Editor's choice: Freedom Debt Relief
- Flexible payments
- Leader in debt negotiation
- No upfront fees
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Debt relief companies are designed to act as a last resort before filing for bankruptcy. If they sound too good to be true, that’s because they sometimes are — but there are also plenty of trustworthy companies out there. Just know your state’s regulations before you get started.
When choosing the best debt relief companies, we first confirmed each provider’s legitimacy, business practices and website security. We also looked at customer reviews from the Better Business Bureau and Trustpilot.
We then analyzed and compared each company based on factors like how long they take, what types of debt they settle, minimum debt requirements, fees, credit disclosure documentation, transparency, accreditation and customer satisfaction. We also considered state restrictions and legal actions taken against the companies.
|Company||Services||Typical costs||Typical savings||Customer reviews||State availability|
|National Debt Relief||Debt settlement||18% to 25% of enrolled debt||Varies||BBB: A+|
|Not available in CT, GA, KS, ME, SC, OR, VT, WV or NH|
|Freedom Debt Relief||Debt settlement||20% to 25% of enrolled debt||Varies||Trustpilot: 9/10||Not available in CT, CO, HI, IL, KA, ME, ND, NH, NJ, OR, RI, SC, VT, WA, WV or WY|
|CuraDebt||Debt settlement, tax settlement||Around 20% of enrolled debt||80% to 30% of enrolled debt after fees||Trustpilot 7.7/10||Not available in CO, CT, GA, ID, IL, KS, ND, NH, SC, VT, WA, WI, WV, Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands|
|Accredited Debt Relief||Bankruptcy, debt consolidation, debt management, debt settlement||Depends on your debt relief, but debt settlement fees typically range from 18% to 25%||Depends on your debt relief, but debt settlement clients typically save 25% to 32% of enrolled debt after fees||BBB: A+|
|Not available in CO, CT, DE, GA, HI, IL, KS, ME, NH, ND, OR, RI, SC, VT, WA or WI|
|New Era Debt Solutions||Debt settlement||16% to 20% of enrolled debt.||43% to 47% of enrolled debt after fees.||BBB: A+||Not available in PA.|
To figure out which debt settlement company is best for your situation, consider:
The IAPDA is a professional organization that trains and certifies individuals in debt settlement and accredits trusted debt settlement companies. Accreditation by the IAPDA means that a significant number of individuals in the company are certified debt consultants, but it’s always a good idea to make sure your personal consultant is certified, even when working with a trusted and accredited company.
Most debt relief companies offer a combination of services designed to set you on a debt-free path — and keep you there. Know what you’re getting into before you sign on any dotted lines.
Debt settlement can be useful in certain situations when you’ve exhausted all other ways to get your debt under control, like applying for a balance transfer credit card or debt consolidation loan. However, there are a few drawbacks to debt relief you should consider before signing up.
First and foremost, debt settlement will damage your credit score and isn’t guaranteed to work. In fact, only around 10% of people who enroll in debt relief programs actually complete them. And with many programs, it’s difficult to continue paying your creditors while also putting money toward your debt settlement escrow account. This puts you at risk of being sued by your creditors.
If you do complete the program, any settled debt will be considered taxable income. Add fees and interest that accumulated while you’re in the program, and you might not save as much as you thought you would.
Before you sign up with a debt relief company
Debt relief companies typically charge a percentage of a customer’s debt or a monthly program fee for their services. And they aren’t always transparent about these costs or drawbacks that can negatively affect your credit score. You might pay other fees for third-party settlement services or setting up new accounts, which can leave you in a worse situation than when you signed up.
Consider alternatives before signing up with a debt relief company:
Debt relief has earned itself a somewhat shady reputation, thanks to the rise of scam companies in the early 2000s. Although a 2010 federal crackdown cleaned up the industry in part, scammers are always creating new ways to take your money.
It’s possible to avoid a scam by doing some research first. When considering a debt relief company, ask yourself:
Debt relief can be a legitimate path to get out of unmanageable debt situations — but only when approached carefully and using the most reputable services. If you have the creditworthiness to qualify for a debt consolidation loan or balance transfer credit card, that might be a better option for you. But if you’re under crippling debt and trying to improve a low credit score, be sure to compare all of your debt relief options before choosing the company that’s right for you.
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