Best credit counseling services of 2021
When you compare credit counseling agencies, there are a lot of questions you should ask yourself. For example, what do you hope to accomplish? And do you need one-time credit assistance or a long-term debt relief plan?
The FTC also recommends making sure you ask the right questions of the agencies you are considering, including finding out about the services they offer and the fees they charge. Ultimately, we think Cambridge Credit Counseling Corp. is the best option for most consumers who need credit counseling services, but other businesses may be worth considering depending on your needs. For example, Money Management International may be a better choice if you need advice to help you recover from a disaster, while InCharge Debt Solutions might be ideal if you prefer to manage your progress on the go and using ‘a mobile application.
Ultimately, some preliminary research should help you choose a credit counseling agency that can provide you with the help you need at an affordable price, as well as free advice to get you started.
Compare the best credit counseling services
|Company||Accreditation and memberships||Services available||Appointment format||Fees for credit counseling and debt management plans|
|Cambridge Credit Counseling Corp
|HUD Approved Housing Counseling Agency Member of the NFCC Financial Counseling Association of America||Credit counseling, debt consolidation, student loan advice, bankruptcy advice, housing advice, and debt management plans||In person or by phone||Free Credit Counseling Upfront Fee: $ 40 Monthly Fee: Average $ 30|
|International Money Management
Ideal for disaster recovery consulting
|Member of the NFCC and the Consumer Federation of America (CFA)||Advice on credit, housing, student loans, bankruptcy, disaster recovery, etc.||In person or by phone||Free Credit Counseling Upfront Fee: Varies by State Monthly Fee: Varies by State|
|InCharge Debt Solutions
Best mobile option
|Member of the NFCC Accredited by the COA||Credit advice, housing advice, bankruptcy advice, debt management plans, etc.||Online and by phone||Free credit counseling Initial fee: $ 75 (varies by state) Monthly fee: $ 33 on average|
|GreenPath Financial Wellbeing
Better national coverage
|NFCC Consumer Affairs accredited member||Debt advice, debt management, bankruptcy support, student loan advice, housing advice, debt management plans, etc.||In person, online and by phone||Free Credit Counseling Upfront Fee: $ 0 to $ 75 Monthly Fee: $ 0 to $ 75|
Best online resources
|Member of the NFCC Accredited by the COA||Credit education, student loan education, bankruptcy counseling, and debt management plans||In person, online or by phone||Initial Fee: $ 45 Monthly Fee: $ 45|
Ideal for credit coaching
|International Organization for Standardization (ISO) accreditation BBB accreditation||Credit coaching, credit counseling and debt management||Online and by phone||Upfront Fee: Maximum of $ 75 Monthly Fee: Maximum of $ 49|
Frequently Asked Questions
How does credit counseling work?
Credit counseling is a service that can help people with debt debts in several ways. Credit counseling agencies tend to offer free credit counseling services, but they also offer help with budgeting, money management workshops, and basic financial education. Credit counseling usually takes place in person or over the phone, and consumers who use this assistance receive a personalized plan to help them get back on track financially.
Will Credit Counseling Ruin My Credit?
Credit counseling will not hurt your credit and, in fact, can improve your credit score in the short and long term. Since credit counseling advises you to keep up with monthly bills, cut spending, and pay off debt, this is generally considered good for your credit health.
In contrast, another debt relief strategy known as debt settlement has the potential to harm your credit score. This is because debt settlement requires plan members to stop making payments on their debts so that they can be settled for a lesser amount.
How to choose a credit counseling agency?
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends researching credit counseling services in terms of their exams and accreditation, then checking individual companies with your attorney general and the local consumer protection agency. Also, be sure to ask the companies you are considering about what services they offer, how their services work, and what fees they charge. In the meantime, you should also know how the business makes money, if it is licensed in your state, and if you have a formal contract with it.
How much does credit counseling cost?
Credit counseling is a free service offered by credit counseling agencies. Many credit counseling services also offer free housing advice, free bankruptcy advice, and other free services. That being said, many credit counseling firms charge fees for services like debt management plans. Most debt management plans have an upfront fee of less than $ 75, as well as a monthly fee of between $ 30 and $ 50.
Investopedia compared the best credit counseling services to find the best options for consumers. We sought accreditation from third-party agencies like the NFCC as well as great user reviews with platforms like Trustpilot and Consumer Affairs. In the end, we gave preference to companies that offer free credit counseling services as well as plenty of online resources and tools. We have also given high marks to companies with online portals or a mobile app, as well as those that are transparent about the fees they charge for services.