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Loan Origination Fees: Should I Be Paying Them?

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If you’ve applied for a personal loan or mortgage, chances are you probably came across something called an origination fee. If you’re wondering what it’s for and whether you have to pay it, here’s what you need to know.

Understanding origination fees

An origination fee is a common charge that is added to a personal loan, student loan or mortgage. It is charged by the lender and can also be referred to as an application, processing or underwriting fee. Its purpose is to cover the hard costs of preparing documents, processing and underwriting your loan, and any third party fees that might be incurred along the way, said Ashley Luethje, a York, Neb.-based sales manager at Waterstone Mortgage.

“These fees are typically a percentage of the total amount you’re borrowing,” Luethje said. “Generally, a mortgage origination fee is around one percent, but for consumer and commercial loans, the fee can be greater and is at the discretion of the lender.”

How an origination fee can come into play

If you’re deciding between lenders, one criteria you might want to take into account is the difference in their origination fees. There are some key points to consider, depending on the type of loan you’re applying for.

Personal loan

As personal loans are typically unsecured and not backed by any collateral, you may find the highest origination fees in this category. Because these types of loans carry more risk for lenders, they may charge you anywhere between 1% to 6% of the total amount you are borrowing. Those higher fees also offset the lower amount of interest lenders like banks and credit unions will receive during the life of a personal loan. These loans tend to be extended for a shorter term and in smaller amounts than other kind of loans.

If you’re not getting charged an origination fee with your personal loan, be aware that the lender may make up for it some other way, such as charging higher interest rates, said Jacob Dayan, the Chicago, Ill.-based CEO and co-founder of Community Tax and Finance Pal.

“It’s important to note that having a good credit history will yield you a much lower origination fee,” Dayan said. “Those fees are negotiable for larger loans, but will commonly require you to put up something, such as accepting a higher Annual Percentage Rate (APR) on your loan.”

Mortgage

Mortgage origination fees — also called mortgage points — can vary drastically as they are determined by the lender, said Jason Larkins, a Scarborough, Maine-based branch manager at United Fidelity Funding. These fees are charged to cover the labor involved in the processing, underwriting and funding of a mortgage, as well as third party fees incurred in tasks such as verifying your employment.

Many lenders, such as banks, credit unions and brokerages, charge a flat origination fee. This means the fee is not based on the amount you borrow. Others could charge a 0.5% to 1% origination fee; the VA home loan program sets a cap at 1%. “However, if a borrower is paying a 1% origination fee, they are likely paying too much and can shop for a better deal,” Larkins said.

At the beginning of the mortgage application process, lenders must disclose the exact origination fee being charged in an official Loan Estimate form. Lenders may not increase the stated fee except under special circumstances, such as if you decrease your down payment or change your type of loan. However, you could negotiate it downwards depending on your credit score, and the size and duration of your requested loan.

As long as you meet certain criteria outlined in IRS Publication 530, your mortgage origination fees may also be tax deductible.

Student loans

Origination fees for federal student loans are set by the government and may vary depending on whether you have a direct subsidized, direct unsubsidized or direct plus-type loan. Those fees could range from 1.062% to 4.264%  and are deducted from the loan amount — meaning you get a smaller loan in the end but will still pay back the full amount. For example, if you were to take out a $10,000 loan with a 4% origination fee, you would only receive $9,600 but would have to pay back the entire $10,000.

The only federal student loans that didn’t charge an origination fee were the Perkins Loans for undergraduate and graduate students in financial need, but this program recently ended. While most student loans provided by private lenders such as credit unions and banks might not come with origination fees, they could cost you more in the long run by charging higher interest rates. Private student loans also don’t come with the federal protections that are standard with federal loans.

Keep in mind that loans with lower interest rates but higher fees can cost more than loans with a higher interest rate and no fees. An easy way to calculate whether your lender is giving you a good deal is to remember that 3% to 4% in fees is equivalent to a 1% higher interest rate.

Is my origination fee too high?

Origination fees are not required, so it’s at the lender’s discretion to waive or negotiate the fee, said Kris Alban, the San Diego-based executive vice president of iGrad.

“It’s always smart to ask for a discount, especially if you have a high credit score and it’s a large loan,” Alban said. “When negotiating, the lender may agree to lower or waive the origination fees if you’ll pay a higher interest rate — meaning they will still make a profit, and you can pay the fees over the length of the loan rather than up front.”

To get the best big picture outlook of whether you’re getting a good deal on your loan, make sure you’re not just comparing the origination fees but also factoring in the interest rate. For example:

  • A $10,000 loan at a 4.99% APR for five years with a 3% origination fee will cost you $11,620 over the life of the loan.
  • The same loan at 5.65% APR with a 1.5% origination fee will cost you $11,652 over the life of the loan.

“Pay attention to both the interest rate and APR,” Alban said. “If they are different, the lender is most likely factoring additional fees into the APR; any origination fee over 4% of the total loan amount is excessive.”

The bottom line

Origination fees are charged by lenders to cover the costs of processing your loan, whether you’re looking for a mortgage, personal loan or student loan. Even though lenders are subject to regulations, be cautious of anything that sounds too good to be true and remember that the absence of origination fees can translate into higher interest rates. “Take the time to read the fine print and completely understand the terms of the loan,” Luethje said.

While you should exercise your ability to price origination fees with different lenders to get you the best deal possible, remember there is no one-size-fits-all scenario. “Make the choice that best fits your needs. If an upfront origination fee hinders your ability to receive a loan but a higher interest rate is a better option, then that might be the best scenario for you as a consumer,” Luethje said.

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Barbara Balfour
Barbara Balfour |

Barbara Balfour is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Barbara here

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Best Places to Raise a Family With a Balanced Lifestyle

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.

best places to raise a family
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Raising a family has always been a challenge. But for many parents, getting their kids into a prestigious college is a long-term goal that may require them to start thinking early about how to give their children a head start. That not only means access to traditional educational opportunities but also paying for extracurricular activities parents consider important enough to go into debt over.

You can’t have it all, of course, and some of the communities with the best resources are also the most costly for families. Below we look to combine these factors to rank the best places to raise a family with a balanced lifestyle. Using data from 2016-2017, we compare 16 different metrics between the 100 biggest metro areas in the United States to pinpoint the best cities for families who want a balanced lifestyle.

Key findings

  • Utah metro areas come out looking good for families. Provo and Ogden secured the top two spots thanks to being family-friendly metro areas. Both of these metros stand out for their low average work hours, low unemployment rates and high density of families and children. In both metros, roughly 80% of households are occupied by families with over a third of the population being under 20 years old.
  • Boston comes in third and is the best of the pricey metro areas. This area has a high concentration of family-friendly establishments like museums, summer camps and grocery stores. This area also ranks in the top 30 for English proficiency, math proficiency and graduation rate, making it one of the best metro areas for education opportunities.
  • Southwestern metro areas did not fare well. Tucson, Ariz. and Albuquerque, N.M. took last and second-to-last spots respectively, while Las Vegas and Tulsa, Okla. also fell into the bottom six.
  • Florida scored poorly on the study with five metro areas in the bottom 20.


By looking at the map, it’s clear that the highest concentration of liveable cities is on the east coast, although California does put up some strong numbers for the west with six cities across the state making it into the top half of the rankings. Don’t focus exclusively on the mainland, though — Hawaii fares considerably well against the rest of the country with Honolulu ranked 20th overall.

You might notice some of the most northern states, such as Montana or North Dakota, aren’t ranked at all. That’s because their population density isn’t high enough for cities in the states to make it into the top 100.

Top 10 places to raise a family with a balanced lifestyle

Trying to determine where the best city to raise your family is? The following cities made it into the top 10 of our rankings.

1. Provo, Utah

The average work hours in Provo came out at 35 per week, with an unemployment rate of 4.3%. Families tend to be drawn to Provo, which has a family rate of 81.9%. It’s also strong when it comes to education, boasting a graduation rate of 91.6%. These results are not too surprising; Provo ranked highly in our rankings of America’s biggest boomtowns, alongside Austin, Texas.

2. Ogden, Utah

Utah makes a strong showing in the top 10 with Ogden claiming second place. Similar to Provo, people in Ogden typically work under 40 hours a week, reporting a 37.3 hour average. The numbers are similar across the board between Provo and Ogden except for the crime rate. While Provo ranks in sixth place in terms of low crime rate, Ogden ranks in 29th place.

3. Boston, Mass.

Even though Boston might sound like an expensive city, it does a lot to make life better for families. In fact, Boston ranks sixth when it comes to family-friendly businesses. It’s relatively low crime, ranking seventh — one spot behind Provo. It has an 89.7% graduation rate for students.

4. Grand Rapids, Wyo.

Grand Rapids ranks 17th when it comes to home affordability and has an unemployment rate of 5.3%, ranking 17th compared to all the other cities in the data. Its family poverty rate of 7.9%, which is lower than Provo’s, who has a family poverty rate of 8.5%.

5. San Jose, Calif.

Despite an earlier study showing San Jose is one of the worst places to be making six figures, it’s still an affordable place for families with a family poverty rate of 5.7% — the lowest of all cities in the top five. It has an unemployment rate of 5.8%. The graduation rate is the lowest of all the top five cities, coming in at 84.2%.

6. Bridgeport, Conn.

Bridgeport is another city known to be difficult for workers to make a six figure income, but that doesn’t seem to stop families from thriving in the area. It has a family rate of 70%. Students in the area seem to thrive too, Bridgeport boasts a graduation rate of 91.8%.

7. Austin, Texas

Workers in Austin were among the top in the country for most hours worked, with an average of 39.7 hours per week. However, Austin also has the highest graduation rate out of all the cities in the top ten, coming in at 92.7%.

8. Minneapolis, Minn.

With a family poverty rate of 5.9%, Minneapolis ranks second best in this area out of all the cities in the top 10. It also come in 46th place in home affordability, make them one of the more financially tenable cities on the list for growing families.

9. Des Moines, Iowa

Des Moines has the most affordable homes out of all cities to make the top ten, coming in 11th place in this area. Its unemployment rate is at 4.3% while their graduation rate is comparable to Bridgeport, Conn. at 91.9%.

10. Worcester, Mass.

Similar to Boston, Worcester ranks well when it comes to family friendly businesses and activities — with 2.3%. Its crime rate also establishes it as a safer place for families, coming in 10th place.

See our complete rankings

The complete rankings show the tradeoffs between each location. Keep in mind when reviewing the data that certain criteria may be more valuable to you personally than others when deciding where to live. That’s why it’s important to look at the data as a whole and compare discrepancies between your ideal cities. To see what you’d rather live with and or what you can’t live without.

Making the most of your family’s income

No matter where you live, sound, financial stewardship is the key to providing a balanced life for your family. While some cities make this easier than others in the end it does come down to how you manage your finances. Here are some tips to start incorporating into your financial plan now regardless of your location.

1. Use an app to manage your budget

The days of keeping cash in envelopes or using a spreadsheet to budget are long behind us. Nowadays there are many budgeting apps you can use to manage your family’s money.

For example, if you are still in love with the envelope method, consider an app like Goodbudget. It allows you to replicate the concept from your smartphone. For a more in-depth approach, try a platform such as Mint that allows you to track your income and expenses and will send you alerts throughout the month to help you reach your savings goals.

2. Consolidate your debt

If you are facing debt as a family, consider taking out a personal loan to consolidate your debt. Debt consolidation can help you pay less interest over time, if you qualify for a lower interest rate on the new loan. Plus, it simplifies your finances because instead of having to make various payments you’ll only have to focus on one payment, once a month.

Compare personal loans online to make sure you’re getting the best rate before you sign.

3. Consider your investment options

If you have savings each month, even if it is a small amount, you might want to start considering how to invest your surplus. After creating an emergency fund with cash you can access quickly if a worst case scenario does arise begin to decide how you’ll invest the extra. This could take the form of a daily interest savings account or something more aggressive.

Methodology

In order to find the best places to raise a family with a balanced lifestyle, we compared data for the top 100 metro areas by population. Specifically, we looked at the following 16 metrics:

  1. Average hours worked per week (2017 ACS)
  2. Unemployment rate (2017 ACS)
  3. Median housing costs as a percent of household income (2017 ACS)
  4. Family poverty rate (2017 ACS)
  5. Family friendly business rate (2016 County Business Patterns Survey)
  6. Education opportunity rate (2016 Business Patterns Survey)
  7. Math proficiency rate (Data comes from the US Department of Education and is for 2016-2017 School Year)
  8. English proficiency rate ((Data comes from the US Department of Education and is for 2016-2017 School Year)
  9. Graduation rate (Data comes from the US Department of Education and is for 2016-2017 School Year)
  10. 5-year change in median home values (2017 ACS)
  11. Family household rate (2017 ACS)
  12. Percent of population under 20 years old (2017 ACS)
  13. Home affordability ratio (2017 ACS)
  14. Crime rate per 100,000 residents (Data comes from the FBI and is for 2017)
  15. Per pupil funding as a percent of local income (2017 ACS)

Each metric was scored relative to highest and lowest values across all metros. For each metric, these scores were averaged for a highest possible category score of 100 and a lowest of 0. Family friendly business rate, education opportunity rate, math proficiency rate and english proficiency rate were all given half weight while every other metric was given full weight. The highest possible final score was 100 and the lowest was 0.

This article contains links to CompareCards, similar to MagnifyMoney, is owned by LendingTree.

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.

Jolene Latimer
Jolene Latimer |

Jolene Latimer is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Jolene here

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Align Income Share Agreement Review

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.

If you need money — such as to cover an emergency expense or to consolidate debt — but you’re worried about high-interest rates you might face with a personal loan, there is an alternative funding option you may consider: an income-share agreement (ISA).

An ISA doesn’t come with a set interest rate. Instead, you pay a percentage of your yearly income every year for a set number of years, paying back what you originally borrowed plus more.

Chicago-based Align Income Share Funding is one source of this type of agreement. The company has been providing ISAs since its founding in 2011. In this review, we’ll explain how Align’s ISA works and whether it might be a good fit for you.

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Align income share agreement details
 

Fees and penalties

  • Terms: Align states that its income-share agreement runs from 24 to 60 months. However, that may depend on your location.
  • Borrowing cost: Align doesn’t charge traditional interest rates on its loans. Instead, it charges a percentage of your income, no more than 10.00%. Say you make $40,000 a year. You might agree to spend 3% of your income each year to repay your loan, or $1,200. If you borrow $4,000 and you sign an agreement to pay back your loan over four years, you’d end up paying $4,800, or $800 more than what you initially borrowed.
  • Borrowing limits: Align will loan you a maximum of $12,500.
  • Time to funding: Align says that you once you sign your contract, it can deposit funds in your bank account in as little as one business day.
  • Hard pull or soft pull? Soft Pull. You can get a quote for an ISA on Align’s website and it will not impact your credit score.
  • Origination fee: Align does not charge origination fees.
  • Prepayment fee: Align also does not charge a prepayment fee. However, there is a cost for getting out of your agreement early.

There are no limits on how you can use your funds from an Align ISA. You can use the money for everything from consolidating high interest credit card debt to paying for home repairs or a dream vacation.

Align is flexible, too, when it comes to determining your income. As the company’s website states, anything listed in box No. 1 of your annual W-2 form can be considered income.

Eligibility requirements

  • Minimum credit score: Not specified.
  • Minimum credit history: Not specified.
  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: Not specified.

Align doesn’t say much about the minimum credit scores or debt-to-income ratio you will need to qualify for an income-share contract. Their website, however, specifies that they’ll consider your income, creditworthiness, job, and location when determining whether to approve your request for funds.

How Align’s income-share agreement works

This yearly percentage is broken up into monthly payments. Say you borrow $8,000 from Align and you earn $30,000 a year. If you agree to pay back your ISA at 10% of your yearly salary for three years, you’d pay Align $3,000 a year, at $250 a month. After the three-year repayment period has ended, you’d end up paying a total of $9,000, or $1,000 more than you borrowed.

When you set up your contract, you pick a date on which you want to pay each month. Align then automatically deducts that amount from your checking account.

As your income changes, so can your monthly payment. If your income goes up, the percentage you contribute will remain the same. But because your income is increasing, the overall amount you pay will jump, too.

It works the other way, too. Align says that if your income falls, you will pay less. If you become unemployed and you have no income, your monthly payment could potentially fall to $0. If you become unemployed, you will have to submit proof that you are not working, such as a notice from your former employer or documents showing you are receiving unemployment benefits.

Applying for an income-share agreement from Align

Applying for an ISA from Align is a simple process. Just click on the “Apply Now” button on the company’s homepage. Once you do, you’ll be asked to provide your name, date of birth, Social Security number, email address, physical address and phone number.

Align will also ask for your gross yearly income, your income source and the industry in which you work. You’ll also need to provide your education level, estimated credit score, the amount you’d like to borrow and what you want the money for.

After filling in this information, you will then submit your application for an online quote. If you are interested, you can contact Align to speak with a representative who will verify your income, job status and credit. Once this is done, Align will make you an official offer stating how much it is willing to lend you and at what percentage of your yearly income. Align will also state how many months you will make payments, and how much you will pay each month and each year to pay off the money you received.

If you like the offer, you will sign your contract. Align will then deposit your funds into your bank account in as little as one business day.

Pros and cons of an Align income share agreement

Pros:

Cons:

  • No interest rates: Align doesn’t charge interest rates for its loans. However, you will have to pay a percentage of your annual income for a set number of months to pay back your loan.
  • No origination fees: Applying for a loan at Align is free. The company also doesn’t charge you for the work involved in originating your loan.
  • Protection if you lose your job: How much you pay is based on how much you earn, so you won’t have to make any payments if you lose your job and your income.
  • Applying is fast: You won’t have to meet in person with a lender to get your money. You can start the process online. You will have to speak with a representative to verify your financial information.
  • Monthly payment may change: Your monthly payment can vary because Align charges you a percentage of your gross income to lend you money. If your income fluctuates, your monthly payment will, too. This can be challenging when you are making a household budget.
  • Not everyone is guaranteed an ISA: Align looks at your credit score, income and employment status when determining who qualifies for funds. There is no guarantee of approval.
  • Paying out of your contract may be pricey: You can end your contract with Align before your term ends. This will cost you, though. Align lists in your contract the amount of money you’d have to pay to get out of your ISA early.

Who’s the best fit for Align Income Share Funding?

An Align ISA can work for people who aren’t afraid of a little uncertainty and are worried about high interest rates. Because Align charges a percentage of your income, your monthly payments can increase or decrease. If you don’t mind this uncertainty, an Align ISA might be a good choice.

This type of agreement might work, too, if you have a relatively low income. But if your income is high, or if you expect it to rise in the near future, an ISA might not be a good fit — your monthly payment could jump too high.

Alternative funding options

LendingClub

APR

6.95%
To
35.89%

Credit Req.

Not Specified

Terms

36 or 60

months

Origination Fee

1.00% - 6.00%

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LendingClub is a great tool for borrowers that can offer competitive interest rates and approvals for people with credit scores as low as 0.... Read More

LendingClub is an online lender providing personal loans up to $40,000. Unlike Align, LendingClub provides traditional loans with a fixed interest rate. This means that your payments remain the same every month, a benefit when you are overseeing a household budget. LendingClub does not charge prepayment penalties, but it does have an origination fee between 1.00% - 6.00%. Anyone seeking more certainty with their loan payments should explore this option.

SoFi

SoFi
APR

5.99%
To
17.67%

Credit Req.

680

Minimum Credit Score

Terms

24 to 84

months

Origination Fee

No origination fee

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Advertiser Disclosure

SoFi offers some of the best rates and terms on the market. ... Read More


Fixed rates from 5.990% APR to 17.67% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 5.60% APR to 14.700% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of August 7, 2019 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. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 5.60% APR assumes current 1-month LIBOR rate of 2.27% plus 3.08% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. 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.

All rates, terms, and figures are subject to change by the lender without notice. For the most up-to-date information, visit the lender's website directly. To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull.

See Consumer Licenses.

SoFi Personal Loans are not available to residents of MS. Minimum loan requirements might be higher than $5,000 in specific states due to legal requirements. Fixed and variable-rate caps may be lower in some states due to legal requirements and may impact your eligibility to qualify for a SoFi loan.

If you lose your job through no fault of your own, you may apply for Unemployment Protection. SoFi will suspend your monthly SoFi loan payments and provide job placement assistance during your forbearance period. Interest will continue to accrue and will be added to your principal balance at the end of each forbearance period, to the extent permitted by applicable law. Benefits are offered in three month increments, and capped at 12 months, in aggregate, over the life of the loan. To be eligible for this assistance you must provide proof that you have applied for and are eligible for unemployment compensation, and you must actively work with our Career Advisory Group to look for new employment. If the loan is co-signed the unemployment protection applies where both the borrower and cosigner lose their job and meet conditions.

Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi's underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

SoFi is another popular source of personal loans. This online lender also provides traditional loans, with interest rates lower than many lenders because it primarily targets borrowers with great credit. SoFi charges no origination fee or prepayment fees and temporarily pauses your payments if you lose your job.

Payoff

APR

5.99%
To
24.99%

Credit Req.

640

Minimum Credit Score

Terms

24 to 60

months

Origination Fee

up to 5.00%

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Payoff is a financial services firm that offers personal loans mainly to help consolidate credit card debt.... Read More


All loans are subject to credit review and approval. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, credit usage and history. Currently loans are not offered in: MA, MS, NE, NV, OH, and WV.

Another online lender, Payoff lets you apply online for a personal loan. The company charges no application fees, and applying does not impact your credit score. You can choose a loan amount between $5,000 to $35,000 and terms from 24 to 60 months.

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.

Dan Rafter
Dan Rafter |

Dan Rafter is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Dan here

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