Q: I have $30,000 in credit card debt and went to a nationally-known debt management program for advice.
They told me if I paid $800 per month for 9 years, I’ll be able to pay off my debt. Do you know if this fee includes the service fee I’d have to pay?
I’d like to shop this around with another program. Can you refer me to a reputable debt management program? How does debt management program work, in general?
A: I’ve eliminated the name of the debt management company you originally went to see, but I’ve heard of them and in some places, like Chicago, they have quality people working for them.
But that said, the numbers you’ve provided to me don’t add up. According to the Eloan.com amortization calculator, if your credit card debt is $30,000 at 19 percent, you’d pay it off in 30 years if you paid $468 per month. Of course, you’d pay $141,564 in interest on the $30,000.
On the other hand, if you wanted to pay this debt off in 9 years, you’d only have to pay an extra $114 per month, or a total monthly payment of $582. And if you actually paid a total of $800 per month, which is the amount your debt management program counselor gave you, your debt would actually be paid off in less than five years. If you chose to pay off the balance in five years, you’d only pay $15,700 in interest.
When it comes to money, I always think it’s a good idea to shop around for a second opinion. For comparison purposes, try CCCSinc.org, which is the Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Atlanta. Their website has a toll-free number you can call.
Getting two companies to help you figure out what your costs will be is a great idea. You’ll be able to see differences in their approach, and will be able to compare costs.
Typically, the monthly payment includes the service fee, which is generally limited by the state in which you live. Be sure to get details in writing what will be covered by any fees you are obligated to pay.