National Debt Relief review: Is this debt settlement company worth its salt?
The demand for debt settlement services in the United States is rapidly increasing due to exploding consumer debt. By 2028, the industry is expected to reach $383.5 million, growing at an annual rate of 4%.
Yet, due to limited regulations and consumer protections, the industry is riddled with services offering predatory terms, tarnishing the industry’s reputation.
Understandably, people are weary of asking debt settlement companies for help. In that vein, we’re reviewing National Debt Relief - touted by many as the best debt relief company in the United States.
So, is Natural Debt Relief legit? How much do they cost? What do their debt relief reviews from customers look like? And, most importantly, are they a good fit for you?
Let's find out.
What is National Debt Relief?
Since its establishment in 2009, Natural Debt Relief has aided individuals with their debt consolidation by negotiating settlements for amounts lower than they owe.
With a track record of helping over 500,000 people tackle financial burdens, this debt settlement company has gained a stellar A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
To their credit, according to Trustpilot, 85% of National Debt Relief reviews are 5-star. They also use a team of debt arbitrators certified through the International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators (IAPDA).
Trustworthy debt consolidation firms employ debt arbitrators to negotiate with creditors for their clients who adhere to the strict professional standards set by the IAPDA.
Choosing IAPDA-accredited debt arbitrators demonstrates Natural Debt Relief's credibility. This accreditation ensures their experts adhere to a strict code of ethics, offering clients greater reassurance.
What kinds of debt can National Debt Relief eliminate?
A caveat: National Debt Relief does not assist with secured debts like mortgages or car loans. Nor do they deal with debts related to lawsuits, overdue taxes, utility bills, or federal student loans.
Other than that, they can help with the following:
- Credit cards
- Personal loans
- Lines of credit
- Medical bills
- Business debt
- Certain student debts
National Debt Relief also offers helpful resources for managing finances and paying off debt. For example, their free budget planner and debt calculator simplify income tracking and repayment planning.
You can also seek assistance from their expert debt coaches through free consultations, where they offer personalized guidance and support in creating a tailored budget plan.
To qualify, you must owe at least $7,500 in debt and have missed several payments. This leverage gives National Debt Relief more negotiating power to lower your interest rates and the amount owed.
Then you will also have to make monthly payments at their agreed rate. Finally, you must prove current financial hardship with no expected resolution in the near future.
As per their website, financial hardship “could be due to a recent job loss or reduction in hours, a separation or divorce which caused a reduction in income, death of a spouse, unexpected medical or hospital bills, student loans, or IRS taxes, to name a few.”
Ordinarily, debt settlement companies request financials and a written explanation of why you can’t meet debt obligations. Since National Debt Relief doesn’t specify criteria, you will have to contact them for details.
How does National Debt Relief work?
Once accepted into their program, you pay money into an escrow account managed by National Debt Relief. When a sufficient sum has accumulated, they contact your lenders to negotiate a settlement.
An assigned debt counselor offers to settle the debt with your escrow lump sum payment for less than the debt's face value. For instance, they may negotiate to reduce a client's credit card debt from $12,000 to $6,000.
If the lender agrees, they will release the funds from the escrow account. If not, National Debt Relief will continue negotiating until a resolution is reached or until it becomes clear they cannot reduce your debt.
National Debt Relief fees
National Debt Relief's fees of 15-25% of the total loan amount (after settlement) are on par with other top settlement companies, such as Freedom Debt Relief and Clear One Advantage.
In addition to settlement costs, as per the IRS, forgiven debt over $600 may also be subject to tax, regardless of the debt settlement company you choose.
In line with the law, National Debt Relief does not issue upfront fees. You're only required to pay them after your debt has been successfully settled.
According to the company's estimations, clients who adhere to their debt repayment plan become debt-free within a minimum of two years and up to four years (24-48 months).
Comparatively, if you were to make minimum payments on your credit card, you could be in debt for 10 - 20 years and pay back four times as much as the amount you originally borrowed.
A study by CNBC found those with an average credit card balance and student loan burden wind up paying $164,066 in interest alone over their lifetime.
Expected debt reduction
As per their own communication, National Debt Relief does not “guarantee your debts will be lowered by a specific amount or percentage or that you will be debt-free within a specific period of time.”
However, they claim to have established relationships with over 10,000 creditors, and their average negotiation rate is 50%, meaning they may save you 50% on your debts.
But if we crunch numbers, you’ll only land up with a 25% to 35% reduction in debt burden due to their fees for debt settlement, which range from 15% to 25% of your overall loan amount.
You also have to factor in taxes and implications for your credit score.
Impact on credit score
Enrollment in a National Debt Relief plan or any debt relief plan may affect your credit score by up to 100 points, as payment history accounts for 35% of your total FICO credit score.
If you need to catch up on payment, a few more late payments won't make a big difference. However, if you're still current on payments, one late payment could significantly decrease your score.
Remember that late payments can appear on your credit score for up to seven years. In some scenarios, a debt management plan or debt consolidation may be a better option.
On the upside, according to National Debt Relief, most of their clients with lower credit scores experience an improvement in their credit rating after completing the program.
What we don’t like about National Debt Relief
As with any debt settlement company, there is no guarantee of settling debts. There may also be additional fees and potential damage to your credit score.
We’ve added a few more limitations to consider:
- Ineligible debts: The company does not work with secured or IRS debts
- Minimum debt amount: You must have at least $7,500 in debt and be a few months behind on payments, which may disqualify some individuals
- Limited availability: National Debt Relief is unavailable in Connecticut, Oregon, Vermont, and West Virginia due to state restrictions
- Customer service: The company is only reachable via phone on Mondays to Fridays from 8 a.m. to Midnight ET and Saturday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET
What we like about National Debt Relief
Besides glowing reviews, which are always a robust testament to a company's customer service, we also thought the following was worth mentioning:
- Success guarantee: The company only charges fees after successfully settling your debt. If they are unable to, you won't pay anything
- Wide range of debt types: National Debt Relief helps with a wide range of unsecured debt, including credit cards, medical bills, personal loans, and student loans
- Experienced team: They use experienced debt arbitrators skilled at negotiating with creditors to reduce debt balances
Is National Debt Relief worth it?
Generally, National Debt Relief is a solid option if you have over $7,500 in unsecured debt and have exhausted all other debt-relief options except bankruptcy.
But let’s dig a little deeper. Say you have $8,000, and National Debt Relief manages to negotiate it down to $4,000. That sounds great, but you won’t save that much.
Because your forgiven debt is over $600, you have to pay taxes on it. Assuming you’re in the 24% tax bracket, you’ll pay $1,000. National Debt Relief may charge up to 25% of the enrolled debt, which means they’ll keep up to $2,000.
So, they save you “$4,000,” but $3,000 goes towards tax and debt settlement fees, leaving you with only $1,000. We can’t help but ask: Is all the effort and damaged credit score worth it? In this case, probably not.
Therefore, their services are better suited to those with debt in the five to six-figure range. For instance, let’s pretend you have $80,000 debt, and they can decrease the amount owed to $40,000.
If you are taxed at 24%, you owe the IRS $9,600. After National Debt Relief takes its fee of 25%, which would be $10,000, you would save $20,400 - a significant amount.
National Debt Relief review: final thoughts
National Debt Relief takes the lead as a trustworthy solution for breaking free from the heavy chains of debt. Sure, their fees and services aren’t groundbreaking, but their positive review track record speaks volumes.
The only area for improvement? A boost in client service communication methods and technology use in general. Nonetheless, they certainly have the potential to eradicate your debt burden.