It affects your score very negatively, perhaps as much as a bankruptcy which, in essence, it is. After going through one you may not be able to qualify for any credit cards or loans. If you do the interest rates will be very high because you have become a "high risk" person. So, as a lot of questions before you attempt one. You may be able to do a lot for yourself by calling your creditors, explain your condition, and ask them what can be done. That won't be considered a debt consolidation.