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Debt can be frightening, overwhelming, and altogether debilitating, and with more than $3.8 trillion hovering over the American public, you are not the only one facing these fears. If you're staring down the barrel of several thousands of dollars worth of accrued debt and uncertain of what to do about it, this article can help give you some peace of mind and hopefully point you in the right direction if you don’t know where to turn.
A personal loan is a great idea if you can get approved for one, but if your credit isn’t great, this might be tough. Assuming you’ve ruled out this and other more obvious options, debt relief might be your best bet. It has its pluses and minuses, but when you are drowning in debt, relief may be the most logical course of action for you. Here’s what you need to know and how to get it done fast.
Debt relief, which is carried out in the form of debt settlement, isn’t a typical loan. With a standard personal loan, you’ll find a lender willing to loan you the money, pay off your debt, and then pay back the lender over time. This is not the case with debt relief. In fact, the biggest benefit of debt relief lies in the fact that you will probably end up paying less than the total of what you currently owe right now. Here’s how it works:
If you can’t afford to pay your current debt but don’t want to file for bankruptcy, debt relief or settlement could be the solution. But there are important drawbacks to debt relief options that you need to understand before you commit, including:
Debt settlement doesn’t look good on your credit report. While it’s not as bad as bankruptcy, settlement is still a black mark that could last for 7 years.
You may have to stop making payments to your creditors in order for the pressure to build up before debt settlement can become an option. When you stop payments, your creditors will send your account to a collection agency. Depending on which one they use, this can be aggressive. From frequent phone calls to rude emails, you’ll need to grow some thick skin to handle it.
A final thought to consider is the tax implications of debt settlement: depending on the circumstances (location, amount, financial status, etc.), you may need to pay taxes on the amount of debt you’ve settled. For example, if you’ve settled for $10,000 less than your overall debt, you may need to pay taxes on that $10,000 as income.
If you’ve decided that debt settlement is the way to go, make sure you’re dealing with the best in the business. Since some companies will just want to take your money and run, only sign up for someone with the right credentials, including:
When looking for a debt settlement service, first ask what types of services are being offered. Will they actually guarantee debt settlement? What type of settlements will they broker? How much debt is required to work with them? Will they work with student loan debt, secured debt, or just credit card debts? What fees will you incur? Learn all you'll need to know about a company before you even begin negotiations.
Reputation is of the utmost importance when it comes to debt relief, due to the already compromised situation you are in currently. Dig deep in order to find out as much as you can about the company. This will include reading online reviews, talking to customer service reps, going through customer feedback, searching for a BBB profile, etc. Also look for accreditation; any reputable debt relief company should be accredited by the AFCC or the IAPDA.
Finally, look at what terms you are getting yourself into. Read through the fine print to ensure you aren’t being mislead. A company with a good reputation will generally state their terms in full disclosures and complete transparency, not hiding anything from its clients.
In addition, avoid companies that make outlandish promises (erase all your debt, pay pennies on the dollar, etc.) or tell you they’ve got an exciting government program to offer you (they don’t).
With the help of modern technology, applying for a debt settlement program has never been easier. You can go online to any of the reputable debt relief companies listed above and sign up on the spot. You’ll be asked a few basic questions such as your overall current debt, whether or not you’re behind in payments, and some personal details like a phone number and email address to contact you with. Since you’ll be asked these basic questions, it’s a good idea to do some preliminary prep work, like:
Then, just apply:
Most debt settlement services charge you either a percentage of the overall debt or a percentage of the settlement amount, ranging in the 15% - 25% ballpark. Be wary of any service that forces you to pay an upfront fee for its help. That's not even legal.
Debt relief isn’t the best first choice, but if you are struggling with debt and can’t make the monthly payments, it might be a good option for you. It often beats declaring bankruptcy. Contact a competent debt settlement company, and discuss your options today.
APR is an acronym for annual percentage rate. It combines the charges, fees, and payments to tell you the grand total of what your loan will cost you per year. The lower the APR, the less you are going to pay in the long run.
The APR calculation on personal loans will vary depending on your lender, but it will typically be lower than what you would receive from a payday or short-term loan – usually starting at 10% and capping at 35.99%. It is not ideal to owe any money, but if you require a loan, then a personal loan could certainly be a viable option.
APR rates mentioned include associated fees.
Full repayment for the loans displayed range between 61 days to 180 months.
Representative example: assuming a loan of $10,000 over 60 months at a fixed rate of 3.1% per annum and fees of $60.00. This would result in a representative rate of 3.3% APR, with monthly repayments of $180.80, for a total amount paid of $10,848.00.
* LightStream Terms and Conditions:
Your loan terms, including APR, may differ based on loan purpose, amount, term length, and your credit profile. Rate is quoted with AutoPay discount. AutoPay discount is only available prior to loan funding. Rates without AutoPay may be higher. Subject to credit approval. Conditions and limitations apply. Advertised rates and terms are subject to change without notice. Payment example: Monthly payments for a $10,000 loan at 5.95% APR with a term of 3 years would result in 36 monthly payments of $303.99. © 2020 Truist Financial Corporation. SunTrust®, Truist, LightStream®, the LightStream logo, and the SunTrust logo are service marks of Truist Financial Corporation. All rights reserved. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Lending services provided by SunTrust now Truist Bank.
* Marcus By Goldman Sachs® Offer Terms and Conditions:
Your loan terms are not guaranteed and are subject to our verification of your identity and credit information. To obtain a loan, you must submit additional documentation including an application that may affect your credit score. The availability of a loan offer and the terms of your actual offer will vary due to a number of factors, including your loan purpose and our evaluation of your creditworthiness. You may be required to have some of your funds sent directly to creditors to pay off down certain types of outstanding unsecured debt. Rates will vary based on many factors, such as your creditworthiness (for example, credit score and credit history) and the length of your loan (for example, rates for 36 month loans are generally lower than rates for 72 month loans. Your maximum loan amount may vary depending on your loan purpose, income and creditworthiness. Your verifiable income must support your ability to repay your loan. Marcus by Goldman Sachs is a brand of Goldman Sachs Bank USA and all loans are issued by Goldman Sachs Bank USA, Salt Lake City Branch. Applications are subject to additional terms and conditions
* LendingClub Terms and Conditions:
All loans made by WebBank, Member FDIC. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, and credit usage & history. The APR ranges from 7.95% to 35.89%. The origination fee ranges from 1% to 6% of the original principal balance and is deducted from your loan proceeds. For example, you could receive a loan of $6,000 with an interest rate of 7.99% and a 5.00% origination fee of $300 for an APR of 11.51%. In this example, you will receive $5,700 and will make 36 monthly payments of $187.99. The total amount repayable will be $6,767.64. Your APR will be determined based on your credit at the time of application. The average origination fee is 5.49% as of Q1 2017. In Georgia, the minimum loan amount is $3,025. In Massachusetts, the minimum loan amount is $6,025 if your APR is greater than 12%. There is no down payment and there is never a prepayment penalty. Closing of your loan is contingent upon your agreement of all the required agreements and disclosures on the www.lendingclub.com website. All loans via LendingClub have a minimum repayment term of 36 months. Borrower must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or be in the United States on a valid long term visa and at least 18 years old. Valid bank account and Social Security number are required. Equal Housing Lender. All loans are subject to credit approval. LendingClub’s physical address is: LendingClub, 71 Stevenson Street, Suite 1000, San Francisco, CA 9410
* Eloan Terms and Conditions:
Rates from 7.99% up to 19.49% APR. Your APR will be determined based or your risk score and credit history. Loans start from $2,000 up to $35,000. The loan amount will be subject to credit approval. Eloan is a Division of Banco Popular de Puerto Rico. Subject to credit approval and meeting the parameters set forth by Banco Popular de Puerto Rico (“Banco Popular”). This offer applies to personal loans without collateral. Offer subject to presenting evidence and verification of acceptable income to Banco Popular. Banco Popular may deny your application if you do not meet the parameters and the established conditions. Other terms and conditions may apply.
‡ Upgrade Terms and Conditions:
Personal loans made through Upgrade feature APRs of 7.99%-35.97%. All personal loans have a 2.9% to 8% origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Lowest rates require Autopay and paying off a portion of existing debt directly. For example, if you receive a $10,000 loan with a 36-month term and a 17.98% APR (which includes a 14.32% yearly interest rate and a 5% one-time origination fee), you would receive $9,500 in your account and would have a required monthly payment of $343.33. Over the life of the loan, your payments would total $12,359.97. The APR on your loan may be higher or lower and your loan offers may not have multiple term lengths available. Actual rate depends on credit score, credit usage history, loan term, and other factors. Late payments or subsequent charges and fees may increase the cost of your fixed rate loan. There is no fee or penalty for repaying a loan early. Personal loans issued by Upgrade's lending partners. Information on Upgrade's lending partners can be found at https://www.upgrade.com/lending-partners/.