5 Best Debt Settlement Companies of 2023

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  • Over $10 billion in debts settled
  • No fees until results are obtained
  • Free, personalized evaluation from certified debt specialists
  • 90% positive ratings with the BBB
  • Settle your debts for significantly less than you owe
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  • Reduce debt in 24-48 months
  • No fees until settlement is reached
  • Money-back guarantee
  • Minimum debt: $7,500
  • One low monthly payment
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  • Reduce debt in 24-36 months
  • No upfront fees
  • BBB A+ rating
  • Over $250 million in debt settled since 1999
  • Get a free debt analysis
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  • Resolve debt in 2-4 years
  • No upfront fees
  • Minimum debt: $7,500
  • Personal account managers and certified debt specialists
  • A+ rating with BBB
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  • Reduce debt in 24-48 months
  • No upfront fees
  • Money-back guarantee
  • Minimum debt: $7,500
  • Get a free savings estimate
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If you’re overwhelmed by debt and can’t make your minimum payments each month, you may start wondering how you’ll ever regain your financial footing.

Luckily, you have options.

One such opportunity comes in the form of debt settlement. This process entails negotiating with your creditors to lower your interest rates and reduce the amount you owe. Typically, you pay in a lump sum, and the debt is considered settled.

5 Best Debt Settlement Companies

Debt settlement companies primarily work with credit card debt. However, there are other types of debt they work with and some they don’t work with at all.

While you certainly can attempt to negotiate your settlement on your own, you may have better results by working with a professional debt relief company. Like debt consolidation loans, working with them allows you to pay one bill at a lower interest rate.

There are many debt relief programs and debt settlement companies that can help you consolidate your debt. The best debt settlement companies can help you avoid bankruptcy by settling your debts for less than what you owe. But with so many debt relief options to choose from, picking the right debt settlement company isn’t always easy.

We’ve rated each debt relief program on factors such as fees, reviews, minimum debt amount, company reputation, and average repayment period. Here are our top debt settlement companies for 2023.

Freedom Debt Relief

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While Freedom Debt Relief takes charge of the debt settlement process on your behalf, you ultimately get to retain control of all decision-making.

How exactly does it work?

First, schedule a time for a free consultation call. This is an essential step because it helps you determine if debt settlement is truly right for you. You’ll talk to a debt consultant who can provide you with several options, allowing you to weigh the pros and cons of each one.

If you decide that Freedom Debt Relief is suitable for you, you’ll receive a customized debt settlement plan. Each plan has three goals it tries to reach:

  1. Provide savings compared to making minimum payments
  2. Resolve debt in a shorter time span
  3. Ensure your comfort with your debt payments

Next, it’s time to start building your settlement fund. Like most debt settlement companies, Freedom requires you to make payments into an FDIC-insured Dedicated Account.

Once you’ve built up enough funds, they’ll start negotiating to lower your interest rates. But before committing to settle, they’ll reach out for your authorization.

This happens for each separate settlement so that you’re not responsible for anything you don’t agree to.

How do you pay them?

Rather than paying a fee upfront or monthly, you only pay for each account that is settled. You’ll be given a transparent cost estimate during your free consultation call.

You’re encouraged to enroll all of your credit cards in Freedom’s debt settlement program, although you can keep one for emergencies if the balance is less than $500.

The goal is to provide holistic debt relief so that you can move forward with a clean slate once the process is over.

Where Freedom Debt Relief Stands Out

Most of their debt management plans range between 24 and 48 months, so you can start seeing results relatively quickly. In total, the company has settled more than $7 billion in consumer debt, reflecting a solid track record of success.

They also serve many clients, which helps with their negotiating power. In fact, Freedom Debt Relief routinely manages nearly 37,000 accounts each month.

While enrolling in debt settlement programs can result in a lawsuit over the money you owe, they don’t see this come to realization for most of their customers. But, if a lawsuit does happen, Freedom is prepared.

Freedom Debt Relief can partner with a third-party law firm to work through the litigation and continue the settlement process.

You’ll likely be required to pay a higher fee for these additional services, but you know you’ll have access to expert help.

Read our full review of Freedom Debt Relief

Accredited Debt Relief

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With a five-star Trust Pilot review, Accredited Debt Relief is certainly a popular option for getting your debt settled. And they offer a slightly different service than the typical debt settlement company.

Rather than performing the debt relief services themselves, they work with partner organizations that help you through a debt settlement program.

The process usually takes 24 to 48 months and goes faster when you put more money towards your settlement account.

Plus, your creditors find out about your enrollment right away.

Specialists call your creditors within the first two weeks of enrolling to let them know that you’ve signed up for the program.

This encourages the creditors to contact Accredited Debt Relief’s partner instead of you. Of course, it’s not a guarantee that you’ll completely avoid these calls, but it can help take some heat off your back.

What sort of expectations should you have going into a program through Accredited Debt Relief?

While there’s never any guarantee with debt settlement programs, people who make their account contributions on time can expect to pay similar amounts as these:

  • Before Fees: 50% of your enrolled balance
  • After Fees: 68% to 75% of your enrolled balance

That may sound like a hefty amount, but you’d still end up saving money on your balance, not to mention the interest you save by avoiding years of minimum monthly payments.

Where Accredited Debt Relief Stands Out

Accredited Debt Relief and their partners regularly work with creditors of all sizes — even the big names. Here are some examples to give you an idea of their scope:

  • Wells Fargo
  • Bank of America
  • Chase
  • Capital One

They are also certified to do business in just about every state, so you can qualify, regardless of where you live.

We also like their commitment to corporate social responsibility. For example, Accredited Debt Relief has provided financial support to several worthy nonprofit organizations.

These nonprofits include St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the Wounded Warrior Project, and Susan G. Komen for the Cure — to name a few.

Read our full review of Accredited Debt Relief

New Era Debt Solutions

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Established in 1999, New Era Debt Solutions operates throughout most of the country with a reputation for strong customer service.

The company claims to have helped clients settle over $250 million in debt. They offer plans that come without any monthly administration fees, and there are no up-front fees at all. Instead, fees are performance-based and charged only when you see results.

According to New Era, the average debt settlement for clients takes less than two to three years. They also claim that on average, their clients save over 50% of their enrolled debt balances. This figure doesn’t take their fees into account, however.

Working with New Era Debt Solutions means clients have access to attorneys on staff. You will also benefit from having an account management team assigned to you from day one.

All of New Era’s work is conducted in-house so you can be sure of a high quality service throughout your contract.

Where New Era Debt Solutions Stands Out

One of the strongest draws to working with New Era Debt Solutions is that fees are only paid upon debt settlement. There are no fees up front.

You can also benefit from a free, no-strings consultation. This is a great chance to get your questions answered and help you understand the details of their service.

Another plus for New Era is the use of an online client dashboard. This makes it easy and convenient for clients to monitor their debt settlement program online. Since many debt settlement companies don’t offer this kind of dashboard, this is a noteworthy feature.

New Era Debt Solutions have excellent reviews, and no registered complaints with the CFPB database. Their online client dashboard stands out when it comes to ongoing customer service. 

There are also debt specialists and regular customer service agents on hand and available for your queries with regular service hours throughout the week.

Read our full review of New Era Debt Solutions

Pacific Debt Inc.

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Based in San Diego, California, Pacific Debt Inc. has spent over 15 years helping clients settle their debts. They work with you to create a debt management plan that works within your budget so that you don’t feel completely overwhelmed by your obligations.

In most cases, your monthly payment for debt settlement is much less than if you continued making your minimum credit card payments each month.

Like the other debt relief companies on our list, they work as quickly as possible, settling most clients’ debts within 24 and 48 months. To get started, you’ll need at least $10,000 in unsecured debts.

Currently, the company works in 28 states, so read our full review to make sure you live in an eligible state. When applying, you’ll work with a debt counselor who will review your current financial situation. They’ll even help you make a budget so that you can stay on track with the program.

Once you enter Pacific’s program and grow your FDIC-insured account, the negotiation process begins. But you always get the final say — no settlement occurs without your approval.

Where Pacific Debt Relief Stands Out

One of the benefits of working with Pacific Debt is that you get a single agent who is dedicated to your account. So if you have a question or concern, you get to talk to the same person each time.

While there aren’t any guarantees, they do have proven results. They have settled over $200 million in debt for their clients. They work with both bank creditors and retail credit cards, so you can get help regardless of what unsecured debt you have.

In fact, they’ve worked to settle accounts with places like Citibank, Target, USAA, Kohl’s, and Capital One.

Read our full review of Pacific Debt Relief

National Debt Relief

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One of the nation’s largest debt settlement firms, National Debt Relief utilizes seasoned professionals to help tackle your debt problems. Their employees include professional debt arbitrators, negotiators, and a stellar customer service department.

It takes just 30 seconds to apply and find out if you’re eligible for their debt settlement services. The minimum amount of required debt is $7,500, but of course, many customers have much more than that.

Once your escrow account has accumulated enough money from your monthly payments, National Debt Relief’s team starts to work on the negotiation process.

National Debt Relief is upfront about how tenacious they are — they’ll keep trying until you either reach a settlement, or the creditor makes it abundantly clear that they won’t settle.

When the team does reach an agreement with the creditor, they’ll reach out directly to you so that you can authorize payment from your account. You have total control over those funds.

You also won’t be charged until you receive a settlement — there are no hidden monthly fees. And if you want to cancel out of the program, it’s an easy process with no fees involved.

Where National Debt Relief Stands Out

While most debt settlement companies only work with unsecured debt, National Debt Relief can sometimes help with secured loans or even private student loans. If these types of debts are a burden for you, then it’s worth reaching out to them.

Within these categories, however, there are some restrictions on debt that they can’t help you with, including:

  • Auto loans
  • Federal loans
  • Mortgages
  • Child support payments

Another stand-out feature from National Debt Relief is that their customer service reps and negotiators work together in teams. That helps you because there’s a lot more transparency regarding whose doing what and the progress that’s being made.

We also appreciate that they have worked with tens of thousands of clients over the years. You don’t get much more experience than that!

Read our full review of National Debt Relief

How do debt settlement companies work?

A debt settlement company is a business that helps customers with unmanageable debt by negotiating for debt settlement on their behalf. The purpose of the debt settlement process is to convince creditors to settle for a portion of the debt balance. This will ultimately make your debt management plans much easier to follow.

Typically, when working with a debt settlement company, they will ask you to save a certain amount of money in a dedicated savings account. This is to build up a lump sum of money that you’ll use to pay your creditors. When the amount you’ve saved is sufficient, the debt relief company will approach your creditor on your behalf.

The debt relief company will negotiate with the creditor and try to convince them to settle for a one-off partial repayment of your debt obligation. If they don’t settle, and you file for bankruptcy instead, they risk receiving no payment at all. The money you’ve saved will be withdrawn by the debt relief company to pay the negotiated debt settlement.

If the debt relief company successfully negotiates with your creditor, they take a percentage of your debt to pay for their debt settlement services. Some debt settlement companies will also charge maintenance fees for their customers’ savings accounts.

How to Pick the Best Debt Settlement Company

There are a lot of debt settlement companies out there, so how do you choose the best debt settlement company for you?

There are several factors to consider. First, think about how severe your debt issues are. You should only consider debt settlement if you’re on the brink of bankruptcy or can’t see a path out of debt anytime soon. You could even talk to an independent credit counselor about your options.

Once you narrow down your options with a professional debt settlement company, first look at the qualifying requirements. You’ll typically need to meet a minimum amount of debt, which usually has to be unsecured.

Debt Settlement Fees

Next, look at the fees. Don’t rely on testimonials and online reviews. You need to call each debt relief company you’re considering and get a quote based on your financial situation. This can help narrow down your options, and you can do it with a free phone consultation.

Monthly Payments

Finally, determine how much your payments will be and how long the debt settlement company expects the process to take. You must find a healthy balance between aggressively funding your debt settlement account while not taking on a new (and unnecessary) financial burden.

Once you’ve compared your options, you can get started on the road to debt relief. It may take some time, but in many cases, it can lead to a much more promising financial future.

Accreditation

Accreditation can provide valuable insights into a debt settlement company’s reputation and the overall quality of their service. For debt relief companies to become accredited, they must meet standards set by the accrediting organization body and the industry they serve.

The American Fair Credit Council (AFCC) is the leading association protecting consumer rights for the debt settlement industry. So, it’s wise to check to see if the debt relief company you’re considering is a member of the AFCC. If a company is a member of the American Fair Credit Council, you can expect high standards of customer service. This is because they promote consumer rights for Americans with high debt obligations.

Impact on Your Credit Score

Just know that debt settlement can damage your credit score significantly, so you should only consider it in extreme circumstances. Debt relief companies will also advise you to stop making payments on your debts, which can result in late fees and collections calls.

Another impact to consider is that you’ll almost certainly need to pay taxes on any amount that is settled. It’s considered part of your income, so make sure you account for this increase when filing your taxes.

As with any bank or other financial services company, it’s essential to choose your debt settlement company carefully. After all, they’re helping to manage your money and represent you in front of your creditors.

What Can Debt Relief Services Help With?

Credit Card Debt

Unsecured credit card debt is the most common kind of debt. Credit cards can allow people to spend way above their means. Your credit score can suffer and you can accumulate considerable debt if you continue to do this. Most debt settlement companies can provide solutions for credit card debt.

Personal Loans

If you default on a personal loan from a bank, credit union or other lender, they usually start charging late fees after about a month. This will cause your credit score to drop quickly as the debt builds. Debt settlement services are adept at providing debt consolidation for personal loans.

Medical Debt

If you don’t pay your medical bill within a certain amount of time, it’ll go to collections. Medical bills are an increasingly common form of debt owed. Freedom Debt Relief is one of the standout choices when it comes to debt consolidation for medical bills.

Unsecured Debts

Unsecured personal loans are any type of personal loan that doesn’t involve collateral. Many of the top debt relief companies can provide unsecured debt consolidation, including some we’ve reviewed above.

Alternatives to Debt Settlement Companies

If you’re on the fence about working with a debt settlement company, you may want to consider some alternatives to weigh your options. Of course, each strategy has its pros and cons, and only you can decide which option will be best for you.

Negotiate Your Own Debt Settlement

Some experts say that working with a debt settlement company will prolong the process and cost you more money overall. They may also ask you to stop paying your creditors until the settlement is over, which can negatively affect your credit.

On top of that, some credit card companies refuse to negotiate with debt settlement companies. For that reason, you may want to negotiate with creditors and settle your debt on your own.

Debt Consolidation Loans

Like a credit card balance transfer, getting a debt consolidation loan allows you to consolidate credit card debt and make one monthly payment. The best way to do this is to find an unsecured loan with a lower interest rate than your current credit cards. This can speed up the process and make it easier to manage.

Credit Counseling

Reputable nonprofit credit counseling agencies work with you to create debt management plans or budget to help you better manage your money. In addition, experts will go over debt repayment options with you to help you achieve your financial goals.

Bankruptcy

As you’ve probably heard many times, filing for bankruptcy is a last resort. The consequences of filing bankruptcy can be severe and affect your life for up to 10 years. The nice thing about bankruptcy is that it’s a relatively quick process, most of your debts will be forgiven, and you’ll be given a fresh start.

Neither bankruptcy nor debt settlement will help you with student loan debt. However, if most of your debt consists of student loans, there are better options available.

Bottom Line

Remember that debt settlement is a significant decision to make. It should always be considered a last resort to avoid filing for bankruptcy.

For that reason, make sure you allow yourself the time to weigh your decision carefully. It might help to seek professional advice via a credit counseling agency, or from a financial advisor. And if you do decide to move forward with a debt settlement company, make sure you understand the fees, expectations, and any other risks involved.