Is a Personal Loan Better Than Credit Card Debt? Pros & Cons

Stuck in a cycle of credit card debt? You’re not alone. But did you know that a personal loan could be a more attractive option? For one, credit card debt can be crippling, with sky-high interest rates and monthly payments that can drain your bank account. Personal loans, on the other hand, offer a more structured approach to debt repayment, with fixed interest rates and a clear plan to get back on track.

Imagine you’re stuck in a cycle of credit card debt. A personal loan might seem like a lifeline, but before you take the plunge, consider the trade-offs. While a lump sum from a personal loan can wipe out your credit card balances, you’ll need to factor in the loan’s own set of fees and requirements. Let’s weigh the pros and cons of each option to determine which one makes sense for your financial situation.

Is a Personal Loan Better Than Credit Card Debt?

Although one isn’t necessarily better than the other, there are some significant differences between personal loans and credit cards.

Looking to borrow money? Personal loans are a popular choice, and for good reason – they usually come with a specific set of benefits and requirements.

  • Fixed interest rates: Your interest rate will be set when you take out the loan.
  • Fixed repayment terms: You may be able to choose your repayment term when you get the loan. Choices might range from two to eight years, but the specific options vary depending on the lender and your loan offers.
  • Origination fees: Some lenders charge an origination fee and take the amount out of your loan’s proceeds.
  • Certainty: The fixed terms mean you’ll make the same payment each month and know when you’ll pay off the loan. The certainty can be reassuring and help you plan your budget, but it also means you don’t have the flexibility to make lower payments if you’re feeling squeezed.

While personal loans offer a one-time lump sum, credit cards provide a flexible line of revolving credit.

  • Variable interest rates: Credit card interest rates can rise or fall over time.
  • No clear payoff date: Your credit card statement may show you how long it takes to pay off your credit card based on different monthly payments. But the actual timeline also depends on whether you use the card for new purchases.
  • Different fees: Credit card fees can include an annual fee and various usage-based fees, such as a fee for making a balance transfer or late payment.
  • Flexibility: You only have to make a minimum payment each month to avoid fees and keep your account in good standing. However, the flexibility also can make it hard to pay off credit card debt if you don’t stick to a self-imposed repayment plan. Making only the minimum payment can also hurt your credit if you maintain a high account balance.

Personal loans and credit cards can also impact your credit scores differently. In either case, making on-time payments can help your credit, and missing payments can hurt it. Your current balance compared to your original balance on an installment loan is a scoring factor. However, your revolving credit utilization ratio, or how much of your credit card limit you’re currently using, can be more important for your credit report.

In other words, having high credit card balances relative to their credit limits could be worse for your credit score than having a large personal loan debt.

Advantages of Using a Personal Loan to Pay Off Credit Card Debt

If you’re considering using a personal loan to pay off credit card debt, there are several potential advantages.

Lower Interest Rates Compared to Credit Cards

Personal loans often have significantly lower interest rates than credit cards, with some lenders offering rates as low as 5.99% to well-qualified borrowers. In comparison, the average credit card interest rate is around 16%. Consolidating high-interest credit card debt into a personal loan can save you hundreds or thousands in interest charges over the life of the loan.

Simplify Debt Management with Fixed Monthly Payments

A personal loan provides a structured way to pay off credit card debt with fixed monthly payments over a set repayment term, usually 2-5 years. This makes budgeting and managing debt repayment more straightforward compared to credit card minimum payments that can drag out repayment for decades. With a personal loan, you know exactly when you’ll be debt-free if you make all payments as scheduled.

Improve Credit Utilization Ratio

Credit utilization, or the percentage of your credit limit that you are using, is a major factor in credit scores. Generally, using more than 30% of your credit limit can negatively impact your score. Paying off credit cards with a personal loan reduces your utilization to 0%, which can boost your credit score substantially and quickly.

Using a personal loan to pay off credit card debt can have a significant impact on one’s credit score. For instance, if someone pays off about $15,000 in credit card debt, their credit utilization ratio could go from over 50% to 0% overnight, potentially leading to a credit score increase of nearly 100 points within a few months. While everyone’s situation is unique, a personal loan could be a game-changer for credit scores if high credit card balances are a concern.

When a Personal Loan Might Not Be the Best Option for Credit Card Debt

Got credit card debt? A personal loan might be tempting, but it’s essential to consider the fine print. In some cases, it’s not the best way to break free from debt.

Origination Fees Can Add to the Cost of Borrowing

Some lenders charge origination fees of 1-8% of the loan amount for personal loans. These fees are deducted from the loan proceeds or added to the loan balance, increasing the total cost of borrowing. It’s important to compare annual percentage rates (APRs), which include interest rates and fees, rather than just interest rates when shopping for a personal loan.

Getting burned by an origination fee can be a costly mistake. Focusing too much on securing a low interest rate can lead to overlooking other important details. For instance, an origination fee can add up quickly, with some fees totaling over $500. A valuable lesson learned is to always carefully review the fine print and consider the total cost of the loan, not just the interest rate, to avoid such financial pitfalls.

Personal Loans Can Negatively Impact Credit Scores

Applying for a personal loan results in a hard inquiry on your credit report, which can drop your score by a few points temporarily. Additionally, taking out a personal loan increases your total debt load. Having a mix of revolving debt like credit cards and installment loans like personal loans is good for credit scores, but adding a new account can cause a short-term dip.

Higher Monthly Payments Compared to Minimum Credit Card Payments

Personal loans have fixed monthly payments based on the loan amount, interest rate, and repayment term. These payments are often higher than credit card minimum payments, which are usually around 1-3% of the balance. While paying more each month helps you get out of debt faster and save on interest, it’s important to make sure the payments fit comfortably in your budget.

Considering a personal loan to pay off credit card debt? A personal loan calculator can help estimate monthly payments. At first, the payments may seem high compared to what you’re used to paying on your credit cards. However, looking at the total interest you’d save and the prospect of being debt-free in just three years can make it a worthwhile decision. By adjusting your budget to accommodate the higher payment, you can make a significant step towards achieving financial freedom.

Courtney came to a disturbing realization: she was drowning in credit card debt. That’s when she started considering a personal loan to consolidate her debt. Was it the right move for her? That depended on her individual situation. It’s crucial to weigh the pros and cons, then decide if a personal loan would be a smart addition to her financial strategy.

Key Takeaway:

Instead of treading water in high-interest credit card debt, take control with a personal loan, which can offer lower interest rates, fixed monthly payments, and a clear payoff date – it’s like flipping a sinking ship around and charting a steady course towards financial freedom.

How to Qualify for a Personal Loan with the Best Rates

If you’re considering using a personal loan to pay off credit card debt, qualifying for the best rates is crucial. The better your loan terms, the more money you’ll save on interest and fees over time. But how exactly do lenders decide what rates to offer?

Want to snag a low-interest personal loan? Let’s get down to business and explore the factors that lenders consider when determining your personal loan rate.

Importance of Credit Score for Personal Loan Approval

Your credit score is hands-down the most important factor in determining your personal loan rates. Lenders use credit scores to gauge how risky it is to lend you money. The higher your score, the more likely you are to get approved with favorable terms.

According to Experian, a good credit score falls in the 670-739 range, while 740-799 is considered very good. If you’re in the 800-850 range, you’re in excellent shape and can expect lenders to roll out the red carpet with their best rates.

On the flip side, a low credit score can make it tough to qualify for a personal loan at all, let alone snag a competitive interest rate. If your credit is less than stellar, it might be worth spending some time improving your credit score before applying for a loan.

Understanding Debt-to-Income Ratio

In addition to your credit score, lenders also look at your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) to assess your borrowing capacity. Your DTI is all your monthly debt payments divided by your gross monthly income. The lower your DTI, the better.

Most lenders prefer a DTI under 36%, but some may approve loans for borrowers with DTIs up to 50% if they’re otherwise well-qualified. If your DTI is on the high side, paying down some debt before applying for a personal loan could help you qualify for better rates.

Factors Lenders Consider When Determining Personal Loan Rates

While your credit score and DTI are the main drivers of your personal loan rates, they’re not the only factors lenders consider. Other things that can impact your rates include:

  • Annual income.
  • Employment history.
  • Cash reserves.
  • Loan purpose (debt consolidation loans sometimes have lower rates).
  • Loan term (shorter terms often have lower rates).
  • Loan amount (larger loans may have higher rates).

Determined to break free from credit card debt, one effective strategy is to focus on improving credit scores by paying bills on time and reducing debt. The next step is to shop around, comparing loan offers from multiple lenders to secure the most competitive rates. By taking these proactive steps, it’s possible to regain control of finances and sail into calmer waters.

The bottom line? The stronger your overall financial profile, the better your chances of qualifying for a low-interest personal loan. It pays to do your homework and put your best foot forward before applying.

Steps to Pay Off Credit Card Debt with a Personal Loan

Make no mistake, using a personal loan to tackle credit card debt can be a smart financial decision. But to really reap the benefits, you need to shop smart for a loan that works in your favor and create a solid plan to stay on top of those monthly payments.

Shop Around and Compare Personal Loan Rates

Think you’ve found the perfect personal loan? Don’t rush in. Comparing rates from multiple lenders is essential. Start by checking out online lenders, banks, and credit unions to find the best deal.

Don’t forget to look at the big picture beyond just the interest rate. Also consider factors like loan terms, fees, and borrower requirements. Many online lenders let you get prequalified with just a soft credit check, which won’t impact your credit score.

To secure the best possible deal, it’s recommended to apply with at least three different lenders. This approach helps ensure that you’re getting the most competitive offer. A slightly lower interest rate can make a significant difference, resulting in hundreds or thousands of dollars in savings over the life of the loan.

Use a Personal Loan Calculator to Determine Monthly Payments

Before you sign on the dotted line for a personal loan, it’s important to make sure the monthly payments will fit comfortably in your budget. The last thing you want is to take out a loan to pay off credit card debt only to struggle to keep up with the new payments.

A personal loan calculator can help you estimate your monthly payments based on the loan amount, interest rate, and repayment term. Aim for a payment that’s no more than 10% of your monthly take-home pay. Keep in mind that while a longer loan term will lower your monthly payments, you’ll pay more in interest over time.

Create a Budget to Stay on Track with Debt Repayment

Finally tackling that credit card debt can be a huge weight off your shoulders. Consolidating with a personal loan can simplify your payments and save you cash on interest. But here’s the thing: it’s not a one-time fix. You’ll need to rein in your spending and make sure you’ve got a steady cash flow to cover those loan payments.

Start by tracking your income and expenses for at least a month to get a handle on where your money is going. Then, look for opportunities to cut back on discretionary spending and free up more cash for debt repayment. Maybe you cancel a few subscriptions, cook more meals at home, or find a cheaper cell phone plan.

Paying off debt quickly requires a solid plan and commitment. Setting up automatic payments for your personal loan ensures that you’ll never miss a payment. A budget that dedicates a significant chunk of income towards debt repayment is also crucial. This combination helps save money on interest and leads to becoming debt-free sooner.

Alternatives to Using a Personal Loan for Credit Card Debt

While a personal loan can be an effective tool for paying off credit card debt, it’s not the only option. If you’re on the fence about whether a personal loan is right for you, consider these alternatives:

Balance Transfer Credit Cards

If you have good to excellent credit, you may be able to qualify for a balance transfer credit card with a 0% introductory APR. This would allow you to transfer your high-interest credit card balances to the new card and pay them down interest-free during the promotional period (usually 12-21 months).

Keep in mind that most balance transfer cards charge a fee of 3-5% of the transferred amount. And if you don’t pay off your balance before the intro period ends, you’ll be subject to the card’s regular APR, which could be higher than your current rates. When used strategically, a balance transfer card can be a cost-effective alternative to a personal loan.

Debt Consolidation Loans

Another option is a debt consolidation loan, which is a type of personal loan used specifically to consolidate debt. Like a traditional personal loan, a debt consolidation loan allows you to roll multiple debts into a single monthly payment, often at a lower interest rate. The main difference is that debt consolidation loans are designed for borrowers with a lot of high-interest debt, so they may have more flexible qualification requirements.

Some lenders also offer perks like direct payment to creditors or free credit score monitoring. If you’re struggling to qualify for a traditional personal loan, a debt consolidation loan could be a good alternative. Just be sure to compare offers from multiple lenders to find the best rates and terms for your needs.

Debt Management Plans

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by credit card debt and can’t qualify for a personal loan or balance transfer card, a debt management plan (DMP) could be a good option. With a DMP, you work with a nonprofit credit counseling agency to create a structured repayment plan. Your credit counselor will negotiate with your creditors to try to lower your interest rates and waive certain fees.

You’ll then make a single monthly payment to the agency, which will disburse the funds to your creditors according to the agreed-upon plan. DMPs typically take 3-5 years to complete and may have a negative impact on your credit score. But they can be a helpful option if you’re struggling to manage your debt on your own.

Credit Counseling Services

If you’re not sure which debt repayment strategy is right for you, consider seeking help from a nonprofit credit counseling agency. Many offer free or low-cost counseling services to help you create a personalized plan to pay off your debt. During a credit counseling session, you’ll review your income, expenses, and debts with a certified credit counselor.

If debt has you feeling trapped, it’s time to call in the experts. They’ll help you map out a budget that actually works, assess your debt repayment options – including personal loans and balance transfers – and take the heat off by negotiating with creditors. Staying focused and making timely payments is crucial, but with their guidance, you can break free from debt and start forging a more secure financial path forward.

Key Takeaway:

To optimize your chances of getting a low-interest personal loan, focus on strengthening your financial profile by improving your credit score, reducing your debt-to-income ratio, and showcasing stable employment history and cash reserves. By doing so, you’ll be well-positioned to qualify for competitive rates and terms.

FAQs in Relation to Is a Personal Loan Better Than Credit Card Debt

What is better, a credit card or a personal loan?

Think of credit cards like a high-interest whip, perpetuating debt, whereas personal loans are like a clear roadmap to liberation. Both have their pros and cons, but if you’re stuck in the revolving credit cycle, a personal loan might be the rescue boat to propel you towards financial freedom.

Is it better to get a personal loan to pay off debt?

Pitting a personal loan against credit card debt is like swapping a high-interest rate revolving credit prison for a fixed-rate installment loan haven. With a personal loan, you can pay off credit card debt fast and enjoy lower interest rates, forging a smarter debt management strategy.

What are the advantages of a credit card over a personal loan?

Credit cards can be like a trusty utility belt, offering rewards, benefits, and cash advances in times of need. But don’t get too attached – annual fees, high credit utilization ratios, and soaring balances can morph your budget into a never-ending nightmare.

Are personal loans bad for your credit score?

Getting a personal loan is like taking a credit-builder vitamin – it can boost your credit score by demonstrating responsible repayment habits. However, lender inquiries and missed payments can sting your credit report, emphasizing the importance of timely payments and a debt-to-income ratio.


In the end, whether a personal loan is better than credit card debt depends on your unique financial circumstances. If you have high-interest credit card balances and can qualify for a personal loan with a lower rate, consolidating your debt could save you money in the long run. Plus, having a fixed monthly payment and a clear payoff date can make budgeting and debt management much easier.

But before you jump into a personal loan, be sure to carefully consider the terms, fees, and potential impact on your credit score. Shop around for the best rates and read the fine print to avoid any surprises down the road.

Your journey to debt-free living begins with a robust budget and a clear plan of attack. By dedicating yourself to regular payments and making conscious financial choices, you’ll be well on your way to overcoming credit card debt – with or without the help of a personal loan.


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