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If you're looking to finally renovate that kitchen straight out of the 70's, or build on the extra bedroom you need, chances are good that you don't just have the cash sitting around to get it done. Most homeowners use a home improvement loan to access the funds required to turn their house into a "home sweet home" .
There are several types of financing that can be used to make improvements or repairs. These depend on a variety of factors: the amount of equity you have already built up in your property, your credit history, and the amount of money you need.
Monday, December 5th
Upstart was founded by former Google employees, who use artificial intelligence (AI) to help people unlock borrowing opportunities through affordable credit. Through this platform they can offer high loan approval rates, which means you have a greater chance of being accepted for a home improvement loan.
Unique application process
Upstart starts out with a fairly standard application process. You first select the purpose of your loan, the amount you'd like to borrow, your contact information, and your birthdate. From there, the questions get a little more unique compared with other home improvement loan providers. What's your highest level of education? Where did you go to school, what did you study, and when did (or will) you graduate? How much money do you currently have in bank accounts and investments?
Upstart asks these types of questions because they calculate risk differently from most lenders. They take your educational background and earning potential into account when determining your eligibility for a loan. Although educational information is collected as part of Upstart's rate check process, neither Upstart nor its bank partners have a minimum educational attainment requirement in order to be eligible for a loan. As their About Us page states, "With a smarter credit model, lenders could approve almost twice as many borrowers, with fewer defaults." In other words, Upstart makes home improvement loans accessible to more people - and at a lower risk to the financial institutions that provide them.
Home improvement loan qualifications
You should have a minimum credit score of 580 in order to qualify for a home improvement loan from Upstart (although, if you don't have sufficient credit history to produce a score, Upstart will still let you qualify for a home improvement loan). You can't have any bankruptcies or accounts currently in collections, past due or delinquent, or that have been wholly charged-off in the last three years. You'll also be found ineligible for a loan if you have more than 6 inquiries on your credit report in the last 6 months - but that doesn't count any that are related to mortgages, vehicle loans, or student loans. Again, this is part of how Upstart measures risk, so that they can make home improvement loans available to more people.
Loans from $1,000 - $50,000
You could receive a loan offer anywhere from $1,000 to $50,000. Your loan amount will be determined based on your credit, income, and certain other information provided in your loan application. Not all applicants will qualify for the full amount. Loans are not available in West Virginia or Iowa. The minimum loan amount in MA is $7,000. The minimum loan amount in Ohio is $6,000. The minimum loan amount in NM is $5100. The minimum loan amount in GA is $3,100.
Competitive loan rates and terms
What rates and terms can you expect with a home improvement loan from Upstart? All loans funded through this service have repayment terms of either 3 or 5 years. They advertise a range of interest rates, and we found them to be very competitive with other lenders in the industry. Upstart's origination fee varies from 0-8% of the loan amount, and is deducted from the proceeds of your loan. In other words, if you request a $10,000 home improvement loan and you're charged an origination fee of 3%, you'll get $9,700 deposited to your bank account.
Get your money in 1 day
If your application is approved and you accept your loan terms, you could have your money deposited by the next business day. If you accept your loan by 5pm EST (not including weekends or holidays), you will receive your funds the next business day. Loans used to fund education related expenses are subject to a 3 business day wait period between loan acceptance and funding in accordance with federal law.
Fantastic customer satisfaction
Upstart sets the standard when it comes to customer satisfaction. The company has an "A" rating and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau, but even more impressive is the fact that with over 8,500 client reviews, 99% of them gave Upstart a rating of 4 or 5 stars. Customers said that their experience was simple, easy, and straightforward, and many people expressed their delight at having loan funds deposited within a day.
There's a lot that we like about Upstart. It's refreshing to see a lender use new methodology that looks at your big picture as a borrower, including your education and employment potential, when determining if you're a good candidate for a home improvement loan. Plus, there's no arguing with Upstart's loyal base of happy clients. Combined with their innovative approach to broaden lending availability, and competitive loan terms, Upstart earns our highest rating.
LendingTree is part of a large financial brand family that also includes Ovation Credit Services, Student Loan Hero, and QuoteWizard. Each brand focuses on specific financial services, and LendingTree gives you access to borrowing options for mortgages, auto loans, and, of course, home improvement loans.
Broad database of lenders
One of the reasons why we would choose LendingTree over other home improvement loan referral services is their extensive lender database. This site makes it extremely easy to learn about any lenders who make you a loan offer, from company history to hundreds (if not thousands) of client reviews. That's important, because LendingTree has financial partners you've probably never heard of - and reading through their detailed reviews can set your mind at ease that your home improvement loan is in good hands.
Basic application process
How do you get started with finding a home improvement loan through LendingTree? That's easy: first choose the purpose of your loan, such as paying off debt or making a major purchase, in the dropdown box. Then move the slider to the amount you're requesting, and indicate how quickly you need the money (anywhere from "within 48 hours" to "unsure, just browsing rates" ). From there, you'll be asked for your address, your credit score range, your birthdate (to verify your identity), pre-tax income, and several other basic questions.
Optional account benefits
In the last step of the account-creation process: you'll be asked if you want to include a free My LendingTree account, which comes with complimentary credit monitoring and monthly score reports, dark web monitoring, and more. Important - you'll automatically be enrolled into this service if you don't uncheck the box.
See up to five lender offers
The next screen will provide you with home improvement loans offered by LendingTree partners, assuming your information was verified. You then click on the loan offer that best meets your needs, complete any lender requirements, and you're on your way to getting your funds. If you aren't matched with any home improvement loans, expect to get recommendations for budgeting tools and money management advice.
Thousands of 5-star reviews
LendingTree has a positive reputation with more than two decades in operation, including accreditation and an "A+" rating from the Better Business Bureau. Out of nearly 10,000 independently-verified reviews, the company received over 7,600 perfect five-star ratings from clients.
Not all a bed of roses
You should be aware that LendingTree has its share of complaints, too. Many customers have reported a spam-like volume of calls, emails, and texts after completing the application process. Some customers report still receiving calls for weeks after applying for a loan through LendingTree. They should do a better job controlling their lending partners, especially when it comes to contacting their customers.
Great choice for getting multiple loan offers
If you want the most hassle-free way to compare a variety of home improvement loan offers from multiple financial institutions, LendingTree is a great choice. The service is easy to use and will very likely match you with a loan that fits your needs.
SoFi wants people to be able to manage their money and reach financial independence so they can make ambitions a reality. With over two million customers and $50 billion in funded loans, this service is absolutely helping people like you accomplish just that. While you can definitely use SoFi just for a home improvement loan and nothing else, you may want to take advantage of their additional products and tools that can give you guidance for attacking your debt with a plan, building and maintaining a safety net, putting your money to work, and even saving for retirement or other goals.
Some unique application questions
To apply for a home improvement loan from SoFi, you enter your name, state of residence and email address to create an account on their site. Next, you put in the desired loan amount (from $5,000 to $100,000) and click on the category that matches your intended use of the funds. Their next question hints at SoFi's focus on healthy money management: "What monthly payment amount works with your budget?" You can enter any number between $150 and $500, or skip it altogether. The remaining questions help SoFi to verify your identity; otherwise, you'll be asked for your Social Security Number if they can't match your credit history to the details you provided.
Big perks you won't find elsewhere
SoFi has some huge perks compared with many financial institutions offering home improvement loans. Their interest rates are generally lower than what you'll find elsewhere, with an added deduction if you set your repayments to automatically come out of your bank account each month. Better yet, the APRs on SoFi home improvement loans have zero origination fees - good luck finding that with other lenders!
Unemployment protection benefit
Our favorite SoFi benefit, though, is their Unemployment Protection program. If you lose your job through no fault of your own and your home improvement loan is in good standing at that time, you can apply to have your loan repayments suspended for three months at a time, for a total of 12 months over the life of the loan. SoFi's Career Advisory Group will even help you look for a new job.
However, we were disappointed to find out that in the time that has passed since our last evaluation, several of SoFi's rivals have done a better job of keeping clients happy. In fact, even though the BBB gives them an "A+" rating, Sofi's listing there says "this business receives a high volume of complaints" . That's not good. Looking at nearly 2,500 independently-verified reviews elsewhere, SoFi comes in with a disappointing 3.2 out of 5-star average, and less than 80% of their reviewers would give the service a perfect score. Ouch!
Customer service needs improvement
The biggest complaints we found described frustrating challenges getting ahold of anyone in SoFi's customer service department - and the resulting long timeframes for resolving issues. If you need funds quickly, or if you have any problems with your home improvement loan, you want to know you'll get a prompt, professional response. Unfortunately, SoFi has some work to do in that regard.
Still a strong option
SoFi has a lot to offer: you'll find low interest rates on your loan, and no other lender we found works with you so supportively if you lose your job. But you need to look at the whole picture, and their increase in customer complaints leave us feeling more than a little disappointed. We really hope to see an upswing in customer satisfaction in the near future, because SoFi has previously been a great option for loans.
Upgrade got its start in 2017, designed to offer exceptional value through combining rewards checking, affordable home improvement loans, credit cards and financial education. In its first four years, Upgrade saw more than 15 million people apply for a credit card or loan. The company is headquartered in San Francisco, with additional offices in Phoenix and Montreal.
No surprises in the application process
The quote process for getting a home improvement loan with Upgrade is simple. Start by entering your desired loan amount, from $1,000 to $50,000, as well as the loan purpose (consolidate debt, make a large purchase, and so on). From there, you'll need to indicate if your application is individual or joint, and provide the corresponding name, address and birthdate of anyone who will be included on the loan documents.
Read the details if you're self-employed
On the next page, you're asked to specify how much you make in a year and any additional annual income. Be sure to click on the FAQ in the text that pops up if you are self-employed: your documentation requirements will be a little different from those who get W2 income.
Verify identity to get loan offers
Finally, to get your personalized rate quotes, you'll need to create an Upgrade account with your email address and desired password, and then enter your full Social Security Number to verify your identity. If Upgrade can't locate your credit profile through TransUnion or another bureau, you'll get a message saying that they can't offer you a loan at this time, and a PDF with the notification of your loan request denial.
Origination fees taken out of loan proceeds
So, let's say you bite the bullet and provide all of the necessary verification info to get a home improvement loan quote through Upgrade. What can you expect? Generally speaking, all loans through this provider have fixed-rate APRs with repayment terms anywhere from 24-84 months. Those APRs include a one-time origination fee of 2.9-8%, which is deducted from the proceeds of your loan. In other words, if you request a $10,000 home improvement loan and you're charged an origination fee of 5%, you'll get $9,500 deposited to your bank account.
One-day turnaround for funds
Once your loan is approved, you should see the funds in your bank account within one business day, though it may take your financial institution a few more days to finalize the transaction. How does Upgrade get it done so quickly? Unlike many of the home improvement loan platforms in our review that operate as a referral service with lots of lenders in the network, Upgrade uses just two financial partners for all their funding: Cross River Bank and Blue Ridge Bank. Having a two-lender-only system means that you won't have to jump through any extra hoops of (re)applying after being matched with a financial institution (which is one of the downsides of using a referral platform for your home improvement loan).
A+ from the Better Business Bureau
At the time of this evaluation, Cross River bank had a "C" rating from the Better Business Bureau, while Blue Ridge had a more favorable "A" rating. Upgrade itself enjoys both accreditation and an "A+" from the BBB, making us confident that they're overseeing the home improvement loans made by their two lending partners, regardless of each bank's standing.
Clients love this service
And, Upgrade customers seem to agree: with more than 13,000 independently verified reviews, 94% of them give this lender a 4- or 5-star rating. While a handful of clients reported longer-than-average wait times (both for loan processing and for getting in touch with the customer service team to request help), the vast majority describe the home improvement loan process at Upgrade as quick, easy, and trustworthy.
New service building a good reputation
Upgrade is an all-around solid option for getting a home improvement loan. Although they're a little bit newer than some of their competitors who've been in the industry for a decade or two, that's no reason to worry that your home improvement loan isn't in good hands if you choose Upgrade. Thousands of clients have already used this lender to get the money they need, and we're sure you can too.
SuperMoney provides a comparison platform across a wide variety of financial services, from home improvement loans to banking. In business since 2013, this company has helped people make smart decisions with their money by providing objective and transparent information. SuperMoney has been featured by Huffpost, Forbes, Yahoo! Finance, Business Insider, and many other publications.
Your information is kept private
One aspect of SuperMoney that we really like is their promise not to sell applicants' data off to the highest bidder. If you've applied for a loan through a referral platform before, you're already familiar with the endless number of solicitations that can follow: phone, text, email, even regular mail. The way SuperMoney avoids all of that is by integrating their site directly with their lending partners, letting you compare your options with full transparency and zero pressure.
Just over a dozen network lenders
Another big plus is that there's no guessing who SuperMoney includes in their financial network - most of the lenders are listed right on their main page. The full list of lending partners is available on SuperMoney's Loans-specific page, and you can read client reviews without even applying. They don't have as much borrower feedback as some of their rival referral services, but it's still a good resource.
Simple, standard application questions
Your process begins when you click on "Get Competing Offers" and choose the category that best fits the intended purpose of your loan, from everyday expenses to major life events and major purchases. Move the slider to indicate the amount you owe or would like to borrow (depending on the loan category you selected), then use the next slider to enter your credit score. You'll be asked questions about your employment status, whether you own or rent, name/address/birthdate, and finally your Social Security Number (all to verify your identity and do a soft pull of your credit history). Before you're taken to your offers page, you'll need to create an account with SuperMoney.
Still have to complete application with chosen lender
Once you've reached your loan offers, you're given the option to finalize the application process on the lender's website. That means you'll have to take a few more steps to complete your loan application, as opposed to going directly to one of those partners' sites, but the additional legwork might be worth it if it lets you compare your options first.
Limited - but positive overall - client feedback
We're not sure why SuperMoney couldn't be found in the listings at the Better Business Bureau, given how long the company has been around. We were able to find just over 200 reviews elsewhere, and an impressive 96% of those gave the service a perfect five-star rating. Granted, not all of those reviews were specific to home improvement loans, but it's a good sign that SuperMoney delivers what it promises.
Good for doing research, better options out there
You can use SuperMoney to research lending companies and offers before choosing a home improvement loan. You'll get valuable information that might help you pick a loan and a lender that's right for you. But, compared with other loan referral services, SuperMoney doesn't have a reputation that's as well-established. Plus, many of their lending partners are also referral platforms, which could have you jumping through all of the same hoops a second time. SuperMoney is good - but not quite great. We hope to see continued progress from them in the home improvement loan marketplace.
Getting a home improvement loan can be a hassle, but it doesn't have to be. Credible simplifies the process by giving you access to more than a dozen lenders with a single application. Since 2012, this service has connected consumers with the loans they need, with fully-vetted partners that meet the highest criteria for transparency and fairness.
Loan referral service
So, to be clear, you can't get a home improvement loan from Credible. Instead, your application (which only takes a few minutes to complete) is used to give you a results list of lenders that meet your needs, with loans that can range from $1,000 to $100,000. During the application process, you'll provide critical details like your employment status and credit score range, educational background, and your Social Security number.
Soft credit pull
Credible performs a "soft pull" - which will not impact your credit score, as you may already know - and then matches you with lenders who are willing to give you a loan. It's up to you to determine which lender has the home improvement loan that is the best fit for your situation. Terms vary depending on which one you choose, and the interest rates they offer can vary widely.
Best Rate Guarantee - but read the terms
One perk that Credible offers is a Best Rate Guarantee. If you find better rates with another lender and close on a home improvement loan with that provider, you could be eligible for a $200 payment from Credible. We recommend that you read the terms and conditions (by clicking on the Learn More button in the Best Rate Guarantee pop-out), because there are certain criteria that have to be met (like submitting your request within 7 days of closing on your home improvement loan with someone else).
We were very happy to see that Credible has a strong, positive reputation. They've earned an "A+" and accreditation from the BBB, and more than 3,000 customers have given this service a flawless 5-star rating. Compliments include praise for Credible's reliability and easy-to-use website.
Of course, with all that said, at the end of the day you'll still wind up having to get your home improvement loan from an actual lender. That means that even though Credible offers some time savings with a one-application-fits-all process, you'll still have to take the extra step of due diligence to ensure that the lender you ultimately select is giving you a loan that you can pay back on time and with interest rates you can afford.
LendingClub has experienced some big changes over the last few years. Originally created as a peer-to-peer platform, where individual and business investors could choose to fund consumer loans (hence the name LendingClub), this source of home improvement loans now operates like a traditional financial institution. All funding is provided by LendingClub's own bank by the same name, making the loan application extremely streamlined when compared with platforms that refer you to multiple lenders at once.
No surprises in the application process
To get a home improvement loan through LendingClub, start by entering your desired loan amount (between $1,000 and $40,000) and selecting the loan's purpose in the dropdown box, then click on "Check Your Rate" . Indicate whether you're applying alone or with a co-applicant, your date of birth, and your total annual income. Finally, enter your first and last name, plus your address, and LendingClub will try to verify your credit report. If it can't do so based on the information provided, you'll be asked for your Social Security Number.
Expect origination fees and just-average interest rates
What can you anticipate if you are matched with a loan? That largely depends on your details: how much you're trying to borrow, your credit history, your income, and so forth. All home improvement loans funded through LendingClub have a minimum repayment term of at least three years, giving you ample time to repay it. Interest rates here are fairly average, and you should expect origination fees that range from 3% to 6%. These are typically rolled into the total cost of the loan or deducted from the payout deposited to your bank account. LendingClub's fine print at the bottom of their loans page says that their average loan has an origination fee of 5% and an APR of 15.95%.
Still being re-evaluated by the BBB
How about LendingClub's reputation? Since their business model has changed so drastically, it's difficult to put their past history into perspective. However, a few items stand out and are worth keeping in mind. The company used to have an "A" rating from the Better Business Bureau, but their listing during our most recent check with the BBB was simply "Not Rated" . That indicates that LendingClub's new structure is still under consideration. More reassuringly, their sole lender WebBank received both accreditation and an "A+" from the BBB: you shouldn't encounter any issues with fraud or other problems if you pursue a home improvement loan through the LendingClub website.
Plenty of recent, positive customer comments
We also followed the link on the LendingClub site to see some of the more than 57,000 independently-verified reviews posted there, so that we could see what their most recent comments indicated about the new service. Most of the clients gave LendingClub a rating of 4 or 5 stars, and we were pleased to see that a decent number of those came from repeat customers.
Wait and see
LendingClub appears to be on the right track, having made quite a few changes to their service that have received positive feedback from their borrowers. But until the company puts in more time with their new lending model, and has an actual rating from the BBB, we hesitate to give LendingClub a rating higher than average. Reputation matters, and while LendingClub seems to have fixed some of the issues that they had in the past, we'd like to see confirmation of that. You should be fine if you choose to take a home improvement loan here, but we encourage you to consider other options too.
Personal Loans works as a referral service for those looking to borrow anywhere from $1,000 to $35,000. You submit your information through a short online form, and Personal Loans' lending partners decide whether or not to offer you funding. If you are offered a loan, you'll then have to complete an application with the lender itself.
A+ from the Better Business Bureau
The last time we evaluated Personal Loans, the company had no listing with the Better Business Bureau. More recently, however, we were able to see that this service has an "A+" rating there, with only two complaints filed in the 12 months prior to this review. While Personal Loans doesn't have accreditation with the BBB, parent company IT Media Solutions does. Those are all good signs!
No information provided about lenders
But, compared with other referral services for home improvement loans, we don't love this platform. Why? There's no information about the lenders that Personal Loans uses in its network, requiring you to provide a lot of financial details without knowing who is going to be receiving them. Most home improvement loan referral services tell you outright which lenders they partner with, long before you offer your credit score, employment details, or current banking situation. How can the average consumer know if they're getting the best possible loan offers - or just offers from lending partners that benefit Personal Loans the most? Unfortunately, they can't.
Lack of details is concerning
In fact, most of the information you'll get from Personal Loans is disappointingly vague. Do they offer loans in your state? Apply to find out. How much money can you get? Apply to find out. What will your rates be? You get the idea.
Standard questions in the online application
Still think you want to give Personal Loans a try? To get started, you'll choose the reason for your loan from the dropdown box; options include debt relief, auto purchase, education, emergency, vacation, and so on. You can use your funds however you like, but Personal Loans may be able to match you with a loan tailored to your specific financial needs. For example, you might get better rates and terms on a loan for debt consolidation than a basic home improvement loan for a special occasion.
Some conflicting details
On the next page, you'll have to decide if you want to provide your zip code, last four digits of your SSN and your date of birth, to allow Personal Loans to see if you have an account on file. If you already know you don't, you can click on "skip lookup" to continue. Then, you'll be asked for your first and last name; this page also has the disclaimer that Personal Loans may share your information with their marketing partners, not just their lending network. On the page that asked how much we'd like to borrow, we were surprised to see that we could enter a requested amount as low as $100: everywhere else we looked on the Personal Loans site, it referenced a minimum loan amount of $1,000.
No choice but to provide personal information
From there, expect to be asked for a lot of personal information: your employer's name and contact information, how often you get paid and when your next paycheck will be, and even your driver's license number and SSN. There were also two pages where we could theoretically opt out of having our information being given to "extended network partners" and receiving "other credit-related offers" , but unchecking the boxes led to a red flag saying they were required! So much for having a choice.
Waste of time
After entering information for a sample candidate, we were taken to a screen with "sponsored listings" from Personal Loan's partners and given the opportunity to click to search matching loan offers on those third-party sites...where we essentially had to start the entire process all over again. Why waste the time?
Better options out there for home improvement loan referrals
Generally speaking, referral services for home improvement loans are a good idea if you want to save some time and hassle, getting curated funding options tailored to your financial situation. However, Personal Loans doesn't have much to offer when compared with more transparent services out there. You'll have a better experience as a prospective client with one of the higher-ranked sources of home improvement loans in our review.
(1) Your loan amount will be determined based on your credit, income, and certain other information provided in your loan application. Not all applicants will qualify for the full amount. Loans are not available in West Virginia or Iowa. The minimum loan amount in MA is $7,000. The minimum loan amount in Ohio is $6,000. The minimum loan amount in NM is $5100. The minimum loan amount in GA is $3,100.
(3) The full range of available rates varies by state. The average 5-year loan offered across all lenders using the Upstart platform will have an APR of 22.00% and 60 monthly payments of $25.03 per $1,000 borrowed. For example, the total cost of a $10,000 loan would be $15,018 including a $600 origination fee. APR is calculated based on 5-year rates offered in the last 1 month. There is no downpayment and no prepayment penalty. Your APR will be determined based on your credit, income, and certain other information provided in your loan application. Not all applicants will be approved.
(4) If you accept your loan by 5pm EST (not including weekends or holidays), you will receive your funds the next business day. Loans used to fund education related expenses are subject to a 3 business day wait period between loan acceptance and funding in accordance with federal law.
If you have little equity in your home - in other words, you haven't made many payments on your mortgage yet, and you didn't put down much money at closing - you'll most likely use a home improvement loan to fund your projects. These loans are based on your overall credit history; the higher your credit score and the lower your debts, the better rates and terms you'll get.
On the other hand, if you've built up equity in your home, you'll be able to access three other types of home improvement loans: cash-out refinancing, a home equity loan (HEL), and a home equity line of credit (HELOC). Each type has its ins and outs, and not every loan type is appropriate for a particular borrowing need. For example, a cash-out refinance is great if you can reset your mortgage at a much lower interest rate - but it also comes with closing costs (which can sometimes be rolled back into the loan amount). HELOCs let you take money out as-needed, but interest rates can be higher than some home equity loans and are often adjustable: your payments may increase in the future.
As you can see, choosing a home improvement loan leaves you with some research to do. While considering your options, here are some guidelines to help clarify which service you should use:
TopConsumerReviews.com has evaluated and ranked the best options for home improvement loans available today. We're confident that this information will help you get the money you need for your next big project!
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