A free debt consolidation quote is the bare minimum you should expect when you contact a reputable credit counseling/debt consolidation firm. And in fact, if all you receive is a free quote I suggest that you move right along.
You see, when you first contact a debt counselor here is what you should expect to receive at the very least:
In other words, the purpose of this initial consultation should not be to simply determine whether or not you should enroll in a debt consolidation plan (although that is part of it). The real purpose should be to enable you and your debt counselor to get a clear picture of your debt situation, and from there, match your situation with the best debt relief option available. And that "best debt relief option" may or may not be debt consolidation.
In fact, two of the most important things that any debt counselor can provide you are...
1. a clear picture of your financial cash flow situation (money coming in vs. money going out) and,
2. a workable budget that enables you to stop spending more than you are earning allowing you to put extra money towards paying down your debts each month.
It's also important to keep in mind that not everyone "qualifies" for debt consolidation (or debt management as it is also known). If, after your initial consultation it is decided that you simply cannot meet the payment plan that would be necessary to complete a debt management plan, your counselor should lay out other options to consider.
This can be a potential problem if you deal with a company that has a narrow focus. If the company does not offer a wide range of debt relief programs, there is a chance that you will be "steered" into a program that isn't right for you, but is the only one that the company offers.
The fact is that any debt consolidation company that you contact will give you a "free" quote for their services. Why wouldn't they? And in fact if debt consolidation is the only service they offer, chances are that they will try and talk you into that product. Don't let that happen.
What you really want (or should want) is a free review of your financial situation by a senior debt counselor. Who knows, you may not need any further help than that. In many instances people just need an experienced hand to help them see things more clearly and organize their financial situation better.
On the other hand, if your debt situation warrants it, the debt counselor may refer you on to a debt relief program that they feel you will benefit from. These debt relief programs can range from debt consolidation right through to debt settlement and bankruptcy. After spending some time discussing your situation with you, an experienced debt counselor will usually know pretty quickly what your best plan of attack is.
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Still unclear about your options for getting out of debt. Start here.