Credit Counseling Services

The Finest Credit Counseling Services

2020 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey (NFCC) found that 62 percent of Americans have credit card debt and 43 percent carry it forward from month to month. This is 16% more than in the 2019 survey.

According to Mike Sullivan, a credit counseling firm Take Charge America said that individuals with a debt management program might see a reduction in interest rates of 15% to 20%. 

Credit counseling agencies may be necessary to help you achieve these goals. This non-profit agency has licensed counselors in consumer credit, money management, and debt relief.

We evaluated more than a dozen credit counseling agencies. They are all NGOs. We evaluated their reputations, length, services provided, accessibility, and instructional materials.

  • GreenPath is overall the best.
  • Cambridge Credit Counseling was second overall.
  • Apprisen is the best option.
  • InCharge Debt Solutions mobile app is the best.
  • Clearpoint Credit Counseling is the best in education.
  • Consolidated Credit is the best choice for veterans.
  • American Consumer Credit Counseling is the best in transparency

GreenPath: Overall, the best

GreenPath Financial Wellness is an organization that has helped people with their credit, foreclosures, and other issues for over 60 years.

GreenPath offers a majority of the common counseling services such as student loan counseling, credit counseling, debt management, and bankruptcy assistance. The organization can also assist with homebuyer assistance, reverse mortgage counseling, foreclosure avoidance, and renter services.

GreenPath offers its clients free educational tools and materials, including articles, webinars, worksheets, and calculators. Individual assistance can be sought at any of the agency’s branches located in more than 20 states.

Management of Debt

GreenPath provides free credit counseling. Depending on the amount and state of debt, a $0 to $75 per month fee is charged.

Services for Housing

GreenPath doesn’t charge any fees for rental counseling or mortgage delinquency. Pre-purchase counseling is $150, and reverse mortgage counseling is $199.

Counselling for student loans

GreenPath offers a free student debt counseling session. The additional service costs $200 and includes consultation with student loan servicers for the client until resolution is reached.

Bankruptcy Services

GreenPath can charge up to $35 depending on the type of service and financial situation.

Cambridge Credit Counseling: Best Overall Runner Up 

Cambridge Credit Counseling is a non-profit that provides credit counseling and financial literacy education.

The Financial Counseling Association of America (FCAA) and the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies (FCAA) both belong to Cambridge Credit (AICCCA). Their average experience is 14 years. All of them are accredited by the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education, the Partnership for Financial Education and NeighborWorks, and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Cambridge Credit offers financial education and debt management programs. These include videos, guides, articles, videos, and information on student loans, credit, housing, and credit. All debts will be paid off within 48 months.

Fees charged by Cambridge Credit are determined by the laws and regulations of each state. On average, Cambridge Credit charges $30.00 per month and $50 for monthly fees.

Apprisen: Cheapest price

Apprisen was established in 1955 as the Economy Budget Service Company. Apprisen provides financial aid and budgeting services for families in financial difficulty.

Apprisen can allow clients to start working with them using IRIS (the agency’s online financial tool) within 24 to 48 hours.

Apprisen provides financial counseling, debt management, and financial health programs. Propel, a subscription-based program offers financial counseling and an annual financial assessment. You will also find unique educational tools and resources.

Management of Debt

The income and the state determine how much debt management fees are charged. They do not exceed $45 per month plus a $45 setup charge. However, Apprisen may offer fee reductions or waivers for individuals who are in financial trouble.

Financial Advice

Apprisen offers comprehensive coaching for couples and solos over 12 months, with a $250 one-time fee.

Bankruptcy Education

Apprisen charges $50 for pre-bankruptcy counseling by phone and two hours of post-bankruptcy education seminars in one of its local offices.

Counselling on Housing

Apprisen provides free assistance with mortgage delinquency or foreclosure avoidance. This fee is $90 and is one-time.

InCharge Debt Solutions mobile app is the best.

InCharge Debt Solutions has offered expert credit counseling, financial literacy instruction, and debt management education since 1997.

InCharge provides credit counseling, debt management, consolidation programs, housing counseling, and student loan counseling. It also offers pre-discharge education, bankruptcy counseling, and credit counseling through its local and national partners. These tools include financial calculators, e-books, financial literacy seminars, and webinars.

InCharge offers a mobile application that allows customers to access their debt management accounts via iOS and Android devices. This app can be used to check creditor progress, update account amounts, add creditors, and more. You can also change your payment date.

Services for Credit Counseling

InCharge clients can receive credit counseling at no cost. InCharge clients are eligible for free credit counseling.

Clearpoint Credit Counseling: Best for Education

Clearpoint Credit Counseling Solutions was established in 1964. It is a division within Money Management International (MMI), the largest non-profit, full-service credit counseling agency. 

The agency is accredited with the BBB and has an A+ rating with the organization.7 We chose it as the best for education because of its affiliation with MMI and a wide range of resources, including e-books and podcasts.

Clearpoint offers all the services you would expect from a credit counseling agency. This includes budget and credit counseling as well as debt management and housing programs. It also has bankruptcy and student loan counseling. Clearpoint also helps military personnel reconnect with their lives after returning home.

Clearpoint is a leader among the other providers that we reviewed in the area of education. Clearpoint offers workshops in Atlanta and Phoenix on budgeting and credit card issues. It also guides how to maintain a healthy credit score.

Clearpoint University offers free online and on-demand courses that financial experts teach. These courses include budgeting, managing small businesses, debt reduction, rebuilding after foreclosure, and many other topics. 

Clearpoint University also offers a free download of e-books and financial calculators. Clearpoint also hosts podcasts that provide a range of money management and financial lessons.

Services for Credit and Debt

Clearpoint provides free credit and budget counseling. Prices for debt management programs vary by state, but they will not exceed $50. For $99.95, student loan counseling is possible.

Housing Services

Clearpoint provides free foreclosure prevention counseling. Clearpoint offers free pre-purchase counseling, either in person or over the phone. Reverse mortgage counseling is also available for $199.

Bankruptcy Services

Clearpoint provides pre-filing counseling, pre-discharge education, and pre-filing assistance for $50 per household.

Education Services

Clearpoint offers an 8-hour online Homebuyer Workshop at $35 per person. There are also various seminars and workshops whose pricing varies depending on where you live, how large the audience is, and what type of presentation.

Consolidated Credit: For Veterans

Consolidated Credit provides personalized credit counseling services for people who have been struggling with debt since 1993. It is an accredited agency with the BBB with an A+ rating.8 This agency was chosen as the best for veterans due to its partnership with Army OneSource. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) assists military personnel and their families in improving their financial literacy.

Consolidated Credit provides free credit counseling, as well as debt consolidation programs and debt management programs. Consolidated Credit specializes in housing counseling. This includes homebuyer education, counseling, foreclosure prevention, and reverse mortgage counseling. Consolidated Credit offers a Financial Wellness in the Workplace Program to assist employers in providing financial education to employees.

Consolidated Credit offers a range of tools and webinars and partners with Army OneSource to provide educational resources for military personnel. This includes a guide for veterans that explains how to pay bills, increase credit scores, save for retirement, and other essential topics. This agency helps military personnel plan for deployment or permanent change of station (PCS) to ensure their finances and families are well taken care of.

Consolidated Credit does not offer a transparent pricing structure on its website. However, it says that fees are determined by how much debt is owed in total and how many accounts must be paid. Consolidated Credit claims its clients pay about $40 per month for debt management programs.

American Consumer Credit Counseling: Best for Transparency 

American Consumer Credit Counseling was founded in 1991 and had 14 offices across seven states. The agency is accredited with the BBB and has an A+ rating with the organization.9 We chose it as the best for transparency because they offer an extensive FAQ page that breaks down every detail of their services.

ACCC, like many other agencies, offers financial education and debt management. The agency also provides many financial calculators, videos, and educational resources on specific topics, including budgeting, retirement planning, identity theft, information for veterans, and more.

ACCC provides transparency regarding its programs and processes. A comprehensive FAQ page includes information on everything important to clients. This includes pricing, interest rates, and client rights and responsibilities. 

Account transfers and confidentiality are also covered. Ask Talking Cents Guy is a blog feature that allows users to ask questions about finance and receive an answer via email.

ACCC doesn’t charge any fees for credit counseling sessions. The monthly fee for debt management programs is between $5 and $50. These fees may be waived or reduced by the agency for clients who are in financial hardship.

FAQs

What are Credit Counseling Services?

Credit counseling services help individuals manage debt and plan their financial futures. The trusted relationship between credit counseling services and creditors allows individuals to get better interest rates for their unsecured debts and pay them off faster through a debt management plan (DMP).

Individuals can get credit counseling to help with budgeting, debt management, and general education on smart money management.

What does Credit Counseling include?

A financial assessment of the client is a common step in credit counseling. This allows for a complete picture of the person’s financial situation and debts. An agency can then make recommendations or provide a structured service such as a DMP to manage clients’ debt.

Credit counseling services can help people improve their credit scores by helping them to budget and plan repayments and save for the future. Many provide classes and educational resources that focus on specific topics to increase financial literacy.

What does Credit Counseling exclude?

Many people mistake credit counselors for debt relief agencies. Credit counseling services are usually non profit organizations that assist clients in managing their money and debts. They often provide educational materials and workshops. On the other hand, debt settlement companies are for-profit companies that can help clients settle their debts with creditors and debt collectors.

Credit counseling agencies can’t reduce the amount of debt clients owe, but they can lower monthly payments. On the other hand, debt settlement companies negotiate a debt settlement for their customers, allowing them to pay off what they owe in one lump sum.

How much does credit counseling cost?

Nearly all credit counseling services offer a free initial counseling session. This usually involves reviewing and assessing the client’s finances and basic recommendations for money management and budgeting.

DMP is the most common service offered by credit counseling agencies. The DMP typically costs $40-75 upfront and $40-75 per month, depending on the amount owed or one’s residence.

The typical pricing for other services is $200 for reverse mortgage counseling and $150 for pre-purchase counseling. Student loan counseling costs $90. Some agencies offer free and paid educational classes.

Is credit counseling worth the cost?

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling reported that 70% of those enrolled in debt management programs had paid off or were currently paying off their debts within five years. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling reported that 70% of people enrolled in debt management plans had paid off or were paying down their debt within five years. 10

Most people think that credit counseling is only for people experiencing a financial crisis like bankruptcy or foreclosure. Credit counseling can help people with debt to avoid financial disasters. It can also help them save money and reduce overall expenses.

How to Choose the Best Credit Counseling Services

This review included nearly a dozen credit counseling agencies. We only selected agencies that had been highly rated and were well-established in this market. We wanted agencies that provided a range of educational support to maximize the value of their services.

We chose agencies that charge reasonable and competitive rates for their services, as well as free basic counselling.

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