It is easy to see how InCharge has secured a place among the best debt consolidation companies. As well as offering a non-profit debt consolidation solution, InCharge wants to help people better understand how they can manage their finances and use credit responsibly. The organization attempts to cover all debt bases too, offering credit counseling, bankruptcy education, housing counselling and educational initiatives alongside its debt management services.
In helping its customers pay off more than $3 billion dollars of debt since it was founded in 1997, there is little doubting the effectiveness of InCharge. And in support of its rich heritage, InCharge enjoys an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, and is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. As to its debt consolidation solution, credit card debt is the primary focus. However, key to the InCharge proposition - and what essentially the organization is built around - is the education that it wants to provide in relation to both solving debt problems and making sure they don’t reappear in the future.
InCharge Debt Consolidation review: Eligibility
- Focus on credit card debt
- No minimum credit score requirements
On a general level, the wide range of services and advice that are available through InCharge means that anyone who has the slightest problem with debt is likely to find some form of help. Its website says that “credit scores are not a factor”, while the service is open to those across the U.S.
In terms of debt consolidation itself, help is specifically available to those looking to consolidate their credit card debt. That said, there is a section devoted entirely to student debts too, in which financial counselors will help you understand the differences between student loan consolidation programs, identify the different options, and review strategies to minimize the amount of interest paid.
InCharge Debt Consolidation review: Application process
Loan amounts: Not specified
APR: aims to lower interest rates to 8%
Term: debt free in 3 - 5 years
Fees: Setup $50 - $75; monthly $30
Credit score: No minimum requirements
- Apply online or over the phone
- Credit counselors guide the process
Applying for help through InCharge is relatively straightforward, whether you start an online counseling session or call to speak with a certified credit counselor straight away. If you start your journey online, you simply need to supply basics such as your name, address, phone number and email in order to create an InCharge account - be ready to create a password too.
From there, you can expect a call from a credit counselor to conduct a review of your credit report, so that they can get a better appreciation of your situation. During the session, counselors will look at your income and expenses and help identify the root cause of your financial problems. They also help you build an affordable budget that gives you an opportunity to dedicate some funds to a savings program. Ultimately, however, the aim is to provide a choice of debt solutions to help you eventually clear your debt.
InCharge Debt Consolidation review: Essential details
- Aims to clear debt within five years
- Upfront and ongoing fees
If you enroll in the debt consolidation program, you agree to make one monthly payment to InCharge, which will then be distributed to your creditors in agreed upon amounts. Essentially, the counselors work with credit card companies to try and lower interest rates to around 8% (sometimes lower), which results in lower monthly payments - importantly, there is no new loan involved.
The stated aim of InCharge is to get people debt free within three to five years, with no penalty for early payment. As mentioned before, credit score is not a factor in qualifying for the program, and typically it can be expected to improve after six months of on-time payments. That said, there will be a drop in your credit score initially due to the need to close all but one of your credit card accounts.
Importantly, however, there are fees for using the InCharge service, although these are mercifully easy to understand - there is a one-time setup fee that ranges from $50-$75, which is then subsequently followed by a monthly service fee of about $30. While you will be saving interest on your credit card debt, the amount that you will be better off obviously needs to be weighed up against the ongoing fees that you will be charged. If you manage to pay off your debts early, however, there is no prepayment charge to be paid.
Also be aware that the concessions granted by credit card lenders can be lost if a payment is missed, making it essential to keep payments up to date. In addition, the way in which InCharge debt consolidation works is to suspend all your credit cards, except for a single emergency card.
InCharge Debt Consolidation review: Features
The InCharge debt consolidation service works so that you no longer need to deal with the credit card companies that you owe money to direct. InCharge takes charge of everything in that regard, and means you should avoid future calls from collection agencies too. Besides debt consolidation, InCharge offers a whole host of features, support and advice that aims to help those who find themselves in financial difficulty of all kinds.
InCharge Debt Consolidation review: Service
- Online login alongside ongoing counselor support
- Vast array of educational resources
Your InCharge account can be managed online via your client login and over the phone, although it should be noted that phone support for existing clients is not available on weekends. There are options online to review and make payments, while your counselor will be on hand to help you stay on track with getting your debt down.
Behind everything, a range of hugely helpful educational resources are on offer. There is an entire section of the website devoted to understanding the various types and aspects of debt, while there are hugely informative sections on credit counseling, bankruptcy and housing as well. The resources section of the website hosts a number of useful tools, including credit card payoff and budget calculators, along with a selection of free personal finance eBooks. There is also a Diagnose my Debt app which, once downloaded, provides immediate access to tools that make budgeting easier, books, and worksheets that make it easy to account for what you’re doing and how well you’re doing it.
Should you use InCharge Debt Consolidation?
InCharge provides an invaluable resource for anyone who might be troubled by debt of almost any kind, and the personalized service on offer is ideal for those who are in need of extra support.
The debt consolidation proposition itself is relatively straightforward and in ceding control of your debt management to InCharge should help alleviate the pressure felt by hard-pressed borrowers, both in terms of having to deal with the credit card companies that they owe money to and knowing that they are finally on a path to being debt free. The initial and monthly charges must be considered against the interest rate savings that will be made, but ultimately, InCharge offers a wholly supportive and informative proposition that should benefit most.