Credit card debt consolidation seems to be the most talked-about term in the world of credit cards. It’s true that credit cards have been very useful and convenient for us and we, in fact, treat the credit cards as a necessity. However, with every good you have evil too. In the world of credit cards, ‘Credit card debt’ is that evil and ‘Credit card debt consolidation’ is often regarded as a medicine for treating credit card debt.
Anyone who has read any newspaper articles on ‘Credit card debt’ would already know what credit card debt consolidation is. However, just for the benefit of others, credit card debt consolidation, in simple terms, is the process of consolidating debt which you hold on various high APR credit cards onto just one low APR credit card.
Thus, the main benefit of credit card debt consolidation is realised in terms of APR reduction (and hence reduction in credit card debt growth rate). This is touted as the most important benefit (and sometimes the sole benefit) from credit card debt consolidation. However, credit card debt consolidation comes with few more benefits as well. Some of these credit card debt consolidation benefits are widely publicised by the credit card suppliers and some not so much:
1. Initial APR: As mentioned above, lower APR is the biggest benefit from credit card debt consolidation. Since credit card debt consolidation is used by credit card suppliers as a tool to attract consumers, they generally offer a 0% APR for a initial period of 6-9 months of you joining their credit card debt consolidation programme i.e. first few months after you get the new credit card.2. Standard APR: Lower standard APR (i.e. the long term APR) is the other important benefit from credit card debt consolidation. Though not all credit card suppliers offer a lower standard APR with credit card debt consolidation some do design credit card debt consolidation programmes with good standard APR. These credit card debt consolidation programmes offer a trade-off between initial and standard APR rates.3. 0% on purchases: This is another common benefit from credit card debt consolidation. The 0% interest (or some lower percentage) on purchases is offered as an incentive for credit card debt consolidation. This credit card debt consolidation benefit is again applicable only for a short initial period. 4. Easy management: This credit card debt consolidation benefit is not as discussed as others. However, one benefit of credit card debt consolidation (from multiple to single credit card) is the fact that you need to track and manage a lesser number of credit cards. 5. Other benefits: The credit card debt consolidation exercise might bring you some more benefits in terms of rebates, discounts and reward points (especially if you move to
a co-branded card as part of credit card debt consolidation)
Consolidate Credit Card Debt
We know that it’s good to consolidate credit card debt (at least that is what we keep hearing from everyone). In fact, the first step towards addressing the problem of credit card debt is to consolidate credit card debt. Now, what do you do to consolidate credit card debt? Should you just go with that attractive ad in the newspaper that says ‘…the lowest APR in the town is available here’?
The first thing, really, is to keep your eyes and ears open. There are always a number of offers available for you to choose from. The credit card suppliers keep coming with new and more attractive offers asking you to consolidate credit card debt with them. However, you must note that the APR quoted in bold, e.g. 0% APR, is applicable only for a short term (3-9 months). The long term (or the standard) APR is different. So, when you go looking for a credit card to consolidate credit card debt, you must be keenly looking for these 3 things (in terms of APR) – introductory APR, introductory APR period and the standard APR. Let’s see how each one is important.
Introductory APR is probably the most attractive thing to look for when you are looking to consolidate credit card debt. If you consolidate credit card debt to a card that has a low introductory APR e.g. 0%, the first thing you get is a breather/relief in terms of the rate at which your credit card debt has been growing. Based on how long that 0% APR period is (generally you will look to consolidate credit card debt with a credit card supplier who offers 0% initial APR), you will at least be able to temporarily break the growth rate of your credit card debt. More the introductory period, the better it is. However, you should not ignore the standard APR when you consolidate credit card debt. This is the interest rate that will be applied to your balance after the expiry of the introductory low APR period that was given to lure you to consolidate credit card debt with that credit card supplier. If the standard APR is too high and you know that you will not be able to clear off the entire credit card debt during the low APR period, that credit card is probably not the best for you to consolidate credit card debt to. However, if you think that you will be able to clear off the entire credit card debt during that period, you can make some compromises on the standard APR of the credit card to which you consolidate credit card debt.
The card that synchronizes with your current and future financial position (and needs), is the one you should consolidate credit card debt to.