Credit Counseling or Debt Management

If you feel like you’re on a treadmill, paying your bills every month but not making any progress, credit counseling may be a helpful debt relief option. Many credit counseling services start with financial education, but the main benefit is getting lower interest rates. When you’re only able to make minimum payments, most of your payment goes towards interest charges, and very little goes towards the principal. By reducing your interest rates, more of your monthly payment goes towards paying off the principal, allowing you to pay off your debts faster.

Debt management programs are another form of credit counseling offered by the same firms but with a different approach. In a debt management program, you would write one check to the program, and they would pay your creditors. Both credit counseling and debt management programs aim to reduce the interest you pay, but the difference lies in how you pay your bills.

While credit counseling and debt management programs can be helpful, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons before choosing a debt relief option. Lowering your interest rates can help you pay off your debt faster, but the monthly payment required by your creditor may still be more than you can comfortably afford. Additionally, debts being paid through credit counseling programs are tagged as such on credit reports, which may make it more difficult for you to borrow money in the future. Finally, credit counseling programs require that you make all of your payments on time, and if you’re not able to do so, your program may end.