The Finest Services in Credit Counseling

The Finest Services in Credit Counseling

Get out from under your debt and make your future finances more secure

Through a procedure that is entirely separate from being influenced by advertisements, we determine which items are the best and then offer them to you. If you decide to visit one of our recommended partners, we might get paid for it. For additional information, please see our advertiser disclosure. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) conducted the Consumer Financial Literacy Survey in 2020. They found that 62 percent of consumers had credit card debt 12 months before the survey's administration, and 43 percent carried that debt over from month to month (16 percent greater than in 2019). According to Mike Sullivan, a credit counselor at the non-profit Take Charge America, individuals with a debt management plan can reduce their interest rates by 15 to 20 percent. You may require the assistance of a credit counseling service to accomplish these goals for yourself. A credit counseling service is a non-profit organization that employs certified counselors who have been trained in consumer credit, money and debt management, and financial planning. These organizations assist individuals in developing individualized strategies to resolve their debt issues and provide sound advice regarding financial planning. We examined close to a dozen different credit counseling programs, all run by non-profit organizations, using reputation, length of time in operation, variety of services offered, ease of access, and instructional resources. The following are some of our top picks.

The top 7 credit counseling services for the year 2022: Lessons to help you improve your financial situation

  1. Overall winner: GreenPath
  2. Second best overall: Cambridge Credit Counseling
  3. Highly recommended for affordability: Apprisen
  4. Highly recommended mobile app: InCharge Debt Solutions
  5. Highly recommended for students and education: Money Management International
  6. Highly recommended for veterans: Consolidated Credit
  7. Highly recommended for transparency: American Consumer Credit Counseling

1. Overall winner: GreenPath

Since its founding in 1961, GreenPath Financial Wellness has been assisting people with managing various financial issues, including debt, foreclosure, and bankruptcy. Because of its long history and extensive network of traditional, brick-and-mortar offices throughout the country, we decided it was the best option overall. GreenPath provides the majority of the conventional counseling services, such as assistance with credit and student loan counseling, debt management, and support for filing for bankruptcy. Additionally, the group aids customers in preventing foreclosure and providing support during the process, assisting homebuyers, counseling for reverse mortgages, and information for renters. In addition, GreenPath offers its clients free access to various educational resources and tools, such as articles, online seminars, webinars, calculators, worksheets, and guidelines. People looking for more tailored support to their specific needs can meet with a counselor in person by visiting any of the agency's various branch offices located in over 20 states.

Debt management

A session of credit counseling with GreenPath will not cost you anything. The initial setup price for debt counseling can range from zero dollars to fifty dollars. The monthly fee can range anywhere from zero dollars to seventy-five dollars, depending on the state and the total amount of debt that needs to be repaid.

Services relating to housing

Mortgage default counseling and rental counseling are provided free of charge by GreenPath. There is a fee of $199 for counseling regarding reverse mortgages. In addition to that, a fee of $150 for counseling for pre-purchases is charged.

Student loan counseling

A student loan counseling session with GreenPath is provided at no additional cost. An additional price of $200 for the enhanced service includes working with a customer's student loan servicers until a resolution is found that is satisfactory to all parties.

Services related to bankruptcy

GreenPath may charge up to $50 for bankruptcy services. However, this amount is contingent on the client's current financial status and the manner of bankruptcy filing chosen.

2. Second Best Overall: Cambridge Credit Counseling

Since 1996, Cambridge Credit Counseling has been operating as a philanthropic organization that offers credit counseling and instruction on how to become financially literate. Because of its strong reviews and its experienced and qualified counselors, we decided to make it our runner-up choice. The Financial Counseling Association of America (FCAA), as well as the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies (AICCCA), are organizations in which Cambridge Credit participates. The organization's counselors have an average of 14 years of experience. They are accredited by organizations such as the Partnership for Financial Education, NeighborWorks, the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education. In addition to providing counseling for credit, housing, bankruptcy, and student loans, Cambridge Credit also provides debt management plans and financial education. This education can be done through articles, videos, guidebooks, or worksheets, depending on the particular medium. The company asserts that it can cut interest rates on credit cards from 22 percent to 8 percent and monthly credit card payments by 25 percent. The loan is paid off in less than 48 months. The laws and guidelines that govern each state determine how Cambridge Credit calculates the fees that the company charges. The maximum amounts for the organization's initial and monthly fees are capped at $75 and $50. The average amount for each is $40.00 for the initial cost and $30.00 for the monthly fee.

3. Highly recommended for affordability: Apprisen

Apprisen was established in 1955 under its original name, the Economic Budget Service Company, to assist families struggling financially and provide budgeting and advice services. Because it offered the lowest full setup and monthly fees of any researched agency, we determined it presented the best value for money. IRIS is an encrypted online interactive financial tool that Apprisen provides to its customers so that they may begin working with the company right away. Within twenty-four to forty-eight hours, IRIS will collaborate with a financial expert to carry out a complete financial analysis and provide a bespoke action plan for the client. Customers may also make an appointment at any of the twelve branch offices spread out across the states of Kentucky, Ohio, Kansas, Missouri, and Tennessee. Apprisen provides most of the basic credit counseling services, such as debt management and financial wellness programs, bankruptcy counseling, credit counseling, student loan counseling, housing counseling, and counseling for housing. Additionally, the organization provides a subscription-based financial wellness program known as Propel. This program includes on-demand financial coaching, a yearly financial checkup, a comprehensive savings plan, and exclusive educational tools and resources. Propel can be obtained by clicking here.

Debt management

Individuals experiencing financial hardship may be eligible for a fee reduction or waiver from the agency. There is a maximum one-time setup cost of $45 and a monthly price of $45 with Apprisen's debt management service. However, these fees will never add to more than $90 total.

Coaching for financial matters

Apprisen charges a one-time cost of $300 for holistic solo or collaborative coaching sessions over a period of twelve months.

Education regarding bankruptcy

At the cost of $50 per session, Apprisen provides pre-bankruptcy counseling sessions over the phone and post-bankruptcy education courses that last for two hours and can be attended at any one of the agency's local offices.

Counseling for housing

Apprisen does not charge its clients for mortgage delinquency counseling, foreclosure prevention counseling, first-time homebuyer counseling, education, or first-time renter counseling sessions. The organization charges a one-time fee of $90 to clients who are already negotiating with a mortgage lender to participate in pre-purchase mortgage counseling sessions.

4. Highly recommended mobile app: InCharge Debt Solutions

Since 1997, InCharge Debt Solutions has provided a wide range of services, including expert credit counseling, debt management services, education regarding bankruptcy, housing counseling, and education regarding financial literacy. Because it allows users to check on and make adjustments to their debt management plan using their mobile phones, we found that it was the best mobile app to use. This is why we voted it as the winner. In addition to providing traditional services such as credit counseling, debt management, consolidation programs, housing and student loan counseling, pre-file credit counseling, and pre-discharge education for bankruptcy filers, InCharge also provides a wide range of other services. In addition, the organization provides access to a variety of educational tools. These tools include financial calculators, e-books, workshops, and webinars on financial literacy, delivered in collaboration with local and national partners. Last but not least, InCharge provides its customers with a mobile app that grants them access to their debt management accounts. Users can adjust their payment date, see the status of creditor proposals, update their account balances, and add creditors to the program while they are on the move.

Counseling services for credit

Clients can make use of InCharge's no-cost credit counseling service, which includes reviews of their current budgets and debts and advice. The fees that are charged by InCharge for its bankruptcy, housing, debt management, and student loan counseling services are not made public.

5. Highly recommended for students and education: Money Management International

Money Management International (MMI), established in 1958, is currently one of the largest non-profit, full-service credit counseling agencies in the United States. It provides access to such a diverse assortment of educational materials as lectures, e-books, and podcasts. Due to this, we have decided it is the most helpful platform for learning. MMI offers all of the typical services that are associated with credit counseling. These include budget and credit counseling, debt management and housing programs, and bankruptcy and student loan counseling. They even offer a program to assist military service members in reestablishing themselves and reconnecting with family and friends after they have returned home from active duty. MMI also provides online counseling and a mobile app for managing debt and the services listed above and is one of the few organizations open around the clock. Additionally, MMI has branch locations in 25 different states. Clients have the opportunity to enroll in MMI University for free online on-demand courses covering a variety of topics. Topics range from debt reduction, restoring their credit after a foreclosure, managing a small company, and more. In addition, MMI provides free budget guides, webinars, and a blog that discusses various financial themes and various money management tactics. MMI provides students with the option to work with a counselor over the phone for $99 or access a self-guided student debt counseling portal for $39.

Services Relating to Credit and Debt

MMI is pleased to provide free budget and credit counseling to all clients. The cost of participating in a debt management program can vary from state to state, but it will never be more than $50. Counseling for student loans can be obtained for $99, and sessions for reviewing one's credit report cost $59 each.

Services relating to housing

MMI also provides free counseling to help people rebuild their lives after natural disasters and prevent foreclosures. Both in-person and telephone consultations for pre-purchase counseling cost $149. In-person consultations for reverse mortgage counseling cost $199.

Services related to bankruptcy

MMI charges $50 per household for pre-filing counseling and education and pre-discharge education.

Services to educate

MMI provides a variety of seminars and workshops, the prices of which change depending on the venue, the size of the audience, and the presentation style. One is an eight-hour online Homebuyer Workshop that costs $35 per person. The organization also has a speakers bureau with subject-matter experts and a group called MMI Peer Advocates, which comprises former customers eager to talk about their experiences with the general public. Project Porchlight is the name of the free post-disaster counseling program provided by MMI. This program is backed by Fannie Mae, HUD, and other organizations. MMI also offers services adapted to the needs of other vulnerable communities, such as the Hispanic Centers for Financial Excellence and the Military Reconnect program.

6. Highly recommended for Veterans: Consolidated Credit

Since 1993, Consolidated Credit has been helping clients who have trouble managing their debt by offering them individualized credit counseling services. Because of its partnership with Army OneSource and the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which aims to assist service troops and their families in improving their financial literacy, we deemed it the most beneficial option for veterans. Housing counseling is the agency's area of expertise. Other focus areas include first-time homebuyer education and counseling, foreclosure prevention counseling, and reverse mortgage counseling. The conventional credit counseling services offered by Consolidated Credit are free of charge, and the company also provides debt consolidation and debt management plans. Additionally, Consolidated Credit provides a financial wellness program to assist companies in educating their staff members on financial matters. Consolidated Credit collaborates with Army OneSource and the Veterans Administration to provide educational opportunities for military personnel. These resources include a variety of webinars and tools that you may access online. One of these is a hands-on manual for veterans that leads them through the fundamentals of paying bills, housing possibilities, raising credit scores, saving for retirement, and other topics. In addition, the organization assists personnel of the armed forces who are preparing for deployment or a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) to assist them in making preparations for their families and finances. Consolidated Credit's website does not provide clear price information; however, it mentions that the company's fees are calculated depending on the total amount that is owed and the number of accounts that need to be paid off. Additionally, it asserts that its debt management program subscribers pay approximately $40 monthly on average.

7. Highly recommended for transparency: American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC)

American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) is a non-profit organization established in 1991. It currently has 16 offices spanning eight states and Washington, District of Columbia, where it provides private consumer credit counseling services. Because they provide a comprehensive FAQ website that describes every aspect of their services in great depth, we deemed it the most transparent option available. Consumers all around the country can receive assistance from the ACCC in the areas of debt management, budgeting, bankruptcy, housing, and student loan counseling, as well as education about their financial situations. The agency also provides a variety of monetary calculators, movies, and instructional resources on various issues, such as budgeting, retirement planning, identity theft, information for veterans, and more. You can find these tools on the agency's website. In terms of providing transparency regarding its processes and programs, the ACCC goes above and above what is required. A detailed page of frequently asked questions (FAQ) covers all of the critical topics to the company's customers, including price, interest rates, customer rights and duties, account transfers, confidentiality, and more. Ask Talking Cents Guy is another service users may access on the ACCC's blog. This option enables users to ask personalized questions about personal finance and receive an email response. Credit counseling services provided by ACCC are offered at no cost to clients. A one-time payment of $39 is required to enroll in a debt management program, and a monthly maintenance fee ranges from $7 to $70. Clients experiencing financial difficulties may have their costs waived or reduced by the organization.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What do we mean when we talk about credit counseling services?

Individuals can get assistance with managing their debt and planning for their financial futures through credit counseling services. Because of the mutually beneficial relationship between credit counseling agencies and creditors, consumers can negotiate lower interest rates on their unsecured loans and pay them off more quickly when using a debt management plan (DMP). Individuals who seek the assistance of credit counseling services may also receive assistance with bankruptcy counseling, creating budgets, administering student loans, and general education regarding the effective handling of financial matters.

What falls under the scope of credit counseling?

A financial assessment of the client is often where credit counseling gets started. An organization can either provide a customer with straightforward recommendations or a more organized service, such as a debt management plan (DMP), to assist with debt management. The goal of this study is to gain a picture of the individual's obligations and their overall financial picture. Individuals can improve their credit scores with the assistance of credit counseling services, which can help them build budgets and repayment plans and create savings strategies for their future financial security. Many provide their customers with educational resources and workshops on various topics to help them become more financially literate.

What does not fall under the scope of credit counseling?

Credit counselors are sometimes confused with debt relief services by the general public. Credit counseling services are often non-profit organizations that assist clients in managing their finances and debts. These services also frequently provide instructional materials and courses to their clientele. Inversely, debt settlement companies are private enterprises that operate for-profit and offer the service of mediating debt settlements with creditors or debt collectors in exchange for a fee. Credit counseling services cannot reduce the total amounts of debt their clients are responsible for paying. Still, they can reduce their clients' overall monthly payments. On the other side, debt settlement businesses work to negotiate a debt settlement on behalf of their clients, enabling them to pay off what they owe all at once in a single payment.

How much does it cost to get credit counseling?

Nearly all services that offer credit counseling will conduct the introductory credit counseling session at no cost to the client. In most cases, this is an analysis of the client's financial situation, including their debts and finances, and some fundamental suggestions for budgeting and money management. The debt management plan (DMP) is the most common service provided by organizations that offer credit counseling. Depending on the total amount owed and the state in which one resides, this will generally cost between $40 and $75 upfront and a monthly fee ranging from $40 to $75. A one-time fee of $200 is charged for counseling about reverse mortgages. In contrast, pre-purchase counseling costs $150, and student loan counseling costs $90. These prices reflect the typical pricing for the other services. In addition, specific organizations provide both paid and unpaid educational opportunities.

Does receiving credit counseling justify the cost?

According to a survey conducted by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling about one of their programs, seventy-three percent of participants who participated in debt management plans reported making more consistent payments toward reducing their debt. In a similar vein, participants increased their credit scores by 50 points. They decreased the amount of revolving debt they carried by $8,000 in just 18 months. The vast majority of individuals are under the impression that credit counseling is only available to those currently going through severe financial hardship, such as filing for bankruptcy or losing their homes. On the other hand, credit counseling can genuinely assist those who are struggling with debt in avoiding such catastrophes and beginning to save money while also cutting their overall spending.

How dis we determine that certain organizations provide the very best credit counseling services?

In this analysis, we looked into over a dozen different credit counseling programs. We made sure that the organizations we hired had a solid reputation in the industry and a long history of providing quality service. In addition, we were looking for organizations that provided a range of educational support options for the majority of the services they offered. In the end, we choose organizations that provide free initial counseling and charge costs that are both reasonable and competitive for the services they provide.

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