30 July 2020

Not many Singaporeans know about credit counselling. Mention “credit counselling” to people, and you’re more likely to be met with blank stares. Explain that it’s about discussing debt management with a financial counsellor, and they might reel away in shock.

The topic on debts is often so private that most people shy away from the idea of talking about it, much less to a stranger.

But there’s no shame in asking for a bit of guidance and help when you’re struggling. Even when it’s repaying your debts that you’re struggling with.

It’s never too late to get your finances in order and start your journey out of debt.

And that’s just what credit counselling is about: providing support to people struggling to become debt-free.

What Is Credit Counselling?

Credit counselling provides financial guidance and support on debt managing and budgeting. It can help you address your unsecured debt problem through education, counselling, and facilitating repayment, so that you can pay your debt in a more manageable manner.

In Singapore, this is offered by Credit Counselling Singapore (CCS). The CCS is a local non-governmental organisation that is recognised by the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS). 

CCS aims to help borrowers regain a sense of control and dignity by helping them better understand their financial situations and options. 

You can attend 1-on-1 counselling with the CCS counsellor, who will work with you to facilitate a debt repayment arrangement for unsecured debts. These counselling sessions are priced at a low and affordable rate.

If you’ve been struggling with your debt and don’t know how to go about repaying it, perhaps it’s time to go for a credit counselling. 

Looking for other ways to settle your debt besides going for a credit counselling? Find out more about your options here. 

Infographic explaining what credit counselling is

Credit counselling services offered in Singapore includes financial literacy and debt management talks.

What Are The Services Offered By Credit Counselling Singapore (CCS)? 

Credit Counselling Singapore offers a range of services intended to address unsecured debt problems. They focus on improving people’s financial literacy and preventing debt accumulation. 

Their services are split into 2 main categories: assistance with unsecured debt problems and financial education programmes.

Assistance With Unsecured Debt Problems

If you’re having trouble coping with your debt, these are some programmes and services offered by CCS that can help you with it. 

1. Information Talks On Debt Management

These are free talks on general information about debt problems. Topics include the following: 

  • Addressing a debt problem 
  • Ways to negotiate with creditors
  • Ways to approach CCS for help

It’s a good starting point if you’re lost and don’t know where to begin with your debt management. 

These information talks are conducted every weekday evening, and every 2 weeks on Saturdays. Each talk is about 2 hours long.

Even if you’re not facing a pressing problem now, it’s always good to learn more about debt management.

You may check out when is their next talk here. 

2. Financial Counselling

If you need someone to break down your financial situation and options for you, you may want to go for financial counselling sessions. 

During the 1-to-1 session, a financial counsellor will assess your financial position with you before helping you decide your best course of action.

However, for the financial counselling to be effective, you’ll need to be open to revealing personal financial information. Only then can the financial counsellor provide you with relevant and specific advice to help you.

Don’t worry about the price, though — it’s a one-time fee of S$30, and the CCS can help you if you face difficulties paying for it. 

A couple getting financial advice from a counsellor during a credit counselling session

Through the Debt Management Programme, Credit Counselling Singapore will help you facilitate a repayment arrangement with your creditors.

3. Debt Management Programme (DMP)

DMP is a structured debt repayment arrangement with consumer banks and credit card companies in Singapore, such as DBS and OCBC. 

It’s for borrowers who are in genuine financial distress with their unsecured debts, and are struggling to pay for basic necessities.

Credit Counselling Singapore (CCS) is the only Social Service Agency in Singapore that offers the DMP. In this programme, CCS will prepare a DMP proposal for you. Their role here is to facilitate the repayment arrangement between you and your creditors.

If you’re deemed suitable for a DMP, you may be able to get a lower interest rate and an extended repayment period for the remaining balances of your unsecured debt. 

It’s not a Debt Consolidation Plan as you aren’t consolidating your debts under 1 licensed lender. Instead, you’ll have to make monthly instalments to each original creditor for the duration of the DMP.

However, there are some criteria you’ll need to meet if you’re considering a DMP:

  1. You have unsecured debts with more than one creditor. 
  2. Your total unsecured debt amounts to at least S$10,000.
  3. Your accounts with banks are at least 1 year old. 

Do take note that when you’re on DMP, all your credit card and line accounts will be terminated. You’ll be unable to apply for any unsecured credit facilities with any bank, and your credit report will show that you’re on DMP. 

Once you’ve settled all your payments, the DMP status will be removed from your credit report. 

To be considered for a DMP, you’ll have to attend CCS’ Information Talk on Debt Management first, or enrol and complete their Online Debt Management Course.

Learn more about the debt management programme here. 

Do note that CCS cannot guarantee that you will be qualified for a DMP. If your financial situation is too severe, you might be left only 1 option: bankruptcy.

Wondering what happens if you file for bankruptcy? Learn more about it here. 

4. Enterprise Credit Counselling Programme (ECCP)

This programme helps small business owners who are in debt to understand their obligations and financial liabilities, should their business terminate. 

Under the ECCP, the CCS may propose a comprehensive debt repayment arrangement to address your unsecured business debts, as well as your personal unsecured debts. 

Do take note that if you’d like the CCS to facilitate a debt repayment arrangement for your business debts, you’ll need to meet the following criteria

  • Stopped or in the process of closing down your business operations
  • Have business assets of not more than S$1 million
  • Have unsecured business debts with banks and financial institutions not exceeding S$500,000

Financial Education Programmes

Credit Counselling Singapore doesn’t only offer programmes for debt management. If you’d like to improve your financial literacy and learn more about budgeting, CCS has some programmes catered for you too. 

1. Financial Literacy Talks And Workshops

These talks and workshops focus on responsible credit use, good money management skills, and improving financial literacy in Singapore. 

Topics that you can expect at these talks include coping with work transition, making informed decisions about various loan facilities, preparing financial resources for major life events such as weddings. 

In addition, CCS conducts financial literacy talks for organisations and social service agencies. 

2. Cents-ible Retirement Programme (CRP)

The CRP is a specialised programme aimed to help people aged 50 and above become more financially self-reliant in their retirement years.

While there are many courses out there about building assets and early planning for retirement, the CRP helps to align your retirement expectations with the retirement financial resources at hand.

It comprises 2 modules. The first module helps you take stock of your financial resources. The second module is a personalised financial counselling session that helps you to come up with a plan to maximise your financial resources.

Here’s a table summarising the various services offered by Credit Counselling Singapore: 

Services Offered By CCS
Assistance With Unsecured Debt Problems Information Talks on Debt Management

  • For everyone
Credit Counselling

  • For people who need personalised advice
Debt Management Programme

  • For people who are in hefty debts of at least S$10,000
Enterprise Credit Counselling Programme (ECCP)

  • For businesses which have closed down or in the midst of closing down and have debts not exceeding S$500,000
Financial Education Programmes Financial Literacy Talks & Workshops

  • For individuals, organisations, and Social Service Agencies
Cents-ible Retirement Programme (CRP)

  • For people above 50 years old

Source: Credit Counselling Singapore

When Should You Go For Credit Counselling?

When you find yourself struggling to make payments for your unsecured personal loans and credit cards, you might want to consider going for credit counselling.

If your unsecured debt amounts to at least S$10,000, you can apply for the Debt Management Programme that’s offered by Credit Counselling Singapore. They can work directly, or indirectly, with your creditors to restructure the debt repayment based on your capacity. 

Want to clear your credit card debts without going for credit counselling? Here are a few ways you can do so. 

Alternatively, you can attend their Information Talks and head down for financial counselling first, to discuss your financial situation and options with a CCS counsellor.

While being in debt can be daunting, getting objective advice, guidance, and support can go a long way in helping you get back on your feet.

If you’re in need of cash to pay off urgent bills, you may consider taking a personal loan at Crawfort. 

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Innovative business Crawfort is rewriting the rules when it comes to moneylending solutions

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