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Best debt relief companies of September 2023

Sep 25, 2023

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Debt Relief


National Debt Relief
  1. Checkmark Client dashboard for 24/7 monitoring
  2. Checkmark Available in 46 states across the US
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Debt Relief

Best for those with under $10,000 in debt

Freedom Debt Relief
  1. Checkmark $15 Billion+ in Debt Resolved
  2. Checkmark 850,000+ Customers Served
  3. Checkmark A+ Rating with the BBB
  4. Checkmark No Upfront Fees
  5. Checkmark Recommended Debt: $15K+
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Debt Relief

Best for quick results

Accredited Debt Relief
  1. Checkmark Over $2 billion in debt resolved,Average client saves 45% on debt
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Debt Relief

Best for store card debt

JG Wentworth
  1. Checkmark Free Consultation & No Risk.
  2. Checkmark Make one affordable monthly payment.
  3. Checkmark 30+ Years experience in financial services.
  4. Checkmark A+ Better Business Bureau rating.
  5. Checkmark Minimum Debt: $15,000
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Bankrate's best debt relief companies

Bankrate’s list of best debt relief companies is curated with consumers in mind. We look for companies with transparent terms and conditions and that have a well-established and proven track record when it comes to helping people succeed in their path to becoming debt-free.

National Debt Relief Best for debt settlement 15%-25% 24-48 months $10,000
Freedom Debt Relief Best for those with under $10,000 in debt 15%-25% 24-48 months $7,500
Accredited Debt Relief Quick results 15%-25% 12-48 months $15,000
JG Wentworth Store card debt 18%-25% 24-48 months $10,000
Pacific Debt Relief Credit card debt 15%-25% 24-48 months $10,000

How to choose the best debt relief company

Before choosing a debt relief company, it’s important to consider the following factors to ensure you’re dealing with a legitimate company that can help you achieve your desired results.

See what types of debt are covered

Although most debt relief companies will cover credit card debt, not all of them will help you consolidate other types of unsecured debt, such as personal loans, payday loans or medical debt. When checking out companies, make sure to look for companies that actually service the types of debt you’re trying to reduce.

Take a look at the requirements

Debt relief companies require consumers to have a minimum amount of debt and be in financial hardship in order to work with them. Although these vary from one company to the next, many require a minimum outstanding balance of at least $10,000. If your outstanding debt is under that threshold, you may be better off exploring other options, such as a debt consolidation loan.

Check out the fees

Debt relief companies typically charge a closing fee equal to a percentage of the total debt enrolled. Some may also charge a one-time account setup fee and a monthly service fee.

Research the company's track record

A good way of ensuring that the company you choose is legitimate is to look at what others are saying about it. You can review the company’s reputation on websites such as the Better Business Bureau or Trustpilot. You can also check the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s complaint database to see if there have been any serious complaints filed against a particular company.

Is debt relief right for you?

If you’ve exhausted all other options to get out of debt to no avail, and all that’s left is debt relief from a third-party company or bankruptcy, it’s best to avoid the latter. While both of them will affect your credit score, bankruptcy typically has harsher consequences and longer-lasting effects on your credit and overall financial health.

What are debt relief companies?

Debt relief companies offer different plans to help you find relief from overwhelming debt in exchange for a fee. They do this two ways: by establishing a debt management or debt consolidation plan or by negotiating with creditors to settle your debts for less than what you owe. Their main goal is to help you get out of debt faster and make your monthly payments more manageable in the process.

How debt relief companies work

Most companies will require you to go through an initial counseling session with a qualified specialist to determine whether you’d be a good candidate for debt relief. This initial consultation is usually free of charge and comes with no strings attached.

Although each debt relief company has its own way of doing things, once you agree to the terms and conditions, the company will usually set up a savings account for you to make regular deposits for a specific period of time. Once this account reaches a certain threshold, the company will then use the funds to prompt a negotiation or settlement with your creditors or to come up with a monthly payment plan.

Debt relief companies often charge a closing fee of between 15 percent and 25 percent of your total debt balance for its services, in addition to other fees for maintaining the savings account. However, they can only charge these once your debts have been resolved — never upfront.

When should you seek debt relief?

Debt relief can be a great solution if any of the following is true:

  • You’re behind on payments or are struggling to pay each month.
  • You have thousands of dollars worth of unsecured debt (credit cards, medical bills, personal loans, etc.).
  • Your credit isn’t in the best shape to qualify for a debt consolidation loan.
  • Your debt payments eat away half or more of your monthly earnings.
  • You won’t be able to repay your debt on your own in less than five years.
  • Your other option is bankruptcy.

Debt relief options to consider

Debt relief isn’t a one-size-fits-all type of solution. There are different ways to approach it, depending on what you feel comfortable with, and the type of debt you’re trying to get rid off.

1. Do-it-yourself debt relief

For the most part, debt relief companies can’t do anything for you that you can’t do yourself. You can call your creditors and try to negotiate a lower interest rate on your own.

2. Debt settlement

Debt settlement companies ask you to stop paying on your credit cards and other debts and start saving those payments in a separate savings account instead. The company will then work on your behalf, negotiating to let you settle your debts for less than what you owe. Debt settlement has a few potential risks:

  • Your credit score could be damaged: Halting payments on your debts can hurt your credit score as any unpaid amount will be considered delinquent.
  • Your credit report will be marked: It could affect your access to future credit, as debts will appear as “settled” on your report, which can be a red flag for other lenders.
  • Your creditors could refuse: If your creditors refuse to work with the debt settlement company, you will have to pay any accrued fees for any late payments on your debts, in addition to dealing with a damaged credit score for years to come.

3. Debt management plans

Debt management plans ask you to deposit a set amount of money into a separate bank account each month. The credit counseling agency will distribute funds to your creditors from this account each month, and they’ll also negotiate on your behalf for lower interest rates and better terms. These programs can work well for consumers. They do require you to pay all of your debts in full — plus any fees charged by the company that facilitates the program.

4. Debt consolidation

You can consolidate debt with the help of a third-party debt relief company or even on your own. Debt consolidation works best when your credit is good enough to qualify for a debt consolidation loan with a lower interest rate than you’re paying now. As with all debt relief options, check for fees when comparing debt consolidation loans and products.

Pros and cons of debt relief

Seeking debt relief through a third-party company could be a great option if you’re deep in debt. That said, this alternative isn't right for everyone, weigh in the pros and cons before making a decision.


  • You could get out of debt faster: Most debt relief companies have plans dedicated to getting you out of debt in under five years.
  • Save money: Because you’re speeding up your repayment timeline or paying a smaller amount than what you originally owed, you’ll pay less in interest.
  • Simplify your debt: Debt relief consists of reorganizing your debt into a single account, making it easier for you to manage and keep up with payments.
  • You could improve your credit score: By eliminating revolving accounts, such as credit cards, your credit utilization ratio will also decrease. This, combined with on-time payments can substantially increase your credit.
  • Avoid bankruptcy: The goal of debt relief companies is to find a plan that fits your current budget. This is key to avoiding bankruptcy, as your debt will be easier to repay.


  • You may need thousands in debt to qualify: Most debt relief companies require you to have at least $7,500 in debt to be eligible for their plans.
  • Not all debt is covered: Debt relief companies tend to work with unsecured credit accounts, such as medical bills, credit cards and personal loans. If you need help with a secured loan, such as a mortgage or auto loan, then you may be better off looking at other options.
  • Your credit score could suffer: Many debt relief companies require you to be behind on payments so they can help you. That is because creditors are more likely to come to an agreement if you’re behind.
  • There’s no guarantee that all accounts can be settled: It is possible that the company doesn’t succeed at negotiating with all your creditors.
  • High fees: To negotiate your debts, companies typically charge between 15 and 25 percent of the amount settled, which could be a hefty amount if you’re thousands of dollars in debt.

How to apply for debt relief

Applying for debt relief is similar to applying for other loan products. Although the requirements vary depending on the company you choose, you’ll most likely have to provide the following as part of the application:

  • Your full name and contact details.
  • Your social security number. 
  • A physical address.
  • The most recent statements of the debts you want to pay off.
  • Employment and income details, such as W2 or pay stubs.

Once you provide this information, the company will schedule a consultation, to determine whether or not you’re eligible for relief, as well as the available options for your situation.

How to verify if a debt relief company is legitimate

Be sure to learn about debt relief programs before you select one. As you choose debt relief options, take note of the following:

  • Bold claims: According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), if a company promises to get all your debts resolved, without evaluating your case, that’s an instant red flag. Until they’ve talked to your creditors, companies have no way of knowing whether your creditors will work with them or not.
  • Upfront fees: The FTC also warns about companies that charge upfront fees for their services, as that’s an illegal practice . If you come in contact with a company that wants to charge you before they’ve worked on your case, it’s likely that the company isn’t legitimate.
  • Official reputation within the space: Dig into the backgrounds of companies you’re considering before you move forward. Contact your state attorney general and a local consumer protection agency before selecting a company. The FTC also has a comprehensive list of companies and people that are banned from the debt relief business.
  • Customer reviews: Check consumer review websites, such as Trustpilot and the Better Business Bureau, to see what former clients are saying about a particular company.

Risks of working with a debt relief company

Although you could get out of debt faster working with a debt relief company, this approach is not without risks. Here are some drawbacks to consider.

  • It may not work: Creditors and lenders aren't obligated to work with debt settlement companies and could deny the proposed settlement offers. If you're not going the way of settlement, you will need to stick with the plan for it to work.
  • You could hurt your credit score: If your debt relief company is working on a settlement and advised you to halt payments on your debts when you began the debt relief process, your credit score will drop.
  • You could owe taxes: Any amount over $600 that is forgiven is subject to taxation.
  • It can be costly: Besides the possibility of having to pay late fees or penalties on any debts you may have stopped paying while in the process of debt relief, you'll also have to pay the company a percentage for each debt it settles. This fee can be up to 25 percent of your total outstanding debt balance.

Alternatives to debt relief

If after reviewing your options, debt relief isn’t right for you, there are a few other alternatives to get out of debt, including the following:

  • Budget reorganization: You may be paying for services you no longer need, like streaming subscriptions or an insurance policy with unnecessary protections. Reorganizing your budget could help you free up some cash that you can put towards paying off your debts.
  • Balance transfer credit card: If your credit is in good shape and you’re struggling with credit card debt, then applying for a balance transfer credit card with a 0 percent introductory rate could be a good option. If approved, you’d have anywhere from six to 18 months to pay off your debt, interest-free. 
  • Home equity loan: Also known as a second mortgage, a home equity loan allows you to borrow against your equity, with a very low interest rate. However, defaulting on your payments could lead to foreclosure.
  • Cash-out refinance: When you apply for a cash-out refinance you’re replacing your old mortgage for a bigger one to be able to keep some of the money. The amount can be used for any purpose, including paying off debt. But even though these loans have a very low interest rate compared to other options, just like home equity loans, your home could be seized if you default on payments.

Frequently asked questions


To rate debt relief services, Bankrate considers 15 factors. These factors include minimum debt allowed, what fees are charged, whether there are unresolved complaints and if the company is accredited. Categories that the services are rated on include:

  • Services: Services were assessed based on minimum debt eligibility, types of eligible debt and whether or not the company provides free credit counseling.
  • Affordability: Affordability was assessed based on associated fees and whether or not the company specifies money-back guarantee terms.
  • Customer experience: Customer experience was assessed based on website usability and features, as well as app availability. Customer satisfaction and company reputation was assessed based on Better Business Bureau accreditation and reviews, as well as TrustPilot reviews.
  • Customer satisfaction: Customer satisfaction is determined by assessing how many unresolved complaints there are with the Federal Trade Commission and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
  • Stability: Stability was assessed based on how long the company has been in business and whether or not they maintain membership with a professional trade association.