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does a debt consolidation lower my credit score?

Your credit score will suffer some damage with any type of debt relief with the exception of debt consolidation through the refinancing of your home equity. I assume you are not talking about home equity in this case so I will leave that scenario out here.

When people talk about debt consolidation (again without a home), they typically are talking about what I call on this site a debt management program. Debt management allows you to consolidate many bills and reduce the interest rates and late fees you may have accumulated. It does not reduce the principle amount you owe and so it can take 5-7 years to become debt free in this way.

Your credit will get hurt but typically marginally so. The debt management programs work closely with the credit card companies who will mark your credit score as working off the debt with help. Often, it is better to let your credit suffer some in oprder to get out of debt assuming you are unable to manage your current payments.

You may also want to read my response to a similar question by another visitor about potential damange to your credit score.