Some customers claim to have saved, while others say they were hit with steep fees.
If you’re drowning in debt and thinking of filing for bankruptcy, you may want to check out National Debt Relief first. This debt settlement company negotiates with your creditors in an attempt to lower your debts. Some customers complained of hidden fees, however, and you’ll likely end up ruining your credit score in the process.
National Debt Relief details
Service offered. Debt settlement with direct negotiations.
Minimum debt considered. $7,500 of qualifying debt.
Typical turnaround. 24–48 months.
Consultation fees. None.
Cancellation fees. None.
Service fee. 18–25% of total enrolled debt.
Types of debt accepted. Credit cards, personal loans, lines of credit, medical bills, collections and repossessions, business debts and some student loans; most secured debts don’t qualify.
Accreditations. International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators, American Fair Credit Council, Better Business Bureau.
Ratings. A+ BBB rating, 9.4 Trustpilot rating.
Service limitations. Not licensed in Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, Maine, South Carolina, Oregon, Vermont, West Virginia or New Hampshire.
Free resources or tools. Budget planner worksheet, debt relief calculator.
National Debt Relief typically charges between 18% to 25% of the total debt you enroll over two to four years. However, your exact percentage depends on the amount you enroll and the state you live in.
What does this look like? To settle $10,000 of debt with an average interest rate of 15% over three years, you could end up with a total debt of $15,639.44 by the time you’re ready to negotiate.
Your fee would likely fall between $2,815 and $3,910.
How much could I save with National Debt Relief?
It depends on how much debt you have and how successful National Debt Relief is in negotiating with your creditors. Based on reviews on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website, some customers claim to have saved some money, while others claim to have ended up paying more than the original debt they owed.
While one customer stated enrolling in the program helped them cut down their payments by almost 70%, another claimed they were hit with hidden fees and wound up paying more through the program. And others mention issues getting the money back that they saved in their escrow account after canceling with National Debt Relief.
What are the benefits and drawbacks of National Debt Relief?
Advertises no upfront fees. According to National Debt Relief’s website, you won’t pay any fees until after it negotiates down your debt.
Claims to offer a 100% money-back guarantee. If you aren’t happy with the way National Debt Relief reduces your debt, the website claims that you can cancel enrollment without paying a penalty.
Works with some student loans. Most debt relief companies don’t touch student loans. But some private student debt qualifies for reduction with National Debt Relief.
Low minimum to enroll. You only need $7,500 in debt to enroll — not as much as you’ll find at other debt relief companies.
Damages your credit score. Meant as a last resort, debt settlement is a serious step that can damage your credit. To preserve your score, look into debt consolidation instead.
Not available in all states. National Debt Relief is only available in 41 states.
No relief for secured loans. Got a mortgage, car loan or any other type of debt with collateral? National Debt Relief can provide suggestions, but it won’t take you on. Unfortunately, this is the same for all debt settlement companies.
Mixed customer reviews. While the majority of the reviews for National Debt Relief are positive, those who leave negative reviews report being unhappy with its fees and the amount saved on their debt.
Debt relief companies typically charge a percentage of a customer’s debt or a monthly program fee for their services. And they aren’t always transparent about these costs or drawbacks that can negatively affect your credit score. You might pay other fees for third-party settlement services or setting up new accounts, which can leave you in a worse situation than when you signed up.
Consider alternatives before signing up with a debt relief company:
Payment extensions. Companies you owe may be willing to extend your payment due date or put you on a longer payment plan if you ask.
Nonprofit credit counseling. Look for free debt-management help from nonprofit organizations like the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
Debt settlement. If you can manage to pay a portion of the bill, offer the collection agency a one-time payment as a settlement. Collection agencies are often willing to accept a lower payment on your debt to close the account.
How does National Debt Relief work?
National Debt Relief is a debt settlement service. For a fee, it will negotiate with your creditors to reduce the amount of debt you owe. It’s among the most recognized debt settlement services in the country, with high rankings from the BBB and Trustpilot reviewers. It’s also accredited with top industry associations, including the American Fair Credit Council (AFCC).
Who is eligible for debt relief?
To qualify for National Debt Relief, you must have at least $7,500 in debt and a demonstrable financial hardship that you cannot recover from. Financial hardship includes a divorce, unemployment, loss of income, the death of a spouse and unpaid taxes. National Debt Relief uses this proof of your financial hardship as leverage to negotiate with your creditors.
Is National Debt Relief legit?
Yes, National Debt Relief is a legit company. It’s been accredited with the BBB since 2013 and has an A+ rating based on factors like transparency and time in business. It has 190 complaints filed against it with the BBB as of May 2020 and earns an average 4 out of 5 stars based on almost 660 customer reviews. Meanwhile, more than 32,600 customers have reviewed it on Trustpilot, earning it an average 4.8 out of 5.
While some customers claim they only had to pay a fraction of their debt thanks to the company, others left reviews stating they ended up paying more by enrolling in National Debt Relief’s program. And some claimed the company tried to keep the money they’d saved in their escrow account when they canceled their enrollment in the program.
Is it safe to use National Debt Relief?
Its website uses both McAfee and Norton security systems to protect your information from malware attacks and phishing. And your personal details are secured with industry-standard SSL encryption.
You’re also eligible for 90 days of identity theft coverage worth up to $100,000 after you enter your information on the site. Click the McAfee icon on the bottom of the page to sign up.
National Debt Relief is accredited with trade organizations like American Fair Credit Council and the International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators that set the standards for the debt settlement industry.
How do I sign up?
With National Debt Relief, you can start the process over the phone by calling 855-459-1560, by visiting a local branch or online. Follow these steps to begin online:
Click the Go to site button on this page to be directed to National Debt Relief’s website. Select the amount of debt you’d like to settle and click Continue.
Enter your contact information and click Click Here To See If You Qualify For Debt Relief.
A National Debt Relief representative will be in touch to discuss your situation and see if they can help.
I’ve signed up. What happens next?
Once you’ve enrolled in National Debt Relief’s debt settlement program, you can expect to go through the following steps:
Set up a payment plan. National Debt Relief works with you to set up a plan of how much you’ll pay into an account, from which it then pays your creditors and deducts its own fees.
Start paying into your settlement fund. National Debt Relief asks you to make monthly payments into an escrow account that it can eventually use to pay your debt settlement costs. This monthly payment is typically lower than monthly payments on your debt. While you can stop making payments on your debt if it’s unaffordable, you’ll end up paying more in the end.
National Debt Relief negotiates with your creditors. Once you have enough funds in your escrow account, National Debt Relief negotiates with creditors to settle your debt for a one-time payment. And it’s totally normal if it doesn’t work the first time.
Authorize payments from your settlement fund. While it’s not a guaranteed outcome, if your lender decides to settle, National Debt Relief pays off your debt using your funds. It also deducts its fee from your settlement fund.
3 tips to make using National Debt Relief a smart move
Follow these pointers to make the most of National Debt Relief’s debt settlement program:
Don’t take on more debt. Qualifying for debt settlement is a clear indicator that you aren’t in a position to afford more debt.
Stick to a budget. Take advantage of National Debt Relief’s free budget planner, and create a spending strategy to keep from missing payments to your settlement account.
Keep in touch. Contact National Debt Relief’s customer service line whenever you have questions. If you have trouble staying on top of your monthly payments, let them know — it could help your case.
Other debt relief options to consider
Not sure debt settlement is right for you? You might want to look into these other options:
Debt consolidation loans.Taking out a new loan to move all of your debt into one place can make payments more manageable and hopefully get you better rates and terms.
Credit counseling. When you’re struggling with debt, going to a government-approved credit counseling agency might be your first stop. For a fee, you can make an appointment to go over your personal finances and come up with a plan of action.
Debt management. Similar to debt settlement but less extreme, some credit counseling agencies will negotiate with your lenders to come up with a modified payment plan to get out of debt. Typically, a successful debt management plan comes with a lower interest rate or more affordable payments.
Debt settlement shouldn’t be taken lightly: It can affect your ability to get credit in the future and isn’t worth it unless you have plans to stay out of debt afterward. But if bankruptcy sounds like your only other option, National Debt Relief might be able to help. Just watch out for upfront fees — and make sure you understand the repercussions of canceling your enrollment before signing up.
National Debt Relief doesn’t guarantee savings. However, the average savings of a National Debt Relief customer was around $6,296 between 2014 and 2016. Your individual savings will vary depending on your specific debt and repayment plan.
Since many borrowers stop paying off lenders while enrolled in a debt settlement program, it can seriously damage your credit score in the short term. If you’re able to complete the program and settle your debts, it could help improve your credit rating in the long run, however.
You might want to sign up for credit counseling with a government-approved agency before choosing a debt settlement program. It can help you put together a plan to get your finances back on track and decide which course of action is the right move for you.
It depends on your financial situation. Normally, the IRS counts debt forgiveness of $600 or more as taxable income. However, if your liabilities are greater than your assets at the time of debt settlement, you might not have to pay taxes. Consult a tax specialist if you aren’t sure about your situation.
Your monthly payments go to an FDIC-insured trust account with Global Client Solutions, a company that provides account management services to the debt relief industry.
Not if you want to settle your credit card debt. If you decide to stop making credit card payments, your creditor usually closes your account.
You can reach customer service by calling 800-300-9550 on weekdays from 8 a.m. to 12 a.m. ET and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET.
To log in to the National Debt Relief portal, go to its website and click Client Login. Enter your email address and password and click Sign In.
Anna Serio is a trusted loans expert who's published more than 800 articles on Finder to help Americans strengthen their financial literacy. A former editor of a newspaper in Beirut, Anna writes about personal, student, business and car loans. Today, digital publications like Fundera, Business.com, and ValueWalk feature her professional commentary, and she earned an Expert Contributor in Finance badge from review site Best Company in 2020.
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