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Personal Loans for Students: What to Know and Where to Find Them

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Personal loans can be a boon for college students who need money for school, but aren’t able to get enough through grants, scholarships or traditional student loans. Most lenders won’t grant you a personal loan for tuition, but there are several noneducational expenses that you can pay for with that money.

But first, you’ll need to decide if a personal loan is the best way to fund those expenses for your situation. Here’s what you need to know about personal loans for college students, and how to find your best options.

Can I use a personal loan for school?

Typically, lenders won’t let you use a personal loan for college tuition. For example, lenders such as OneMain Financial do not grant loans for expenses directly related to college.

However, there are countless noneducational expenses where bank loans for students could come in handy. Here are a few ways you could use a personal loan for school.

  • Living expenses: You can use a personal loan to pay for living expenses while you’re in school, as long as those expenses aren’t directly tied to your education. This could still be helpful for college students who are unable to work full-time while taking classes.
  • Student debt: Yes, personal loans can be used to pay off existing student loans, but you’ll need to weigh the pros and cons. Federal student loans — especially those for undergraduates — can come with low, fixed interest rates, plus borrower protections like income-driven repayment.
  • Emergencies: College students can be short on cash, which is a problem if an emergency crops up. An unexpected car repair, for example, can put a dent in anyone’s wallet. But for those with tuition and other fees, it could be particularly detrimental. Personal loans can help there, but it’s also worth checking with your school first, as many offer other types of emergency aid.

7 options for personal loans for students

If you’re wondering how to take out a loan for college, you’re not alone. There are several kinds of lenders to consider, and sometimes, it can be daunting to compare them all.

That’s why we’ve highlighted seven options below — and provided the APR range and available loan amounts for each lender. It’s worth noting that we used a low credit score (below 640) when selecting these choices, as most college students haven’t had the chance to build their credit. When researching lenders, you should also take note of any fees they may charge, such as origination fees.


Avant touts serving 800,000 customers since its 2012 formation. It promises a quick loan decision and quick approval, with funding as soon as the next business day. There’s also an easy autopay feature and an Avant app to help you keep track of your loan. Plus, the lender has a minimum 580 credit score, and this can be a viable option for students who need a fast personal loan but only have OK credit.

Read our Avant review


LendingClub is a peer-to-peer loan marketplace and offers a fully online application process, making it a convenient option for students seeking a loan. As opposed to your typical personal loan, a peer-to-peer loan is funded by investors, so note that the time between you submitting an application and receiving funds could be longer (assuming you qualify).

Depending on your eligibility, you can compare potential loan rates by answering questions on how much you need to borrow, what you need the loan for and more. According to LendingClub, it does not have a minimum credit score requirement but instead considers each application independently based on a person’s financial situation. This could be a benefit for college students with unestablished credit.

Read our LendingClub review


LendingPoint promises instant approval for qualified borrowers, plus a fast application process. Additionally, there are no penalties for prepayment, which means you can repay your loan early if you’re able to save money over interest. That sort of flexibility could be ideal for college students — especially those who may be greatly improving their financial situation post-graduation.

Lastly, LendingPoint’s minimum credit score requirement is 585, which is impressively low for an unsecured loan — just expect a higher APR if your score is on the low end.

Read our LendingPoint review

OneMain Financial

OneMain Financial offers plenty of flexibility, with zero prepayment fees and no restrictions on making extra payments — that way, you can start paying your loan back early if you’re able. OneMain Financial also allows for direct payments from your bank account, meaning you don’t have to worry about remembering your monthly due date. This lender has no set credit minimum for its applicants but instead evaluates each case separately. Keep in mind, however, that you’ll need to visit a local branch to complete your application.

Read our OneMain Financial review


Peerform is another peer-to-peer lending platform that may be a good option for college students seeking a personal loan. That’s because your application will be reviewed by individual investors who can fund your loan. In addition, Peerform’s minimum credit requirement is also 600, which can be accessible for student borrowers.

Read our Peerform review


Upgrade’s lending process is easy and fast. The lender has a one-page online application, and promises to send your money within a day of approval. For college students with a minimum credit score of 620 and who need to cover a financial emergency, this could be a fast option.

Read our Upgrade review


Upstart claims that 99% of its applicants get their money within one business day of accepting their loan. Students looking to build their credit could benefit from the lender’s Financial Fitness Dashboard, which includes free credit monitoring. However, to qualify, you’ll need a minimum 600 credit score — that’s high compared to some of the other lenders found here.

Read our Upstart review

Can you find personal loans for students with no credit?

Getting a personal loan as a student with no credit is certainly possible. However, you can expect high APRs, possibly into the triple-digits, if you qualify at all.

That’s because lenders base your APR, in part, on how trustworthy you are as a borrower; the lower your credit score, the bigger the risk you appear to lenders. However, you can find a few lenders above who may be willing to work with you. You may also explore these options.

Alternative borrowing options for students

If a personal loan doesn’t seem like the right solution, don’t worry. You’ve got other options, some of which may be faster than waiting to get approved. Still, these alternatives may come with downsides too, so do your research before making a decision.

  • Credit card: If you need cash quickly, this could be an option even if you have bad credit. But credit cards can come with high interest rates that can make repayment an uphill battle. Granted, that rate may not be as high as you may find on a personal loan, depending on your credit.
  • Secured loan: A secured loan is backed by collateral, such as a car. This is much different than a personal loan, which is unsecured — meaning you don’t have to put anything down in order to get approved. Still, secured loans can be risky, as you could lose your collateral if you’re unable to make payments.
  • Personal line of credit: Somewhere between a personal loan and a credit card, this option allows you to withdraw money up to a certain maximum, or limit. The good news here is that you can take out money as you need it, as opposed to a loan where you get a single lump at once. However, you’ll still face interest rates, and possibly other fees as well.

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What Is a Wire Transfer?

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There are plenty of reasons you might need to send money from your bank account, and a wire transfer can be an easy way to get the job done. They’re speedy, convenient and can help you make large payments — such as putting a down payment on a home or helping a sick relative with medical expenses — on short notice.

What is a wire transfer?

A wire transfer is the process of sending money to someone, either domestically or internationally, from one bank or credit union to another through their secure systems. Those internal systems include services like SWIFT or Fedwire, but today, wire transfers can also be sent by alternative providers, such as Western Union, TransferWise and MoneyGram.

Completing a wire transfer is pretty straightforward, but there are some key pieces of info you need in order to send one:

  • Your recipient’s full name and address
  • Your recipient’s bank account number and bank routing number
  • The amount you want to wire

Some banks might also require a specific code to identify where you’re sending your money. The type of code you use — including SWIFT codes, BIC codes or IBAN codes — will vary depending on the bank and whether the money is being sent internationally.

Many banks and credit unions allow you to send wire transfers through your account online, while others require that you come in and fill out paperwork. Once all the documents are filled out, the bank will charge you a fee for the service (more on that below) and your money will be on its way.

How long does a wire transfer take?

How long it takes to complete a wire transfer depends on a few factors. Domestic wire transfers are typically sent the same day, but it also depends on how the recipient is receiving the money.

For example, if the recipient chooses to receive the funds at a Western Union location, they may be able to get the wire transfer in just a few hours. Meanwhile, a domestic bank-to-bank wire transfer can take one to two business days.

Sending an international transfer can take several days, depending on your bank and the receiving country’s processing system. To find out exactly how long an international wire transfer will take, check with your specific bank or credit union.

There are also some speed bumps worth watching out for — especially when it comes to international transfers.

  • Western Union’s rules state that funds may be delayed or services rendered unavailable based on the amount sent, the destination country, currency availability, identification requirements and differences in time zones, among other complications.
  • Chase’s Global Transfer stipulates that they process wire transfers through their own internal review process, and they may contact the sender to verify their request. That could delay the wire transfer.

As a result, an international wire transfer could take a few days to show up in the recipient’s account. It may not be an instant transfer, but it’s usually faster than mailing a check.

How much does a wire transfer cost?

The fee for sending a wire transfer varies based on the amount you’re sending, whether you’re using your bank or an alternative provider like Western Union and whether the transfer is domestic or international.

Domestic wire transfers cost $4 at Walmart, which uses the cash transfer service MoneyGram. At some banks and financial services companies, those fees can be a lot higher: Ally charges $20, while Wells Fargo charges $30.

International wire transfers are typically a lot more costly. Banks typically charge about 5% on the daily exchange rate in addition to hefty international money transfer fees, so a $10,000 transfer could cost you up to $500 in fees to your bank, plus other fees.

Some banks and credit unions do not charge a wire transfer fee to their account holders, but there might be stipulations. For example, Chase Global Transfer does not charge a wire fee if their account holder is sending an online wire of $5,000 or more to a bank outside the U.S. in foreign currency.

Keep in mind, too, that you can send a wire transfer through such services as Western Union or TransferWise using money from your credit card, but your credit card company considers wire transfers a cash advance and may charge you cash advance fees and higher interest rates. That’s in addition to the fees you will be charged from whichever service you use.

Are wire transfers safe?

Wire transfers are generally considered to be secure, but there is one major issue to keep in mind: Once you’ve sent the money, you can’t get it back.

Hopefully you’ve never fallen for the “You won a trip, now wire us a deposit to hold your spot!” scam and you’re always sending your wire transfer to someone you know and trust, but there are also more convincing wire transfer scams out there.

Fraudulent schemes include one where you’ve been told that you won a jackpot and need to secure your money, and another where Facebook scammers pose as your friends, messaging you that they’re in trouble and financial help. Always double-check in these situations.

Additionally, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has issued rules to protect consumers who send money electronically—typically over $15—to foreign countries. It won’t cover every situation, so you should still be careful who you are sending money to, but it does provide some protection.

For example, CFPB rules generally require that banks and wire transfer companies disclose the exchange rates and fees that are collected by the company—as well as information on when the funds will be available to the consumer—before you send your money.

If there are any problems, the rules also state that consumers have 30 minutes (and sometimes more) to cancel a transfer. The CFPB also requires companies to investigate if a consumer has a problem or claims that their money has not arrived.

Sending a wire transfer safely is all about staying vigilant and aware. Here are a few tips to keep your money safe from fraud:

  • Always know the person or business you’re sending money to.
  • If your friend messages you on social media that they are in trouble and need money, take caution. Ask them a question only they would know the answer to, or ask for some other proof of identification.
  • If you are purchasing a home and receive a phone call from a settlement company to send money in order to close, verify that information with your mortgage broker before sending a dime.
  • Do your due diligence: Make sure the items you purchase and the person you purchase them from are legit.

What are the alternatives to wire transfers?

If a wire transfer doesn’t seem like the best option for you, there are some other options available. Here are some of the alternatives to consider:

  • P2P payment apps: There are plenty of peer-to-peer (P2P) payment apps used widely by consumers today, including services such as PayPal and Zelle, or mobile apps such as Venmo and Cash App. These services come with their own potential fees, and may limit how much you can send — that being said, they’re convenient to use and even allow you to pay multiple parties at once.
  • ACH transfers: Automated Clearing House (ACH) transfers are often used for “direct deposit” payments, such as when you receive your paycheck electronically or pay your credit card bill online. These transfers are pretty similar to wire transfers, but with some different limitations: For example, you cannot use third-party services like TransferWise with ACH payments, and there often some restrictions on the amount you can send.
  • Joint bank accounts: If you’re regularly sending money to a family member or spouse, it may be worth opening a joint bank account together. That way, you can both withdraw and deposit from a shared source of funds.

So is a wire transfer is your best way of sending money? That depends on where the funds are going, how much you’re sending and how quickly you need it to get there. Above all, it’s important to know your options — and potential security risks — before sending money in any form.

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Everything You Need to Know About ChexSystems

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

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Most people know they have a credit score and credit report that lenders use to decide if and how you can borrow money. But did you know that banks and credit unions have their own method of determining if you’ll be a good customer? Enter ChexSystems, a reporting system that tracks all of your closed checking and savings accounts. Even though many consumers haven’t heard of the agency, its reports could have a massive effect on your ability to open a new bank account.

What is ChexSystems and what does it do?

The information that ChexSystems tracks is used to create your Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act (FACTA) report. Think of this as a banking-specific version of your credit report.

When you apply for a new checking account or savings account, the financial institution will often run your ChexSystems report to see if you have any negative marks. These can include overdrawn accounts, negative balances, closed accounts and more, all of which typically stay on your report for five years. Basically, banks check these reports to assess how much of a risk they’re taking by doing business with you.

“[Banks] want to know that if someone’s going to open an account with them that they’ll keep the account in good standing,” said Alexandra Cisneros, an education specialist at GreenPath Financial Wellness.

There are a few ways that ChexSystems helps banks do that. First, there’s your “risk score” — also known as your consumer score — that the agency calculates based on your prior credit behavior. Scores range from 100 to 899, and just like with your credit score, a higher number means you present a lower risk.

ChexSystems also generates a Consumer Disclosure report, which shows specific details about your credit history. The report might list past issues, such as unpaid account fees, overdrafts, bounced checks or even suspected fraud.

How many banks use ChexSystems?

Around 80% of all banks use ChexSystems, according to Cisneros said that nearly every major bank and credit union she has encountered does look at the agency’s reports, but there are some options in case you end up with negative marks or a low score.

Many banks offer “second chance” accounts, which specifically help people with less-than-perfect financial histories. These bank accounts might come with limitations or extra fees, but they can be a great workaround if you’ve received a poor ChexSystems report. Read on for more information on this option.

Why do I have a ChexSystems report?

There are plenty of reasons you may have a ChexSystems report, some of which might come from issues completely beyond your knowledge.

“The way people usually come to realize that they are having an experience with ChexSystems is when they apply for a checking account and find that they have a file,” Cisneros said.

Overdrafting is the most common occurrence that Cisneros sees, but there are plenty of other problems that might pop up. Here are the most common examples, which are broken down in detail below.

1. Not paying account fees

When you overdraw your account, your bank will usually charge you a fee. Overdraft fees can be as high as $35 at some banks, but as of March 2017, the national median was $30, according to research firm Moebs Services.

Even if you’re only overdrawn for one day, you can end up owing significantly more than that if you continue to spend money before you realize the account is overdrawn. It can be difficult to repay these fees, especially if you can’t afford to bring your account current.

However, if you end up closing the account with a negative balance or if the bank decides to close the account for you, ChexSystems will list this on your report. This is one of the most common reasons that a bank or credit union will deny your application, since your report reflects that you might struggle to pay your debts.

If you do get a fee on your account, call your bank as soon as possible. Sometimes the bank will waive (or reduce) fees for good customers. At the very least, ignoring the problem won’t make it go away and can cause you to get a negative mark on your ChexSystems report. Usually banks will give you a deadline to pay your fees before closing your account and reporting it to ChexSystems.

2. Overdrafting on your account

Even if you pay your overdraft fees when you go over your account balance, you can still be denied a new account if ChexSystems shows that you overdraw too often.

Here are some safeguards that you can set up to prevent overdrafts:

  • Keep all of your money in one account that you use solely for daily transactions.
  • Allow your bank to decline purchases if you don’t have enough available funds (which may mean declining to enroll in overdraft protection).
  • Use caution when opting for overdraft protection. With this service, banks will allow transactions to go through even if you have insufficient funds, but they will almost always hit you with overdraft fees at the same time.
  • Avoid using checks, which may be cashed at a later date.
  • Set up bank alerts so you’re notified if your balance dips below a certain amount.

3. Writing bounced checks

A bounced check is when you write a check for an amount that you don’t currently have in your account. When the recipient tries to deposit the check, the bank will reject it and charge you a fee for insufficient funds.

If you have any bounced checks that have been reported by retailers, it will show up in your ChexSystems report, which could cause you to be denied for a new account. Bouncing checks makes it seem like you’re not on top of your finances, especially if it continues to happen over a long period of time.

4. Committing fraud

It’s one thing to write a check for $100 and assume you have $100 in your bank account, only to have that check bounce. But it’s quite another to write a check knowing that you don’t have the funds in your account.

That constitutes fraud, and it’s a serious offense that can result in criminal action. Other types of fraud include opening an account with someone else’s information, and trying to write a check to yourself from another person’s account. Instances of fraud will show up on your ChexSystems report.

How long do ChexSystems reports last?

ChexSystems keeps records for five years, meaning you’ll have to wait that long for any negative marks to come off your report. However, if you find incorrect information, you can dispute it and ask for it to be removed.

You can also freeze your ChexSystems report. Like a credit report freeze, you can freeze your ChexSystems report so no bank or credit union can view it. This could block someone from stealing your identity and opening a new account in your name. However, it can also make it more difficult for you to open a new checking or savings account.

How can you clean up your ChexSystems report?

The first step to cleaning up your ChexSystems report is to take a look at what’s in it. According to Cisneros, this “investigation” phase is often the hardest step for consumers, but it can make all the difference in clearing your record.

“Know your options and what will happen — being aware of that can be the most empowering thing,” Cisneros said.

Getting your ChexSystems report

To get your free ChexSystems report, go to and click on “Free FACTA Report.” As with a credit report, you’re legally entitled to one free copy of your report every 12 months.

However, unlike with your credit report, which you can access online after answering a series of questions, you have to wait for your ChexSystems report to be sent to you by mail. You should receive the report within five business days after submitting your application.

Submitting a dispute

From there, you can dispute any errors or mistakes you might see on your report. To do that, you can submit a form via this website, by fax at 602-659-2197 or by mail at the following address:

ChexSystems Inc.
Attn: Consumer Relations
7805 Hudson Road, Suite 100
Woodbury, MN 55125

ChexSystems recommends that you include the following information when you submit your dispute:

  • Full name
  • Social Security number
  • Current mailing address
  • ChexSystems consumer ID number, if available
  • The information you are disputing, as well as any information regarding the nature of your dispute

It usually takes 30 days for the investigation to be finalized, and the results will be mailed to you.

What are the alternatives to a checking account?

Thankfully, consumers with negative ChexSystems reports do have a few alternatives at their disposal. If you’re having trouble opening a checking account, here are two of the easiest workarounds.

Second chance bank accounts

Again, second chance bank accounts offer you the chance to open a bank account despite having an imperfect financial record — albeit with a few limitations and possible fees. There are plenty of great options available, many of which also offer you a road to a standard, fully equipped account.

For example, Radius Bank, which is available to consumers nationwide, offers an easy-to-open second chance account that comes with a free debit card, 24/7 banking access and the ability to upgrade to a more premium account after 12 months of good credit history. There are a few fees to watch out for, though.

Another option is the app Chime, which offers bank accounts without checking applicants on ChexSystems. As an added perk, the account is mostly fee-free, with no monthly charges, ACH transfer fees, foreign transaction fees or ATM fees.

Additionally, other major banks like Wells Fargo and BBVA Compass also have options for people with less-than-ideal ChexSystems reports.

For more info on second chance accounts, here’s our list of some of the best options available. If you already have a bank in mind, call them and ask what information they use to verify new accounts. Not all banks use ChexSystems; some use other systems like Early Warning System or Telecheck.

Prepaid debit cards

A prepaid card works like a gift card. You load it with money and then use it wherever cards are accepted. You can send money with your prepaid card, pay bills online and set up direct deposit. In many ways, it acts like a debit card that you’d get with a checking account.

There are plenty of options when it comes to prepaid cards, with many major financial institutions offering their own deals. For example, the American Express Bluebird card allows customers to add between $1 and $1,999, with accounts that cost as little as nothing to open. Meanwhile, the Navy Federal Credit Union’s GO Prepaid Card doesn’t charge any fees for use or activation, but it does require that you deposit at least $20 in order to open an account.

However, there are downsides to these cards, mostly fees. Some prepaid cards charge a fee for buying the card, while others have a monthly fee. They can also charge every time you withdraw money or reload the card. If you use the card often, you can face high fees every month that cut into your ability to save money and improve your finances. In our review of the AccountNow Gold Visa Prepaid Debit Card, for example, we found that consumers could spend more than $100 in fees per year just to maintain the card.

Still, a prepaid debit card is one alternative to consider if you have a negative ChexSystems report. And if your report is stopping you from opening a new checking or savings account, remember that there are also steps you can take to clean up your ChexSystems report.

The information in this article is accurate as of the date of publishing.