Finance

6 Best Credit Counseling Companies (2023)

Debt is easy to rack up but hard to eliminate. If your debts are out of control and you need help, credit counseling services should be on your radar.

Credit counseling helps overextended consumers with high-interest debt take charge of their finances and move toward getting out of debt. They do this with two main tools:

  1. Free credit counseling sessions help clients get an accurate picture of their debt situation and their options for improving it.
  2. Debt management plans (DMP) help clients consolidate debts without a credit check and negotiate better terms and lower interest rates.

Debt management plans come with a monthly fee, but in most cases, the reduction in your monthly debt payment will more than cover the fee.

Many credit counseling agencies also provide housing counseling, student debt counseling, financial education, and other services.

Best Credit Counseling Services

These credit counseling services are non-profit companies and are members of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) or the Financial Counseling Association of America (FCAA), the two major credit counseling associations.

These agencies will not pressure you into enrolling in a debt management plan as a default solution to your money woes. Instead, you’ll get to work with licensed credit counselors who will advise you on the best credit management strategies based on your financial situation.

The shortlisted candidates offer nationwide online or phone support and free initial counseling sessions.

BEST REPUTATION

Cambridge Credit Counseling Corp

Cambridge Credit Counseling Corp logo

Cambridge Credit Counseling Corporation is an FCAA-accredited credit counseling agency with offices in Massachusetts and New York. Established in 1996, this not-for-profit agency helps with unsecured debt management, mortgage issues, and student loans. Learn more

💵 Fees: Capped at $50-$70/mo for debt management plans.

  • Credit counseling
  • Debt consolidation 
  • Debt management plans

Visit Website

BEST FOR IN-PERSON COUNSELING

Money Management International

Money Management International logo

Money Management International grew from a family-run debt counseling business in Arizona to a nationwide credit counseling agency with branches in 25 states. It provides in-person and over-the-phone consultations in two languages: English and Spanish. Learn more

💵 Fees: $25/mo on average for debt management plans.

  • Homebuyer counseling
  • Disaster recovery counseling
  • Credit report reviews

Visit Website

BEST EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES

GreenPath Financial Wellness

GreenPath Logo

GreenPath Financial Wellness has been offering credit counseling services for 60 years. The company is consistently recognized among the top socially responsible employers by the Center for Companies That Care for its inclusive approach to financial education and debt relief advisory. Learn more

💵 Fees: Debt management plans are $0-$75 per month.

  • Credit counseling and debt settlement 
  • Personalized debt management plans
  • 3-minute financial self-assessments 

Visit Website

BEST CREDIT SCORE MANAGEMENT

DebtWave Credit Counseling

DebtWave excels in credit coaching and credit score management. Work with qualified personal finance advisors to deal with credit card debt and other unsecured loans and optimize your interest rates. Learn more

💵 Fees: Debt management plan fees are capped at $49-$75/month.

  • On-demand online counseling
  • Financial education resources
  • Free budget analysis

Visit Website

BEST FOR DEBT MANAGEMENT

American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC)

American Consumer Credit Counseling logo

American Consumer Credit Counseling promises to slash your monthly debt repayments by 30-50% with advice on debt consolidation and management. ACCC also handles tax and medical debt management, housing, and bankruptcy counseling. Learn more

💵 Fees: Capped at $70/month for debt management plans.

  • A detailed review of your income, assets, and expenses
  • Personalized debt management strategies
  • Medical debt management services

Visit Website

BEST DIGITAL EXPERIENCE

Apprisen

Apprisen logo

Apprisen provides online credit counseling services through an interactive portal. You can get a quick debt assessment and personalized financial advice within 48 hours by email. Then you can communicate with your credit counselor by phone or video-conferencing to decide on the best debt relief strategy. Learn more

💵Fees: Capped at $45/mo for debt management plans.

  • Credit health educational sessions
  • Student loan counseling
  • Financial coaching services

Visit Website

1. Cambridge Credit Counseling Corp 

🏆 Best Reputation

Cambridge Credit Counseling Corp homepage

Cambridge Credit Counseling Corporation is a member of the Financial Counseling Association of America (FCAA) and the National Foundation for Credit Counselors (NFCC), the two essential accreditations for reputable credit counseling agencies.

In operation since 1996, Cambridge Credit Counseling focuses on helping clients control high-interest debt. This credit counseling agency has achieved impressive results for its clients, including an average 14% reduction in credit card interest rates and a 25% reduction in monthly credit card bills.

Cambridge Credit Counseling is also approved by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), meaning they are qualified to provide mortgage counseling, including reverse mortgage (HECM) advisory and foreclosure intervention services.

Pros:

  • Comprehensive housing counseling services
  • Free initial budget analysis and financial plans assessment
  • A full breakdown of costs sent before debt management program enrolment
  • High ratings at Consumer Affairs and Better Business Bureau (BBB)
  • Free financial education: workbooks, brochures, video series
  • Post-counseling support via phone, email, and client portal

Cons:

  • You must close all unsecured debt accounts before enrollment
  • Limited opportunities for in-person credit counseling
  • Can send multiple ​​unsolicited emails
Fees: 
Initial setup fee $40
Average monthly fee $30
Monthly fee caps $75 max

Accreditations and memberships:

  • Financial Counseling Association of America (FCAA) 
  • HUD-Approved Housing Counseling Agency
  • Council on Accreditation (COA)

Visit Cambridge Credit Counseling


2. Money Management International (MMI)

🏆 Best for In-Person Counseling

Money Management International (MMI) homepage

Money Management International (MMI) is a highly-reviewed non-profit credit counseling company with a 4.9 rating on Trustpilot (based on 1.7K reviews) and an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.

They offer free financial counseling services for budgeting, debt settlement, credit score improvements, and more. You can also access free content (webinars, workshops, and a podcast) about personal finances.

Unlike many credit counseling services on this list, MMI does most of the counseling in person via its extensive network of branches. They have a presence in 25 states (excluding AL, DE, ID, IN, IA, KS, KY, ME, MI, MN, MT, NE, NH, ND, OH, RI, SC, SD, TN, UT, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY) and welcome walk-ins.

You can also contact the agency by phone. Employed credit counselors speak either English or Spanish and are available 24/7.

MMI is also among the few services to offer assistance with recovering after a natural disaster. You can contact them to get help with financial recovery plan development, FEMA aid, and insurance paperwork.

Pros:

  • Free credit counseling and consolidated credit reviews
  • Presence in 25 states and 36 cities
  • Proactive credit score management
  • Advisory services for first-time home buyers
  • Post-disaster financial recovery counseling
  • Multi-language credit counseling sessions

Cons:

  • The online portal is only available for the debt management plan
  • Will auto-close all credit cards as part of DMP enrollment
  • Communication can be delayed at times
Fees: 
Initial setup fee for DMP Capped at $75
Average monthly fee for DMP $25
Bankruptcy pre-filing Up to $50

Accreditations and memberships:

  • Financial Counseling Association of America (FCAA) member 
  • Council on Accreditation (COA)

Visit Money Management International


3. GreenPath Financial Wellness

🏆 Best Educational Resources

GreenPath Financial Wellness  homepage

GreenPath Financial Wellness is a regional credit union service that evolved into a HUD-approved and COA-accredited financial counseling service provider.

The company operates 21 office locations in 16 states and offers many online resources via its website and dedicated online portal (accessible to any user). You can sign up for online classes, download worksheets and guides, tune in for a financial literacy podcast, or use on-site financial calculators to get out of debt faster.

If you need more support, you can sign up for the initial credit counseling session online and have it conducted by phone, video conferencing, or in person. GreenPath employs a roster of qualified credit counselors, including HUD-approved housing agents, to educate and assist with money management.

In 2021, GreenPath helped its clients pay off over 9,5000 debt management plans in full and resolved some 40K+ budget and debt issues.

Pros:

  • Free, confidential credit report reviews
  • Full transparency on client outcomes and results
  • Ample self-service money management tools
  • Free first-time homebuyer classes
  • Highly qualified board of directors and counselors
  • Reverse mortgage counseling

Cons:

  • Phone support is only available between 8 am-10 pm Eastern time
  • Some online housing workshops are paid
  • Lower BBB rating due to customer service issues
Fees: 
Initial setup fee for DMP $35 on average 
Average monthly fee for DMP $29
Bankruptcy pre-filing Up to $50

Accreditations and memberships:

  • Financial Counseling Association of America (FCAA) member
  • Council on Accreditation (COA)
  • HUD-Approved Housing Counseling Agency
  • Approved by the U.S. Trustees to provide pre-bankruptcy counseling

Visit GreenPath


4. DebtWave Credit Counseling

🏆 Best Credit Score Management

DebtWave Credit Counseling homepage

DebtWave is a national credit counseling service operating out of San Diego, California. The company doesn’t have branch locations outside of CA but is available by phone from 6 am to 6 pm every workday for credit counseling. You can also book an in-person appointment via their website.

The average credit counseling session duration is 60 minutes. The session includes an initial budget analysis, a credit score review, your credit utilization ratio assessment, and an explanation of your credit mix, all done for free.

Afterward, you’ll be provided with further options: ongoing advisory on debt management, asset liquidation strategies, enrollment with a debt settlement company, or a debt management program.

DebtWave credit counselors won’t push you towards a debt management plan as a default solution. You’ll get a fair assessment of your financial situation and personalized follow-up steps.

Pros:

  • Free credit coaching sessions and budget analysis 
  • Proactive advisory on credit score management
  • In-depth credit mix analysis of all credit accounts 
  • Free estimation of debt payoff date and possible interest rates 
  • Informative online events, seminars, and masterclasses 
  • Online credit calculators for self-service

Cons:

  • Doesn’t have FCAA or HUD accreditation 
  • Doesn’t provide any mortgage or rental counseling 
  • Phone counseling is only available on workdays until 6 pm Pacific time 
Fees: 
DMP enrollment fee capped at $75
Monthly DMP fee capped at $49

Accreditations and memberships:

  • Center for Financial Certification

Visit DebtWave


5. American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC)

🏆 Best for Debt Management

American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) homepage

American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) is a national credit counseling company based in Massachusetts with 20 office branches across 14 states. They have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, indicating a high level of responsiveness to customer complaints.

ACCC specializes in credit counseling and debt management plans. Unlike others, they deal not just with credit card debt and high-interest personal loans but also medical debt, tax arrears, and student loans. Separately, they have credit counselors who are approved by the U.S. Trustees office to provide pre-filing and post-filing bankruptcy counseling.

ACCC also helps with debt consolidation, debt settlement, and debt management program enrollment. Based on BBB customer reviews, ACCC counselors never push you toward a particular option but advise on different strategies and leave the final choice to you.

Pros:

  • HUD-approved house counseling services for homeowners and renters 
  • Personalized evaluations of your current financial situation
  • Physical presence in multiple states and cities 
  • Proactive strategies for debt consolidation and management 
  • Proven record of lowering interest rates and monthly payments
  • Work with credits to reduce finance charges, late fees, and over-limit charges

Cons:

  • Not licensed in the state of Oregon for bankruptcy counseling
  • A limited online portal, only available for DMP participants 
  • Don’t offer ongoing financial literacy advisory 
Fees: 
DMP enrollment fee capped at $39
Monthly DMP fee capped at $70
Bankruptcy pre-filing Up to $49

Accreditations and memberships:

  • Financial Counseling Association of America (FCAA) member
  • HUD-Approved Housing Counseling Agency
  • Council on Accreditation (COA)
  • Approved by the U.S. Trustees to provide pre-bankruptcy counseling

Visit American Consumer Credit Counseling


6. Apprisen

🏆 Best Digital Experience

Apprisen homepage

Apprisen claims to have helped over a half-million consumers to get out of debt. This credit counseling agency operates out of Ohio and has no branches outside the state.

However, they have one of the best online financial literacy apps, and it’s available to all users. To receive personalized financial advice, you must complete a quick online questionnaire and securely share requested information (your pay stubs, credit reports, etc.).

Apprisen uses a unique system based on IRIS, an automated system that will generate a personalized financial plan in as little as 30 minutes. Then you can schedule a phone or video call with an Apprisen credit counselor to decide the next steps.

Apprisen focuses on improving your financial wellness and helping you learn effective budgeting, saving, and credit management practices. You can have unlimited follow-up phone counseling sessions, peruse provided training materials, or sign up for regular workshops.

Pros:

  • Convenient online portal for financial assessments 
  • Personalized financial plans for each client 
  • In-depth reviews of your credit reports and scores
  • Retirement planning resources and workshops 
  • Financial review sessions for small business owners 

Cons:

  • No physical branches outside of Ohio 
  • Many educational sessions are paid 
  • Don’t offer dedicated counseling on medical debt 
Fees: 
DMP enrollment fee capped at $45
Monthly DMP fee capped at $45
One-time fee for enrolling in financial coaching $300

Accreditations and memberships:

  • Member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) 
  • Council on Accreditation (COA) 

Visit Apprisen


The Best Credit Counseling Companies Compared

Cambridge Credit Counseling Corporation Money Management International GreenPath Financial Wellness DebtWave American Consumer Credit Counseling Apprisen
Type of company 501(c)(3) non-profit agency 501(c)(3) non-profit agency 501(c)(3) non-profit agency 501(c)(3) non-profit agency 501(c)(3) non-profit agency 501(c)(3) non-profit agency
Service area 50 states 50 states 50 states 50 states 50 state 50 states
Physical office(s) NY and MA In 25 states In 16 states  California In 14 states Ohio 
Phone/video chat support ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Online client accounts For credit counseling and bankruptcy counseling  Only for debt management plan (DMP) For all customers, a mobile app is available  Not offered at present  Only for debt management plans and bankruptcy counseling  Online services via IRIS financial planning software 
Debt consolidation  ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Debt management plans ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Credit card bills management ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Personalized financial coaching  ✔️* ✔️ ✔️
Housing counseling  ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Medical debt management ✔️** ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Foreclosure intervention  ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Reverse mortgage counseling  ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Disaster recovery counseling  ✔️
Student loan counseling ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Bankruptcy counseling ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Free financial literacy resources ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️ ✔️
Monthly fees Capped at $50 Average $25 Range from $0 to $75 Capped at $49 Between $7-$70 Never exceed $45

*Via partner ClariFi
**Via Dollar For partnering agency

Does Credit Counseling Affect Your Credit Score?

A free credit counseling session will not affect your credit score. If you adopt a debt management plan, you may see a short-term drop in your score. You may be required to close accounts, which can shorten your credit history and reduce your credit mix.

That impact will usually be temporary. Over time, a debt management plan should improve your payment history and your credit score.

A nationwide study of 12,000 US consumers found that people who were working with credit counseling companies could reduce their revolving debt by $3,600 more than consumers without counseling[1].

Almost 70% of the survey participants said they learned better money management techniques, improved their financial confidence, and learned to consistently tackle their debt.

Some for-profit debt relief companies can push you towards aggressive debt management strategies such as debt settlement. Because debt settlement involves negotiating for less than the total amount owed, it can have a significant negative impact on your credit score.

Many debt settlement companies ask you to temporarily stop making payments, which can damage your credit, send accounts to collection agencies, or even lead to a lawsuit. Non-profit credit counselors will generally steer you away from these methods.

How to Choose the Right Credit Counselor

There are many different types of organizations and companies advertising debt relief services, and it’s easy to get confused. It’s important to get the right ones because some are sketchy, and some are outright scams.

Legitimate credit counseling companies are non-profits. Most are accredited by reputable organizations such as the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) or the Financial Counseling Association of America (FCAA).

Once you have your shortlist, reach out to each agency with the following questions:

  1. What services do you offer? Find a company that offers budget counseling, savings classes, and credit management advice. Don’t trust organizations that push debt management plans or other services before they spend time analyzing your finances.
  2. What is your counseling process? Ask about the average consultation duration and type of advice you can receive. Find out what kind of follow-up support the company offers and which educational materials are free. Avoid organizations that charge for accessing any information.
  3. Are you licensed to offer your services in my state? It’s always worth double-checking since consumer credit counseling regulations differ nationwide.
  4. What are your fees? Find much the company charges for specific counseling. Ask if you’ll get billed per session or on a flat-rate basis. Be wary of credit counselors who ask you to pay upfront for an initial consulting session.

Check for any complaints or legal action taken against credit counseling companies. You can look up their Better Business Bureau (BBB) reviews or check in with a local consumer protection agency.

How Much Does Credit Counseling Cost?

Non-profit credit counseling agencies offer free financial situation assessment and post-counseling support. You may be asked, however, to pay an onboarding fee and ongoing monthly service fees if you decide to enroll in a debt management plan.

Most not-for-profit agencies cap the max onboarding fee at $75 and monthly payments — at $50. Depending on your state and financial situation, you may also get the monthly fee waived.

In other words, you can get professional credit coaching and financial education resources for free and debt management plans at a low cost.

Almost anyone who’s under financial stress can benefit from a free counseling session. What you do after that is up to you, but credit counseling will help you make an informed decision!


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