This makes them useful for situations where you need money for periodic expenditures, such as home improvement projects, but there's nothing to stop you from simply making a one-time draw to consolidate your debts.
Generally, anything where you've incurred a debt that needs to be paid off over time - credit card bills, auto loans, medical bills, student loans, etc.
The exception would be your mortgage; if you're having trouble paying that, you need to work that out directly with your lender, perhaps through a loan modification.
As you may know, many credit card lenders freely offer these to their customers with good credit, in the form of blank checks the borrower is invited to use as they wish.
What's attractive about these cash advances is that they often offer 0 percent interest for a limited time, often 9 to 18 months, so they can be useful if you're able to pay off the whole debt that quickly.
First, you may be able to get a lower interest rate on your consolidation loan than you were paying on your various other debts.
With interest rates on credit cards often ranging from 12-18 percent, that can produce a real savings.
Second, you may be able to set up a consolidation loan that lets you pay off your debt over a longer time than your current creditors will allow, so you can make smaller payments each month.
That's particularly helpful if you can combine it with a lower interest rate as well. Basically, you borrow a single, lump sum of cash that's used to pay off all your other debts.
Many lenders specifically offer loans for this purpose.
Of course, this approach requires that you have fairly good credit - if your FICO credit score is in the mid-600s or lower, you may have trouble getting such a loan from a bank or credit union.
There may be other wrinkles involved - for example, some of your creditors may be willing to write off part of your debt in return for an immediate payoff - but the key thing is that you're simplifying your finances by exchanging many smaller debt obligations for a single bill to be paid every month.