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4 Ways to Save Money by Refinancing

Here are ways to save money by refinancing -- by paying a loan off "early" with a new, better loan.

1. Know when refinancing a mortgage makes sense. According to the Consumer Action Handbook published by the Federal Citizen Information Center, "Consider refinancing your mortgage if you can get a rate that is at least one percentage point lower than your existing mortgage rate and if you plan to keep the new mortgage for several years." Also consider the extra fees for the new mortgage.

2. Be smart about dropping one credit card for another. Transferring an outstanding balance to another credit card can give you a lower interest rate, but find out how long the new interest rate will last and how it will change. Also see if there's a balance transfer fee.

3. Consider refinancing an auto loan if you expect to make payments for several more years. It may be harder to find a better interest rate because your car has probably depreciated in value. But if the savings from a lower interest rate more than offsets any closing costs, refinancing can make sense.

4. If you have multiple student loans, look into the potential benefits of consolidating them into one new loan at a lower interest rate. Compare the rates, terms and costs. "It may not be worth consolidating if it means losing a good fixed-interest rate, giving up a long grace period before loan payments are due, or running up other costs that would exceed those on your existing loans," said Sam Frumkin, a Senior Policy Analyst in the FDIC's Division of Supervision and Consumer Protection.