Review of Debt Settlement Fees
Most debt settlement companies charge settlement fees. The industry standard fee is 15% of your total debt.
Example: Your debt is $10,000.00, the settlement fee would be $1,500.00.
Other firms charge a percentage of your total savings. The industry standard ranges between 25% - 40%.
Ex: 25% of Savings - Your debt is $10,000 the settlement is 60% (savings of $6,000), your fee - $1,500.00
Ex: 40% of Savings - Your debt is $10,000 the settlment is 60% (savings of $6,000), your fee - $2,400.00
Assuming the debt settlement company is able to save you the standard savings of 40%-60% of your total debt that would be a savings of $4,000.00 to 6,000.00 for every $10,000 of debt.
We contacted each company and asked about their current fees (as of September 2010) and their plans post FTC regulation changes which take affect on October 27, 2010 (see FTC Compliance).
Ratings: Overall | Settlement Fees | Company Services | BBB Complaints | Comparison Chart
American Credit Group
LOWEST FEES - American Credit Group has one of the most ethical and affordable pricing models in the industry. Most companies charge the industry standard 15% of your total debt whether you settle the entire amount or not. American Credit Group only charges 10% of debt they settle.Their fees are spread out over the entire program term, meaning they don't collect all of their fees until you complete the program. Most companies collect their fees upfront or in the first half of your program. They have also annouced they will maintain their industry low fees by switching to 20% of your total savings. Settlement Fee - 10% (Paid Over Full Term)
National Debt Resolution
Slightly lower than the industry standard fees National Debt Resolution charges a 14% settlement fee. The pricing is better than most and taken in the typical half life which means if you are in their program for 36 months, their fees will be paid over the first 18 months. The representative we spoke to was great and explained the program well, however they have not released their new pricing plan (if any) post October 27, 2010 when the FTC regulations take affect. The team from OnlineDebtGuide.org will check back in late October. Settlement Fee - 14% (To Be Paid Over Half Your Term )
Total Debt Services
Total Debt Services charges the industry standard 15% settlement fee. Currently they also utilize the half life fee schedule, as do many others in the industry, which simply means their fees will be paid over half of your total program term. We were pleased to hear in our conversation with Total Debt Services that they have already established what their new pricing will be post FTC regulation changes. They will be charging 25% of yor total savings. If they save you $15,000.00, your fee will be $3,750.00.
Settlement Fee - 15% (To Be Paid Over Half Your Term )
Christian Debt Consolidators
Christian Debt Consolidators also charges an industry standard 15% settlement fee. However, they intend to continue charging 15% after the new FTC regulations go into affect in late October which will make them one of the lower priced services and will likely move them up on this list. Currently they charge their fees over the first 15 to 18 months in a standard 36 month program. Settlement Fee - 15% (Paid Over 15 to 18 Months)
Debtmerica charges a 17% settlement fee, which is slightly above the industry standard. However, they too spread the payments out over the full program term which we believe to be a more ethical way to charge clients, rather than collecting fees half way through the program. This well established company has already announced their FTC compliant pricing which will be 40% of your savings. We believe their new pricing is high, however there are several companies that will be moving to this price range. Settlement Fee - 17% (Paid Over the Entire Program Term)
Credit Solutions is another big player in the debt settlement industry. Their fees are the standard 15% taken over half the program term. To date the team at OnlineDebtGuide.org has not been informed of their post FTC regulation pricing plan, however we will check back periodically. From a price perspective Credit Solutions are in the middle of the pack. However we can not overlook the significant number of BBB complaints filed and in most cases resolved. Its just too many to rank this company higher even in the pricing category.Settlement Fee - 15% (Over the First Half of Your Program Term)
Superior Debt Relief
We like Superior Debt Relief. However, their pricing model is slightly higher than the industry standard. They charge 28% of your total savings, which is well within the 25%-40% range many companies are going to be charging in the near future. Even brighter news is the fact that Superior Debt Relief is not going to be changing their pricing structure because they already have a pretty fair one. Settlement Fee - 28% of Savings
Oak View Law Group
Oak View Law Group group charges a 5% enrollment fee and a 10% settlement fee. This is different from most of the companies on the list. Combined their fees are the industry standard 15%, however they due require a significant amount upfront in their retainer fee. So we have rated them below a company with higher fees simply because they collect so much early on. That will change when they switch to their new pricing model. They will be charging 25% of your total debt savings which we believe is better. Retainer - 5% (Paid Initially) / Settlement Fee - 10%
Freedom Debt Relief
Freedom Debt Relief also charges the industry standard 15% settlement broken up like the Oak View Law Group into a retainer fee of 5% and a 10% settlement fee. Once again the price is right, but the payment schedule isn't ideal. This is a large company that has helped a lot of people, but we think the pricing should still be better. In addition to collecting a significant portion early on, they also collect the remaining fees within 15 months. We think that is too much too soon. It was not clear during our interview what their new pricing model if any, will be to meet FTC regulation compliance. We will check back soon for more information.. - Retainer - 5% (First 4 Payments) Settlement Fee - 10% (Over First 15 Months)
DMB Financial has to get credit for being an industry leader on fees. They are already using their post FTC regulation pricing, which means they understand the consumers rights and are already protecting them. However, they simply charge too much. Their fee is 40% of your total savings. Kudos for their leadership, unfortunately the price is just too high. Settlement Fee - 40% of Your Total Savings