|Accreditation||An outside body ensures standards of practice among counselors and oversight for agencies.||Accredited by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.|
|Online support||Counseling services and educational resources are available on MMI's website.||Yes|
|Completion rate of debt management plans||The percentage of clients who complete the program after enrolling.||73% (MMI defines completion as paying off between 80% and 100% of debt included in the DMP)
|Availability||Where does the agency operate?||Operates in 50 states, with physical offices in 33 states.
Money Management International is the largest nonprofit credit counseling agency in the United States. It operates in all 50 states with the full scope of services offered by credit counseling agencies, from debt management plans to student loan assistance and bankruptcy counseling.
The agency’s stated prices for counseling services are on the higher end compared to other agencies, but consumers may end up paying less depending on state of residence and financial need.
MMI is a member of the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, the nation’s largest nonprofit credit counseling organization. Member agencies must be accredited by an independent body, and counselors must meet a standard of education and quality. While member agencies vary in size and scope of services, the basics of counseling services and advice shouldn’t differ too much among them. When shopping around for credit counseling services, get an initial consultation to see if you feel comfortable working with that particular agency.
In this review
MMI’s services and fees
The mission of nonprofit credit counseling agencies is to help consumers manage and improve their finances through services and tools. Whether you’re preparing to buy a new house, looking to pay off your debt through a DMP or better understand your budget, counselors at these agencies are trained to help you meet your financial goals.
The initial meeting with a counselor will help you determine whether the agency’s services can help you and if you feel comfortable working with this agency. You’ll go through your finances, discussing your income, expenses and debt. Then you and the counselor will assess whether any MMI services might help you.
“One of the things that we’re always focused on is improving lives of consumers that come through us,” says Tammy McNutt, senior director of debt and budget counseling at MMI. “Someone may think they’re calling in for debt and budget help, but if they’re behind on their housing, we’ll take that into account too and see how we can help them.”
Counseling services available at MMI:
|Service||Fee, time commitment||Access
|General budgeting and advice||
|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: A counselor walks you through 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; people struggling with mortgage or rent payments; homeowners considering a reverse mortgage.||
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MMI recently acquired Clearpoint Credit Counseling Solutions, and the two agencies are currently merging. Services, fees and resources may change in the coming months as a result.
MMI’s access and resources
Money Management International is licensed in 50 states, has 24/7 phone access for debt and budget counseling, and offers many counseling services online, making the agency one of the most accessible.
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.
For those who prefer in-person counseling, the agency has brick-and-mortar locations in 33 states.
Various online classes, budgeting tools, articles and webinars are available for free at MMI’s online resource hub. The agency offers in-person seminars at select locations.
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. 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.
This debt relief option won’t cover all problem debt, however. Most medical bills, student loans, car loans and mortgages are generally not covered in DMPs.
About 10% of MMI clients use DMPs.
When to consider a DMP:
- You are struggling to make monthly payments on debt.
- Your consumer debt is between 15% and 50% of your annual income.
- You think you can pay it off within five years.
- You don’t qualify for a debt consolidation loan.
Before you commit to a DMP, explore other debt relief options. Bankruptcy, for example, may be better if your debt is more than 50% of your annual income and you see little chance to pay it off within five years. A debt consolidation loan, if your credit is good enough to qualify, can also gather debts into one at a lower interest rate. You’ll have more control over the loan’s length and payment size, and you’ll preserve your ability to both use credit cards or get new lines of credit in an emergency.
On average, MMI’s debt management clients:
- Have $16,228 in debt.
- Get a cut in APR from 22% to 9.89%.
- Pay a startup fee of $34 and a $24 monthly fee.
- Take about 48 months to complete the program.
- Have a 73% completion rate, which at this agency means 80% to 100% of the debt included in the plan is paid off, according to MMI.
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
|Amount of debt||$16,228||$16,228
|Monthly payment||$444 ($420 to debt, $24 to monthly program fee)||$444|
|Time to pay off||47 months||61 months
|Cost||Interest: $3,389.37 |
*Figured at the average $24 monthly fee plus $34 startup fee.
This is just an example; if you choose debt management, the monthly payment and plan length will be adjusted to your circumstances.