American Consumer Credit Counseling Review 2021

ACCC offers debt management plans with lower fees than some other nonprofit credit counseling agencies.

Sean PylesFebruary 5, 2021
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American Consumer Credit Counseling

American Consumer Credit Counseling offers all credit counseling services by phone from anywhere in the nation.

ACCC charges lower fees for debt management plans than most other credit counseling agencies. One standout service ACCC offers is an online course called Path to Financial Peace of Mind, where consumers can learn about managing their money.

ACCC offers services in 50 states, and may be a good fit if you:

  • Prefer phone consultation.

  • Live in or near Massachusetts and want in-person counseling, since most of ACCC’s brick-and-mortar offices are located there.

  • Are looking for a debt management plan with lower average monthly fees, including waived or reduced fees depending on your states regulations or financial hardship.

ACCC’s services and fees

ACCC provides common services available at most nonprofit credit counseling agencies. The difference from one agency to the next is in its fees and availability. These services include:

General budgeting and advice: A free session where you and a credit counselor go over your budget, overall financial situation and goals.

Debt management plan: A plan to consolidate your consumer debts, primarily credit card debt, at a lower interest rate, setting up one monthly payment to erase the debt over three to five years.

Bankruptcy counseling: Two court-mandated sessions: one before you file and one before your debts are discharged.

Student loans: A counselor outlines your repayment options and may contact your issuer on your behalf for an additional fee.

Housing counseling: Homeowners who are considering a reverse mortgage or first time home buyers who are looking to take the online homebuyers course.

Service

Fee

General budgeting and advice

Free

Debt management plan

Maximum $39 startup fee. Monthly fee of $5 per account, which is capped at $50. Monthly fee waived for active military and may be waived depending on financial hardship or state regulations.

Bankruptcy counseling

Pre-filing: $49

Pre-discharge: $39

Student loans

$149 for evaluation and counseling

Housing counseling

Free to $175, depending on the service

How ACCC compares

The main difference between many nonprofit credit counseling agencies is the accessibility of its services, where they operate, and their accreditation. Here’s how ACCC stacks up:

Accreditation: ACCC is accredited through the National Foundation for Credit Counseling and Council on Accreditation, an outside organization that ensures standards of practice among counselors and oversight for agencies.

Online support: Counseling services and educational resources are available online.

Completion rate of debt management plans: ACCC says 61% of clients who enroll complete the program.

Availability: Operates in all 50 states.

ACCC’s debt management plan

Debt management plans are a debt relief option to help consumers pay off unsecured debt, usually credit cards, faster and cheaper than they can on their own. It works by rolling multiple debts into one monthly payment with lower interest. Note that interest rate cuts are standardized across credit counseling agencies, based on your creditors' guidelines and your budget.

In exchange for the interest rate cut, you agree to a monthly payment plan that fits your budget. DMPs usually take three to five years to complete.

About 20% of all clients who contact ACCC enroll in a debt management plan, according to the company.

A DMP can save you time and money over paying off the debt on your own. Here’s an example based on the average ACCC client:

Debt management plan

DIY debt paydown

$16,000 debt

$16,000 debt

10% interest rate

22% interest rate

$459 monthly ($439 to debt, $20 to monthly fee)

$459 monthly

44 months to pay off

57 months to pay off

Interest: $3,150 Fees: $919*

Interest: $9,747

*Figured at the average monthly fee of $20. Includes startup fee of $39.

Note: In a debt management plan, individual creditors offer the same adjusted APR for all credit counseling agencies. The difference in average APR among credit counseling agencies is a reflection of their clients’ creditors and does not indicate one agency will offer lower adjusted APRs than another.

When to consider a DMP:

  • If you're struggling to make monthly payments on debt.

  • If your consumer debt is 15% to 50% of your annual income.

  • If you think you can pay it off within five years.

  • If you don’t qualify for a debt consolidation loan.

DMPs are generally for credit card debt. Other unsecured debt, like student loans and medical bills, are covered on a case-by-case basis.

Before signing on to a DMP, know that other debt relief options might be better for your financial situation.

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