First Choice Debt Relief Review

First Choice helps consumers settle debt for less than they owe

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First Choice Debt Relief

First Choice Debt Relief

overall rating
4.2

Our Take

First Choice Debt Relief is a debt relief firm that offers a free consultation and a debt resolution plan that helps most clients out of debt in 24 to 48 months. Founded in 2008, this company advertises no upfront fees and has team members with more than 30 years in combined experience.

  • Pros & Cons
  • Key Takeaways
  • Company Overview 
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Become debt-free in 24 to 48 months using a process known as debt settlement

  • Combine all your bills into one monthly payment you'll set aside in a separate savings account

  • You won't pay any fees until you get results

  • Client dashboard lets you track your debt relief plan in real time

Cons
  • Does not disclose a fee range upfront, although many of their competitors do

  • Not affiliated with the American Fair Credit Council

Key Takeaways
  • First Choice Debt Relief helps clients pay less than they owe through a process known as debt settlement.
  • You can get started with a free consultation, and you won't pay any fees until you get results.
  • A client dashboard can help you track your debt relief plan over time, and customer service assistance is available via the phone or email. 
  • Most clients who use First Choice Debt Relief become debt-free in 24 to 48 months, although some finish their programs sooner.
Company Overview 

First Choice Debt Relief has been in operation since 2008, so this company has a longer history than many of its competitors. While you can work on your debt relief plan by appointment only at its physical location in Orange, California, most First Choice Debt Relief clients work through their debt settlement plans by accessing the company online and over the phone. 

While results can vary, First Choice Debt Relief says its average client saves 55% off their original debt amount once their program is completed.

  • Year Founded 2008
  • Program Length 24 to 48 months
  • Fee Schedule Not disclosed
  • Customer Service Telephone, email, and client dashboard
  • Phone Number 800-631-5573
  • Official Website www.FirstChoiceDebtRelief.com

First Choice Debt Relief is not one of our top-rated life debt relief companies. You can review our list of the best debt relief companies for what we think are better options.

Like many other debt relief companies, First Choice Debt Relief helps clients get out of debt using a strategy known as debt settlement. While debt settlement does have its risks, including the potential for damage to your credit score, this debt payoff strategy can help consumers settle debts for less than they owe.

Unlike credit counseling and debt management plans (DMPs), debt settlement requires program participants to stop making payments on their bills and begin setting aside a specific amount of cash each month instead. Once the separate savings account has enough money in it, First Choice Debt Relief uses your cash reserves to settle with your creditors and wipe away the debts you owe including principal, interest, and fees.

While First Choice Debt Relief doesn't disclose their fee amount upfront, they do claim their average client reduces their original debt amount by 55% when all is said and done. They also say most clients spend 24 to 48 months paying down debt during their program, but that some are able to get out of debt faster.

Fortunately, First Choice offers a free consultation to help you get started and figure out how your specific debt settlement plan might look. 

Debt settlement comes with risks, and is frequently highlighted as problematic by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Risks involved in debt settlement plans include damage to your credit score, hidden fees, and the chance your creditors won't be willing to settle.

Pros Explained

  • Become debt-free in 24 to 48 months using a process known as debt settlement. Debt settlement can help you pay less than you owe and save money along the way.
  • Combine all your bills into one monthly payment you'll set aside in a separate savings account. While debt settlement requires you to stop making payments on your bills while you're in the program, you can simplify your life by saving up a single monthly savings goal instead.
  • You won't pay any fees until you get results. First Choice Debt Relief doesn't charge any upfront fees, so you can begin your program as soon as you're ready.
  • Client dashboard lets you track your debt relief plan in real time. Not all debt relief companies have an online client dashboard, but this feature makes tracking your debt settlement plan much easier.

 

Cons Explained

  • First Choice Debt Relief does not disclose a fee range upfront, although many of their competitors do. While the average fee range for debt settlement is 15% to 25%, First Choice only says their "fees vary by state and situation."
  • This company is not affiliated with the American Fair Credit Council (AFCC). Most of the best debt relief companies have a membership or accreditation with the AFCC, yet First Choice Debt Relief has neither.

Types of Debt Addressed

First Choice Debt Relief offers debt settlement, which is a debt resolution strategy that can help you settle and pay off unsecured debts. Generally speaking, unsecured debts can include any debt you have that is not secured by collateral.

Examples of unsecured debts you may be able to settle include:

Credit Card Debt

Credit card debt is the most common type of unsecured debt bundled into debt settlement plans. When you get help from First Choice Debt Relief, they can help you pay off and eliminate credit card bills for less than you owe.

Personal Loans and Lines of Credit

Personal loans and lines of credit from a bank or an online lender can also qualify for debt settlement provided they are not secured by collateral.

Payday Loans

Payday loans can also be intensely problematic, mostly due to the high interest rates they charge. Fortunately, this type of debt can also be bundled into debt settlement plans.

Other types of unsecured debt you have may qualify for a debt settlement plan, but you won't know for sure until you call in for a free consultation.

Client Onboarding

First Choice Debt Relief offers a free consultation with no obligation to enroll in one of their plans. During this call, you get the chance to explain your current situation and ask questions. Your debt resolution specialist will go over your debts and help you determine if debt settlement is the right option for your goals.

If you decide to move forward, First Choice will work with you to create a comprehensive debt settlement plan that could get you out of debt in 24 to 48 months. And remember, you'll only pay fees as each of your debts are settled.

Customer Service

When you enroll in a plan with First Choice Debt Relief, you get the chance to work with trained debt specialists who can help you navigate laws like the Fair Credit Billing Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. You also get the chance to ask questions and get answers along the way, and to have an advocate in your corner as you work to settle debts for less than you owe.

One standout feature from First Choice Debt Relief is their online client portal, which lets you monitor your plan online at any time of the day or night. You can also reach out to First Choice via email or over the phone. Office hours for phone support are Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST and Friday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. PST. 

Company Reputation

As you begin to explore debt relief options, you should know this industry has plenty of predatory and shady companies in operation. Fortunately, there are numerous ways to research debt relief companies so you can find out which ones are reputable—and which ones to avoid at all costs.

Start by checking the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) database for complaints. This is a good starting point, though some companies opt out of participating in the CFPB program. Meanwhile, you should also check with the Federal Trade Commission to make sure any debt relief firm you're considering is not subject to an investigation or a lawsuit.

When you run these searches on First Choice Debt Relief, you'll find they don't have any complaints with the CFPB within the last three years. They are also free of lawsuits with the FTC. 

Furthermore, First Choice Debt Relief boasts an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), where they are also accredited. They also have mostly excellent reviews on the platform, along with an average of 4.83 out of 5 stars. Among the experiences profiled on Trustpilot, they also have excellent reviews with an average of 4.9 out of 5 stars.

If you have a complaint about the services of a debt relief company, you can file a complaint with the FTC or call 877-FTC-HELP.

Average Relief Amount

First Choice Debt Relief says their average customer reduces their debt amount by 55% during their program. This savings is on par with the industry average, although First Choice does not disclose whether this savings percentage accounts for fees charged to clients.

Average Time for Relief

With a debt settlement plan from First Choice Debt Relief, you may be able to get out of debt in 24 to 48 months. This timeline is on par with the industry average. Also, note that First Choice states some of their clients manage to get out of debt faster than average.

Cost

First Choice Debt Relief doesn't disclose its fee schedule upfront. If you choose to work with this company, you should make sure its fees fall within the industry average range of 15% to 25%.

The Competition

  First Choice Debt Relief Greenwise Debt Relief
Year Founded 2008 2017
Accreditation Accredited with the BBB

No affiliation with the American Fair Credit Council
Not accredited with the BBB

Member in good standing with the American Fair Credit Council
Services Offered Debt Settlement Debt Settlement
Customer Service Touchpoints Free consultation

Phone and email customer service

Online client dashboard
Free consultation

Phone and email customer service
Fee No upfront fees

Fees not disclosed
No upfront fees

Pay 18% to 25% of your debt
Average Program Time 24 to 48 months 12 to 48 months

Before you move forward with First Choice Debt Relief, you should take the time to compare this company to some of its competitors. We wanted to help you start your research, so we compared this company to Greenwise Debt Relief in the chart above.

While both of these companies offer debt settlement services, you'll probably notice that First Choice offers an online client dashboard, whereas Greenwise Debt Relief does not. You'll probably also notice that First Choice has been in operation since 2008, which is nearly 10 years longer than Greenwise.

With that being said, Greenwise does disclose its fee range of 18% to 25% of your settled debts ahead of time. While we believe First Choice Debt Relief is a better choice for debt relief, you should make sure you ask about fees they charge ahead of time. If First Choice wants to charge debt settlement fees that are beyond the industry average of 15% to 25%, we suggest looking at other debt relief firms such as Greenwise with lower fees overall.

Verdict

We believe First Choice Debt Relief is an excellent option for debt relief. They offer a free consultation to help you determine if debt settlement is for you, and you will only pay fees as progress is made. Not only that, but they're one of the few companies that has an online client dashboard for your convenience.

With all this being said, you should make sure their fees are in line with the industry average of 15% to 25% before you commit. Also take the time to compare the top debt relief companies in terms of their services, reputation, and fees before you move forward.

How We Review Debt Relief Companies

Investopedia compared more than 15 debt relief companies in order to rank them based on factors like customer service and satisfaction, third-party reviews and rankings, fees charged, transparency, debt relief services offered, and company reputation. Ultimately, we ranked each company in the most important categories using a star rating system.

We also compared debt relief companies based on their accreditation or standing with the Better Business Bureau and the American Fair Credit Council, with preference given to those with the best ratings.

Article Sources

Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy .
  1. Federal Trade Commission. "Coping with Debt." Accessed February 3, 2021.

  2. Better Business Bureau. "First Choice Debt Relief Inc." Accessed February 3, 2021.

  3. Trustpilot. "First Choice Debt Relief." Accessed February 3, 2021.