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Historically, borrowers have had limited options for a personal loan. You could ask a family member, a friend, or find a personal finance company that offered fixed-rate loans, typically at exobrtantly high interest rates.
Today, however, finding a personal loan brings several more options to the table. While you can still ask a family member, or get a high-rate loan from a finance company, you can also consider using a social lending network. These networks, also called peer-to-peer loans, generally have much lower overhead and as a result can offer much lower interest rates. They're facilitated by professional companies familiar with this type of lending, to simplify things for all parties.
Sunday, January 24th
SoFi, short for "Social Finance", bills itself as a modern personal finance company, and its clean, crisp, easy-to-use website definitely matches that description. And they're clearly making an impact in the lending industry. SoFi currently has a variety of products, including personal loans, mortgage loans and refinancing, student loan refinancing, and more.
Easy to apply
SoFi's application process is straightforward: enter your personal information, such as your name and address, current employer and annual wages/salary, and post-secondary education information, and if SoFi is able to confirm your information you'll be able to see the loan and terms for which you qualify. If they're not able to confirm your data, you will be asked to enter your Social Security Number.
Competitive loan rates
We love that SoFi publishes its personal loan rates and that there are no prepayment penalties or origination fees: "what you see is what you get". Their loan rates are consistently very competitive with other loan companies.
Loan terms from 2 to 7 years were available for both fixed and variable interest rate loans, in amounts ranging from $5,000 to $100,000.
SoFi also has several unique perks that we like, from referral bonuses for new members referred by current borrowers (both parties get a cash benefit), to unemployment protection that suspends payments required from borrowers - for up to 12 months over the course of the repayment term - who lose their job through no fault of their own. SoFi even provides help through its Career Strategy department to assist borrowers in their search for a new job!
Upfront eligibility criteria
There is an easy-to-miss link at the bottom of the site called "Eligibility Criteria". There are state-specific details that you may be interested in, and some states are excluded from their personal loan program. Also, it states that personal loan recipients must be US citizens or permanent resident aliens, be of the age of majority in their state of residence, and must be currently employed.
If you're in the market for a personal loan, you'll definitely want to take a look at what SoFi has to offer. We give them a strong recommendation because of their low interest rates, transparency, and lack of loan fees. They earn our highest rating.
Upstart is a peer-to-peer lending platform founded by former Googlers. At first glance, the site is neat and includes finance-related images such as pie charts and percentage signs to emphasize their purpose, which is to help people achieve their financial goals. The fonts are large, allowing easy reading, very helpful since financial information can be overwhelming. The site allows one to process information while pacing the reader through use of space and letter size.
Professional in look, the site however does not hope to impress in graphics or photos of people enjoying newfound financial freedom. Instead, the site uses facts and figures to communicate a serious, all-business tone. The only downside to this setup is that if a customer is not familiar with loans or borrowing lingo, they might be lost until they scroll to the bottom of the Home page to click on "Contact Us".
For customers who aren't sure where to begin, Upstart has a "Get Started" icon which asks them what they want to do. Upstart offers help with loan consolidation, paying off credit cards, paying medical bills, buying a car or other big purchases. Such a wide range of services is comforting to those seeking financial advice. The site also provides education to help you prepare for future financial decisions.
With respect to personal loans, Upstart is efficient. You can apply online and find out your rate within a few minutes. You're asked simple questions about your income and education history. Upstart then presents you with loan terms and options for payment. Once a customer agrees to the terms of the loan, funds are issued - sometimes, 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.
Upstart's reputation is very solid - you'll quickly see links to articles on prominent sites like Fox, Bloomberg, and other news agencies, along with testimonials from satisfied clients. Their underwriting model uses machine learning and artificial intelligence techniques to underwrite borrowers based on many variables, including but not limited to credit score, income, education, and employment. Such details helped us gain more confidence in the success of this company's services.
We found the blog articles very helpful. With topics ranging from selecting health insurance to saving money on groceries, a person seeking financial security could benefit from the wisdom these articles offer. Unfortunately, this tool is found at the bottom of the Home page. The website would function more effectively if they included this option at the top of the page along with "Contact" and "Team" information because it is on these pages where we found answers to our initial questions.
While Upstart's website is good, it could use some enhancements to make it more user friendly. Still, Upstart earns high marks for their quick processing of loan applications and many helpful financial features.
LendingTree is one of the most recognized names in the personal loan market, connecting borrowers with a wide assortment of potential lenders that can meet their financial needs on loans from $1,000 to $35,000.
Loan connection service
As a connection service rather than a lender, the loan products LendingTree has to offer and their terms and conditions naturally vary with each individual lender. One advantage of using LendingTree is the ability to survey multiple lenders' offerings without having to disclose one's identifying information to those lenders, only doing so when the customer has made the decision to apply for the lender that best fits their requirements. Borrowers can also use offers obtained on LendingTree to negotiate directly with lenders; LendingTree provides customers with lenders' direct contact information for that very purpose.
All credit score ranges
If you choose to research loans using LendingTree, be aware that you will need to provide your credit score, which is used by lenders to determine if they would like to compete for your business. Even if you have a low credit score, you may still receive offers as LendingTree has several providers who work with borrowers just like you.
No credit report impact
One thing to note is that LendingTree's main website takes you to the page for entering your information to get started in the quote process, and there is very little other information on that page. We were able to determine that entering your personal information to begin the process will not impact your credit report or your credit score, though we would have liked to see that fact clearly spelled out on LendingTree's landing page.
With a solid A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, accredited since 1998, and its ability to connect borrowers with a wide range of potential lenders, LendingTree earns high marks.
Getting a personal 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. In fact, almost all of the lenders in Credible's network are included in our personal loan reviews.
So, to be clear, you can't get a personal loan from Credible. Instead, your application (which only takes 5 minutes or less to complete) is used to give you a results list of lenders that meet your needs, with loans ranging from $1000 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 personal loan that is the best fit for your situation. Terms vary depending on which one you choose, but in general you can expect interest rates ranging from 5.99% up to 35.99%
Best rate guarantee
One perk that Credible offers is a Best Rate Guarantee. If you find better rates with another lender and close on a personal 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 personal loan with someone else).
Easy to use and reliable
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.
Credible saves you time with a one-application-fits-all process that sends your application to multiple lenders. Remember you'll still want to make sure 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 is a recognized leader in the social lending market. They do an excellent job of bringing together lenders and those wanting a loan between $1,000 to $40,000. The benefit of choosing LendingClub is that without a bank in the mix, borrowers are able to get a lower rate on their personal loans. LendingClub currently holds a strong Better Business Bureau rating of A and helps facilitate thousands of loans for happy customers each month.
Low lending rates
The loan rates at LendingClub are among the lowest we've found. Of course, the best APR is available to borrowers with excellent credit. Applying for a loan is simple:
Turnaround time varies
The size of your loan and your credit worthiness impacts the turnaround time of the process. At any point you can speak to a LendingClub customer service representative to assist. Your loan request will be listed on the LendingClub website for up to two weeks, or until lenders are willing to fully fund your request.
Like any peer-to-peer lending company, a fee is assessed in order to cover costs. At LendingClub you can anticipate a one-time processing fee that ranges from 1% to 6% of the loan amount, depending on your loan and loan terms. For a $1,000 loan that equates to a fee starting around $11.
If you're looking for a personal loan, LendingClub offers an excellent lending process and affordable rates, from a reputable company that you can feel confident with.
Avant is one of the newest providers in the personal loans market, opening its doors in Chicago in 2012 and receiving its first accreditation with the Better Business Bureau in March 2015. It currently holds a solid A+ rating with the BBB.
Large range of loans
Avant provides access to one of the larger ranges of consumer loans available, from $2,000 to $35,000. Loans through the Avant platform include terms from 2 to 5 years. As an example, a $5,700 loan with an administration fee of 4.75% and an amount financed of $5,429.25, repayable in 36 monthly installments, would have an APR of 29.95% and monthly payments of $230.33.
Although Avant is relatively new to the online lending business, the Avant platform has already issued more than $1 Billion in loans to over 450,000 customers. With nearly 500 employees working to provide affordable loans to consumers in need, they bring a professionalism and dedication that is welcome to this industry.
One feature that we liked with Avant is how quickly they provide access to funds. The Avant platform can often send your money via direct deposit as soon as the next business day*.
Easy application process
Avant's loan application and approval process is very easy:
There are no extra charges for prepayment of your loan, although late fees may apply if a payment is missed. Customer service is available 7 days a week.
We're encouraged to see this lending platform enter the marketplace. They've earned a high BBB rating in a very short period of time, and don't charge exorbitant or hidden fees. Combined with the ultra-fast loan application process, Avant easily earns high marks.
In the last 10 years, 100 Lenders has helped more than 300,000 people apply for a loan. Although they do not fund personal loans directly, 100 Lenders connects applicants with a network of financial partners who do, in amounts ranging from $100 to $35,000.
Effective lender connections
100 Lenders carries an impressive 4.6/5 average rating across hundreds of customer reviews, and they are part of the Online Lenders Alliance, which requires its members to uphold ethical standards in their lending practices. Despite not having a rating with the Better Business Bureau, 100 Lenders does seem to be helping connect borrowers with personal loans in ways that are reputable and effective.
2 minute application
To apply for a loan using 100 Lenders' network, you will need to enter your basic information, such as your name, address, Social Security number, and how often you are paid by your employer. According to their site and many customer comments, this process can be accomplished in about two minutes, taking you to a list of loans offered by 100 Lenders' partners.
Loan fees and interest rates vary
That is the extent of the detail that 100 Lenders provides with respect to loan fees and interest rates, because those depend entirely on the lenders themselves. We were unable to find even a range of possible APR's or sample processing fees, to determine if their partners' rates are competitive with other lenders in our review.
Credit score determines lending offer
Looking at the fine print, we did find that residents of several states (Arkansas, Georgia, New York, Oregon, Washington, West Virginia, and Vermont) are not eligible to apply for personal loans using 100 Lenders. This information led us to discover that, while 100 Lenders accepts applications from people regardless of their credit score, their lending partners may offer a payday loan rather than a personal loan for those customers whose credit scores fall below a certain threshold. This may not make a difference, however, to some customers looking to meet short term cash needs.
For all these reasons, we give 100 Lenders a good rating, This could improve with a little more transparency on their partner's interest rates and application fees, which would allowing potential customers to get a better idea of their borrowing power without having to enter their personal information first.
Prosper launched in 2006 and, as of late, has had over $300 million loans funded from private investors. This California based company currently holds a decent Better Business Bureau rating of B+.
Social lending network
Prosper is also a social lending network that brings together those that need a loan and those willing to lend money. The loan size must be between $2,000 and $40,000.
Step by step
The website is easy to navigate through the application process. The loan application process consists of the following steps:
8 day turnaround
Most loans are funded within an average of 8 business days. Prosper does charge a fee to facilitate the lending process. A fee between .5 and 4.95% is taken from the loan upfront before you receive payment.
Prosper provides a simple lending process and a website that's easy to navigate. Loan rates can range a little higher at Prosper but the associated loan fees, to cover credit checks and administrative costs, are slightly lower. If you are in the market for a loan from $2,000 to $40,000, Prosper is worth your consideration.
Even is a fintech business that helps connect partner lenders with borrowers to fund their personal loans. Founded in 2015 and based in New York City, this service specializes in prequalified loan offers from multiple sources, helping you shorten the process between your application and receiving your personal loan money.
10 lending partners
At the time of our review, Even was partnered with 10 lenders, many of which you'll find in our in-depth evaluations:
Wide range of loan amounts
Across their network of lenders, Even can connect you with personal loans ranging from $1,000 to $100,000, with terms from 24-84 months and APRs starting at 4.99%. Of course, your actual loan amount and terms will depend on your credit history, requested loan size, income and more. To get a list of possible offers, enter the loan amount you want, the purpose of your loan (vacation, debt consolidation, large purchase, etc.), your credit score range and your email address, among other details. The service is free and at this stage only a soft pull of your credit is required, so it won't hurt your score.
Too much information?
However, compared with similar services that connect borrowers with personal loans, we felt that Even required too much information from us before providing even basic details about the loans available through their site. Many of their competitors will show you sample terms and rates from specific providers - and some will even give you potential matches without having to enter your Social Security number until after you've selected a loan that sounds like a good fit.
Not much history
Besides that, Even doesn't tell you much about themselves, beyond the lending partners they use for personal loans. Given that they've only been around for 5 years, and that they're not accredited by the Better Business Bureau, the lack of information about them on their main personal loans landing page left us feeling uneasy. We were glad to see their "A" rating from the BBB, but there were no customer reviews made available on the Even site to lend support to that grade.
Middle of the road
All of these factors combine to give Even a middle-of-the-road rating. While we like being able to have one-stop shopping for personal loans, we feel that their competitors do a better job of offering transparency with their lenders and terms while requiring less personal information at the outset. We think you'll probably have a smoother experience when getting a personal loan through one of our higher-ranked services.
NetCredit is new to the personal loan business. This Chicago based company opened doors in 2012 and currently hold a strong A- Better Business Bureau rating. NetCredit offers unsecured personal loans between $1,000 and $10,000 to customers of all credit scores. The process of applying and obtaining a loan is completely online. There's no need to make an appointment and take time away from work just to fill out a loan application.
NetCredit provides the funds for all of the personal loans issued from this company. The process is very simple:
Loan rates vary
Interest rates are dependent on the loan size and your credit worthiness. Because of this, NetCredit does not publish their loan interest rates online. Loan payments back to NetCredit can be drawn automatically from your bank account and occur over time, based on the terms of the loan. Outside of interest, there are no associated fees with obtaining a loan at NetCredit. For those attempting to build back their credit, NetCredit does report payment history and activity to both Experian and TransUnion.
Just a few states
The biggest downside to working with NetCredit, at this time, is that they currently provide loans in only 13 states. While we believe they will be adding to the list over time, customers in states not supported by NetCredit will not be able to work with them until further expansion. However, if you are in a state that NetCredit does operate in, they offer a fast loan application and quick approval process. NetCredit is worth your consideration.
Personal Loans works to connect their customers with a reputable, qualified lender that can help with their personal loan needs. Personal Loans provides access to peer to peer loans, personal installment loans, and personal bank loans for customers located in all U.S. States except North Dakota and Maine. For those seeking a loan between $1,000 and $35,000 this company provides a lot of flexibility to suit the needs of many. Unfortunately we were unable to verify the current Better Business Bureau score of Personal Loans.
Personal Loans requires that all customers be at least 18 years old, have a social security number, and be a legal U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Additional requirements include full time employment, self-employment or the receipt of Social Security benefits and/or disability. Customers are more likely to be accepted for a personal loan if they have a credit score of at least 580 or greater and a decent payment history.
Loan application process
The current loan rates through Personal Loans are not publicized due to the varying types of loans and number of lenders that are utilized. Requesting a loan at Personal Loans is rather straightforward:
Personal Loans does not charge you, the customer, for the lender connecting process. Any fees are charged directly to their lender partners. The website is informative and easy to navigate with the option to email or call if questions occur.
Variety of loan options
The benefits of working with Personal Loans is the variety of loan options, the quick approval process and the payment turnaround. Despite finding several positive customer reviews online we would have liked to have validated their BBB rating and found more history on the company to feel more confident. However, if you're looking for a personal loan, Personal Loans may be worth looking into when flexibility and speed are important.
OneMain Financial is a leading national consumer loan company that has been in business since 1912. They offer personal and auto loans at nearly 1,700 branches across the United States and has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
Stability is a strength
Stability and a high rating from the Better Business Bureau may be the two greatest strengths of OneMain when it comes to the loans they offer. There is just one application asking for personal information that they ask a prospective client to fill out.
Followup phone call
Once the application is completed and if approved, a OneMain representative will call to discuss the details of your loan. If you want to learn more about OneMain's loan product before you apply, they provide an example payment schedule on their site along with other loan information such as options for payment, which can be found in their FAQ's section.
Optional loan insurance
Reviewing further, we found consumers that reported a range of interest rates and a few comments about mandatory insurance. However, OneMain discloses fees to the consumer during the loan closing process and any insurance is completely optional for the consumer. Some customers reported high interest rates, while others reported various fees that added to their rate.
On the plus side, OneMain may be an option for people with lower credit ratings. You may also be able to get a loan that does not require collateral. However, you should be aware that this may come with high rates. When the OneMain representative contacts you with your loan offer, be sure you're comfortable with the details. The company has a long, successful history, and appears strong and solvent, so it should be considered a legitimate lending source for your financial needs.
Offering personal loans ranging from $100 to $35,000, LifeLoans says they can "get the cash you need fast". To get started, the site asks you to enter your desired loan amount, your monthly income, your credit score, and your zip code. From there, you are taken to a page that asks for much more specific personal information, including your address and zip code.
Up to 6 lenders
At this point Lifeloans will pass along your details to up to 6 lending partners in their network, who will contact you directly. And, if you don't qualify for a traditional personal loan, the disclaimer also explains that you may be referred to lenders offering "payday loans", which typically have much higher interest rates than personal loans.
Of course, in this age of identity theft, it's important to confirm that your information will be safe before entrusting it to a website. Is LifeLoans a trustworthy source of personal loans?
Online lenders alliance
LifeLoans is a member of the Online Lenders Alliance, which expects its members to uphold standards of integrity and honesty in the lending process. But, unlike most of the other personal loan services in our review, LifeLoans maintains no reputation with the Better Business Bureau.
No customer reviews
In fact, we were unable to find a single review from a LifeLoans customer - positive or negative. We also couldn't find a phone number to call with questions, or an email address to contact them with. Residents of Connecticut, New Hampshire, Washington, and Vermont are not eligible to submit a request for a loan through this site.
Overall, we weren't impressed with what LifeLoans offers with respect to personal loans. If you're looking for transparency and an established track record of helping customers get the money they need, we suggest you consider one of the higher-ranked lenders in our review first.
Better Loans Mutual does not make personal loans directly. Rather, they connect borrowers with providers of auto loans.
Most of the lenders who partner with Better Loans Mutual require that you:
$5,000 max loan amount
The total amount of your loan can be no higher than $5,000, the smallest amount of any of the sources of personal loans in our review.
Unable to connect
When we tried calling the provided toll-free number, the message said, "Thank you for calling the Cash Request Center", not Better Loans Mutual. After entering our zip code, we were asked to enter a four-digit number representing our year. No matter what we entered, with or without the pound sign, it would not accept our information and terminated the call.
Too many questions
We similarly found no customer reviews of Better Loans Mutual, and no evidence that the referral service they provide is useful or even trustworthy. You'll be more likely to get the cash you need through another personal loan service, so we suggest you consider one of the more reputable, established lenders in our review.
No matter where you borrow money from, before you get your next personal loan you should consider the following:
TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best online personal loan providers available today. We hope this information helps you find the best loan at an affordable rate that meets your needs!
Saving money isn't fun. Why put it somewhere when you could spend it now, on that thing you've been wanting for months? Well, there are some easy and simple ways to start saving now, so that if there's an emergency - like a car accident or an unexpected health bill - you can be assured to have money for it. Being prepared isn't the trendiest idea, but in the future you'll thank yourself for saving your behind!
Saving money doesn't have to be all dark and dreary. There are a variety of small changes you can make to your daily routine to start preparing for the future.
The first tip to cut daily costs might just be the hardest for some. Many people spend money every day on coffee, especially from those expensive java bistros. Cue the gasps - but if you're still reading, then listen to this: While many people spend money on coffee every morning, major coffee companies (you know the ones) upcharge drinks to an almost comical degree. The reason these companies get away with this is because they count on the consumer being unwilling to make their own and come to them instead. You don't even have to get up any earlier if you make your own cup of coffee in the morning, since you'll be saving time on your commute. But getting up every morning and making your own coffee is a much more cost efficient alternative to giving a chunk of your paycheck to some other company.
Another simple trick to saving money is to cancel subscriptions you're not using. We can almost hear you shrieking "but what if I need to use it!" The thing is, you won't. If you're spending even $10 a month on something that you're not using, than it's not worth it. It's hard to stop something that used to bring you joy, or even that you're used to. But if you seriously want to start saving money, this is one of the most achievable and easy ways to do it. Go through your spending and look at all the things you're paying for that you didn't use this month. Then, go back and look at the previous month. If that isn't enough to convince you, go back one month further. If you haven't used something in 3 months, then you've spent a quarter of the year paying for nothing and it's time to stop.
A final bit of advice on the best ways to save money is another little thing. Use the 48 hour rule. If you see something and really want it, wait 48 hours. If you still want it after that, than you know it's not an impulse buy. On the other hand, if you've completely forgotten about it, then you just saved yourself some money.
It's especially difficult, the younger you are, to get out of the You Only Live Once mindset. You see something, and you think "hey, I really want that thing! I'll totally use it all the time, even though I've never thought about it before today!" Really - it's not worth it. You have to stop thinking "I need this now because it will make me happy", and instead think of the future. When considering whether you should blow your money on the impulse buy, picture the expensive item and think of how much more you'll enjoy it if you save for it.
These are just a few little things you can do to start saving money. Remember that it's important to save your money now, in order to save yourself future heartache. Soon you'll be on your way to affording that trip to Paris or whatever else you want!
Select any 2 Personal Loan Providers to compare them head to head
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