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If you have several outstanding debts and are falling behind on payments, one answer might be a debt consolidation loan. Even if you’re up to date on payments, debt consolidation loans can help save you money and time.

Let’s find out how to get the best debt consolidation loan rates.

How does debt consolidation work?

When you have multiple loans, their interest rates typically are not all the same. With debt consolidation, you take out a new loan to pay off your existing loans. The new interest rate might be lower — or higher — than the interest on your old loans. The key is not to just get a lower average interest, but also make sure your larger loans are replaced by a lower rate.

Another advantage to debt consolidation is that you have less paperwork and, therefore, save time. Instead of dealing with multiple lenders and pay schedules, you have only one lender to answer to.

Compare more than just rates

When comparing debt consolidation loan rates, there are other factors to keep in mind other than simply the interest. For example, some debt consolidation loans carry an early termination fee. Others, require an initiation fee. All of these factors should be considered since fees might diminish, or wipe out, any savings.

The 0 percent option

If your overall debt is not too high, and if you are disciplined, a credit card might be your best bet. This is because many offer teaser low or no-interest for the first year or more. If you’re going to use this method, make sure you pay off as much, or all, of your loan during the interest-free period. Once credit card interest kicks in, it can be very costly.

Personal loans

A personal loan can be taken out for any reason, including debt consolidation. According to the finance blog Simple Dollar, the best debt consolidation loans for 2015 are Prosper, Lending Club, and Avant. Criteria used to evaluate offerings from different lenders were loan ranges, loan terms, and interest rates.

Make sure you shop around as terms and rates may vary. There are even loan finder services that will do the searching for you and come up with a list of reliable lenders that offer you a competitive consolidation loan.

Bad credit options

If your credit score is low, you might not qualify for a personal loan, or your interest rate might be higher. In these cases, it might pay to look for other options such as a home equity loan. These loans let you borrow against your home. The risk here is that if you fail to make payments you’ll be facing foreclosure.

A similar option is to get a secured loan from a bank or credit union. In this case, you put up a luxury item (boat, car, etc.) as collateral for your loan. Again, if you fail to make payments, you’ll have to give up the collateral.

Conclusion

If you have multiple outstanding loans, a debt consolidation loan might be the best way to reduce your debt and make the repayment process simpler.

Credible is a multi-lender marketplace where lenders including Avant, LendingClub, PAVE, Prosper and Upstart compete for your business. You can compare personalized offers from multiple lenders on Credible.com without sharing your personal information with lenders or affecting your credit score. Vincent Chough is a writer who earned his medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and practiced in the U.S. for 10 years. He now lives in Argentina, where he’s involved in NGO management at the executive level.