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Debt relief company review methodology

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At Bankrate we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation for .

Debt relief companies help consumers regain control of their finances in exchange for a fee. They do this through a combination of debt consolidation, credit counseling and debt settlement. These companies can be a good alternative for those struggling with $10,000 or more worth of debt, as they could get their balances reduced by half, and get out of debt in under five years.

How does Bankrate evaluate debt relief companies?

Companies are evaluated by our editorial team using a meticulous 17-point scale known as the Bankrate Score. This scoring model is based on four main factors: availability, affordability, customer experience and stability.

How does Bankrate assign company stars?

To begin the ranking process, our editorial team collects information regarding the four main factors in our scoring model. Once the collection phase concludes, companies are then rated with a score from one to five — the latter being the highest. For instance, when it comes to debt relief, the more savings a company offers, the higher it ranks. Whereas, the higher the fees, the lower it ranks.

It’s also worth noting that although Bankrate receives compensation from some of the lenders we review, partnerships do not influence our opinion. Lender scores are based on hard data and expert analysis. Our goal is to provide honest and transparent ratings so you can find the best debt relief company for your particular situation.

Here’s an in-depth look at all the data points the Bankrate team uses as part of our scoring process.


  • States serviced.
  • Requirements to qualify for relief.
  • Minimum amount of debt required to sign up.
  • Types of debt that can be included in the debt relief plan.

Why we consider this

Availability factors allow us to determine which consumers would benefit the most from signing up with that particular company and why.


  • Free consultation.
  • Average customer savings.
  • Fees.
  • Miscellaneous financial and counseling services.

Why we consider this

Affordability factors are taken into consideration to know just how competitive a company’s plans within the market are and whether they’re offering the best deal to consumers.

Customer experience

  • Methods of contact.
  • Customer service hours.
  • Fastest time possible to pay off debts under a company’s plans.

Why we consider this

Customer experience factors are an indicator of how well equipped a company is to serve its clients and bring them the best experience possible.


  • Years in service.
  • BBB rating.
  • Trustpilot rating.
  • Complaints with the FTC.
  • Complaints with the CFPB.
  • Company accreditation.

Why we consider this

Stability factors are key to determine whether a company is reliable and trustworthy or if consumers are better off looking for debt relief elsewhere.