A balance transfer lets you take all your credit card balances and lump them into one new credit card with either a lower ongoing annual percentage rate (APR) or a lower introductory APR for a specific period.This can ultimately help you get out of debt faster while paying less in the long run.

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The higher the interest rates are on your existing debt, the more you’re likely to save with a balance transfer, but there’s a catch: When the promotional interest rate expires, you’ll probably get slammed with a high ongoing APR.

To get the most out of a balance transfer, pay off your balance before the promotional period ends. Credit card companies also usually charge one-time transfer fee of up to 5 percent of the balance, so be sure to read the fine print, do the math and have a payoff plan in place before pulling the trigger.

Another common mistake that can take a toll on your credit score is if you you pay off with your consolidation loan.

If you close the credit cards you pay off, you reduce your available credit, which could increase your credit utilization ratio (a.k.a.

It may be to the benefit of your credit score to leave open your credit card accounts, particularly the oldest ones.

Another way your credit could suffer from debt consolidation is if you work with an agency to implement a debt management plan (DMP).

This way, getting a variety of quotes won’t show up on your credit report and indirectly impact your credit score.

You can find and compare loan offers on Lending Tree — we use a soft credit pull to search for loans that may suit you.

Let’s pretend your credit card balances look something like this: Plugging these numbers into a debt payoff calculator reveals that you’ll pay a total of ,644 and get out of debt in 11 months.