The Best Debt Relief Programs of 2021

These programs have helped thousands become debt free - and can help you too.

Find Your Lender

Must Read Articles

We receive referral fees from partners
Advertising Disclosure
How We Rank

Debt Relief: When Consolidation Isn’t Enough

Debt can be frightening, overwhelming, and altogether debilitating, and with more than $3.8 trillion hovering over the American public, you are not the only one facing these fears. If you're staring down the barrel of several thousands of dollars worth of accrued debt and uncertain of what to do about it, this article can help give you some peace of mind and hopefully point you in the right direction if you don’t know where to turn.

A personal loan is a great idea if you can get approved for one, but if your credit isn’t great, this might be tough. Assuming you’ve ruled out this and other more obvious options, debt relief might be your best bet. It has its pluses and minuses, but when you are drowning in debt, relief may be the most logical course of action for you. Here’s what you need to know and how to get it done fast.

Debt Relief: What You Need to Know

Debt relief, which is carried out in the form of debt settlement,  isn’t a typical loan. With a standard personal loan, you’ll find a lender willing to loan you the money, pay off your debt, and then pay back the lender over time. This is not the case with debt relief. In fact, the biggest benefit of debt relief lies in the fact that you will probably end up paying less than the total of what you currently owe right now. Here’s how it works:

You might be asked to cease payments toward your debt (if you haven't already). That means, no more paying your credit card bills each month, no more student loan repayments, etc.

When your creditors see that you’ve stopped paying and aren’t going to be paying in the future (because you cannot afford to, not simply because you were negligent in your payments), your relief service can work to reach an agreement for a lower amount than was originally owed.

This works because creditors would rather get some money than no money by holding out for the larger original sum.

Your debt relief agent will arrange a debt relief program in which it will allocate your single monthly payments, or a lump sum that you’ve amassed to the creditors.

If you can’t afford to pay your current debt but don’t want to file for bankruptcy, debt relief or settlement could be the solution. But there are important drawbacks to debt relief options that you need to understand before you commit, including:

Expect a mark on your credit score

Debt settlement doesn’t look good on your credit report. While it’s not as bad as bankruptcy, settlement is still a black mark that could last for 7 years.

Get ready for some heat

You may have to stop making payments to your creditors in order for the pressure to build up before debt settlement can become an option. When you stop payments, your creditors will send your account to a collection agency. Depending on which one they use, this can be aggressive. From frequent phone calls to rude emails, you’ll need to grow some thick skin to handle it.

Beware of taxes

A final thought to consider is the tax implications of debt settlement: depending on the circumstances (location, amount, financial status, etc.), you may need to pay taxes on the amount of debt you’ve settled. For example, if you’ve settled for $10,000 less than your overall debt, you may need to pay taxes on that $10,000 as income.

How to Choose the Best Debt Relief Program

If you’ve decided that debt settlement is the way to go, make sure you’re dealing with the best in the business. Since some companies will just want to take your money and run, only sign up for someone with the right credentials, including:

Services offered

When looking for a debt settlement service, first ask what types of services are being offered. Will they actually guarantee debt settlement? What type of settlements will they broker? How much debt is required to work with them? Will they work with student loan debt, secured debt, or just credit card debts? What fees will you incur? Learn all you'll need to know about a company before you even begin negotiations.


Reputation is of the utmost importance when it comes to debt relief, due to the already compromised situation you are in currently. Dig deep in order to find out as much as you can about the company. This will include reading online reviews, talking to customer service reps, going through customer feedback, searching for a BBB profile, etc. Also look for accreditation; any reputable debt relief company should be accredited by the AFCC or the IAPDA.


Finally, look at what terms you are getting yourself into. Read through the fine print to ensure you aren’t being mislead. A company with a good reputation will generally state their terms in full disclosures and complete transparency, not hiding anything from its clients.

In addition, avoid companies that make outlandish promises (erase all your debt, pay pennies on the dollar, etc.) or tell you they’ve got an exciting government program to offer you (they don’t).

Top Debt Settlement Companies

When you’re ready to get your debt in order, you can trust the top names in the debt settlement industry. Three of the most reputable services are:



Founded in 2002, Freedom allows you to go debt-free in 2 to 5 years. This longer-than-average repayment plan provides you with the ability to make lower monthly payments, so you can keep up with your debt repayment more easily.

Freedom works with student loans as well as unsecured debt, such as credit card debt. It holds an A+ with the BBB, an encouraging sign in this industry.



CountryWide Debt Relief is one of the most popular options for these types of situations. It’s got fair terms and transparent policies that make it apparent that CountryWide is really here to help the consumers. For example, you’ll only get charged if you get at least a 20% reduction in your debt.

You can also pay off your debt in 12 to 60 months, a comfortable range. An added bonus to using CountryWide Debt Relief is that this service will deal directly with collection agencies, legal suits, and creditors that have turned ugly, so you don't have to.

The A+ BBB rating and accreditation from AFCC and IAPDA speak to CountryWide’s reputation as well. Find out more about how CountryWide can assist you today.



Accredited is a household name in the debt settlement industry. For over 20 years, Accredited has been helping its customers successfully navigate the choppy waters of debt repayment and settlements. With straightforward business dealings and a good reputation for getting the job done, it’s easy to see why Accredited is a popular choice for debt settlements.

You can get a free debt consultation with a finance expert, 24/7 access to an online dashboard for monitoring your debt status, and an honest payment plan that involves no upfront payments or hidden fees. See what Accredited Debt Relief is all about with this involved review.

How to Apply for Debt Settlement

With the help of modern technology, applying for a debt settlement program has never been easier. You can go online to any of the reputable debt relief companies listed above and sign up on the spot. You’ll be asked a few basic questions such as your overall current debt, whether or not you’re behind in payments, and some personal details like a phone number and email address to contact you with. Since you’ll be asked these basic questions, it’s a good idea to do some preliminary prep work, like:

  • Organizing all of your debt, so you can have a ballpark estimate of your entire debt amount
  • Be ready to provide more detailed information about the type of debt (credit card, student loans, auto loans, etc.)
  • Take a personal accounting of your monthly expenses, so you can see what a realistic monthly payment plan would look like for you

Then, just apply:

  1. Go online and fill out an application form.
  2. You can get pre-approval instantly sometimes. Other services may take a few minutes to approve your application.
  3. Wait for a rep to contact you.
  4. Discuss your options and make a repayment/debt settlement plan that works for you.

Debt Relief Terms and Rates

Most debt settlement services charge you either a percentage of the overall debt or a percentage of the settlement amount, ranging in the 15% - 25% ballpark. Be wary of any service that forces you to pay an upfront fee for its help. That's not even legal.

Debt relief isn’t the best first choice, but if you are struggling with debt and can’t make the monthly payments, it might be a good option for you. It often beats declaring bankruptcy. Contact a competent debt settlement company, and discuss your options today.

What is an APR?

APR is an acronym for annual percentage rate. It combines the charges, fees, and payments to tell you the grand total of what your loan will cost you per year. The lower the APR, the less you are going to pay in the long run.

The APR calculation on personal loans will vary depending on your lender, but it will typically be lower than what you would receive from a payday or short-term loan – usually starting at 10% and capping at 35.99%. It is not ideal to owe any money, but if you require a loan, then a personal loan could certainly be a viable option.

APR rates mentioned include associated fees.

Full repayment for the loans displayed range between 61 days to 180 months.

Representative example: assuming a loan of $10,000 over 60 months at a fixed rate of 3.1% per annum and fees of $60.00. This would result in a representative rate of 3.3% APR, with monthly repayments of $180.80, for a total amount paid of $10,848.00.

LightStream Terms and Conditions:

* Your loan terms, including APR, may differ based on loan purpose, amount, term length, and your credit profile. Rate is quoted with AutoPay discount. AutoPay discount is only available prior to loan funding. Rates without AutoPay may be higher. If your application is approved, your credit profile will determine whether your loan will be unsecured or secured. Subject to credit approval. Conditions and limitations apply. Advertised rates and terms are subject to change without notice.

Payment example: Monthly payments for a $10,000 loan at 5.74% APR with a term of 3 years would result in 36 monthly payments of $303.04.

SunTrust and LightStream are trademarks of SunTrust Banks, Inc.

Lending services provided by SunTrust Bank.



**  Marcus By Goldman Sachs® Offer Terms and Conditions:


Your loan terms are not guaranteed and are subject to our verification of your identity and credit information. To obtain a loan, you must submit additional documentation including an application that may affect your credit score. Rates will vary based on many factors, such as your creditworthiness (for example, credit score and credit history) and the length of your loan (for example, rates for 36 month loans are generally lower than rates for 72 month loans). Your maximum loan amount may vary depending on your loan purpose, income and creditworthiness. Your verifiable income must support your ability to repay your loan. Marcus by Goldman Sachs is a brand of Goldman Sachs Bank USA and all loans are issued by Goldman Sachs Bank USA, Salt Lake City Branch. Applications are subject to additional terms and conditions.



*** LendingClub Terms and Conditions:


All loans made by WebBank, Member FDIC. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, and credit usage & history. The APR ranges from 6.95% to 35.89%. The origination fee ranges from 1% to 6% of the original principal balance and is deducted from your loan proceeds. For example, you could receive a loan of $6,000 with an interest rate of 7.99% and a 5.00% origination fee of $300 for an APR of 11.51%. In this example, you will receive $5,700 and will make 36 monthly payments of $187.99. The total amount repayable will be $6,767.64. Your APR will be determined based on your credit at the time of application. The average origination fee is 5.49% as of Q1 2017. In Georgia, the minimum loan amount is $3,025. In Massachusetts, the minimum loan amount is $6,025 if your APR is greater than 12%. There is no down payment and there is never a prepayment penalty. Closing of your loan is contingent upon your agreement of all the required agreements and disclosures on the website. All loans via LendingClub have a minimum repayment term of 36 months. Borrower must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or be in the United States on a valid long term visa and at least 18 years old. Valid bank account and Social Security number are required. Equal Housing Lender. All loans are subject to credit approval. LendingClub’s physical address is: LendingClub, 71 Stevenson Street, Suite 1000, San Francisco, CA 94105