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Debt counselling vs debt review – what is the difference?

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A young woman and a female debt specialist discussing the differences between debt counselling and debt review in her home

What is the difference between debt review and debt counselling? These terms are terms often confused when discussing debt, and though they share several similarities, there are key differences you should be aware of. 

Dealing with debt is stressful enough as it is, and struggling to figure out what each debt solution entails only makes it worse.

So let’s put these two terms up against each other: debt counselling vs debt review, to help you understand the difference.


Debt counselling vs debt review 

First introduced in 2007 by the National Credit Regulator (NCR), both debt counselling and debt review form part of the National Credit Act 34 of 2005.

Debt counselling and debt review are components of the same debt rehabilitation process, where debt counselling can be defined as the service, and debt review as the regulated process.

(It is easy to mix these terms up isn’t it?)

Let’s take a look at how the terms relate, and then explore each in more detail.

As an over-indebted South African consumer, you can apply for debt counselling. After making contact with a registered debt counsellor and/or debt counselling firm, your assigned debt counsellor will assess whether or not you are over-indebted, in need of financial assistance, and eligible for debt review. 

If you are eligible, your debt counsellor will help to place you under debt review and negotiate with your credit providers to reduce and consolidate all of your debt — making it more affordable, and easier to repay.


debt review calculator

What is your estimate?

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*The calculation is an estimate actual amounts may vary.

What is your estimate?

Try our debt reduction calculator to calculate your lower monthly debt instalment*.

*The calculation is an estimate actual amounts may vary.

debt review calculator
Calculator - Reduced Repayment

Enter how much you're currently paying every month for each of the debts below


If applicable, enter your current monthly repayment amount for your home and vehicle debt below.



Continue by adding what you pay each month for each category below.


Click 'Check your estimate' to estimate your reduced monthly debt repayment under debt review.

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This is the total amount that you're currently spending on your debt each month.


🏆 New Reduced Debt Instalment

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The difference between debt counselling and debt review 

Debt counselling is the service that a debt counsellor provides to an over-indebted South African consumer struggling with their debt, and debt review is a regulated programme that a debt counsellor will place successful debt counselling applicants under.

Debt counselling Debt review
A process through which consumers apply to be assessed and declared as over-indebted to be placed under debt review.
A regulated programme that offers various benefits that make debt repayment easier for over-indebted consumers.
Overseen by:
Debt counsellor
National Credit Regulator (NCR)

Alright, so now that we’ve defined debt counselling and debt review, and the relationship between these two terms, we’ll refer to both as debt counselling (debt review) in the next couple of paragraphs.


What is debt counselling?

Debt counselling is a practice that assists over-indebted consumers struggling to repay their debts through a structured debt repayment process. 

A registered debt counsellor will confirm your over-indebtedness and subsequently develop a personalised debt repayment plan that consists of a consolidated and reduced monthly instalment. 

The debt counsellor will communicate with your credit providers on your behalf as well as provide ongoing financial assistance and advice. 

Want to know more? Check out our full post — What is debt counselling? (It’s not what you think)


Debt counselling vs debt review explained with a circle diagram


What is debt review?

Debt review is a debt rehabilitation programme that assists over-indebted South Africans struggling to repay their existing debt by reducing the monthly cost, consolidating multiple debts, and restricting access to additional credit

When you are placed under debt review, you are flagged by credit bureaus, forgo access to credit and repay your debts as outlined by your repayment plan. This debt repayment plan makes it much easier for consumers to meet their monthly best-obligations through a single and reduced instalment amount. 

Once you have successfully repaid all your debt and completed the process, you are unflagged by credit bureaus, your credit score resets and you can access credit. 

Want to know more? Check out our full post — What is debt review? South Africa’s solution to debt


The benefits of debt counselling (debt review)

Debt counselling (debt review) offers a myriad of benefits. Here are just a few:

  1. Reduced monthly debt instalment = spend less on debt each month.
  2. Assets may not be repossessed = you get to keep your car or house.
  3. Protection against creditors = stay on the right side of the law.
  4. There’s no permanent record


The benefits of debt counselling (debt review) listed in a graphic


Who should apply for debt counselling (debt review)? 

Only South Africans that are struggling to keep up with monthly debt repayments, and can legally be declared as over-indebted should apply.

If you may be considered over-indebted, then debt counselling is a terrific option for you, and you should strongly consider applying. But how do you know whether you are over-indebted? 


Signs that you may be over-indebted:
  • You constantly borrow money to repay other debts 
  • You rely on your credit cards and/or overdraft facilities to make debt repayments 
  • You are receiving letters of demand from creditors


Many over-indebted consumers can benefit from a structured repayment plan, ensuring that they meet their repayment deadlines while working with a professional. It is also a much safer option and places you on a very direct path to financial freedom. 

And debt counselling fees are regulated and included in your monthly repayment — so anyone can afford it. No matter how much debt they have.

To be a successful candidate for debt counselling, there is a criteria you need to meet.


Struggling to keep up with your debt?

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We help thousands of South Africans to reduce their monthly debt repayments, protect them from legal action, and keep their assets — our team can help you too.


Debt counselling (debt review) qualifying criteria:
  • Be over 18 years of age 
  • Be a South African citizen 
  • Be employed, earning a pension or have some sort of constant monthly income
  • Have your own bank account in which your salary gets paid into
  • If you are married in Community of Property, you must have spousal consent of which your spouse agrees to enter debt review as well
  • You cannot already be undergoing legal action 
  • You cannot be sequestrated 
  • You cannot be under debt administration


Debt counselling (debt review) qualifying criteria

Here is an example to help clarify if you are eligible for debt counselling (debt review):  

Mrs. Smith has taken out a series of loans to help repay her credit card debt. A couple of months ago, Mrs. Smith lost her job and fell behind on her debt repayments. She recently got a new job and wants to repay her debt as soon as possible. 

Mrs. Smith now earns R18 000.00 per month as a car saleswoman and her total monthly expenses are R10 000.00 per month. Mrs. Smith’s current debt repayments per month amount to R 9 000.00

Mr Smith is not under debt review nor debt administration. She has not been sequestrated nor handed over to the court by her credit providers. Therefore, Mrs. Smith meets the criteria and may apply to be assessed as an over-indebted consumer.


Here is a quick formula to help check:

Total income p/m = R18 000.00

Total expenses p/m = R10 000.00

Total debt repayments p/m = R9 500.00

Total = – R1 500.00


As you can see, Mr Smith is left with a negative amount at the end of the month but has a stable income to repay a reduced monthly debt instalment.

She qualifies for debt counselling (debt review). 


Are there other options available to me? 

Other than applying for debt counselling to enter debt review, you can choose to repay your debt on your own, or apply for a debt consolidation loan.

Debt consolidation loans combine all your debts into a single loan which can be used to pay off all your outstanding debts, so that you’ll only have to repay your new loan. Some consumers use debt consolidation loans to simplify the repayment process while retaining access to additional credit.

This option can work for consumers who are interested in retaining their ability to take out credit,  however, consumers who are unable to meet their debt obligations are already at risk of accumulating more debt which can be dangerous in the long term. 

Remember that debt counselling (debt review) also consolidates your debt, while protecting you from access to additional credit, thus securing your path towards debt-freedom. 


Final thoughts 

Depending on your financial needs and goals, debt counselling (debt review) may be an excellent option to get your finances in order.

Want to apply for debt counselling (debt review)? Visit our website: My Debt Hero, to get started straight away! 

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