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 Washington, D.C., and may be a good fit if you:
- Prefer phone consultation.
- Live in or near Massachusetts, 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 fees for active military, compared with other large credit counseling agencies.
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: Help for home buyers; people struggling with mortgage or rent payments; homeowners considering a reverse mortgage.
|General budgeting and advice||
|Debt management plan||
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||An outside body ensures standards of practice among counselors and oversight for agencies.||Accredited through the National Foundation for Credit Counseling|
|Online support||Counseling services and educational resources are available online||Yes|
|Completion rate of debt management plans||The percentage of clients who complete the program after enrolling.||59%|
|Availability||The agency operates in all 50 states.||Yes|
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.
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
|*Figured at the average monthly fee of $19. Includes startup fee of $39.
|Amount of debt||$16,000||$16,000|
|Monthly payment||$459 ($440 to debt, $19 to monthly fee)||$459|
|Time to pay off||42 months||57 months|
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.