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If you're struggling financially, you're not alone. Unemployment rates and inflation are on the rise, and many people are having trouble paying their bills from month to month. From regular expenses like rent and car insurance, to unexpected (and unwelcome!) costs like ER visits and appliance repairs, it doesn't take much to wind up needing cash.
What are the options? Aside from asking friends or family to float you a loan - which is uncomfortable for everyone all around - there are several different ways to get the money you need. However, some of them come with extremely high interest rates or payment terms that are so short you'll have a hard time repaying what you borrow. Credit cards and payday loans fall into that category, and you may wind up worse off than when you started if you rely on them for money.
Thursday, January 20th
Upstart was founded by former Google employees, who use comprehensive artificial intelligence (AI) to help everyday people unlock opportunity through affordable credit. With this method, they can offer high approval rates from their bank partners, which translates into a greater chance you'll be accepted for an affordable loan.
More than just your credit history
The application process with Upstart starts out fairly standard. First, you 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 installment 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 credit risk differently from most lenders. They take 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, "four in five Americans have never defaulted on a credit product, yet less than half have access to prime credit. With a smarter credit model, lenders could approve almost twice as many borrowers, with fewer defaults." Upstart is making installment loans accessible to more people - and at a lower risk to the financial institutions that provide them.
Installment loan qualifications
In order to qualify for an installment loan from Upstart, you need to have a minimum credit score of 580 (however, if you don't have sufficient credit history to produce a score, Upstart will still let you qualify for an installment 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 also won't be eligible 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). This is just part of how Upstart measures risk, so that they can make installment loans available to more people.
Installment loans up to $50,000
Your loan offer could be anywhere from $1,000 to $50,000. The 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 rates and terms
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 ranges 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 installment loan and you're charged an origination fee of 5%, you'll get $9,500 deposited to your bank account.
Get your money fast
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.
When it comes to customer satisfaction, Upstart is hard to beat. 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.
Simply put, Upstart does a great job with installment loans. It's refreshing to see a lender that looks at your big picture as a borrower, including your education and employment potential when determining if you're a good candidate for an installment loan. And, there's no arguing with Upstart's loyal fanbase of happy clients. Combined with their innovative approach to broaden lending, 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, installment loans.
Broad database of lenders
One big reason why we like LendingTree more than other installment 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 might have never heard of - and reading through their detailed reviews can set your mind at ease that your installment loan is in good hands.
Basic application process
How do you get started with finding an installment 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.
Option account benefits
In the last step of the account-creation process: you're asked whether you want to include a free My LendingTree account, which comes with complimentary credit monitoring and monthly score reports, dark web monitoring, and more. Note - you'll automatically be enrolled into this service if you don't uncheck the box.
See up to five lender offers
The next screen provides you with all the loans offered by LendingTree's 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 money. If you aren't matched with any installment loans, expect to get recommendations for budgeting tools and money management advice.
Thousands of 5-star reviews
LendingTree has a very good reputation, with more than 20 years 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 everyone's happy
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 still receive calls for weeks or even months after applying for a loan through LendingTree. They could probably do a better job controlling their lending partners when it comes to customer contact.
Great choice for getting multiple loan offers
If you want the easiest, most hassle-free way to compare a variety of installment loan offers from multiple financial institutions, LendingTree is the choice for you. 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 an installment 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 an installment 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 installment 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 installment 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 installment 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 installment loan, you want to be assured that 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 there's more to the story, and customer complaints tell a tale that leaves us feeling more than a little disappointed. We really hope to see an upswing in customer satisfaction in the near future, because SoFi has historically been a great option for loans.
SuperMoney provides a comparison platform across a wide variety of financial services, from installment 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 Installment 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.
Streamlined process makes it easy
Once you've reached your loan offers, you can click on the lender link and accept your loan on the lender's website. Some lenders may ask for additional verificatons, but but at this point you've already been pre-qualified for their loan offer. This streamlined process makes it very easy to compare offers from different lenders, without having to visit each site individually and fill out loan applications over and over again.
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. An impressive 96% of respondents gave the service a perfect five-star rating. Granted, not all of those reviews were specific to installment loans, but it's a good sign that SuperMoney delivers what it promises.
SuperMoney provides a streamlined process to compare lending companies and offers before choosing your installment loan. You'll find valuable information that might help you pick the loan and lender that's right for you. Although at 8 years old they're still one of the new kids on the block, they have a very good reputation and are well respected in the industry. It seems like they're working hard to be a transparent and objective installment loan platform. If you want a quick way to easily compare competitive loan offers from legitimate lenders, SuperMoney should be one of the first places you look.
Getting an installment 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 an installment loan from Credible. Instead, your application (which only takes about 5 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 installment 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 an installment 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 installment 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 installment 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.
Upgrade got its start in 2017, designed to offer exceptional value through combining rewards checking, affordable installment 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 an installment 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 an installment 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 installment 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 installment 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 installment 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 installment 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 installment loan process at Upgrade as quick, easy, and trustworthy.
New service building a good reputation
Upgrade is an all-around solid option for getting an installment 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 installment 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.
Prosper is the only peer-to-peer lending marketplace in our review. What does that mean? You can expect a slightly different experience if you apply for an installment loan here, because they're all funded by investors (individuals and institutions). Though you might think that would lead to a fairly low volume of loans being requested and funded, Prosper has facilitated over $18 billion in loans to more than a million people since its start in 2005.
Need a credit score of 640+
If you have a credit score of at least 640, you can borrow anywhere from $2,000 to $40,000 through Prosper's installment loans platform. First enter the amount of the loan you want, and then you'll be taken to a screen with multiple loan purposes: big purchase, taxes, vacation, baby/adoption, and home improvement, to name a few. This is important because Prosper investors can choose to invest in your loan based on your intended use of it.
Finish the application
Next, indicate if you're applying alone or with a co-borrower, then enter the corresponding name(s) and birthdate(s) for all applicants. The rest of the questions relate to your address, your source and amount of annual income, and the email and password you'd like to use for your Prosper account. If Prosper can match that information with a credit profile, it'll be used to qualify you for an installment loan; if not, you'll be asked to take the extra step of entering your full SSN to check your credit report before being shown your loan possibilities.
Investors fund your loan
Your loan offers will show you the maximum amount that you're qualified to borrow, and then several loan options. You can choose between a repayment term of three or five years, depending on whether you want to pay less interest over the course of the loan or have smaller payments throughout. Your interest rate will be clearly displayed: no secrets there. Once you've selected the loan with the rate and terms you prefer, you will need to submit verification documents that confirm your income, your bank account information, and so forth. After that, your loan will be listed to Prosper's marketplace; the completion of your loan depends on how quickly individuals and/or institutions decide to fund your loan.
Thousands of borrowers give service a perfect score
Prosper measures up well with respect to reputation. An "A+" rating and accreditation from the Better Business Bureau show that the platform is doing a good job connecting borrowers with installment loans in a manner that is professional and competitive with other services. Looking at customer feedback, over 5,000 people have given Prosper a perfect five-star rating: nearly 90% of clients rate the service as "great" or "excellent" . We are always glad to see reviews from repeat customers too, and Prosper has its fair share of those.
Get your money in 24 hours... or 30 days... or never
Since your loan is funded by individual investors, someone on the peer-to-peer network must make the decision to lend you their money. There's a wide range of timeframes for this. Many people get their loans deposited within 24 hours - however others report that it took 30 days or more. It's even possible for a loan to expire without being fully funded. This service may work best for people that don't need their money in a hurry, and are willing to wait for their loan terms to be fulfilled.
Unique option in the installment loan industry
Prosper offers a unique take on installment loans, both for borrowers and investors alike. Their eligibility criteria might make this platform a no-go for some consumers with lower-than-average credit scores, and their funding timeframe may be a turn-off to others. Still, Prosper is a solid company and presents a worthwhile option to consider.
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 installment 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 an installment 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 installment 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 the installment 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 an installment 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 an installment loan here, but we encourage you to consider other options too.
OppLoans specializes in installment loans for "middle income, credit-challenged consumers" who may have a hard time getting funding through more traditional lenders. They've helped over 500,000 customers get up to $4,000 within one business day over the last 10+ years.
Easy to qualify to borrow money
What are the eligibility requirements for applying for an installment loan with OppLoans? You only have to be at least 18 years old (or 19 in Nebraska and Alabama) and have a regular source of income with direct deposit going to a checking or savings account.
Available in 33 states
You also have to live somewhere that is part of OppLoans' area of operations. At the time of this review, OppLoans offered loans in 33 states nationwide. In four states (Alabama, Georgia, Nevada, Wisconsin), OppLoans funds installment loans directly but in others they're originated by one of the provider's lending partners. Rates and terms vary by location, and you can get sample loan information by clicking on the "Rates and Terms" link and then on your state of residence.
Extremely high interest rates
Objectively speaking, those rates and terms aren't very appealing. In fact, they're closer to what you'll find in a payday loan rather than a traditional installment loan. Running through the rates listed on their website, we ran through several examples where the amount of money required to pay back the loan was almost twice the amount that you borrowed in the first place. Clearly this installment loan option is meant for people with few alternatives.
Helpful financial education available
On a more positive note, OppLoans has a credit education course called OppU that anyone can use for free. It teaches financial topics like budgeting, saving, credit education and more - which you may need if you're in a position where you're considering a high interest rate installment loan like the ones offered by OppLoans!
No prepayment penalty
Another plus is that OppLoans doesn't charge any prepayment fees. If you take out a high interest rate installment loan, you'll want to pay it off as quickly as you can to save money. We appreciate that this lender doesn't penalize you for making a good financial choice by paying back what you borrowed as soon as possible.
In spite of the high rates and terms of the installment loans here, we're glad to see that the lender maintains an "A+" rating and accreditation with the Better Business Bureau. There were about 100 complaints filed against OppLoans in the three years leading up to this evaluation, but hundreds of positive reviews were also submitted over that same timeframe. Clients said that OppLoans was extremely easy to work with, transparent with all of the loan terms, and a great option for anyone who doesn't qualify for a more traditional installment loan with another lender.
Featured by many loan referral services
We were also reassured to see OppLoans included by many of the installment loan referral platforms in our review. Such services work hard to connect borrowers to reputable lenders, which is a good indicator that OppLoans can be trusted.
Trustworthy option for the "credit challenged"
For the "credit challenged" , OppLoans is a helpful resource. The company offers installment loans at high rates, but that are still lower than the average payday lender. All signs show that the entire process is clearly explained and serviced well throughout the lifetime of the loan. For those with decent credit, there are much more affordable ways to get an installment loan - but if those options fail you, OppLoans is worth consideration.
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 installment 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 installment 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 installment 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 installment loan referrals
Generally speaking, referral services for installment 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 installment loans in our review.
LifeLoans is one of several referral services in our review. These platforms require you to fill in a short online form so that they can match you with partner lenders for an installment loan. For many reasons, LifeLoan earns its rock-bottom position in our rankings.
Nothing troublesome at first
At first, LifeLoans looks fairly similar to other installment loan referral providers. You start by selecting your desired loan amount in the dropdown box, as well as the reason for your loan, then entering your email, date of birth, and current amount of credit card debt. So far, so good. The next page goes into more detail: you get to enter your full name and address, how often you get paid and with what type of employment, as well as your phone number and full SSN. (Though, for reasons you'll soon understand, we recommend that you hold off on giving them accurate information there!) At the end of the form, there is a checkbox to consent to be contacted by phone/text; you can leave the box unchecked and still submit your information to be considered.
Exactly where does your personal information go?
When we did that, we were redirected to a third-party installment loan provider. Our details had carried over from the LifeLoans site, but we were still asked to confirm the last four digits of our SSN. Exactly how many lenders had been given our full Social Security Number? We had no idea. (Good thing we used a sample profile and not our actual details!) Could we trust the lender we were passed along to? Again, no idea: LifeLoans doesn't disclose any of the names of the partners in their network until you fill out the online application.
Many business names for the same poor service
LifeLoans doesn't have much in the way of a solid reputation. We couldn't find a listing with the Better Business Bureau under that name, but when we searched the BBB using the contact phone number listed on LifeLoans' website, voila: a listing for a completely separate business name (Next Day Personal Loan) at the same address. That business had an "F" rating and a handful of consumer complaints registered there. As a matter of fact, we found a surprising number of "businesses" all registered to that phone number and address: Lending For Bad Credit, 100 Lenders, Swift Funders, and Cash Corner, to name a few. None of them had anything but an "F" from the Better Business Bureau.
Looking at the fine print in the application process, we spotted the parent company name for all of these "lenders" : Search ROI LLC. Does that sound like a place to get an installment loan that's really going to work hard for you - or more like a way for someone else to make money when you provide your information? We think it definitely sounds like the latter, don't you?
Zero reason to use this site
Taking out an installment loan can be a sensitive transaction, and you want to ensure that your finances are in good hands. There's nothing about LifeLoans that gives us any indication that they're deserving of your trust. You'll be better off with a higher-rated source of installment loans.
Leap Credit offers small installment loans designed to help you bridge the gap between paychecks, when unexpected expenses arise. The company has been in business for less than 5 years.
Only in a few states
At the time of our review, Leap Credit was only authorized to provide funds in the following states: Alabama, Idaho, Missouri, North Dakota, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, New Mexico and Illinois. However, if you live in a state not included in that list, they say that if you fill out an online application they can match you with a lending partner in their network. Even in some of the states where Leap Credit is licensed to lend money (such as Texas), you may still be connected with a third-party lender.
Loans up to $3,500
How much can you borrow through this platform? That depends on where you live. Click on "Terms and Rates" at the bottom of the site, and then select your state of residence to find out what's on offer there. While available loan amounts vary, we found that most states have loan amounts ranging from $500 to $3,500.
Nightmarish interest rates
You'll also want to pay very close attention to the interest rates posted for your state. When we first looked, we thought there was a mistake - but no, it turns out that Leap Credit offers loans with exorbitant APRs: up to 800%. Yes, that means you could wind up paying a total of $6,000 for a $500 loan (as one customer cited). Ironically, Leap Credit describes their service as offering you a "financial life preserver" , when really it could wind up being a weight that drags you deeper into trouble.
Leap Credit doesn't have an outstanding reputation. The Better Business Bureau gives them a "B" rating. In school, a "B" is pretty good, but when it comes to companies you're trusting with your finances, you should want as high a rating as possible. We were also troubled by the fact that, on the application page, Leap Credit has an icon claiming to be accredited by the BBB - but their listing actually had no accreditation. Considering that the lender had more than 50 complaints registered with the BBB just in the 12 months prior to our review (and a whopping 250+ complaints in the three years prior), it's no wonder that the BBB gave them a less-than-perfect grade and no accreditation.
Complaints of fraud
On the Leap Credit site, they feature client reviews through a well-known independent rating platform. In fact, all the reviews shown on the lender's page are 4- and 5-star evaluations. But, when you go directly to the review site, it tells a very different story. Reading through consumer comments there, and on the Leap Credit BBB listing is scary. More than a few people said they never signed the paperwork for their loan, after reading the offer and deciding it wasn't what they wanted - but the loan went through anyway. Leap Credit was then difficult to contact, making it almost impossible to get the situation fixed. Even more frightening are the multiple reports from people who never visited the Leap Credit site, and who paid their loans in full, and yet had payments drafted out of their accounts. Companies offering installment loans shouldn't have you needing to file a police report for fraud!
Look elsewhere for an installment loan
We can't see any reason to trust Leap Credit if you're looking for an installment loan. "Shady" and "scam" are two of the words most often used by people describing their experience with this company. We strongly encourage you to get the funds you need from a more reputable lending partner.
(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.
Fortunately, installment loans provide a better way to access the funds to pay your bills, without sky-high interest rates or short repayment timeframes. An installment loan gives you a specific amount of money with a fixed number of payments over time, usually a year or more. Your interest rate may be fixed or variable, depending on the loan you select. These loans are similar to what you experience when buying a car or taking out a mortgage, and most lenders won't charge you any penalties if you pay them off earlier than required. Installment loans are predictable, affordable, and can help you get out of a tough financial situation in a responsible way.
As you begin your research, you'll find that there are many financial institutions willing to offer you an installment loan. It can be overwhelming trying to determine which one is right for you, but keeping these criteria in mind can help you narrow down the options and know that you've made a good choice:
TopConsumerReviews.com has evaluated and ranked the best sources of installment loans available today. We're confident that this information will help you choose a lender that can get you the money that you need.
Select any 2 Installment Loans to compare them head to head
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