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With inflation still higher than it should be and the new year almost upon us, you might be tempted to whip out the credit cards to cover the seasonal expenses. And while that’s certainly an easy option, it’s probably not the most economical.
The average rate on credit cards is currently over 21%, according to the Federal Reserve, so putting anything on those cards could mean a hefty bill later on. Fortunately, if you’re a homeowner, there may be a better option: A.
With, you can borrow money from your home based on the amount of equity you have in it, and the loan is typically offered at a much lower rate than what you’d get with credit cards or other lending products. (In fact, according to Bankrate, the typical home equity loan in October had just an 8% to 10% interest rate.)
Why you should get a home equity loan in 2024
Do you own a home? Here’s why you might want to get a home equity loan in the new year.
To pay off credit card debt
Since, they can be a smart option for paying off credit card debt. When you do this, you essentially trade the card’s higher interest rate for the home equity loan’s lower rate, reducing your monthly payments as well as the long-term interest costs you’ll face.
Doing this can also allow you to pay off debt quicker, according to Kendall Meade, a certified financial planner at SoFi.
For example, she says, if you had a $20,000 credit card balance at a 20% rate and made $400 payments each month, you’d pay off the debt in 108 months with a total of $43,360 in costs ($23,360 just in interest). If you used an 8% home equity loan and paid $405 per month, you’d pay that same debt off in just— and save more than $19,000 in the process.
To cover the cost of home or auto repairs
If you need to repair your car or fix up your house,.
“If you have repairs that must be done on your home and you don’t have the cash available, then this may be your next best option,” Meade says. “Examples include needing a new roof or HVAC system.”
It can be particularly smart to use home equity funds on repairs that improve the value of your house, as that can mean more profits once you sell later on.
Additionally, using your home equity loan proceeds toward improving your home may qualify you for a valuable tax deduction. According to IRS rules, you can write off the interest you pay on home equity loans, so long as you use the money to “buy, build, or substantially improve” your house.
To cover the cost of medical expenses
You may also want to use a home equity loan to cover the cost of sudden medical bills or expensive treatments you might be facing.
While health insurance can help with some of these costs, a home equity loan could offer a way to pay for things like deductibles, co-pays and other expenses — at least until you reach your policy’s out-of-pocket max.
To pay for school
Home equity loans can also help you pay for education costs — things like college or private school tuition, books, supplies, housing and more.
You’d likely only consider this if you aren’t eligible for federal student loans or you’ve exhausted all those you have available, as federal student loans tend to have lower rates than most home equity loans.
Still, home equity loan rates are often lower than private student loan rates, so using a home equity loan to pay for school may save you money if a private student loan and home equity loan are your only options.
According to Bankrate, private student loan rates can reach as high as nearly 17%, depending on your credit score and other factors.
To fund your business
If you own a business or are looking to start one, you might consider, as it will likely come with lower rates than a business loan would. Just make sure you’ll have the funds to pay it back, as skipping your home equity payments could put your home at risk of foreclosure.
“For business owners in need of additional capital for growth, a home equity loan may be the smart move,” says Mike Roberts, CEO of City Creek Mortgage in Draper, Utah. “If you run the numbers and are confident when putting your home on the line, you’re likely to save more on interest.”
How to get the right home equity loan
If you opt to pursue a home equity loan, you should make sure you have enough equity to qualify. Most lenders require you to have at least 10% to 20% equity in your home before they’ll allow you to take out a home equity loan. This means your current mortgage balance can’t amount to more than 80% to 90% of your home’s value.
If you have that much equity, then start by comparing at least a few home equity lenders. Look at their rates, fees,and loan terms, and be sure to read past customer reviews, too. You may also want to compare it to other equity options — like or cash-out refinances — to be sure you’re getting the best deal.