Debt consolidation is the process of combining multiple unsecured debts such as credit cards, medical bills, student loans, high-interest loans, and other bills into one monthly payment.
Paying multiple debt payments every month to multiple creditors can be overwhelming. This is one of the biggest challenges to achieving financial freedom for many Americans. A debt consolidation loan helps you pay off all the debt you owe to multiple lenders. So you can continue to make a single payment to one lender – your debt consolidation provider.
What is debt consolidation
Simply put, debt consolidation is a type of loan that can be used to pay off multiple debts. For instance, you may have one or more credit cards bills, personal loans, student loans, medical bills or payday loans with outstanding balances that need to be paid every month. You can payoff the debt with debt consolidation loan. Going forward, all you have to pay is just one monthly payment – the debt consolidation loan.
This kind of loan—a debt consolidation—will take care of these debts and convert them into a single, easier monthly payment which is usually lesser than the previous ones you have been making combined.
If this is done right, debt consolidation loans will clear your debt and boost your credit score within a given period of time. The first thing you should do is to review the top debt consolidation BBB accredited companies offering the best debt consolidation loans and find out the one that’s best for you.
Top 10 Best Debt Consolidation Companies 2021
America’s Top Debt Relief Company
They are one of the biggest debt consolidation companies in the country. They work on your behalf to help you get a lower amount of debt, like a debt forgiveness program. Freedom DR is so good because they have excellent negotiation skills. A lot of their clients have settled more than 50% of their debts, having to pay only half of what they owed.
They give free consultation services where an expert helps to find out the best solution to getting well-fitted debt consolidation. The expert then creates a custom strategy for you in order to help you pay your debts.
- Predefined monthly payment
- There are various debt relief loan options
- You have free consultation with certified debt consultant
- You can pay off debt in less than 5 years
- Does not affect your credit score
- You need a good credit score
- Debt settlement requires you not to pay your debt for sometime
- Principal debt may not be reduced
- Federal loans or collateral-based debt are not accepted
- Results may vary for customers
Debt Relief Made Easy
Accredited Debt Relief provides debt consolidation without a loan. They provide customized solutions to help you reduce what you owe without needing to file for bankruptcy.
They offer a 3 phased approach. First, get free consultation with an accredited debt specialist. This specialist will help you plan your debt relief strategy.
Second, you’ll open a savings account that will be in your control. This account is where you send your monthly deposits. The money in this savings account is what will be used to pay off creditors in the final stage of your debt resolution.
Meanwhile, you will cease communication with your creditors and stop using their line of credit. At this point, debt consolidators begin negotiating your settlements.
Lastly, the debt specialists complete negotiations and creditors agree to a settlement. This is sent for your approval. The money accumulated in your savings will now be used to pay off your creditor in full. Once this is done, your debt becomes “resolved”.
Accredited Debt Relief also provide other services such as
- There’s an online dashboard to keep tabs on your debt settlement
- You won’t pay any fee until your debt is paid off
- Free consultation
- Worry-free money-back guarantee
- Transparent assessment of costs, risks and processes
- Savings are 5%-10% less than their competitors
- They’re not available in all the 50 states
- You may receive calls from creditors until debt is settled
- No debt consolidation loan
- They’re accredited by the AFCC but somewhat indirectly accredited
Top rated debt consolidation company
National debt relief is one of the popular debt consolidation companies. National Debt Relief offers low starting fees and industry higher-than-average savings. They offer debt consolidation loans for private student loan debt. National Debt Relief is BBB and AFCC accredited with good track records.
Once you decide to hire National Debt Relief, you begin to send a specific amount of money into an escrow account only you can control. Once you have reached a threshold, they will begin to negotiate with your creditors.
As soon as they reach settlement with your creditors, they will use the funds in your account to settle the debt. If you have not accumulated enough money to cover the settlement, they will offer you a payment plan. Once you accept this payment plan, your debt would be consolidated into one payment spread into a 24-48 months payment period -depending on your principal debt.
- They offer 100% money-back guarantee
- National Debt Relief provides relief some private student loans
- They offer low minimum of $7,500
- They are not available in all states
- Their service may impact your credit score
Top credit counseling company
Consolidated Credit can help you reduce your total debt by up to 30-50%. They have been in operation for over 27 years and have been able to achieve $9.5B+ in debt relief to their customers. They are one of the biggest credit companies in the country.
Consolidated Credit offers 3 main debt consolidation solutions – credit card balance transfer, personal debt consolidation loan and debt management program (recommended). They also provide additional debt relief services such as credit counseling, debt management program, debt settlement, mortgage help, free credit repair and much more.
For anyone seeking debt consolidation for bad credit, you may want to check out their nonprofit consumer credit counseling. With a credit counseling service, your credit score will not be considered. You only need to meet an adjusted payment plan on your personalized debt management plan. You can learn how the process works here.
Start with a free consultation. You get assigned to a credit counselor. You and the credit counselor will create a payment plan that works for you. Once you approve, your credit counselor negotiates with your creditors to lower your debt. After all your creditors sign off, the program begins. You make one payment to the credit counseling agency each month.
- They have an effective online presence with client portal
- No minimum debt required
- They are available in every US state
- Extensive knowledge base – financial calculators, videos, webinars, blog and more
- They do not accept secured loans and payday loans
- You may not be able to take additional debt until you complete paying your debt
Consumer friendly debt management company
Pacific Debt has been in the business of debt relief for more than 20 years, and they’ve handled about $300 million worth of debt. They are reliable and have been rated as one of the best in the industry.
They can help you with virtually all types of debt, and they charge no upfront fees. You have to pay only if and when your debt is settled.
Start with a free consultation. A debt specialist will review your situation and budget. After which a personalized plan is created. Once you are approved, a personal account manager will be assigned to you to oversee your settlement over a 24-48 months period.
- Their average savings is 20%-50% of original debt
- They’re credible in the industry
- There are no upfront fees
- Online customer portal to track progress
- They offer educational resources
- Low savings compared to competitors
- Not available in all states
- You will receive creditor calls
This company will help you with both consumer and business debt relief services. They have various options they use in debt management. They handle all types unsecured debt, credit card debt, car loans, utility bills and personal loans.
US Financial Alliance offers consumer financial solutions such as debt relief, credit repair, loan modification, student loan refinancing and tax relief. They also offer financial solutions for businesses including debt and tax relief.
You start with a free no-obligation debt-relief consultation. They provide possible debt relief solutions. Once you enroll in their program they provide guidance and negotiate with your creditors until your debt is completely eliminated.
- You can be debt-free in 24-48 months
- They work with a wide range of unsecured loans
- You’ll get free financial assessment
- They have no debt consolidation loans available
- You have to wait out the entire program once you start
Good for personal loan and student loan refinancing
They’re the perfect financial agency in the 21st century. They work with top lenders to get the lowest rates and the most flexible loan terms available. You can get a personal loan or refinance your student loan.
With Fiona, clients take a debt consolidation loan, settle their debts at once and have just a single monthly payment to make. They also help you to review different loan options and rates.
- They have great comparison and filtering tools
- They work with the best lenders in the country
- The platform is user-friendly and easy to use
- They’re not a direct lender
- Having lots of offers can get overwhelming
Online Personal Lender
Avant is an online lender offering predictable monthly payment by offering unsecured personal loans. They partner with WebBank to help middle-income Americans access loans with less barriers.
Avant debt consolidation loans are more suitable for people with low credit scores and planning to build their credit.
- Get your loan the next business day
- You can check estimated rate without affecting your credit score
- You can change your payment date
- They offer secured loans
- BBB Accredited
- They do not negotiate with creditors on your behalf.
- They don’t offer direct payment to creditors
- High interest rates
- Late payment fees, insufficient funds fees can add up quickly
- No co-sign or joint loan option
Get debt and tax relief with legal expertise
CuraDebt provides debt relief for credit cards, medical bills, other unsecured debt and tax debt. They have been in business since 2000. They provide services such as debts pay off, Chapter 7 bankruptcy, chapter 13 bankruptcy, debt management, non-profit consolidation, secured debt consolidation, unsecured debt consolidation and debt settlement.
CuraDebt takes a different approach towards debt consolidation. They negotiate your debts down by first looking for legal violations committed by your creditor to see a possibility of clearing all your debts.
Their debt relief services include tax debt relief, debt settlement and debt negotiation.
- They can help you get higher than average savings
- CuraDebt offers relief for back taxes
- They go after the legality of your debt
- Lacks transparency as it is difficult to get basic information
- Spotty website
- Poor customer service
No upfront fees
American Credit Card Solutions (ACCS) has been in business for over 10 years with good reviews from their customers. They offer debt relief solutions such as credit counseling, debt consolidation, debt settlement, cash-out refinance and bankruptcy services.
With ACCS, you can get help with unsecured debt. You start with a free evaluation. Get a debt savings estimate. If you approve the evaluation, you can enroll in their program until your debt is paid.
- No upfront fees
- 30-day trial period
- Debt relief tools available – calculator, budget planner
- Not available in all states
- They do not offer tax relief
- May affect credit score
Debt Consolidation Alternatives
Discover provides a variety of debt consolidation programs that can help you achieve your financial goals. These include balance transfer, personal loan, home loan and student consolidation loans.
You decide which debt to pay off. You review and compare the best debt consolidation program that fits your needs. Then you can start paying down your debt.
Wells Fargo also offers personal loans. This loan can help you refinance your debt by consolidating your high interest rate credit cards and other debts. They offer a debt consolidation calculator that can help you estimate options for lower interest and payment terms
You can easily apply online for Wells Fargo debt consolidation. Once approved, funds are available the next business day.
USAA does not offer debt consolidation. Alternatively, USAA offers personal loans. The personal loans can be used to pay off bills and save on interest fees and charges. A customer can access up to $20,000. However, this loan cannot be used for student loan debt consolidation.
You can apply online. Learn your rate and get your money the business day or within 24 hours.
Bank of America Debt Consolidation
Bank of America does not offer debt consolidation loans. However, you can check out their credit assistance page for more information on credit card assistance. Get more information on making payments, managing debts and credit counseling.
Chase Debt Consolidation
Chase bank does not offer debt consolidation services, debt consolidation loans or unsecured personal loans. However, customers can use their balance transfer Chase Slate credit card to to consolidate their loans. Customers can also use their home as collateral for a Home Equity Line Of Credit (HELOC).
Frequently Asked Questions
Is debt consolidation a good idea?
Debt consolidation loans are good for you in managing different debts and are a wonderful idea for people who are really serious about repaying their debts and improving their credit scores. Bear in mind, you will need a good credit score to achieve maximum success with debt consolidation programs.
Debt consolidation can help you save money on high interest debts, lower your monthly payment and increase your credit score.
Do debt consolidation loans affect your credit score?
Yes it can affect your score. However, it depends on how you go about your debt consolidation. It is advisable you work with a specialist to avoid any negative effect on your credit score.
Your credit score may initially fall because taking a debt consolidation loan requires a credit check. However, as time goes on, when you pay off your debt, your score will improve.
However, you can improve your score by taking out a new loan and leaving consolidated accounts open but unused. This will allow you to have more total available credit. This creates a lower credit utilization ratio which can improve your credit score.
What are the dangers of debt consolidation loans?
There is no assurance debt consolidation loans will have lower interest rates than your current debts. You may end up paying more interest especially when doing this by yourself without expert help. This will eventually lead to more debt.
Are debt consolidation companies credible?
Yes, there are lots credible debt consolidation companies that offer debt consolidation loans. Conducting due diligence about the companies you will like to work with will definitely help you find a respectable one. Look out for their accreditation, past customer reviews, fine print, fees, interest rates and so on.
How long does it take to complete debt consolidation programs?
Debt consolidation programs can take anywhere from 12 months to 60 months. However, on average it takes 24-48 months.
What is the average minimum debt for debt consolidation?
Most companies offer anywhere between $7,500 to $10,000 as low minimum.
How much fees do debt consolidation companies charge?
Most debt consolidation companies charge between 15-25% of total enrolled debt. If you have bad credit, you may expect to get charged around 1-5% for origination fee.
What kind of debt do debt consolidation programs fix?
You can get debt consolidation help with unsecured debts like credit cards, personal loans and lines of credit, collections and repossession, medical bills, student loans, IRS debt, back taxes, business debts and any other debt specifically offered by the debt consolidation provider.
Debt consolidation programs don’t often fix debts like lawsuits, utility bills, auto loans, government loans, mortgage loans and most secured debts.
An Overview of Debt Relief
When do you consider debt consolidation?
You should think of debt consolidation when
- You struggle with multiple debts
- The total amount of your debt is $7,500 or more
- Your debts are unsecured – medical bills, credit card debt, personal loans, business debts
- The interest for the debt consolidation loan is lower than the interest rate of your debts
It’s also important to know when NOT to take a debt consolidation loan.
If you have a huge loan and a terrible spending habit you don’t want to stop, then this isn’t for you. It’s true that a debt consolidation loan can lift the burden of your debt, it can only work if you are serious about making an effort to clear your debt. If you clear your debt quickly, there’s that temptation to use your credit card and spend more. Therefore, you have to be careful so as not to have more debt than before.
How will a lower APR help me?
An APR is the most important thing to put into consideration as you compare and consider different debt consolidation loans. It refers to the annual percentage rate, and it’s a bit different from interest rates. This is the difference:
- Interest rate: This is the percentage a lender will charge you for giving you a loan
- APR: This is the interest rate plus the fees the lender charged when giving a loan
Therefore, the APR is a broader view of the cost of taking a loan. What it means is that if you get a lower APR, you’ll pay out less over the duration of your loan. A lower APR really means that you have to pay less money.
How Does Debt Consolidation Work?
Debt consolidation is good for you whether your math is good or not. This is how it basically works:
For example, let’s assume
- You have 4 credit cards and you owe $5,000 total.
- Also you have a total of $25,000 in student loans balance to be paid off
- And you have a private loan that you took out for a small business totaling $10,000
Every month, you’ll have to pay a certain percentage (depending on the minimum requirements and the APR on the specific loan) of the amount you owe to each lender. So let’s assume you pay $100 towards the 4 credit cards, $200 towards your student loan and $150 towards your private loan. The total loan you pay monthly is $750.
These monies are subtracted from your overall balance, and this goes on until you settle the entire debt amount. But this is how it would work with debt consolidation:
- You’re given a new debt consolidation loan for the total amount of your debt, $40,000.
- You payout the 4 credit card creditors – $5,000
- You settle your student loan balance: $25,000.
- And then settle your private loan balance: $10,000.
You’re now free of debt, right? In a way. You do not have any outstanding debt to pay. The only payment you have to make is the debt consolidation loan. You now have a single monthly payment instead of six different ones. This is good in two ways:
- You have one debtor to worry about now, so you have a lesser monthly payment to make.
- You do not have to worry about five separate payments that have different amounts, different payment schedules and more.
- And most importantly, you will pay a smaller amount because your interest rate is now lower.
How to Choose the Best Debt Consolidation Company
You should find a debt consolidation company offering the following perks:
1. Lower interest rate and fees (and of course, a lower APR)
The APR is the most important factor. You can save a large amount on your debt consolidation loan with a lower interest rate. But with a higher one, you’re just killing your credit score. Also watch out for any hidden fees.
2. Help from certified experts
A lot of people do not have good financial knowledge and how things like these work. Therefore, it’s necessary that you get a good debt consolidation lender that would help you out by guiding you through the whole process.
Getting help from financial experts will increase your chances of getting a desired result especially if you want to complete the program without compromising your credit score.
3. Loan terms and repayment flexibility
Some terms and details might be different from one lender to the other. So you should find a lender who has flexible loan terms so you can be free to pay without any hitch. Ensure they offer payment flexibility such as online payment,wire transfer, mobile apps, payment via phone or mail. The more ways you can pay, the better.
Stay away from companies charging origination fees if you have a good credit score. Find lenders with grace periods. understand their fees and penalties before joining their programs.
4. Good customer service
This is quite important when you need help. Research companies to ensure they have good customer services. Check reviews, BBB ratings and other platforms to learn what people are saying about them.
I now have to define some necessary debt relief terms. This is to enable you to be comfortable when approaching companies that would help you with your debt.
Types of Debt Relief
Before you approach or speak with any debt relief agent, learn some more information about debt relief alternatives that might be a better fit for you.
This entails bringing together all your debts in one place, and having only one bill to pay per month. The top advantage is the opportunity to have reduced interest rate and lower payments. The top drawback is the potential minor short-term damage to credit score.
Some debt relief companies use private investors and banks to help you pay off your debts. For you to get the loan, you may have to present a collateral.
This is the easiest way to handle a debt crisis situation. You meet with the people you owe money and find a way to negotiate better loan terms. This will be to your advantage because working with your creditors gives you credibility and helps you to know the best plan that works for you.
A debt management provider talks with your creditor to get you a lower interest rate or longer loan term. The top advantage is having smaller, more manageable monthly payments to make. While a big drawback is the forced closure of other credit accounts which will affect your credit score.
Ways to improve your terms:
- You can increase the time of your loan for lower monthly payments
- Negotiate a lower rate of interest
- Lower the overall debt if possible
You can find help in trying to manage your debt from debt relief companies or debt counselors who can help you get new budgets and repayment plans.
This is an agreement between a debtor and a creditor to lower the total amount you have to pay for the debt to be considered “paid in full”. This new and reduced amount can be paid over a couple of months.
A debt attorney will talk with your creditors to get them to agree to a partial repayment. A great thing about debt settlement is the opportunity that you can be released from part of the debt. A big drawback is it staying on your credit report for the next 7 years.
Balance Transfer Credit Cards
A balance transfer credit card with 0% introductory APR creates an opportunity for you to transfer your credit card debt. With your new balance transfer credit card, you do not have to make any interest payments for up to 21 months. Bear in mind, you will pay a 3-5% balance transfer fee doing this.
On average, debt consolidation takes between 24-60 months. So this may be a good alternative if the situation fits your needs.
Home Equity Loans
This involves using your home as a collateral. This becomes a secured loan with a better interest rate than any unsecured loan. This low interest helps you secure lower interest loans and maybe a better alternative to debt consolidation if you’re a homeowner.
The big disadvantage here is that you will lose your home if you cannot make payments.
Bankruptcy comes with significant consequences. Use it as a last resort if you can’t pay your debts as it will seriously affect your credit negatively and be on your report for up to 10 years.
You will get a debt reprieve but be ready to lose your valuable possessions. However, if you have huge debts and you’re being sued by creditors, you may want to consider declaring bankruptcy.