Disclaimer: This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation (at no cost to you) when you click on links to those products. Read our Disclaimer Policy for more information.
The best debt settlement companies – also referred to as “debt relief” or “debt adjusting” companies – will legally negotiate with your creditors. During this arduous process, the debt settlement company will reduce the total amount of debt that you owe to the creditor. If successful, the rest of the dept will be forgiven, which means you do not owe anything extra! If you are positive debt settlement is the best option for you then check out our roundup of the best debt settlement companies (for 2020).
If you are still unsure if partnering with a debt settlement company is right for you, then follow a long because we put together the most comprehensive guide for you to read. Our research uncovers the benefits, consequences, and process of working with one of the best debt settlement companies. By the end, you will know if debt settlement is the best financial option for you and which debt settlement company is best for you.
What is debt settlement?
Debt settlement is when a company will directly communicate and negotiate with your debts/creditors to reduce the amount of debt you owe. However, the way they negotiate with your debtors is confusing, so it is important you research into each debt settlement company and find out how they approach the negotiation process.
When can you use a debt settlement?
Debt Settlement traditionally only works on unsecured debt (examples: Credit Card Debt, utility bills, medical bills, or any loan that does not have an associated collateral). If you are carrying an unhealthy amount of unsecured debt (usually more than $10,000) then you are in the position to work with a debt settlement company.
What Do debt settlement companies do?
Debt Settlement companies negotiate with your debtors to either lower your monthly payment or reduce the total amount of debt owed. Now, be careful. There are a lot of companies out there that claim they are experts when it comes to debt settlement, but in reality, they are nothing more than a company trying to scam you. It is important to note, that a debt relief company cannot charge you a fee until they reach a settlement per regulations set forth by the Federal Trade Commission. Fret not, we narrowed down the best debt settlement companies so you didn’t have too.
How does the debt settlement process work?
Once you’ve signed up with a debt settlement company, the process typically takes about 24-48 months to complete. Traditionally, the debt settlement company will have you create another savings account and will require you to start making monthly payments. Why? The money saved in this account will go towards the “lump sum” which you will pay to your creditor/debtor once they agree on a settlement. This is a key factor during the negotiation process.
While this varies between debt settlement companies, some recommend you to stop paying your debtors, because you need to be behind on payments and in a delinquent status. Debt Settlement typically only occurs once the debtor recognizes you will not be able to make the original total agreed upon payment. Just remember, missing your payments can hurt your overall credit score and cause some financial pain down the road.
While results are never a guarantee, once the debtor and your debt settlement company reach an agreement – which means the debtor agreed on the lump sum payment or agreed to accept a reduced amount – then the debt settlement takes place.
Benefits of Debt Settlement
- Avoid Bankruptcy
- Reduces Total Amount of Debt
- At least eliminates one or more sources of your debts. Less debtors coming after you to pay brings a financial peace of mind.
- Potentially Lower Monthly Payment
- Maintain Privacy whereas Bankruptcy is a more public matter
- Complete Control Over the entire debt relief/settlement program
- Speed – You will get out of debt faster than a debt consolidation loan or credit counseling
- Expensive Fees – Working with a debt settlement company comes with a price
- Can Damage Your Credit Score
- Debtors are never obligated to accept the settlement. It is up to them – period.
- Could Pay More Debt – Remember, if you skip payments then you will have to pay late fees & the associated interest rate if they do not agree to settle. It is certainly a risk.
- Depending on your state, ‘forgiven debt’ is treated as taxable income
Now that we outlined what a debt settlement is, how the process works, and revealed both the benefits and consequences, we can now help you find the best debt settlement company to work with.
6 Best Debt Settlement Companies (for 2020)
- National Debt Relief
- Accredited Debt Relief
- Freedom Debt Relief
- New Era Debt Solutions
- Pacific Debt Inc.
Now, let’s dive deep into the details of each top debt settlement company.
20% of Total Debt Saved
What we like:
Founded in 1996, CuraDebt has years of experience under their belt. While CuraDebt offers the same services as Freedom Debt Relief & National Debt Relief, it does not offer a Money Back Guarantee like they do. But, if you are looking for a debt settlement company, then this is worth a second a look.
- Enjoy a Free Quote & Consultation
- Services Offered: Debt Relief, Tax Debt Relief, Debt Settlement, Debt Negotiation, & Debt Consolidation
- Is able to accommodate those with debts as little as $5,000
- Once you are done with the debt relief program, they will immediately enroll you into the credit restoration process for FREE
- Available in 37 states out of 50.
- Has a dedicated tax team to help individuals and small businesses with IRA or State tax problems
- Accredited by the AFCC and IAPDA but no the Beter Business Bureau
Final Thoughts: CuraDebt
CuraDebt is best for individuals who have small amounts of debt that they want to take care of; however, just know that CuraDebt does not offer a money back guarantee. But, what makes CuraDebt an attractive choice is how they enroll you into their renowned credit restoration service after the completion of their Debt Relief program. The other companies do not offer this, but do not let this be the sole reason why you choose CuraDebt. You can easily sign up to work with a credit repair company that is cost friendly and well respected in the industry.
2. National Debt Relief
20% of the total amount you save. With no monthly service fees, this is one of the cheapest options for a debt settlement company. For example, let’s say you owe $20,000 but they negotiated it down to $18,00, National Debt Relief will only charge you 20% of the $2,000 that they saved you.
What we like:
National Debt Relief is one of the most reputable debt settlement companies around. It is comforting to know that they are accredited with the International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators (IAPDA) and the American Fair Credit Council (AFCC). Additionally, they have received a coveted A+ with the Better Business Bureau and top notch reviews from Trusted Pilot. Powered by a team of debt experts, they approach all situations with extreme detail and understanding. Like you, they know the significance of you decision to partner with them, and they will do everything in their power to address each and everyone of your financial problems.
- 100% Money Back Guaranteed – If you are not satisfied they will give you a full reimbursement
- Accredited with the IAPDA & AFCC
- Member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
- Offer debt consolidation loans and more
- Available in 34 out of 50 states
- Received an A+ from the Better Business Bureau
- Great Customer Service Support: Chat, Email, Phone, & Social Media
- Negotiates Credit Card Debt, Medical Bills, Personal Loans, Lines of Credit, Collections & Repossessions, Business Debts, & Specific Student Debt
- No upfront fees – Almost every other debt settlement company will charge you upfront before they begin work
- Free Consultation – Just give them a quick call and see what they are about. They are the most transparent about the services they offer and the price they charge.
- Can Have a Co-Signer
Final Thoughts: National Debt Relief
Founded in 2009, National Debt Relief is one of the most reputable debt settlement companies in the industry. With over 50,000 five star reviews of their National Debt Relief program, they may the solution to your debt problem. Whether you need a debt consolidation loan, assistance with debt settlement, or have a more niche debt situation (like business debt), you can rely on National Debt Relief to alleviate your financial burdens. And above all, they offer a flexible payment plan, general budgeting tools, access to professional advisors, no monthly payments, and robust educational material to help you become financially fit.
3. Accredited Debt Relief
- 18% – 25% of total debt settled
Straight forward and transparent pricing structure. Their fee is in-line with the rest of the industry.
What we like:
Accredited Debt Relief is one of the few debt settlement companies that focuses extensively debt settlement. This debt relief company received an A+ from the Better Business Bureau, which is always nice to see. Moreover, they provide you with a tailored debt relief program and intuitive debt management tools, so you can finally meet your financial goals.
- Enjoy a Free Consultation to explore their program in more detail
- A+ Rating from the BBB
- Accredited by the AFCC
- Money Back Guarantee – Cancel whenever you want without any obligations or further commitments.
- Services Offered: Debt Relief, Debt Consolidation, Credit Card Consolidation, Bankruptcy, & Free Quotes
- Operates in 39 out of 50 States Nationwide
- Top Notch Customer Service – Contact them by phone, email, or chat
Final Thoughts: Accredited Debt Relief
If you are looking for a straight forward and transparent debt settlement process, then Accredited Debt Relief is your best bet. As you can see, this service is well respected by the Better Business Bureau and accredited by the AFCC. If you are looking for a team of professionals who provide great customer service, then Accredit Debt Relief warrants some consideration. And, they are not shy from the services they offer. After all, they tout “Debt Relief Made Easy.”
4. Freedom Debt Relief
15% – 25% of Settled Debt
What we like:
With over $10 Billion settled, Freedom Debt Relief is the oldest debt settlement company around. As they tout, “Consumers Come First.” This debt settlement company has a team of experts dedicated to seeing you succeed. With your permission, they will create a custom tailored program to get you out of debt and will negotiate with your creditors on your behalf.
- Assisted over 650,000 clients nationwide
- Free Credit Card Debt Relief Consultation
- Services Offered: Debt Settlements, Debt Consolidation, Debt Management, Bankruptcy, Debt Strategies, Refinance, & Credit Counseling
- Available in 34 out of 50 states.
- Robust Educational Resources to Help you make smart financial decisions
- Awesome Client Portal that allows you to track your progress every day
- Great Customer Service. Even available on the Weekends. And you get access to a team of dedicated professional advisors.
Final Thoughts: Freedom Debt Relief
Freedom Debt Relief is really the jack of all trades. As you can see, they offer one of the best debt settlement programs around, but the real sell is how they also offer credit counseling and publish in-depth guides on “how to manage debt.” They are also one of the few debt settlement companies that has customer service representatives available on the weekend, so when you have time on the weekend you can still ask questions to their team of experts.
5. New Era Debt Solutions
- 20% of Total Enrolled Debt
Performance – Based Fee Model. Fee is only due once a settlement has been reached.
What we like:
New Era Debt Solutions is hands down the most transparent about their services and results. They go into great detail about length of service, average reduction, and even go into detail about client legal activity. Founded in 1999, New Era is one of the oldest debt relief companies in the industry.
- Employs Debt Relief Specialists, lawyers, & financial experts to help you out
- Shortest Time Frame – Average 27 Months to complete the program
- A+ Rating from the Better Business Bureau
- Only available in 17 states and specializes in basic debt. Does not offer nearly as many services as the other best debt settlement companies
- Accredited by the International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators
- Zero Up-Front Fees!
- Fully transparent about their service, results, and success
- Top Notch Customer Service
- Free Consultation
Final Thoughts: New Era Debt Solutions
Even though New Era Debt Solutions debunks the transparency theory within the debt relief industry, it still offers the least amount of services compared to Freedom Debt Relief or National Debt Relief. But, this is the shortest debt settlement program around and they are known for delivering on results.
6. Pacific Debt Inc.
15% – 20% of Total Enrolled Debt
What we like:
Since 2002, Pacific Debt has settled over $300 million dollars worth of debt. They are accredited with the AFCC and the IAPDA, so they are more than legit. And they earned a rating from the Better Business Bureau.
- Enjoy a Free Consultation
- Focuses Extensively On Debt Settlements
- Serves 30 our of 50 states
- They offer Debt Settlement, Debt Consolidation, Credit Counseling & Bankruptcy
Final Thoughts: Pacific Debt Inc.
Pacific Debt Inc is a basic debt settlement company. Since 2002, they have helped thousands of Americans become debt free. Their website has a cool debt calculator; however, it only focuses on Credit Card Debt. This company is solid when it comes to debt settlements, but you can get a better bang for your buck with another company like National Debt Relief or Freedom Relief.
How to Choose the Best Debt Settlement Company
Choosing a debt settlement company to work with is not for the faint heart. This is a big financial decision that comes with benefits and consequences. To help you make a smart financial decision, we came up with a list of factors for you to consider.
You want to ensure your debt settlement company is accredited through the International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators (IAPDA), the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and the American Fair Credit Council (AFCC). These are all associations that thoroughly review each company and ensures that they are not lacking integrity.
Like all services, you want to partner with a company that offers the most comprehensive customer service. Make sure the company is available by phone, email, chat, and on social media. As their paying customer, you should have your question answered!
As you can see, results are never a guarantee, but reading reviews on Trust Pilot or Consumer Affairs should help you paint a clear picture on whither the company is actually successful or not in completing a debt settlement.
Debt Settlement: Are They Quick?
While each debt settlement company operates differently, it is important for you to know how long the entire process should take. From our research, it takes an average of 24-48 months for the debt settlement process to be completed.
Transparent & Honest
For years, the debt settlement industry kept their statistics to themselves; however, in an era dominated by consumers, they are starting to open up about their success rates, fees, and everything in between. You want to ensure the company clearly outlines the services they offer, the fees they charge, and are honest about the success rate of their debt settlement program.
A free consultation is a great opportunity for you to explore the services they offer and to speak to a professional from their team. This is a good way for you to get a feel for the company and if they will have good customer service or not.
Robust Educational Material
Here at Simple Money Lyfe, we love educational resources, hence why this financial website was created. While the debt settlement process is unfolding, you want to immerse yourself into educational resources to better understand debt and how avoid it in the future. Remember, those who retire early and are financially free love to read.
5 Alternatives to Debt Settlement:
Like all financial decisions, there is a certain level of risk that goes along with debt settlement. If this risk is to much for you, then you have a few alternatives.
Credit Counseling is available through numerous Non-Profit organizations. While credit counseling is not a guarantee to get you out of debt, sometimes it is all you need to remain disciplined. Credit counselors are trained professionals and specialize is creating an individual plan for you to overcome this financial stress you are enduring. Again, this is a far cheaper option and does not carry the risks of a traditional debt settlement.
“Do It Yourself” Debt Settlement
Remember, it is solely the creditors discretion if they even want to talk to a debt settlement company. Financial experts say it is smart to negotiate on your own with you creditor. As a customer, they have to hear your concerns and are willing to work with you to come up with a better game plan. What most people fail to realize is that banks and financial institutions like seeing you succeed as much as you like seeing yourself succeed, but they have a job to do and share holders to answer too. However, a “do it yourself” approach is far safer and wont damage your credit score temporarily or permanently.
Debt Consolidation Loans
While a debt consolidation loan will not reduce your debt like a debt settlement, it will simplify the process of paying back your debt. A debt consolidation loan compiles all of your outstanding debt into one loan, so you only have to make one monthly payment. Better yet, a debt consolidation loan will typically lower your monthly payment and will come with a lower interest rate.
Like a debt settlement company, a debt management company will negotiate with your creditor on your behalf. However, they will not reduce the debt you owe, but instead will renegotiate the interest rate and monthly payment. At the end of the day, the principal you owe on the loan will remain the same. But, before you decide to go with this option, please do your research. There are a lot of scams out there, so do your due diligence and partner with a well respected company within the industry.
Summary: Best Debt Settlement Companies (for 2020)
As you can see, the debt settlement process is long, confusing, and requires a keen eye for detail. Hopefully, you have a clear understanding of what ‘debt settlement’ is and whither or not it is the right financial decision for you. It is important to note, that while we cover the best debt settlement companies, our team recommends debt settlement to be a last resort. Unless, you have done your due diligence and researched all possible ways to manage your outstanding debt, and found this to be your best solution to your financial problems.