Money Management International Review 2021

MMI, a widely available nonprofit credit counseling service, helps consumers handle debt and manage their finances.

Sean PylesFebruary 5, 2021
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Money Management International is one of the most accessible nonprofit credit counseling agencies in the country. Consumers looking for budgeting help can start the intake process at the agency’s online portal, with the option of chatting with a counselor on the website or calling a counselor at any time in the process for help.

MMI is available in all 50 states and may be a good fit if you:

  • Want 24/7 phone access for debt and budget counseling.

  • Like online and chat options; online classes and webinars are free at MMI’s online resource hub.

  • Prefer in-person counseling; MMI has brick-and-mortar locations in 25 states.

  • Need free support after a natural disaster. The agency's post-disaster coaching can help you navigate FEMA, insurance and financial hardship caused by a disaster.

MMI’s services and fees

Like most nonprofit credit counseling agencies, MMI provides common services that differ in fees and availability. These services include:

General budgeting and advice: A free service where you and a counselor run through your budget and analyze your overall finances.

Debt management plan: A counselor creates a plan to consolidate your consumer debts and lower the interest rate, setting up one monthly payment to erase the debt over three to five years.

Bankruptcy counseling: Two court-mandated sessions: one before you file and one before your debts are discharged.

Student loans: A counselor outlines your repayment options and may contact your issuer on your behalf for an additional fee.

Housing counseling: Help for home buyers, homeowners considering a reverse mortgage, and people struggling with mortgage or rent payments.

MMI Service

Fee

General budgeting and advice

  • Free

Debt management plan

  • Startup fee of up to $75; average is $35

  • Monthly fee of up to $50; average is $24

Bankruptcy counseling

  • Pre-filing: Up to $50, depending on state of residence

  • Pre-discharge: Up to $50

Student loans

  • Up to $199

Housing counseling

  • Free to $199, depending on the service

How MMI compares

Many nonprofit credit counseling agencies offer the same services. Where one differs from the next is generally in its accreditation, accessibility and how its services are run. Here's MMI at a glance:

Accreditation: The National Foundation for Credit Counseling is the outside body that ensures standards of practice among counselors and oversight for the agency.

Online support: Counseling services and educational resources are available on MMI's website.

Completion rate of debt management plans: MMI says 67% of clients who enroll in a DMP complete the program.

Availability: Operates in 50 states, with physical offices in 25 states.

MMI’s debt management plan

Debt management plans are a cost- and time-efficient way to pay off debts that are primarily from credit cards.

While enrolled in a DMP, your debts are consolidated into one monthly payment with a reduced interest rate. Note that interest rate cuts are standardized across credit counseling agencies, based on your creditors' guidelines and your budget. You’ll pay off your debt over three to five years through a monthly payment plan.

During this time, you’ll likely be unable to use credit cards or open new lines of credit. Missing even one payment can unravel the DMP, leaving you to handle the remainder of your debt on your own with the original interest rates.

About 25% of MMI consumers who receive debt and budgeting counseling use DMPs.

Here’s an example debt management plan based on the average MMI client profile, compared to a do-it-yourself debt paydown plan:

Debt management plan

DIY debt paydown

$20,065 debt

$20,065 debt

6.86% interest rate

23.93% interest rate

$537 monthly ($513 to debt and $24 to fee)

$537 monthly

45 months

70 months

Interest: $2,711

Fees: $1,115*

Interest: $17,112

*Figured at the average $24 monthly fee plus $35 startup fee.

Note: In a debt management plan, individual creditors offer the same adjusted APR for all credit counseling agencies. The difference in average APR among credit counseling agencies is a reflection of their clients’ creditors and does not indicate one agency will offer lower adjusted APRs than another.

When to consider a DMP:

  • If you're struggling to make monthly payments on debt.

  • If your consumer debt is between 15% and 50% of your annual income.

  • If you think you can pay it off within five years.

  • If you don’t qualify for a debt consolidation loan.

This debt relief option won’t cover all problem debt, however. Most medical bills, student loans, car loans and mortgages generally are not covered in DMPs. Before you commit to a DMP, research other debt relief options.

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