Best Debt Settlement Companies

Debt settlement offers a way to reduce the total amount of debt owed potentially, and while it has benefits, it’s essential to choose the right company and be aware of potential risks.

Written by
Luke Daugherty
Last Update on Oct 6, 2023


Debt settlement, often called debt negotiation or debt resolution, is a financial strategy whereby debtors and creditors mutually agree to satisfy an outstanding debt for less than the original amount owed. It offers hope to those burdened by insurmountable debts, providing a possible pathway to pay off a portion of their debt in lieu of the entire sum. This approach is typically facilitated by a debt settlement company that negotiates with creditors on the debtor’s behalf.

For many, the overwhelming weight of unpaid debts strains their finances and takes a toll on their mental and emotional well-being. These individuals often feel cornered by incessant calls from creditors, accruing interest rates, and the looming threat of legal action.

By potentially reducing the debt amount, debt settlement provides a way to regain financial control, avoid the drastic measure of bankruptcy, and move forward. However, promising as it sounds, it is important to approach debt settlement with a well-informed perspective, understanding its positives and potential drawbacks.

Top Debt Settlement Companies

With various companies in the market, deciding which is best suited for your needs can be challenging. This section will examine some of the top debt settlement companies and provide an overview of their services.

Debt Settlement CompanyFeeBBB RatingYear founded Minimum debt required
National Debt Relief15% to 25%A+2009$7,500
Pacific Debt Relief15% to 35%A+2002$10,000
Accredited Debt Relief15% to 25%A+2011$10,000
Money Management International$33 enrollment, $25 monthly (averages)A+1997Not specified
CuraDebtUp to 20%A+2000$5,000
New Era Debt Solutions14% to 23%A+1999Varies

National Debt Relief

Transparent fees and high customer service ratings
Client dashboard with a variety of client resources
Available in all but three states
15% to 25%
BBB Rating
Year founded
Minimum debt required
Show More Details

National Debt Relief tops our list of the best debt settlement companies thanks to its strong service history and transparent pricing model. The company’s fees are comparable to other providers on our list, and it boasts excellent ratings on the BBB and Trustpilot. With an easy-to-use client dashboard and online client resources, National Debt Relief stands out as a client-first debt settlement agency.

On average, clients see their debts settled within 24–48 months — not the fastest average on our list, but a fairly standard time frame. You must have at least $7,500 in unsecured debt and be several months behind on your payments to qualify for settlement.


  • Transparent fees
  • Online dashboard makes it easy to monitor progress
  • Free quotes and debt analysis


  • Minimum $7,500 in unsecured debt required to qualify
  • Fees can be as high as 25% of total enrolled debt
  • Not available in Oregon, Vermont, or West Virginia
Additional Details
  • A+ BBB Rating and 4.7 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot
  • Fees range from 15% to 25% of enrolled debt with an average of 21%
  • More than $1 billion in settled debt since 2009
  • Customer support is available Monday through Friday (no live chat option)
  • AFCC accredited

Pacific Debt Relief

High customer service ratings with 20+ years in business
Free consultation and quotes available
Higher minimum debt limit and potential fees
15% to 35%
BBB Rating
Year founded
Minimum debt required
Show More Details

Pacific Debt Relief may not boast as much settled debt as National Debt Relief, but its customer service scores stand out as some of the best among its peers. With a 4.8-out-of-5 score on Trustpilot in over two decades, the results speak for themselves.

The company’s higher minimum debt requirement of $10,000 will turn away some potential clients, as will its wide fee range of 15% to 35%. Depending on your debts, this can be a costly settlement option, so be sure to take advantage of the free consultation and quote before you enroll.


  • Very high customer service ratings
  • Free consultation and quote
  • Educational resources available on the company’s website


  • Minimum $10,000 in unsecured debt required
  • Fees up to 35% of enrolled debt
  • Not available in 21 states
Additional Details
  • A+ BBB Rating and 4.8 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot
  • More than $200 million in settled debt since 2002
  • Debts take an average of 24–48 months to settle, though some may take longer
  • Customer support available Monday through Saturday (no live chat or client dashboard)
  • Does not operate in Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, or Wyoming
  • AFCC accredited

Accredited Debt Relief

Debt settlement in as little as 12 months
Near-perfect customer service rating on Trustpilot
Fees only apply to successful settlements
15% to 25%
BBB Rating
Year founded
Minimum debt required
Show More Details

With barely a decade in business, Accredited Debt Relief has already racked up an impressive résumé. The company has settled over $1 billion in debts and claims to reduce the average client’s debt by 45%. Its 4.9-out-of-5 rating on Trustpilot is tops on our list, setting the company apart in terms of customer service.

Accredited Debt Relief’s biggest knock is that it’s only available in 31 states and the District of Columbia. You’ll also have to pay fees of roughly 15% to 25% on your enrolled debt, even if the company is able to negotiate a substantial reduction. Some debts can even be settled in as little as 12 months, while others may take up to four years.


  • Some debts can be settled in 12 months
  • Company helps reduce client debt by 45% on average
  • 4.9 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot


  • At least $10,000 in unsecured debt required to qualify
  • Not available in every state
  • Fee based on total enrolled debts, regardless of how much the company is able to reduce your debt
Additional Details
  • A+ BBB Rating and 4.9 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot
  • More than $1 billion in settled debt for 200,000+ clients since 2011
  • Available in 31 states and Washington, D.C.
  • Services not available for secured debts such as mortgages, auto loans, or student loans
  • AFCC accredited

Money Management International

Nonprofit debt settlement agency available in all 50 states
Lower fees than competitors
Can negotiate interest rate reductions
$33 enrollment, $25 monthly (averages)
BBB Rating
Year founded
Minimum debt required
Not specified
Show More Details

As a nonprofit debt settlement and credit counseling agency, Money Management International (MMI) stands out for its lower fees and flexible monthly payment arrangements. The company has been in business for over 25 years, operates nationwide, and boasts a near-perfect rating on Trustpilot.

After your free consultation, MMI will either recommend debt settlement or another pathway for debt relief. If you choose settlement, the company will negotiate rate reductions with your creditors and establish a payment plan. Fees will be included in your monthly payment, which MMI will then disburse to your creditors.


  • Nonprofit agency can offer lower fees
  • Free initial counseling session and analysis
  • Will negotiate rate reductions with creditors


  • May take up to five years to pay off debts
  • Charges a setup fee and a monthly settlement fee, which may be less appealing to some consumers
  • MMI may receive some compensation from creditors for client enrollment
Additional Details
  • A+ BBB Rating and 4.9 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot
  • Services include financial education, credit and bankruptcy counseling, and debt management
  • No minimum debt requirement specified
  • Free educational resources available to clients
  • Available nationwide and in business for more than 25 years
  • Accredited by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) and the Council on Accreditation (COA)


Low minimum debt requirement
Fees only apply when the company settles debts
Not available in 15 states
Up to 20%
BBB Rating
Year founded
Minimum debt required
Show More Details

CuraDebt has been in business longer than many of the companies on our list, and it has built a strong reputation over 20-plus years. Its 4.1-out-of-5 rating on Trustpilot isn’t as high as some others we’ve reviewed here, but it’s still solid. The company’s low minimum debt requirements, performance-based fees, and ability to service both secured and unsecured debts stand out as top features.

CuraDebt is less transparent about its fees and timeframes than we’d like, but clients should expect to pay no more than 20% — and only when their debts are settled. Although the company’s website is a bit behind the times, you’ll find educational resources available to help you get back on your feet.


  • Low $5,000 minimum debt requirement
  • Services secured and unsecured debts
  • Fees based on performance


  • Lack of fee transparency
  • Lower Trustpilot rating than other companies on this list
  • Not available in 15 states
Additional Details

A+ BBB Rating and 4.1 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot
Free consultation and analysis
Performance-based fee structure means you only pay when CuraDebt delivers
Fees vary based on types of debt, up to 20% of total enrolled
Debt relief services not available in Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, Nevada, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, and West Virginia
Tax relief unavailable in Pennsylvania or Puerto Rico
Accredited by the AFCC and the International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators (IAPDA)

New Era Debt Solutions

High customer service ratings
Online dashboard and chat available
Available in all but three states
14% to 23%
BBB Rating
Year founded
Minimum debt required
Show More Details

With almost 25 years in business and over $275 million settled, New Era Debt Solutions has the experience to win clients. Its 4.9-out-of-5 rating on Trustpilot stands out among most of its competitors, and the company’s live chat and online dashboard options help bolster its strong reputation.

Many clients are drawn to New Era for its customer service, and its 14% to 23% fees are comparable to many other options you’ll find. Note that you may have to accumulate a year’s worth of savings before the company will begin negotiating with your creditors, and it takes 28 months, on average, to fully settle your debts. New Era doesn’t specify a minimum debt requirement.


  • Almost 25 years in business and more than $275 in settled debt
  • High customer service rankings, with live chat available
  • Lower minimum debt requirement than many other companies


  • May not begin negotiating with creditors until you accumulate 12 months’ worth of savings
  • Customer support only available Monday through Friday
  • Not available in three states
Additional Details
  • A+ BBB Rating and 4.9 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot
  • Average debt settlement timeframe is 28 months
  • Unspecified minimum debt requirements
  • Free consultation and debt relief analysis
  • Not available in Iowa, Maine, or Oregon
  • AFCC accredited

In choosing the best debt settlement company, you should consider your specific needs, the company’s track record, and any associated fees. Always read reviews, terms and conditions, and seek advice when needed.

Criteria for Evaluating Debt Settlement Companies

The right debt settlement company can be the difference between getting your debts down or ending up in a worse financial situation. Make sure you understand and evaluate all of your potential options. Here are some primary criteria to think about:

Reputation and Customer Reviews

The reputation of a debt settlement company can speak volumes about its efficiency and professionalism. Check online reviews on independent platforms and websites to see what real customers have experienced and what feedback they have. No company is free from negative reviews, but consistently poor feedback should warn you to proceed cautiously. Watch out for things like hidden fees, unkept promises, or poor customer service in the reviews. 

Accreditation by Industry Standards

Accreditation is an external validation of a company’s commitment to maintaining specific industry standards. Before partnering with a debt settlement firm, verify if they are accredited by recognized industry organizations such as the American Fair Credit Council (AFCC) or the International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators (IAPDA). 

These organizations advocate for best practices and uphold rigorous standards for their members. An accredited company showcases credibility and demonstrates a commitment to ethical practices, proper training, and maintaining a certain level of service quality.

Fee Structure and Transparency

One of the primary concerns with debt settlement companies is the potential for hidden costs. Make sure you understand their fee structure upfront. Reliable companies should be transparent about their charges, typically levying fees based on a percentage of the debt they successfully negotiate rather than demanding upfront or monthly retainers. 

Be wary of firms that ask for fees before settling your debts, as this can be a sign of a scam. Clear and straightforward communication about all fees, potential additional costs, and the overall process will ensure you’re not caught off guard later on. Opt for companies that prioritize openness and clarity in their financial dealings.

Benefits of Using a Debt Settlement Company

When fighting overwhelming debts, seeking the assistance of a debt settlement company can offer a lifeline, providing a structured approach to managing and reducing your debts. Below are some key benefits of using their services:

Potential for Reduced Debt Amounts

One of the most attractive benefits of using a debt settlement company is the possibility of significantly reducing the amount you owe. Debt settlement companies have experience in negotiating with creditors to settle for a fraction of the original debt amount. This can result in savings of thousands of dollars, depending on the initial debt’s size.

It’s worth noting, however, that there’s no guarantee of a reduction, and the success rate varies. Still, many individuals have found relief from debts through settlements, making it a worthwhile consideration for those drowning in unmanageable financial obligations.

Expertise in Negotiating with Creditors

Negotiating with creditors can be intimidating, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the financial industry. Debt settlement companies bring expertise and experience to the table. They understand the tactics and strategies creditors use and have knowledge of how far creditors might be willing to go in negotiations. 

This expertise can be valuable in securing favorable terms with your current creditors. Additionally, having a mediator can reduce the emotional strain and stress of direct confrontations or discussions with creditors. By leveraging their industry knowledge and negotiation skills, debt settlement companies can often achieve better outcomes than individuals might on their own.

Structured Payment Plans

Debt settlement isn’t just about reducing the amount you owe; it’s also about creating a plan to pay off the negotiated amount. Debt settlement companies typically work with you to develop a structured payment plan that aligns with your financial capabilities. This means breaking down the negotiated debt into manageable monthly payments. 

Such structured plans can prevent the debt from becoming overwhelming again and offer a clear roadmap to becoming debt-free. Furthermore, with a structured plan in place, you can better manage your finances, avoid accruing further debt, and gradually improve your credit score.

Risks and Considerations

Potential impact on credit scoreEngaging with a debt settlement company can have an adverse effect on your credit score. When you stop making payments on your debts to save up for a lump-sum settlement, this delinquency is reported to credit bureaus, leading to a lower score. While a successful settlement can eventually improve your financial situation, the initial impact on your credit history can be detrimental and may take years to recover fully.
Possibility of lawsuits from creditors     Ceasing payments while trying to settle can provoke creditors, leading some to take legal action. This means that instead of negotiating, they might sue for the full owed amount. While not all creditors will take this route, it’s a risk that individuals should be aware of when considering debt settlement.
Not all debts are eligible for settlementIt’s essential to understand that not all types of debt can be settled. For instance, secured debts, like mortgages and auto loans, are generally not eligible. Furthermore, some creditors may simply refuse to negotiate. Before embarking on the debt settlement path, ensure that your debts are the types that can be negotiated and settled.

Alternatives to Debt Settlement

Before entering into debt settlement, there are a few other options to consider:

1. Debt Consolidation

Debt consolidation involves taking out a new loan to pay off multiple debts. This method is most beneficial when you can secure a loan with a lower interest rate than what you currently pay on your combined debts. By merging several obligations into one, you streamline your payments and potentially save on interest. 

This simplifies the repayment process and offers a chance to improve your credit score over time if payments are made consistently. However, ensure that you’re not just extending the loan term, as this might increase the total interest you pay over time, even if the rate is lower.

2. Credit Counseling

Credit counseling agencies can provide guidance on managing your money and debts, help you devise a budget, and offer free educational materials and workshops. These agencies can negotiate with your creditors to reduce interest rates and waive certain fees, enabling a more feasible repayment plan.

While this approach doesn’t reduce the principal amount owed, it can make monthly payments more manageable and prevent the negative impacts of debt settlement on your credit score. Before selecting a credit counseling agency, check its accreditation and reputation to ensure you’re working with a trustworthy organization.

3. Bankruptcy

As a last resort, individuals overwhelmed with debt might consider filing for bankruptcy. There are two primary types: Chapter 7, which involves liquidating assets to pay off debts, and Chapter 13, which establishes a repayment plan over three to five years. Bankruptcy can provide a fresh financial start, wiping out many of your obligations or restructuring them in an easier way to manage. 

However, the consequences are significant. A bankruptcy will remain on your credit report for 7–10 years, severely impacting your ability to borrow money in the future. Moreover, it’s a public record, which might carry social or professional implications. It’s imperative to consult a financial advisor or attorney before pursuing this route.

Tips For Choosing The Right Debt Settlement Company

Some tips for choosing the right debt settlement company are:

1. Check For No Upfront Fees

One of the most telling signs of a reputable debt settlement company is its fee structure. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has regulations in place that prohibit debt settlement companies from charging fees before they settle or reduce a consumer’s debt. 

Companies that demand upfront payments before any services are rendered should raise immediate red flags. This is not only against FTC guidelines but also indicates a potential scam or untrustworthy business practice. When considering a debt settlement company, ensure that they only charge a fee after successfully negotiating a settlement on your behalf.

2. Ensure The Company Has A Track Record Of Successful Negotiations

The effectiveness of a debt settlement company can largely be gauged by its track record. When assessing potential companies, inquire about their successful debt negotiations and settlements history. Well-established companies should be able to provide statistics or testimonials showcasing their successes. It’s also beneficial to consider the company’s longevity in the industry. 

Companies that have been in the business for an extended period likely have established relationships with creditors and a more profound understanding of negotiation tactics. Furthermore, independent customer reviews and ratings on platforms like the Better Business Bureau can offer insight into the company’s reliability and efficacy.

3. Look For Personalized Services And Good Customer Support

Every individual’s debt situation is unique, necessitating a tailored approach for the best results. The best debt settlement companies will offer personalized services, taking the time to understand your specific circumstances and craft a plan that aligns with your financial needs. In addition to customization, good customer support is critical. 

The debt settlement process can be complex and stressful, and having a supportive team to guide you can make all the difference. When evaluating potential companies, take note of their responsiveness, clarity in communication, and willingness to address any concerns or questions you might have. A company that prioritizes its Clients’ well-being and satisfaction is likely to deliver better results and a smoother overall experience.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Is Debt Settlement?

Debt settlement is a negotiation process where a company negotiates with your creditors on your behalf to reduce the amount you owe, often resulting in a lump-sum payment that’s less than the full amount of the debt.

How Does Debt Settlement Differ From Debt Consolidation?

While debt settlement aims to reduce the total debt amount, debt consolidation involves taking out one new loan to pay off multiple debts, often with the goal of securing a lower interest rate or simplifying monthly payments.

Will Debt Settlement Affect My Credit Score?

Yes, debt settlement can negatively impact your credit score. This is because settled debts will typically be marked as “settled” rather than “paid in full” on your credit report, which can be a negative factor.

Can All Debts Be Settled Through Debt Settlement Companies?

No, not all debts are eligible. Generally, debt settlement targets unsecured debts like credit card bills. Secured debts like mortgages or auto loans are typically not covered.

Are There Any Guarantees That My Debt Will Be Settled?

No company can guarantee that your creditors will accept a settlement offer. However, based on past negotiations, experienced companies might have a higher success rate.

How Long Does The Debt Settlement Process Usually Take?

The process can vary, but typically takes 24–48 months. This depends on the total amount of debt, the number of creditors involved, and the funds available for settlement.

Are There Tax Implications For Settled Debts?

Yes, forgiven or settled debt can be considered taxable income by the IRS. It’s crucial to consult a tax professional regarding any potential tax implications.

Luke Daugherty is a freelance writer, editor, and former operations manager. He covers personal finance, operations, marketing, and sustainable business, as well as many of his personal passions. His work, bylined and ghostwritten, has appeared in The Balance, CNET, CIO Magazine, Entrepreneur, and more.