Debt Relief Programs for Individuals Seeking Debt Assistance

Published by The National Debt Review Center on

In this article we cover all available Debt Relief Programs for Individuals Seeking Debt Assistance in South Africa

The National Debt Review Center


As someone struggling with debt in South Africa, you may feel overwhelmed and unsure where to turn. With various debt assistance options available, take a deep breath and know that you can evaluate your choices to find the right path forward. This article provides an overview of common debt relief programs in South Africa to help you understand the landscape.

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From debt counselling and debt consolidation to sequestration and administration, learn key factors about each option. With knowledge of the pros and cons for your situation, you can make an informed decision on the best debt solution and take the first step toward financial freedom. Equipped with this guidance, you will be empowered to take control of your debt.

Debt Relief Programs in South Africa (Find the Right Debt Solution for You)

Debt Counselling

  • Debt counselling is a debt relief option offered by registered debt counsellors in South Africa. Through debt counselling, your repayments are restructured into affordable instalments over a longer period. The counsellor negotiates with your creditors, stop legal action and reduce interest rates.

Debt Consolidation

  • Debt consolidation in South Africa is a strategy to simplify managing multiple debts. It involves taking out a new loan to pay off existing debts like credit cards, store accounts, or personal loans. This new loan ideally comes with a lower interest rate and a longer repayment term, reducing your monthly payment. While it doesn’t eliminate your debt, it simplifies things by having one payment to track and potentially saves you money on interest. However, the longer repayment term can mean paying more interest overall, so careful consideration is crucial.

Debt Review

  • Debt review, also known as debt counselling in South Africa, is a formal process designed to help people struggling with overwhelming debt. A registered debt counsellor assesses your financial situation, negotiates with your creditors on your behalf, and creates a restructured repayment plan. This plan typically lowers your monthly installments and interest rates, making your debt more manageable. Debt review offers protection from legal action and asset repossession by creditors while you’re in the program. However, it can impact your credit score and limit your ability to access new credit during the process. It’s a good option for those in serious debt who need help regaining control of their finances.


  • Sequestration in South Africa is a serious legal option for those drowning in debt. It involves surrendering your assets to a court-appointed trustee who sells them to repay creditors. This offers a clean slate but comes with a lengthy process, damaged credit score, and limitations until “rehabilitated.” Consider it a last resort after exploring other debt relief options.

Debt Administration

  • Debt administration in South Africa is a debt relief option for people with smaller debts (typically under R50,000). A court-appointed administrator takes control of your finances, collects affordable monthly payments from you, and distributes them proportionally to your creditors. This reduces your monthly burden and protects you from creditor harassment. However, it can be expensive due to administrator fees and extends your repayment period.

Debt Rearrangement

  • The National Credit Amendment Act aims to provide relief to over-indebted South Africans. It allows certain applicants to have their debt suspended in part or in full for up to 24 months. This debt may then be extinguished altogether if the financial circumstances of the applicant do not improve.

Debt Mediation

  • Debt mediation is a debt relief program known as Voluntary Debt Mediation Solution which was implemented in early 2012. This is program is unregulated by the NCR but not recommended for South African consumers. Should a consumer need debt intervention then we would recommend debt counselling.
  • Debt mediation is a process whereby a third-party mediator assists you and your creditors to come to an agreement on your debt repayments. The mediator will facilitate discussions between you and your creditors and help you find a solution that is acceptable to both parties. Debt mediation can be an effective way to reduce your outstanding debt and make repayments more manageable. It can also help to improve your relationship with your creditors, as you will be working together towards a solution.

If you are struggling to repay your debts, or are at risk of defaulting on your payments, then debt mediation could be a good option for you. However, it is important to remember that this is not a magic solution, and you will still need to make regular debt repayments in order to eventually clear your debt.

Debt Relief Programs For Individuals Seeking Debt Assistance

Top 5 Advantages of each Debt Relief Program

Top 5 Advantages of Debt Counselling or Debt Review

  1. Debt counselling consolidates your multiple debts into a single, more manageable monthly payment. This eliminates the hassle of juggling different due dates, interest rates, and creditors.
  2. Debt review helps you get a grip on your finances and reduces the anxiety associated with overwhelming debt. The lower monthly payments free up some breathing room in your budget.
  3. Once enrolled in debt counselling, you’re legally protected from creditor harassment and repossession of your assets. The debt counsellor handles all communication with your creditors.
  4. Debt counsellors can negotiate with your creditors on your behalf to potentially lower your interest rates. This translates to significant savings over the repayment term.
  5. Debt counselling creates a clear and realistic repayment plan to help you become debt-free within a specific timeframe. It discourages taking on new debt and helps you develop healthy financial habits.

Top 5 Advantages of Debt Consolidation

  1. By combining multiple debts with potentially higher interest rates into a single loan, you could qualify for a lower overall interest rate. This saves you money on interest charges in the long run.
  2. Debt consolidation streamlines your finances by reducing multiple debts into one monthly payment. This simplifies budgeting and tracking your progress towards becoming debt-free.
  3. With a potentially lower interest rate and a fixed monthly payment, you might be able to allocate additional funds towards the debt consolidation loan, accelerating your payoff and saving on total interest paid.
  4. Juggling multiple debts and deadlines can be overwhelming. Debt consolidation simplifies your finances, potentially leading to less stress and anxiety around managing your debt.
  5. Successfully managing and paying off your debt consolidation loan can positively impact your credit score over time. This can lead to better loan terms and interest rates in the future.

Top 5 Advantages of Sequestration

  1. Sequestration offers a complete wipeout of your outstanding debt (after selling assets). This provides a fresh start, allowing you to rebuild your finances without the burden of past debts.
  2. Once under sequestration, you’re legally protected from creditor harassment and further legal action. This provides much-needed peace of mind during a challenging financial period.
  3. While some assets might be sold to repay creditors, there may be exemptions allowing you to keep essential items like your car or basic household furnishings.
  4. The entire sequestration process is overseen by the court, ensuring fairness and transparency. This can offer some comfort knowing a neutral party is involved.
  5. After a designated period and fulfilling certain requirements, you can apply for rehabilitation. This restores some of your financial privileges and allows you to rebuild your credit score.

Top 5 Advantages of Debt Administration

  1. Debt administration enforces affordable monthly payments based on your income. This prevents you from overextending yourself financially and allows you to meet your basic needs while chipping away at your debt.
  2. Once under administration, creditors cannot harass you for payments. The administrator handles all communication and distributes your payments proportionally. This significantly reduces stress and allows you to focus on getting back on track.
  3. Debt administration ensures a fair and transparent process for your creditors. They receive a portion of your repayments in proportion to what you owe them.
  4. In some cases, after completing the administration program and making consistent payments, a portion of your remaining debt may be written off. This provides further relief and motivates you to stay committed.
  5. Debt administration can be a good alternative to harsher options like sequestration. It allows you to keep your assets while working towards becoming debt-free.

Top 5 Advantages of Debt Rearrangement

  1. Debt rearrangement allows for restructuring your existing debts into a single, more manageable monthly payment. This can significantly ease your financial burden and free up cash for essential expenses.
  2. The debt intervention process may involve negotiating with creditors to lower your interest rates. This reduction translates to significant savings on interest charges over the repayment term.
  3. Debt rearrangement often extends the repayment period for your debts. This allows for smaller monthly payments, making it easier to manage your finances and potentially avoid defaulting.
  4. Once enrolled in debt intervention, you’re legally protected from creditor harassment and repossession of your assets. This provides peace of mind while you work towards becoming debt-free.
  5. In some cases, if your financial situation meets specific criteria, the National Credit Tribunal may even order a partial or complete write-off of your qualifying debts. This offers significant debt relief and a fresh financial start.

Top 5 Advantages of Debt Mediation

  1. Debt mediation allows you to address debt issues proactively before they spiral out of control. This can prevent the need for harsher measures like debt review or administration.
  2. Debt mediation often involves a more informal approach compared to debt counselling. This can lead to more flexible negotiation options with creditors, potentially including personalized repayment plans or fee waivers.
  3. Debt mediation can be a quicker process compared to debt counselling. This is because it focuses on resolving immediate issues with creditors rather than restructuring your entire debt landscape.
  4. Debt mediation may be a more cost-effective solution compared to debt counselling, particularly if you only have a few creditors or a manageable amount of debt.
  5. Debt mediation allows you to remain involved in the negotiation process with your creditors. This can empower you to understand the agreements and feel more in control of your financial situation.

Top 5 Disadvantages of each Debt Relief Program

Top 5 Disadvantages of Debt Counselling or Debt Review

  1. Enrolling in debt counselling flags your credit report, which can negatively impact your credit score for a period of up to one year (or even longer in some cases). This can make it difficult to qualify for future loans or credit cards with favorable terms.
  2. While in debt review, creditors are generally less likely to approve you for new lines of credit. This restricts your ability to access additional funds for emergencies or unexpected expenses.
  3. Debt counsellors typically charge fees for their services, which can add to your overall financial burden. These fees are regulated, but they can still be a significant upfront cost.
  4. Long-Term Commitment.
  5. Application might be rejected, and some accounts will be excluded.

Top 5 Disadvantages of Debt Consolidation

  1. While you might aim for a lower interest rate with consolidation, it’s not guaranteed. Depending on your creditworthiness, the new loan might have a higher interest rate than some of your existing debts. This could increase your overall interest payments.
  2. Consolidation can extend your repayment period, potentially leading to paying more interest in the long run. While the monthly payment might be lower, you’ll be paying on the debt for a longer timeframe.
  3. Having a single, lower monthly payment might create a false sense of security and tempt you to take on new debt. This can defeat the purpose of consolidation and make your financial situation worse.
  4. Consolidation loans may come with origination fees, balance transfer fees, and closing costs. These fees add to your overall debt burden and can negate some of the benefits of consolidation.
  5. Debt consolidation is a strategy to manage existing debt, but it doesn’t address the root cause of your debt problem. If you don’t address your spending habits or budgeting practices, you could fall back into debt even after consolidating.

Top 5 Disadvantages of Sequestration

  1. Sequestration has a devastating impact on your credit score, potentially lasting for up to 10 years. This will make it extremely difficult to access any form of credit, including loans, mortgages, or even credit cards, for a long period.
  2. Sequestration involves selling off most of your assets (excluding some essentials) to repay creditors. This can mean losing your car, property, or valuable possessions, significantly impacting your lifestyle.
  3. Sequestration can be a long and drawn-out process, taking up to 34 months to complete. The legal procedures and paperwork can be complex and overwhelming, requiring professional guidance.
  4. Following sequestration, you’ll face limitations until “rehabilitated.” This might prevent you from holding certain positions, becoming a company director, or even emigrating freely. The rehabilitation process itself can take another 18 months.
  5. Sequestration can be a stressful and emotionally draining experience. The loss of assets, financial limitations, and damaged credit score can significantly impact your mental well-being.

Top 5 Disadvantages of Debt Administration

  1. Debt administration is typically suited for smaller debts, often capped around R50,000 in South Africa. This means it might not be a viable option for those struggling with larger amounts of debt.
  2. While offering manageable monthly payments, debt administration can extend your debt repayment period. This can be discouraging as it takes longer to become debt-free and accrue additional interest in the long run.
  3. There are associated fees with debt administration, including the administrator’s fees and potential legal costs. These fees can add to your overall financial burden and eat into the amount going towards your actual debt repayment.
  4. Debt administration removes some control over how your debts are paid. The administrator distributes your allocated payments proportionately to your creditors, and you might not be able to prioritize specific debts.
  5. While not as severe as sequestration, debt administration can negatively impact your credit score for a period. This can make it more difficult to qualify for future loans or credit cards with favorable terms.

Top 5 Disadvantages of Debt Rearrangement

  1. Debt rearrangement isn’t an automatic solution. The National Credit Tribunal has the final say, and approval depends on factors like your financial situation, cooperation from creditors, and the feasibility of the proposed repayment plan.
  2. While offering lower monthly payments, debt rearrangement can extend your debt repayment period. This means you’ll be paying on the debt for a longer time, potentially accruing more interest in the total amount repaid.
  3. Debt rearrangement focuses on restructuring your debt, not necessarily eliminating it entirely. This can be a challenge if your overall debt burden is very high.
  4. Although not a guaranteed consequence, debt rearrangement might negatively affect your credit score, especially if it involves payment defaults or a lengthy repayment period. This can make it difficult to access new credit in the future.
  5. The success of debt rearrangement relies on your strict adherence to the repayment plan. This might require sacrifices in terms of lifestyle adjustments and budgeting to ensure you meet your obligations.

Top 5 Disadvantages of Debt Mediation

  1. Debt mediation is best suited for addressing early signs of debt struggles and resolving disputes with a few creditors. It might not be effective for people with overwhelming debt or facing legal action.
  2. Debt mediation relies on negotiation between you and your creditors. There’s no guarantee of a successful outcome and reaching a mutually agreeable solution can be challenging. You might not achieve significant reductions in interest rates or monthly payments.
  3. Debt mediation is a temporary intervention aimed at resolving immediate issues. It doesn’t offer a long-term debt management plan like debt counselling or consolidation. The underlying causes of your debt might not be addressed.
  4. While generally less expensive than debt counselling, there might still be associated fees for the mediator’s services. This adds to your financial burden and reduces the amount going towards your debt.
  5. The mediator facilitates communication between you and your creditors, but you might have less control over the negotiation process compared to debt counselling. This can be a disadvantage if you prefer a more hands-on approach.

What is Debt Assistance and what should I look for when seeking debt assistance in South Africa?

Debt assistance is the general term for any service that helps you manage or eliminate your debt in South Africa. There are several options available, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

What is Debt Assistance?

Debt assistance aims to help you regain control of your finances when overwhelmed by debt. It can involve:

  • Negotiating with creditors: Lowering interest rates or monthly payments.
  • Creating a repayment plan: A structured approach to pay off your debt.
  • Debt education: Learning budgeting skills and responsible credit management.

What to Look for When Seeking Debt Assistance in South Africa

Here are key points to consider when choosing debt assistance in South Africa.

  • Ensure the company or counsellor is registered with the National Credit Regulator (NCR). This guarantees they meet legal requirements and operate ethically. You can verify their registration on the NCR website Register of Registrants (
  • Different providers offer different services. Understand if they specialize in a specific area like debt counselling, administration, or mediation. Choose one aligned with your needs and debt amount.
  • Be transparent about any fees associated with the service. Some providers charge upfront fees, while others take a percentage of your debt repayments.
  • Choose a company that clearly explains the process, potential outcomes, and any limitations of their services. Open communication is crucial for a successful debt relief journey.
  • Research the company’s reputation online and read client reviews. This can provide valuable insights into their effectiveness and customer service.
  • Trust and clear communication are essential. Choose a provider you feel comfortable with and who can answer your questions clearly.

Here are some resources to get you started:


Debt assistance, particularly the services of a debt counsellor, can be a lifeline for individuals struggling with debt in South Africa. By providing a structured process and professional guidance, a debt counsellor can help individuals regain their financial stability and achieve a debt-free future1. It’s a valuable resource that can make a significant difference in the lives of many South Africans.

The National Debt Review Center

Welcome to The National Debt Review Center, where financial stability and integrity are our guiding principles. We strive to deliver the utmost best in customer service & act with the highest standards of integrity. We are South Africa's best Debt Counselling & Debt Review Removal Company. NCR Registration Number - NCRDC3106


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