During the course of our study on average credit card debt, we observed some significant differences among different demographics and regions. The most prominent differences exist among peoples of different race, age, gender, and state of residence. In the following sections we explore these differences to see how average credit card debt varies among the population.
Hi Barb, it’s hard to answer this in an absolute yes/no way. It depends in part on what you are consolidating. Consolidating credit cards are different than, say, your house (which you might lose if you can’t pay). Some people definitely live up to the challenge of paying off a consolidated loan in full (balance transfers with 0% interest are often a great way to save thousands in interest). But lots of other people plan to pay off consolidated loans and can’t meet those obligations if something in their situation changes, and that can lead to much bigger problems.

Information and interactive calculators are made available as self-help tools for your independent use and are intended for educational purposes only. Any results are estimates and we do not guarantee the applicability or accuracy to your specific circumstance. For customers with less than Good credit, a Discover Personal Loan may not be the right debt consolidation solution.
A: This depends on your goals. If you have an excellent credit score and don’t want to hurt it, then settlement is extremely bad. But if your score has already taken hits from late payments and collections and bad credit is not a concern, then settlement can be good. Settling your debt can give you a fast exit where you control the discharge. It helps you avoid bankruptcy, where the court controls the discharge agreement (Chapter 13) or liquidate your assets (Chapter 7) to settle your debts.
One Main Financial (OMF) offers personal consolidation loans to help credit card holders who are only making minimum monthly payments without seeing a decrease in their balances. The company began as Commercial Credit in 1912, but over the years, they have changed their name to Citi Financial and currently, to OMF. With over 100 years of company history, you will find multiple positive reviews and testimonials. They currently have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

When you say “released” I assume that is when the dentist gave up attempting to collect and then sold the debt to a third-party. In other words, it sounds like they didn’t “hire” a collection agency but instead “sold” your debt to them. I could be wrong, but either way it sounds like there is some sort of contractual arrangement between them and the collector that prevents them from dealing with you until this is paid. I’m not sure why they haven’t tried to contact you, and that does seem very odd. If you’re in a position to repay the debt, I would strongly encourage you to get this all in writing from your dentist first and document your correspondence with the collectors as well.
Ashley Dull is the editor-in-chief of CardRates.com, where she works closely with industry leaders in all sectors of finance to develop authoritative guides, news, and advice articles read by millions of Americans. Her expertise lies in credit cards and rewards programs as well as credit reports and how credit scores affect all aspects of consumerism. She is often asked to serve as an expert source on financial topics for national media outlets, such as CNN Money, MarketWatch, Money Matters, ABC News, and NBC News, and has recurring contributions to several leading finance websites. Connect with Ashley on LinkedIn and Twitter.

It sounds like you are in a Catch-22 – you can’t pay down your debt without consolidating, and you can’t consolidate until you pay down your debt. That makes me think that you could be a good candidate for credit counseling. A credit counseling agency does not care about your credit scores. Your interest rates and payments will likely be reduced, and you will have a plan for paying back your debt in a reasonable period of time. We talked about that more in this article: Does Credit Counseling Work?
If you’re struggling to keep up with credit card bills, consolidation can give you the breathing room you need to pay down debt. It can lower your payments, reduce interest costs and help you reduce debt quicker. Ideally, the rate you receive on the loan is lower than the combined interest rate on your credit cards. You’ll need good to excellent credit (690 to 850 on the FICO scale) to qualify for the lowest rates.
The Debt Reduction Calculator spreadsheet creates a debt payoff plan based on the debt snowball technique, while the Credit Repair Spreadsheet focuses on paying off your debt in a way that improves your credit score as you go along. The Credit Card Payoff Calculator is perfect for figuring out the monthly payments you need to make in order to reach a particular payoff date. You can even access a Savings Snowball Calculator that helps you balance your savings and debt reduction goals. That way you don’t have to neglect your savings account while you're paying off debt.
I have 2 credit cards, 1 has a balance of $6K and has 0% until Nov. 2017. The other has $11.3K and has a 0% until July 2017. Both have APR after 0% of 11.25%. I have a tax return on it’s way and it’s just over $6K. My question is, do I pay off the $6K first or pay down the $11K due to the 0% ending sooner? In both cases after the $6K is paid, I would pay about $350/month in total.
Even if the monthly payment stays the same, you can still come out ahead by streamlining your loans. Say you have three credit cards that charge a 28% annual percentage rate (APR). Your cards are maxed out at $5,000 each and you're spending $250 a month on each card's minimum payment. If you were to pay off each credit card separately, you would spend $750 each month for 28 months and you would end up paying a total of around $5,441.73 in interest.
Make sure you are working with an NFCC-member nonprofit credit counseling agency like InCharge Debt Solutions. Nonprofit credit counselors provide impartial financial advice that has your best interest in mind. A nonprofit debt management program will have low fees and work to secure interest rate reductions on your credit card debt, so that you are able to pay off your debt by making consistent affordable payments.

Successful use of debt consolidation will normally lead to a higher credit score for most borrowers. While applying for and initially obtaining a debt consolidation loan can result in a temporary decline in your credit, over the long term, your credit should improve. The debt consolidation loan will streamline your debt repayment, so you’ll be able to pay all your debts with a single payment. The same is true of a debt settlement program. You may initially face a decline in your credit score when you stop making your minimum payments, but by the time your program is over, your score should be as high if not higher than when you started. Additionally, as you steadily pay down your overall debt balance, your credit rating should improve as well.
An unsecured debt, in contrast, involves no collateral but instead is based on a contractual agreement entered into by the borrower and lender at the beginning of the relationship. Common examples of unsecured debts are credit cards, student loans, or utility bills. The risk of default on an unsecured loan is that your debt could be turned over to a collection agency and a lawsuit may be filed against you for repayment. Lenders of unsecured debt will be more stringent about pursuing repayment because their money has not been guaranteed. Unsecured debts generally have higher interest rates because of the increased risk taken on by creditors. Take credit cards, for instance – the average interest rate on credit cards today is around 14.9 percent. Payments made on unsecured debts usually fluctuate based on the outstanding balance.
Fractional reserve banking has resulted in a transfer of wealth from the holders of currency to investors. Under fractional reserve banking the money supply is allowed to be increased whenever new interest-bearing loans are issued and is often constrained by a reserve ratio, which mandates that banks hold a portion of the wealth they lend out at interest in the form of real reserves. Many nations are in the process of eliminating reserve ratios.

Other times, we just become sick of living paycheck to paycheck, and decide we want a better life — and that’s OK, too. You shouldn’t have to confront disaster to decide you don’t want to struggle anymore, and that you want a simpler existence. For many people, becoming debt-free the hard way is the best and only way to take control of their lives and their futures.


If you expect quick results and get frustrated easily, the ladder method may not be for you. You don’t want to get discouraged and give up, leading to more debt down the road. Instead, go for the debt snowball. If you are good with long-term planning and can accept delayed satisfaction, make sure you understand how to pay off debt with the ladder method—it’s probably a good option for you. It certainly is the “best” way if you can be patient; and remember, this is the fastest way overall, it just might feel slow in the short-term.
Undergoing debt settlement will not have the same effects on your credit as filing for bankruptcy, but it can still have a fairly large negative impact. A settled debt will usually have a note describing them as such on your credit report, indicating to potential lenders that you could not meet a previous obligation and may, therefore, be a risky investment. Additionally, if you have not already defaulted on your debts, you will end up doing so during debt settlement, resulting in additional (and, often, fairly severe) credit impacts.
The reasoning for debt consolidation is simple: The more debts you have, the more difficult it may be to stay on top of your finances. With so many bills to track, it’s easy for something to fall through the cracks — and, thus, hurt your credit score. Consolidating debt helps you keep track of what you owe while granting the potential for lower interest rates than what you currently pay.
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