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Earning Interest

Best Money Market Rates & Accounts – May 2018

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

Updated May 24, 2018

Traditional banks are paying very low interest rates on money market accounts. For example, BB&T pays between 0.01% and 0.04% APY. Fortunately, you do not need to settle for such ridiculously low rates. You can easily find the best money market rates at internet banks paying 1.50% or more. If you put $50,000 into BB&T’s account at 0.04%, you will only earn $20 of interest over one year. That same money in an account paying 1.50% would earn you $750 of interest. And you can typically open and fund an online money market account in less than 10 minutes. Also, the differences between savings accounts and money market accounts are narrowing because rates on money market account are increasing each year. You can currently earn the same top rate with a savings account from one bank and a money market account from another.

MagnifyMoney searches over 12,000 banks and credit unions to find the money market accounts paying the highest interest rates. Competition has been increasing and there is a pricing war. As a result, this month there are a lot of new names on the list (many of which you probably will not recognize). Here are the best rates for May 2018:

1. Highest Rate: CIT Bank – 1.85% APY, $100 minimum balance amount

Money Market Account from CIT Bank CIT Bank recently launched a money market account with a 1.85% APY. You only need $100 to open the account and start earning the APY, and they don’t charge any monthly maintenance fees. If you appreciate the option to write checks with your money market account, or use a debit or ATM card to withdraw funds, this account may not be for you. You can fund the account with ACH, mobile check deposit, or by mailing a check directly to the bank. Accessing funds can be easily done through their online banking platform or mobile banking app. Just keep in mind that due to federal regulations, you’re not able to conduct more than six transactions in a statement cycle. CIT Bank will charge a $10 fee for each additional transaction. While CIT is a thriving bank, you can be assured that your funds are protected by the FDIC up to the legal limit.


on CIT Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

2. Top Rate: UFB Direct – 1.60% APY, $5,000 minimum balance to avoid a monthly fee

High Yield Money Market Account from UFB Direct
UFB Direct is a division of BofI Federal Bank, a federally chartered, publicly traded and FDIC-insured bank based in San Diego. In recent months, UFB Direct has become increasingly aggressive with high rates targeting big balances. The APY of 1.60% is an outstanding rate. However, there is one catch. You need to keep at least $5,000 in the account in order to avoid a monthly maintenance fee of $10.00. You will get a Visa debit card and have access to limited check writing. We think this is the best option for people with big balances that they want to keep in a money market account.


on UFB Direct’s secure website

Member FDIC

3. Top Rate: Capital One – 1.60% APY, $10,000 minimum balance to earn APY

360 Money Market from Capital OneYou may think of credit cards when you think of Capital One, but don’t overlook their deposit accounts. While they don’t require a minimum deposit amount to open the account, you will have to maintain a balance of $10,000 or more to earn their 1.60% APY. If your balance is less than that, you’ll earn an APY of 0.85%. They don’t impose any monthly fees, and while they don’t offer checks, they do provide you with an ATM card that you can use to withdraw up to $1,000 per day. You can make an unlimited amount of withdrawals from an ATM per month, but remember that you’re limited to making only six transfers per cycle due to Federal Law. However, Capital One will close the account if you go over six transfers three times within a 12-month period. This is an online-only account, so you can’t go to a branch to open or maintain the account. Fortunately, they make banking-on-the-go easy with their Mobile Banking app.


on Capital One’s secure website

Member FDIC

4. High Rate: Nationwide Bank – 1.55% APY, $10,000 minimum balance

Money Market Account from Nationwide BankWhen you think of Nationwide, you probably think about insurance. However, they offer more than just auto and home insurance. With $1,000 to open their money market account, you can automatically earn an APY (Annual Percentage Yield) of 1.15%. However, in order to earn their 1.55% APY, you’ll have to have a balance of $10,000 or more. They do charge a monthly maintenance fee of $8, but will waive the fee if you maintain a minimum of $1,000 daily. They do have check-writing capabilities as well as an ATM card. The first two ATM transaction made from a non-Nationwide Bank ATM is free per statement cycle, but they’ll charge $1.50 per additional ATM transaction made at a non-Nationwide Bank ATM. Transactions are limited to six per statement cycle and a $5 fee is charged per each additional transaction. They offer online banking and a mobile app that has a remote deposit feature to make your digital banking experience easier.

on Nationwide Bank’s secure website

5. Favorite Online Package: Ally – 0.90% APY, no minimum deposit, and link to free checking

Online Savings Account from Ally BankAlly Bank is a very popular internet-only bank. If you keep a daily balance of $5,000 or less, you will earn the 0.90% APY. If you’re able to keep a minimum daily balance of $25,000 the APY increases to 1.00%. Although the interest rate on the money market account is not the highest, Ally does offer a very competitive overall package – particularly if you link the account to an Ally checking account. The checking account has no minimum balance and no monthly fee. You can link your money market account to your checking account to provide overdraft protection. Money would be transferred to your checking account with no transaction fee if you ever made a mistake. You would be able to access your money market account with your Ally ATM card, which has free AllPoint access and up to $10 of non-Ally ATM fees reimbursed every month. This money market account is a nice way to provide yourself with overdraft protection while earning interest. If you don’t need check-writing capabilities on your savings, you would still be better off with Ally’s savings account.


on Ally Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

6. Highest Overall Rate: Bank7 – 1.80% APY, $5,000 minimum balance, checks and ATM access available

Bank7, established in 1901, originated in Oklahoma, but has been expanding its reach to Kansas, Texas, and now online. In addition to their original banking products, they have created accounts that specifically suit the needs of online consumers. One of those accounts is their High Rate Online Money Market. This account requires $5,000 to open and awards accountholders with a 1.80% APY. The account comes with check writing capabilities as well as the option to get a Visa debit card, which will provide you free access to Bank7 ATMs as well as to Allpoint Network ATMs. One downside to this account is that if the balance falls below $5,000, you’ll be hit with a $15 charge each month your balance falls below that amount. In addition to their online banking platform, they also have a mobile app.


on Bank7’s secure website

Member FDIC

7. Highest Overall Rate: EBSB Direct – 1.80% APY, $10,000 minimum balance, checks and ATM access available

EBSB Direct
East Boston Savings Bank, or EBSB Direct, is a fairly large bank located in Massachusetts. They have over $5 billion in assets and have only been around since 1991. Currently, they’re offering a 1.80% APY on their money market account. While you’ll only need $2,500 to open the account, you’ll have to have a minimum balance amount of $10,000 to earn the APY. If you have a balance between $10 and $10,000, you’ll earn an APY of 0.50%. While this account does come with Visa debit card and checks, they do charge a monthly maintenance fee of $8 if you’re not able to maintain a minimum daily balance amount of $2,500 during the statement cycle. You’ll be limited to six transfers per statement cycle per Regulation D and if you exceed that amount of transfer, EBSB Direct will charge $15 per additional transfer. While they offer online banking, they don’t currently have a mobile banking app.


on EBSB Direct’s secure website

8. High Rate: ableBanking – 1.70% APY, $250 minimum balance, but no check-writing

Money Market Savings from ableBankingableBanking is a division of Northeast Bancorp, a community bank headquartered in Maine since 1872. The bank has over $1 billion in assets, and your deposit would be FDIC insured up to the legal limit. At 1.70% APY, this is the highest money market rate that we have been able to find (from a bank) in the country. There is a minimum deposit of $250, no monthly fee and you do not need to be a resident of Maine (any US resident can open an account). Unfortunately, the account does not come with check-writing privileges and there is no ATM access. You can deposit and access your funds via ACH (electronic transfer), which can take a couple of days. Just remember: there is a limit of 6 withdrawals per calendar month. When we called to ask questions about the account, we could reach a customer service representative very quickly. This is a good option from a small bank with a great high rate.


on AbleBanking’s secure website

9. High Rate: BankPurely – 1.70% APY, $25,000 minimum balance, ATM access

BankPurely, a division of Flushing Bank, currently offers a 1.70% APY on their money market account. You’ll have to either deposit a minimum amount of $25,000 or grow your balance to that amount in order to earn interest. If you’re not able to deposit that amount, you may want to go with ableBanking since they have the same rate for a lower deposit amount. However, BankPurely does provide an ATM card, which gives you access to surcharge-free ATMs within the Allpoint Network. Just keep in mind that you’ll be limited to withdrawing $1,000 per business day. Per Federal law, you’ll also be restricted to making six transfers per month. You’ll have access to online banking as well as to their mobile banking app to manage your account. Plus, if you open an account with BankPurely, they’ll plant a tree.


on BankPurely’s secure website

Member FDIC

10. Top Choice: Sallie Mae – 1.65% APY, no minimum balance and checks available

Money Market from Sallie Mae BankIf you have student loan debt, you probably are not very excited to see Sallie Mae at the top of this list. However, many people are unaware that Sallie Mae also operates an internet-only FDIC-insured bank with some of the best interest rates in the country. You can earn 1.65% APY, compounded daily and paid monthly. There is no minimum balance and no monthly maintenance fees. You will have check-writing capabilities (although the standard money market limit of six per month applies to this account). The easiest (and best) way to fund and access your funds is via electronic transfer from your existing checking account. If you want a simple account with no fees and check access – this is a good bet. Sallie Mae has just recently increased the APY (it was previously 1.55%), making this one the best rates in the country.


on Sallie Mae Bank’s secure website

11. High Rate: Self-Help Credit Union – up to 1.44% APY, $500 minimum deposit and minimum balance

Money Market from Self-Help Credit UnionSelf-Help is a credit union that anyone can join. If you don’t live, work or worship in one of their eligible counties, you can join by donating $5 to the Center for Community Self-Help. The contribution is tax deductible and will make you eligible for credit union membership. (You can learn more about how to join the credit union here.) At a credit union, your funds are insured up to $250,000 – but it is by the NCUA instead of the FDIC. The money market offers an APY of 1.42% on balances from $500 to $500,000. Even better – you can earn 1.42% APY on balances above $500,000. However, you need to deposit at least $500 and the balance during the month cannot go below $500 – otherwise you will be charged a monthly maintenance fee. You are allowed 6 free withdrawals or transfers from the account each month (including checks).


on Self-Help Credit Union’s secure website

Special Mention: Great Rate for Small Deposits: Premier Members Credit Union – 4.00% APY up to $2k

Premier Members Credit Union

Premier Members Credit Union is open to anyone willing to make a $5 donation Impact on Education, a charity for the Boulder Valley School District. This credit union is currently offering an incredible rate of 4.00% with only $5 to open the account. You can earn this APY on balances up to $2,000. Amazingly, even if you grow the balance up to $5,000, you’ll earn 2.49% APY. As the balance increases, the APY decreases to the following:

  • $5,000.01-$10,000: 2.49%-1.62%
  • $10,000.01-$50,000: 1.62%-0.72%
  • $50,000.01-$100,000: 0.72%-0.56%
  • $100,000.01-$250,000: 0.56%-0.44%
  • $250,000.01+: 0.44%-0.30%

Premier Members Credit Union rewards low balance savers by placing the highest rate with the lowest deposit, but if the balance grows they start using a reverse tier system where they blend the APY as the balance grows. Checks are available with this account, but you can only make six withdrawals per month. Each additional withdrawal will be assessed a $10 fee.


on Premier Members Credit Union’s secure website

3 Questions To Ask Before Opening A Money Market Account

1. Should I open a savings account or a money market account?

Many years ago, money market accounts were higher risk and paid higher returns. The financial crisis of 2008 changed all of that. Money market accounts are now FDIC-insured up to the legal maximum ($250,000 per institution per individual). Interest rates are now very similar – and there is no material difference. In other words – choose whichever account you want.

In general, you tend to get slightly lower interest rates on money market accounts because you have check-writing capabilities. The best savings accounts pay at least 1.50% APY – very similar to the rates on this page. But at Ally, for example, you can get 1.35% APY on a savings account (no check-writing) and 0.90% on the money market account (with check writing).   

We have written a full explanation of the difference between money market and savings accounts here.

2. Am I willing to make a longer term commitment? 

Savings accounts and money market accounts pay much lower interest rates than CDs. Right now you can easily get a 1-year CD paying 1.85% APY (with only a $2,000 minimum). You can find the best CD rates here. If you build a CD ladder, you can take advantage of 5-year rates that are now as high as 3.00%.

Money market accounts are great places to keep money that you might need immediately. But the interest rate on a money market account can change right away, at the bank’s discretion. To lock in a higher interest rate, you should consider a CD. If you need to get access to your CD early, would forfeit interest (typically from 3-6 months). In most circumstances, putting more of your money into CDs can really help boost your returns.

3. Is a money market account the same as a money market fund? 

No, money market accounts (offered by FDIC-insured banks) are not the same as money market funds (most likely sold by your broker). In fact, we really don’t know why people even buy money market funds in the current environment.

For example, Vanguard offers the Prime Money Market Fund. Like other money market funds, this one “invests in short-term, high-quality securities.” Its objective is to keep the fund trading at $1 and generate a decent return. Right now that return is 1.00% – a bit lower than the returns you see from the money market accounts listed in this article. However, money market funds do not have FDIC insurance.

Most people compare the return of a money market fund (sold by their broker) to the interest rate paid by a traditional bank (0.03%, sold by their local bank teller). As a result, they are willing to take the risk of a money market fund. However, as you can see from the best money market accounts in this article, you can get FDIC insurance and beat the return of most funds. Why earn 1.00% with no FDIC-insurance when you can easily earn 1.60% and have FDIC insurance.

Advertiser Disclosure: The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace.

Nick Clements
Nick Clements |

Nick Clements is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Nick at


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College Students and Recent Grads

Understanding Student Loan Interest Rates

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.


Looking into student loans to pay for college or graduate school? Before you take on debt, it’s important to understand how the interest on student loans work, so you can make smart decisions before you borrow and when it comes time to repay the debt.

Understanding how student loan interest works

When you take out a student loan, the lender charges interest as a fee for borrowing the money. Interest on student loans isn’t a flat fee. Instead, interest on student loans is expressed as a percentage of the unpaid loan amount. Right now, federal direct unsubsidized loans for undergraduates carry a 4.45% annual interest rate (but they’re about to go up for the 2018-19 school year). That means the lender charges 4.45% of the unpaid loan balance per year.

When interest on a student loan goes unpaid, the balance of the loan grows over time. For example, during college many students “defer” student loan payments. In general, during deferment, the bank continues to charge interest, so the balance grows over time. A student who borrows $5,000 at a 4.45% interest rate at the start of his freshman year of college will owe $5,974 four years later when he starts making payments. Generally, any unpaid interest is added to the principal balance once the loan enters the repayment period.

Even though interest rates on student loans are expressed as an annualized interest rate (such as 4.45% per year), interest on federal student loans is determined by a daily interest rate. A 4.45% annual interest rate translates to a 0.0122% daily interest rate.

Once you start making standard monthly payments on the loan, the balance of the loan and dollar amount of interest being charged each day drops. For example, on a 10-year repayment plan, the $5,000 loan that grew to $5,974 loan from the previous example will have a $61.77 monthly payment.

After making the first payment, the balance will fall by $39.62 to $5,934 — the other $22.15 goes toward paying interest. By contrast, with the last payment, $61.27 goes toward balance reduction, and just $0.23 goes towards paying interest.

Many people have heard stories of student loan borrowers who have faithfully made regular payments for decades but have barely made a dent in their balance or owe more money today than when they graduated from college. This doesn’t happen when borrowers make payments based on standard repayment plans. However, it can happen when federal loan borrowers opt for income-driven repayment plans. Under these plans, the monthly payment is based on a person’s income, not on a repayment schedule. That means that the required monthly payment could be less than the amount of interest that the lender charges on the loan. In that case, the balance of the loan grows over time, and the amount of interest charged grows, too.

Variable vs. fixed interest rates

All federal student loans disbursed since July 1, 2006, have fixed interest rates, meaning the interest rate will never change. By contrast, some private lenders offer variable-rate loans. Variable-rate loans are loans where the interest rate may change over time. In general, variable interest rates are set based on an index rate such as the LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rates). When the LIBOR increases, the variable interest rate on a student loan increases. When it decreases, the interest rate on a student loan decreases. The interest rate on a variable-rate loan could change as often as once a month.

As the interest rate on a variable-rate loan changes, the minimum monthly payment changes, too. A higher interest rate will mean a higher monthly payment, and a lower interest rate will mean a lower monthly payment.

Some variable-rate loans will have maximum interest rates. That means, no matter how high the index rate goes, the lender will not charge more than the maximum rate.

The primary advantage of fixed-rate loans are that borrowers will know exactly how much they owe each month, which makes it easy to budget for. However, most private lenders set higher interest rates for fixed-rate student loans compared with variable-rate loans. That means that borrowers could end up paying more in interest over time.

The lower starting interest rates mean that some people may save money by opting for a variable-rate loan. But variable-rate student loans are riskier than fixed-rate loans. The changing interest rates could mean that borrowers have to make large monthly payments and pay more in interest over the life of a loan.

When should borrowers choose a fixed-rate student loan?

No wiggle room in budget: Fixed-rate student loans are an ideal choice if you don’t have a ton of wiggle room in your budget. You may pay a bit more — but you might not — and you don’t have to worry about your monthly payment increasing.

Long repayment periods: Fixed-rate loans also tend to make sense if your repayment plan will last several years. By contrast, variable rate loans are riskier when you face longer repayment periods. Longer repayments mean that you’ll face a higher risk that the rate will increase significantly from where you first took out the loan.

Small rate difference between fixed- and variable-rate loans: Variable-rate loans often have lower prices, but you get that lower price by taking on more risk. If the interest rate you’ll pay on a fixed-rate loan is just a tiny bit more than the interest rate on a variable-rate loan, the peace of mind is probably well worth the financial cost. Plus, if interest rates fall, you may be able to refinance to a lower, fixed rate in the future.

When should borrowers choose variable-rate student loans?

Expect rapid loan payoff: Borrowers who plan to aggressively pay back loans (and cut years off of standard repayment plans) can take advantage of lower interest rates in the early years of the loan. Even if interest rates rise over time, people who aggressively pay back loans in the early years will save enough in interest to compensate for the higher rate in the later years.

Rate difference between fixed- and variable-rate loans: Most of the time, variable-rate loans are less than 1% cheaper than fixed-rate loans. This offers some savings. But depending on your borrower qualifications (credit score, debt-to-income ratio, etc.), you may qualify for a much better variable-rate loan. If you personally qualify for a much lower rate on a variable rate loan (compared with a similar fixed-rate loan), you can expect to save a lot of cash over the life of a loan, even when student loan interest rates start to rise.

Federal student loan interest rates

Congress sets interest rates on federal student loans. Once you borrow the money, the interest rate on the loan will not change because federal student loans have fixed interest rates, but not all federal student loans have the same interest rates. For example, direct unsubsidized and subsidized loans for undergraduates carry a 4.45% interest rate for the 2017-18 school year. The same loan for graduate or professional students is 6%. PLUS loans, which are available for parents and graduate students, have a 7% interest rate. For federal student loans disbursed between July 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019, rates are as follows: 5% for undergraduate loans, 6.6% for graduate and professional unsubsidized loans and 7.6% for PLUS loans borrowed by parents or graduate and professional students.

How does interest work during deferment?

Many students defer payment on their student loans while they are studying or for select other reasons, such as unemployment or active-duty military service, if their loans offer such flexibility (some private loans and all federal loans do).

During deferment and the grace period following graduation, you will not make payments on your student loans, but interest continues to accrue on the loan. Interest that accrues during deferment is added to the balance of the loan, so your principal loan balance grows during deferment.

However, the U.S. Department of Education helps reduce the burden of interest by paying interest on subsidized loans while the borrower is enrolled in school at least halftime, during deferment and during the grace period that follows graduation. Subsidized loans include direct subsidized loans, federal Perkins loans and the subsidized portions of direct consolidation loans and FFEL consolidation loans.

It’s important to note that deferment is not the same as forbearance. Forbearance is a period of reduced or suspended payments a lender may grant to a borrower going through financial hardship. During forbearance, interest continues to accumulate and will capitalize (be added to the principal balance).

Current interest rates and fees on federal student loans

The table below shows the interest rates and fees on federal student loans for the 2018-19 school year. It’s important to note that some loans have a loan fee. These fees are a percentage of the principal balance, taken from the disbursement and paid to the bank. For example, a $5,000 loan will actually be a $4,946.70 disbursement to you (assuming the 1.066% loan fee).

Federal loan type

Borrower type

Interest rate

Loan fee

Does interest accrue during deferment?

Direct unsubsidized


4.45% (for loans disbursed between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018)

5% (for loans disbursed between July 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019)



Direct unsubsidized

Graduate or professional students

6% (2017-18)

6.60% (2018-19)



Direct subsidized


4.45% (2017-18)

5% (2018-19)



Direct consolidation

Past borrowers

Weighted average interest rate of all loans being consolidated, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of one percent.


Generally yes. The subsidized portions of the loan do not accrue interest during deferment.


Parents, graduate students and professional students

7% (2017-18)

7.6% (2018-19)



Private student loan interest rates

Private student loans can be a double-edged sword for students and their parents. The private student loan marketplace allows a greater level of borrowing, and some people find better interest rates in the private loan marketplace. However, private student loans generally do not offer the safeguards of federal student loans.

For example, many private loans don’t offer forbearance or deferment (except in-school deferment), and they may have very high student loan interest rates. Unlike federal student loans, most private student loans don’t have income-driven repayment plans, and the interest rates on private student loans aren’t set by legislation. Instead, interest rates on private loans are determined by a variety of factors:

  • Your credit score (or the score of a cosigner)
  • Your income (or the income of a cosigner)
  • Employment status
  • The length of repayment
  • Fixed- or variable-rate terms
  • Rates charged by other lenders

Many private lenders require a cosigner (someone who promises to make payments if you can’t) if you don’t have a high enough income or credit score to qualify for the loan.

Interest rates on private student loans have a much greater variety than federal student loans. For example, some student loan refinancing companies offer interest rates as low as 2.57%. However, some lenders charge interest rates that exceed credit card interest rates.

Borrowers who are considering private student loans should research the costs and have a plan to make the required monthly payment once they graduate.

Student loan interest rate vs. APR

When it comes to student loan borrowing, borrowers should understand both the interest rate and the APR (annualized percentage rate) on a loan. The Federal Truth in Lending Act requires lenders to disclose a loan’s APR. APR measures the annualized cost of all finance charges (including interest and transaction fees) if you make all your payments on time. By contrast, the interest rate on a loan is simply the annual cost of borrowing the money, and does not include other fees.

When you pay off student loans early, you will reduce the total interest you pay on the loan. However, finance charges (such as loan fees or origination fees) are not reduced by paying off the loan early.

Lowering your student loan rates

When it comes to any type of borrowing, paying less in interest means you’ll have more money to put elsewhere. Student loan borrowers should consider methods for reducing the interest rate on their loan, and methods to pay less interest overall. These are just a few options to consider.

Lowering your student loan interest rates

Fill out FAFSA: If you’re a traditional student (generally under 24 years old with limited work/life experience), federal student loans likely offer the lowest possible interest rates on student loans. To qualify for federal aid, you and your parents must fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). The FAFSA may also be required for merit-based aid at your university.

Get a cosigner: Borrowers in the private marketplace may find that a cosigner helps them qualify for a reduced rate. Its common for grandparents or parents to cosign private student loans, but cosigners must exercise caution. If a borrower can’t make their monthly payments, the cosigner has to step up and make the payments, otherwise both borrowers’ credit scores will suffer from the impact of missed payments.

Refinance: Following graduation, borrowers (especially those with high incomes or good credit scores) may be able to reduce their student loan interest rates by refinancing with private loans. However, borrowers must be careful when refinancing. Private lenders generally do not offer income-driven repayment plans or other safeguards that can help borrowers who experience unemployment, underemployment or low incomes. Plus, debts that are refinanced with private lenders will not qualify for federal student loan forgiveness programs.

Enroll in automatic payments: Many private lenders offer borrowers a rate discount when the borrower sets up automatic monthly payments.

Reducing total interest paid

Reducing interest rates aren’t the only way to free up cash. Borrowers may also use other methods to reduce the total amount of interest they put toward loans.

Borrow as little as possible: The less you borrow during school, the less interest that will accrue on the loans. Students may be able to minimize borrowing during school by working, applying for scholarships and grants, and using savings. This may sound obvious, but it’s important to point out, because the amount you’re approved to borrow may exceed what you need, resulting in unnecessary debt and, as a result, unnecessary interest payments. Budget carefully and borrow only what you need.

Pay more than the minimum: The more money you put toward your loans each month, the faster you’ll pay them off. Extra principal payments are especially helpful in the early life of the loan when a large portion of the standard payment goes to interest. When you put extra money toward your loan, be sure that the additional payment goes toward repaying the principal. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau offers guidance on how borrowers can make sure their lender processes their payments correctly.

Combine income-driven repayment with student loan forgiveness: A lot of times, income driven repayment plans reduce monthly payments only to have the loan balance grow over time. However, if you qualify for a student loan forgiveness program, the lower payment is a huge advantage. Not only will you reduce your cash outflow during the repayment phase, once you complete the requirements for loan forgiveness, you may qualify for forgiveness without any incurring tax penalties. (However, some loan forgiveness requires you to pay income taxes on the forgiven amount.) Different loan forgiveness programs have different requirements, so be sure you qualify before planning to use this strategy.

Pay interest during school: Many students are cash-strapped during their studies, but putting money toward interest may go a long way toward keeping loans at a manageable level. Making interest-only payments during college allows students to keep loans at a set level instead of allowing the lender charge interest on interest once the loan enters repayment and unpaid interest is capitalized (added to the principal loan balance).

Refinance to a shorter term: Borrowers who have sufficient cash flow can reduce their total interest payment by refinancing their loans to a shorter term. Sometimes a shorter term means a better interest rate. But, even without a lower rate, a faster repayment means that less money goes to interest overall. For example, a borrower with a $10,000 loan at 3.5% will pay $1,866.21 in interest over the life of a 10-year loan. If that borrower refinances to a five-year loan (also at 3.5%) the total interest is cut in half to just $915.03.

Advertiser Disclosure: The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace.

Hannah Rounds
Hannah Rounds |

Hannah Rounds is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Hannah here

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Synchrony Bank Review: CD, Savings Account, Money Market, and IRA Rates

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

synchrony bank review

Synchrony Bank is a relative newcomer to the banking scene, having opened up right around the same time as the World Wide Web was being developed in the late 1980s. Today, it’s one of the largest online-only banks around, offering a range of products including high-interest savings accounts, CDs, money market accounts, and IRAs.

Big banks can have notoriously high fees and low rates, so since Synchrony is a smaller, online bank, we put them to the test. In general, they offered very high rates on their savings and CD accounts, but their money market accounts are a little behind in the rate department. Read on to find out the specific details. This will help you decide whether or not this bank is right for you.

Synchrony Bank CD rates

You might need a higher-than-average minimum deposit for these CDs, but you’ll earn a very good interest rate.























As of 5/22/2018

  • Minimum opening deposit: $2,000
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $2,000
  • Early withdrawal penalty: For CDs of 12 months or less, you’ll pay 90 days’ worth of interest. For CDs of between 12 months up to 48 months, you’ll pay 180 days’ worth of interest. For CDs over 48 months, you’ll pay 365 days’ worth of interest.

You’ll need to come to the table with a fairly hefty minimum deposit of $2,000 to open a CD at Synchrony. But, once you have it, this bank offers a fair amount of flexibility in how you are paid your dividends. You can elect to roll them over in the CD account, or have them paid out to you directly in the form of a check or an electronic deposit into another Synchrony, or other external, bank account.

Once your CD completes its term, you also have a few options. Your CD will automatically roll over into another CD of the same term length, but you’ll get a 10-day grace period to make any changes. During this grace period, you can withdraw the cash, add more cash, and/or open up a new CD with a different term length.

How to open a CD account with Synchrony

You can easily open up a CD account with Synchrony Bank online. You’ll need to provide some basic identifying information, such as your Social Security number and date of birth (this is required of all banks in order to comply with the USA PATRIOT Act). You’ll also need to provide a government-issued ID, such as a driver’s license.


on Synchrony Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

How Synchrony Bank’s CD rates compare

While Synchrony doesn’t currently offer the highest rates, they’re still consistently among the top of the pack for the current highest CD rates. Specifically, their 12-month and 60-month CDs are among some of the best offerings out there right now.

The early-withdrawal penalties at Synchrony Bank are also right on par with many of their competitors. You can rest assured that you won’t be paying inordinately high fees should you need to withdraw your cash early.

Synchrony Bank savings account

Synchrony charges no fees and offers a very high interest rate to boot.


Minimum Balance Amount



As of 5/1/2018.

  • Minimum opening deposit: $0
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $0
  • ATM fee: None; however, the ATM’s owner may charge a separate surcharge fee in order to withdraw cash.
  • ATM fee refund: Synchrony will refund up to $5 per month in ATM surcharge fees.
  • Overdraft fee: None.

This is one of the most accessible high-interest savings accounts for people looking for low fees and low minimum balance requirements. While most banks charge an overdraft fee if you overdraw your account, Synchrony Bank does something different: They may not honor the withdrawal, meaning that you won’t incur an overdraft fee.

Watch out, though: you’re limited to six withdrawals and transfers per month as per Federal Regulation D (not including ATM withdrawals). If you go over that amount, Synchrony Bank reserves the right to close your account for you for “misuse.”

How to open a savings account with Synchrony

You can easily open up a savings account with Synchrony Bank online. You’ll need to provide some basic identifying information, such as your Social Security number and date of birth (this is required of all banks in order to comply with the USA PATRIOT Act). You’ll also need to provide a government-issued ID, such as a driver’s license. Finally, by signing up for an account, you authorize Synchrony to run your application through ChexSystems, which checks to see if you have any negative standings with other financial institutions.


on Synchrony Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

How Synchrony Bank’s savings account compares

Synchrony currently has one of the best online savings accounts. For people looking for a no-minimum-balance account, or those looking to grow a small savings account balance into a larger one, you can’t go wrong with this account.

Synchrony Bank money market account

Synchrony’s money market account doesn’t offer very high interest rates, but does give you the power to write checks.


Minimum Balance Amount



As of 5/1/2018.

  • Minimum opening deposit: $0
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $0
  • ATM fee: None; however, the ATM’s owner may charge a separate surcharge fee in order to withdraw cash.
  • ATM fee refund: Synchrony Bank will refund up to $5 per month in ATM surcharge fees.
  • Overdraft fee: None.

Money market accounts technically work a little differently than savings accounts. But for you, the consumer, Synchrony Bank’s money market and savings accounts essentially operate the same way. One big difference is that the money market account offers a lower interest rate than their savings account. One other important difference is that you can actually request and write checks using your money market account, whereas the savings account doesn’t come with this option.

Otherwise, you can still expect the same withdrawal limits dictated by Federal Regulation D. You’re stuck with six transactions (minus ATM withdrawals) per month, lest the bank close your account for “misuse.” You’ll also incur few, if any, fees with this account. Given that these two accounts are so similar, we recommend going with the regular savings account, because that one offers a truly exceptional interest rate with the same terms of this money market account.

How to get Synchrony Bank’s money market account

You can easily open up a money market account with Synchrony Bank online. You’ll need to provide some basic identifying information, such as your Social Security number and date of birth (this is required of all banks in order to comply with the USA PATRIOT Act). You’ll also need to provide a government-issued ID, such as a driver’s license.


on Synchrony Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

How Synchrony’s money market account compares

Synchrony Bank offers exceptional rates on their savings accounts and CDs. However, their money market account is a little underwhelming in the interest rate department. If you’re looking for the best money market account rates, you can easily find better accounts at other banks and credit unions.

However, Synchrony Bank still does stand out in the fee department. This account — like Synchrony’s savings account — comes with very little fees attached.

Synchrony Bank IRA rates

These IRA CDs are virtually identical to Synchrony’s regular CDs — and still, the fairly high minimum deposit requirements may exclude some savers.





















As of 5/22/2018.

  • Minimum opening deposit: $2,000
  • Minimum balance to earn APY: $2,000
  • Early withdrawal penalty: For CDs of 12 months or less, you’ll pay 90 days’ worth of interest. For CDs of between 12 months up to 48 months, you’ll pay 180 days’ worth of interest. For CDs over 48 months, you’ll pay 365 days’ worth of interest.

These IRA CDs work just like Synchrony Bank’s regular CDs, with one exception: they play by the rules of IRA accounts. That means you can open them up within a Roth or traditional IRA, complete with all of the rules governing these two accounts.

Just like Synchrony’s regular CDs, these IRA CDs come with some fairly high minimum deposit requirements. This will exclude some people who can’t come to the table with a full $2,000 — but for those folks, Synchrony Bank has another option: the IRA money market account (discussed below).

If you need to withdraw your money early (if you decide to move it to another company to invest in the stock market, for example), you’ll still face an early withdrawal penalty. However, if you are at the age where you need to take required minimum distributions from CD money held in a traditional IRA, Synchrony Bank will waive the early withdrawal penalty.

How to open an IRA CD with Synchrony

You can easily open up an IRA CD account with Synchrony Bank online. You’ll need to provide some basic identifying information, such as your Social Security number and date of birth (this is required of all banks in order to comply with the USA PATRIOT Act). You’ll also need to provide a government-issued ID, such as a driver’s license.


on Synchrony Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

How Synchrony Bank’s IRA CD rates compare

Synchrony’s IRA CDs are again very close to being the top IRA CD rates around. However, there are a few banks offering higher rates on IRA CDs, so if this is your preferred retirement savings option, it may pay to shop around.

Synchrony’s IRA money market account

This money market account — like Synchrony’s regular money market account — doesn’t offer very high rates.


Minimum Balance Amount



As of 5/1/2018.

  • Minimum opening deposit: $250
  • Monthly account maintenance fee: $0
  • ATM fee: None; however, the ATM’s owner may charge a separate surcharge fee in order to withdraw cash.
  • ATM fee refund: Synchrony Bank will refund up to $5 per month in ATM surcharge fees.
  • Overdraft fee: None.

If you need a bit more flexibility in your retirement savings or can’t afford the minimum deposit requirement of Synchrony’s IRA CDs, you might want to consider their IRA money market account.

You can deposit or withdraw cash at any time, however you’re still subject to Federal Regulation D that limits you to six transactions per month. Since this is an IRA account, you’ll also need to stick to the rules of whichever IRA you choose — Roth or traditional — lest you end up paying a tax penalty at the end of the year.

However, in return for this flexibility and low cash requirement to open an account, you’ll pay for it with lower interest rates. You can earn much higher rates on your retirement savings with Synchrony Bank’s IRA CDs, or even with an IRA savings or money market account at another bank entirely. In fact, many of the best money market accounts out there also offer you the ability to open them as an IRA.

How to open an IRA money market account with Synchrony

You can easily open up an IRA money market account with Synchrony Bank online. You’ll need to provide some basic identifying information, such as your Social Security number and date of birth (this is required of all banks in order to comply with the USA PATRIOT Act). You’ll also need to provide a government-issued ID, such as a driver’s license.


on Synchrony Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

Overall review of Synchrony’s banking products

We really like Synchrony Bank for their low-fee, high-yielding savings products, especially their savings account and CDs. These accounts are among the top contenders for highest interest rates available.

However, Synchrony’s money market account falls a bit short in the interest rate department. Once upon a time, money market accounts offered higher interest rates than savings accounts, but today that’s often not true — and Synchrony Bank is no exception.

On the whole, however, Synchrony is a great option for people looking for high interest rates on their savings — just skip their money market account.

Advertiser Disclosure: The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace.

Lindsay VanSomeren
Lindsay VanSomeren |

Lindsay VanSomeren is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Lindsay here


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Earning Interest

The Best CD Rates – May 2018

Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this articles are those of the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any lender or provider of the products listed.

The Best CD Rates

Updated May 22, 2018

If you are looking for a better yield on your savings, a high rate CD (certificate of deposit) offered by an online bank could be a good option. Internet-only banks offer much better interest rates than traditional banks. For example, a 12-month CD at Bank of America would require a $10,000 minimum deposit and would pay only 0.07%. At an online bank, you could earn 2.25% with no minimum deposit. (If you would rather get a savings account or money market with no time restriction, look at the best savings accounts or best money market accounts).

The Best CD Rates in May 2018

This list is updated monthly, and competition continues to intensify. Here are the accounts with some of the best CD rates:




Minimum Deposit Amount

1 year

Synchrony Bank



2 years

Colorado Federal Savings Bank



3 years

MainStreet Bank



5 years

American Bank



See a full list of the best CD rates below.

  • 3 months – 5 years: Synchrony Bank – 0.75% APY – 2.85% APY; $2,000 minimum deposit

Synchrony Bank
Synchrony used to be a part of GE, and now has an online bank that pays competitive rates. The online deposits are used to fund their store credit card portfolio – and the company is publicly traded. Your deposit will be insured up to the FDIC limit. In a rising rate environment, this is a great way to get a high interest rate without locking yourself into a long term.

  • 12-months: 2.25% APY
  • 24-months: 2.45% APY
  • 36-months: 2.55% APY
  • 60-months: 2.85% APY


on Synchrony Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

  • 1 year – 5 years: Barclays Bank – 2.20% – 2.80% APY, no minimum deposit

12 Month Online CD from Barclays Barclays is one of the oldest banks in the world. Although they’re based in London, they do have a U.S. presence and offer competitive rates on their CDs and savings account. Currently, they’re offering some of the highest CD rates in the market, and they have an edge over the rest of the institutions on this list: they don’t require a minimum balance to earn the APY or open an account. Deposit as little or as much as you’d like into a term of your choice and you can start earning interest as long as the account is funded within 14 days of opening the CD. Additionally, your funds are insured through the FDIC.

  • 1-year: 2.20% APY
  • 2-year: 2.30% APY
  • 3-year: 2.35% APY
  • 5-year: 2.80% APY


on Barclays’s secure website

Member FDIC

  • 6 months – 6 years: Goldman Sachs Bank USA – 0.60% APY – 2.85% APY; $500 minimum deposit

Goldman Sachs Bank USA
Our advertiser Marcus by Goldman Sachs is the online consumer bank of Goldman Sachs Bank USA (the large investment bank). Your funds are FDIC insured, and Goldman offers very competitive rates. Even better: there is only a $500 minimum deposit. So, if you don’t have enough money to meet the minimum deposit of the other banks on this list, or you are looking for another bank for your savings, GS is a good option. It also doesn’t hurt that they also offer some of the best CD rates in the market today. You can currently earn an outstanding 2.20% APY by only committing to a 12-month term. Here are their other rates:

  • 2-year: 2.30% APY
  • 3-year: 2.35% APY
  • 5-year: 2.80% APY
  • 6-year: 2.85% APY


on Goldman Sachs Bank USA’s secure website

Member FDIC

  • 3 months – 5 years: Ally Bank – 1.00% APY – 2.60% APY; $0 minimum deposit (higher APY with higher deposit)

Ally Bank
Ally is one of the largest internet-only banks in the country. Ally’s former advertising campaign made it very clear: no branches = higher rates. And Ally has consistently paid some of the highest rates in the country across savings accounts, money market accounts and CDs. For savers with fewer funds, Ally is unique. There is no minimum deposit to open a CD. However, if you have more money, you can earn a higher APY. If you have more than $25,000 to deposit, you can earn between 1.50% APY and 2.60% APY. And one of our favorite features of Ally: they often (although not always) offer preferential rates on renewal. Far too often banks give the biggest bonuses to new customers, but Ally has done a good job of rewarding its existing customers. All deposits at Ally are FDIC insured up to the legal limit.

  • 12-months: 2.10% APY (less than $5k); 2.15% APY ($5k minimum deposit) and 2.25% APY ($25k minimum deposit)
  • 18-months: 2.15% APY (less than $5k); 2.20% APY ($5k minimum deposit) and 2.30% APY ($25k minimum deposit)
  • 3-year: 2.40% APY (less than $5k); 2.45% APY ($5k minimum deposit) and 2.50% APY ($25k minimum deposit)
  • 5-year: 2.40% APY (less than $5k); 2.50% APY ($5k minimum deposit) and 2.60% APY ($25k minimum deposit)


on Ally Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

  • 12-Month CD: Capital One – 2.25% APY, No minimum deposit

12 Month 360 CD from Capital OneCapital One is famous for its credit card business. It is now getting aggressive with CD rates. There is no minimum deposit, which make these CDs comparable to Barclays’ CDs. Capital One CDs are FDIC insured, up to the federal maximum. And you get the comfort of depositing your money with a very large, publicly traded bank. Here are their other rates:

  • 18-month: 2.30% APY
  • 2-year: 2.35% APY
  • 3-year: 2.40% APY
  • 5-year: 2.80% APY


on Capital One’s secure website

Member FDIC

  • 1-Year CD from a Credit Union: PenFed Credit Union – 2.12% APY, $1,000 minimum deposit

12 Month Money Market Certificate from PenFed Credit UnionPenFed is a credit union that offers very competitive interest rates. You need to join the credit union in order to benefit from their products. If you have a military or government affiliation, it is free to join. Otherwise, you would need to join an organization like Voices for America’s Troops, which costs $17.00. Once you are a member, you can open PenFed products (including this certificate) online. Your deposit would be insured by the NCUA, which is the National Credit Union Administration. There is a $1,000 minimum deposit for the one-year certificate.


on PenFed Credit Union’s secure website

NCUA Insured

  • 2-Year CD: Colorado Federal Savings Bank – 2.51% APY, $5,000 minimum deposit

24 Month CD from Colorado Federal Savings Bank
Colorado Federal Savings Bank is new to our list this month. Despite having the state of Colorado in their name, this institution doesn’t have any branches and serves customers nationwide through their online banking platform. They’ve been around since 1990 and have over $1 billion in assets. Currently, they’re offering a 24 month CD for 2.51% APY with a minimum deposit amount of $5,000. While they’re an online-only bank, they don’t currently have a mobile app.


on Colorado Federal Savings Bank’s secure website


  • 2-Year CD from a Credit Union: Greenwood Credit Union – 2.80% APY, $1,000 minimum deposit

Greenwood Credit Union
Greenwood Credit Union is open to anyone and everyone. The only requirement to become a member with this credit union is to open their Share Savings Account with a minimum deposit amount of $5. You’ll also have to maintain that amount in the account to remain an active member. When you go to apply for membership, you can also add that you want to open their 24 month CD. You’ll need to deposit $1,000 in order to earn their outstanding 2.80% APY. This deposit will be in addition to the $5 to open the Share Savings Account. Accounts can be managed online or through their mobile app. Deposits made to Greenwood Credit Union are insured by the NCUA.


on Greenwood Credit Union’s secure website


  • 3-Year CD: Mainstreet Bank – 2.70% APY, $500 minimum deposit

3 Year CD from MainStreet Bank
Mainstreet Bank is located in Northwern Virginia and has a nationwide presence through their mobile and online banking platforms. Established in 2004, they currently have over $800 million in assets. With only a minimum of $500, you can open a 3 year CD with a 2.70% APY. All deposits made to MainStreet Bank are insured by the FDIC.


on MainStreet Bank’s secure website

  • 3-Year CD from a Credit Union: Latino Credit Union, 2.60% APY, $500 minimum deposit

Latino Credit Union
Latino Credit Union surprises us with their outstanding rate of 2.60% on a 3-year CD. As a bonus, the minimum amount to open the account is five times lower than Live Oak Bank’s deposit requirement. This credit union is open to anyone who is willing to donate $10 to join the Latino Community Development Center (LCDC). Deposits are NCUA insured.


on Latino Credit Union’s secure website

  • 5-Year CD: American Bank – 3.00% APY, $500 minimum deposit

60 Month CD from American BankAmerican Bank is a state-chartered bank headquartered in Allentown, PA. They have over $500 million in assets and have experienced steady growth year over year. They’re currently offering the most competitive rate on a 5-year CD provided by an online bank. All you need is $500 to deposit to open the account. They have an online banking platform as well as a mobile app.


on American Bank’s secure website

  • 5-Year CD from a Credit Union: Northwest Federal Credit Union – 3.05% APY, $1,000 minimum deposit

5 Year Share Certificate from Northwest Federal Credit UnionNorthwest Federal Credit Union was established in 1947 and has grown to obtain over $3 billion in assets. This credit union is open to anyone willing to join one of their Community Partner Organizations. They give you the opportunity to do so when you go to fill out your membership application. In addition to banking online, this credit union also has a mobile app.

Northwest Federal Credit Union offers incredible rates on their 5 year CDs. Their rates are as follows:

  • $1,000-$99,000: 3.05% APY
  • $100,000-$249,999: 3.10% APY
  • $250,000+: 3.15% APY


on Northwest Federal Credit Union’s secure website

3 Questions To Ask Before You Open A CD

1. Should I just open an online savings account instead?

With a CD, the saver and the bank make stronger commitments. The saver promises to keep the funds in the account for a specified period of time. In exchange, the bank guarantees the interest rate during the term of the CD. The longer the term, the higher the interest rate – and the higher the penalty for closing the CD early. With a savings account, there are few promises. You can empty the account without paying a penalty and the bank can change the interest rate at any time.

If you have a high level of confidence that you do not need to touch the money for a specified period of time, a CD is a much better deal. However, if you think you might need to use the money in the next couple of months, a savings account is a much better idea.

You can earn a lot more interest with a CD. Imagine you have $10,000 and know that you do not need to touch the money for two years. In a high-yield savings account earning 1.60%, you would earn $322.56 over two years. If you put that money into a 2.51% CD, you would earn $508.30. Given the ease of switching to an online CD, the extra interest income is easy money.

2. What term should I select?

The early withdrawal penalties on CDs can be significant. On a 1-year CD, 90 days is a typical penalty. And on 2 and 3 year CDs, a 6-month penalty is common. The impact of the penalty on your return can be significant. If you opened a one-year CD with a 2.20% APY and closed it after six months, you would forfeit half of the interest and earned only 1.11%. You would have been better off with a savings account paying 1.60%.

The worst case scenario is with the longest CDs. 5-year CDs usually have a one-year penalty for taking out funds early. If you open a 5-year CD and close it quickly, you could actually end up losing money.

Given the early penalties, you need complete confidence that you will not need to withdrawal the money early. Ask yourself this question: “do I have 90% confidence that I will not need access to the cash during the CD term?” If you don’t have confidence, go for a shorter term or a savings account.

3. Should I consider my local bank or credit union?

The interest rates shown in this article are all from online banks that offer products nationally. Our product database includes traditional banks, community banks and credit unions. If traditional banks offered better rates, they would have been featured in this article. The internet-only banks have dramatically better interest rates. That should not be surprising. Because internet-only banks do not have branches, they are able to pass along their cost savings to you in the form of higher interest rates.

However, you can always visit your local bank or credit union and ask them to beat the rates listed in this article. The chance of getting a better deal is extremely low (remember that Bank of America is only paying 0.07%), but you can try.

How To Find The Best Account

If you don’t find an account that meets your needs in this article, you can use the MagnifyMoney CD tool to find the best rate for your individual needs. Input your zip code, deposit amount and term. The tool will then provide you with CD options, from the highest APY to the lowest.

You can learn more about us and how we make money here.

Advertiser Disclosure: The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace.

Nick Clements
Nick Clements |

Nick Clements is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Nick at


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Survey: Nearly 40 Percent of Students with Loans Consider Dropping Out of College

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

What To Do if a Student Loan Refinancer Rejects You

Today’s college student bears the weight of trying to succeed academically as well as his growing debt from student loans.

According to a new survey, nearly 40% of current students with loans have considered dropping out to avoid racking up more student loan debt. And of the students who thought about leaving before earning their degree, over half were more than $20,000 in debt.

It’s no secret that student debt is causing many individuals to consider whether their degree is even worth the financial stress. An analysis by The Hechinger Report revealed that 3.9 million people with student loan debt dropped out of college during the 2015 and 2016 fiscal years alone.

For fall 2017, total undergraduate enrollment dropped by nearly 224,000 students from a year ago, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. The center said it’s the sixth consecutive year of total enrollment declines and does not cite reasons, but our survey found financial concerns seem to play a role in student enrollments and dropouts.

The survey was conducted via Google Consumer Surveys’ online student panel from April 23-May 7, 2018. It included responses from 3,069 college students. Approximately 2,000 of respondents had at least some student loan debt.

Key findings: Work, kids add to financial strain

In our survey, 39% of our respondents with student debt said they have considered stopping college before graduating so their financial situation wouldn’t get worse. For those students, balancing school with part-time work was also a major worry, with more than half citing the juggling act as a main reason they considered quitting.

Nearly 45% of those who contemplated dropping out said they worked 20 hours or more per week, with 20% saying they worked more than 40.

Still, 35% of the students in our study who had thought about leaving weren’t working at all, signifying that loan debt is still a major stress for those who don’t earn extra money while in college.

Concerns such as children and expected income seemed to play a large role in these anxieties as well: 30% of students listed balancing work and family as a main reason they had thought about quitting, while 26% said they considered quitting because they were worried about not making enough in their chosen career field.

Debt amounts hit $50,000 and up

In addition to the 52% of our in-debt respondents who owed $20,000 or more, nearly 25% were facing at least $50,000 in total loans. Additionally, almost 10% owed $100,000 or more.

Loan structure varies widely among these students. Based on our survey, 48% of our respondents said they had at least some private loans, while 52% were exclusively using federal aid.

No one-size-fits-all plan for paying off debt

There was no clear favorite strategy for paying off debt. While 39% of people said they would use an income-based plan to manage their loans, 25% said they would use a standard repayment plan. Still, another 26% weren’t yet sure how they would deal with the debt.

Despite the stress caused by student loans, most of our respondents were generally positive about their job prospects after school.

Nearly half said they thought they would make at least $20,000 extra per year as a result of their degree, with 34% of them saying they expected to earn at least $30,000 extra.

Tips for dealing with student debt

Student loans don’t have to be such a headache, though. With the proper planning and preparation, students can work around the overwhelming costs of loan debt and keep the stress of repayment at bay from their daily lives.

Jeremy Wine, supervisor of student loan counseling services for Take Charge America, a Phoenix-based nonprofit credit consulting agency, shared tips for approaching the repayment process.

    • Think ahead. As our survey shows, worrying about loans during college can be a major source of anxiety among students. Still, Wine said it’s best to set up a plan of action long before you put on your cap and gown. “Realize that it’s there and that it’s something you have to pay back,” he said. He added that a nonprofit loan counselor can help you lay out a set of repayment goals and a budget that fits your financial situation.
    • Look at repayment options. If you have federal student loans, there are a number of flexible repayment options available to you. Contact your loan servicer to enroll.
    • Don’t waste money. It may be tempting to use the loan funds on items such as a new computer or a car payment. Wine said it’s best to only use the money for tuition and fees, even if that means getting a part-time job to pay for the rest.
    • Consider consolidation carefully. Student loan consolidation or refinance involves paying off each of your loans with a new loan. Refinancing your debt can help lower your interest payments and make your loans easier to manage. Typically, you’d take out the new loan with a private lender. Just know that if you refinance federal student debt with a private loan, you’ll lose access to flexible repayment programs offered to federal borrowers. There is a consolidation program available for federal loans specifically, however, which is another option.


Advertiser Disclosure: The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace.

Dillon Thompson
Dillon Thompson |

Dillon Thompson is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Dillon here


Advertiser Disclosure

Small Business

18 Options for Small Business Loans in 2018

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any financial institution and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

Historically, business lending involved a massive time commitment, high costs and a high risk that a business wouldn’t get all the funding it needs. Online lenders have completely changed the business lending landscape, making it possible to get funding in as little as a few days in some cases. That being said, borrowing from one of these newer online lenders means working with a company you may not be familiar with, which may pose some challenges.

If you’re a small business owner looking for a loan, this guide can help you decide which type of loan best suits your needs. It will also help you compare some of the best lenders and small business loan marketplaces, so you can apply with confidence.

5 ways to use a business loan

Business financing tends to be more complex than consumer finance, so it pays to understand how business lending works.

Businesses typically look for financing during start-up or expansion phases, but businesses may need financing for more mundane reasons. These are a few common reasons businesses seek financing.

Starting a business: More than half of all start-ups use personal savings to start their business, but in many cases personal savings alone aren’t enough to pay for start-up costs. That means many companies need to consider taking out a start-up loan (or finding other means of finance). Antara Dutta, a volunteer mentor and former president of the Delaware chapter of SCORE (the nation’s largest network of volunteer expert business mentors), explained, “Start-up companies need enough money to cover at least twelve months of expenses. It usually takes at least twelve months to get to break even, and we usually say about 18 months to get to the point of earning a profit.”

Managing cash flow: Seasonal businesses may need to seek financing to pay for inventory and materials to complete a project or to stock a store. Other businesses experience a gap between when they pay their bills and when customers pay them. Business owners who cannot cover cash flow needs from personal or business savings may require financing. Invoice factoring or a line of credit may provide the right financing solution for businesses that need to pay bills.

Expanding operations: Businesses looking to expand often need a loan to cover certain costs. Although profitable businesses should consider using business savings, a loan can help a business achieve faster growth. Dutta recommended, “When you’re expanding operations you may be in a good position to refinance any existing debts. Combining debts can allow you to get better terms on all your debts.”

Refinance existing debt: A business that has debt may be able to refinance to cut back on interest or reduce monthly payments. This will strengthen their financial position, and allow for more growth, more profitability or better cash flow.

What to know before you borrow

When it comes to finding the right loan for your business, you’ll have to weigh multiple priorities to find the right loan for your business. These are a few areas business owners should consider when applying for a loan:

Know exactly how much you need to borrow: Whether you’re starting a new business or you’re expanding current operations, you need to explain how much money your business needs, how the business will use the proceeds and how the business will pay back the loan.

Understand the cost of capital: The cost of capital is how much it costs to borrow money. The most common measure for this is APR, although you may see other terms being used. Business owners may struggle to maintain profitability when the cost of capital is too high.

Ask about repayment terms: Unlike most consumer loans, business loans can have a variety of repayment schedules. You may have to make daily, weekly or monthly payments. Be sure you understand how the repayment schedule will affect your cash flow and ability to make timely payments during the repayment period.

Collateral requirements: Business loans may require you to put up certain assets as collateral against the loan. Collateral reduces the lender’s risk because the lender can automatically seize the collateral to recoup their losses. A bank’s collateral requirements aren’t limited to just business assets. Oftentimes, business owners have to use personal assets (like home equity) to guarantee the loan.

“Banks need to know that you’re going to pay them back,” Dutta told MagnifyMoney. “So they might need some collateral, especially for start-ups or high-risk businesses. A lot of times, you’ll have to take out a second mortgage to cover your collateral.”

How much funding you’ll receive: Most start-up companies (69%) who apply for a loan experience a financing shortfall, according to a 2017 small business survey by the Federal Reserve Board of New York. This means the business is approved for a smaller loan than what the company needed. When applying for a loan, it’s important to understand that you may struggle to get enough financing.

How long it will take to get the funds: According to one Harvard Business School working paper, time to funding for business loans ranged from an average of less than five days for short-term lines of credit to more than 45 days for SBA-guaranteed loans. Most online lenders focus on high speed lending, but business owners may have to make sacrifices in other areas (such as cost or repayment terms) to find fast underwriting.

Are pricing and terms transparent? Small business owners often have a tough time comparing prices and payback terms on products from nontraditional (online) lenders. To be sure you’re getting a fair deal, look for clear pricing and terms, including an estimated monthly payment, an APR calculation and whether you face prepayment penalties. If a lender has adopted the SMART Box pricing approach, you can find all this information in your schedule of fees.

18 options for online small business lenders

LendingTree is an online marketplace for business loans. It has one of the largest networks of lenders in the U.S. Business owners can submit one simple form for business financing, and LendingTree will match the owner with real offers from several lenders. This gives business owners the power to pick the best deal for their business.

  • Financing options include: Term loans, SBA loans, working capital loans, equipment financing, business lines of credit, accounts receivable financing and business credit cards.

*LendingTree is MagnifyMoney’s parent company.

National Funding
National Funding is a non-traditional lender that’s been in business since 1999. The company specializes in lending smaller dollar loans (less than $100,000) to businesses that are underserved by banks. National Funding often takes less than a day to underwrite loans. Loans from National Funding are fixed-interest loans, but the company offers discounts of up to 7% to customers that pay off their loans early.

  • Financing options: Short-term loans, equipment financing, merchant cash advances
  • Short-term loans:
    • Four to 24 months
    • daily or weekly payments
    • $5,000-$500,000
  • Equipment financing:
    • Two to five years
    • Monthly payments
    • Up to $150,000
  • Funding in under 24 hours

RapidAdvance is an alternative business lender that’s been issuing loans for more than a decade. The company has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, and most customers appreciate the company’s quick and thorough customer service. RapidAdvance helps business owners get funding fast, but its loans tend to carry very high-interest rates.

  • Financing options: Short-term loans, unsecured lines of credit
  • Must be in business two years, with at least $5,000 per month in revenue
  • $5,000-$1,000,000 (lines of credit up to $500,000)
  • Loan terms up to 18 months
  • Interest rates starting from 16% APR (fixed simple interest rates)
  • Funding in three days or less

OnDeck is an online business lender and a leader in transparent pricing. It is a member of the Innovative Lending Platform Association, which is an industry coalition that has adopted the SMART Box™ to increase transparency in pricing. OnDeck offers both term loans and lines of credit. Most OnDeck customers will have fair or better personal credit scores (above 600 FICO scores).

  • Financing options: Short-term loans, unsecured Business lines of credit
  • Short-term loans:
    • Three to 12 months
    • Fixed simple interest (you pay all the interest, even if you pay off the loan early)
    • Daily or weekly payments
  • Longer term loans
    • 15 to 36 months
    • Compounding interest rate (you pay less when you pay off the loan early)
    • Daily or weekly payments
  • Lines of credit:
    • Up to $100,000
    • Fixed weekly payments
    • Only pay interest on what you draw
  • Funding in under 24 hours

Started in 2010, Credibly (originally RetailCapital) is a small business lender with a focus on using technology and customer service to make business underwriting easier and better. Credibly focuses on short-term lending, and it differentiates itself by having reasonable interest rates (9.99%-36%*) on 18- and 24-month loans.

  • Financing options: Working capital loans and “business expansion loans” (short-term loans with weekly repayment options)
  • Working capital loans
    • Six to 17 months
    • $5,000-$250,000
    • Interest expressed as interest rates (not expressed as an APR*)
    • Daily repayments
  • Business expansion loans
    • 18 or 24 months
    • $5,000-$250,000
    • 9.99%-36% annualized interest rate.
    • Interest rates set as a factor fee. Paying off the loan early will not reduce interest payments.
    • Weekly repayments
  • Funding in 48 hours on average

Finance Factory
The Finance Factory is a one-stop shop for all things related to business financing. It is an online lending marketplace that matches small business lenders to small business borrowers. Because it is a network, it offers a huge range of business loan products including start-up loans, SBA loans, lines of credit, unsecured business loans and more. Some of the products have very low-interest rate loans (however, the underwriting times aren’t as fast as other lenders).

  • Financing options: Start-up funding, SBA loans, business express loans, revenue-based loans, equipment financing, franchise financing
  • Most loans range from $5,000-$500,000 (revenue-based advances from $10,000 to $1 million)
  • Interest rates vary by product from 0%+ on start-up loans, to 6%-8% SBA loans and other rates based on credit and business history
  • Up to 25 years
  • Funding time varies based on loan type. Some loans can be funded in less than 48 hours, but other loans, like SBA loans, may take a month or two.

Seek Capital
Seek Business Capital is a business lending broker that helps business owners navigate the complex business funding world. Seek Capital will use information that you provide to create a funding estimate which is a range of funding amounts, rates, and payback terms that a business owner can expect to procure. Business owners who are happy with the estimate can apply for loans, and Seek Capital will have the loans funded in one to three business weeks. Seek Capital does charge broker fees, so businesses should be careful to compare Seek’s offers and fees with other competitors.

  • Unsecured business loans
  • $5,000-$500,000
  • Same-day loan estimates, three weeks to funding

The Business Backer
Despite major innovations in the world of online business lending, The Business Backer believes that financing is still all about relationships. To help businesses qualify for better interest rates, The Business Backer gives business owners the opportunity to share the story of their business and the circumstances leading them to apply for a loan.

The Business Backer funds some of its own loans, but they also have a network of lending partners. The network means that borrowers can use a single application to apply for multiple types of financing.

  • Financing options include: SBA loans, business line of credit, long-term loans, short-term loans, equipment financing, commercial real estate loans, start-up loans
  • Start-up loans
    • Up to $150,000
    • 8%-20% APR
  • Short-term loans
    • Up to $200,000
    • 14%-51% Annualized Interest Rate
    • Four to 18 months
    • Daily, weekly or monthly payback
    • Fixed interest with early payment discounts available
  • Business line of credit
    • $5,000-$150,000
    • 1- to 3-year terms
    • 18%+ interest rate
  • Funding in as little as 48 hours (though this can vary by loan type)

LoanMe is a business lender that specializes in lending to businesses that don’t qualify for loans from banks, and businesses with urgent cash needs. Interest rates on loans from LoanMe are higher than those from traditional banks, but terms range from two to ten years. Also, unlike many other lenders, LoanMe uses traditional interest formulas. That means the faster you pay off the loan, the less interest you’ll pay.

  • Funding options: Term loans
  • $3,500-$75,000
  • Loans from 2 to 10 years with monthly repayments
  • Interest rates from 24%-149%
  • Same-day funding available

Elevation Capital
Elevation Capital is a lender that offers alternative loan products (especially unsecured short-term loans) to business with as little as three months of revenue history. Elevation’s unique underwriting style means that business owners with poor credit may be able to qualify for a loan.

  • Financing options: Not available
  • Payback terms: Not available
  • Interest Terms: Not available
  • Up to $500,000 in loans
  • Funding in as little as 24 hours.

Reliant Funding
Reliant Funding was founded in 2008, in the midst of the financial crisis. It boasts of over $1 billion in lending to small businesses, and an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. Reliant focuses on speed of funding, and underwrites using current business performance rather than personal or business credit history.

  • Term loans ranging from six to 18 months
  • Loans up to $250,000
  • Fixed simple interest rates- (you’ll pay the same amount of interest, no matter how quickly you pay off the loan)
  • Daily payment schedules
  • Same day loan approvals and funding

SmartBiz is an online marketplace for SBA-guaranteed loans. SBA-guaranteed loans are known for slow turnaround times (with an average of 45 days to funding), but SmartBiz streamlines the process. Their computer algorithm can help determine whether you’re SBA loan-eligible before you complete the complex application. Businesses that qualify can complete their application through the SmartBiz website and may receive funding within seven days of completing their loan application.

  • Funding options: Commercial real estate loans, SBA-guaranteed working capital loans
  • Commercial real estate loans
    • $500,000- $5 million
    • Terms up to 25 years
    • Interest rates ranging from 6.25%-8.5%
  • Debt refinance and working capital loans
    • $30,000 to $350,000
    • Terms up to 10 years
    • Interest rates ranging from 6.25%-8.5%
  • Funding as fast as seven days after application is complete (but it may take longer)

Funding Circle
Funding Circle is one of the nation’s first peer-to-peer (P2P) business lending companies. It specializes in low interest-rate term loans for established businesses. Applications for the loans can take as little as 10 minutes if you have all the required financial documentation ready. Funding Circle is a signatory of the Small Business Borrowers’ Bill of Rights which means that business owners can expect clear and transparent terms from Funding Circle.

  • Funding options: Term business loans
  • Loans from $25,000- $500,000
  • Terms ranging from six months to five years
  • Interest rates from 4.99%-26.99%
  • No prepayment penalties
  • Funding in five days or less

Fora Financial
If your business grosses at least $12,000 per month, and you need cash fast, Fora Financial could provide a viable loan solution for you. The company provides unsecured short-term loans with funding in as little as 72 hours. Business owners who are looking into these loans should read the fine print carefully. Fora offers partial discounts for early repayment. Early repayment discounts are not equivalent to the interest savings you would receive if you paid off a traditional loan early. This means that loans from Fora may be substantially more expensive than traditional loans if you pay the loan early.

  • Financing options: Unsecured short-term loans
  • $5,000-$500,000
  • Terms up to 15 months
  • Fixed simple interest with partial discounts for early repayment.
  • Funding in as little as 72 hours

LendingClub is a P2P lender that specializes in affordable term business loans for business owners that have fair credit (or better). Businesses must have been in business at least 12 months and have revenue in excess of $50,000 annually.

  • Financing options: unsecured term loans, secured term loans
  • Loans above $100,00 require a blanket lien on all business assets
  • Loans from $5,000-$300,000
  • Payback terms from one to five years
  • Interest rates ranging from 9.77% – 35.71%
  • Funding takes an average of 7 days

Headway Capital
Headway Capital is a lender that specializes in small business lines of credit with fixed simple interest rates. This means that Headway charges interest as soon as the funds are drawn, and businesses pay the funds back through weekly or monthly payments.

The Headway Line of Credit may be a good solution for businesses that cannot qualify for traditional credit lines, but need the flexibility that a line offers. To qualify for a Headway line of credit your business must have been operating for at least 12 months with at least $50,000 in annual revenue.

  • Financing options: Line of credit
  • Credit limits: Up to $50,000
  • Repayment periods: 12 to 24 months
  • Fixed simple interest (interest charged when you withdraw and does not compound over time).
  • Weekly or monthly repayments

BlueVine Capital
BlueVine Capital is a company that’s creating innovative working capital solutions for small businesses. They currently offer business lines of credit and invoice factoring options that allow businesses to only pay for financing when they need it. Business owners need a 600 credit score to qualify for a business line of credit and a 530 credit score to qualify for an invoice factoring option. Businesses also need at least $10,000 in monthly revenue to qualify for either option.

  • Financing options: Line of credit, invoice factoring
  • Line of credit
    • Weekly payments
    • $5,000-$5 million
    • Interest rates from 6.9%
  • Invoice factoring
    • $20,000- $5 million
    • Invoice due date must be less than 13 weeks
    • 85%-90% advance rates
  • Funding within 24 hours for first advance, and faster afterward

StreetShares is a newcomer in the P2P lending space. It specializes in moderate interest rates and fast lending. Military members and veterans are especially valued customers, and StreetShares makes sure to give veterans special treatment.

  • Financing options: Term loans, lines of credit, invoice factoring
  • Term loans
    • Three to 36 months
    • $2,000- $100,000 limits
    • Weekly repayments
    • No prepayment penalties
  • Line of Credit
    • $5,000- $100,000
    • Weekly repayments
    • Three to 36-month paybacks
    • No prepayment penalties
  • Invoice factoring (contract factoring)
    • Advance rates up to 90%
    • Monthly factor fees as low as 1%
  • Funding in as little as a few days

LEARN MORE: Types of small business loans

Small businesses operate in every industry, with revenues ranging from less than $100,000 per year to over $100 million per year. On top of that, business have varying levels of profitability and business credit quality. With such diverse business circumstances, it’s not surprising that there are dozens of business loan options.

These are the most common loans for businesses.

#1 Term loans aka short-term, unsecured, secured and equipment loans

Term loans are an umbrella category of business loans comprised of several different types of loans. In general, a term loan is repaid over a fixed period of time, usually by making even payments on a fixed schedule.

Here are the main types of term loans available to small business owners:

Short-term loans

What they are: Short-term business loans have payback periods ranging from three months to two years. Business owners make fixed payments on the loans until they are paid off.

How they work: After approving a loan, lenders deposit funds directly in a business’s bank account. Then, business owners make regular payments to pay off the loan.

General terms offered: Short-term loans often require daily or weekly payments. Many short-term loans have fixed simple interest rates. This means that you will pay the same amount of interest and fees whether you pay off the loan early or on time. The interest rates on short-term loans can be very high.

Most of the time, short-term loans are not secured by any collateral. However, there are important exceptions to this rule. For example, invoice financing (where invoices serve as collateral) can be set up as a short-term loan arrangement.

Speed: Online lenders specialize in short-term lending, and most can fund loans within 72 hours.

Who should use them: Business owners should be careful when taking out short-term loans. The daily payment schedules may make it difficult to maintain positive cash flow while the loan is being repaid. Short-term loans offer funding fast, but they aren’t a sustainable way to fund a business.

Unsecured term loans:

What they are: Unsecured term business loans are loans that are not backed by any underlying asset like your home. Unsecured business loans may require a personal guarantee, which is a promise to repay the loan regardless of business performance.

How they work: When funding on an unsecured term loan, a lender gives a business owner a lump sum of cash to be used for the business. The lender generally doesn’t restrict how the business uses the loan. In exchange for the upfront cash, the business commits to ongoing payments until the loan is repaid.

General terms offered: Unsecured business loans range from short-term loans (such as the loans explained above), to loans lasting up to several years. They may require business owners to make fixed daily, weekly or monthly payments. Except in the case of short-term loans, business owners will generally save money by paying off unsecured term loans early.

Speed: The time it takes to receive funds depends on the type of lender you work with. Online lenders offer funding in as little as three days, but larger lenders may take a week or more.

Who they are best for: Unsecured loans offer excellent protections for borrowers and are ideal to fund riskier ventures. If the business defaults on payments, the lender will have to go through proper collection channels before collecting any assets from the business owner. However, this protection comes at the cost of higher interest rates.

Secured term business loans

What they are: Secured term business loans are term loans that are directly secured by some collateral. That means if the business fails to pay its loan, the lender can immediately seize the underlying asset. Two in five (42%) business loans are secured by business assets (such as equipment, inventory, buildings or land), but an almost equal number (39%) are secured by personal assets, such as a personal vehicle, cash reserves or home equity, according to the Federal Reserve small business credit survey.

How they work: When business owners take on a secured loan, they receive an upfront sum of cash. The lender may limit how the business can use the cash (for example to purchase equipment). The business will make fixed monthly payments until the loan is paid off.

General terms offered: Most of the time, secured business loans have terms longer than two years. The interest rates on secured loans tend to be lower than rates on unsecured loans.

Speed: Like unsecured term loans, midterm loans tend to take several weeks to fund, but the time for funding will vary by lender.

Who should use them: Secured term loans are riskier for business owners since defaulting could lead to the loss of personal assets. However, they are a good choice for a stable business that has the cash flow to support the new loans.

Equipment loans

What they are: An equipment loan is a loan that’s backed by the equipment you purchase for the business. Business equipment would generally include heavy machinery, vehicles, computer servers, farm equipment and more.

How they work: In general, business owners put 10%-20% down on an equipment purchase, and finance the rest using the equipment loan. The business owner will make monthly payments on the loan (in most cases). If the business defaults on the loan, the lender may repossess the equipment and sell it to recoup its losses.

General terms offered: Down payment requirements generally range from 10% (on an SBA 504 loan) to 20% or more. Payback periods usually range from five to 10 years).

Speed: Business owners who complete an equipment loan application should expect to receive funding in under one week.

Who should use them: Businesses with good credit history are approved for equipment financing more than 90% of the time. If your company needs new equipment, an equipment loan is likely the best way to finance it.

#2 SBA-guaranteed business loans:

What they are: SBA-guaranteed business loans are loans that are partially guaranteed by the Small Business Administration. In most cases, the SBA will reimburse banks up to 85% of the loan value if a business owner defaults on the loan. The SBA limits the interest rate that can be charged on these loans, so SBA loans tend to have low-interest rates relative to other forms of business financing.

How they work: To qualify for an SBA loan, business owners must put up personal or business assets as collateral for the loan. In general, the collateral must cover at least 20%-25% of the loan value.

General terms offered: SBA loans are term loans with monthly payments. The interest rates on SBA loans vary by product, but SBA 7a loans (with terms less than seven years) have maximum interest rates ranging from 7%-9% depending on loan size.

Equipment and inventory loans have terms ranging from seven to ten years. Real estate loans may have terms up to 25 years.

Speed: Compared with other loans, SBA loans tend to have slow funding times. The fastest turnaround time is likely from SmartBiz, which claims it can fund loans as fast as seven days after the application is complete. However, the average time to funding for SBA loans tends to be much longer. Industry experts estimate that most SBA loans take at least a month to fund, and could be much longer.

Who should use them: With great interest rates and limited collateral requirements, an SBA loan makes a great choice for any business owner who has the time to wait for funding. These can be especially helpful for starting or expanding a business.

#3 Business lines of credit

Business lines of credit allow business owners to draw from a predetermined credit limit to meet business needs. After drawing down on the line of credit, business owners will make regular payments to pay it off. Business owners only pay for money they borrow, which makes lines of credit a cost-effective financing option for seasonal businesses.

These are a few lines of credit your business might consider:

Unsecured lines of credit

What they are: Unsecured lines of credit are business lines of credit that don’t require any specific form of collateral.

How they work: An unsecured line of credit allows business owners to draw on a line of credit to meet business needs. The business can continue to draw up to the credit limit. When the business repays the line, the credit limit is replenished.

General terms offered: Unsecured lines of credit have a drawdown period (where the business owner can draw from the credit limit). The drawdown period is usually a year long. After that, businesses must renew their line of credit or begin repayment. Generally, the business owner has to make minimum monthly payments during the drawdown period. The interest rates on unsecured lines of credit can be as low as 6.25%, but can be far higher.

Speed: Time to access funding will vary by lender. Large lenders may be able to approve your loan within a week and have funding to your business shortly thereafter.

Who should use them: Unsecured lines of credit are a low-cost, short-term financing solution for mature businesses. Business owners must have a plan to repay the credit line, or they may end up defaulting.

Asset-based lines of credit:

What they are: An asset-based line of credit is a line of credit that’s backed by an asset. The assets are usually outstanding invoices and equipment or real estate.

How they work: Some businesses have a long gap between when they produce work and when they receive payment for it. These businesses may need access to cash to bridge the gap between the time they spend money and when they receive payments. An asset-based line of credit allows businesses to draw on a line of credit that is secured by outstanding receivables and equipment. The business is free to draw on the line up to the credit limit. Once the business repays the loan, the credit limit is restored.

General terms offered: Most lenders will extend asset-based lines of credit for short terms (under a year). Having short terms on the line of credit gives the lender repeated opportunities to evaluate the strength of the line of credit. To qualify for an asset-based line of credit, you generally have to work in the B2B space, and have large receivables.

Speed: Establishing an asset-based line of credit generally takes a week or more.

Who should use them: Asset-based lines of credit are ideal for businesses with long collection cycles such as custom manufacturers and other businesses that sell on terms.

#4 CAPLines

What they are: CAPLines are SBA-guaranteed lines of credit designed to meet cyclical or short-term working capital needs. Businesses may need to show the expected costs of their projects or contracts to qualify for a CAPline.

How they work: Businesses apply for a CAPLine based on the projected costs of an expansion or larger product. When approved, a business can draw on the line up to the credit limit. When the business repays the credit line, the credit limit is restored.

General terms offered: Maturities on these lines of credit top out at 10 years. Currently CAPLines have interest rates ranging from 7%-9% APR.

Speed: Speed will vary by lender.

Who should use them: CAPLines are an appealing option for established businesses with short-term or seasonal borrowing needs.

Frequently asked questions

Lenders consider a variety of factors when underwriting business loans. More than nine in 10 start-ups (92%) rely on the owner’s personal credit score to obtain business financing, according to the Federal Reserve.

On top of business and personal credit, lenders also need to evaluate your business’s financial prospects during underwriting. Banks lean heavily on the information in your last two years of tax returns. “Banks need to see that you have revenue in excess of your expenses, or you’re not likely to be approved,” Dutta told MagnifyMoney. “Some business owners show losses year after year to minimize their taxes, but that means they won’t be able to get a loan when they need it.”

Start-up companies may need to submit a business plan and a detailed sales model to show how they will earn the revenues to pay back a loan. The plan will show the bank that you have a plan to fix problems should they arise.

The application process for business loans varies by lender.

Most online lenders have simple applications that take just minutes to complete. You’ll provide basic information about yourself and your company. On top of that, you’ll upload documentation to show the financial state of your company (for example, three months of bank statements or two years of tax returns).

Local banks, some of the biggest providers of loans to small business owners may have a more complicated lending process. It’s common for banks to require a detailed business plan with an application. Dutta recommended, “Before taking out a loan, you’ll want to get help from an industry-specific accountant who can help you make a business plan. Don’t be afraid to spend a little money if you’re taking on a big amount of debt. If you can’t afford [an industry-specific accountant], of course, get free help from SCORE. Just be sure to customize any templates you use to meet your needs.”

Following the 2008 financial crisis, small business lending took a dive, and it hasn’t fully recovered. Finding business funding remains a challenge for many business owners.

Small businesses tend to have the hardest time getting financing. In 2015, just 54% of businesses with less than $100,000 in annual revenue were approved for loans. By comparison, businesses earning between $1 million – $10 million in annual revenue saw an approval rate of 81%.

Approval rates for business funding also depend on your firm’s credit quality and where you apply. Firms with good credit (low credit risk) that applied at small banks were approved for business loans 78% of the time in 2016. Firms with medium or high credit risks had the best odds of being approved by an online lender. However, even with online lenders, just 45% of high-risk businesses managed to gain approval.

As of 2014, the average business owner who needed a loan, spent 33 hours looking for financing options, but the actual time to get a funding depends on the loan you’re considering. For example, SBA-guaranteed loans take up to several months to underwrite. On the other hand, online lenders in the business space can often underwrite and fund loans in a matter of days.

The cost of a loan varies based on the type of loan, the collateral required and who issued the loan. For example, loans from prominent online lender OnDeck had an average interest rate of 42.5% annualized, but borrowers often faced even worse interest rates when they took on financing from online lenders.

On the other hand, some forms of business financing can be very cost effective. Interest rates on most SBA loans are under 10% APR, and some lenders boast rates as low as 4.99% on fixed-term loans.

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Hannah Rounds
Hannah Rounds |

Hannah Rounds is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Hannah here


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  • Origination fee: Origination fees range from 1% to 5% and will be deducted from the final loan amount.
  • Prepayment fee: Prosper has no prepayment penalties for paying your loan off early.
  • Late payment fee:You will be assessed a late fee of $15 or 5% of your unpaid monthly amount — whichever is greater — if you have not paid in full within 15 days of your due date.
  • Other fees:Prosper charges a check processing fee — the lesser of $5 or 5% of your monthly payment — as well as an insufficient funds fee of $15 for each returned or failed payment.

Eligibility requirements

  • Minimum credit score: To qualify, borrowers must have a score of 640 or above.
  • Minimum credit history: Borrowers must have at least three open trades on their credit reports.
  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: A borrower’s DTI must be below 50%.

In addition, borrowers must:

  • Be 18 years of age
  • Have a bank account and a Social Security number
  • Have fewer than seven inquiries on their credit reports in the previous six months
  • Report an income greater than $0
  • Have not filed for bankruptcy in the last 12 months

Prosper is not available to borrowers in Iowa or West Virginia.

Applying for a personal loan from Prosper

To apply for a Prosper loan, start by filling out their online form to check your rates, which will trigger a soft pull on your credit — this does not impact your score.You’ll have to provide some personal information, including your physical address, birthdate, email, annual income, monthly housing cost and employment status.

You can also apply via phone.

Your loan offer is based on your Prosper Rating, a proprietary score assigned to you when you apply. This score indicates the level of risk you pose to lenders and is intended to create consistency in the evaluation and approval process. An AA rating indicates the lowest estimated annual loss (up to 1.99%), while an HR rating represents the highest (15% or more).

If you choose to accept the offer you receive, you can submit documents for verification via email to, or upload them within your Prosper account. The latter is recommended. Log in to check the status of your documents, application and the percentage of funding you’ve received. Once you accept an offer and request funding, Prosper will perform a hard inquiry on your credit.

Your loan will be listed for up to 14 days, during which investors commit funds, and Prosper completes the underwriting and verification process. The latter usually takes seven business days or less. If your loan is not funded after 14 days, your listing will be canceled and you’ll need to create a new one.

Once your loan application has been approved and your listing is funded, you can expect to see your money deposited in your bank account within 1-3 business days.

Pros and cons of a Prosper personal loan



  • Qualify with lower credit. Prosper will consider applicants with scores as low as 640, though the best rates are offered to those with excellent credit. Borrowers can receive funds in as little as one business day after loan approval
  • Check rates with a soft credit pull. Your credit won’t be affected when you check your interest rates with Prosper.
  • No prepayment penalties. Prosper offers longer terms of three and five years, but you won’t be penalized if you are able to pay your loan down early.
  • The origination fee. Prosper charges 1%-5% to originate your loan, so consider whether this added cost makes sense for you.
  • Potential to go unfunded.Investors have to commit to your loan within 14 days of listing. If this doesn’t happen, you will have to create a new listing, which means more time before you receive your funds.

Who’s the best fit for a Prosper personal loan

If you have average credit, Prosper may be a good fit for you. With a minimum score requirement of 640, you’ll have slightly more leeway than you would with lenders who have stricter standards. However, you’re more likely to qualify for a better rate with a higher score — Prosper’s APRs go up to 35.99%, which is higher than other lenders with similar credit requirements.

Prosper is also a good option for those who want to reduce their monthly payments and pay down their loans over a longer period of time. Terms are set at three or five years — and if your financial situation improves and you are able to pay more quickly, there are no penalties to do so.

Checking rates at Prosper doesn’t impact your credit, so there’s no harm in gathering this information and comparing it with other lenders.

Alternative personal loan options

Here are several alternatives to Prosper:

Lending Club

Lending Club


Credit Req.


Minimum Credit Score


36 or 60



1.00% - 6.00%


on Lending Club’s secure website

LendingClub is a great tool for borrowers that can offer competitive interest rates and approvals for people with credit scores in the mid-600s.... Read More

Like Prosper, LendingClub is a peer-to-peer lending platform funded by investors. The rates and terms are similar, and they won’t do a hard pull on your credit until after you’ve checked your rates and completed your application. LendingClub is a good alternative if you don’t meet Prosper’s minimum credit score requirement — they will consider borrowers with scores as low as 600. You will pay an origination fee, but there are no prepayment penalties. Expect to wait up to seven days to see your funds deposited.




Credit Req.


Minimum Credit Score


36 or 60



1.00% - 6.00%


on Upgrade’s secure website

Loans made through Upgrade feature APRs of 5.96%-35.97%. All loans have a 1% to 6% origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Lowest rates require Autopay. For example, a $10,000 loan with a 36 month term and a 17.97% APR (which includes a 5% origination fee) has a required monthly payment of $343.28. Upgrade is available in all states except: Connecticut, Colorado, Iowa, Massachusetts, Vermont, West Virginia.

Upgrade is an online lender that offers similar personal loan rates and terms to both Prosper and LendingClub. You can check your rates without impacting your credit — sign up for autopay and get a better rate. Upgrade is a good alternative if you need to borrow more or less than what Prosper offers, as loans are a minimum of $1,000 and a maximum of $50,000, or if you need your money more quickly. Upgrade claims most borrowers can expect to see their funds within four business days of approval.

Marcus by Goldman Sachs®

Marcus by Goldman Sachs®


Credit Req.


Minimum Credit Score


36 to 72



No origination fee


on Marcus By Goldman Sachs®’s secure website

Your loan terms are not guaranteed and are subject to our verification of your identity and credit information.... Read More

Consider Marcus by Goldman Sachs if you want a no-fee personal loan. This means no origination fee, no prepayment penalties, and no late fees — even if you miss a payment. Rates are slightly more favorable than those offered at Prosper and terms go up to 72 months, which gives you more flexibility to pay over time. However, you are more likely to be approved for a Marcus by Goldman Sachs loan and get the best rates with a credit score of 660 or above, so this alternative is best for those with higher credit.

Advertiser Disclosure: The card offers that appear on this site are from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all card companies or all card offers available in the marketplace.

Emily Long
Emily Long |

Emily Long is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Emily here


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