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Can I Still Use My Credit Card after Debt Consolidation?

Can I Still Use My Credit Card after Debt Consolidation?

by

JG Wentworth

March 20, 2024

9 min

man with phone and credit card

In the journey towards financial freedom, debt consolidation can be a powerful tool for managing multiple debts and streamlining repayment. However, many individuals wonder whether they can continue using their credit cards after consolidating their debts. 

As is usually the case when it comes to financial decisions, much of the answer here depends on individual circumstances. It’s important to contextualize the implications of using credit cards post-debt consolidation, as well as understand both the advantages and disadvantages involved with doing so.  

What exactly is debt consolidation? 

Debt consolidation is a financial strategy that involves combining multiple debts into a single loan or payment plan. The goal of this strategy is to streamline debt repayment, potentially lower interest rates, and simplify monthly payments. There are several methods of debt consolidation, including:

  • Debt Consolidation Loan: This involves taking out a new loan to pay off existing debts, consolidating them into one monthly payment. Debt consolidation loans may offer lower interest rates and fixed repayment terms, making it easier to manage debt. 
  • Balance Transfer Credit Card: With this method, individuals transfer balances from multiple high-interest credit cards to a single card with a lower interest rate or promotional period. This can help reduce interest costs and simplify payments, but it’s essential to be mindful of balance transfer fees and promotional periods. 
  • Home Equity Loan or Line of Credit: Homeowners may use the equity in their home to secure a loan or line of credit, which can be used to consolidate debt. Home equity loans typically offer lower interest rates, but they require using your home as collateral, which poses the risk of foreclosure if payments are not made. 

Who qualifies for debt consolidation? 

To qualify for debt consolidation, individuals generally need to meet certain criteria, including: 

  • Good Credit Score: Lenders typically require a good credit score to qualify for favorable terms on a debt consolidation loan or balance transfer credit card. A higher credit score demonstrates a history of responsible credit management and reduces the risk for lenders. 
  • Stable Income: Lenders may require proof of stable income to ensure that borrowers have the means to repay the consolidated debt. A steady source of income helps demonstrate financial stability and reduces the risk of default. 
  • Sufficient Equity (for Home Equity Loans): Homeowners applying for a home equity loan or line of credit need to have sufficient equity in their home to qualify. Lenders may require a minimum amount of equity, typically around 20% of the home’s value. 

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Are there any drawbacks to debt consolidation?

While debt consolidation offers several potential benefits, such as simplifying payments and reducing interest costs, there are also some potential cons to consider:

  • Extended Repayment Period: Consolidating debt may result in a longer repayment period, especially if borrowers opt for lower monthly payments. While this can provide short-term relief, it may result in paying more interest over time.
  • Risk of Default: Using collateral, such as a home, to secure a consolidation loan poses the risk of losing the asset if payments are not made. Defaulting on a home equity loan or line of credit can result in foreclosure, making it essential to prioritize timely payments.
  • Fees and Interest Costs: Some debt consolidation methods, such as balance transfer credit cards, may incur fees or higher interest rates after promotional periods expire. It’s essential to carefully review the terms and conditions of any consolidation option to understand the total cost and potential fees involved.

Am I allowed to use my credit card after consolidation?

The short answer is Yes, people are generally allowed to use their credit cards after debt consolidation as it does not typically involve closing credit card accounts.

However, whether or not individuals should continue using their credit cards after debt consolidation depends on their financial situation, habits, and goals. While using credit cards responsibly can help build credit and provide benefits such as rewards points, it’s essential to avoid accumulating new debt that could undermine the progress made through debt consolidation.

Ultimately, individuals should assess their financial discipline, spending habits, and ability to manage credit responsibly before deciding whether to continue using credit cards after debt consolidation. If in doubt, consulting with a financial advisor can provide personalized guidance based on individual circumstances.

Strategies for responsible credit card use post-debt consolidation.

While there are potential drawbacks to using credit cards after debt consolidation, there are also strategies you can employ to use them responsibly and minimize the associated risks:

  • Set a Budget: Establish a monthly budget that outlines your income, expenses, and discretionary spending. Allocate a specific amount for credit card purchases and stick to your budget to avoid overspending.
  • Pay Off Balances Monthly: Whenever possible, pay off your credit card balances in full each month to avoid accruing interest charges. By paying your statement balance in full by the due date, you can enjoy the convenience of credit cards without incurring additional costs.
  • Monitor Your Spending: Keep track of your credit card transactions and monitor your spending regularly. Review your statements for any unauthorized charges or discrepancies and address them promptly.

Staying the course.

The decision to use credit cards after debt consolidation is a personal one and it’s essential to consider your financial goals and habits. By using credit cards responsibly and implementing strategies for managing your credit wisely, you can leverage them as a valuable financial tool while continuing on the path towards financial freedom and independence.

As always, exercise caution, discipline, and mindfulness in your financial decisions to achieve long-term success and stability so that you don’t end up facing the same challenges again. If you think you qualify for debt consolidation through a debt resolution program and would like to learn more about your next steps, contact JG Wentworth to speak to our dedicated specialists today!**

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* The information is provided for educational and informational purposes only. Such information or materials do not constitute and are not intended to provide legal, accounting, or tax advice and should not be relied on in that respect. We suggest that You consult an attorney, accountant, and/or financial advisor to answer any financial or legal questions. 

**Program length varies depending on individual situation. Programs are between 24 and 60 months in length. Clients who are able to stay with the program and get all their debt settled realize approximate savings of 43% before our 25% program fee. This is a Debt resolution program provided by JGW Debt Settlement, LLC (“JGW” of “Us”)). JGW offers this program in the following states: AL, AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, FL, ID, IN, IA, KY, LA, MD, MA, MI, MS, MO, MT, NE, NM, NV, NY, NC, OK, PA, SD, TN, TX, UT, VA, DC, and WI. If a consumer residing in CT, GA, HI, IL, KS, ME, NH, NJ, OH, RI, SC and VT contacts Us we may connect them with a law firm that provides debt resolution services in their state. JGW is licensed/registered to provide debt resolution services in states where licensing/registration is required. 

Debt resolution program results will vary by individual situation. As such, debt resolution services are not appropriate for everyone. Not all debts are eligible for enrollment. Not all individuals who enroll complete our program for various reasons, including their ability to save sufficient funds. Savings resulting from successful negotiations may result in tax consequences, please consult with a tax professional regarding these consequences. The use of the debt settlement services and the failure to make payments to creditors: (1) Will likely adversely affect your creditworthiness (credit rating/credit score) and make it harder to obtain credit; (2) May result in your being subject to collections or being sued by creditors or debt collectors; and (3) May increase the amount of money you owe due to the accrual of fees and interest by creditors or debt collectors. Failure to pay your monthly bills in a timely manner will result in increased balances and will harm your credit rating. Not all creditors will agree to reduce principal balance, and they may pursue collection, including lawsuits. JGW’s fees are calculated based on a percentage of the debt enrolled in the program. Read and understand the program agreement prior to enrollment. 

JG Wentworth does not pay or assume any debts or provide legal, financial, tax advice, or credit repair services. You should consult with independent professionals for such advice or services. Please consult with a bankruptcy attorney for information on bankruptcy.