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“If the principal is paid down faster [than it would have been without the loan], the balance is paid off sooner, which helps to boost your credit score,” says Freeman.
Even so, the interest rates are still typically less than the rates on credit cards. “Typically, the loan has to be paid off in three to five years,” says Harrine Freeman, CEO and owner of H. Freeman Enterprises, a credit repair and credit-counseling service in Bethesda, Md., and author of “How to Get Out of Debt.” These types of loans don’t erase the debt; they simply transfer all your debts to a different lender or type of loan.
Although each lender will probably require different documentation depending on your history, the most commonly required pieces of information include a letter of employment, two months' worth of statements for each credit card or loan you wish to pay off, and letters from creditors or repayment agencies.
If you have a good payment history with a bank, credit union or credit card company, asking that institution about a debt consolidation loan should be your first step.
There are also several consolidation options available from the federal government for those with student loans.
Theoretically, debt consolidation is any use of one form of financing to pay off other debts.