How we rank for
Whether it’s for a product or service, price is typically the most important comparison point for consumers. This is especially true when it comes to debt. Those in debt are already strapped for cash, and they want out for the lowest price (and the ability to work with a credible company). At BestCompany, we want to recommend companies that charge a fair price for their services and care as much about you getting out of debt as we do.
After debt, we have selected accreditations as the most important thing a debt settlement company can offer. Our survey shows that 68% care if their debt settlement company has national accreditations (more than any other feature, excluding price). The organizations we find most important for companies to belong to include:
- AFCC (American Fair Credit Council)
- BBB (Better Business Bureau)
- IAPDA (International Association of Profession Debt Arbitrators)
10.5% State Availability
It is rare to find a debt settlement company that is licensed in all 50 states. This small detail impacts a huge number of people. In our survey, we found that 59% of people care about the locations a debt settlement company operates in. The more states a company is licensed to work in, the higher their score.
8.5% Time in Business
The second most important aspect of a debt settlement company to consumers (excluding price) is the number of years a company has been in business. More experience in an industry equates to more knowledge and efficiency. Companies who are just getting into debt settlement receive less points in this category than their experienced competitors.
11% Account Set Up
Every reputable debt settlement company offers the following three things:
- Free consultation
- No up-front fees
- Personal consultant during the settlement process
By law, debt settlement companies are not allowed to charge up front fees. This comparison point separates companies that are in compliance with the FTC, and those that are not. A free consultation is a standard in the industry, but not required. And finally, having a personal consultant to walk you through your entire debt settlement process, so you aren’t bounced around from representative to representative is a feature we think all consumers should have.
9% Minimum Debt
Debt settlement is a long and expensive process for those who are in thousands of dollars of debt. For this reason, most companies have a minimum debt amount they will work with, typically ranging from $5,000 – $20,000. Easy qualifications (i.e., low debt requirements), permits more people to sign up.
7% Online Dashboard
This criteria point looks at whether or not a company has an online dashboard clients can log into to check the status of their debt settlements. Companies that provide this service get full points in this category.
10% Company Stability
We look at the legal history and financial stability of each company. This metric takes into consideration any bankruptcies, class action lawsuits, government lawsuits, or government investigations a company has had in the last five years.
15% Consumer Reviews
Giving consumers a voice is an important part of BestCompany. Reviews left by customers provide first hand encounters with the companies we review. Our moderation team works to ensure that reviews left by company customers are real, honest, and helpful.