7 On Your Side: Is a debt consolidation loan right for you?

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Nina Pineda reports on debt consolidation loans.

From everyday shopping to charging student loans, medical bills and all those unforeseen expenses -- credit card debt has ballooned.

Most Americans carry at least $5,500 on plastic, and the fees are keeping us in a revolving door of debt.

"If you have multiple high-interest credit cards, it's going to become increasing hard to manage your debt and really expensive," personal finance expert Andrea Woroch said.

She warns those of us drowning in debt not to grab the first life preserver thrown your way, because loan waters are chock full of predatory sharks and scams.

Be wary of anyone coming to you to sell something, and it's important for you to do your own research.

A personal loan could help restructure your debt, but you must stick to the program.

Woroch points to online products like "Marcus" by Goldman Sachs, aimed at millennials trying to dig out from under student loans.

"You can also adjust it based on how much you can pay each month," she said. "And that will help you determine the term of your loan and the interest. Of course, all this will depend on your credit worthiness."

For example, if you have good credit, you could borrow $10,000 for a loan that charges 7 percent interest through Marcus. The average credit card charges 17 percent interest.

"You can potentially save just under $1,500 in interest by taking out a 48-month loan," said Woroch, who is a spokesperson for the Marcus product.

Balance transfers onto new credit cards offering 0 percent interest are also options for consolidating debt, but make sure you read the fine print because those teaser rates don't last long. And always pay more than the minimum on credit card bills. If you don't, you'll never get your head above water.

Beware of loan fees or sign up fees of up to 5 percent, as well as late fees and early payoff penalties. All can cost you money you're trying to save.

Next, watch out for balance transfer offers to 0 percent interest credit cards. If you don't pay those off in full by the time the introductory rate is over, you could owe the interest on all those back months.

Finally, robocalls, emails, letters in the mail -- any solicitation that makes an offer too good to be true is a red flag, because it probably is.


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