Debt Consolidation

Does Consolidating Debt Affect My Credit Score?

While debt consolidation can temporarily lower your credit score, being consistent and on-time with payments can increase it over the long term.
Bruce Hodges
May 8, 2024
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Does Consolidating Debt Affect My Credit Score?

If you are struggling with multiple debts, you’re probably wondering if consolidating them will impact your credit score. It's a concern that many people have, and understandably so. Your credit score plays a significant role in various aspects of your financial life, from loan approvals to favourable interest rates. 

In this article, we'll explore how debt consolidation affects your credit score, and more importantly, we'll answer the question: Can debt consolidation help improve my credit score? We'll clear up any misconceptions and show you how responsible use of consolidation can help manage debt.

Key Takeaways

  • Consolidating debt involves combining multiple debts into one new loan or line of credit.
  • Debt consolidation may initially cause a slight decrease in your credit score due to applying for new credit and closing old accounts.
  • However, continuing to make timely payments towards the consolidated debt can improve your overall payment history and potentially raise your credit score.

Understanding Debt Consolidation

Debt consolidation involves combining multiple debts into one new loan or line of credit. You'll use the funds from this loan to pay off all of your existing debts. Once your debts are paid off, you'll be left with just one loan and one monthly payment to focus on. 

This can help simplify your financial situation and potentially lower the overall amount you owe each month. However, it's important to remember that consolidating debt does not eliminate it – you're still responsible for repaying what you owe.

When used correctly, debt consolidation can have a positive impact on your credit score and help you rebuild and improve your financial standing.

How Does Debt Consolidation Affect My Credit Score?

The impact of debt consolidation on your credit score can be viewed from a short-term and long-term perspective. In the short term, applying for a consolidation loan or line of credit triggers a hard inquiry on your credit report, which might cause a slight decrease in your score. This is a normal part of the process and usually has a temporary impact.

The good news is that responsible debt consolidation can significantly improve your credit score in the long term. By sticking to your repayment plan and avoiding new debt, you can work your way towards a healthy credit score and maintain it. Here’s exactly how debt consolidation helps:

  • Simplified payments: Streamlining your repayment process means fewer chances of missing or making late payments, which can harm your credit score.

  • Lower credit utilization: Debt consolidation allows you to pay off high-interest loans or credit card balances. As a result, it reduces your credit utilization ratio or the percentage of available credit that is being used. A lower ratio demonstrates responsible borrowing behaviour and positively influences your credit score.

  • Build good payment history: Consistently making timely payments towards your consolidated loan shows creditors and lenders that you are reliable and creditworthy. Additionally, having just one installment loan or line of credit instead of multiple debts makes it easier for them to evaluate your overall financial situation.

Over time, this reinforces a positive payment history on your credit report and increases your creditworthiness.

Does Consolidating Debt Hurt Credit?

Lenders usually need to perform a hard inquiry on your credit report when you consolidate your debt. This can possibly lower your score, typically by a few points. However, the impact is minimal and short-lived as long as you make timely payments in the long term. 

Another misconception is that closing old accounts after consolidating debt will boost your credit score. In reality, closing accounts can actually have a negative impact on your score because it shortens your credit history and increases utilization ratio. Both factors influence your credit score, so consider keeping some of your older accounts.


Debt consolidation can be a valuable strategy for streamlining your debt payments and improving your credit score in the long run. Before you take on a new loan though, it’s important to consider both the short-term impact and the long-term benefits of consolidating debt. 

By making on-time payments and avoiding excessive borrowing, you can leverage debt consolidation to gain a good credit standing and manage debt effectively. 

Not sure if debt consolidation is right for you? Our short quiz can help you weigh your options and determine if consolidation aligns with your financial goals: Should I Consolidate My Debt? [Quiz]

Bruce Hodges
Bruce, Founder and CEO of Parachute, worked for several of Canada’s top Banks, published research for the Canadian Bankers Association, and taught E-commerce Strategy in Wilfrid Laurier University’s MBA program. His first start-up built credit solutions for the likes of National Bank, Fair Isaac, and Ford Credit globally. Prior to starting Parachute, Bruce was COO of Foresters Financial, and EVP Transformation at CIBC, one of Canada’s top 5 banks. Bruce founded Parachute to disrupt the financial wellness space taking on payday, and high interest predatory lenders, with the intent to bring at risk Canadians back from the brink to good financial health.
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