Some might debate whether we’re still in a recession, but even before the recession there were still millions of Americans that were in serious trouble with their credit card debt. With the recession, the unemployment rate and the housing crisis there are still a lot of consumer worried about the economic downturn. More now, than ever, the number of Americans that are suffering from extreme credit card debt is growing and a large number of that population is seeking professional help for their credit card problems.
There is currently $800 billion in credit card debt in the US, with the average household holding around $14k in credit card debt and the number growing with each year, the popularity of credit counseling has been rising simultaneously.
Credit card debt is a problem for a lot of folks and can get unmanageable when you find yourself missing payments, and the total balances start climbing past your annual income. For those of us that are really stressing out about our credit card debt, and befuddled about what to do with ourselves credit counseling might be a viable alternative to bankruptcy.
Before you join any program you should really weight out the pros and cons, that rule should be important when you’re dealing with anything financial.
Credit Counseling Pros:
· Education: In the 1950s credit counseling was first established as a way to spread “financial literacy” throughout the US. Credit counseling is still a very valuable educational resource for personal finance, and somebody who is deep in credit card debt is probably a personal finance misfit who has never had anybody speak to them in regards to things like debt, setting up a budget and credit cards. Good credit counseling revolves and focuses on educating the consumer and providing them with the tools, resources and information on how to avoid bankruptcy.
· Interest rates: If you choose to enter a debt management plan (DMP) than you will benefit from your credit counselor negotiating with your creditors lower interest rates for your credit cards.
· Harassment: Are you tired of harassing creditors calling you while you’re at home or trying to spend time with your family? Well if your credit counselor has done his job than those phone calls should most likely stop.
· Save Money: A good credit counselors is skilled at the art of negotiation and will negotiate lower interest rates for you, get credit card fees, and over the limit fees waived.
· Credit rating: In the long run getting rid of your debt, and paying off your credit cards in a timely fashion is going to eventually help your credit rating but even more important give you peace of mind.
Credit Counseling Cons:
· Monthly fees: Most credit counseling organizations are non profit, but that doesn’t mean a debt management plan isn’t going to cost you. Most DMPs will cost a consumer around $50 tops.
· Home buying: If you’re in credit counseling it will show up on your credit report and banks may have a hard time lending to a borrower that has supposed credit card problems. This is something to consider if you’re in the market for a home, but sometimes a credit counselor can take you off the program if you’re in the market for a home, temporarily, until you have closed on your homes.
· DMP: Some credit counseling organizations will take you off the debt management plan if you miss one payment, so you have to be cognizant and on top of your payments.
Credit counseling has helped many individuals out of debt, but that’s not to say that it comes without problems, getting out of debt takes discipline, hard work and sacrifice. You have to be committed to your personal finance growth if you want to become financially independent from debt.