Juggling credit card payments is more than a national pastime. For many borrowers, paying 30% APR while unemployed becomes impossible. Most lenders are not sympathetic when learning about an account holder’s layoff and frequently resort to threats despite years of timely prior payments. Credit card debt consolidation programs may provide a realistic solution. In addition, be aware that the quality of services provided may vary significantly between the best companies and lesser competitors.Several different types of debt consolidation programs are available. Lenders advertise a wide variety of loans designed to aggregate credit card accounts. Banks, credit unions and private lenders offer both secured and unsecured consolidation products. Management and settlement plans combine exiting credit card accounts without qualification for a new loan and reduce payments by negotiated settlement contracts. Chapter 13 bankruptcy combines credit card accounts under the control of a federal trustee for partial repayment. The variety of services offered makes finding the best option difficult. Moreover, with so many alternatives, hundreds of lenders, companies and attorneys compete for each potential customer’s patronage.The most effective way to choose the type of service that best serves each person is to conduct a side-by-side comparison. The goal of all services is to reduce monthly payments, yet each person must also consider additional advantages and disadvantages. For example, using a home equity loan to combine credit card accounts may increase interest cost substantially when spread over 30 years. Filing bankruptcy is easy and may yield the greatest savings but may also prevent future credit approval for a decade. Using a side-by-side comparison simplifies the decision process.Consider applying with the best companies that provide all payment reduction strategies under consideration. All reputable companies and professionals welcome applications. The best companies also provide free estimates of costs, explain benefits and answer questions gladly.Finding the best companies is easy online. Consider browsing reports provided by the Better Business Bureau. Many state and federal government agencies accept online inquires about regulated companies. Numerous industry organizations provide information about members and may maintain a record of complaints. Once passing these tests, contact several companies and ask an identical set of questions for comparison.Applying for three alternatives and several providers of each option may require a few hours. Compare both benefits and burdens. Evaluate total costs for repayment. Consider the reputation and years of experience of each company. Consider the impact of each option on credit ratings. Despite this time commitment, the information obtained should pay handsome benefits.