When it comes to paying off credit card debt, many consumers take the path of least resistance: the so-called "minimum payment plan." By law, credit card issuers are required to set a minimum monthly payment amount for each cardholder. These payments are calculated on the basis of the cardholder's total balance, interest rate and certain other factors.

In your essay make sure you address the fact that there is no one size fits all program that will work for every consumer's situation. Each consumer's financial situation is unique so no program can possibly work for all consumers. That is why it is important to learn about all options including debt consolidation loans, credit counseling, bankruptcy and debt negotiation. Keep in mind there are also review sites that can help make the job of finding a reputable company easier.
Debt relief services include credit counseling, debt management and debt settlement. These services can help you strategize how to pay off your debt, create payment plans with creditors or negotiate on your behalf to settle accounts for less than the full balance. While some debt relief services can be helpful, working with debt relief companies can be risky, as scams are common in this industry.
We don’t necessarily admire the additional fee structures (it’s 2019, we need companies to clearly price their services) for the “Fast Track” and “Identity Optimization” services, one-time fees of $25 each. However, the Fast Track option can be useful if you’re looking to apply for a loan very soon, so the extra fee may-well be justified on a case-by-case basis.
Before anything else, you first need to need to know if you qualify for the loan. Most lenders have a minimum FICO score – this represents their risk appetite. Even if you find what you believe to be the best company to get a loan from, you will have to look for other options if you do not meet their requirements. Therefore, if you have a relatively low FICO score, be realistic and expect higher APRs. On the other end, if you have an excellent FICO score, your options will be a lot broader.
Debt consolidation may be a good option if you’re dealing with a manageable amount of debt but just feeling overwhelmed by the number of creditors. One good indicator of when debt consolidation is a good idea is if your debt doesn’t exceed 50% of your income. If your debt exceeds 50% of your income, debt consolidation alone may not be enough to help whittle down your total debt.
Many people, however, don’t have the time or don’t understand how to make their case, so they look into hiring a credit repair company to dispute errors on their behalf. These companies can charge a fee for their legwork (more on how that works in a minute), but there are times when the extra help can certainly be welcome. (Say you have multiple errors across credit reports or you’ve been the victim of widespread identity theft.)
If you’re thinking about filing for bankruptcy, be aware that bankruptcy laws require that you get credit counseling from a government-approved organization within six months before you file for bankruptcy relief. You can find a state-by-state list of government-approved organizations at www.usdoj.gov/ust, the website of the U.S. Trustee Program. That’s the organization within the U.S. Department of Justice that supervises bankruptcy cases and trustees. Be wary of credit counseling organizations that say they are government-approved, but don’t appear on the list of approved organizations.

All loans available through FreedomPlus.com are made by Cross River Bank, a New Jersey State Chartered Commercial Bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender. All loan and rate terms are subject to eligibility restrictions, application review, credit score, loan amount, loan term, lender approval, and credit usage and history. Eligibility for a loan is not guaranteed. Loans are not available to residents of all states – please call a FreedomPlus representative for further details.
Loan approval is not guaranteed. Actual loan offers and loan amounts, terms and annual percentage rates ("APR") may vary based upon LendingPoint's proprietary scoring and underwriting system's review of your credit, financial condition, other factors, and supporting documents or information you provide. Origination or other fees from 0% to 6% may apply depending upon your state of residence. Upon LendingPoint's final underwriting approval to fund a loan, said funds are often sent via ACH the next non-holiday business day. LendingPoint makes loan offers from $2,000 to $25,000, at rates ranging from a low of 15.49% APR to a high of 35.99% APR, with terms from 24 to 48 months. The loan offer(s) shown reflect a 28 day payment cycle which is being offered as a courtesy as many of our customer are paid on a biweekly schedule and thus this may better align the loan payment dates with our customer's actual income receipt schedule. We also offer monthly and bi-monthly pay schedules.
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You should expect your credit score to be lower while you’re working to get out of debt; after all, important credit score factors such as your payment history and credit utilization are likely key reasons why you’re working to get out of debt in the first place. While you should be concerned about your credit score, and monitor it at all times, a lower credit score is not a reason to panic. Remember, you’re considering a debt consolidation plan to help you manage your debts more effectively, which should help your credit score in the end.
The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is the cost of credit as a yearly rate and ranges from 5.99%-29.99%, which may include an origination fee from 0.99%–5.99% that is deducted from loan proceeds. Any origination fee on a loan term 5-years or longer will be at least 4.99%. The APR offered will depend on your credit score, income, debt payment obligations, loan amount, loan term, credit usage history and other factors, and therefore may be higher than our lowest advertised rate. Requests for the highest loan amount may result in an APR higher than our lowest advertised rate. You need a minimum 700 FICO® score and a minimum individual annual income of $100,000 to qualify for our lowest rate.
You should expect your credit score to be lower while you’re working to get out of debt; after all, important credit score factors such as your payment history and credit utilization are likely key reasons why you’re working to get out of debt in the first place. While you should be concerned about your credit score, and monitor it at all times, a lower credit score is not a reason to panic. Remember, you’re considering a debt consolidation plan to help you manage your debts more effectively, which should help your credit score in the end.
The next option is to ignore your debt. Collection accounts fall off your credit report after seven years. At that point, the delinquency stops affecting your credit. The catch? Your credit suffers tremendously in the meantime, and since you’re still legally obligated to pay the debt, a debt collector can pursue you until the statute of limitations runs out in the state where you live.
Credit reporting companies must investigate the items you question within 30 days — unless they consider your dispute frivolous. They also must forward all the relevant data you provide about the inaccuracy to the organization that provided the information. After the information provider gets notice of a dispute from the credit reporting company, it must investigate, review the relevant information, and report the results back to the credit reporting company. If the investigation reveals that the disputed information is inaccurate, the information provider has to notify the nationwide credit reporting companies so they can correct it in your file.

* More on that note: it’s important not to be swayed by any firm’s claim they will “work faster than any other company.” The practice of spamming letters and notices to reporting agencies en masse is ill-advised, and is a sure-fire way to have your letters & disputes outright ignored. This is the case whether you’re doing your own credit repair, or having a company do it for you. Any legitimate credit repair firm will work methodically, yet at the quickest rate possible, to maximize reporting bureau response-rates.
One of the main advantages of a debt consolidation loan is eliminating the task of paying multiple lenders each month. When you consolidate all your existing debt into one new loan, you only have to make payments to your new lender. Making only one payment is not only easier, but it can save you from dealing with late and missed payments—which can occur when juggling multiple different payments each month.

When shopping for a debt consolidation loan, you should watch out for red flags including aggressive sales representatives, guaranteed approvals and quick-fix promises, as well as requirements such as upfront payments before loan approval or access to bank accounts for automatic withdrawals. “No lender should charge you upfront before you get the loan … and you certainly shouldn’t send money with a wire transfer or prepaid card,” Detweiler cautions.
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