Will consolidating my debt hurt my credit updating stairs to wrought iron
If you do not settle, then your score is not hurt right away.
However, not settling might lead to continued late payments, default and credit collection attempts.
If you have too much outstanding debt, no matter if you have always paid those bills on time, you get declined for new credit.
There are far too many misconceptions (and incomplete summaries), about credit reports and the harm that comes from credit counseling, settling debt for less than what you owe, or how bankruptcy will stop you from getting approved for credit.
After more than 20 years of helping people with debt problems, I can say with certainty that there is too much focus on the credit report and credit score when what is being sought is debt relief.
Your credit report reveals a history of each account, including whether payments were made on time, original terms on the loan agreement and other information about how you maintained the account; each late payment is recorded).
Since most creditors are unwilling to settle debts that are current and serviced with timely payments, you're better off trying to work the deal with older, seriously past-due debt, perhaps something that's already been turned over to the collections department.
To come out ahead, you need to find a consolidation loan with a low interest rate and a reasonable term.