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Updated on Monday, June 17, 2019
24 to 144*
No origination fee
LightStream is the online lending division of SunTrust Bank.... Read More
*Your loan terms, including APR, may differ based on loan purpose, amount, term length, and your credit profile. Excellent credit is required to qualify for lowest rates. Rate is quoted with AutoPay discount. AutoPay discount is only available prior to loan funding. Rates without AutoPay are 0.50% points 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 3.99% APR with a term of 3 years would result in 36 monthly payments of $295.20.
Fees and penalties
LightStream has no fees across the board and offers highly competitive interest rates. These two variables add up to an affordable loan, if you qualify. According to LightStream, you can borrow money for “practically anything.” Here are some examples of things you can finance with a LightStream loan:
- Debt consolidation
- Dental work
- Home improvements
- IVF/fertility treatments
- Pre-K-12 education
- Medical bills
- Tiny homes
The list of ways you can use a LightStream loan is exhaustive. However, there are a few instances where you can’t use a LightStream loan. You can’t use one to finance a college or post-secondary education or a vehicle registered under a business name. LightStream does not offer financing to businesses either; you are only able to apply for a loan as an individual.
‘The Rate Beat’ program
Here’s an incentive to shop around and compare rates: LightStream will beat competitor rates by 0.10% APR. You must show that you’ve been approved by a lender for a lower rate and meet other eligibility criteria before LightStream will beat the competitor rate.
Here are the terms and conditions for the Rate Beat program:
- The lower interest rate you find with another lender can’t be from an employee discount or other special that’s not available to all customers.
- The lower rate can’t be through any rate-subsidized programs.
- The lower rate you get from a competing lender must be for a loan that has the same amount, loan term loan purpose and payment method (such as auto-pay).
- The offer expires at 2 p.m. EST on the business day before your loan is funded.
Consider shopping for other loans before going to LightStream so that if you do receive a lower offer, you can try to take advantage of the Rate Beat program.
‘Loan Experience Guarantee’
The next benefit that LightStream offers borrowers is the Loan Experience Guarantee. If you’re not satisfied with the loan process, LightStream will give you $100 for completing a questionnaire within 30 days of receiving your loan.
- Minimum credit score: LightStream seeks candidates with “good credit.”
- Minimum credit history: LightStream looks for borrowers who have several years of credit history, a mix of accounts, stable income, few (if any) delinquencies and a proven ability to save money.
- Maximum debt-to-income ratio: Not specified
LightStream is clear about offering loans to borrowers with good credit, although a specific credit score minimum isn’t specified. What constitutes good or excellent credit is subjective: A credit score of 670 or above is generally considered good, while a score of 740 or above is generally considered very good or excellent.
Despite not specifying a minimum credit score or maximum debt-to-income ratio, LightStream does outline some key characteristics of borrowers who tend to qualify for a Lightstream loan.
- Borrowers with good credit have several years of credit history (excellent borrowers tend to have five years or more of credit history).
- Borrowers have a credit history that includes many different types of accounts, such as credit cards, installment loans and mortgages.
- Borrowers show evidence of being able to save through liquid assets, retirement savings, etc.
- Borrowers have few late payments (excellent borrowers tend to have credit reports with no deliquences at all).
Applying for a personal loan from LightStream
The LightStream application process is straightforward. You apply online which requires a hard pull. There is no preapproval with a soft pull available. LightStream first asks why you want the loan, how much you want to borrow and which loan term length you need. The next step is to tell LightStream your personal information.
You should receive a response quickly if you apply during business hours. After an approval, you can e-sign your loan documents and set up funding. You can get money as soon as the same day if your application is approved and all required steps are completed before 2:30 p.m. EST on a business day.
Who’s the best fit for a LightStream personal loan?
People with good credit tend to get the most competitive interest rates on loans, for good reason — in the eyes of lenders, they are less likely to default on a loan, thus making them a lower risk.
In this case, LightStream is clear that it focuses on rewarding borrowers who have good credit with loans that have no fees and low interest rates because they’ve demonstrated an ability to manage debt responsibly. The LightStream loan is one that you should consider putting at the top of your shopping list if you have good credit or better, because of its perks and price.
Besides the cost, another plus is that LightStream lets you borrow high amounts of cash for almost any reason, as long as it’s not for college tuition or a vehicle registered to a business. It also offers long loan terms that allow you to stretch out your payments. Keep in mind, however, that the lowest interest rates are available for loans of $5,000 to $100,000 with loan terms of 24 to 144 months. You can borrow a higher amount for a longer period, but it may cost you more money.
What stands out as a potential downside of this loan is that a hard pull on your credit is necessary to check rates. But don’t let a fear of hard inquiries prevent you from shopping around for your best deals. A hard pull will typically cost you 5 to 10 points on your credit score — a trade-off that might ultimately be worth it when you consider the savings you could gain from qualifying with a low-cost lender like LightStream. We have discussed the impact of credit inquiries in this post — the effect on your credit may be minimal considering the potential benefit.
If you meet the conditions of what’s considered good or excellent credit, you may find that a LightStream loan is one of the better personal loans that you may find for your situation online. Check out other personal loan options here to compare products. This roundup includes many loans that allow you to check rates with a soft pull.
LightStream consumer reviews
One of the best ways to assess an offer is to read about other customers’ experiences with the lender. The Better Business Bureau has given LightStream an A+ rating, and it’s also earned 4.1 out of 5 stars from reviewers on LendingTree, the parent company of MagnifyMoney.
Customers who reviewed LightStream on LendingTree — which owns MagnifyMoney — are, by and large, satisfied with the interest rates, fees and closing costs, customer service and responsiveness. Borrowers praise LightStream for having a “straightforward, simple, delightful loan process,” “great rates and fast response” and “lightning fast closing.” Many customers were also pleased that LightStream funded their loans the same day they were approved.
While there is far more praise than criticism of LightStream on LendingTree, some customers said they were denied for loans even though they had a high credit score and income and they were unable to connect with the company by phone. Overall, though, borrowers seem generally happy with their experience with LightStream.
LightStream does not specify a minimum credit score for borrowers. Instead, the company looks for individuals with at least “good” credit, which typically means the borrower has several years of credit history, multiple types of accounts, a decent history of on-time payments, evidence of an ability to save and a “stable and sufficient income.”
While you can apply for a LightStream loan for educational expenses related to pre-K through grade 12, the company does not offer funding for college or post-secondary education. The company does not offer refinancing for student loans.
LightStream borrowers do not incur any fees from the company.
LightStream says customers will receive a response “shortly” after applying online, if done during business hours.
LightStream loans can be used for a wide variety of purposes, including dental bills, home improvements, adoption expenses, horses and jewelry. The company requires that you use the money from the loan for the purpose you indicated in your application. You are not allowed to use the loan to refinance an existing LightStream loan, pay for college tuition or post-secondary education, buy stocks and bonds or purchase a vehicle that will be registered under a business name.
LightStream does not offer pre-approvals for loans. Potential borrowers must fill out the online application to see if they’re approved.
LightStream uses its “easy, fast and virtually paperless loan process” as a selling point to potential borrowers. If you’re not happy with your experience, the company will offer you $100 for filling out a questionnaire within 30 days of receiving funding for your loan.
LightStream is considered SunTrust Bank’s online lending division. Borrowers do not have to be account holders at SunTrust Bank to qualify for a loan from LightStream.
Alternative personal loan options
Minimum Credit Score
24 to 84
No origination fee
SoFi offers some of the best rates and terms on the market. ... Read More
Fixed rates from 5.99% APR to 20.69% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of January 19, 2021 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. See APR examples and terms. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.
SoFi is another lender that offers no-fee personal loans with competitive, fixed interest rates that you can use for a variety of reasons. You can borrow large amounts with SoFi — $5,000 to $100,000. Perks offered by SoFi include access to financial advisors and unemployment protection for borrowers. You can check rates with a soft pull.
Marcus by Goldman Sachs®
36 to 72
No origination fee
Marcus by Goldman Sachs® offers personal loans for up to $40,000 for debt consolidation and credit consolidation. ... Read More
Your loan terms are not guaranteed and are subject to our verification of your identity and credit information. To obtain a loan, you must submit additional documentation including an application that may affect your credit score. The availability of a loan offer and the terms of your actual offer will vary due to a number of factors, including your loan purpose and our evaluation of your creditworthiness. Rates will vary based on many factors, such as your creditworthiness (for example, credit score and credit history) and the length of your loan (for example, rates for 36 month loans are generally lower than rates for 72 month loans Your maximum loan amount may vary depending on your loan purpose, income and creditworthiness. Your verifiable income must support your ability to repay your loan. Marcus by Goldman Sachs is a brand of Goldman Sachs Bank USA and all loans are issued by Goldman Sachs Bank USA, Salt Lake City Branch. Applications are subject to additional terms and conditions.
Marcus by Goldman Sachs® is another personal loan that has absolutely no fees. You can borrow up to $40,000, get approval within five minutes and receive your funds in about one to four business days after verifying your bank account. Plus, checking rates doesn’t require a hard inquiry. Interest rates are typically higher for the longer term loans, and borrowers with excellent credit will get the lowest rates.
Minimum Credit Score
36 or 60
2.90% - 8.00%
Upgrade is an online lender that offers fairly priced personal loans for a term of either 36 or 60 months.... Read More
Personal loans made through Upgrade feature APRs of 6.94%-35.97%. All personal loans have a 2.9% to 8% origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Lowest rates require Autopay and paying off a portion of existing debt directly. For example, if you receive a $10,000 loan with a 36-month term and a 17.98% APR (which includes a 14.32% yearly interest rate and a 5% one-time origination fee), you would receive $9,500 in your account and would have a required monthly payment of $343.33. Over the life of the loan, your payments would total $12,359.97. The APR on your loan may be higher or lower and your loan offers may not have multiple term lengths available. Actual rate depends on credit score, credit usage history, loan term, and other factors. Late payments or subsequent charges and fees may increase the cost of your fixed rate loan. There is no fee or penalty for repaying a loan early. Accept your loan offer and your funds will be sent to your bank or designated account within one (1) business day of clearing necessary verifications. Availability of the funds is dependent on how quickly your bank processes the transaction. From the time of approval, funds should be available within four (4) business days. Funds sent directly to pay off your creditors may take up to 2 weeks to clear, depending on the creditor. Personal loans issued by Upgrade's lending partners. Information on Upgrade's lending partners can be found at https://www.upgrade.com/lending-partners/.
Upgrade is the only lender included in this review that charges an origination fee. This lender may be an option for people with less than stellar credit, as the credit score minimum is just 620. You can borrow up to $35,000 from Upgrade, and check your rate without a hard inquiry. Upgrade can send money to your bank account in as little as one business day after your personal information is verified.
Joni Sweet contributed to the reporting for this article.