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Debt relief in South Africa (ways to address too much debt)

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Woman with glasses looking stressed while reviewing documents at a table.

You know how pain relief makes something hurt less?

Well, debt relief makes debt less stressful (and more affordable). It’s a lot like pain relief, except for debt.

And as with any form of relief, there are different options.

Let’s go over how it all works and which option is best for you.


Debt relief in South Africa

Debt relief is a way to make debt easier to repay. Debt relief options allow South Africans to reorganise or negotiate their debt when they have an unstable amount of debt compared to their income.

Now, that doesn’t mean anyone with too much debt can have it written off.

There’s more to it…


What is debt relief?

Debt relief presents ways to reduce or get rid of portions of debt that are unaffordable. Debt relief can involve lowering interest rates, extending the payment term, or reducing the total amount owed. There are various options that help provide debt relief in South africa.

All with the aim of making debt easier to manage and repay (without starving or losing important necessities.)

Let’s look at the different types.


Types of debt relief

  1. Debt settlement
  2. Debt counselling (debt review)
  3. Bankruptcy
  4. Debt consolidation loans


Struggling to keep up with your debt?

Our team can help make your debt affordable once again.

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 settlement: This involves negotiating with creditors to pay a lower amount than what is owed. Creditors may be reluctant and this can be hard to get them to agree to. Despite the challenges, trying to negotiate a settlement could be a way to make the debt affordable.

Debt counselling (debt review): One of the most effective forms of debt relief, debt counselling offers a legal way to reduce debts. Creditors are more likely to offer better terms under debt counselling because it is a formal process. Individuals who choose debt counselling for debt relief get lots of great benefits. Including lower monthly payments, legal protection, and the convenience of consolidation.

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Bankruptcy: A legal process where a person is declared unable to pay their debts. After which their assets are sold to recover what they owe. Bankruptcy can have a lasting effect on someone’s credit score and comes with the additional cost of legal fees. 

Debt consolidation loans:This is a loan that combines multiple debts into one loan. Under the right circumstances, the consolidation loan should have better terms like a lower interest rate. For some, debt consolidation loans can be effective, but for most it’s just another loan. Not a real way to get out of debt.

For most South Africans, debt counselling is the best form of debt relief. 

It’s more effective and structured than consolidation loans and doesn’t have the negative impact of bankruptcy.

Check out a REAL EXAMPLE of what debt counselling (debt review) can do:


How debt counselling (debt review) helped Tebogo

Tebogo (alias), is using debt counselling to make her debt more affordable. Before she started debt counselling her total debt was R844,264.61. Her monthly instalment before debt counselling was R22,716.63 per month.

Now, using debt counselling as a debt relief option, her monthly payment is down to just R15,000.00.

And her interest rate went from 18.24% down to 10.12%.

(Remember, these are real numbers from a real South African under debt review.)


How to apply for debt relief in South Africa

To apply for debt relief in South Africa, you need to meet certain criteria and understand the process. Not all types of debt relief are available to everyone.

Here’s how to apply for each type:

  • Debt counselling (debt review): Contact a registered debt counsellor (like My Debt Hero). The counsellor will help assess your financial situation. Then, they’ll walk you through the process, formalise the application and create a more affordable repayment plan.
  • Debt settlement: Reach out to your creditors and tell them about your financial situation. Explain why you need a settlement and try to negotiate terms that can work for both sides. Sometimes, creditors may agree to accept a lump sum that is less than the total amount owed.
  • Bankruptcy: Bankruptcy is a complicated process that involves an attorney. Talk to an attorney who specialises in insolvency. They’ll explain the process and the implications of filing for bankruptcy. Then, they’ll help submit a formal application to the court. Including a complete list of your assets and liabilities. After that, the court decides whether to approve the bankruptcy or not, and on which terms.
  • Debt consolidation loans: Do some research and find a reputable financial institution that offers debt consolidation loans. The rest of the process is similar to a normal credit application. Make sure you review the terms carefully before you accept. Remember the consolidation loan should make it easier to manage the debt. Not more difficult.


debt review calculator

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.

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.

Current Monthly Debt Instalment

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


🏆 New Reduced Debt Instalment

This is an estimate of your reduced monthly debt repayment - what you could be paying instead.



Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Can I apply for debt relief if I am unemployed? Yes, some debt relief options, such as debt settlement, may still be available. Other options, like debt consolidation, may require a stable income.

Can I apply for debt relief if I have already been blacklisted? Yes, you can apply for debt relief even if you have been blacklisted. Debt counselling and other debt-relief options can help improve your credit record over time.

Will my credit score be affected by debt relief? Yes, entering most debt relief options will have an impact on your credit score. Better options like debt review remain on your credit report during the process. While bankruptcy lasts for years. It’s worth remembering that a positive step toward managing your debt can also help you to rebuild a stronger credit score in the long-term.


In summary

Debt relief in South Africa offers various ways to cope with unaffordable debt.

Whether through consolidation, counselling, settlement, bankruptcy, or debt review, it is important to understand the options. Which.. Congratulations, you do.

If you’re struggling to keep up with your debt repayments, try our quick assessment or send us a message to find out how to start the debt counselling process (and if it is right for you. Visit

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a 3D shield that is blue with a tick on it, protecting a brown wallet with cash and coins

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