I am struggling to keep up with my minimum monthly payments. Some of my cards are maxed out. I can't know I need to do something, but I can't decide which is better: Credit Counseling Services or Debt Settlement with Freedom Debt Relief. What's best?
Thanks for your question. Good for you for focusing on finding a solution for your debt problems. Realizing that you need to make changes is an important step.
Freedom Debt Relief (FDR) is a leading debt settlement company, the largest in the US, and has been in business since 2002. Before going into more detail about FDR, let me address the differences between debt settlement and credit counseling, so you can decide which is the best fit for you.
I'll outline how consumer credit counseling and debt settlement work and present some pros and cons of the two different debt resolution options. I won't overwhelm you by trying to cover all the details about each program, but present to you some key facts about each approach that will help you make a decision.
If you want to review your debt relief options with a Certified Debt Conusltant, you can receive a free consultation by calling 800-610-4560.
Debt settlement, also called debt negotiation, is a form of online debt consolidation that reduces your total debt and the size of your monthly payments. Debt settlemtent is designed for people with more than $10,000 in unsecured debt who have a financial hardship that makes them unable to make their monthly payments or about to reach that point.
The debt settlement firm handles communications with your unsecured creditors and negotiates reduced balance settlements that are paid from the money you build up from the monthly program payments you make. Debt settlement programs typically run around three years to four years.
During the life of your debt settlement program, you choose to NOT pay your creditors. This means that a debt settlement solution harms your credit rating. If your credit is already suffering, from maxed out cards or late payments, the credit impact is less of a concern. Still, debt settlement is for you if the trade-off of negative credit impact for the benefit of msaving money and getting out of debt with a low monthly payment.
Debt settlement is usually the fastest and cheapest way to debt freedom that avoids Chapter 7 Bankruptcy.
Consumer Credit Counseling Services start by assessing your situation, to understand your debt problems, spending habits, and your cash-flow available for paying off your debt problems. Many credit counselors will offer free budget advice, review your credit report with you, and share tools to improve your financial literacy, with a goal of helping you establish financial habits that will benefit you in the long-term.
In terms of debt relief solutions, a credit counseling service offers a Debt Management Plan (DMP). A DMP only accepts unsecured debts. A DMP can potentially help wth your credit card debt, especially high-interest credit card debt, but it can't help with your mortgage or auto payment. A DMP is is viewed as a form of debt consolidation because you make one monthly payment to the credit counseling firm and they send out payments to your different creditors enrolled in your DMP.
Credit Counseling Services have relationships with creditors that allow them put in place interest rates on your accounts that can be much lower than what you are paying. Not every creditor offers low rate through a DMP, but you will be offered a black and white proposal, with specific rates for each creditor. Before you sign up, you will know exactly how many monthly payments you need to make at a specified amount, in order to pay off your debt.
Making the right choice for your situation comes down to deciding what you need to succeed and the level of risk you are willing to accept.
I suggest you start with a key factor: Affordability.
Debt settlement offers the lowest payment. If you compare program payments and can't afford the credit counseling program payment, don't commit to it. It only works if you make the payment each month.
If you can afford both payments you are offered, then you need to weigh the total costs being lower in debt settlement against the fact that the credit counseling program will protect you from collection effors.
Also account for how important it is to you each month to have the extra money in your pocket that comes from the difference between the lower debt settlement payment and the higher credit counseling payment. If that difference allows you to pay obligations you couldn't pay while making the the credit counseling payment, that could be a huge factor.
The amount of debt you have is also very important, as debt settlement firms often have a higher minimum debt enrollment requirement ranging from $7,500 to over $10,000, whereas credit counseling firms will accept debts as small as $3,000 to $5,000.
If you choose debt settlement then I can tell you that Freedom Debt Relief is a good company. Here are two useful references to Freedom Debt Relief reviews. You can read verified customer reviews of Freedom Debt Relief customers at the website of TrustPilot, a leading independent consumer review site. You can also read Freedom Debt Relief reviews at the Freedom Debt Relief website.
Yes, Freedom Debt Relief appears to be a great option, if you are seeking debt resolution or negotiated debt settlement. We have done a thorough review in the Bills.com resource Freedom Debt Relief Review.
Here are some other facts:
In the spirit of full disclosure, Freedom Debt Relief and Bills.com are members of the Freedom Financial Network.
I hope this information helps you Find. Learn & Save.