There are times that the federal government steps in to help consumers with a specific type of debt. These programs usually have a limited lifespan. Congress will set them up during a crisis and continue to renew them until consumers recover. Many of the programs you see outlined below started after the housing crisis of 2008 and the Great Recession of 2009.
One of the best things you can do is learn your rights as a consumer. For instance, many people don't realize that you can contact credit card companies directly to negotiate your own settlement or hire a lawyer to negotiate on your behalf. Bossler adds that you should make sure you're covered by getting settlement offers in writing before sending money.
American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) provides nonprofit credit counseling, debt management plans, debt consolidation and financial education services to consumers nationwide. Our certified and professionally trained credit counseling team assists consumers by providing workable solutions to their financial problems. We offer debt relief to individuals and families that are suffering from stress related to credit card debt by providing effective credit counseling, helping to consolidate debt, and advising on debt management.
As part of our debt management program, our financial counseling specialists will assist you with how to consolidate debt. Debt consolidation is an important step in lowering monthly payments to creditors and collection agencies. Unlike a debt consolidation loan, you do not borrow money. Credit card debt consolidation under a debt management plan provides you with one easy payment.

If your account is still with the original creditor, then you may be able to ask them to re-age the account in exchange for payment. The creditor basically agrees to adjust the credit history on the account to remove any missed payment notifications. Removing these missed payments will help alleviate some of the credit damage caused by your financial hardship.


A credit card consolidation loan enables you to pay down multiple credit cards and reduce credit card debt into a single loan with a fixed rate and term. It can also help you save money by reducing your interest rate, or making it easier to pay off your debt faster. A credit card consolidation loan may also lower your monthly payment. Depending on your credit profile, a credit card consolidation loan could help improve your credit by diversifying your credit mix, showing that you can make on-time monthly payments, and reducing your total debt (as long as you’re not adding any new debt).
Thank you, Jill, for sharing your Freedom story! We are pleased to be able to assist you to a brighter financial future. Please reach out to our Client Services department at (800) 655-6303 or [email protected] if you have any questions or comments regarding your account. Thank you for choosing Freedom Debt Relief to assist you on your journey to financial freedom!
By transferring your credit card balances over to a low-interest balance transfer credit card, you can reduce or eliminate all of your high-interest rates. You would have to pay off your entire balance before the introductory rate period ends, but if you can do it, you can save big money when using a balance transfer card to consolidate. Balance transfer cards charge 3%-5% of the total amount you are transferring onto the card. That’s an up-front fee, don’t forget to add this into the equation. All balance transfer cards offer this up-front fee, and sometimes much higher depending on your credit score, so be careful going this route. We often recommend this route, but only for people who have a good-excellent credit score, like near 800.
Say you owe $5,000 on a credit card with an 18% APR and a minimum payment of $100. It would cost you $4,311 in interest if you just paid the minimum. But what if you cut your monthly expenses by $25 and made a $125 payment each month instead? You would save $1,618 in interest charges and almost three years of payments. If you could find an extra $50 in your monthly budget, you would save $2,328 in interest and pay your debt off four years faster.
We are a nation that pays far too much attention to education for the young, but not financial education, just all the subjects one needs to have a well-rounded understanding of the world and our place in it. Why not give our children the financial tools for them to succeed while their minds are most formative, so they can be prepared to be entrepreneurs at an earlier age? This may be the one thing we are missing which could change our entire future as a nation.

Figuring out the best way to pay off your debt can be confusing. But using debt reduction software can take away the tedious legwork of creating a debt plan. The best debt reduction software programs allow you to enter information for multiple debts, calculate your monthly payment, and track interest amounts. Many also allow you to choose between different payoff methods depending on your needs and savings goals. For example, the debt snowball method allows you to prioritize your debts by lowest interest rate first and apply a lump sum amount to one debt while making the minimum payment on all your other debts.
Home equity loans can be risky as a method of debt consolidation if you don’t have the discipline to use the money for its intended purpose and pay down the loan on time. For starters, you could lose your home if you fail to repay the loan because you’re using it as collateral to consolidate debt that’s now unsecured. A HELOC comes with variable interest rates -- and that can add up if rates fluctuate over time.
Interest rates on loans to consumers, whether mortgages or credit cards are most commonly determined with reference to a credit score. Calculated by private credit rating agencies or centralized credit bureaus based on factors such as prior defaults, payment history, and available credit, individuals with higher credit scores have access to lower APRs than those with lower scores.[10]

This California debt settlement company offers a performance-based debt negotiation program. "Performance-Based" means, fees are only supposed to get charged after a settlement takes place. First Choice Debt Relief was created by Mr. Chris Salamipour, a well-known figure in the debt relief industry. Mr. Salamipour graduated from California State University in 2005 with a Master's Degree, prior to starting First Choice Debt Relief in 2008.
Here at Ramsey, we like cash—but this is one instance when we don’t recommend it. You have to spend thousands on a credit card to get a measly $100 cash back. And by the way, it’s probably just a credit applied to your account, not actual cash in your pocket. Plus, that cash back is a fraction of what you’ve paid in interest on the credit card debt.
A personal loan is an unsecured loan that, unlike a credit card, features equal monthly payments. Loan amounts vary with credit score and history, but generally top out at $50,000. While banks and credit unions offer personal loans, subprime lenders are also very active in this market so it’s important to shop carefully and understand rates, terms and fees.
Credit.org is a non-profit credit and debt counseling service with a 45-year plus history of excellence and integrity. Best of all, their financial coaching is available at absolutely no charge. It is important to understand how credit.org is different than other companies in the debt services space. Credit.org provides an entirely free personal financial review along with an action plan that empowers you to make smarter decisions about your options to become debt free. Additionally, they can help you reduce your debt through debt management plans (where they may have the ability to reduce the interest rates you pay).
Interesting question. I’m not sure I follow 100%, but here’s my thinking on this. You can either pay them off in full or keep that lump sum for other financial goals and savings. The benefit of paying off all the debt may very well be worth it for your peace of mind. And there’s one very important factor here–the interest rates. If those are high (say above 6 percent), then I would absolutely pay them off. If they are low, then there is an argument that you will hear people make quite frequently, which is that your money can work for you and earn a higher rate in returns via saving for retirement, other stocks, etc.
Many people find it hard to negotiate with their creditors. A debt relief program has expert, experienced negotiators that know how to deal with creditors. They take the hassle and heartache out of a fraught situation. Additionally, because debt relief companies deal with a lot of debt in different accounts, they have more leverage and can bulk their deals to get better settlements.
Maintaining interest rates at low levels is another way that governments seek to stimulate the economy, generate tax revenue, and, ultimately, reduce the national debt. Lower interest rates make it easier for individuals and businesses to borrow money. In turn, those borrowers spend that money on goods and services, which creates jobs and tax revenues.
Before engaging with a debt consolidation services agency, it’s a smart idea to consult objective consumer debt counselors who can help you determine the best way to manage your debt. At American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC), we offer free credit counseling on a variety of financial matters such as debt management, debt consolidation and credit repair.
Whether you can use your credit cards after debt consolidation depends upon the debt consolidation option you choose. If you opt to participate in a debt settlement program, you’ll likely close all your credit cards and thus be unable to continue using them. On the other hand, if you obtain a debt consolidation loan, you’ll retain control of your credit cards and be able to use them if desired. However, since the purpose of the debt consolidation loan is to pay off those cards and become debt-free, continuing to use them while undergoing debt consolidation could be counterproductive.
*Clients who make all their monthly program deposits pay approximately 70-75% of their original enrolled debts over 24 to 60 months. Not all clients are able to complete their program for various reasons, including their ability to save sufficient funds. Our estimates are based on prior results, which will vary depending on your specific enrolled creditors and your individual program terms. We do not guarantee that your debts will be resolved for a specific amount or percentage or within a specific period of time. We do not assume your debts, make monthly payments to creditors or provide tax, bankruptcy, accounting or legal advice or credit repair services. Our service is not available in all states and our fees may vary from state to state. Please contact a tax professional to discuss potential tax consequences of less than full balance debt resolution. Read and understand all program materials prior to enrollment. The use of debt settlement services will likely adversely affect your creditworthiness, may result in you being subject to collections or being sued by creditors or collectors and may increase the outstanding balances of your enrolled accounts due to the accrual of fees and interest. However, negotiated settlements we obtain on your behalf resolve the entire account, including all accrued fees and interest. C.P.D. Reg. No. T.S.12-03825.
Each week when you make a payment, subtract the amount, so you have a new balance. The point of this is to see those numbers getting smaller each week. It’s motivating. We also didn’t list dates for the second debt on the list because as we get to the end of each debt, we might reach just a little further so we can pay it off a week or two earlier.
Now, that's not to say that everything is free when you use credit.org for debt relief coaching. For example, if you're looking for a more traditional debt management plan - to help you pay off your debt faster, reduce your interest rates, create a realistic budget, consolidate payments, and/or stop collection calls - you may pay a small enrollment fee along with monthly service costs.
Increased credit utilization: As part of your DMP, you'll be required to close the credit card accounts you're paying off under the plan. When you close a credit card, the amount of credit available to you shrinks, which increases your credit utilization rate (the amount of available credit you're using). Credit utilization accounts for 30% of your FICO® Score☉ , so closing accounts can negatively impact your scores.
As a connection service rather than a direct debt relief lender, the loan products that LendingTree offers and their terms and conditions naturally vary with each individual lender. One advantage of using LendingTree is the ability to survey multiple lenders' debt relief offers without having to disclose one's personal information to those lenders. You only have to make yourself known when you've made the decision to apply for the loan that best fits your debt relief needs. Borrowers can also use offers obtained on LendingTree to negotiate directly with lenders; LendingTree provides customers with lenders' direct contact information for that very purpose.
Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi's underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)
Contact your bank and stop payments to the agency servicing your debt management program as soon as you become aware the agency has shut down. You should immediately contact the creditors involved and ask if you could continue paying them directly or would they work out another payment plan. Also, ask for a credit report and verify that previous payments you made to the DMP agency were sent to your creditors. If payments were missed, there could be some negative consequences to your credit score. Finally, you could contact a nonprofit credit counseling agency and ask them to intervene on your behalf with your creditors.

But others prefer putting the extra payments toward the remaining card with the smallest balance. Stevens calls this the “debt domino” approach. “You order your credit card debt from smallest balance to largest, independent of interest rate, and attack the smallest debt first to get a quick win,” she explained. “Seeing the total number of balances go down can be a real ego-boost and motivator to keep going. I used this approach when I was trying to stay motivated when I was attacking debt.”


5. Make a plan to avoid new debt. A debt consolidation loan can wipe the slate clean and allow you to start fresh with no credit card balances or other credit commitments. Although it may be tempting, avoid using your newly cleared accounts to shop or manage household expenses unless you can easily pay off the balances each month. You don’t want to create new debt to manage on top of your debt consolidation loan.

Bankruptcy is generally considered your last option because of its long-term negative impact on your credit. Bankruptcy information (both the date of your filing and the later date of discharge) stays on your credit report for 10 years, and can make it difficult to get credit, buy a home, get life insurance, or get a job. Still, bankruptcy can offer a fresh start for someone who’s gotten into financial trouble.
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