If you’re struggling to repay your unsecured debts, there are various debt relief options that you can use to get back on track. If you choose to work with a credit counselor, they may ask you to consider enrolling in a debt management program. Although this strategy isn’t right for everyone and should be researched thoroughly before proceeding, participating in a debt management program through an accredited credit counseling agency could help you regain control of your finances.
What is Debt Management?
Debt management plans (DMPs) are a type of debt repayment system offered by credit counseling agencies. It’s important to note that DMPs are only one of many options that credit counselors may suggest, as they are also able to help you with creating budgets, breaking down your credit report, and offering loan counseling and financial education resources.
If you and your credit counselor enter a DMP agreement, your counselor will communicate directly with your creditors and attempt to negotiate new payment plans for each of your enrolled debts. Rather than paying your creditors directly, you will make a monthly lump sum payment to the credit counseling agency, who will send those funds directly to your creditors.
Debt management plans can vary in length, but most range from three to five years.
Pros and Cons of Debt Management Programs
Depending on your unique financial circumstances, a debt management plan may not be the best debt relief solution for you. Be sure to research all of your options before committing to a DMP.
Pros of DMPs
Consolidated Payments: Rather than juggling multiple payments with different due dates and amounts, a DMP allows you to combine your debts into one, simpler payment.
Help From a Professional: The credit counseling agency running your DMP can provide you with additional financial help, including free resources and workshops, budgeting assistance and advice on money management.
Potential to Have Lower Payments and Waived Fees: Credit counselors will negotiate with your creditors on your behalf. Although they won’t be able to lower the principal balances on your enrolled accounts, credit counselors will attempt to lower your interest rates, reduce any additional fees or negotiate lower monthly payments.
Having a Solid Plan: DMPs provide a clear, steady plan for debt repayment. You’ll also receive consistent support from credit counselors and financial educators, which can help keep you financially accountable.
Cons of DMPs
Unsecured Debt Only: Debts tied to collateral and some types of unsecured debts, like student loans, are not DMP eligible.
Limited Access to Credit: Depending on the terms of your DMP, you may be asked to close enrolled credit cards. You may also be required to stop using credit cards that aren’t part of the DMP while you’re in the program.
Will Show Up On Your Credit Statement: Although the fact that you’re participating in a DMP does not directly affect your credit score, creditors will be able to see that you’re making payments through a third party. Some lenders may interpret this as a red flag. You may be asked to close credit cards as part of the DMP, and that action can decrease your available credit and affect your credit score.
You’ll Still Have to Pay Back Your Debt in Full: Credit counselors may be able to reduce your interest rate or break your debt into smaller payments, but it’s likely that your principal balances will not change. Other debt relief options, like debt settlement, may be able to lower your principal balances.
Does Managing Debt With a DMP Work?
Many with debt could benefit from the help of a DMP, but these plans aren’t for everyone. If you do not have a steady stream of income that can cover the monthly DMP payment, or if you need access to credit within the next few years, it might be better to choose a different debt relief option.
When searching for debt management solutions, it’s important to do your research and select an accredited organization to work with. Debt relief providers who are part of the American Fair Credit Council (AFCC) or the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) adhere to strict standards and regular audits. You should also look for organizations that are in good standing with the Better Business Bureau.
Accredited Debt Relief provides financial services to those struggling with debt throughout the U.S. Our certified debt specialists can match you with the program that works best for you and your unique financial situation, allowing you to reduce your debt sooner. Contact us today for more information.