This is the first wave of the study that included personal loans, and researchers said they weren’t expecting to see them top consumers’ debt priorities.
“That was very surprising to us,” said Nidhi Verma, a senior director at TransUnion and co-author of the study.
Consumers probably aren’t putting personal loans first as a matter of importance, she said. It’s likely more about the nature of the debt: Personal loans tend to have short terms compared with other debts, and loan amounts also tend to be smaller — leading to small monthly payments. Struggling consumers may see it as an easier debt to keep up with.
“It’s not really a preference question here,” Verma said. “People would prefer to stay current on all their debts if they could.”
Here’s how to figure out the right way to prioritize: