Consolidated Credit’s Comprehensive Certified Credit Counseling Guide
See if certified debt counseling services are the right choice to help you get out of debt.
So, you have high credit card balances with even higher interest rates. You make minimum payments on time every month, but your balances never seem to go down. Maybe you’ve even tried negotiating with your creditors one-on-one to work out a repayment plan at a lower rate. Still, you can’t seem to get ahead. It may be time to get help from a certified credit counseling service.
What is credit counseling?
Certified credit counselors offer free financial advice to people who want to to pay off high-interest credit card debt. They help you evaluate your debts, budget and credit to find the best path for you to get out of debt. This can be invaluable, since most people don’t know about the various options for debt relief until they need to use them.
Credit counseling doesn’t have to be so confusing. Here’s a super-easy 60-second explanation of how credit counseling works.
If you’re facing financial distress because of debt, you have a few options when it comes to finding relief. Credit counseling helps you zero in on the right option to use in your situation. That way, you can rest easy knowing your debt solution is actually going to work.
You start the process with a free debt evaluation to see where you stand. A certified credit counselor looks at your debts, budget and credit score to help you decide which solution will work for you.
If a debt management program ends up being your best option, then your credit counselor can also help you enroll in the program. They can tell you how much you’ll pay on the program and how long it should take versus what it would typically take on your own.
So if you’re struggling to get ahead of your debt, we can help! Call Consolidated Credit today for a free debt evaluation with a certified credit counselor. Together, we can find the best solution so you can finally beat your problems with debt.
How credit counseling works
There are two key parts to the counseling process:
- Free debt evaluation and budget counseling
- Debt management program enrollment
The first step of the process is simply speaking with a credit counselor for a free, confidential debt evaluation. They assess your budget, debt, cash flow and credit situation. This helps determine which debt solutions from the range available will work for you.
In some cases, they help you identify and find solutions that you can use on your own. For instance, if you have good credit, you may be able to take out a debt consolidation loan. In other cases, if you don’t have a good score or you have too much debt, you may need other help.
If the counselor determines that a Debt Management Plan will be beneficial, they can help you enroll. This means the agency assists you in creating a repayment plan that will help you get out of debt faster.
Meet Consolidated Credit’s Certified Credit Counselors
Each month, we ask our counselors and customer service representatives about their work helping people get out of debt.
Q: What’s your most memorable counseling experience?
“I got a call from an executive with a major company. He was a big earner with high income, but he also had close to $200,000 in credit card debt. It moved me because it shows no matter how much money you earn, it doesn’t mean you don’t have problems. This man and his family had an autistic child who was severely brain damaged at birth. They used credit cards to cover schooling and medical procedures. Financial challenges don’t discriminate, even if you have money.” Sheila, Certified Credit Counselor
“One day a client started telling me about her situation: She was facing problems with the IRS and about to lose her car. She only had 4 months left on the program, but she wanted to give up. I said, “You still have a home, you have a place to live, so stick with it and you will be OK.” Once she completed the program to eliminate almost $100,000 in debt, things did get better.” Lilisbeth, Customer Service Representative
“There was a lady who walked into our office requesting to speak to someone. She had a shopping addition so bad she rented a little warehouse to store all the stuff that she was buying. She said, “Sometimes I don’t even wear the stuff. There are shoes in there that I bought and just stuck in there.””
Hope, Customer Service Representative
Is credit counseling the right choice?
Asking for financial help isn’t always easy. Fear, feelings of intimidation or humiliation, and pride can all get in the way. However, any delay in asking for help can limit the number of options you have for debt relief.
Here are a few stories from clients we helped who had similar feelings:
[On-screen text] Do you use credit cards to “get by” when you don’t have enough cash?Narrator: People often use credit cards to make ends meet when they have a limited cash flow.[On-screen text] But that can lead to problems with DEBT
Narrator: High interest rates on credit cards can double the cost of items if you’re only paying the minimum amount due each month.
[On-screen text] Renee amassed over $19,000 in credit card debt
Narrator: For Renee, getting by on credit cards during graduate school put her on a treadmill of debt.
[On-screen text] Her credit card interest rates were between 15-20%
Narrator: She was shelling out over $1,200 a month to her creditors, but getting nowhere fast
[On-screen quote from Renee] “I talked to a few companies first. Consolidated Credit stood out because I was still in control of my finances.”
Narrator: Luckily, Renee found Consolidated Credit and enrolled in a debt management program.
[On-screen text] Debt Management Program: Before $1,200 per month; After $500 per month!
Narrator: The program reduced her total monthly payments by almost 60 percent.
[On-screen quote from Renee] “The experience of living without credit cards really changed my mindset. It changed how I budget and spend my money now.”
Narrator: The monthly savings meant she didn’t need credit cards to get by anymore, because her budget was balanced.
[On-screen text] After her interest rates were reduced to 1%, Renee was debt free in 4 years!
Narrator: And she could use part of that monthly savings to save up for a new house. Renee had this to say in closing:
[On-screen quote from Renee] It was a great feeling that I was no longer using credit to get by.
If you feel like you’re barely keeping your head above water, pay your credit cards off. And there’s nothing wrong with asking for help!
Uncovering the benefits certified financial counseling offers
There are five main benefits provided when you work with a credit counselor:
- A credit counselor provides an impartial professional perspective.
- They’re expert negotiators
- They have a variety of free financial resources to offer
- They’re flexible when it comes to help you repay your debt
- The advice they offer is free
In addition, they can help you answer any questions you have about your debt or debt management programs. Here is an example of a question we answered recently:
People ask that question all the time. They want to know, “Does your program pay off my bills and then I owe you the money?” And it’s a very common misconception, and I think part of it’s because people in our industry use the term “debt consolidation,” which is really only meant to suggest that you’re making one payment.
How it works is actually the opposite. The consumer always owes the money to the original creditor that’s put on the program. The only thing a debt management program does is qualify the consumers for programs that their creditors make available for people who come through these programs to give them better interest rates, in most cases better payments. And they do it, in part, because the risk of you not being able to pay off bills is greatly reduced when you use a program like ours.
The only question left to be seen for each individual consumer is, “Do you qualify for the program?” and that’s what we specialize in doing, in addition to helping you figure out what your other options are.
But you still owe the money to the original creditors. Our program is completely voluntary – you can drop out at any time you want. All of the payments you’ve made still get credited to the original creditor, but now you just need to go back to paying them and your interest rates can and probably will go back up to where they were before.
Additional resources to help you decide
At Consolidated Credit, we understand the decision to reach out for help can be tough. We’ve developed a selection of articles that can help you decide if it’s time to get counseling yourself.