It's definitely a tantalizing opportunity, but it's not perfect.Remember, debt consolidation loans are financial products, which means financial institutions wouldn't offer them to you if they didn't make money from them.Here are a few tips to make sure you're not falling into a trap: If you're hopelessly drowning in debt, know that you can't negotiate any lower interest rates with your credit card companies or creditors, or if the math works out, a debt consolidation loan may be a good decision for you.

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Dear Lifehacker, I've racked up a good bit of credit card debt, and while I'm slowly paying it down, it's a pain wrangling multiple bills with different interest rates.

My credit union is offering debt consolidation loans with a lower rate than any of my cards—should I take that, use it to pay off all of my cards, and only have one, low-interest bill to pay every month?

Sincerely, Trying to Dig Out Dear Trying to Dig Out, It's tempting, isn't it?

Getting rid of all of your credit card bills, no more annoying multiple payment to multiple creditors, just one, automatic loan payment every month that comes out of your account automatically and you're back on the road to being debt free, right?

Well sure—but it comes with a couple of pretty big caveats that might sour the milk for you.

Let's explain, and then you can decide whether it's a good idea in your case.

In more cases than not, debt consolidation loans don't make sense.

They're certainly attractive: the lure of being able to pay off all of your credit cards is a strong one, especially in exchange for a single monthly payment to your bank or credit union at a lower interest rate.

Combined with a debt repayment plan or credit counseling, it can be used to pay off all of your debt at a fraction of their original cost.

If it may be a good time to strike, pay it all off, and walk away debt-free. Of course, those situations aren't the norm, and most of us with credit card bills looking to get rid of them aren't in that position.

That's not to say there aren't situations where debt consolidation loans can offer people who really need them the breathing room to get out of debt and organize their finances.