Bills.com Announces Debt Coach
New Tool is the Only Way For Consumers to Access Actual Debt Information and Make a Simple Comparison of the Cost and Benefits of Five Debt Payoff Solutions
SAN MATEO, CALIF. — May 11, 2011 — The lingering effects of the recession and unemployment have left many Americans still struggling with unsecured debt. Estimates place the average credit card debt per household with a credit card at more than $14,000. Unfortunately, those deepest in debt are often unable to easily understand and identify the best ways to resolve debt or distinguish between predatory and viable debt solutions because of a lack of transparency and often confusing information.
To help remove this mystery and empower consumers, Bills.com today introduced a first-of-its-kind money tool called Debt Coach that helps consumers see what they owe, learn about the five possible debt payoff solutions, and find the best way out of debt based on their own unique preferences and situation. The tool assesses complex factors and historical debt payment data for these five debt solutions in order to make a recommendation that includes payment, total cost and credit impact for each user.
"Debt Coach shines a bright light on all debt solutions and paints a very clear picture of what consumers should expect when evaluating their options, independent of pressure or agenda," said Brad Stroh, founder and CEO of Bills.com. "By providing completely free debt data and side-by-side comparisons that are simply not available anywhere else, Debt Coach places consumers back in control of their debt."
How Debt Coach Works
Consumers begin by using sliders to enter basic information about their financial position, debt levels, income and more into the tool. Users are then prompted to rank their preferences in paying off their debts, including the impact to their:
- Credit score
- Total cost
- Payment amount, and
- Other key considerations
As users enter these fields, Debt Coach illustrates each individual's debt stress, total debt, cash flow, credit, and net worth in relation to national averages. This real-time bar chart provides a simple view into each user's debt level and demonstrates the resources they have available to them.
Five Debt Solutions
With this information, Debt Coach pulls actual debt lines and amounts from its credit partner Experian to accurately gauge the precise debt situation of each user. This data allows Debt Coach to determine if certain debt lines are eligible for formal debt relief programs in order to make a more accurate recommendation about the best way to eliminate debt.
After this information has been collected, the Debt Coach decision engine recommends an optimal path to debt freedom based on each user's specific situation. This recommendation can currently be one of five different options:
- Maintaining current payment schedule
- Optimizing self-payment schedule using an "avalanche" or "snowball" strategy
- Credit counseling
- Debt settlement
- Cash-out mortgage refinance
Detailed Customized Recommendations
Recommendations are accompanied by an easy to understand explanation of why this strategy was suggested. More importantly, users can evaluate this recommendation against other available options through a side-by-side comparison chart that normalizes data in order to effectively compare monthly payments, user experience, credit impact, time to debt free, and total cost (including fees) for each. This is the first time that consumers have direct access to this completely transparent and personalized comparison, giving them control over their debt situation.
"This at-a-glance comparison of comparable data sets is completely unique to Debt Coach," continued Mr. Stroh. "This is the first time ever that consumers can identify eligible debt, and then compare what they will actually pay across all available programs for their personal situation — before they even apply for a program."
Users can also click through to any of the individual options listed in the chart to find more detailed information, including its "pros and cons," a video explanation of the solution, and an overview of the solution's features. This detailed recommendation highlights which debt lines and credit cards are eligible for which program, and provides customized payment schedules that take into account actual creditor concession rates, settlement rates, real loan programs, and other complex payment factors.
"Debt Coach is also a great tool for anyone already considering a debt solution," explained Mr. Stroh. "Debt Coach allows consumers to double check a current provider quote and ensure the information is accurate; putting them in the driver's seat and giving them control over their debt options."