About Ready For Zero
ReadyForZero Inc. develops online financial software for managing and reducing personal debt. Founded in 2010 by Rod Ebrahimi and Ignacio Thayer, ReadyForZero has received international recognition for its easy-to-use and effective online financial product. The company is based in San Francisco.
ReadyforZero is a free online service that offers a simplified approach to reducing debt.
The system connects to your credit and loan accounts, pulls the data into a simple interface, and creates a personal plan to lower your debt.
ReadyforZero makes money by anonymizing your credit situation and showing it to potential lenders. It’s an unusual approach, and one we liked. Rather than the typical lead-generation systems that can lead to a slew of inappropriate offers and spam, ReadyforZero’s system tends to generate more appropriate offers.
If a creditor likes what it sees in your ReadyforZero report (that you’re on track with your debt-reduction plan, for example), it may offer you a low-rate credit card. That can be helpful for people who wish to consolidate their loans.
We’re particularly impressed by ReadyforZero’s recent partnership with the Lending Club, with offers users access to peer-to-peer loans to consolidate debt.
ReadyforZero works best for people who have sufficient income to pay their loans, but have decided to work toward zero debt. If you’re in trouble with your creditors and unable to make payments, ReadyforZero is not your best option.
Pros Cons Free We had problems connecting accounts iPhone app Does not offer assistance with creditors Access to P2P loans Not appropriate if you have serious debt trouble
ReadyforZero calls itself “a simple way to control and reduce debt online.” The site does offer a clean, simple interface. But we experienced numerous problems in getting it to work correctly. ReadyforZero failed multiple times over a two weeks to import accounts from Citi and ACS. (An account with Chase went was imported seamlessly on the first try.) We tried a few browsers and a few computers, but to no avail.
On a more positive note, ReadyforZero does offer a mobile app for the iPhone -- something that many of its competitors do not. ReadyforZero says it’s planning to release mobile versions for other platforms in the future. In addition, ReadyforZero was the only one of the systems we tested that sent us an email when we reached a debt-reduction milestone (paying off the entire balance of a Chase credit-card account.)
“Great news,” ReadyforZero told us, “Good work.” That sort of positive reinforcement can be quite helpful during the sometimes painful process of getting out of debt.
There are some things about ReadyforZero that are positively lovely. The system uses simple sliders in its interface that allow you to determine how much you can save by increasing your monthly debt payments.
All interactions with the site take place on a clutter-free pages with a muted, soft-blue and white color scheme. Entering account information is simple and painless. However, as noted above, we were unable to get two of our accounts connected to ReadyforZero. That may be a fairly common problem. On its FAQ page ReadyforZero says that if you have problems connecting your accounts, “Try again after a couple days.” The company adknowledges that this is inconvenient, and promises that it’s “working on ways to improve this process.”
You can not use ReadyforZero to manage bank and credit accounts, pay bills, transfer funds, etc.
The iPhone app is read-only, which means that users cannot add new accounts or change their debt-reduction plan from their mobile device. But this seems like only a minor inconvenience. The app does allow for quick and easy views of debt levels, interest rates, etc.
ReadyforZero seemed to understand our credit situation better than any of its competitors. When we paid off the balance on one of our cards, only ReadyforZero seemed to see the significance. Certainly it was the only one of the systems to acknowledge the accomplishment (we got a nice congratulatory email, complete with a cartoon illustration of a trophy.)
On the other hand, ReadyforZero had a harder time accessing all of our accounts.
ReadyforZero does not offer access to credit counselors.
ReadyforZero promotes a particular method of paying down debt -- the system automatically places the highest priority on the debt with the highest interest rate. (Meaning if you create a plan and add an extra payment or allocate more to the debt than minimum payments, that extra money gets allocated to the highest interest rate debt on the plan.)
As a result, it can be an appropriate tool for people who are able to make at least the minimum payments on their debt. For such people, ReadyforZero offers an anonymized method of finding new credit offers for users. Customers’ contact information and data are never sold to third parties.
Even this anonymous method is optional. Users can turn the feature off at any time and use ReadyforZero solely to create and manage a debt-reduction plan.
If you’re experiencing serious financial and debt problems, ReadyforZero is not for you. The site is aimed at helping people who want to get rid of their debt and have the means to do so. Or, as the company says on its FAQ page, “ReadyForZero may not be suitable for those who are unable to make the minimum payments on their loans.”
With that said, the site offers good advice for folks who aren’t quite desperate, but do need some guidance in reducing their debt load. In particular, ReadyforZero has a partnership with Steve Rhode, who runs the website GetOutOfDebt.org. ReadyforZero users can send in debt-related questions that Rhode will answer. ReadyforZero also recently added a series of debt resource centers aimed at educating consumers. You can see the center dedicated to student loans here.
Most noteworthy in our eyes is that ReadyforZero offers a wider range of debt-reduction products than many competitors, and does so without spamming users with inappropriate credit-card offers, payday loans and similar schemes. As noted above, we’re particularly impressed that ReadyforZero offers access to peer-to-peer loan information.
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