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The Top 7 Second Chance Bank Accounts

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It has not been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

Some banks don’t like giving second chances to customers who have less-than-stellar financial histories, especially since it could expose them to expensive risks. A record of bounced checks or debit card overdrafts could easily lock you out of the conveniences of modern banking.

Fortunately, banks also like making money, and some offer special “second chance” accounts that minimize their risk while allowing consumers to stay in the banking system. A second chance bank account gives customers with troubled records a fresh opportunity to demonstrate they can bank responsibly.

When it comes to a second chance account, fees are an unfortunate reality. But some accounts offer customers a better deal than others, and we’ve researched our database to find the second chance accounts with the most reasonable fee structures, while also factoring in whether they provide online and mobile banking, and how accessible accounts are throughout the country.

Account Name

Monthly Fee

Minimum to open

Availability

Chime$0$0Nationwide
Peoples Bank Cash Solutions Second Chance Checking$4.95 $30Nationwide
GoBank Checking Account$8.95, can be waived if you meet requirements$20Nationwide
Radius Essential Checking$0$10Nationwide
Wells Fargo Opportunity Checking and Savings Accounts$10, can be waived if you meet requirements$25Nationwide
BBVA Easy Checking$13.95$25Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico and Texas
Woodforest National Bank Second Chance Checking$9.95 monthly maintenance fee if you use a direct deposit; $11.95 without a direct deposit$25Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia

Second chance account basics

With a second chance bank account, customers shut out of traditional bank accounts get the opportunity to win their way back into a bank’s good graces. Similar to credit bureaus, financial services company ChexSystems maintains records of consumers’ banking histories. Bounced checks, overdrawn accounts or instances of fraud can all end up on your ChexSystems record; if you accumulate enough black marks on ChexSystems, banks could deny your application to open a new account.

Because second chance accounts are meant for customers who have demonstrated bad banking behavior, some lack features of traditional accounts, such as overdraft protection. In the eyes of the bank, you represent too much of a risk for them to extend you such courtesies.

Nobody likes paying fees, and we generally advise consumers to avoid needless banking fees due to the many fee-free banking options available. But fees are the price you pay for access to banking when you have a poor record. Plus, the second chance accounts listed below give you access to online and mobile banking, which is always a plus.

The 7 best second chance bank accounts

1. Chime

Chime

Fintech app developer Chime is not a bank, however their online checking account product is open to everybody no matter how bad your record is with ChexSystems. Chime does not check on applicants with ChexSystems, plus they offer lots of non-traditional features to help you get your financial life back on track. Best of all is the fact that they charge no fees at all, and require neither a minimum opening deposit or a minimum balance.

Chime account features:

  • No opening balance or minimum balance requirements.
  • Set up direct deposit for your paycheck, and the funds from each pay period will be deposited as soon as the transaction is initiated, giving you access to your pay up to two days earlier than conventional checking accounts.
  • Automatic savings features to help you save in your connected Chime Savings account.
  • The app sends you daily bank account balance notifications, and sends transaction alerts every time you use your debit card.
  • You can disable the debit card from the app.

Fees to watch out for:

  • Chime’s service is almost entirely fee-free: No monthly charges, no ACH transfer fees, no foreign transaction fees, and no ATM fees if you withdraw funds from MoneyPass ATMs.
  • If you make an ATM withdrawal outside of these networks, there is a $2.50 fee.
  • Overdrafts are not permitted, so there is never an overdraft fee.

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Chime’s secure website

Member FDIC

2. Peoples Bank Cash Solutions Second Chance Checking

Peoples Bank Cash Solutions

This Texas-based bank offers a second chance bank account that is available nationwide, and so long as you don’t have a record of bank or checking fraud on your record, you should be approved for this account. You’ll need to deposit at least $30 before the bank activates your account and provides you with checks and a debit card.

Fees to watch out for:

  • $4.95 monthly maintenance fee
  • $27.50 overdraft fee
  • $27.50 nonsufficient funds fee
  • $3.95 printed statement fee (which can be avoided with electronic statements)
  • $2.00 ATM withdrawal fee at machines not owned by Peoples Bank
  • $25 stop payment fee
  • $20 account closure fee (if within 90 days of opening account)

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Peoples Bank Cash Solutions’s secure website

Member FDIC

3. GoBank Checking Account

GoBank

A brand of Green Dot Bank, GoBank does not run a background check for new checking customers on ChexSystems, and it does not require a credit check. The account comes with a free debit card and fee-free access to a large network of ATMs, although be warned that out-of-network ATM withdrawals carry a $3 fee, on top of whatever the ATM operator charges. GoBank’s $8.95 monthly fee is high. However, this fee can be avoided with a monthly $500 direct deposit.

Account Features:

  • A free debit card
  • 24/7 mobile and online banking
  • Simple budgeting and spending tracker tools
  • Mobile check deposits

Fees to watch out for:

  • $2.95 sign-up fee, waived if you set up your account online
  • $8.95 monthly maintenance fee, waived each month your account receives payroll or government direct deposits totaling at least $500
  • Fees of up to $4.95 charged by retailers to make cash deposits
  • $3 out-of-network ATM withdrawal fee
  • $5 card replacement fee
  • Foreign transaction fee is 3% total transaction

SEE DETAILS Secured

on GoBank’s secure website

Member FDIC

4. Radius Essential Checking

Radius Bank

Products from online bank Radius are available to customers nationwide, and accessibility is a strong point in its favor. This second chance bank account only requires customers to deposit $10 to open an Essential Checking account, which is lower than some other accounts on this list.

Account Features:

  • A free debit card
  • 24/7 mobile and online banking
  • Access to Radius’s budgeting and personal finance tracking apps
  • Eligibility to upgrade to Radius’s Reward Checking account after 12 months of positive banking history

Fees to watch out for:

  • $9 monthly maintenance fee
  • $25 per item non-sufficient funds fee (waived on all overdraft items $5 or less)
  • $5 daily overdraft fee

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Radius Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

5. Wells Fargo Opportunity Checking and Savings Accounts

Wells Fargo Bank

Wells Fargo’s Opportunity Checking and Savings Accounts are tailor-made for folks with a lackluster credit or banking history. With a $25 opening deposit, you’ll get access to a second chance bank account that offers most of the bells and whistles of a traditional bank account. The account does come with a monthly fee, although it’s possible to waive it if you meet a few requirements (see below).

Account features:

  • $25 minimum deposit to open
  • Free transfers are available between Opportunity Checking and Savings accounts
  • You can choose to opt into overdraft protection
  • Free access to bill pay
  • “My Spending Report with Budget Watch” is available if you want to pay extra attention to where your money is going
  • Free debit card with access to more than 13,000 Wells Fargo ATMs throughout the country

Fees to watch out for:

  • $10 monthly service fee, waived if any of the following are true:
    • You make 10 posted debit card purchases or payments
    • You keep a minimum daily balance of $1,500 in the account
    • You receive $500 total in direct deposits each statement cycle
  • $35 overdraft and returned item fee
  • $12.50 overdraft protection transfer fee
  • $15 fee for excess activity (exceeding withdrawals from your savings account)
  • 3% foreign transaction fee with your debit card
  • $5 for money orders
  • $31 for stop payments

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Wells Fargo Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

6. BBVA Easy Checking

BBVA
BBVA’s Easy Checking product is available as a second chance account to customers in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico and Texas. There is a $13.95 monthly service charge to maintain the account. You can request that BBVA upgrade your account one of their regular checking products after 12 months — and ditch that high monthly fee — so long as the Easy Checking account remains active and has a positive balance.

BBVA Easy Checking features::

  • Online and mobile banking, customized alerts, and a free debit card (with option to personalize)
  • $25 minimum deposit to open
  • Free BBVA ATM withdrawals

Fees to watch out for:

  • $3 fee for out-of-network ATM withdrawals
  • $38 insufficient funds fee ($32 in California)
  • $15 deposit item returned fee
  • $32 stop payment fee made over the phone or in person ($30 in California); $25 if made online

SEE DETAILS Secured

on BBVA’s secure website

Member FDIC

7. Woodforest National Bank Second Chance Checking

Woodforest National Bank

This regional bank has a checking account aptly named Second Chance Checking, to help people rejected by other banks access — provided they live in one of the 17 states where a physical branch exists and can meet the $25 minimum opening deposit requirement. Those states are: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Fees to watch out for:

  • $9.95 monthly maintenance fee if you use a direct deposit
  • $9 one-time account set-up fee
  • $2.50 ATM withdrawal fee when used at a non-Woodforest network ATM
  • $15 debit card set-up fee
  • $32 overdraft fee (for each charge)

SEE DETAILS Secured

on Woodforest National Bank’s secure website

Member FDIC

Alternatives to a second chance bank account

Get a prepaid debit card

Tired of the traditional banking experience? You could opt for a prepaid debit card instead. With a prepaid card, you can load money onto it and spend at merchants that accept major credit and debit cards. But if you try and spend more money than what’s on the card, the transaction is declined — although this prevents you from accruing any overdraft or insufficient funds fees. This is useful if you feel you may still have trouble managing your spending and need an extra layer of security to prevent you from getting into trouble.

Some prepaid cards offer extra perks like advance direct deposit and free ATMs so long as you stay in their network.

Open a secured credit card

You may also have better luck applying for a secured credit card if your credit score is in good enough shape. Usually, this requires depositing cash with the lender, who then gives you the credit card for the same amount. Each month that you make on-time payments, the bank will report that good behavior to the credit bureaus, helping you boost your credit score. At the end of the payment period (generally 12 months, though it varies by banks), you’ll get the full deposit back.

Secured cards can come with high interest rates and many don’t feature the enticing rewards other high-end cards do, but they get the basic job done for consumers who don’t need a card with a high credit limit.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be 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 financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

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Personal Loans

Best Debt Consolidation Loans by Credit Score in 2020

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

debt consolidation
iStock

Updated – December 20, 2019

Dealing with multiple loan payments can be a hassle. Even worse is having to pay high interest rates on one or more of your loans. A debt consolidation loan can be a great way to fix those problems by refinancing all your loans into one with a new rate and term.

Debt consolidation provides three benefits:

  1. Make payments simple: If you owe a lot of lenders and are having a tough time keeping track of all the payments, then consolidating will make your life easier. You’ll only owe one lender and have to keep track of one due date. There’s less of a chance of anything falling through the tracks.
  2. Lower your interest rate: This is where you have to run the numbers to see if debt consolidation makes sense for you. What’s the average interest rate you’re paying on your debt? If it’s quite high (which is likely if you have a lot of consumer debt), you may benefit from consolidating under better terms. Just remember to only use a personal loan if the interest rate is lower than the one you are already paying.
  3. Improve your credit score: If your credit cards are currently maxed out, your credit score will suffer. When you pay off your credit card debt with a personal loan, you will often receive a boost to your credit score, so long as you don’t start using your cards again.

But not all lenders will work with just anyone. Generally, you need to have a good credit score to qualify for the best interest rates on debt consolidation loans. Even then, some lenders offer better terms than others.

We searched through MagnifyMoney’s debt consolidation loan marketplace to identify the best lenders for you depending on whether you have excellent (700 and above), good (640-699), average (600-639) or poor (below 600) credit. To compare lenders evenly across the board, we assumed that you’re looking for a $10,000 loan and that you have a college degree. For each credit category, we picked the top two lenders who had the lowest APRs.

Here are the results from our analysis. If you’re in the market for a debt consolidation loan, it’s a good idea to customize your debt consolidation loan search so that you can find the best loan to help you get out of debt faster.

Company
APR
Terms
Credit Req.
LendingTree

As low as 3.49%

24 to 60

months

Minimum 500 FICO®

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

LendingTree is our parent company

Advertiser Disclosure.

Disclaimer

A Personal Loan can offer funds relatively quickly once you qualify you could have your funds within a few days to a week. A loan can be fixed for a term and rate or variable with fluctuating amount due and rate assessed, be sure to speak with your loan officer about the actual term and rate you may qualify for based on your credit history and ability to repay the loan. A personal loan can assist in paying off high-interest rate balances with one fixed term payment, so it is important that you try to obtain a fixed term and rate if your goal is to reduce your debt. Some lenders may require that you have an account with them already and for a prescribed period of time in order to qualify for better rates on their personal loan products. Lenders may charge an origination fee generally around 1% of the amount sought. Be sure to ask about all fees, costs and terms associated with each loan product. Loan amounts of $1,000 up to $50,000 are available through participating lenders; however, your state, credit history, credit score, personal financial situation, and lender underwriting criteria can impact the amount, fees, terms and rates offered. Ask your loan officer for details.

As of 17-May-19, LendingTree Personal Loan consumers were seeing match rates as low as 3.49% (3.49% APR) on a $10,000 loan amount for a term of three (3) years. Rates and APRs were based on a self-identified credit score of 700 or higher, zero down payment, origination fees of $0 to $100 (depending on loan amount and term selected).

4.99% - 16.79%*

with AutoPay

24 to 144*

months

Not specified

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

Advertiser Disclosure.

*Your APR may differ based on loan purpose, amount, term, and your credit profile. Rate is quoted with AutoPay discount, which is only available when you select AutoPay prior to loan funding. Rates without AutoPay may be higher. Subject to credit approval. Conditions and limitations apply. Advertised rates and terms are subject to change without notice. Payment example: Monthly payments for a $10,000 loan at 4.99% APR with a term of 3 years would result in 36 monthly payments of $299.66.

5.99% - 29.99%

24 to 60

months

Varies

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

Advertiser Disclosure.

All loans available through FreedomPlus.com are made by Cross River Bank, a New Jersey State Chartered Commercial Bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender. All loan and rate terms are subject to eligibility restrictions, application review, credit score, loan amount, loan term, lender approval, and credit usage and history. Eligibility for a loan is not guaranteed. Loans are not available to residents of all states – please call a FreedomPlus representative for further details.

7.16% - 29.99%

36 or 60

months

640

Minimum Credit Score

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

5.99% - 29.99%

36 or 60

months

640

Minimum Credit Score

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

Advertiser Disclosure.

The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is the cost of credit as a yearly rate and ranges from 5.99% to 29.99%, which may include an origination fee from 0.99% - 5.99% that is deducted from loan proceeds. Any origination fee on a loan term 4-years or longer will be at least 4.99%. The loan term and the APR offered will depend on your credit score, income, debt payment obligations, loan amount, credit usage history and other factors. Additionally, the APR offered is impacted by your loan term and may be higher than our lowest advertised rate. Requests for the highest loan amount may result in an APR higher than our lowest advertised rate. You need a minimum 700 FICO® score and a minimum individual annual income of $100,000 to qualify for our lowest rate.

Best Egg loans are unsecured personal loans made by Cross River Bank, a New Jersey State Chartered Commercial Bank, Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender. "Best Egg" is a trademark of Marlette Funding, LLC. All uses of "Best Egg" on this site mean and shall refer to "the Best Egg personal loan" and/or "Best Egg on behalf of Cross River Bank, as originator of the Best Egg personal loan," as applicable. Loan amounts generally range from $3,000-$35,000. Offers up to $50,000 may be available for qualified customers who receive offer codes in the mail. The minimum individual annual income needed to qualify for a loan of $50,000 is $130,000. Borrowers may hold no more than two open Best Egg loans at any given time. In order to be eligible for a second Best Egg loan, your existing Best Egg loan must have been open for at least four months. Total existing Best Egg loan balances must not exceed $50,000. All loans in MA must exceed $6,000; in NM, OH must exceed $5,000; in GA must exceed $3,000. Borrowers should refer to their loan agreement for specific terms and conditions. Your verifiable income must support your ability to repay your loan. Upon loan funding, the timing of available funds may vary depending upon your bank's policies.

To help the government fight the funding of terrorism and money laundering activities, federal law requires all financial institutions to obtain, verify, and record information that identifies each person who opens an account. When you open an account, we will ask for your name, address, date of birth, and other information that will allow us to identify you.

18.00% - 35.99%

24 to 60

months

Not specified

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

Advertiser Disclosure.

Not all applicants will qualify for larger loan amounts or most favorable loan terms. Loan approval and actual loan terms depend on your ability to meet our credit standards (including a responsible credit history, sufficient income after monthly expenses, and availability of collateral). Larger loan amounts require a first lien on a motor vehicle no more than ten years old, that meets our value requirements, titled in your name with valid insurance. Maximum annual percentage rate (APR) is 35.99%, subject to state restrictions. APRs are generally higher on loans not secured by a vehicle. The lowest APR shown represents the 10% of loans with the most favorable APR. Active duty military, their spouse or dependents covered under the Military Lending Act may not pledge any vehicle as collateral for a loan. OneMain loan proceeds cannot be used for postsecondary educational expenses as defined by the CFPB’s Regulation Z, such as college, university or vocational expenses; for any business or commercial purpose; to purchase securities; or for gambling or illegal purposes. Borrowers in these states are subject to these minimum loan sizes: Alabama: $2,100. California: $3,000. Georgia: Unless you are a present customer, $3,100 minimum loan amount. Ohio: $2,000. Virginia: $2,600.

Borrowers (other than present customers) in these states are subject to these maximum unsecured loan sizes: Florida: $8,000. Iowa: $8,500. Maine: $7,000. Mississippi: $7,500. North Carolina: $7,500. New York: $20,000. Texas: $8,000. West Virginia: $7,500. An unsecured loan is a loan which does not require you to provide collateral (such as a motor vehicle) to the lender.
Peerform

5.99% - 29.99%

36 or 60

months

600

Minimum Credit Score

9.95% - 35.99%*

24 to 60**

months

600

Minimum Credit Score

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

Advertiser Disclosure.

*If approved, the actual loan terms that a customer qualifies for may vary based on credit determination, state law, and other factors. Minimum loan amounts vary by state.
**Example: A $5,900 loan with an administration fee of 4.75% and an amount financed of $5,619.75, repayable in 36 monthly installments, with an APR of 29.95% would have monthly payments of $250.30.

Based on the responses from 11,574 customers in a survey of 210,584 newly funded customers, conducted from 1 Feb 2018 - 1 Aug 2019 95.05% of customers stated that they were either extremely satisfied or satisfied with Avant. 4/5 Customers would recommend us. Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank, member FDIC.

Tower Federal Credit Union

8.74% - 11.74%

12 to 72

months

580

Minimum Credit Score

LEARN MORE Secured

on Tower Federal Credit Union’s secure website

Personal Loans for Debt Consolidation

Start Shopping Here – LendingTree

At LendingTree, you can make dozens of personal loan companies compete for your business with a single online form. When you fill out the form, LendingTree will do a soft pull – which means your score will not be negatively impacted. Dozens of lenders will compete and you may be matched with up to five different lenders who want your business. You may be able to compare and save in just a few minutes. We recommend starting here. You can always apply directly to other lenders – but many of the lenders we recommend already participate in the LendingTree personal loan online tool.

LendingTree
APR

As low as 3.49%

Credit Req.

Minimum 500 FICO®

Terms

24 to 60

months

Origination Fee

Varies

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

LendingTree is our parent company

Advertiser Disclosure

LendingTree is our parent company. LendingTree is unique in that you may be able to compare up to five personal loan offers within minutes. Everything is done online and you may be pre-qualified by lenders without impacting your credit score. LendingTree is not a lender.


A Personal Loan can offer funds relatively quickly once you qualify you could have your funds within a few days to a week. A loan can be fixed for a term and rate or variable with fluctuating amount due and rate assessed, be sure to speak with your loan officer about the actual term and rate you may qualify for based on your credit history and ability to repay the loan. A personal loan can assist in paying off high-interest rate balances with one fixed term payment, so it is important that you try to obtain a fixed term and rate if your goal is to reduce your debt. Some lenders may require that you have an account with them already and for a prescribed period of time in order to qualify for better rates on their personal loan products. Lenders may charge an origination fee generally around 1% of the amount sought. Be sure to ask about all fees, costs and terms associated with each loan product. Loan amounts of $1,000 up to $50,000 are available through participating lenders; however, your state, credit history, credit score, personal financial situation, and lender underwriting criteria can impact the amount, fees, terms and rates offered. Ask your loan officer for details.

As of 17-May-19, LendingTree Personal Loan consumers were seeing match rates as low as 3.49% (3.49% APR) on a $10,000 loan amount for a term of three (3) years. Rates and APRs were based on a self-identified credit score of 700 or higher, zero down payment, origination fees of $0 to $100 (depending on loan amount and term selected).

Best debt consolidation loans for excellent credit

LightStream

APR

4.99%
To
16.79%*

with AutoPay

Credit Req.

Not specified

Terms

24 to 144*

months

Origination Fee

No origination fee

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

Advertiser Disclosure

LightStream is the online lending division of SunTrust Bank.... Read More


*Your APR may differ based on loan purpose, amount, term, and your credit profile. Rate is quoted with AutoPay discount, which is only available when you select AutoPay prior to loan funding. Rates without AutoPay may be higher. Subject to credit approval. Conditions and limitations apply. Advertised rates and terms are subject to change without notice. Payment example: Monthly payments for a $10,000 loan at 4.99% APR with a term of 3 years would result in 36 monthly payments of $299.66.

What we like

If you’ve managed your credit well and have the credit score to prove it, LightStream can be a great option to consolidate your debt. It has some of the lowest interest rates out there — as low as 4.99% APR (that’s with a 0.50% auto-pay discount).

Going along with those low interest rates are low fees. LightStream doesn’t charge any fees at all, including origination fees or prepayment fees. The company offers loan terms from 24 to 144 months. While it’s generally best to pay off your debt as quickly as possible, sometimes having a longer-term loan makes sense, and many other lenders don’t offer loans for as long as 12 years.

The final thing we like about LightStream is that it’s quick to fund your loan. If you are approved for a loan on a business day before 2:30 p.m. Eastern time and provide the company with your bank account details, you can have your loan funded on the same day you are approved.

What could be better

If you’re trying to take advantage of the 0.50% auto-pay discount, you’ll need to set this up before your loan is funded. You won’t qualify for this interest rate discount if you do it after the fact.

Additionally, the company makes it a bit difficult if you’re trying to pay your loan off early. If you want any extra payments to go toward the principal (and not interest), you’ll have to schedule your extra payment to occur on the same day as your normal monthly payment. There’s no other way to specify that you want extra payments to go toward your principal balance.

Credit history required

LightStream doesn’t say what kind of credit history you need to qualify for a loan. But the company does describe those with excellent credit (and thus the best odds for approval at the lowest rates) as people with five or more years of credit history.

Fees and fine print

LightStream is a great option for folks who qualify for these loans because the company does not charge any fees at all. This means no origination fees or prepayment penalties. If you miss a payment, it’s not totally free because the company could report that to the credit bureaus, which could harm your credit score.

FreedomPlus

APR

5.99%
To
29.99%

Credit Req.

Varies

Terms

24 to 60

months

Origination Fee

0.00% - 4.99%

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

Advertiser Disclosure

With a personalized application process that includes a phone interview, FreedomPlus gives people with below average credit a shot at getting approved for a personal loan.... Read More


All loans available through FreedomPlus.com are made by Cross River Bank, a New Jersey State Chartered Commercial Bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender. All loan and rate terms are subject to eligibility restrictions, application review, credit score, loan amount, loan term, lender approval, and credit usage and history. Eligibility for a loan is not guaranteed. Loans are not available to residents of all states – please call a FreedomPlus representative for further details.

What we like

FreedomPlus also offers some of the lowest personal loan rates in our marketplace. Those rates are running as low as 5.99% APR.

Another thing we like about FreedomPlus is that it offers multiple different interest rate discounts. The lender doesn’t specify the amounts, but you can get discounts for three things:

  • If you have a co-applicant for your loan
  • If you use at least half of your loan to pay off high-interest credit card debt (FreedomPlus will pay it for you)
  • If you have at least $40,000 in retirement savings

These discounts may (or may not) make your interest rate better than what you could get with other lenders. But at least the company is rewarding customers for good financial behavior, such as paying off high-interest debt and saving for retirement.

What could be better

Unfortunately, FreedomPlus doesn’t operate in all states. Even in some of the states in which it does operate, there are state-specific minimums: $6,500 in Massachusetts, $5,500 in Ohio, $10,500 in Arizona and $3,500 in Georgia.

We also don’t like that FreedomPlus has a narrower range of terms than LightStream. You can only choose from a term length between 24 and 60 months.

Further, FreedomPlus doesn’t provide a lot of information on its website. Rather, the company directs you to contact it for more details. That could be inconvenient if you’re shopping lenders. It also puts you in a high-pressure sales situation since you must speak with someone to get the relevant details unless you’re comfortable blindly applying for a loan.

Credit history required

FreedomPlus generally requires you to have about three years worth of credit history to stand a good chance of being approved for a loan.

Fees and fine print

The company has a variable origination fee — between 0.00% - 4.99% — depending on your loan’s APR. If you make a late payment, you’ll pay either a flat $15 fee, or 5% of your payment amount, depending on whichever is greater. If the company processes a personal check, that’s another $15. If your monthly payment is returned, it’s yet another $15 fee.

Best debt consolidation loans for good credit

RocketLoans

APR

7.16%
To
29.99%

Credit Req.

640

Minimum Credit Score

Terms

36 or 60

months

Origination Fee

1.00% - 6.00%

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

Rocketloans is a digital finance business that is part of the Quicken Loans family. ... Read More

What we like

Even if you don’t have stellar credit, the interest rate that Rocket Loans charges isn’t bad (assuming you are offered a low-end rate). RocketLoans is charging between 7.16% and 29.99% APR. The high end is the same rate you may find on a high-interest credit card. If you fall into that interest rate band, it may be worth reassessing this lender.

RocketLoans is also fast at funding your loan. If everything matches up correctly among you, RocketLoans and the bank, you may be able to receive the money the same day.

What could be better

RocketLoans isn’t available in every state. If you live in Nevada, Iowa or West Virginia, you can’t use the company to consolidate your debt.

The company only offers two different term lengths — 36 or 60 months. You can pay it off sooner, of course, and there’s no penalty for doing so. But this means you’ll only get a maximum of two different options for a given loan amount, which may not fit your budget.

Credit history required

The company does not say what sort of credit history is required to get a debt consolidation loan.

Fees and fine print

RocketLoans charges three different fees:

  • Late payment fee: $15
  • Origination fee: 1.00% - 6.00% of the loan amount
  • Returned check fee: $15

Best Egg

APR

5.99%
To
29.99%

Credit Req.

640

Minimum Credit Score

Terms

36 or 60

months

Origination Fee

0.99% - 5.99%

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

Advertiser Disclosure

People looking for a process that is fast and straightforward can’t go wrong when applying through Best Egg for a personal loan. ... Read More


The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is the cost of credit as a yearly rate and ranges from 5.99% to 29.99%, which may include an origination fee from 0.99% - 5.99% that is deducted from loan proceeds. Any origination fee on a loan term 4-years or longer will be at least 4.99%. The loan term and the APR offered will depend on your credit score, income, debt payment obligations, loan amount, credit usage history and other factors. Additionally, the APR offered is impacted by your loan term and may be higher than our lowest advertised rate. Requests for the highest loan amount may result in an APR higher than our lowest advertised rate. You need a minimum 700 FICO® score and a minimum individual annual income of $100,000 to qualify for our lowest rate.

Best Egg loans are unsecured personal loans made by Cross River Bank, a New Jersey State Chartered Commercial Bank, Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender. "Best Egg" is a trademark of Marlette Funding, LLC. All uses of "Best Egg" on this site mean and shall refer to "the Best Egg personal loan" and/or "Best Egg on behalf of Cross River Bank, as originator of the Best Egg personal loan," as applicable. Loan amounts generally range from $3,000-$35,000. Offers up to $50,000 may be available for qualified customers who receive offer codes in the mail. The minimum individual annual income needed to qualify for a loan of $50,000 is $130,000. Borrowers may hold no more than two open Best Egg loans at any given time. In order to be eligible for a second Best Egg loan, your existing Best Egg loan must have been open for at least four months. Total existing Best Egg loan balances must not exceed $50,000. All loans in MA must exceed $6,000; in NM, OH must exceed $5,000; in GA must exceed $3,000. Borrowers should refer to their loan agreement for specific terms and conditions. Your verifiable income must support your ability to repay your loan. Upon loan funding, the timing of available funds may vary depending upon your bank's policies.

To help the government fight the funding of terrorism and money laundering activities, federal law requires all financial institutions to obtain, verify, and record information that identifies each person who opens an account. When you open an account, we will ask for your name, address, date of birth, and other information that will allow us to identify you.

What we like

Best Egg has similar interest rates to RocketLoans, ranging from up to 5.99% to 29.99% APR. You can also take out loan amounts as small as $3,000 to consolidate your debt, which is a lot less than the minimum requirement for other lenders. Also, there are no prepayment penalties for paying off the loan early.

Heads-up, though: The minimum loan amount does vary by state, so it may be different depending on where you live. Georgia residents can’t take out loans of less than $3,000, Massachusetts residents must borrow at least $6,000, and New Mexico and Ohio residents must borrow at least $5,000.

What could be better

If you live in Iowa, Vermont or West Virginia, you’re out of luck when it comes to getting a BestEgg loan. That’s because the company doesn’t operate in those states.

You can take out a loan of up to $35,000 to consolidate your debt through BestEgg. That may sound like a good thing at first, but consider this: The company only offers you the choice of a three- or five-year term. If you take out a large amount of money, you’ll also need an equally high income to make those whopping payments. Instead, if you’re facing a large amount of debt, it’s worthwhile to also consider a lender that offers more options.

We also don’t like that BestEgg charges a $7 monthly payment fee unless you’re signed up for automatic payments. Signing up for auto-pay simplifies things for both you and the lender, but you shouldn’t be penalized if you’re not able to do that for some reason.

Credit history required

Unfortunately, BestEgg does not disclose this information.

Fees and fine print

Here’s a quick summary of the fees that BestEgg charges:

  • Origination fee: 0.99% - 5.99%
  • Late payment fee: $15
  • Returned payment fee: $15
  • Payment processing fee for people not enrolled in auto-pay: $7

Best debt consolidation loans for average credit

OneMain Financial

APR

18.00%
To
35.99%

Credit Req.

Not specified

Terms

24 to 60

months

Origination Fee

1.00% - 10.00%

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

Advertiser Disclosure

OneMain Financial offers quick turnaround times and you may get your money the same day... Read More


Not all applicants will qualify for larger loan amounts or most favorable loan terms. Loan approval and actual loan terms depend on your ability to meet our credit standards (including a responsible credit history, sufficient income after monthly expenses, and availability of collateral). Larger loan amounts require a first lien on a motor vehicle no more than ten years old, that meets our value requirements, titled in your name with valid insurance. Maximum annual percentage rate (APR) is 35.99%, subject to state restrictions. APRs are generally higher on loans not secured by a vehicle. The lowest APR shown represents the 10% of loans with the most favorable APR. Active duty military, their spouse or dependents covered under the Military Lending Act may not pledge any vehicle as collateral for a loan. OneMain loan proceeds cannot be used for postsecondary educational expenses as defined by the CFPB’s Regulation Z, such as college, university or vocational expenses; for any business or commercial purpose; to purchase securities; or for gambling or illegal purposes. Borrowers in these states are subject to these minimum loan sizes: Alabama: $2,100. California: $3,000. Georgia: Unless you are a present customer, $3,100 minimum loan amount. Ohio: $2,000. Virginia: $2,600.

Borrowers (other than present customers) in these states are subject to these maximum unsecured loan sizes: Florida: $8,000. Iowa: $8,500. Maine: $7,000. Mississippi: $7,500. North Carolina: $7,500. New York: $20,000. Texas: $8,000. West Virginia: $7,500. An unsecured loan is a loan which does not require you to provide collateral (such as a motor vehicle) to the lender.

What we like

If you like working with bankers in person, this might be a better option for you since you’ll be required to visit a OneMain Financial branch to get your money. This means that if you are approved by noon and can make it to a branch, you could get your money that day.

What could be better

On the flip side, visiting a local branch to complete the loan application process could be inconvenient if you live in a suburban or rural area and there aren’t any locations close to you. These loans are also very expensive.

We also don’t like that the company’s loan policies vary across the country depending on your state of residence. This makes it difficult to easily compare lenders without contacting OneMain Financial to get the most accurate information for your situation.

Credit history required

Your credit history is important to OneMain Financial. But the company itself doesn’t have any listed requirements. Rather, your credit history is taken into account along with your debt-to-income ratio and your ability to make the loan payments on time.

Fees and fine print

There are no prepayment penalties with a OneMain Financial loan. The cost of origination or late fees varies depending on the state in which you live. You’ll need to contact OneMain Financial to get this information.

Peerform

Peerform
APR

5.99%
To
29.99%

Credit Req.

600

Minimum Credit Score

Terms

36 or 60

months

Origination Fee

1.00% - 5.00%

Even with a credit score of 600, you still might be able to secure a loan through Peerform. ... Read More

What we like

These loans come with low rates, starting at 5.99% APR. Peerform is also open with its pricing scheme, listing in detail the APR and origination fees that come along with each credit grade, which you can see here.

What could be better

Peerform is a peer-to-peer lender, which means that the company relies on regular everyday investors to fund your loan. You could view this as a good thing since it’s not some mega-corporation that’s getting rich off funding personal loans, but it also means that it could take a while (up to two weeks) for your loan to be fully funded by investors. It’s even possible that your loan listing could end without enough investors to fund your loan, which means you may be offered less money than what you sought — or you may not even receive a loan at all.

These loans are also a bit on the fee-heavy side. For example, the company is trying to push you toward digital payments, because it will charge you a $15 fee per payment if you choose to send in a check.

Credit history required

Like many lenders, Peerform does not detail exactly what type of credit history is required to get a loan. Rather, the company takes into account other factors — such as whether your credit score is above 600 — when deciding whether to create a listing for your loan.

Fees and fine print

Here is a summary of fees that Peerform charges on its personal loans:

  • Origination fee: 1.00% - 5.00%
  • Unsuccessful payment fee: $15
  • Late payment fee: $15 or 5% of the amount due, whichever is more
  • Check payment fee: $15 per check payment

Best debt consolidation loans for bad credit

Avant

APR

9.95%
To
35.99%*

Credit Req.

600

Minimum Credit Score

Terms

24 to 60**

months

Origination Fee

Up to 4.75%**

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

Advertiser Disclosure

Avant is an online lender that offers personal loans ranging from $2,000 to $35,000. ... Read More


*If approved, the actual loan terms that a customer qualifies for may vary based on credit determination, state law, and other factors. Minimum loan amounts vary by state.
**Example: A $5,900 loan with an administration fee of 4.75% and an amount financed of $5,619.75, repayable in 36 monthly installments, with an APR of 29.95% would have monthly payments of $250.30.

Based on the responses from 11,574 customers in a survey of 210,584 newly funded customers, conducted from 1 Feb 2018 - 1 Aug 2019 95.05% of customers stated that they were either extremely satisfied or satisfied with Avant. 4/5 Customers would recommend us. Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank, member FDIC.

What we like

Avant does offer smaller loans than many other lenders. You can take out a loan starting at $2,000, ranging up to $35,000, depending on the state in which you live. That’s helpful if you’re trying to work your way out of just a few thousand dollars of debt.

You can also get your money relatively quickly if you are approved for a debt consolidation loan with Avant. If you finish the application process and are approved for a loan before 4:30 p.m. Central time on a weekday, you could have your money the next day.

What could be better

Avant’s rates, fees, loan amounts and loan terms are dependent upon the state in which you live, so you’ll need to check for yourself on its website. But for Illinois (where Avant is headquartered), we noticed that these loans do come with higher fees than normal. They also come with high interest rates, starting at 9.95% APR.

This isn’t unusual since Avant is willing to work with people with less-than-stellar credit scores. It does make it inconvenient for you because you’ll need to assess whether it’s cheaper to consolidate your debt with a personal loan rather than paying it off as is.

Once you add on the upfront administrative fee to the high interest rate, you may find that this loan isn’t a deal at all in the long run compared to what you’re currently paying. The only way to know is to do the math.

Credit history required

Again, Avant doesn’t disclose how long your credit history needs to be to get a loan with the company.

Fees and fine print

In Illinois, where Avant is based, you can expect to pay the following fees if you take out a debt consolidation loan:

  • Administrative fee: Up to 4.75% of the loan amount
  • Late fee: $25
  • Returned payment fee: $15

Tower Federal Credit Union

Tower Federal Credit Union
APR

8.74%
To
11.74%

Credit Req.

580

Minimum Credit Score

Terms

12 to 72

months

Origination Fee

No origination fee

APPLY NOW Secured

on Tower Federal Credit Union’s secure website

Tower Federal Credit Union offers both personal lines of credit and more common signature loans that feature a fixed term. ... Read More

What we like

We like that there is a wide range of options for term lengths at Tower Federal Credit Union. You can choose from six different term lengths, ranging from one to six years. Having a wide range of options is good for you as a consumer because this effectively offers you up to six different monthly payment amounts that you can choose from to fit into your budget.

Rates for these loans are also relatively low. For example, if you opt for a one-year loan, rates start at 8.74% APR. Be warned: The longer your term length, the higher the minimum APR. If you instead opt for a six-year loan, rates instead start at 11.74% APR. At some point, you may need to reassess whether the interest rate you’re receiving is really lower than your current debts’ interest rate.

What could be better

Since this is a credit union, you’ll have a different working relationship. It’s not as simple as applying with any old online lender, getting the money, paying it back and having everything be all right.

First, you’ll need to join Tower Federal Credit Union. There are pretty strict membership requirements, but you can always join by making a minimum $35 donation to the TowerCares Foundation. You’ll need to deposit at least $15 in a savings account to establish your membership. Then, after you’ve applied and established your membership, you can apply for this loan.

You’ll also need to maintain your bank account if you’re older than 22. If more than a year passes without any activity in the account and if your balance is less than $100, you’ll pay a $3 quarterly inactivity fee. So, you can see, going with a credit union may boost your odds of approval if you have a low credit score, but it’s certainly not without a great deal of work compared to a regular online lender.

Another downside of getting a personal loan with Tower Federal Credit Union is that there’s no way to know how much money you can take out without applying for the loan first. That’s because the credit union will offer you a range of borrowing limits based on your credit score and ability to pay, which it determines after you apply for a loan. This could be inconvenient if you go through all the hassle of applying for a loan only to find out the loan amount won’t work for you.

Credit history required

Tower Federal Credit Union will look at your credit when deciding whether to approve you for a loan. But it doesn’t detail what sort of credit history is required to be approved for a loan. Besides your credit history, it’ll also look at your ability to repay the loan.

Fees and fine print

If you make a late payment, you’ll pay a $20 fee. That’s just a touch higher than with other lenders. Additionally, you can make your monthly payment over the phone, but if you do so, there’ll be another $9 processing fee.
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3 reasons to use a personal loan to pay off debt

How to choose the right debt consolidation loan

To help ensure you select the best debt consolidation loan for your financial situation, consider these four tips:

  1. Do the math: See what a debt consolidation loan will cost you in the long run compared to your current debts. A debt consolidation loan may give you a lower payment or a lower interest rate, but if you choose a long-term loan, you may end up paying more in interest charges by the time your term ends. LendingTree, MagnifyMoney’s parent company, has a debt consolidation calculator so that you can run the numbers.
  2. Consider which types of debt you want to consolidate: Generally speaking, student loan debt is consolidated separately from your other types of debt, such as credit card debt, medical debt and auto loan debt.
  3. Consider whether other types of loans are right for you: Home equity lines of credit, home equity loans, personal lines of credit and 0% introductory APR credit cards are also reasonable options for debt consolidation.
  4. Check whether you’re applying for a secured or an unsecured loan: If it’s a secured loan (backed by an asset such as your car) and you fail to make your payments, the lender can repossess the item. Unsecured loans, on the other hand, aren’t backed by this kind of collateral, but often come with higher interest rates. Make sure you consider the trade-offs before you apply for the loan.

This article contains links to LendingTree, our parent company.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be 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 financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

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College Students and Recent Grads

How to Set Up IBR, PAYE and ICR Student Loan Repayment Plans

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

How to Set Up IBR, PAYE, and ICR Student Loan Repayment Plans

Does the amount you earn on a yearly basis pale in comparison to your monthly student loan payments? Do you have federal student loans? If the answer is “yes” to both of these, then you might benefit from a student loan repayment plan. These income-driven plans include:

Income-driven repayment plans can reduce your monthly payment amount — sometimes dramatically — because they cap that payment at a (hopefully) affordable level, based on your income and family size. Your payment adjusts annually according to these factors.

Specifically, the amount you pay is calculated as a percentage of your discretionary income. According to the Federal Student Aid office, for IBR and PAYE, discretionary income is the difference between your income and 150% of the poverty guideline for your family size and state of residence. For ICR, it’s the difference between your income and 100% of the poverty guideline. (You can look up the poverty guidelines used to determine eligibility for some federal programs, if you want more information.)

A great benefit of these plans is that each has a maximum length — usually 20 or 25 years — after which all remaining loan balances are forgiven. Note, however, that you will generally be taxed on the amount that gets wiped away.

Want to find out how to apply for an income-driven repayment plan? Read on for information on how the process works.

Getting started with income-driven repayment plans

Generally, if you want to set up your student loan account on an income-driven repayment plan, your best bet is to first contact your student loan servicer. (Not sure which loan servicer you have? You can check on the National Student Loan Data System website.)

If you log into your account online, you should see a section for changing your repayment plan. At the least, your servicer should address the issue in an FAQ section of its site.

It’s your loan servicer’s job to help you find the best plan for your situation, but you need to contact it as soon as you start having difficulty in making payments. You don’t want to miss any payments and end up delinquent (or worse, in default) because you couldn’t pay. Plus, loans that are in default aren’t eligible for income-driven repayment plans.

How to apply for income-driven student loan repayment

The application process is very simple and straightforward. The first step is to fill out the Income-Driven Repayment Plan Request form. This can be done online, or you can apply with a paper application supplied by your student loan servicer.

When you make your request, you have to choose the specific plan you’d like to go with. You can select one yourself, or you can ask your loan servicer to choose the plan with the lowest monthly payment amount.

Since you’re applying for a repayment plan based on your taxable income, you will need to provide proof of income. The easiest way is to use your most recent tax return, as long as your income hasn’t changed significantly from the date you filed. You will also need to have filed a federal income tax return for the past two years.

The online application makes it easy to find your adjusted gross income (AGI) — you can use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to import your income information. If you apply with a paper application, you’ll need to supply a paper copy of your most recent federal tax return or an IRS tax return transcript.

If your income has changed a lot since you last filed, or if you haven’t filed two federal tax returns yet, there are other ways of proving your income.

First, if you don’t have any source of income at all, you just need to indicate that on your application. Only taxable income counts. So if you receive any government assistance or any other income that’s not considered taxable, you don’t need to report it here.

If you do earn an income, you’ll need to provide your most recent pay stubs or other alternative documentation that shows how much you make.

Additionally, if you have federal loans with multiple loan servicers, you must request income-driven repayment for each loan individually. There’s a section of the application that asks if you have eligible loans with more than one servicer, so you can indicate that there.

The application itself shouldn’t take long to complete, but the entire process can take a few weeks, depending on which loan servicer you have.

If you have an immediate need to lessen your payments, your loan servicer may apply a forbearance to your federal loans while the process wraps up. That’s why it’s important to contact your servicer as soon as you realize that you can’t make your payments.

You have to reapply annually

You’ll be required to submit your proof of income on an annual basis after you apply the first time. As your income changes, so does your payment, so you need to provide this information continuously. However, there’s no income limit for income-driven repayment plans.

If you start earning more and you’re on an IBR or PAYE plan, your payment amount is capped at the amount you’d be paying under the standard 10-year repayment plan. It will never exceed that amount. Technically, your loans will still be under your chosen income-driven repayment plan, but your monthly payment is no longer based on your income. You can still have your outstanding loan balance forgiven after your repayment term ends (if you don’t pay your loan off before then).

For ICR plans, your payment amount could fluctuate between the lesser of 20% of your discretionary income and what your monthly payment would be if you had a 12-year fixed plan. On a REPAYE plan, your monthly payment is simply 10% of your discretionary income.

Whose income is taken Into consideration?

If you’re married and wondering if your spouse’s income will be taken into consideration, it depends on how you file your federal taxes.

Filing separately means only your income and loans will matter (unless you’re on a REPAYE plan, which considers both incomes, regardless of how you file).

Filing jointly means your monthly payment will be based off of your joint income. If you and your spouse file jointly and you both have eligible federal student loans, all of them will be taken into consideration, but your spouse doesn’t have to enter into an income-driven repayment plan for you to join.

Meet the income-driven repayment plans

Now, let’s take a look at each major plan type and some of their respective details:

Income-Based Repayment plan overview

You don’t qualify for IBR unless your payment amount would be less than what you’re paying under the standard 10-year repayment plan.

A good way to estimate whether you’ll qualify is to check if your total student loan debt is higher than (or makes up a significant portion of) your annual discretionary income, which would reduce your monthly payment under IBR. If your debt-to-income ratio — how much student loans and other debt you have relative to your income — is high, you may qualify for this option. You can calculate your DTI in a few simple steps using information about your monthly income, debts and payments.

Borrowers who got their first student loans after July 1, 2014, have a maximum term of 20 years under IBR plans, while borrowers who had loan balances before July 1, 2014, have a maximum 25 year term. Anything left after those terms expire will be forgiven.

Pay As You Earn plan overview

For PAYE, your monthly payment will be about 10% of your discretionary income, and never more than what you’re paying under the standard 10-year payment plan.

You have a maximum of 20 years to pay back your loans under this plan, after which your balance is forgiven.

The qualifications for PAYE are the same as IBR — you must be paying less under PAYE than you were under the standard 10-year plan.

However, PAYE is only available to those who were new, first-time borrowers as of Oct. 1, 2007, and who received a disbursement in the form of a direct loan on or after Oct. 1, 2011.

Revised Pay As You Earn plan overview

REPAYE is a fairly recent addition to the income-driven repayment plan menu. It’s similar to PAYE in many ways but distinct in a few key ones.

For example, unlike with PAYE, REPAYE is available to any borrower, regardless of when you received your first federal student loan. And, if you’re married, your spouse’s income will be considered in calculating your monthly payment, no matter how you file your taxes.

Under this plan, your monthly payment is 10% of your discretionary income, and you must repay your loans for 20 years if they were used for undergraduate studies (or 25 years if you took out loans for graduate or professional studies) before they are forgiven.

Income-Contingent Repayment plan overview

Your monthly payment under the ICR plan is the lesser of these two options: 20% of your discretionary income, or the amount you would pay on a 12-year fixed repayment plan, adjusted according to your income.

Under this plan, your term is 25 years before you can receive forgiveness. There are no initial guidelines you must qualify under — anyone can choose this plan to repay their student loans.

Benefits of income-driven repayment plans

As mentioned, the big bonus for all four of these repayment plans is that your outstanding balance is forgiven after your repayment term is complete. Also, if you qualify for forgiveness after 10 years through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, that takes precedence.

IBR, PAYE and REPAYE have an extra perk if you took out a subsidized student loan: If your monthly payment isn’t enough to cover any interest that accrues monthly on your subsidized loan, the government will pay the difference for the first three years. For REPAYE plans, the government will also pay half of the difference on your unsubsidized loan and continue to cover half of the difference after three years on your subsidized loan.

You can use MagnifyMoney’s student loan calculators to see which plans could offer you the lowest monthly payment. Income-driven plans aren’t guaranteed to give you the lowest possible payment — all situations are different. And don’t forget that there are other repayment plans that aren’t reliant upon your income but can still lower your monthly payment, such as the graduated and extended repayment plans.

Check with your loan servicer first

Before applying for an income-driven repayment plan, it’s best to check with your loan servicer to get its input. You don’t want to end up owing more per month than you do now. These repayment plans are designed to help you, not hurt you.

You may find that forbearance or deferment is a better option, especially if you’re only experiencing a temporary economic hardship. Note that both forbearance and deferment can result in interest piling up, so be careful to examine all your options before you decide.

And while it’s crucial to check with your servicer, remember that this is your decision, and you don’t have to follow your servicer’s advice. The best solution will be the one that saves you the most money while also fitting with your own financial goals.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be 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 financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

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Refinancing rates from 3.50% APR. Checking your rates won’t affect your credit score.