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Best Credit Counseling Agencies

Credit counseling agencies are a dime a dozen, but choosing the right agency can feel like a game of Russian Roulette. How do you know who to trust? What can you expect? We compiled a list of the five best credit counseling agencies to help you answer those questions.
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    InCharge Debt Solutions Logo

    InCharge Debt Solutions

    Star Rating 4.7 (4.7 / 5)


    Cost: Free

    Availability: Online; By Phone

    Timeframe: 20-40 minutes

    Accreditations:

    • Nonprofit
    • COA
    • NFCC
    • HUD Approved
    Company Description:
    InCharge Debt Solutions is the best mix of quality credit counselors, online counseling and customer care. They have a large online presence with tons of educational material and information covering all angles of personal finance.

    Services:

    • Credit Counseling
    • Debt Management
    • Housing Education & Counseling
    • Bankruptcy Counseling
    • Student Loan Counseling

    Founded in: 1997

    Money Management International MMI Logo

    Money Management International

    Star Rating 4.2 (4.2 / 5)


    Cost: FreeAvailability: Online; By Phone;
    In-Person

    Timeframe: 45-60 minutes

    Accreditations:

    • Nonprofit
    • COA
    • NFCC
    • HUD Approved
    Company Description:
    MMI is a network of nonprofit credit counseling agencies with 39 branch offices in 29 states. Their mix of online credit counseling and physical locations give them the edge over other offerings.

    Services:

    • Debt Counseling
    • Debt Management
    • Bankruptcy Support
    • Student Loan Counseling
    • Credit Report Review
    • Homebuyer Counseling
    • Foreclosure Prevention & Support
    • Reverse Mortgage Counseling

    Founded in: 1961

    Greenpath Logo

    GreenPath

    Star Rating 4. (4 / 5)


    Cost: Free

    Availability: By Phone; In-Person

    Timeframe: 1 Hour

    Accreditations:

    • Nonprofit
    • COA
    • NFCC
    • HUD Approved
    Company Description:
    GreenPath focuses on “financial wellness” with a people-centered approach. They have longevity and a lot of locations with 43 offices in 22 states, but they do not offer online credit counseling.

    Services:

    • Debt Counseling
    • Debt Management
    • Bankruptcy Support
    • Student Loan Counseling
    • Credit Report Review
    • Homebuyer Counseling
    • Foreclosure Prevention & Support
    • Reverse Mortgage Counseling

    Founded in: 1961

    Cambridge Credit Counseling Logo

    Cambridge Credit

    Star Rating 3.8 (3.8 / 5)


    Cost: Free

    Availability: By Phone

    Timeframe: 30-60 minutes

    Accreditations:

    • Nonprofit
    • ISO 9001
    • FCAA
    • HUD Approved
    Company Description:
    Cambridge credit counseling prides itself on the quality of its credit counselors. Counseling can only be accessed over the phone, however, their counselors average 13 years of experience.

    Services:

    • Credit Counseling
    • Debt Management
    • Housing Counseling
    • Foreclosure Intervention
    • Reverse Mortgage Counseling
    • Student Loan Counseling
    • Bankruptcy Counseling

    Founded in: 1996

    Consolidated Credit Counseling

    Consolidated Credit

    Star Rating 3.5 (3.5 / 5)


    Cost: Free

    Availability: By Phone

    Timeframe: 30-60 minutes

    Accreditations:

    • Nonprofit
    • ISO 9001
    • FCAA
    • HUD Approved
    Company Description:
    Consolidated Credit is based in Fort Lauderdale and focuses on financial education. They have partnered with over 500 organizations to provide financial literacy education to underserved communities.

    Services:

    • Credit Counseling
    • Debt Management
    • Housing Counseling

    Founded in: 1993

    All five have a clean reputation and a similar process. During a credit counseling session, you can expect to get a budget review, debt analysis and a personalized action plan. Sounds like some business jargon, but what does it really mean?

    First, they are going to ask you questions about your income and expenses. Then, they will take a look at your credit report to determine who you owe and how much you owe. Finally, they will give you some options based on the information they’ve gathered.

    What Is a Credit Counseling Agency?

    Credit counseling agencies help individuals in debt understand their finances and find a solution. They are usually nonprofit companies that may also provide debt management, pre-bankruptcy counselinghousing counseling and homebuyer education, and student loan counseling in addition to credit counseling.

    Credit counseling from a nonprofit agency is free, however, nonprofits still need money to cover expenses. That means their revenue comes from other sources like grants and fees from debt management programs.

    Debt management is a form of debt consolidation in which a credit counseling agency is the go-between you and your creditors. They have agreements in place to lower interest rates for qualified clients in order to make payments more affordable. The client makes one payment to the credit counseling agency, and they distribute the money to the client’s creditors.

    Debt management is the real bread and butter of credit counseling agencies.

    How to Find a Credit Counselor

    The easiest way to find a credit counselor is through the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC). The NFCC is a nonprofit network of member agencies. In other words, they do not perform the credit counseling themselves. Rather, they will refer you to one of their member agencies, which must be properly vetted.

    A credit counseling agency must meet these standards to become a member of the NFCC:

    • Register as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit
    • Comply with the NFCC member quality standards
    • Provide financial counseling in compliance with federal and state laws
    • Be accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA)

    The Financial Counseling Association of America (FCAA) is another network of member agencies similar to the NFCC.

    All of the credit counseling agencies on our top five list are accredited by either the NFCC or the FCAA. If you see these accreditations, you should feel confident that they will be working in your best interest.

    Sources:

    1. Jackson, Tom (2019, April 18) Credit Counseling. Retrieved from https://www.incharge.org/debt-relief/credit-counseling/
    2. NFCC (2016, November 8) Member Quality Standards. Retrieved from https://www.nfcc.org/about-us/membership/