card (18.00% APR) 41 months $1,359

You also can use personal loans to pay off multiple credit cards by consolidating them all into one payment with one interest rate.

Advantages of using a personal loan to pay off credit cards

Personal loans will carry the biggest benefit if you’re currently paying high interest rates on multiple credit card accounts. Here’s why.

1. Potentially lower interest rate

Even a small change in your interest rate can make a big difference, especially if you have a lot of credit card debt. Keep in mind that there’s no guarantee your interest rate will be lower on a personal loan. It will depend on your creditworthiness.

2. A single payment

Moving debt from multiple credit cards to one credit card consolidation loan can simplify your debt payoff.

For example, you won’t have to worry about various payment dates and amounts. Plus, making one payment instead of several could help keep you on track and organized with your bill payments.

3. Quicker debt payoff

With just one debt payment every month and one fixed interest rate, you might be able to pay off your loans on a shorter timeline.

That’s mostly because credit cards don’t have a set repayment period. In fact, if your balance is high enough, you could never get out of debt by paying just the minimum payment.

Disadvantages of using a personal loan to pay off credit cards

Although there could be benefits to taking out a personal loan to pay off credit cards, it also carries inherent risks. Research your options and weigh these cons against the pros before taking out a credit card consolidation loan.

1. Potentially higher interest rates

Not all personal loan companies offer low interest rates. For example, Avant offers interest rates ranging from 9.95% through 35.99% APR.

That’s a massive range, and you typically need excellent credit to get the best rates. So, if your credit card interest rate stands at 18.00% APR and you qualify for a personal loan at a 25.00% APR, you’d be better off keeping the debt where it is.

2. You might not be able to afford it

If you have a large credit card balance, moving it to a credit card consolidation loan you have to pay off in just a few years might break your budget.

For example, if you moved $15,000 in debt to a three-year personal loan with a 12.00% APR, your monthly payment would be $498. If your budget is tight and you have no plans to make extra money to pay off your debt faster, it might be hard to manage.

3. You might have to pay a fee

Some personal loan companies charge an origination fee. This fee typically ranges from 1 percent to 6 percent of the loan amount. If you borrowed $15,000, for example, you’d pay between $150 and $900 upfront.

So, depending on the situation, using a personal loan to pay off credit cards could be more expensive, even if the loan has a lower interest rate.

Is a credit card consolidation loan the best move for you?

If you have a solid credit history and high-interest credit card debt, a credit card consolidation loan could help you save money on interest and repay your debt sooner.

Compare rates by personal loan companies like SoFi, Citizens Bank, and Upstart to see how they stack up.

And check out other top personal loan companies to see what they offer. Some even let you pre-qualify with a soft credit check, which won’t hurt your credit score.

If you can qualify for a low interest rate, a low or nonexistent origination fee, and a manageable monthly payment, the math could be in your favor. Use a credit card consolidation calculator to get the real numbers.

And if a credit card consolidation loan doesn’t seem like the way to go, another option you can consider is a balance transfer with a zero-interest credit card. These cards offer 0% APR promotions for a period, allowing you to pay down your debt with no interest at all.

Most cards, however, charge a balance transfer fee, which is usually between 3 percent and 5 percent. Also, if you don’t pay off the balance before the promotional period ends, you’re back to where you started, at least with regard to having a high interest rate.

At the end of the day, make sure you’re taking the time to consider all your credit card debt consolidation options. Even if you don’t qualify for the best deals out there, you’ll have the knowledge you need to create your next action plan for paying off your credit cards effectively.

Paula Pant contributed to this article.

Interested in a personal loan?

Here are the top personal loan lenders of 2017!
LenderRates (APR)Loan Amount 
1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

2 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Finance Lender Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)
  2. Personal Loans: Fixed rates from 5.49% APR to 14.24% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 5.19% APR to 11.32% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of July 1, 2017 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 4.99% APR assumes current 1-month LIBOR rate of 1.22% plus 3.95% margin minus 0.25% autopay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Personal Loan Rate Disclosure: Variable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of August 1, 2017, the one-month LIBOR rate is 1.23%. Variable interest rates range from 6.02% – 15.97% (6.02% – 15.97% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of your loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms and presence of a co-applicant. Fixed interest rates range from 5.99% – 16.24% (5.99% – 16.24% APR) based on applicable terms and presence of a co-applicant. Lowest rates shown are for eligible applicants, require a 3-year repayment term, and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
  2. Loyalty Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower has a qualifying account in existence with Citizens Bank at the time the borrower has submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, student loans or other personal loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, Citizens Bank checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI and VT. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) disclosed in the Truth-In-Lending Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan, and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  3. Automatic Payment Benefit: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
7.39% - 29.99%$1,000 - $50,000Visit Upstart
5.19% - 14.24%1$5,000 - $100,000Visit SoFi
8.00% - 25.00%$5,000 - $35,000Visit Payoff
5.99% - 16.24%2$5,000 - $50,000Visit Citizens
5.99% - 35.89%$1,000 - $40,000Visit LendingClub
5.25% - 14.24%$2,000 - $50,000Visit Earnest
Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero Advertiser Disclosure

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print, understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.