Best For Veterans: Consolidated Credit
Since 1993, Consolidated Credit has been providing personalized credit counseling services to people facing challenges with debt. We chose it as the best for veterans because it partners with Army OneSource and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to help military personnel and their families improve their financial literacy.
Consolidated Credit offers free standard credit counseling services as well as debt consolidation and debt management programs. The agency specializes in housing counseling, including homebuyer education and counseling, foreclosure prevention, and reverse mortgage counseling. Consolidated Credit also offers a financial wellness program to help employers provide financial education to their employees.
In addition to offering a variety of webinars and tools, Consolidated Credit partners with Army OneSource and the VA to offer educational resources for military service members. These include a practical guide for veterans that walks them through the basics of bill paying, housing options, increasing credit scores, saving for retirement, and more. The agency also helps military service members plan ahead before deployment and Permanent Change of Station to ensure their families and finances are taken care of.
Best Mobile App: Incharge Debt Solutions
InCharge Debt Solutions
InCharge Debt Solutions has been offering professional credit counseling, debt management services, bankruptcy education, housing counseling, and education in financial literacy since 1997. We chose it as the best mobile app because it offers an easy way for users to check and make changes to their debt management plan using their mobile phones.
InCharge offers many typical credit counseling services, including credit counseling, debt management, and consolidation programs, housing and student loan counseling, and pre-file credit counseling and pre-discharge education for bankruptcy. The agency also offers a number of educational resources, including financial calculators, e-books, and financial literacy workshops, and webinars through local and national partners.
Finally, InCharge offers a mobile app that lets clients access their debt management account on any iOS or Android phone. Users can view creditor proposal status, update account balances, add creditors to the program, and change their payment date on the go.
How Do I Choose A Credit Counseling Agency
The Federal Trade Commission recommends researching credit counseling services in terms of their reviews and accreditation, then checking individual firms with your state Attorney General and local consumer protection agency. Also make sure to ask firms you’re considering about the services they offer, how their services work, and the fees they charge. Meanwhile, you should also find out how the company makes money, whether they are licensed in your state, and whether you’ll have a formal contract with them.
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Non Profit Debt Consolidation Program
Get Out of Debt and Stay Out of Debt
Its our hope our mission as a nonprofit credit counseling agency to help prevent consumers from falling into the debt trap and help those already in trouble. Our online education resources provide comprehensive information regarding the effects of best credit counseling over debt collection and money management.
The first step toward tackling your debt is recognizing exactly how it started. Our certified credit counselors will go through all your various secured and unsecured debts to get an accurate picture of your financial situation. After, theyll work with you to help you create a budget that fits your needs.
Unsecured Debt Vs Secured Debt
What do we mean by unsecured debt? Debts that arent attached to specific assets are considered unsecured, whereas debts that are attached to specific assets are considered secured. See below for a few examples of both types of debt.
Nonprofit Credit Counseling: How it Works
If youre having trouble making ends meet, youre not alone. The average American household owes more than $15,000 in credit card debt. And with the average cost of living continually increasing, its no wonder more and more people are falling in debt.
Our consumer credit counseling services help you stay on track with your monthly payments. In addition to our credit-savvy advice, our credit counselors offer a variety of ways to help you better manage your finances.
Be Debt Free. Faster.
What Can I Expect From A Session
Expect to share information about your income, debts, expenses and use of credit, as well as your short- and long-term goals. If youre expecting changes to your finances, like a reduction in salary, thats important, too. The more honest you are, the better theyll be able to understand your financial situation and offer strategies for paying off debt and managing credit.
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Best Overall: Cambridge Credit Counseling Corp
Cambridge Credit Counseling Corp.
We chose Cambridge Credit Counseling Corp. as our best overall due to their excellent user ratings and the variety of counseling services they offer.
High user satisfaction ratings with Consumer Affairs
Offers credit counseling, debt consolidation, student loan counseling, bankruptcy counseling, housing counseling, and debt management plans
Transparent about fees
Physical offices are only located in Massachusetts and New York
Established in 1996, Cambridge Credit Counseling Corp. is a 501 not-for-profit agency that provides an array of services for debt-strapped consumers. This company was chosen as best for our ranking due to their exceptional user reviews as well as their accreditation. Not only is Cambridge Credit Counseling Corp. a HUD-approved housing counselor, but they are also accredited by the Financial Counseling Association of America and a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, the two major trade associations within the credit counseling industry.
This provider provides a free consultation to help gauge your needs and your next best steps. They also offer an array of services including credit counseling, bankruptcy counseling, student loan counseling, housing counseling, and debt management plans.
The 7 Best Credit Counseling Services Of 202: Lessons To Boost Your Finances
GreenPath Financial Wellness was founded in 1961 and has been helping people manage debt, foreclosure, bankruptcy, and credit challenges. We chose it as the best overall because of its long history and network of brick-and-mortar offices across the country.
GreenPath offers most standard counseling services including credit and student loan counseling, debt management, and bankruptcy support. The organization also assists clients with foreclosure prevention and support, homebuyer assistance, reverse mortgage counseling, and resources for renters.
GreenPath also provides its customers with free educational resources and tools, including articles, online classes, webinars, calculators, worksheets, and guides. Those looking for more personalized support can visit one of the agencys numerous branch offices in over 20 states to speak with a counselor in person.
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How Can I Find A Legitimate Credit Counselor
Reputable credit counseling organizations advise you on managing your money and debts, help you develop a budget, and usually offer free educational materials and workshops. Their counselors are certified and trained in the areas of consumer credit, money and debt management, and budgeting.
A reputable credit counseling agency should send you free information about the services it provides without requiring you to provide any details about your situation. If a firm doesnt do that, consider it a red flag and go elsewhere for help.
When youre choosing a credit counseling agency, check for the following:
- The counselors are accredited or certified by an outside organization.
- The agency offers a range of services, and is not trying to push a specific product, such as a Debt Management Plan..
- The price is clearly stated up-front and there are no hidden fees
- No significant consumer complaints have been filed against the agency or its counselors. You can check this with the Better Business Bureau, your state Attorney General or local consumer protection agencies.
Best Mobile Option: Incharge Debt Solutions
InCharge Debt Solutions
We chose inCharge Debt Solutions due to their mobile app and online client portal, both of which help their clients manage their debts and credit online or on the go.
Mobile app and client portal available
Offers credit counseling, housing counseling, bankruptcy counseling, debt management plans, and more
Transparent about fees
Not available 24/7
Only one physical location in Orlando, Florida
InCharge Debt Solutions is a 501 nonprofit organization that has been helping clients get out of debt and improve their credit since 1997. They have helped more than one million people pay off $3.4 billion in debt since their inception, mostly through credit counseling and their debt management plans. We chose InCharge Debt Solutions for this ranking based on their robust online features, including an online client portal and a unique mobile app. InCharge Debt Solutions is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling and is accredited by the Council on Accreditation .
InCharge Debt Solutions manages their business online, over the phone, and through their mobile app. The company only has one brick-and-mortar location in Florida, so they’re not a good option for in-person debt relief help.
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More Information About Us & How We Approach Things
Weve given non-profit consumer credit counselling since 1996. 95% of people who contact us are typically helped for free. The only time someone pays for our services is if they decide to go onto our Debt Management Program. This consolidates all of someones credit card and other unsecured debt payments into one affordable monthly payment that has significantly reduced or 0 interest. This program protects peoples privacy, allows them to restore their credit, eliminates their debt, and gets their finances back on track as quickly as possible. Its just one of many tools we have to help people.
If youd like one of our professionally trained counsellors to take a look at your situation and help you figure out what all your options are to get back on track, give us a call today at . All youve got to lose is your debt.
The also provides alternatives to filing for bankruptcy in the Greater Toronto Area.
Need some help?
If you want help figuring out the best solution for your unique situation, call or chat with us online. Were here to help.
How To Use The Resources Offered By Nfcc And Fcaa
For anyone who is deciding whether or not to seek financial counseling, starting that journey with the NFCC or the FCAA is a good first step. In addition to identifying member agencies, you will also find lots of informational articles at NFCC.org that can help you understand key concepts such as the differences between debt management, debt settlement, and credit counseling, or when you might consider bankruptcy.
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How To Get Help From Credit Counseling Services
- Small business owners
- People with debt
If youre interested in using nonprofit credit counseling services, its important to know what to look for. Some of the key things to consider when comparing credit counseling agencies include:
- Accreditation and certification. Ideally, you should be working with a credit counselor thats certified and affiliated with the National Foundation for Credit Counseling or with the Financial Counseling Association of America , which also has a network of member nonprofit credit counseling agencies from which you can choose.
- Services. If youre looking to a credit counselor for help, its important to know exactly what services they offer. This can help you find a credit counseling agency thats a match, in terms of what you need help with most.
- Cost. When working with a nonprofit credit counselor, keep in mind that free credit counseling may not be a given. There may be a small one-time fee or monthly fee involved, depending on which services youre using. The NFCC encourages member credit counselors to keep fees as low as possible, sobefore agreeing to anythingbe sure to understand what you may be asked to pay.
- Debt minimums. You may need to have a certain amount of debt to qualify for a debt management plan. So check to see if theres a required minimum if youre looking for debt counseling specifically.
What Is A Credit Counselor
Credit counselors are trained to take a holistic look at your finances and help you reduce debt and use credit responsibly. Counselors review your finances, including your income, expenses and debts. Depending on your needs, they can help you create a personalized budget, a debt repayment plan or a general plan of action for your finances.
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What Is The Financial Counseling Association Of America
The Financial Counseling Association of America is the second major nonprofit membership organization in the industry. Established in 1993, the FCAA doesnt have the history the NFCC does, but it provides an important service for member agencies and, in an indirect way, for consumers.
For a credit counseling agency to become an FCAA member they need to adhere to our standards and best practices need to show proof of accreditation by an independent third party and counselor certification and need to provide documentation that they are licensed/registered in the states they offer services, said Lori Pollack, the executive director of FCAA in a phone interview with The Balance. What this means for consumers is that they are working with legitimate, licensed companies.
The FCAA says it checks members licensing status in each state on an annual basis. Not every state requires licensing, but we know which states do, and want to make sure we have members that are compliant, said Pollack.
While the FCAA does not interact directly with consumers, it does field occasional consumer calls about credit questions. It refers such callers to member agencies that are licensed in the consumers states.
Best For Credit Coaching: Debtwave
We chose DebtWave due to their selection of credit education and coaching options, which are all aimed at helping you build excellent credit for the long term.
Financial education seminars and events available
Online calculators and tools available
Offers credit counseling and debt management
Online client portal
Not a member of the NFCC
Founded in 2001, DebtWave is a reputable credit counseling agency that offers free credit counseling services, debt management plans, and credit coaching meant to help you improve your credit score. They also offer more financial education resources and tools than most, as well as online calculators to help you assess your financial situation. An online client portal also lets you track your program progress online and at any time of the day or night.
While DebtWave is a reputable credit counseling agency, they do not have a membership with the NFCC. They also have only one location near San Diego, California, so you’ll likely conduct your debt relief plan with DebtWave over the phone.
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What Is The National Foundation For Credit Counseling
The National Foundation for Credit Counseling is the largest and oldest nonprofit organization for the financial counseling industry. Established in 1951, the NFCC provides a range of services for people seeking guidance and direct assistance on financial matters.
We act as a matchmaker to help consumers find the right agency that meets their needs depending on the type of problems that theyre having, said Bruce McClary, NFCCs senior vice president of communications, in a phone interview with The Balance. In addition, the NFCC acts as a consumer advocate to improve financial education and services.
In order to be a member of the NFCC, an agency must be a 501 nonprofit organization. Consumers can know that if they see the NFCC stamp, this organization has not only complied with the NFCCs ridgid 18 standards, but also has been independently reviewed by a third party accreditation servicean additional level of standards, said McClary. All members must be accredited through the Council on Accreditation or receive ISO 9001 certification through Bureau Veritas, both of which are widely respected industrywide, McClary said.
File A Complaint About A Debt Collector
Report any problems you have with a debt collection company to your State Attorney General’s Office, the Federal Trade Commission , and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau . Many states have their own debt collection laws that are different from the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Your state Attorney Generals office can help you find out your rights under your states law.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Credit Counseling
That depends on your accounts. If you hold accounts jointly, then you would need to go through credit counseling and debt management program enrollment together. If you maintain separate accounts and only wish to enroll your debts, then you can complete the process without your partner.
Thank you for submitting your question!
Our financial coaches will review it and reach out to you directly with the answer at the email you provided. If you prefer not to wait, please call to speak with a certified credit counselor for a free consultation.
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What Questions Should I Ask Before Choosing
An agency should be able to show you that theyre certified and licensed to provide services in your state. Then ask what services they offer, what fees youll be expected to pay, and how they safeguard your personal information. If a credit counselor cant answer these questions or puts you ill at ease, keep looking.
Best Online Resources: Apprisen
We chose another reputable credit counseling company, Apprisen, as best for online resources due to their unique and helpful tools. This agency offers IRIS, a specialty tool that lets you enter information and receive an analysis from a financial specialist.
IRIS tool lets you receive a financial analysis from a financial specialist
Offers credit health education, student loan education, bankruptcy counseling
Transparent about fees and services online
Locations only in Kentucky, Ohio, Kansas, Missouri, and Tennessee
Originally founded in 1955, Apprisen has a long history of helping clients get out of debt. This company is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling and is accredited by the Council on Accreditation . We chose them due to their focus on technology and their online tools, including IRIS. This tool allows consumers to enter some basic financial information and receive a financial action plan, including any debt relief solutions worth considering.
In addition to credit counseling, Apprisen offers credit health education, student loan education, bankruptcy counseling, and financial coaching. They also offer bankruptcy counseling to help you decide if you are prepared for bankruptcy, or if you should consider the alternatives. Consumers who need third-party help negotiating and repaying their debts can also use Apprisen for a debt management plan, provided they pay an upfront fee of $45 and a monthly fee of $45 throughout the program.