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how will debt relief programs affect my credit

It really depends on the type of debt relief program you select…

Debt Management – Has the least affect on your credit score. Typically takes the longest to get out of debt (of the 3 options listed here) but typically results in only a notification on your credit report that you are in a program.

Debt Settlement – This does damage your credit as you will go many months without paying any of your unsecured creditors a dime. Instead you make monthly payments into an account until the money builds up enough to be able to allow your debt settlement company to start the debt reduction negotiations.

Bankruptcy – Also severely damages your credit because unlike in debt settlement where you at least pay back a portion of what you owe, a bankruptcy often means you pay back nothing. However, bankruptcies have become much more difficult to file and get court approval.

I hope that helps.