Many people who are in debt often don’t realize that there are services that are designed to help them get out of debt. Not all of these services are legitimate, and some would try to take advantage of those in debt, so it is important to be careful when choosing a debt consolidation or settlement service.
What Is Debt Consolidation and Settlement?
Actually debt consolidation and debt settlement are two different services. Debt consolidation services help you get a loan that will consolidate all of your debt, so you are only making one payment a month. They often will negotiate a better interest rate on the loan so that you aren’t paying extra interest to consolidate. They also provide debt management and education, so you can learn how to handle your own debt.
Debt settlement services work a little differently. Debt settlement services will try to help you negotiate with your debtors so that you can settle your debts for less than what you owe. This can be a dangerous option, since some debt settlement services can use some tricky schemes to try to settle your debt, so it is good to research who you are working with before you commit.
There are not many debt consolidation and settlement services that are truly trustworthy, but we found two that seem to treat their customers with respect and play by the rules:
Best Overall: Freedom Debt Relief
Best For: All around debt relief service. Freedom Debt Relief offers a solid debt settlement service that is faster than most debt relief comapnies and doesn’t require a loan to settle your debt.
Price: Like National Debt Relief, Freedom Debt Relief charges 18%-25% of whatever debt is settled, and there are no monthly fees.
Time frame: Like all the other debt settlement programs, it generally takes between 24 to 48 months for Freedom’s debt settlement program.
Other highlights: Freedom Debt Relief has good customer service, as well as solid online tools and a dedicated personal advisor to walk you through the debt settlement program.
Available states: Like National Debt Relief, Freedom is only offers debt settlement in 34 of the 50 states,which is the max number of states that allow debt relief.
You can call Freedom Debt Relief for a free consultation at (844) 752-5316.
Best Runner-Up: National Debt Relief
Price: National Debt Relief is one of the more affordable debt consolidation services. First, it doesn’t charge a monthly service fee like most other debt consolidation and settlement services. They do, however, charge 20% of whatever you end up saving by using their services. So if your debt is $10,000, and you end up paying only $9,000, they would receive $200. On the plus side, you can get a quote and a consultation for free with National Debt Relief.
BBB Rating: A (Also accredited by both the American Fair Credit Council and the International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators.)
Features: National Debt Relief has the most features of any other debt consolidation and settlement service that we saw. It includes a free quote, flexible payment schedule, services for secured and unsecured loans, professional advisors, self-help tools, mobile access to their site and budget planners. They also allow you to have a co-signer, which is important for most people who are stuck in debt.
Guarantee: One of the reasons we like National Debt Relief is because of their 100% money back guarantee. This apparently is fair game if the service doesn’t work for you or if you are not completely satisfied with the service, although we did not test to see how easy it is to get your money back with the guarantee.
Customer Service: The site also has a comprehensive customer service program, including access to a representative by phone, chat, email and social media. Although not always the speediest, the customer service answers to our questions were always helpful and informative.
You can get a free quote and consultation from National Debt Relief here or you can call them at (844) 732-1190.
Best for Debt Settlement: CuraDebt Debt Relief
Price: CuraDebt is a little more expensive than National Debt Relief. They charge a $59 monthly fee plus 20% of what you save on the initial debt. It’s a little cheaper for debt settlement; there is no monthly fee, but they still charge 20% of what you save on the initial debt.
BBB Rating: N/A (Also accredited by both the American Fair Credit Council and the International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators.)
Features: CuraDebt was founded in 1996, which means it has been in business for more than a decade longer than National Debt Relief. CuraDebt offers most of the same features that National Debt Relief does, including free quote, flexible payment schedule, services for secured and unsecured loans, professional advisors and self-help tools. One of the things that CuraDebt doesn’t offer that National Debt Relief does is the option of having a co-signer. They also don’t offer mobile access to your account.
Guarantee: CuraDebt doesn’t offer a money back guarantee.
Customer Service: CuraDebt only offers phone and email customer service options, which limits your options. It can be difficult to get an answer, but the customer service representatives are usually helpful and friendly.
You can get a free quote and consultation from CuraDebt here or call CuraDebt for a free consultation about your debt at (888) 753-3619.