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In Australia, a healthy level of debt is considered a good thing. Managed well it can help you achieve financial and personal goals, like home ownership or a new car.

However, when your debt gets out of hand and you find yourself juggling multiple cards and loans, it can be exhausting.

If this sounds familiar, there are actions you can take to rein in your debt and pay it off sooner. Debt consolidation is one option. There are also free advice resources available.

What is debt consolidation?

Debt consolidation could help you to combine your outstanding debts into one convenient loan potentially at a lower rate than you currently pay. Simply put, that’s one loan, one regular repayment, one interest rate and one set of loan fees.

How to consolidate debt?

Step 1: Gather information about all your debts

To take control of your debt it is essential to know how much debt you have. Review your statements and work out the following:

  • How much do you owe on each debt?
  • The interest rate you are paying on each debt
  • What are the monthly fees on each debt?
  • Any break costs.

 

Step 2: Work out how much you can put towards paying off your debt each month

Next, it’s good to know where your money is going and how much you have coming in. You can use our Budget Planner to work out how much you can realistically afford to repay each month.

 

Step 3: Explore debt consolidation options

Now that you know where you stand - how much debt you owe and how much you can put towards your repayments - it’s time to set up a plan to clear it.

Debt consolidation options

At Westpac, we offer three ways to consolidate debt:

Debt consolidation loans

A personal loan can be a good option to consolidate a range of debts. The main benefit of a personal loan is that it has a fixed term. That means repayments are calculated so that at the end of the loan period your debt is cleared.

By combining multiple debts into one easy to manage personal loan you can potentially:

  • Save money by eliminating multiple fees across multiple debts
  • Take advantage of a lower interest rate when compared to your existing debts
  • Simplify your banking with a single repayment to manage.

Read more about our personal loans.

Credit card balance transfers

This is generally the best option for consolidating credit card debt. By transferring multiple balances from non-Westpac credit cards or store cards into one low rate credit card you can potentially:

  • Take advantage of balance transfer offers to gain some breathing space to pay down the debt without incurring interest, assuming you pay at least the minimum monthly repayment by the due date each month
  • Save money by eliminating surplus card fees (if you cancel your other cards)
  • Simplify your banking with only one statement and a single monthly payment.

This option requires good discipline as there is no set repayment amount. Remain focused by putting a plan in place to pay off the entire balance during the interest free period. You should also consider cutting up your old credit cards so you don’t end up in more debt. If you are finding it hard to keep up with your billing cycle, set up a direct debit. That way, your credit card repayments will come first.

More about our balance transfer offers.

Home loan top-up

Applying for a home loan top-up can be a quick and cost effective way to consolidate your debt. By consolidating your finances under one home loan you can potentially:

  • Take advantage of a lower home loan rate, when compared to other lending options like personal loans
  • Reduce the overall amount you pay each month across all your debts
  • Simplify your finances with only one monthly repayment.

Be mindful that with a home loan top-up your mortgage repayments are likely to increase. If you opt to keep your repayments the same, your mortgage will take longer to pay off. In both cases, you will likely end up incurring more interest over the long term compared to other options.

More about home loan top-ups.

Getting help

If you are finding your debt difficult to manage, the earlier you take action the better. Help is available!

Some of the ways we may be able to help Westpac customers include:

  • An extension of the loan term to reduce your repayments
  • An interest rate reduction
  • A short break on your repayments for a fixed period of time.

If you are a Westpac customer and experiencing difficulty making your loan or credit card repayments, please call Westpac Assist on 1800 067 497.

To find out if debt consolidation is the right approach for you, you should consider getting independent financial advice.

See moneysmart.gov.au for useful information on managing your debts. Free financial counselling and free legal advice is also available.