Although First Choice Debt Relief seems to have a good reputation with its customers, it’s not fully transparent about its debt relief program and it doesn’t hold any industry accreditations. You would be better off working with a debt relief company that makes it easy to understand how much you can expect to pay and what it takes to qualify for its program.
- Pros and Cons
- Key Takeaways
Resources are available in Spanish
Client portal allows for 24/7 account management
Most customers are satisfied with the company’s services
No accreditation by the AFCC or the IAPDA
Fees aren’t clearly disclosed
Enrollment criteria aren’t disclosed
- First Choice Debt Relief focuses on helping people negotiate settlements on credit card debt only.
- The company is closed on the weekend, so you can’t get support on Saturday or Sunday.
- Its website includes a helpful blog and tools you can use to help manage your finances.
- Year Founded 2008
- Types of Debt Relief Credit cards
- Fees Not clearly disclosed (estimated at 15% to 25% of the enrolled debt)
- Average Repayment Period 24 to 48 months
- Accreditations None
- Minimum Debt Not disclosed
- Official Website www.firstchoicedebtrelief.com
First Choice Debt Relief is a debt settlement company that helps people negotiate settlements on their credit card debt. In exchange for this service, you’ll pay the provider a fee that typically ranges from 15% to 25% of the total debt enrolled in the program.
Read on to learn more about the debt settlement program offered by First Choice Debt Relief.
First Choice Debt Relief was founded in 2008 and is headquartered in Irvine, California. It isn’t accredited by the American Fair Credit Council (AFCC) nor is it accredited by the International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators (IAPDA), two of the most well-known professional associations serving the debt relief industry.
Although First Choice Debt Relief says its services aren’t available in all states, its service area isn’t disclosed. Many of the best debt relief companies have web pages clearly disclosing their service areas or only include states they service in their online request forms. If you want to work with First Choice Debt Relief, you’ll need to reach out to the company to see if its services are available in your area.
Our review didn’t reveal any recent government legal actions against First Choice Debt Relief at the state or federal level.
Debt Relief Options
First Choice Debt Relief focuses on helping consumers negotiate settlements on their credit card debt. If you have unsecured debt other than credit cards, you’ll want to choose a different debt settlement provider.
Most of the best debt relief companies work with credit cards and other types of unsecured debt like medical bills, personal loans, or repossession deficiency balances, and some can even help settle private student loans and unsecured business loans.
What it takes to qualify for First Choice Debt Relief’s program isn’t described, other than saying that you’ll need to be able to afford the monthly payment. It’s common for debt relief companies to require you to have at least $7,500 to $10,000 in qualifying debt, and you usually need to be in the midst of a financial hardship (e.g., job loss, divorce). It’s unclear if First Choice Debt Relief requires any of these conditions.
With First Choice Debt Relief, you won’t pay any fees until the company can successfully negotiate a settlement with your creditors on your behalf. You can expect it to take anywhere from 24 to 48 months to complete First Choice Debt Relief’s debt settlement program. This fits within the industry average.
Unfortunately, First Choice Debt Relief doesn’t disclose its program costs, saying they vary from state to state and based on your individual situation. While the company says its fees are based on the amount of money it can save you, it doesn’t explain exactly what this means. However, its website disclaimer says that clients who complete its program realize an average savings of 50% before fees and 25% to 35% after fees.
The best debt settlement companies clearly disclose their fee structures on their websites. Make sure you clearly understand First Choice Debt Relief’s fee structure before you decide to enroll in its program.
Customer Service: Closed on the Weekend
If you need support, you can contact First Choice Debt Relief by phone or email on weekdays. Its normal hours of operation are between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. (PT) Monday through Thursday, and from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. (PT) on Fridays. It is closed on the weekends.
To get in touch with First Choice Debt Relief, you can use this contact information:
- Prospective Clients: Call (toll-free) 1-800-631-5573 or send an email to email@example.com.
- Existing Clients: Call (toll-free) 1-800-985-9319 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Note that the company doesn’t offer live chat, but it’s not unusual as this is a relatively rare feature in the industry.
Customer Satisfaction: Most Reviewers Seem Pleased
We evaluated customer feedback from a wide variety of sources to get an understanding of what it’s like to work with First Choice Debt Relief. The vast majority of reviews were positive, with customers calling out their agents by name and praising the level of service received.
Many customers also noted that First Choice Debt Relief successfully helped them resolve their debt issues. Plus, multiple reviews praised the level of communication they received. The few negative reviews we found either didn’t provide specific details about why the customer wasn’t happy or indicated the reviewer didn’t understand how debt settlement worked before signing up for the plan.
After you’ve enrolled in First Choice Debt Relief’s debt settlement program, you can manage your account online 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by logging into its client portal. Once you log in, you’ll be able to keep track of your debt relief progress. This feature is an industry standard and is something you should always look for when searching for a debt relief provider.
Details aren’t provided about what else you might be able to do from First Choice Debt Relief’s client portal. Many debt relief companies will give you access to tools you can use to help you manage your finances via their client portals. For example, you might be able to build a budget, calculate how much financing you can afford, or send secure messages to an account manager.
If you need one-on-one account management support, you can contact an account manager with First Choice Debt Relief by calling during the company’s normal business hours or by sending an email. Someone should get in touch with you to resolve your issue.
The company doesn’t clearly disclose the type of communication you can expect after you’ve enrolled in the program, such as how frequently you can expect your advisor to reach out to you. Many of the best debt relief companies provide detailed information about what type of ongoing communication you can expect (e.g., monthly updates).
As is typical with debt relief providers, you’ll get a free debt consultation before signing up for First Choice Debt Relief’s program. Free consultations such as these are the industry standard since debt relief providers are prohibited by law from charging upfront fees.
Unfortunately, First Choice Debt Relief only offers a debt settlement program. If you want to try another debt relief program, like getting credit counseling or signing up for a debt management plan, you’ll need to look for a different provider. Many of the best debt relief providers will give referrals to their partners for these types of services. First Choice Debt Relief doesn't disclose the potential for any such referrals.
What’s nice about First Choice Debt Relief is that its website includes various free financial education resources and tools. If you want to learn more about managing your finances and the types of debt relief options you might pursue, you can check out its blog. It also has a debt calculator that you can use to figure out how long it will take you to get out of debt. Plus, it offers resources in Spanish, something that’s not commonly offered by the competition.
How First Choice Debt Relief Compares to Other Debt Relief Companies
One of the most well-known competitors to First Choice Debt Relief is Freedom Debt Relief. Both companies offer services in Spanish and, like First Choice Debt Relief, Freedom Debt Relief can help people negotiate settlements on credit card debt. However, Freedom Debt Relief also works with other types of unsecured debt such as medical bills and personal loans, private student loans, and even some types of business debt.
Some of the other differences between First Choice Debt Relief and Freedom Debt Relief are:
- First Choice Debt Relief doesn’t clearly disclose its typical fees on its website.
- Freedom Debt Relief clearly discloses that its fees are usually 15% to 25% of your total enrolled debt.
- While you’ll need to have at least $7,500 in qualifying debt to enroll in Freedom Debt Relief’s program, it’s unknown if First Choice Debt Relief will require you to meet a minimum debt threshold to qualify.
- First Choice Debt Relief isn’t accredited by either the AFCC or the IAPDA.
- Both the AFCC and the IAPDA accredit Freedom Debt Relief.
- You can only get support from First Choice Debt Relief on weekdays (Monday to Friday), whereas Freedom Debt Relief is open seven days a week.
When comparing First Choice Debt Relief to Freedom Debt Relief, the better choice is Freedom Debt Relief. Not only can Freedom Debt Relief help negotiate settlements on a wider variety of debt types, but its debt relief program is also more transparent. Plus, Freedom Debt Relief is accredited by the two top professional organizations serving the debt relief industry.
Read our full Freedom Debt Relief review.
|First Choice Debt Relief||Freedom Debt Relief|
|Types of Debt Relief||Credit card debt||Unsecured personal debt (e.g., credit cards, medical bills, personal loans), some private student loans, some business debt|
|Fees||Unclear||15% to 25% of enrolled debt|
|Minimum Debt||Not disclosed||$7,500|
|Customer Service Availability||Closed on Saturdays and Sundays||Open 7 days a week|
|Accreditation||None||AFCC and IAPDA|
One of the biggest drawbacks to First Choice Debt Relief is that it isn’t fully transparent about its program requirements. The best debt relief companies make it easy for potential clients to know how much the program could cost and what it takes to qualify. First Choice Debt Relief doesn’t clearly describe either of these important considerations on its website.
The other key drawback is that First Choice Debt Relief isn’t accredited by either the AFCC or the IAPDA. Although these accreditations don’t guarantee that a company will be good or bad, they demonstrate the debt relief provider’s commitment to following industry best practices and properly training their employees on debt relief rules and regulations.
Rather than working with First Choice Debt Relief, you would be better off selecting a company that clearly discloses its process and demonstrates its commitment to employee training.
All of our reviews of debt relief companies are based on extensive research and analysis of each company based on product offerings, customer service, pricing, years in business, accreditation, and more. To rate First Choice Debt Relief and other providers, we developed a debt relief review methodology that compares the debt relief options offered, additional features, fees, success rates, and reported customer experiences to help us provide insights into things like customer service and the strength of each company’s offerings.
MyClientPortal.io. "Login to Your Client Portal." Accessed May 12, 2021.