Best Debt Relief Programs for 2020
Here are the four best credit card debt relief programs for 2020. There is not a single best debt relief program because people have different needs and financial goals.
- 1.) Consumer Credit Counseling: Do you need a reduction in credit card interest rates? Consumer credit counseling is a program that consolidates your credit cards into one affordable monthly payment, reducing the interest rates on each card. This is not a loan, but instead would be considered “a credit card interest rate reduction program.”
- 2.) Credit Card Consolidation: A loan can be used to pay off high-interest credit cards, consolidating all bills into one low-interest loan.
- 3.) Credit Card Settlement: Can’t afford to pay your minimum payments and need a lower monthly payment? Credit card relief and forgiveness programs can reduce the principal on credit card balances. With less debt to pay off, you’re able to get a much lower monthly payment and still become debt-free in around three to four years. A debt settlement negotiation program can save you hundreds of dollars per month and has several downsides that you need to understand.
- 4.) Debt Validation: Before settling a credit card debt, use a debt validation program. With validation, you’ll potentially save more money and be able to get the debt removed from your credit reports entirely. Third-party collection accounts can be disputed, similar to how a person fights a speeding ticket. And in the end, you may not have to pay the debt. Large credit card balances can become “legally uncollectible,” meaning they don’t have to get paid and legally can no longer remain on credit reports. However, just like with settlement, there are risks involved. At GFS, we pay close attention to these risks. We prepare clients for potential downsides, so if one occurs, clients know exactly how to deal with it, don’t overreact or get scared, and still make it through the debt relief program successfully.
Credit Card Debt Relief Program INFOGRAPHIC (See Benefits and Downsides)
You can also try this free calculator tool to get a quick quote on each credit relief program (compare your potential savings side-by-side). Prefer not to have to use a program? Try the free snowball calculator to help you pay off your balances faster.
What is credit card debt relief?
By definition, credit card debt relief refers to credit card debt cancelation that offers partial or total forgiveness of high credit card balances and interest rates or the slowing or stopping of credit card debt growth.
Debt assistance programs can offer credit card relief in three ways, including:
- 1. Settling credit card accounts for less than the full balance owed, resulting in credit forgiveness.
- 2. Disputing a debt, resulting in it becoming “legally uncollectible.” A legally uncollectible debt does not have to get paid and can’t legally remain on a person’s credit report.
- 3. Consolidating credit card bills into one lower interest rate, resulting in reduced payments and a faster repayment period
How to Apply for Debt Assistance and Credit Card Relief Programs
Unfortunately, there is not currently a credit card debt relief government program, but you can use Golden Financial Services (GFS). Start with a free consultation by calling (866) 376-9846. Speak to an IAPDA certified counselor for free and, if eligible, choose from multiple programs. GFS is an A+BBB rated organization and has been helping America with financial solutions since 2004.
Not all states qualify for consumer debt relief programs through GFS, including Connecticut and Rhode Island. In these states, we recommend you contact a non-profit consumer credit counseling company. Also, each state has different options to offer. For example, Illinois credit card reduction programs are not identical to the options available in Missouri, New York, and Alaska.
To find out what options are available in your state, click on the menu on the upper left side of this page and select “debt help near me.”
Example: if you have $10,000 in credit card debt
A credit card settlement plan can help a person resolve $10,000 in credit card debt for $7,000, including all interest and fees. What happened to the other $3,000 and all of the interest? The remaining balance would get canceled or forgiven.
Have no income? Debt relief can also offer a consumer with no income the ability to dispute or challenge a debt and possibly not have to pay it.
Are there negative consequences that come with debt relief programs?
Don’t take a chance getting signed up for the wrong program if you’re considering debt relief. Review the following guide, and you’ll know exactly what program (if any) is your best route to get out of debt because some pros and cons come with each plan.
How do credit card relief programs work?
These programs work by combining multiple credit cards into one smaller monthly payment that gets a person out of debt in a shorter timeframe.
Debt relief programs give you the power to:
- Stop paying excessive interest rates.
- Choose an affordable payment.
- Decide how fast you want to clear your card balances.
- Take control of your debt.
About 20% of consumers who contact Golden Financial Services only need a reduction in their interest rates so they can get out of debt faster.
The other 85% of consumers cannot even afford to pay minimum payments and need a reduction in their high balances.
Can you afford to pay more than the minimum monthly payments?
What is your main financial goal?
Think about these questions before you read on.
Do credit card relief programs work?
Debt relief programs do work, but they only work if you enroll in the right plan. You also need to make sure you enroll with a company that’s reputable, experienced, and transparent. You want to be told the truth and understand the downsides to ensure you’re prepared to deal with any obstacles if they were to occur. Our counselors at Golden Financial Services will tell you the truth and prepare you for success. Plans include a Money-Back Guarantee and no up-front fees. You either get results or don’t pay a cent!
- what type of debt and creditors you have
- if you have a financial hardship (i.e., divorce, medical, reduction in income, job loss)
- what you can afford
- your short-term and long-term goals (e.g., do you want to save money or just get a low payment?)
- the status of your payment (i.e., if you are current or behind on credit card payments)
- where you live
These are the factors that will determine what program is right for your situation.
Here’s how simple getting out of debt can be when using Golden Financial Services:
- Get your free credit report and analysis.
- Learn your debt relief options from an IAPDA Certified Counselor (you will have multiple options to pick from)
- Get a professional debt relief recommendation.
- Choose a comfortable monthly payment.
- Financial freedom begins!
Start with a free consultation from one of our IAPDA certified counselors. You will learn the simplest way to become debt-free during your consultation. There is no pressure or obligation involved.
How does a debt relief program affect your credit?
Debt relief programs can positively and negatively affect a person’s credit score, depending on each person’s circumstances. Again, have you already fallen behind on monthly payments and have collections on your credit report? Your credit score may already be around 600, so the program won’t affect you.
If you join a settlement program, like the one offered by Freedom or National Debt Relief, you’ll be required to fall behind on payments until accounts are sold to third-party collection agencies and can then be settled for less than the full amount. These programs will hurt a person’s credit score if current on monthly payments at the time of joining. After graduating from a debt settlement plan, consumers are left with late payments and collection accounts on credit reports.
If you have fallen behind on credit card monthly payments already and then join a consumer credit counseling program, payments can get re-aged to current, and credit scores can actually improve after joining. So there’s a different effect on each person’s credit score depending on their existing financial situation and what program they use. With debt validation programs, credit scores can be adversely affected over the first year of the program. The first year of the program is when accounts need to fall delinquent and eventually get written off and sold to third-party collection agencies. After accounts are invalidated, the debts can no longer legally remain on credit reports. At that point, free credit restoration is provided to clients to dispute any remaining derogatory items on credit reports that no longer belong.
But still, no matter what credit card consolidation method you end up using, there are outside factors involved that can improve or reduce credit scores as well. For example, if you remain current on your mortgage and car payments while enrolled in a debt relief program, this positive payment history going on outside the program will help improve credit scores faster by the time the program is over.
I Can’t Pay My Credit Cards.
We’re about to go over the ideal options for consumers who can’t afford to pay their credit card payments.
First, it’s essential to understand how banks collect on delinquent credit card debt.
If you stop paying on your credit cards, the bank still gets their money. And sometimes they will get paid back twice what was owed. That’s right, double! And in some cases, even more. Some critics feel that a bank is even more profitable when borrowers default on payments than when they pay their bills on time every month.
Once you stop paying on your credit card payments, within six months, most creditors will end up “writing-off the debt.” By writing off the debt, a bank can show a loss and get a tax credit through the IRS.
OK, so now the bank has been reimbursed 100% of what you owed, is it over now, and that’s the end of it? Clean slate? No, not even close to over! The bank will make sure to destroy your credit and continue to profit off your financial hardship.
Next, the credit card company sells your account to a third-party debt collection agency. Harassment starts and will continue for many years ahead.
And that’s not it. Banks have insurance. Just like how you have car insurance, and when an accident occurs, you only pay the deductible while insurance covers the rest. If you had a $100,000 credit card debt that you were forced to stop paying on, the credit card company will file a claim with their banking insurance for that amount and get reimbursed.
OK, enough about how the banks’ profit. Let’s talk about how you can win!
Once your credit card account lands in the hands of the collection agency, now you have an entirely new set of debt relief options.
- you can settle the debt for less than the full balance owed, where a portion of the balance can be forgiven
- you can also use debt validation to dispute its validity and possibly not have to pay the debt
How does debt settlement affect your credit score?
If you’re behind on your credit card monthly payments, your credit score has already been negatively affected.
As your debts are settled and paid off one by one on a debt settlement program, you may start to see an improvement in your credit score.
Talk to an IAPDA Certified Counselor to see if debt settlement is right for you!
How debt validation affects your credit score
Debts are not disputed on a debt validation program until they’re sold to a third-party debt collection company. Like with any debt relief program, if your creditors are not getting paid every month, your credit score will go down.
Once a debt is proven to be “legally uncollectible,” the creditors can no longer report the credit reporting agencies (legally anyway). When a third-party debt collection account gets removed from a person’s credit report, this action can positively affect credit scores.
Here is an example of how debt validation can get the debt off your credit report entirely and invalidated so that you don’t have to pay it.
Debt validation can be the least expensive way of dealing with a debt collection account. With validation services, you may not have to pay a debt and could get it removed from your credit report.
If the debt collection company can prove the debt is valid, you could settle the debt for less than the full amount owed. Debt settlement would be the next alternative to turn to.
Before using debt settlement, use debt validation to confirm the debt is legitimate and has not been involved in any fraudulent activity.
Debt consolidation can improve your credit score.
Since debt consolidation loans are used to pay off other existing debts – debt consolidation can improve your credit score.
Initially, you could take a small negative hit on your credit score with debt consolidation due to;
- A credit inquiry appearing on your credit report after applying for the loan.
- A “new debt” showing up on your credit after getting approved for the loan.
However, within a few months, your credit will illustrate an improvement in credit scores due to the “past debts” getting “paid in full.” Debt consolidation is only beneficial if you can get approved for a low-interest loan. To get approved for a low-interest loan, you’ll need a high credit score of 710 or higher. If you have bad credit, you can use a financial hardship plan that can reduce your balances. Just give us a call, and we will find the right plan for you!
How consumer credit counseling affects your credit score
A credit counselor at a consumer credit counseling company may tell you that consumer credit counseling does not affect your credit score. However, that’s not the truth.
The truth is, your credit report will get a third-party notation on it after joining a consumer credit counseling program. Some lenders look down upon this third notation because it appears to them that you can’t manage your credit card payments without assistance.
Consumer credit counseling programs require a person to close-out all of their credit cards to include them in the plan. Closing a credit card is the action that lowers your credit score the most when it comes to consumer credit counseling.
Debt negotiation (also known as the debt reset program) is where your balances can get reduced to a fraction of the total owed. Debt negotiators work with each creditor to lower the balance so that it’s affordable to pay off. You’re probably thinking, What’s the catch? Sound too good to be true? There are downsides.
How does a debt relief program affect your credit?
You have to fall behind on payments to qualify for a settlement. Debt negotiators only begin negotiating credit card debt settlements after each account is charged and sold to third-party collection agencies. Consequently, credit scores go down, creditors can potentially sue, balances rise before getting resolved, and settlements can result in potential tax consequences. The good news is that you can avoid bankruptcy or having to use an expensive loan and pay off your accounts at an affordable rate.
Before resorting to a settlement program, consider validation. A validation program forces the collection agency to prove that they are legally authorized to collect on an account and abide by consumer protection laws. In many cases, collection agencies can’t validate a debt. Hence, it ends up not getting paid and can’t legally remain on credit reports, making validation a much better option for the consumer over settling the account. Validation can cost less than settling credit card debt and includes fewer downsides.
To be eligible for credit card negotiation programs, a person must:
- owe above $7,500 in total unsecured debt
- be experiencing a financial hardship where you can no longer afford to make the minimum monthly payments
- have high-interest rates where your debt may never get paid off by making only minimum payments
We can set you up on a debt negotiation plan where professional debt negotiators;
- reduce your balances by around 25%-35%, including fees
- you only make one small monthly payment for all of your debt
- you get out of debt within 24-42 months
How to Negotiate With Credit Card Companies on Your Own?
How can I settle my credit card debt on my own? If you are a brave soul and looking to negotiate with your creditors, strap on your bulletproof vest, and get ready for combat. Collection agencies are like bloodsuckers; they are relentless. They go for the kill and use your emotions to get the best of you.
Here’s the deal:
Can’t afford credit card payments? After you fall behind by 90+ days, shortly after your original creditors (i.e., Capital One, Bank of America, Chase, Citi, Discover) will charge-off the account. Charge-off means that they write off your debt as uncollectible. This is not the same as legally uncollectible; writing off the debt allows the credit card companies to recoup 100% of the money owed through tax credits and banking insurance.
The credit card companies quickly recoup the money you owed on a credit card and wipe their hands clean of the debt at that point, selling the account to third-party collection agencies. Did you agree to work with the collection agency? Of course not! Did you agree to pay the extra collection fees tacked on? Of course not!
These collection agencies may pay as little as 10% of the balance to purchase the account, so they are willing to settle at 40%-50% of what you owed and still make 30% profit margins. Collection agencies will offer you a settlement directly. However, when dealing directly with the consumer, they may not play fair. And, even after you settle a debt, it remains on your credit report for up to seven years.
Before settling a debt, consider a validation program. You must owe at least $7,500 in unsecured debt to qualify for validation. Validation could result in you paying the least possible amount without tax consequences and getting the collection account off your credit report in the ned.
If you have less than $7,500 in unsecured bills, you can settle the accounts on your own; here’s how:
- Go into negotiations with a stern face, and don’t be emotional. Pretend you are negotiating to settle someone else’s credit card debt.
- Have a budget and detailed notes nearby. Click here to use this free budget tool to create your budget analysis.
- Only speak with a supervisor who has the authorization to lower your payment.
- Explain your financial hardship and go over your income and expenses
- If you are trying to settle a debt for a one-time payoff, offer them about 20% as a starting point.
- Let the creditor know that if they don’t accept your offer, you will be using the funds to pay off another debt.
- If the credit card company accepts your offer, get everything in writing before moving forward.
- Do not agree to settle a credit card debt unless the creditor is willing to remove it from your credit report when it is resolved.
- If unsuccessful, hang up the phone and call back a few months later. Debt settlement is like a fine wine; the longer a debt sits untouched, the better it gets. Debt gets cheaper as it ages. Eventually, a debt will pass the statute of limitations and expire, where the debt collection company can’t come after you, and the debt comes off your credit entirely.
Before attempting to settle a credit card debt, give us a call. At the very least, you will learn all of your options.
Debt validation can offer you a less expensive resolution than debt settlement and get the debt off your credit report.
Consumer Credit Counseling
“What is a bank hardship program for credit cards?” A lot of consumers ask us this question. The truth is, consumer credit counseling (CCC) programs work together with the bank. In fact, banks pay CCC companies a fee for their services. Many critics of CCC programs claim that these companies work for the bank, not the consumer.
Consumer credit counseling programs are used to reduce the interest rates on credit card debt, making it easier to pay your credit cards off.
A person is then responsible for making one monthly payment to the credit counseling company, and the company deals with paying their client’s creditors (i.e., the banks). In the end, the banks get paid everything owed, along with interest, when working together with CCC companies.
The time it takes a person to become debt-free can be shortened with a consumer credit counseling program, and payments may get lowered because interest rates can be reduced.
If a person recently fell behind on their credit card payments, their accounts can be re-aged to show they are current. As a result, credit scores can improve.
Ironically, CCC programs are no longer as effective. Banks are often rejecting consumer credit counseling repayment plans post COVID-19 days. CCC companies are now turning to debt settlement programs to help struggling consumers pay off their credit card bills. In fact, many CCC companies are creating new companies on the side that offer a settlement option or partnering with settlement companies and referring consumers to these companies. How does Golden Financial know this? We have CCC companies contacting us daily wanting to work together and know owners of these companies that have told this information.
How to Legally Stop Paying a Debt
Don’t just stop paying your credit card bills. You could get served a credit card lawsuit, and your credit will be ruined.
On the other hand, if you have a legitimate financial hardship and can’t afford your credit card payments, you may have no other option but to stop paying on your accounts.
So what are your options, file for bankruptcy? Not a good idea.
Comparing physical health to financial health, bankruptcy puts you in a wheelchair for the next seven years. With bankruptcy on your credit, you cannot buy or rent a home or even a car.
Consumer credit counseling? This type of program will only reduce your interest rates and not the monthly payment. Your payment stays around the same as what it would be when paying only minimum payments.
What about joining a debt settlement program?
This could be a viable option, but before you settle a debt and are left with scars on your credit report from late and collection marks, make sure the debt is legitimate and has not been part of any type of fraud over the years.
It’s shocking, but the truth is, about 90% of debt collection accounts are either missing legally required documentation or are flawed with inaccurate details.
Debt validation exposes this fact. Debt validation forces your creditors to prove they have accurate and complete records. Often, they can’t prove it, and the debt is invalidated.
After a debt is invalidated, you don’t have to pay it.
The debt becomes legally uncollectible. It can no longer legally be reported on your credit report.
You can legally stop paying a debt after it’s invalidated.
This is a lifesaving program that has improved the lives of millions’ of Americans.
How do you get credit card debt forgiven?
A credit card settlement program allows you to get debt forgiven. You can actually settle and get debt forgiveness with credit cards, unsecured personal loans, car repossessions, collection accounts, and medical bills.
When settling a debt for less than the full balance owed, the portion of your debt that gets reduced – ends up getting forgiven.
There is a downside to getting your credit card debt forgiven. Potentially, you could owe taxes on the amount saved. Your credit score will go down. Harassment and potential credit card lawsuits can occur. And not every creditor will agree to reduce your balance.
Bankruptcy for Credit Cards
Chapter 7 bankruptcy could wipe away all of your credit card balances in exchange for your assets getting sold. You will have to give up any of your most precious assets, like that new car you just bought. Worse than that, you filing for bankruptcy is not a private matter. Future employers and even a landlord would be able to see that you filed for bankruptcy, and your credit score will take a severe fall. Bankruptcy stays on your credit report for up to 10-years, longer than almost any other type of derogatory mark.
Chapter 13, bankruptcy, is another story. You can use Chapter 13 bankruptcy to save your property and stay in your home. The downside is that you must pay back at least half of what you owe, and your credit will take just as big a hit as when filing Chapter 7.
Most consumers will apply for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, but due to their income being too high, they get pushed into Chapter 13.
Balance Transfer Cards to Pay Off High-Interest Credit Card Balances
Balance transfer cards carry up-front fees that range from 3%-5% of the total debt getting transferred onto the card. If you transfer $50,000 in credit card debt, that equates to around $2,500 in up-front fees.
A balance transfer card can save you money. If you can eliminate $20,000 worth of interest, it’s worth the $2,500 in up-front fees.
Most balance transfer cards give you between 6-18 months, but the longer they provide you, the higher the interest rate usually is after that intro period ends. Also, only get a balance transfer card that pays you a generous amount in cashback and reward points.
At Golden Financial Services, we can set you up on a settlement program where more than 25% of your credit card balance is completely forgiven and wiped away clean.
Christian credit card debt relief programs
Christian credit card relief programs are another new query that people inquire about when searching for debt relief. A large portion of the staff at Golden Financial Services just happens to be made up of Catholics and Christians, but our services have nothing to do with religion.
What states offer programs to help manage credit cards?