Q: Recently finished paying off all my debt through consumer credit counseling service, and despite having used such a service, I have a much higher-than-average credit score with all three bureaus. I also have an income in the high 50’s and only my mortgage and one car loan on my credit report. I’ve received in the mail a notice from Capital One telling me they’ll give me an unsecured personal loan with no advanced fee, a 7.9% fixed APR for 60 months, no pre-payment penalty and no balloon payment at the end. My husband and I still have debt to pay (which is all in his name), and we’re interested in using this loan to consolidate and pay off everything once and for all. How do I check out whether it’s a scam? Capital One gave me three months to reply.
A: Congratulations on completing your consumer credit counseling services program, and paying off your personal debt. That’s quite an accomplishment.
As for this personal loan, I’m skeptical. These kind of loans typically have rigorous repayment requirements and enough fine print to make you crazy. If you’re late on one payment, it could invalidate the 7.9 percent rate and you’ll be obligated to pay back this personal loan at 20 percent or higher.
If all the debt you have is a mortgage and car loan, I’d much rather see you tap your home equity to pay off your remaining debt than use this lender’s program. While you’d be putting your home on the line with a home equity loan, you can write off the interest you pay. Also, the interest rate should be much lower than what you’re being offered.