Consumer Debt Counseling

Debt Counseling can HELP your debt problems

Your financial situation is different from someone else. The debt relief service that works for someone may not be the best choice for someone else. You should take the time to understand all the debt relief options available to you to find the best solution for your needs and goals.

What Is Credit Counseling

Consumer Credit Counseling services (or consumer debt counseling) is a process by a third-party company or advisor to provide you information, guidance and support on budgeting, money, credit and debt management. Certified credit counselors help people that have overextended their use of credit to regain control of their financial situation by avoiding excessive debt that cannot be comfortably maintained. Often consumer credit counseling is performed at no or minimal cost to you.

For those that need a formal, structured approach to managing their debts, credit counseling companies also offer a Debt Management Program (DMP) service. In this case, you are enrolled in a DMP and the credit counseling company serves as your proxy negotiating with your creditors. This process includes setting up a repayment plan with your creditor as well negotiating reductions in interest charges and penalties fees.

Non-Profit | For Profit

Non-Profit Credit Counseling

Non-profit credit counseling agencies are supported through third-party grant money. Credit card companies provide grants to non-profit agencies as a means to help their customers get out of debt. This helps them reduce charge-offs and legal costs of collections (financial losses).

The non-profit credit counseling services related to debt evaluation, budgeting and education are entirely free. If you choose to enroll in a Debt Management Program, there is a nominal fee for enrollment and a monthly administrative fee.

For Profit Credit Counseling

For-profit credit counseling agencies are supported by the user fees charged for their services. This means that their services will generally be more expensive than the non-profit agencies. Their credit counseling services are basically the same.

If you are struggling with excessive debt, non-profit credit counseling is probably the better option since you will be paying fewer out-of-pocket costs. However you may find that a for-profit credit counseling agency is a more convenient fit for your particular needs.

How Does Credit Counseling Work?

A certified credit counselor will conduct a debt relief consultation reviewing your particular financial situation. This process is normally conducted via telephone and takes about 30 minutes. The credit counselor will present to you the various debt relief options available to you. You get an unbiased, expert opinion about what you need to do to get out of debt while minimizing damage to your credit profile.

Consultation | Debt Management


The credit counselor will ask for some basic information:

    • Your Income
    • Current unsecured debt, plus mortgage and auto loans
    • Monthly expenses – food, clothing, school, transportation. Everything.
    • Current credit card balances, late payments, APRs
    • Other unsecured loans – medical, private student and personal loans

The credit counselor will run a soft credit inquiry of your history to determine whether there are late payments, collections, etc. This does not negatively impact your credit score.

After review, the credit counselor builds a “profile” of your financial history. The counselor can then recommend various debt relief options including.

    • Balance Transfers
    • Debt Management Program (DMP)
    • Debt Consolidation
    • Debt Settlement

The credit counselor is required to be neutral and present ALL your debt relief options, even if their agency does not offer the service, for example Debt Consolidation or Debt Settlement.


The DMP is a central fund administered by the credit counseling agency.

The credit counselor will review with you which non-secured debts, like your credit cards, medical bills, and personal loans you wish included. You will NOT have access to any credit card in the DMP. You might keep one credit card out for emergencies.

Based on your budget and debts, you and the credit counselor will determine a monthly payment amount.

Your credit counselor works with your lenders to agree to participate and lower your debt costs (APR and late fees).

You make monthly deposits to the credit counseling agency

The credit counseling agency uses your deposits to pay your creditors monthly.

Normally there is a set up fee and monthly fee for administration.

The basic benefits of a DMP include:

    • Reduce And Stop Debt Collector Calls
    • Potentially Lower Debt Interest Rates
    • Lower Monthly Payments
    • Waiver Of Late And Over Limit Creditor Fees
    • Potential Paying Off Your Debts Faster
    • Improving Your Credit Score By Making Consistent, On-Time Payments

Credit Counseling Services Considerations

Is It Right For You?

Most Americans, particularly starting their financial life, have difficulty budgeting their finances, paying the bills on time and carrying excessive amount of credit card debt.

Credit counseling offers you a third-party, independent financial expert who can analyze your unique financial situation.

You can benefit from the financial education provided and recommended debt relief actions.

If a Debt Management Program (DMP) is recommended, it will not eliminate your unsecured debts but will help you get them under control. It can be a successful debt relief option when:

    • Your unsecured debts (credit cards, medical bills, personal loans) are at least $5,000 or greater.
    • You have monthly income to set aside to fund the DMP. If you are unemployed, no option.
    • The unsecured debts are with the original lender, rather than a collection agency. Otherwise the lender has “charged off” the debt (taken a loss) and there is less chance a collection agency will participate.
    • The majority of your unsecured debt should be credit cards to take advantage of a reductions in interest rates and penalty fees.
    • Unsecured debts like medical bills and personal loans benefit more by renegotiating a payment plan or seeking debt settlement.

Does This Affect My Credit

A primary benefit of participating in credit counseling is that it is credit neutral. Your current credit profile (excellent, good, fair or poor) remains the same starting out.

Your credit consultation, where the credit counselor runs a soft credit check, has no affect.

If you successfuly participate in a DMP, your credit history will demonstrate on time, consistency of credit card debt payments. This is positive to your credit history.

Your existing credit cards accounts will identify participation in a DMP and lenders will not approve opening new ones.

As your credit card debt is paid off, assuming you do not assume new debt, your Debt-To-Income ratio will improve. This is positive to your credit history.

You can apply for additional credit, like a house mortgage or auto financing. These secured loans, if approved, will add to your debt burden.

Your life goes on.

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This Internet site provides information and reference material to consumers. It is intended to help connect them with providers of products and services that may assist them in their financial needs.