Credit card consolidation is a popular solution for those with significant credit card debt, usually distributed on three or four different cards. Basically, this means putting all your debts together on a single card, like transferring it all to one loan. Of course, the goal is to pick a card that offers better conditions than what you already have, in order not only to simplify, but also to reduce your payments.
Since there are so many offers out there, and lenders fight over your business, you can sometimes find solutions that can save you thousands of dollars per year. If you consolidate your debt to a credit card with low interest and 0% balance transfer, you can save considerably, and pay off your credit sooner (which, of course, is the main goal when dealing with credit card debt).
The most serious mistake people do when consolidating is to go though the entire process just to simplify their accounting, and they don't pay enough attention to how much they could save. Another mistake is to close your zero balance accounts when consolidating. This practically means you close some of your credit options, which is never a good idea.
When you plan to consolidate, call your banks and explain the situation. They want your business, and you'll be surprised how flexible and willing to negotiate they can be, once you explain to them that you have various options available to take your business someplace else.
There are many web sites offering solutions for debt consolidation. However, keep in mind that, while this is a comfortable and fast solution, you don't have the options to negotiate directly with the banks. Also, most often the best offers come from banks that want to keep your business, so make sure you give a change to the banks you've had a long-term relation with. If you're not pleased with the results, take your money elsewhere quickly.
Consolidation is often a necessity for students, new graduates, or people who have filed for bankruptcy some time ago. If you've handled your payments well and managed to clear up your record to a certain degree, there is no need to continue paying more than it's worth for your credit cards. Sit down and go through the numbers carefully, and think analyze the problem realistically. Don't forget to check your credit report and your credit rating before you start anything - it will help you plan and plead your case. Also, if your credit request gets rejected, don't forget to ask for your free copy of the credit report.
Of course, credit card consolidation is not a miracle solution for all your financial problems. On the contrary, you may find that it requires a lot of financial discipline to make the payment on time and to straighten things up. However, it is less confusing than having several small credits, and so it is easier to keep things under control.
There is also the option of getting credit counseling, if things get really confusing. A successful plan will make sure you make the payments on time and regularly, without putting a strain on other aspects of your life. Of course, it's a lengthy process, usually taking one or two years - but it's worth the trouble.
Sometimes, you can lower costs by consolidating your debt through a second mortgage - but be really careful about the hidden costs and problems - you may want to consult with a specialist or two before taking this step. Usually, this means that your home will become collateral, and you may lose it if things go wrong. Also, costs add up quickly and you may end up paying more than you initially thought.