debt consolidation companies

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debt consolidation companies

Answer a couple of basic questions about your debt. Based on your location, debt amount and type of debt, we can recommend a path.

Your certified debt resolution specialist will show you how to pay off your debt and give you the motivation to get there.

Follow the payment plan you agree to with your certified specialist and you are on the way to being debt free in less time and for less money than if you did it on your own.

Questions? Call 888-997-5113

Do you need help with your unsecured debt? Then you've probably noticed the countless ads saying that your payments can be cut in half or more by working with a debt consolidation company.

First, you should understand that what is commonly referred to as 'debt consolidation' is actually 3 different products - debt management plans, debt settlement and debt consolidation loans.

Understand Your Debt Consolidation Options

The product that will work best for you depends on a number of factors starting with the amount of debt you have as well as your ability to manage it. Each product has its own set of terms, eligibility requirements and repercussions which can affect your credit both positively and negatively.

Make sure you understand the differences between the products and choose the right product for your situation. Many companies only provide one or two debt consolidation options and will sell you their product even if it is not right for you.

Researching your credit counseling agency

Many consumers have apprehensions about using the services of a credit counseling agency and with good reason. There are companies that call themselves credit counselors but promise more than they can produce. Reputable credit counseling agencies help people get out of debt every day by being up front about their capabilities and following best practices.

As with other service-related industries, you just have to do a little research to make sure you're working with the right people. The internet is a great place to start checking out the credentials of credit counseling agencies.

  1. Do research on your credit counseling agency at your local BBB.
  2. Google "'Credit Counseling Company' review" and 'Credit Counseling Company' feedback" to gauge their customer satisfaction.
  3. Make sure they explain all of your options for getting out of debt. One-size-fits-all companies are common and can be dangerous.

Reasons to Consider Getting Professional Debt Help

There are many different reasons that can lead to a drop in income or an increase in debt, and you may be caught completely unprepared. Common causes include illness or injury, divorce, losing your job, birth of a baby or retirement.

If cutting your budget hasn't done enough to ease the burden of debt repayment then you should begin to consider your other options. For those that have already fallen behind on making payments, the longer you wait the more your debt will mount as additional expenses like late fees are added on.

Debt Consolidation Loan Directory

Find companies providing consolidation loan programs and related debt relief services. "Save time and money when you learn about and then compare financial services at DebtConsolidationLoan.com."

Debt Consolidation Loans and Other Types of Debt Relief

Learn the basics about consolidating your credit cards and other debts. Also, find and review directories of companies that provide debt help, as well as alternative options to getting a loan for bill consolidation. Use the menus above to find these online services and their websites, that provide various kinds of debt relief, including credit counseling and consolidation loan programs. These menus are organized by type of service or the state that you live in. Learn about common debt-related terminology below.

Consolidate Debt Without a Loan

Advertisers of Debt Consolidation Services that do not Include Loans.

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Unsecured Personal Loans for Debt Consolidation

Advertiser of Loans for Consolidating Debt or Other Needs.

Personal Debt Consolidation Loan through LendingClub

Requires a good credit rating, but rewards you with great fixed rates on a personal loan in an amount up to $35,000 with no prepayment penalties or other hidden fees. Get an instant rate quote online.

Services available: Peer-to-Peer Lending and Personal Loans.

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Terms – Terminology with definitions, along with those defined in the text on this page:

We also feature personal finance tips and additional resources written by our staff, as well as those provided by other websites. These are given to you to help you get your monthly budget and personal finances under control. Save money when shopping for financial services. Start the process by doing more for yourself than just saving on your current needs. Learn about personal finance and save money on a go-forward basis!

Quick Debt Relief Program Menu:

What is a Credit Card Debt Consolidation ?

General terminology used to describe the combination of multiple debts owed to credit card lenders into one (typically) smaller and easier to manage payment amount. It is often assumed that getting a consolidation loan is required to consolidate debt, however, there are multiple methods of accomplishing this goal. Each type of debt help (or relief) has its own set of pros vs. cons, and the list can be different for each consumer depending upon their personal financial situation. Get more info and… Find Debt Consolidation Programs.

This type of lending is can be used for consolidating credit card debt and other (typically) smaller bills, or for a wide variety of other purposes. They can be offered as unsecured loans, or they can be secured to a borrower’s personal collateral. Unsecured loans are usually available for smaller amounts of money and qualification is typically much more difficult than it is for other types of lending. Get more info and… Find Personal Loan Options.

Credit counselors may be able to help a consumer obtain better interest rates, get penalty fees waived and help them manage their personal finances better through a consolidation of debt that is managed by the credit counseling agency. The consumer makes one payment to the counselor’s firm, that (in turn) pays the borrower’s creditors. This is why this type of service is also referred to as debt management. Get more info and… Find Credit Counseling Help.

This form of debt relief is the process by which a company negotiates a lower balance on a consumer’s outstanding debts with their creditors. The credit accounts are closed and the consumer agrees to make payments, per a schedule, until the balance is paid off. However, any amount of forgiven debt may be considered taxable income. Get more info and… Find Debt Settlement Services.

What is a Debt Consolidation Loan?

  1. Borrowing from a lender to consolidate bills may or may not lower the borrower’s current interest rates, overall interest cost or even the minimum monthly payment amount. a) The available interest rates on a consolidation loan approval may actually be higher than the existing credit card debt and other bills that you want to pay off. If approved, most of what determines the rate offered is due to your credit rating and the type of loan that you have applied for.
  2. Loans are more difficult (in some cases, much more difficult) to obtain than other forms of debt relief services, such as credit counseling / debt management, debt settlement or bankruptcy, as they have a qualification process that relies upon a set of underwriting guidelines, rather than just required actions on the part of the consumer. However, they are much less likely to have a negative impact on your current credit rating. Your credit score may be impacted by taking out new debt, but mainly, just be sure to make your payments on time.
  3. A debt consolidation loan is either unsecured, or secured to an asset or assets of the borrower.

Next Up: What are Secured and Unsecured Debt Consolidation Loans and what are the different types?

Other Debt Relief Program Pages

Review the following directory pages for listings of more companies and services providing debt consolidation and related financial services to people in need of help dealing with credit card and other consumer debts.

  • Looking to consolidate your credit card debts and reduce your overall monthly payments? Review our directory site listings for non-profit credit counseling services and debt management companies providing debt help to consumers with debt problems throughout the US .
  • US-based listings of debt consolidation companies that offer credit card debt consolidation, credit counseling services and consolidation loans to consumers, students and businesses.
  • Need an unsecured personal loan for bill consolidation? These type of lending does not require collateral and is available to homeowners and non-homeowners alike.

Please choose a service or product selection based on your financial service type.

Please choose a service or product selection based on your state of residence.

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The Truth About Debt Consolidation Companies

Debt consolidation is one solution to your debt relief needs. I have reviewed numerous companies regarding consolidation to help you with your debts.

Debt consolidation has been confused in the past. This is partly due to the information available to those who require a solution to their problems. If you have a financial situation then seeking debt help that is effective is paramount. The trouble is finding the right method such as consolidation. Before launching into an explanation about companies I have reviewed I would first like to explain about some of the solutions available. Debt consolidation is one option among many such as management, settlement, and negotiation, which is why an explanation is needed regarding all of the solutions.

Debt Consolidation - Reduce The Monthly Payments

This solution utilizes a loan to reduce the monthly payments you have. It does not mean your financial obligations will be reduced. For instance, if you owe $10,000 on three different credit cards it can be reduced to one loan. This does mean you reduce the amount of interest you pay on the amount owed. In this way you save money, but you may not find the entire amount reduced. Sometimes these loans are used in conjunction with negotiation for a lower amount owed. If the creditor feels they will not get any money from you they may allow for a reduction on the amount owed, which is then paid off by the debt consolidation loan.

If the creditor does allow for a lump sum payment you need to have it in order to get the reduction they negotiated with you for. You may find even with a lump sum payment the creditors are unwilling to reduce the amount. It is why this option through a company is necessary. A negotiator working on your behalf can work for the best deal. They have relationships with the creditors you have since they are in the consolidation and debt business. They also have knowledge of the laws and regulations enabling them to work better with the company.

Negotiations With the Creditors

You see, the consolidation process allows negotiations with the creditors. They approve a loan for you and the money you receive from that loan is used to pay off the debt obligations. In this method you may find your overall amount owed has been reduced, but the closing fees on the consolidation loan may bring it closer to the original amount owed. You also have fees or commissions paid to the company offering you this solution. It is best to keep the reality of the situation in mind to avoid surprises at the end. You should definitely compare debt consolidation programs to ensure you have the lowest fees for the loan, closing costs, and their labor on your behalf.

Consolidation is not meant as a miracle answer. Rather, it is meant to help you pay off your financial burden faster. It is debt help, but in a method that does not always save you anything more than the interest. When you have three credit cards you have three interest rates. Those rates could be 11 percent, 15 percent, and 19 percent. If this is true then you pay a total of 45 percent per year on your credit cards. Consolidation takes this down to one interest rate. The interest rate on debt consolidation loans might be 20 percent, but that is certainly better than 45 percent total.

You Are Making One Payment Instead of Several

Debt consolidation may not be for you. Settlement in which you use your savings to pay off the companies and be debt free is another option. This only works if you have savings of course. Management does not use consolidation. Rather, management is designed to help you reduce your monthly expenses so that you can pay off one credit card or loan at a time. Once one is paid down you move on to the next one. Consolidation can have a high monthly payment in terms of lumping it all together. The good news with this solution is that you are making one payment instead of several, which helps you pay it all off without feeling over burdened by interest payments.

Another benefit of consolidation is to hopefully lower the monthly payments you make in order to make the entire situation more affordable for you. You may have to pay the same monthly amount you paid before when they were all separate, but the difference is it is to a loan and going to one of the debt consolidation companies you choose rather than the credit card companies. Consolidation cannot promise lower payments, though reducing the amount you owe should also reduce your payments if that is an option. There are certain situations that make consolidation work best for some and not at all for others.

Compare the Different Debt Consolidation Companies

You have a choice in the companies you choose from. It is important for you to compare the different companies, but you may wonder what you are comparing when you look online. Even here you wonder about the information you read. It is natural to do so with the numerous scams out there on the Internet. To make you feel more comfortable about this solution and to trust the companies listed on this site you need a little background information about me.

I have chosen a career in assessing these companies. I am paid to assess companies and to write reviews. I do not review a company for pay unless I feel comfortable about that particular company. I speak with the staff to determine how well they work together and are willing to work for you on your debt issues. Until I have fully vetted a company according to my parameters I do not publish my findings. I hope my process offers the same attributes you would like to see from debt consolidation companies as I have chosen rigorous processes to test these various companies out.

Best Choice for Debt Consolidation

These are the three top choices for debt consolidation I have chosen. Each company has gone through my process and may work for USA and Canada residents. Often companies based in the USA have offices in Canada, helping you find debt relief wherever you are.

National Debt Relief is a BBB accredited debt consolidation company I recommend as a first choice. This company was founded in 2006. I have met the staff members of this company and offered them marketing help. During that time I worked with the debt help company I learned about the business and what they do, and this is how I can feel confident to recommend them. They meet my standards regarding help for financial obligations. They have a debt consolidation service that I can trust; therefore, you hopefully can too.

This site will give you debt relief as well as other solutions. You can examine the site directly just to make sure that you are satisfied with the site.

Credit experts giving debt consolidation advice was founded National Debt relief. National Debt Relief provides free videos, education, comparison service and consumer advocates to assist yours get the best solution. However, the best debt consolidation is always what is best for you and not others.

This company also helps Americans in understanding better their credit scores as most Americans are only aware of their credit score but they do not know what it actually means. With National Debt Relief you can be sure of the best service and any latest information in the form of blog posts related to debt consolidation loans and credit cards as well as better understanding of credit scores.

Freedom Debt Relief is another debt consolidation company. Their site is more about information and facts, but they still offer financial solution services like management, consolidation, and negotiation. At this company you can expect to find counselors offering their debt services. They have helped with thousands of other clients to provide Tax Debt Relief. Counselors are helpful in solving your original issue with money. They look at how you spend money to determine when you spend more or potentially why you increase your debt. It can be helpful to get to the root of the issue since you can solve your debt only to wind back up in debt.

CuraDebt is the third company I would suggest you examine. This company like the first two has a reputation for providing help to those in financial need. They work closely with numerous credit card companies, negotiating settlements. This company also offers consolidation loans to help you close your accounts faster. You still have the loan to pay off as was mentioned above, but at least you are actively seeking help. The company will also provide with the Business Debt Counseling and Tax Debt Relief.

Valuable Information about Debt Consolidation

This solution entails the lumping of all your unsecured loans such as veterinary, credit card bills, doctor, dentists’ bills and all other bills that do not have collateral or property like a house or you can use an automobile as the security into single monthly payment. Debt consolidation is a perfect solution to a person having many unpaid bills.

This solution usually is done to secure lower interest or to secure fixed interest rates or even to experience convenience of servicing one loan only rather than having to pay many loans to settle either monthly or after a certain period.

You can either consider debt consideration to consolidate your unsecured loans into an unsecured loan but it mostly involves consolidating unsecured loans to secured loan against your assets, which can be either your house or your car. Collateralization of a loan enables lower interest rates than a loan without collateral. This is because, by collateralization, the owner allows for a forced sale of the asset in any case the loan is not paid back on time. Therefore, the risk to a lender is highly reduced so the rates of interests are lowered.

This solution is advisable to someone paying out credit card debt. This is because credit cards are known to carry higher interest rates compared to unsecured loans from banks. Debt consolidation allows you to pay your loan easier and faster. By using your property as collateral, you can obtain a secured loan. This lowers your accumulated cash flow paid to clear your loan enabling you finish your loan earlier.

If you have many debts, then you should consider debt consolidation loan as it is a better way of making easier and lower payments. Debt consolidation is a perfect solution to people by enabling them to make easier and lower payments and foe quite a longer period by combining their different debts such as the credit cards and the other unsecured loans into a single monthly payment.

If you choose debt consideration, you can select between the different methods of obtaining the loans, which are either with your bank or with another bank or by working it out online.

Debt Consolidation Using Another Bank or Your Bank

Before you make a decision on whether to take up a new bank or use your bank in obtaining debt consolidation loan that you require, you should ensure that you carry out extensive research on all the available offers. Do not jump into the first offer without finding out whether there are better offers out there. Talk to people in your bank, mostly those who have earlier obtained the same loans from the bank. Since the people at you bank know you much better, they can easily offer you a better deal so as to maintain you as well as keep doing business with you.

If you consider obtaining the debt-consolidating loan from another bank, ensure that you do not settle for the first offer, Visit many different banks and listen keenly to the offers made to you. New banks have the tendency of giving a better offer as they are interested in acquiring new customers. At the end of the day, sit down and settle for the best deal. You can involve an expert to explain to you better the terms.

Debt Consolidation by Working it Online

If you choose to work it out online, you should take a lot of care, as most online dealers are not interested with you benefiting from the deal, as they only want to steal from you. Working it out online is almost similar to working with a bank, the only difference being that you are not able to talk to the people that you are dealing with directly. Therefore, you should do extensive research by contacting them and asking them many questions you can also go through the reviews about your chosen online dealers. Check for their online rating as this may give you a hint if anything is wrong with them.

The two types of debt consolidation loans; unsecured loans and secured loans where in secured loans, you need to provide property or collateral as security in case of breaching the contract. Usually people will give assets such as their houses and cars as collateral. However, not all this is necessary if the loan is unsecured. In any case, your character as well as your history determines your eligibility.

Now, the next step is to find out what you need to obtain debt consolidation loan. Here is how you can determine if you are indeed qualified for debt consolidation.

If you have many different loans from distinct lenders and you need to consolidate them.

If you are unable to pay some of your loans, therefore you want to spread them over a longer period.

If you want a single interest rate for your entire loan for your own convenience.

If you need to be able to pay lesser amounts in monthly bills.

If you are a homeowner and you need to be able to settle all your bills such as the credit card bills and store card bills by leveraging your home then definitely, debt consolidation loan is the best solution for you.

Consider the Following Information

Have you heard how debt consolidation can save you interest and lower your monthly payment? Perhaps you have heard that this is all a myth? Maybe you do not believe in consolidating your debts because of the negativity of scams out there? Before you buy into one expert opinion or another consider the following information.

A loan for consolidation can be obtained through any lender. You could go to your bank, ask for a loan that covers your debt, and pay off all of them with the money you obtain. You could approach a company that offers you this wonderful choice, have them negotiate for a lower payoff amount, pay a fee, and minimize what you owe.

Debt consolidation is designed to place all of what you owe creditors into one loan. It may or may not reduce your monthly payment. It will certainly decrease the interest you pay out. Here is why: I will say you have five creditors that you have to pay towards each month. Three of those bills have an interest rate of 12%, one has 15%, and the last is 20%. You are essentially paying 59% APR per year with these rates. Simply add all five up and you will arrive at this conclusion. The APR is the annual percentage rate, so you do indeed pay 20% to one company in this example. Now, what happens if you decide to put all of these payments into one loan? It means you have only one interest rate or APR. If the APR is 20% on your single loan that means you have reduced your interest rate by 39%.

Obviously in one way some of your monthly bills have increased in interest, yet when you look at the complete picture regarding interest rates and debt consolidation you do see a reduction of interest rates.

The monthly payment can be less if you receive a better interest rate. The monthly payment is based on the amount owed and the interest you have to pay. In terms of the debt consolidation monthly payment you have to determine what your monthly interest rate is. We will use 12% as the APR because on a monthly basis it would mean you pay 1%. Say you owe $10,000 total for all loans at 12% interest, with a 5 year payoff time. With debt consolidation this might increase your monthly payment because you are going to pay it down in a shorter amount of time than most credit cards and other loans require.

Before you consider any solution to your money issues, you need to treat the cause. The cause of why you became in debt is the only way to ensure you make the payoff and do not get into debt again. If it is a matter of a job lost than obviously there is very little you can do if it happens again. Some seek debt relief because they overspend, so if this sounds like you then treat the cause of overspending first.

Treat the Cause before Debt Consolidation

Debt solutions are only going to help you when you actively start seeking help. You have taken the first step by reading a short introduction to reviews. Now is the time to finish this step by reading the full review and examining a few of the testimonials available. It is time to make a decision about your financial situation and end your debt troubles. Until you take action you will not be able to solve the money troubles you have. Furthermore, you may get into a worse situation. Do not wait until bankruptcy is your only choice. It is not too late to speak with a representative about your situation.

When you search for relief of your financial burdens it is imperative to trust the company you work with. I wish to make certain you can through providing you with a variety of different reviews about companies I trust to offer you debt consolidation. I hope the above has been helpful to you and that the reviews will be everything you need to make an educated choice about relief.

Debt Consolidation Loans up to $100,000

Debt Consolidation Loans up to $100,000

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  • Consolidate bills into single payment

Options for Debt Consolidation

You have several options when it comes Debt Consolidation. Make sure you know which one is perfect for you.

Knowing the right things to consider when finding the right Debt Consolidation Lender is important.

We have some helpful reminders for those who are considering debt consolidation.

We’re providing you with the steps you need to take in order to start the Debt Consolidation process.

Choosing the Best Debt Consolidation Loans

To create the best list of Debt Consolidation partners for you, we’ve taken the following factors into account:

Before anything else, you first need to need to know if you qualify for the loan. Most lenders have a minimum FICO score – this represents their risk appetite. Even if you find what you believe to be the best company to get a debt consolidation loan from, you will have to look for other options if you do not meet their requirements. Therefore, if you have a relatively low FICO score, be realistic and expect higher APRs. On the other end, if you have an excellent FICO score, your options will be a lot broader.

Annual percentage rates (APR) and monthly payments

If you are looking at estimated APR and monthly payments, you should already have narrowed down the list of potential lenders on where you qualify. Of course, you want to get the best deal out there. However, understand that this is limited by certain factors, largely by your FICO score. What you will have now is a range of your potential interest rates you can accrue based on the information you gathered. Assuming you have the same loan term, the higher the interest rate is, the higher your monthly payments will be.

Aside from interest, lending institutions earn money through various fees. There are different types of fees that a lender can impose on clients, but the most common one is a prepayment fee. Your best debt consolidation loans will not come with fees unless they are very minimal. Know the fees associated with your loan. Otherwise you might be surprised when your bill comes.

If your credit rating is impeccable and you have found the perfect debt consolidation loan, you may find their payment process is indirect and very democratic. Is this still a viable option? You should always consider the accessibility and convenience of your lender. There are other concerns in your life besides settling your debt. If your chosen debt consolidation loan becomes a burden instead of making your life easier, you are better off with another creditor.

Lastly, assuming that you are no expert when it comes to how these things are handled, there must be qualified and competent customer representatives to bridge the knowledge gap for you. Even if you feel you are comfortable with a lender, you still must be certain that your concerns are addressed accurately in a timely manner. Especially when it comes to fees, there must be clear communication between the two parties. Without that, you might unknowingly hold wrong expectations and get very frustrated later on.

The decision must not be on your financial concerns alone. In the end, the loan is just as good as where you source it. Your choice must be a balance of all these factors, with some factors weighing more heavily than the others depending on your priorities.

Debt Consolidation with Personal Loans

Many individuals accumulate debt with various organizations. This can include things like student loans, credit cards, business loans, mortgages, and many other lending products.

One of the best ways to simplify this complex web of bills is with a debt consolidation loan. A debt consolidation loan is when you are given a loan to pay off other debts. The result is that your bills are consolidated into one place so you don’t have to worry about tracking multiple different payments.

You pay a fixed payment to your lender for a period of two to five years on average. Most consolidation loans are offered at a fixed interest rate, which gives borrowers the stability and predictability they might lack in their current financial arrangements.

Are you a good candidate for Debt Consolidation?

You might be a good candidate for a debt consolidation loan if:

  • You can repay your consolidation loan without accruing additional debt.
  • You have the right credit to obtain a loan at a better interest rate than your current debt.
  • You are having a hard time keeping up with multiple different payment schedules.

However, as with all financial products, there are a few things you should pay attention to:

  • Make sure you are aware of the fee the consolidation lender will charge
  • Understand what support you have access to, for example: will the lender pay your creditors directly?
  • Check if there is an advantage to having a co-signer on your loan.

Consolidation Options: Loans vs. Credit Cards

With the right credit, you can get a card that has an introductory 0% interest period. Transferring your current balances to this new card can save you money.

Something to consider, though, is that the introductory rate will eventually expire. If you haven’t paid off the balance by that point you could be in for a surprise when the bill comes due. The interest rate on credit cards is almost always higher than the interest rate on a personal loan, so if something comes up and you can’t pay off the balance on time you’ll face a large expense.

There are some distinct advantages to personal loans when compared to credit cards for debt consolidation.

The first advantages have to do with the structure of a personal loan. The fixed payments provide predictability on when you will be done paying your loan, and the interest rates are usually much lower for personal debt consolidation loans than they are for credit cards. In fact, because loans are issued through the banks, there are limits on how high of an interest rate they can have. For example, federal credit unions are typically limited to 18% per annum.

Another advantage is the way that the debt is treated on your credit report. Credit cards appear as something called revolving debt, which has a greater impact on your score than installment debt, which is how a loan is categorized. This has to do with the fact that credit cards have a credit limit, and using too much of your credit limit can negatively impact your score. These factors don’t apply to installment credit.

There are a number of ways that you can get personal debt consolidation loan, but one of the most common is to use online services to compare different lenders. Each lender has different policies and procedures, so it is important to understand how to compare different personal debt consolidation loan lenders.

Find the Best Debt Consolidation Company

Companies that do debt consolidation have a variety of methods they use and it’s vital that consumers understand the differences in each plan.

Debt management, debt settlement, debt relief and debt negotiation are all bona fide plans for consolidating debt, but there are differences in the approach used to get a result. Each one has a distinguishing feature that makes it an appropriate – or inappropriate – solution for your problem.

It’s up to consumers to sort through the choices and determine which company meets the goal of eliminating debt. Some companies maintain in-house debt counseling to assist consumers. Others refer clients to a network of companies, credit counselors and debt attorneys that offer solutions.

Debt.org compiled information on six of the top debt consolidation companies in the United States and reviewed them based on services, fees, and reviews from the Better Business Bureau. The ratings, plus tips on how to choose a debt consolidation company, are below. The star rating below is based on Debt.org’s review of each organization’s fees, transparency, Better Business Bureau rating and complaint history.

(4.7 / 5)

Debt Management Plan

Free Budget Counseling

Monthly fee up to $55 based on a percentage of your payment. Setup fee up to $75 varies by state.

InCharge is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit that specializes in credit counseling and debt management programs. Counselors are trained and certified by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. Services are available online, via phone and in-person in Orlando, Florida.

Debt management program requires commitment and patience. Won’t reduce amount owed, but can help reduce interest rate paid on debt. Excellent at helping develop a budget. The company is well-known for efforts to improve consumer’s financial literacy.

(4.4 / 5)

Origination fee 0.5%-4.95%. Late fee is 5% of monthly payment or $15. Failed payment is $15.

5.99% to 35%, depending on qualifying factors.

Prosper is an online lending service. Borrowers file financial information and are matched with investors who fund the loans. Prosper services the loans on behalf of both borrower and lender. Services are provided online and over the phone.

Competitive interest rates and quick approval process make this an appealing choice. Fee structure may be an obstacle. Process eventually will include hard inquiry on credit score, which must be 640 or better. That could eliminate some borrowers.

(4.2 / 5)

Secured & Unsecured Personal Loans

Origination fee for secured loan is $75. Fee for late payment or insufficient funds is $39.

Wells Fargo & Company is the third largest bank by assets in the U.S. and the largest by market capitalization. It offers secured and unsecured personal loans for debt consolidation. Services are available nationwide at Wells Fargo’s 6,000 retail banks, and also via telephone.

A lot of options for debt consolidation loans, but rules associated with each option can be confusing. Good credit score and equity in home or car make a big difference in interest rate charged for loans. It also helps if you do your banking with them.

(4.0 / 5)

Origination fee 1%-6%. Late fee is 5% of monthly payment or $15. Check processing fee is $7.

5.99%35%, depending on qualifying factors.

Lending Club has become a leader in online lending. Borrowers fill out an application, then company assigns credit rating and interest rates. Investors fund the loan. Lending Club services are available online, through their website.

Company offers quick response on loan requests, but rates expire in 7 days, which means you better be ready with a decision. Credit score of 660 needed. No telephone number on website a problem for customers wanting service.

(3.8 / 5)

Origination fee is 0.95% – 3.75%. Late fee is $25. Fee for insufficient funds is $15.

9.95%-36% for loans

Avant opened in 2012 and claims 450,000 customers and more than $1 billion in loans in its first four years. Application process is quick and easy to understand. You can apply for a loan by visiting the Avant website. In-person service is not available.

Good news is that borrowers with less than stellar credit score (under 700) could find help, but plenty of complaints that loan interest rates are too high.

(3.5 / 5)

18%-25% of amount settled

24-36 months for settlement

National Debt Relief specializes in debt negotiation and debt settlement. Their method of debt consolidation is to take all past due bills and attempt to reach a settlement with each creditor. Services are available over the phone only.

Debt settlement does severe, long-term damage to your credit score, a fact the company admits on its website. Some creditors won’t deal with debt settlement companies, but if you’re not worried about your credit score, this might be an appropriate option.

Never underestimate the value of customer service in choosing the best debt consolidation company. Talking about debt problems is difficult. The ability to speak freely with a credit counselor can make you more comfortable taking suggestions to help your cause.

A good debt-relief company will provide you with clear answers, and have a reputation for integrity and success. Counselors should be trained and certified by a state or national organization. They should work to make your bills more manageable.

It helps to know how credit counselors are compensated. If they receive bonuses for selling additional services, that should be a red flag. A company should make you feel like it has your best interests at heart at all times.

Most debt relief companies can help you settle your unsecured debts, including credit card bills, unsecured personal loans, payday loans, medical and hospital bills, department store credit cards, accounts in collections and certain utility bills. Some companies will require that you have a minimum amount of unsecured debt, usually $7,500 or more.

Under most circumstances, debt consolidation companies can’t help with mortgages, secured personal loans, or car loans.

An important part of their customer service is to educate you, not just on how to pay off the existing debt, but also to understand the root cause of your debt and how to avoid that in the future.

Many consumers, especially those seeking financial help, have been exploited by misleading, or blatantly false promises.

It’s a lot easier to deal with a debt consolidation company that is transparent about its practices, discloses all terms and conditions involved in doing business and freely provides information to verify whatever claims or guarantees it makes to customers.

Being transparent about business practices helps build trust between the consumer and business.

Signs of Transparency Among Debt Consolidation Companies

The easiest place to gauge a company’s transparency is likely to be its website.

There is standard information that should be available on every debt consolidation company’s website that tells you whether it has anything to hide. Some of the basics include how long the company has been in business, a page that lists its top executives, the company’s physical address, hours of operation and phone number.

If that information is easily available, you’re off to a good start. Other indications of transparency include:
  • Choice of Programs – Do they offer loans or is the focus on credit counseling and programs like debt management plans or debt settlement?
  • Cost and Fees – Do they list all the fees (origination fee, monthly fee, late payment fee) associated with loans or programs? If they offer debt consolidation loans, what are the interest rates?
  • Program Time Frame – How long should it take to pay off the debt? If you receive a loan, is there a pre-payment penalty?
  • Eligibility – Is there a minimum or maximum amount of debt to qualify? Is there a minimum credit score required? Is this only for personal debts or does it include small business debts?
  • Customer Service – Will you get a personal counselor assigned to you? Can you interact with them online or with a smartphone? Is there a page for objective reviews of the company’s performance?

When a company has nothing to hide, it should have no problem putting all that information up on its site to help consumers understand what is involved in finding solutions to their credit problems.

Company Longevity and Trustworthiness

In a marketplace where change occurs seemingly overnight, does longevity and trustworthiness really matter anymore? When it comes to your money, absolutely!

If you are struggling to keep up with credit card debt or need help with bill consolidation, finding a company that has a track record of success, helps build confidence and trust.

Companies that have been around 10–15 years develop a level of trust with customers. Their beliefs, values and performance remain consistent. Providing customers with solutions is why they are still in business.

Most of the companies involved in debt consolidation are accredited by the Better Business Bureau, which normally would be considered a positive, but the fact that nearly all of them have an A-plus rating from BBB waters down the rating.

The BBB does, however, list the number of complaints companies receive and how many of those complaints were resolved, which could be useful in making a final decision.

FTC Rules & Regulations for Debt Consolidation

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has enacted a strict set of rules governing for-profit companies operating in the debt-relief business. It’s called the Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) and most of it is meant to protect consumers from unscrupulous companies that offer debt consolidation.

While there are many aspects to the TSR, the most prominent provisions are:
  • Don’t Pay Fees Up Front – Companies can’t collect a fee for their service until they have settled or resolved the customer’s debts. The customer and creditor must agree to the settlement in writing and the customer must make at least one payment to the creditor before the debt-relief company can collect a fee. If the customer has multiple debts, the company may collect a fee for each debt settled, but no fees can be collected in advance of a settlement.
  • Know What You’re Getting in Advance – A debt-relief company should tell customers how long it will take to get results; how much it will cost for the service; and what the negative aspects of using debt relief service will be.
  • Misrepresenting Services – Companies are prohibited from making false or unsubstantiated claims about their services, including how much it costs and what percentage of customers have gotten results you seek.

Avoiding Debt Consolidation Scams

The debt-relief business is no stranger to scams. There are warning signs that should alert consumers to be careful whom they trust to solve their financial problems, but some companies still succeed.

Some of the things to watch for when choosing a company include:
  • Claiming non-profit status when they’re actually a for-profit business
  • Offering guarantees to settle your debt for pennies on the dollar
  • Seeking fees for services before reaching a written agreement with your creditors
  • Using aggressive sales pitches, asking you to act quickly on a decision that requires research and time before deciding
  • Promising a “quick fix” solution. All debt relief programs take time, most of them between three and five years. Be suspicious of promises that it can happen faster.

Payday loans seem like a handy go-to solution for people in emergency situations, but they often are the start of a downhill slide that would be better treated with debt consolidation.

A study by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) shows that 80% of payday loans get rolled over within two weeks, meaning the principle and interest — usually 300% APR or higher — haven’t been paid. The amount owed grows and the consumer falls deeper into debt. In fact, CFPB research shows that 50% of payday loans get rolled over as many as 10 times.

A better solution would be to contact a payday debt consolidation company and roll the various loans into one payment. Payday loan relief companies focus on people in severe financial trouble. The interest rate they charge is considerable, but it is nowhere near the average 391% APR attached to payday loans.

Payday loan debt consolidation companies also might help you get into a debt management program where you pay off the amount over an extended period of time.

Another form of payday loan consolidation is using a credit card to get a cash advance that would be used to retire the payday loan.

One overlooked part of choosing a debt consolidation company is the educational aspect to it. Will the customer learn anything from the experience that can be useful in avoiding future problems?

Educating and counseling consumers is almost exclusively the province of the non-profit organizations involved in debt consolidation. Non-profits are required by the Internal Revenue Service to provide an educational aspect to their service in order to retain their tax-exempt status as 501(c)(3) organizations.

Non-profits deal with this requirement by offering credit counseling, almost always at no cost. Counselors review a consumer’s finances, focusing mostly on the circumstances that caused financial problems and how managing budgets solve it.

They review the information and should offer an impartial recommendation that could involve a debt management plan, debt settlement, or even bankruptcy if the situation calls for it.

If you choose this route, be sure the company’s counselors are trained and certified. Contact the National Federation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) if you have questions about certification.

Which Debt Consolidation Company Is Best?

Choosing a debt consolidation company involves research and understanding of your situation.

The best solution happens when you know what resources are available to apply to the problem, the frame you have to solve it and then deciding which debt consolidation program works within those parameters.

For example, if you have enough money, but just need more time to pay off a debt, a debt management program might be a better choice than debt settlement. However, if you’re trying to eliminate payday loans, a company that specializes in debt settlement might be your best choice.

How will you know the difference? That is where research comes in.

You should know the nuances and definitions for the various debt consolidation programs so that you don’t confuse one with another. It’s important to find a company that offers the type of debt consolidation program you want, makes you feel comfortable dealing with their staff and their requirements, and one that educates you while you’re in the program so you never have to return.

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