Consumer Education Services, Inc (CESI) is a non-profit organization specializing in debt consolidation. The company has been in operation for nearly 20 years and has helped 320,000 people get clear of their debt. A money back guarantee sets CESI apart from other companies, but there are complaints regarding their customer service as well.
CESI offers a 100% money back guarantee to clients as a show of confidence in their ability to help. Setup and monthly fees (up to $49 and $69, respectively) range from good to average for the industry, and CESI does have a fairly long track record at 17 years of operation. The company provides clients with certified credit counselors to help walk them through every step of the process in paying off their debts.
We are similarly impressed by CESI’s A+ rating with the BBB, along with ISO and AICCCA accreditation. This shows a willingness on the company’s part to address concerns, have books audited, and comply with sound business practices.
- Low setup fee – up to $49
- Average monthly fee – up to $69
- Free consultation
- Certified credit counselors
- AICCCA & ISO accreditation
CESI doesn’t disclose the actual interest rates offered on consolidation loans, which is problematic when trying to understand the full costs of using them to pay off one’s debts. More troubling are the two lawsuits we found CESI was embroiled in, one of which was with the IRS, alleging that the company was abusing its non-profit status and operating more like a for-profit institution.
In spite of CESI’s accreditations and A+ rating with the BBB, customers have often complained over poor communication with CESI’s customer service and slow speed. There have been complaints of confused customer service agents and generally lackluster client care overall.
- Unknown interest rate
- Multiple lawsuits
- No NFCC certifications
- Complaints of poor customer service
Pricing varies depending on the client’s specific debt management plan. Upon enrollment, the client’s financial situation is assessed by a certified counselor who then situates the client’s debts into a single monthly fee. A one-time fee is charged upon signup, as well as a recurring monthly fee. Both these fees are calculated according to state guidelines and are included in the monthly payment. Monthly service fees should not exceed $69.
You can find pricing estimates using the free calculator on their site.
There is a one-time fee charged when signing up. The fee varies depending on your situation. Up-front fees should not exceed $49.
A customer representative can provide a free preliminary financial consultation over the phone. In addition, the website has a “Debt Relief Calculator” tool that is useful for estimating your debt management plan before talking to a counselor.
Time in Business
17 years. They have been in business since 1998.
The Better Business Bureau gives CESI Solutions an “A+” rating. This is because the company regularly acts to resolve customer complaints and also because the company has provided sufficient background information. CESI Solutions also has a low number of customer complaints, especially when considering the company’s size and how long it has existed.
The website provides many resources such as videos, articles and webinars which can be utilized to increase your financial understanding. There is also an online education course called the CESI University Curriculum which is an instructional program that can be accomplished from home free of charge.
Cancellation Policy / Money-Back Guarantee
There is no penalty for canceling before the debt management program is complete. This program is not contract-based, and therefore does not hold the customer to any binding agreement. CESI Solutions provides customers with a 100% Satisfaction guarantee. Upon entering into a debt management plan, the customer has 6 months to decide if the program is meeting expectations. If you decide to terminate service, you will be reimbursed for all the service fees paid up to that point.
Unsecured vs. Secured Loans
CESI Solutions only manages unsecured debt such as credit cards, medical bills, and past-due utility bills. Secured debts like your home or car cannot be included in the debt management plan.
Yes, they offer a mobile friendly site. Although there isn’t an official mobile app, the website looks great. It functions sufficiently on mobile devices while offering a smooth and comfortable user experience. Tools such as the Debt Relief Calculator function properly.
3700 Barrett Drive
Raleigh, NC 27609
Agents are available between the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m. EST.
In addition to debt management and consolidation, CESI Solutions also offers housing, credit and bankruptcy counseling as well as financial education resources. The Assure Money Services is a suite of services designed to help older adults with disabilities as well as their caregivers. This company also provides Representative Payee services to SSA beneficiaries. Lastly, WiseTrac is offered to employers who wish to offer financial education courses to their employees. This service can also be utilized by individual customers looking for a way to expertly track their income and thus gain financial control.
Minimum Debt Accepted
The minimum debt level to qualify is $2,500.
CESI offers an online dashboard for their customers through the CESI website. Once a customer’s account is active, they are able to monitor their financial accounts and ensure their benefits are being applied properly.
CESI’s counselors are certified within 6 months of employment by agencies such as Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies (AICCCA), the Association for Financial Counseling Planning and Education (AFCPE), the National Institute for Financial Education (NIFE), and the Center for Financial Certifications.
CESI is ISO certified.
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