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In order to answer that question, you'll first need to have an idea of what kind of help you need.
Are you looking for basic advice on how to improve your credit score, qualify for a mortgage, or identify the best student loans? Or are you already in a sticky situation and hoping to find a path that lets you reduce or eliminate some of your credit card debt, consolidate loans, or get tax debt relief from the IRS? All of those efforts can be found with credit counseling services - but many providers only specialize in one or two particular areas.
Monday, January 25th
Credit.org should be your first stop when looking for credit counseling you can trust. Almost all of their services are free of charge, and even the ones that are fee-based are extremely affordable. You'll find help for everything from student loans to buying a home for the first time, both through Credit.org's counselors and their informative website. This nonprofit organization has an excellent reputation spanning almost 50 years, and we confidently recommend Credit.org as our top provider of credit counseling.
The credit counseling services offered by ACCC (American Consumer Credit Counseling) are thorough, cover a wide range of topics, and are almost entirely free of charge. While some of their specific programs may come with a nominal fee, such as debt management or consolidation, you won't pay anything to work with a credit counselor to analyze your situation and get an accurate list of to-dos to move you closer to your goals: being debt-free, paying off credit cards, and so on. Consumer Credit is extremely trustworthy and offers many resources directly on their website, even before you work with a counselor. ACCC is one of our top providers of credit counseling today.
NFCC is the biggest, longest-running credit counseling nonprofit organization in the US. They serve as a clearinghouse for vetting other nonprofits that provide credit help, and so they can connect you with a reputable service in your area. Although the NFCC doesn't provide credit counseling themselves, their website offers numerous resources to help you understand the process and to be well-informed even before you're matched with one of their partner organizations.
CuraDebt has a solid reputation for offering credit counseling in the form of debt relief services: consolidation, payment plans with the IRS, and so forth. If that's the kind of help you need, this service is definitely worth considering. However, there are two dozen states where their services aren't available, and you won't find some of the additional resources offered by providers who specialize in credit counseling of all types.
American Debt Enders has been around for over a decade, aiming to help people like you to have a life free of debt. You're not going to be blown away by their less-than-cutting-edge website, but if you look hard enough you'll find lots of free resources for credit counseling. However, if you want related services like debt consolidation, ADE only works as a middleman, so you'll wind up being referred to a partner provider.
Understanding credit can be confusing, and just a few unwise or desperate decisions can lead you downhill fast. It's a horrible feeling when you start getting "past due" notices or phone calls from collections agencies - and even more gut-wrenching to learn that your mortgage is going into foreclosure. Unfortunately, more and more Americans are finding themselves in all of those situations as the economy struggles.
The good news is that there is help available - and often at little or no cost to you. Some credit counseling services are strictly non-profit and can give you as much guidance as you may need, as well as connect you with resources you can use to get your house in order, literally. Other providers, particularly those who focus on debt consolidation and other relief strategies, usually give you an initial consultation for free; you'll only be charged a fee if you use their services, which generally comes out as a percentage of the money they save you by reducing interest rates and negotiating lower amounts owed with your creditors.
As you can see, no two credit counseling providers are equal. Which one is right for you? Here are several factors to consider as you evaluate the options:
TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best credit counseling services available today. We hope this information helps you find the right advice for your financial situation!
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