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“Select a card without an annual fee, and be sure to pay off the balance before the favorable, initial rate expires.

How do you know if debt consolidation is right for you?

The interest savings on smaller amounts may not offset the higher closing costs of a HELOC.

Converting credit card debt to a fixed-rate personal loan could improve your credit score because credit-utilization ratios don’t take installment-type loans into account.

An elderly couple have been rescued from their house in West Linton, southern Scotland, after becoming trapped by 12ft snow drifts around their property amid conditions not seen for many years.

Police and a mountain rescue team dug out the couple, aged 70 and 71, who had run out of fuel at their home, near Edinburgh (pictured left).

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Once you make the switch, stop charging purchases on your card.” After transferring a balance, you probably will want to keep your old card accounts active—without adding any new charges—to lower your credit utilization ratio.

The lower the ratio, the better it is for your credit rating.

Before making any change, you may want to consult with a financial planner to help you get your monthly spending in the black, or contact an organization such as the National Federation for Credit Counseling, a non-profit organization that provides financial education to millions of consumers every year, with services that include debt and bankruptcy counseling.

And by stretching payments over 20 years, you could end up paying more than you otherwise would in total interest.” Bottom line: Do the math to see if you’ll come out ahead.

You may be a good candidate for a HELOC if you have a large amount of debt you want to consolidate or you want an extra cushion for future emergencies, and you have sufficient equity.

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