Competitive fees, high completion rates and transparency are this company’s game.
Debt settlement has a shady reputation, but New Era Debt Solutions is working to turn that around. This highly rated company makes an effort to prioritize transparency. And customers find its support approachable and informative — what you need if overwhelmed by your finances. It’s not guaranteed to work, however, and you won’t be able to get help with medical bills or credit union debts.
New Era Debt Solutions details
Free consultation. By phone or online form.
Costs. 16% to 20% fee on enrolled debts.
Types of debt accepted. Credit or department store card debt, signature loans, personal lines of credit, old repossessions, old judgments, private student loans in default and other unsecured debts. No medical bills, mortgages, taxes, car loans, credit union debts, federal student loans or other unsecured debts.
Services offered. Debt settlement.
Minimum debt considered. No minimum, but generally doesn’t negotiate credit accounts under $750, unless in collections — you typically can’t save by settling these accounts.
Typical turnaround. Average 27.73 months to complete program.
Ratings, accreditation and memberships.
Ratings: A+ BBB rating
Memberships: IAPDA, USAAB
Awards: Trustlink Best of 2017; Best Company Top 10
Direct or third-party negotiations. Direct negotiations.
Service limitations. 43 states.
Free resources or tools. Client dashboard.
Customer service options. Phone, email.
Discounts for military personnel and veterans.
100% satisfaction guarantee — withdraw from the program at any time or if your debts aren’t settled.
How much does it cost?
New Era Debt Solutions charges a fee that ranges from 16% to 20% of your enrolled debt. Your fee largely depends on how much debt you have, what you can afford and whether you’re a servicemember or veteran.
New Era doesn’t charge more than 20% of your debt, however. And fees only apply after it reaches a settlement.
How much could I save with New Era Debt Solutions?
The average New Era Debt Solutions customer sees a 56.27% savings on their enrolled debt balance after all debts are settled. When you factor in the 16% to 20% fee, savings drop to between 36% and 40% of your debts in the end.
Say you enroll $10,000 in credit card debt with New Era Debt Solutions that grows to $14,489.89 by the end of the program. You might expect to save around $8,114.33 — or between $5,216.36 and $5,795.96 after fees — effectively reducing your originally enrolled debt by more than 50%.
Keep in mind that the IRS treats settled debts of $600 or more as taxable income.
How do New Era Debt Solutions settlements work?
With debt settlement, you enroll your debts into the program. Those debts grow while you’re in the program, especially if you stop paying off your creditors. Because of this, how much you end up saving from your original amount might be smaller than you expect.
New Era typically starts negotiations earlier than most debt settlement companies, so your debts might not grow as much while you’re enrolled. Many debt settlement companies wait until you’ve saved at least 50% of the value of your debts before starting negotiations. New Era, on the other hand, begins earlier and negotiates with your creditors to pay off your debts in installments.
What are the benefits and drawbacks of New Era Debt Solutions?
High rate of completion. Only 18.28% of New Era Debt Solutions clients drop out of the program before completion. For perspective, the average was somewhere around 90% before the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) 2010 crackdown on the industry.
Discounts for military personnel and veterans. Servicemembers may see a fee discount of some 4%, depending on how much debt you enroll.
Available in most states. New Era’s site lists 43 states served with debt settlement, with major hubs in New York, San Diego and other metro areas.
Restrictions on debt types. You can settle most unsecured debt with New Era, but medical bills or credit union debts are excluded.
Success isn’t guaranteed. It’s not unique to New Era, but enrolling doesn’t mean that debt settlement will work for you. You won’t pay fees if your debts aren’t settled, and you can withdraw at any time if you aren’t satisfied.
Fees not transparent. It’s difficult to quickly compare specific fees given the scant info on its site. But customer service typically is happy to rattle off stats, if you call.
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.
What exactly is New Era Debt Solutions?
New Era Debt Solutions is a debt settlement company based in California. Founded in 1999, it’s a pioneer of its industry, claiming to have settled more than $200 million in debts for its clients.
Two points that set it apart are its transparency and its reach. Readily available online is details on how the program works, how much you can expect to save and generally why clients drop out.
It’s also one of the few debt settlement companies that serves more than a handful of states. New Era sends clients from states where debt settlement is restricted to Customer First Legal Network (CFLN), a law firm that specializes in debt settlement while following the FTC’s debt settlement regulations. With CFLN clients, New Era takes on some of the work, including negotiations and customer service.
New Era Debt Solutions accepts most types of unsecured debt. But it turns away from enrollment debts that include:
Credit union debts
Federal student loans
Medical or hospital bills
Other secured debts
What does the Internet say about New Era Debt Solutions?
Almost all good things as of December 2018. It earns an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) with no customer complaints. The few reviews with the BBB are positive, praising how helpful, professional and impressive its customer service team was. Customers were also generally happy — even surprised — at how much they were able to save.
Reviews on other forums were similarly positive. New Era also made an effort to write personal responses to all BBB reviews and provided detailed answers to at least one question posted to other forums.
Is it safe to use New Era Debt Solutions?
Generally, yes. New Era Debt Solutions’ website protects your personal and financial information with SSL-encryption technology. It’s a certified member of the International Association of Professional Debt Arbitrators (IAPDA), a trade organization that sets and maintains industry standards, and the US Association of Accredited Businesses (USAAB). It’s also been accredited by the BBB since 2001.
Why isn’t New Era Debt Solutions a member of the AFCC?
You may have heard that most debt relief companies are members of the American Fair Credit Council (AFCC) and the IAPDA, at the very least. But you shouldn’t worry that New Era Debt Solutions isn’t.
New Era used to be a board member of the AFCC — back when it was called the Association of Settlement Companies (TASC). However, in 2010 it resigned in protest after the AFCC suggested that debt settlement companies restructure themselves as law firms to avoid new FTC regulations.
Among regulations cracking down on predatory debt relief practices, the FTC banned companies from charging fees before they’d settled a client’s debts.
How do I get started?
Think New Era Debt Solutions might be able to help you? Follow these steps to begin the process:
Go to New Era Debt Solutions’s website.
Enter your name, the amount of debt you’d like to enroll, your state and contact information before hitting Click here for your free debt analysis.
Check your email for a note from New Era Debt Solutions asking you to get together a list of your creditors and debts that you’d like to enroll while you wait for a representative to get in touch. You also have the option of emailing New Era that information so your representative is better prepared for your conversation.
A representative calls you to discuss your options and whether you’ll benefit from debt settlement.
If all’s a go, your rep guides you through the process of enrolling your debt, determining how long your program should last and how much you’ll deposit into your settlement fund each month.
I’ve signed up. What happens next?
Once you’ve enrolled in New Era’s debt settlement program, you can expect to go through the following steps:
Get set up with a team. New Era Debt Solutions sets you up with a representative and negotiator to work with throughout your debt settlement program. You’ll also receive a welcome packet with program details and a directory of New Era contacts.
Start saving funds. First, you’ll set up an escrow account — a third-party account — for your monthly contributions to your settlement fund. At this point, most people stop paying their creditors.
Keep New Era in the loop. New Era asks you to send it monthly statements on your escrow account or arrange for statements to be sent directly to its offices to keep track of your progress.
New Era negotiates. After your escrow account has enough funds to make a small payment toward your creditors, New Era reaches out to start negotiations.
New Era pays off your creditors. New Era tries to negotiate structured settlements — or monthly payments of the settled amount to your creditors — rather than settlements that are paid all at once. At this point, you’re also charged your fee.
If you have any questions, contact your New Era representative, negotiator or another contact in your welcome packet’s directory. Or log in to your client dashboard for basic guidance.
3 tips for making New Era Debt Solutions a smart move
Here are a few pointers to make the most of your debt settlement program:
Don’t miss payments. The longer you wait to contribute to your settlement fund, the longer the settlement process takes — and the more interest and fees that accumulate.
Reach out for help. New Era is known for its customer service. It’s worth a call if you don’t understand how something works. They might even answer questions you didn’t know you had.
Get used to budgeting. Getting out of debt is the first step toward financial freedom. But staying out of debt can take financial planning. Making budgeting a habit is a good way to stay above water after the program.
New Era Debt Solutions’s rave ratings and above-aboard practices could be a comfort if you’re wary about working with a debt-relief company. Its completion rate is impressively high, and it doesn’t enforce minimum debt requirements. Make sure your debts are eligible before you apply, however.
Yes, at least initially. Most people enrolled in debt settlement take a hit to their credit score — most stop paying their creditors once they start contributing to the settlement fund. Settlement offers you the opportunity to rebuild your credit in the long run, though defaults will stay on your credit report for seven years.
No. But it offers tips for navigating intimidation tactics like threats to garnish your wages or harassment.
Anna Serio is a trusted loans expert who's published more than 950 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 Business Insider, CNBC and the Simple Dollar feature her professional commentary, and she earned an Expert Contributor in Finance badge from review site Best Company in 2020.
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