Debt is part of most Americans’ lives. We have houses, college degrees and cars that are bought using financing, and loans and credit cards that are used to fund other purchases. The average U.S. household has $5,700 in credit card debt alone.
While carefully managed debt can help you to build your credit, it can spiral out of control if you get behind on payments. If that happens, debt settlement companies can help to get you back on track.
There is some controversy about companies that help people settle debt, and there are some companies out there that aren’t honest with their dealings. However, there are also legitimate companies that can help you to get your debt in order and save you money. Finding a good company requires knowing what to look for, searching for companies, vetting their offers and comparing them against one another. To help with your research, here are four of our top picks for best debt settlement companies in 2017.
Best debt settlement companies
First, it’s helpful to understand how these companies make their money. When you hire one, you will enroll the tax debt you want settled in the program. The company will work on reducing and settling that debt for you. When the process is finished, the company will charge you a flat fee that is a percentage of the total debt you enrolled in the program, typically 15% to 25%. The key factors to consider when choosing a company are how much it charges for fees, how much it can save you on the debt you have to pay and how much experience it has in debt settlement.
Founded in 2006, Debtmerica is a debt resolution firm based out of Orange County, Calif., that has helped more than 20,000 people resolve their debt problems. Its average debt reduction ranges from 45% to 60% of the debt enrolled in the program and it charges a fee that ranges from 20% to 24% of the borrower’s total debt. So if, for example, you had $10,000 in debt that you placed in the hands of Debtmerica Relief and it reduced it by 50%, you would owe $5,000 (50%) to your creditors and $2000 (20%)to Debtmerica Relief. You can contact Debtmerica to receive a free consultation and you won’t pay anything until your debt is settled. The company is accredited by the American Fair Credit Council (AFCC) and the International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators (IAPDA). Additionally, they have the highest rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB), an A+.
- It offers a high debt reduction percentage.
- The company has multiple accreditations.
- It has a good track record of helping many people resolve their debt.
- It has reasonable fees.
- You can get a free consultation.
- It doesn’t accept debts under $7,500
Accredited Debt Relief has more than 20 years’ experience and offers a range of debt relief options. It’s average debt reduction is 45% to 50% of enrolled debt and it charges a fee 20% to 25% of the total debt amount. Typical programs range from one to two years and the fees are paid after the debt is settled.
Each debt settlement case is handled by one adviser for the duration of the debt settlement. All applications can easily be submitted through the company website and the minimum debt amount is $1,000. The company is not registered with the BBB but is accredited by both the AFCC and IAPDA.
- Accredited Debt Relief provides its services almost everywhere in the U.S.
- It has a low minimum debt limit.
- The company has received favorable reviews as well as numerous awards.
- Its debt reduction and fees are competitive in the industry.
- The company is not accredited with the BBB but has received an A+ rating from them.
- Fees may be more expensive than some other competitors.
With availability in 41 states, National Debt Relief provides the information you need on debt settlement without subjecting you to a hard sell to sign up. It saves debtors an average of 50% on their debt and charges from 18% to 25% of the total debt.
Applications for debt settlement packages can be completed online; a minimum debt amount of $7,500 is needed. The company is also accredited with the AFCC, IAPDA and BBB.
- National Debt Relief Services is available in a wide range of states and it offers an excellent savings percentage once you enter into debt settlement.
- National Debt Relief Service is accredited with the BBB, AFCC and IAPDA.
- It has one of the higher average savings offered.
- Its fees can be lower than other companies.
- Its website offers no live chat option to speak to a representative.
- The company, established in 2009, is not as experienced as some of its competitors.
Established in 2000, Cura Debt is available in 37 states and has extensive experience in debt settlement. It is known to save borrowers about 40% of the debt they enroll in the program and charges a flat fee of 18-20% of the total debt. Applications are completed online, and you are able to speak with consultants via chat if you have any questions.
The company received a five-star rating from the website Top Ten Customer Reviews in 2016 and excellent scores from other online review companies. It is registered with the AFCC and IAPDA.
- Cura Debt is willing to work with debts as low as $7,500.
- The company has served 180,000 customers in the last 16 years.
- It has a competitive average savings rate.
- Fees are reasonable.
- It has received numerous awards for its services.
- Qualified financial counselors are available.
- Cura Debt does not offer its services to 13 states.
What makes a good debt settlement company?
There are a number of factors that you need to consider.
There should be no upfront fees. The only money you should pay is the flat fee after your debt has been reduced and settled. As per a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ruling made in 2010, this is the only way you legally can be charged fees.
No extra fees
Avoid debt settlement companies that charge any extra fees. These can take many forms, including consultation, signing or administrative fees. You should only pay the one fee after your debt has been settled.
With the sub-prime mortgage industry crash of 2008, a host of new debt management companies appeared on the market. Unfortunately, many do not have much experience in dealing with debt settlement and do not have the networks or relationships needed to establish the best deal possible for your situation. Experience is key in debt settlement, so make sure the company you choose has been around for a number of years and is reputable.
The company you choose to handle your debt settlement should have one or more of the following accreditations: the AFCC, the BBB and/or the IAPDA. The more accreditations, the better.
Check for the minimum and maximum debt limits the company has in place. You want to ensure you are within the company’s required debt amount.
High savings on debt
When choosing a debt settlement company, find one that offers you the highest possible savings on your debt. Calculate the fees along with the savings to see the net amount you will save. For example, CuraDebt offers 40% average savings and charges 18-20% for its fee so it offers 20% savings on debt.
Good customer service
It goes without saying, customer support is a crucial part of the debt settlement process. Not only should the process be explained in full before you start, but you should be able to communicate with the company effortlessly throughout the process. Look for a company that assigns one person to deal with your settlement throughout the process.
When you choose to undergo debt settlement, you want the process to be as quick as possible. A good debt settlement company will complete the settlement within one to two years and under four.
Here’s more on what you should know about hiring a debt settlement company.
Review and compare debt settlement companies
It’s important for you to do your homework before making a decision as to which company will handle your debt settlement. Each of the companies above provide trustworthy, quality debt settlement services at a good value.
Do you want to compare these with more companies? Click here to check out our debt settlement company “review and compare” page and find the right option for you.