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Updated on Wednesday, December 19, 2018
If you’re finding it difficult to keep up with your financial obligations month after month, a debt relief program could be a good option to consider.
National Debt Relief offers both debt consolidation and debt settlement services. Learn more about this company in this comprehensive review.
What is National Debt Relief?
National Debt Relief offers both debt consolidation and debt settlement as alternatives to bankruptcy. The company was founded in 2009 and has since helped over 100,000 families. However, you must have at least $7,500 in debt to qualify for its debt relief program.
Debt consolidation is the process of taking out new debt in order to repay your old debts. The new debt should have better terms to make repayment easier or cheaper. If you consolidate multiple debts, you could reduce your monthly payments.
Debt settlement, on the other hand, is a process that can get part of your debt forgiven. In exchange, you’ll promise to repay a certain portion of the original debt.
Breakdown of National Debt Relief
Here’s a simple breakdown of National Debt Relief’s services, fees and qualifications.
Minimum debt required
You must have at least $7,500 in eligible debt to qualify for enrollment in a debt relief program with the company.
Soft or hard credit pull required
The company runs a soft credit check during the application process to give you a free quote.
A debt settlement program through National Debt Relief generally takes 24 to 48 months to complete. People who complete the program are said to save about 30% off their original debt (or 50% before National Debt Relief collects its fees).
Initial consultation is free.
You do not pay National Debt Relief until settlement is reached. If you are unhappy with the way the company negotiated your debt, you can cancel without any penalties or pay any fees (up until the point of settlement).
The exact fee varies by debt amount and the state you live in, but is typically 15% to 25% of total debt during enrollment and is paid once settlement is reached. National Debt Relief does not charge a monthly service fee.
Types of debt accepted
National Debt Relief settles unsecured debt from credit cards, personal loans, lines of credit, medical bills, business debts, repossession deficiency balances, abandoned timeshares and certain student loan debts.
The company does not settle debt from mortgage or home loans, auto loans, child support, lawsuits, IRS debt and back taxes, speeding tickets, bail bonds or any other types of secured loans.
National Debt Relief is a member of the Better Business Bureau (BBB). It is also a member of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators (IAPDA) and the American Fair Credit Council.
4-star customer rating on the BBB
National Debt Relief is not available in all states. These states include Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon, S.C., Vt. and W.Va. You can get information on each state’s laws on the company’s website.
Free resources and tools
National Debt Relief provides some free financial education resources on its website, like this downloadable budget planner.
National Debt Relief has several customer service channels. You can speak to a debt relief counselor by calling 800-300-9550 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to midnight EST or Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 10 p.m. EST.
For general inquiries, you can email [email protected] You can also fill out an request and have a specialist contact you about options within minutes.
- You need at least $7,500 in eligible debt and be several months behind on your payments.
- You must be able to demonstrate financial hardship, so that the company can negotiate with your creditors and show you are eligible for debt relief. Some examples of financial hardships, according to the company’s website, are a recent job loss, a separation or divorce which has led to a reduction in income, death of a spouse, unexpected medical bills, student loans or IRS taxes.
- You must be able to make monthly payments to a settlement fund, which will later be used to pay your creditors. The amount for your monthly payment is determined by National Debt Relief and is often less than the total credit card payments you’re currently paying.
- You must not be living in states that National Debt Relief does not currently serve (Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon, South Carolina, Vermont and West Virginia).
What are the benefits and risks of National Debt Relief?
There is no upfront costs. You do not have to pay anything until a settlement is reached.
If you enter a debt settlement program, you’re essentially hiring a company to negotiate with creditors on your behalf. In order to show creditors that you’re truly unable to repay your debts (and hopefully convince them to settle for less than what you owe), the debt relief company will ask you to not make payments on your outstanding debts. During this time, interest and late fees will accrue on your loans.
While National Debt Relief claims that people who finish its debt relief program save on average 30% off their original debt, it’s important to consider the interest and fees you’ll accrue during the time you’re enrolled in the program. Furthermore, If you don’t finish the program, or if National Debt Relief is unsuccessful at negotiating the terms, you can end up stuck with a higher balance than you started off with.
National Debt Relief runs a soft credit check during the application process to give you a free quote.
Late payments will show up on your credit report since your accounts are delinquent while you are in a debt relief program.Once an account is considered delinquent, it will show up on your credit report for seven years.
Having a debt expert negotiate on your behalf can be very helpful. This is especially true if you are not fluent in English or do not feel comfortable speaking to creditors on a regular basis.
There is no guarantee your creditors will accept any offer from National Debt Relief. Creditors may still contact you once you’ve stopped making payments.
People who complete the program are said to save about 30% off their original debt(or 50% before National Debt Relief’s fees).
There is always a possibility that creditors will sue you if you stop making payments on outstanding debts.
You can cancel at any time — up until settlement is reached — without penalties or fees.
You may have to pay taxes on forgiven debt.
How much does National Debt Relief cost?
Since 2010, the Federal Trade Commission made it illegal for debt settlement companies to collect any upfront fees. As a result, there is no initial cost to work with National Debt Relief and the company does not require a monthly service fee.
The final cost for each person is dependent on their total debt and is paid only once settlement is reached with creditors.
15 to 25% of total enrolled debt
How long does the program take?
National Debt Relief claims its debt relief programs generally take 24 to 48 months, or two to four years, to complete. Below is what the overall process looks like. Specifics will vary based on each financial situation.
Once you’ve decided that debt settlement is the right option for you, National Debt Relief asks that you stop paying your creditors (if you can still make payments, you’re not in a financial crisis and the program isn’t right for you) and open a new FDIC-insured account that you will begin depositing money into regularly. The funds collected in this account will only get disbursed once terms of a settlement offer are reached between the creditor and borrower.
However, a negotiation between you and the creditor won’t begin until a lump sum is in your account. This sum is determined by National Debt Relief depending on your “debt balance, income and basic necessity expenses,” according to the company’s website.
Remember that until National Debt Relief reaches out to start negotiations on your behalf, your creditors are unaware that you’re planning on a debt settlement. All they know is that you’ve stopped making payments; your account will likely be flagged as delinquent and your credit score will take a nosedive because of it.
During the time, National Debt Relief advises you to “maintain your silence” and continue making payments into your FDIC-insured account.
Approximately three to six months after you’ve stopped making payments, National Debt Relief will approach your creditor to negotiate on your behalf. They will show evidence that you are unable to pay your debt, and start negotiating new payment terms with the creditor.
Next, the creditor will do their own investigation, according to National Debt Relief, which means they will check on your payment behavior with other creditors. This is why the company “strongly encourages” that you stop payment to all qualified creditors if you’ve decided on a debt settlement program. If the creditor decides that you are unable to pay off your debts, they will be more inclined to settle for a reduced payment plan and accept the new terms set forth by the debt relief company.
If the creditor agrees to work with the debt relief company, a settlement offer is sent to you for approval. Once approved, the funds that “you have secretly been saving” will be released to the creditor.
This process is repeated with all of your creditors until your debts are paid off.
While savings aren’t guaranteed, the company says that people who complete the program end up having their original debt reduced by as much as 30% (or 50% before National Debt Relief collects its fees).
Is National Debt Relief safe to use?
National Debt Relief is considered a reputable debt settlement company with accreditations from the Better Business Bureau, the International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators (IAPDA) and the American Fair Credit Council. The company is also a member of the U.S. Chamber or Commerce.
The company has an A+ rating with BBB, where there are currently more than 130 customer reviews. Of the lowest ratings, complaints are centered on National Debt Relief’s customers sales and marketing tactics. Some complaints were also about representatives not being upfront or clear about the potential negative consequences of entering a debt relief program, like your credit score plummeting. Between 2015 and 2018, 77 complaints were filed against National Debt Relief on BBB. Out of this number, 36 are marked as resolved and closed and 41 marked as answered.
How do I sign up for National Debt Relief?
If you believe a debt settlement program is right for you:
- Fill out a request. You’ll enter your name, phone number, email address and debt range.
- Afterward, a National Debt Relief specialist will contact you to discuss options and require that you provide proof of your debt balance, income, assets and basic necessity expenses. Any proof that you are struggling with financial hardship needs to be provided during the initial financial review to assess whether a debt settlement program is right for you.
National Debt Relief provides free consultations. Call 800-300-9550 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to midnight EST, or Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 10 p.m. EST.
What to expect after signing up with National Debt Relief
Here’s the general process you can expect when working with National Debt Relief to tackle your debt:
- Step 1: Open a dedicated savings account. At the start of your debt settlement program, National Debt Relief requires that you open a savings account where you will begin making monthly payments. The amount you pay each month is decided on by National Debt Relief, and is generally lower than the total payments you’re currently making to creditors. You are in total control of the funds in your account, which is only disbursed once a settlement is reached between National Debt Relief (on your behalf) and your creditors.
- Step 2: Negotiation. National Debt Relief will negotiate with creditors to potentially settle your debt for a lower amount than the original total.
- Step 3: Review and approve the settlement. If the lender agrees to a settlement, the remaining payment will be made in a lump sum. Since entering a debt relief program means you’ve stopped on making outstanding payments to your lender, the lender may decide that a lump sum, albeit lower than the original amount, is better than no payment at all.
Alternative methods to pay down debt
Debt consolidation is a type of debt refinancing that transfers multiple loans into a single loan to help make payments more manageable. In other words, you are taking out a new loan to pay off existing debts. This does not eliminate debt, but rather, allows you to roll all of your debts into one single monthly payment.
- Lower monthly cost. Payments could be lower than the total monthly payments you’re already paying, and interest rates may be lower than the total rates you were paying before, which can help you pay off debt faster.
- Choose your lender. With debt consolidation, you can choose the lender you work with. And you have plenty of options to choose from. You can compare lenders here at our debt consolidation loan marketplace. You may get to explore loan offers after inputting some basic information. You can also use our widget below and compare offers from up to five different lenders on LendingTree.
- Might not qualify. If you have a low credit score, you may only qualify for high interest loans, which doesn’t help your overall financial standing.
As low as 2.49%
Minimum 500 FICO®
24 to 60
LendingTree is not a lender. LendingTree is unique in that you may be able to compare up to five personal loan offers within minutes. Everything is done online and you may be pre-qualified by lenders without impacting your credit score. Terms Apply. NMLS #1136.
As of 17-May-19, LendingTree Personal Loan consumers were seeing match rates as low as 2.49% (2.49% APR) on a $20,000 loan amount for a term of three (3) years. Rates and APRs were based on a self-identified credit score of 700 or higher, zero down payment, origination fees of $0 to $100 (depending on loan amount and term selected). Terms Apply. NMLS #1136
Debt management plan
A debt management program is different from debt consolidation in that it consolidates your payments but not your loan (you are not taking out a new loan as you would in debt consolidation). These programs enable debtors to work one-on-one with a financial professional to get your financial obligations under control and are created for consumers by nonprofit credit counseling agencies.
Once in a debt management program, the debtor makes single monthly payments to their credit counselor who will then distribute the money to your various lenders. Generally, those who bring in income but are unable to meet minimum monthly payments with their creditors are good candidates for a debt management plan.
- Personal advocate. A credit counselor will negotiate lower interest rates and fees with creditors on your behalf so you’re able to pay back debt more quickly.
- Your credit score could improve. Since you are now making monthly payments on time, your credit score can even improve. A debt management plan may also help you avoid bankruptcy.
- It won’t fix income problems. If you aren’t bringing in any income and don’t see your financial situation changing any time soon, a debt management program will not help you since it requires that you make monthly payments on time.
- Not all debt qualifies. Only unsecured loans, such as credit cards, are considered qualified debts for this program. Secured loans, such as mortgages and auto loans, are not considered qualified.
Bankruptcy is a federal legal process that allows people in dire financial hardships a chance to start over by eliminating or restructuring their debts. There are various types of bankruptcy a person files, with Chapter 13 (repayment) and Chapter 7 (liquidation) being most common.
- Get a fresh start. To a degree, bankruptcy can “reset” your finances. It could erase debts that have held you back.
- Federal protections. Bankruptcy allows you to resolve debts under the protection of the federal government, especially after a life-altering event like a health crisis or income loss.
- Credit hit. Bankruptcy wrecks your credit and can remain on a credit report for seven to 10 years. Bankruptcy filings are also public records which can result in long-lasting damages.
- Fees. Bankruptcy isn’t free. You’ll pay fees during the process.
DIY debt settlement
What any debt settlement company promises to do for you, you can technically do yourself by picking up the phone and negotiating with creditors.
- No fees. A DIY plan could be beneficial if you only owe a few creditors. You won’t have to pay any outside company a fee and you benefit the most from any debt you successfully negotiate.