How to pay off your holiday debt

Don't let 12 days of Christmas spending turn into a 12-month debt hangover.

Last updated:

Finder is committed to editorial independence. While we receive compensation when you click links to partners, they do not influence our opinions or reviews. Learn how we make money.

If you overspent on presents this year, a balance transfer credit card or a consolidation loan can help you manage your credit card debt — but watch out for interest rates that are far from jolly.

What options do I have to consolidate Christmas debt?

You have two main options: a debt consolidation loan or a balance transfer credit card.

  • Debt consolidation personal loan. These loans are unsecured and allow you to bring a number of debts into one account so that you only have one monthly payment to keep track of. By consolidating separate credit accounts you may be able to reduce interest and fees.
  • Balance transfer credit card. If you have debt across one or more cards, you can consolidate your debt to a balance transfer credit card. Some cards offer 0% interest for an introductory period, but if you can’t pay your debt off before that time is up you could end up with a high rate. You’ll also need to keep an eye on balance transfer fees and annual fees.

Debt consolidation loan vs balance transfer credit card

Which Christmas debt consolidation option is right for me?

The best option for you depends on a number of factors, including how much debt you’ve accrued and how long it will take you to pay it off:

Consider a debt consolidation loan if…

  • You have a large amount of debt.
  • You need more than a year to pay off your debt.
  • You’re credit score isn’t excellent.

Consider a balance transfer credit card if…

  • You have a relatively small amount of debt.
  • You can pay it off relatively quickly (one year or less).
  • You have good to excellent credit.

How do I compare balance transfer credit cards?

There are a number of features to look for when choosing a balance transfer credit card:

      • Balance transfer interest rate. This is the promotional rate that will be applied to the debt that you transfer. Most cards offer a 0% APR rate, but you might not qualify if you have bad credit. If your credit score is low, you may still qualify for a card with a low introductory rate.
      • Balance transfer promotional period. How long will this promotional rate apply? These periods can be between 3 and 24 months. The interest rate on the card will likely spike pretty high when the introductory period is over, so you want to make sure you can pay your balance in full before then.
      • Standard rate. This is the rate that will apply to your balance after the promotional period ends. If you don’t pay your balance in full in time, can you still afford the card?
      • Fees. Check whether a balance transfer fee applies and whether you’ll need to pay an annual fee for the card.
      • Balance transfer limits and restrictions. Confirm how much you’re able to transfer. For some cards, you can’t transfer a debt that will be more than 80% or more of your credit limit. You’ll also likely need to make the balance transfer at the time of application in order to take advantage of the promotional rate. Make sure you’re familiar with all restrictions so you don’t get any nasty surprises when you apply.

Learning more about transferring your existing credit card balances

How do I compare debt consolidation loans?

When you compare options for debt consolidation personal loans, check the following:

      • Interest rate. First, check whether the rate is variable or fixed. Variable rates may change over your loan term while fixed rates remain, well, fixed. Fixed rates are preferable, but variable rates are common.
      • Fees. What fees will you be charged? Check for upfront fees such as establishment or application fees as well as ongoing fees such as annual or monthly fees.
      • Loan limits. How much are you able to borrow and will it be sufficient to consolidate your debt?
      • Loan purpose. Not all lenders allow you to use their personal loans for debt consolidation, even if they are unsecured. Make sure you’re able to use it for what you need before you apply.
      • Loan terms. Check the terms of the loan and use our consolidation loan calculator to find out what your monthly payments will be.
      • Repayment flexibility. Are you able to make extra repayments throughout the loan or pay it off early without penalty? Look for early repayment penalties or restrictions.

Compare debt consolidation loans

Compare debt consolidation options

Debt consolidation loans

Updated March 30th, 2020
Name Product Filter Values APR Min. Credit Score Max. Loan Amount
Credible Personal Loans
3.99% to 35.99%
Fair to excellent credit
$100,000
Get personalized rates in minutes and then choose an offer from a selection of top online lenders.
Monevo Personal Loans
3.49% to 35.99%
450
$50,000
Quickly compare multiple online lenders with competitive rates depending on your credit.
SoFi Personal Loans
5.99% to 18.64%
680
$100,000
A highly-rated lender with competitive rates, high loan amounts and no fees.
Best Egg Personal Loans
5.99% to 29.99%
640 FICO®
$35,000
A prime online lending platform with multiple repayment methods.
LendingClub
6.95% to 35.89%
640
$40,000
A peer-to-peer lender offering fair rates based on your credit score.

Compare up to 4 providers

0% balance transfer credit cards

Updated March 30th, 2020
%
Name Product Amount saved Balance transfer APR Balance transfer fee Recommended minimum credit score Filter values
Citi Simplicity® Card
0% intro for the first 21 months (then 14.74% to 24.74% variable)
$5 or 5% of the transaction, whichever is greater
670
With an intro APR of 21 months, this card has one of the longest balance transfer offers on the market. Plus, no late fees and no annual fee.
Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card
0% intro for the first 21 months (then 13.74% to 23.74% variable)
$5 or 5% of the transaction, whichever is greater
670
Get one of the best balance transfer intro APR promotions available. Plus, access Citi Entertainment℠ to purchase tickets to concerts, sporting events, dining experiences and more.
Citi® Double Cash Card
0% intro for the first 18 months (then 13.99% to 23.99% variable)
$5 or 3% of the transaction, whichever is greater
670
This one of the most valuable flat cashback cards. It comes with 2% cash back (1% when you buy plus 1% when you pay) and 18 months months to pay off transfers.
Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 12.99% to 23.99% variable)
$5 or 3% of the transaction, whichever is greater
670
Earn a $150 bonus statement credit after you spend $1,000 on purchases in the first 3 months. Rates & fees
Citi Rewards+℠ Card
0% intro for the first 15 months (then 13.49% to 23.49% variable)
$5 or 3% of the transaction, whichever is greater
670
Get rewards on gas and groceries with no annual fee. Ideal for everyday use, it's the only card that rounds purchases up to the nearest 10 points.

Compare up to 4 providers

Other ways to manage your holiday debt

While debt consolidation loans and balance transfer credit cards are the two primary routes to conquering your Christmas debt, there are some other things you can do to prevent future debt from accumulating:

  • Make a budget (and stick to it). Having a budget can help you figure out how to best spend your money — and to prevent you from overspending. Tracking your spending and understanding how much you need to pay off your debts can help you figure out where to cut spending — empowering you to cut back in order to climb out of debt.
  • Save every month. The more money you save every month, the quicker and easier it will be to pay off your debt. Any extra money you’re saving should either go towards paying off your debts — prioritizing those with higher interest first — or setting up an emergency fund. A good number to aim for every month is $1,000 — but don’t worry if you can’t save that much! Every cent counts.
  • Snowball your debt. Using the debt snowball method involves paying off your smallest debts first then your larger debts. After making the minimum payments on all of your debts, use any money left over to pay extra towards your smallest debt. Not only does it make paying off your debt less daunting, but you’ll be erasing it much faster.

Bottom line

A little planning can go a long way when it comes to Christmas spending. Put a plan in place, and if you need a Christmas credit card make sure you carefully consider all of your options. This way you can enjoy, rather than worry about, the holiday season.

However, if you find your credit score on the naughty list, you may want explore debt consolidation options for bad credit.

Frequently asked questions

Picture: Shutterstock

Back to top

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder.com provides guides and information on a range of products and services. Because our content is not financial advice, we suggest talking with a professional before you make any decision.

By submitting your comment or question, you agree to our Privacy and Cookies Policy and Terms of Use.

Questions and responses on finder.com are not provided, paid for or otherwise endorsed by any bank or brand. These banks and brands are not responsible for ensuring that comments are answered or accurate.
Go to site