Debts can weigh heavily on your finances and peace of mind. Between multiple credit card payments, personal loans and other debts, keeping track of it all gets exhausting.
Debt consolidation services like Meridian offer a way to streamline your payments and potentially save money through negotiation. But are they the right solution for you?
In this article, we’ll review Meridian debt consolidation based on consumer experiences and feedback. By understanding the pros, cons, and what to expect, you can determine if Meridian’s debt management program is your ticket to becoming debt-free.
Overview of Meridian Debt Consolidation
First, a quick background. Meridian is a non-profit, mission-driven company that provides credit counseling and debt management services. They aim to help consumers through financial challenges like unmanageable debt.
The debt consolidation program works by having Meridian negotiate with your creditors to lower your interest rates. This helps reduce monthly payments. The various unsecured debts like credit cards get consolidated into one lower monthly payment to Meridian.
This can simplify repayment and save money through lower interest. However, it requires closing credit card accounts and rigorous adherence to the debt management plan. Success depends on your commitment and financial situation.
Now, let’s dive into the key pros and cons of using Meridian for debt consolidation based on reviews.
The Pros of Debt Consolidation with Meridian
- Non-Profit Company – As a non-profit, Meridian is mission-driven to benefit consumers, not make profits like some debt companies.
- Credit Counseling – Certified credit counselors provide advice on budgeting and managing debt consolidation.
- Lower Interest Rates – Meridian negotiates lower rates around 4-6% with creditors compared to typical 19-25% for credit cards.
- Single Payment – You make one payment to Meridian instead of multiple credit card payments. Easier to track.
- Payment Reduction – Monthly payment could be 20-50% lower thanks to negotiated rates. Savings depends on debt load.
- BBB Rating – Meridian has a 4-star BBB rating after 40 years in business and over 750,000 clients served.
- Positive Reviews – Many praise Meridian counselors for informative advice and developing manageable payment plans.
For the right consumer, Meridian can indeed provide the desired debt relief through consolidated payments and lower rates.
Potential Cons of Meridian to Consider
- Limited Availability – Meridian currently operates in only 27 states. Check if they service your state.
- You have to pay enrollment Fees – Upfront fees range from $0 to $50 depending on your state of residence.
- Monthly Fees – Expect ongoing monthly maintenance fees around $25 while enrolled in the debt plan.
- No Secured Debt – Only unsecured debts like credit cards can be consolidated. Auto loans and mortgages cannot.
- Account Closures – Enrolling requires closing credit card accounts which lowers available credit.
- Credit Score Impact – Closed accounts and high balances can negatively impact credit scores temporarily.
- Customer Service – Some clients report long response times and difficulty reaching counselors.
For some consumers, the enrollment process, issues with customer service, and credit score implications are disadvantages to using Meridian for debt consolidation.
What to Expect in the Meridian Debt Consolidation Process?
If you move forward with Meridian, here is an overview of what to expect:
- Initial consultation – Review your full financial situation including income, expenses, and all debts.
- Debt management proposal – Counselor determines if the debt management program is beneficial for your situation.
- Creditor negotiations – Meridian works to negotiate lower fixed interest rates around 4-6% APR with each creditor.
- Monthly payment plan – If terms accepted, enroll in debt management plan with reduced consolidated payment.
- Account closure – Close credit card accounts and start making single payment to Meridian each month.
- Ongoing support – Work with counselor for budget help, questions, issues as you pay off debts over 36-60 months typically.
- Debt free! – Finally receive notification that you’ve paid accounts in full through the Meridian debt management program.
The process takes diligence, commitment, and consistent monthly payments over 3-5 years for most enrollees. But debt freedom is possible with discipline.
Tips to Get the Most from Meridian Debt Consolidation
Based on consumer feedback in Meridian reviews, follow these tips to maximize results:
- Provide complete transparency into your full financial situation so counselors can best advise you.
- Tighten budget, cut expenses per counselor guidance so monthly payment is affordable.
- Stay disciplined about making new monthly payment on time every month without fail.
- Keep existing credit card accounts current until balances are consolidated.
- Review statements closely to ensure creditors apply payments properly as accounts are closed.
- Communicate promptly with counselor if any issues come up for quick resolution.
Follow the program fully for 2-5 years until all your accounts are paid off. Debt consolidation only works with rigorous commitment.
Is Meridian Debt Consolidation Right for You?
Based on the pros, cons, and process reviewed above, consider these factors to determine if Meridian fits your situation:
- Best option if you have sizeable unsecured debt owed on credit cards, medical bills etc. that is difficult to pay off on your own.
- Not a great choice if you need to consolidate auto loans, mortgages, or other secured debt. Meridian cannot negotiate these rates.
- Compare the Meridian debt management plan terms to other debt relief options like personal loans, balance transfer credit cards, or bankruptcy.
- If you have the discipline to call creditors yourself for better rates and consolidate payments on your own, you may not need Meridian’s help.
- Check that Meridian offers services in your state of residence.
Everyone’s debt scenario is unique. Weigh your total unsecured debts, income, credit score goals, and budget to decide if Meridian provides the right debt consolidation solution for your needs.
Debt consolidation through Meridian Credit Counseling can certainly help simplify payments and save money on interest for some consumers. This is especially true if you have sizeable credit card debt with high variable interest rates.
The program involves closing accounts, reduced credit access, enrollment fees, and requires 2-5 years of strict adherence to achieve debt freedom. The impact on your credit scores is also a risk to consider.