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P2P Lending: The Complete Guide for Peer-to-Peer Lending

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

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Peer-to-peer lending is a modern name for a practice as old as money itself — individuals loaning money among themselves. What’s modern is the scale afforded by technology. Ten years ago, an individual needing a loan to start a business, consolidate debt, or cover unexpected home improvements would have been limited to borrowing from his or her immediate friends, family, and acquaintances outside of a traditional bank loan. Today, online peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platforms connect individuals who need to borrow money with investors willing to lend. Technology now allows perfect strangers to borrow from and lend to each other.

For many people, borrowing from peers can be a great alternative to borrowing from a bank, but it’s not for everyone. We’ll take a look at how peer-to-peer lending works and what you need to know before you apply.

How P2P loans work

The Small Business Administration (SBA) defines P2P lending as, “Individual investors providing small sums to lend personal loans to individuals via internet platforms.” Some of the most popular platforms include LendingClub, Prosper, Upstart and Funding Circle, although there are several others.

Potential borrowers can apply for credit on the platform, and borrower qualifications vary by lender. For example, the interest rate a LendingClub borrower receives depends on an internal score developed by the company, which is one of the largest P2P lenders. “They will give you a grade between A (the best grade, qualifying for the highest amount at the lowest rates) and G (the lowest grade with the highest interest rate),” a LendingClub spokesperson told MagnifyMoney.

LendingClub currently caps its personal loans at $40,000. Prosper caps its loans at $40,000. Typical loan terms range between three and five years.

Who invests in P2P loans

P2P loans may be funded by an individual investor or a group of investors. According to MarketWatch, P2P loans can be a good way to diversify the portfolio of income investors who take time to understand the risks and rewards. Income investing generates a cash income in the form of dividends and interest. In other words, investors don’t buy a stock, bond, or other investment and wait for it to appreciate in value so they can sell it and earn a profit. Simply holding on to the investment generates income.

P2P loans are an income investment because once an investor opens an account and chooses to participate in a loan, principal and interest payments (less fees charged by the platform) are deposited into the investor’s account on a monthly basis.

The investors may be individuals or institutions, such as banks, pension plans, foundations, finance companies, asset managers, insurance companies, broker-dealers, and hedge funds. Individual investors can open an account with Lending Club with an initial investment of $1,000, but other platforms are available only to institutions and accredited investors (those who can demonstrate high-earned income and net worth).

Connor Murphy, a public relations and communications specialist with Funding Circle, says their platform in the U.S. is only open to accredited investors and institutional investors. “We actually use the term ‘marketplace lending’ rather than peer-to-peer lending,” Murphy said, “because investors on our platform globally include large financial institutions and even governments.”

Whether the investor is an individual with $1,000 or an institution looking to invest $250,000, they select loans to invest in and earn monthly returns on. According to Sarah Cain, head of communications at Prosper, borrowers do not know their lenders. “They simply know if their loan has been funded or not,” Cain said.

Why P2P loans?

P2P lending platforms started gaining traction more than a decade ago as a way to bypass banks and use technology to connect investors with money to the borrowers that need it. P2P lenders have claimed their online platforms help them reduce costs, and that, in conjunction with analytics and proprietary algorithms, allow them to offer borrowers lower interest rates or provide loans to individuals who have been refused loans by traditional banks.

LendingClub currently advertises APRs for personal loans from 6.95% to 35.89%. The company surveyed borrowers during the first seven months of 2017 and found that borrowers who received a loan to consolidate existing debt or pay off credit card balances reported that they saved an average of $287 per month. However, that statistic compares high-interest credit card rates with personal loan rates – not P2P personal loan rates to bank personal loan rates.

As of August 2017, the average APR on credit cards carrying a balance was 14.89 percent, but banks may offer much lower rates for personal loans. Of course, whether you choose a P2P loan or a bank loan, having a high credit score can help you get the lowest rate offers, while a lower credit score will likely stick you with higher interest rates, if you are approved for a loan at all.

Some borrowers just prefer the idea of avoiding large, traditional banks. But as with any borrowing decision, you should compare apples to apples when seeking financing for any purpose and shop around for the best rate.

Applying for a peer-to-peer loan

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To apply for a loan, a potential borrower visits a P2P lending website and fills out an application.

The platform leverages online data and technology to assess risk, determine a credit rating and assign an appropriate interest rate. Applicants may receive offers within a few minutes and can evaluate options without impacting their credit score. Once you select a loan offer, you’re required to complete an online application that gathers information about your income and employment as well as identifying information, such as address and Social Security Number.

You may also be required to provide additional documentation to verify your identity, income, and employment. That may include:

  • Tax forms such as W-2s and 1099s
  • Tax returns
  • IRS Form 4506-T, which is used to request a copy of your tax forms or returns directly from the IRS
  • Recent bank statements or pay stubs
  • Proof of income from alimony or child support, pension or annuity income, disability insurance or workers compensation benefits, if applicable
  • Copies of government-issued photo ID
  • Utility bills

Once you’ve completed the application and submitted the necessary documents, your application is reviewed and the platform matches you with investors to fund the loan. Once the loan is approved, the funds are deposited into your bank account. The process can take anywhere from seven to 45 days.

Each P2P site has its own rules and approval criteria, including minimum credit score, so an application declined by one platform doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t be approved by the others.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Agency (FINRA) reported that P2P lenders tend to be more forgiving than banks when it comes to short credit histories, but if you’re trying to get a P2P loan with less than stellar credit, don’t expect the lowest rates.

Lending Club states that applicants who qualify for the lowest rates have:

  • An excellent credit score
  • A low percentage of total outstanding debt compared with income
  • A long history of credit with significant successful credit lines
APR

6.95%
To
35.89%

Credit Req.

600

Minimum Credit Score

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 600.... Read More

Upstart looks for borrowers with:

  • A minimum FICO score of 620 (although they do accept borrowers with insufficient credit history to produce a FICO score)
  • No bankruptcies
  • No accounts currently in collections or delinquent
  • Fewer than six inquiries on their credit report in the last six months (other than inquiries for student loans, vehicle loans, or mortgages
APR

8.09%
To
35.99%

Credit Req.

620

Minimum Credit Score

Terms

36 & 60

months

Origination Fee

0.00% - 8.00%

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on LendingTree’s secure website

Upstart is an online lender created by ex-Googlers.... Read More

Prosper’s minimum criteria include:

  • A minimum FICO score of 640
  • Debt-to-income ratio below 50%
  • No bankruptcies within the last 12 months
  • Fewer than seven credit inquiries within the last six months
APR

6.95%
To
35.99%

Credit Req.

640

Minimum Credit Score

Terms

36 or 60

months

Origination Fee

2.41% - 5.00%

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Prosper is a peer-to-peer lending platform that offers a quick and convenient way to get personal loans with fixed and low interest rates. ... Read More


For example, a three-year $10,000 loan with a Prosper Rating of AA would have an interest rate of 5.31% and a 2.41% origination fee for an annual percentage rate (APR) of 6.95% APR. You would receive $9,759 and make 36 scheduled monthly payments of $301.10. A five-year $10,000 loan with a Prosper Rating of A would have an interest rate of 8.39% and a 5.00% origination fee with a 10.59% APR. You would receive $9,500 and make 60 scheduled monthly payments of $204.64. Origination fees vary between 2.41%-5%. APRs through Prosper range from 6.95% (AA) to 35.99% (HR) for first-time borrowers, with the lowest rates for the most creditworthy borrowers. Eligibility for loans up to $40,000 depends on the information provided by the applicant in the application form. Eligibility is not guaranteed, and requires that a sufficient number of investors commit funds to your account and that you meet credit and other conditions. Refer to Borrower Registration Agreement for details and all terms and conditions. All loans made by WebBank, member FDIC.

While the approval process isn’t without its hurdles, peer-to-peer loans give borrowers another — sometimes less expensive — option for borrowing beyond credit cards and bank loans. Because P2P lenders facilitate borrowing without a bank intermediary, there is less overhead and none of the capital reserve requirements that drive up costs for traditional banks. As a result, the cost of originating and funding loans is lower, providing more competitive rates to borrowers and a faster approval process.

Plus, some borrowers just like the idea of borrowing outside of the traditional banking industry. Cain says although the process is online, P2P lending is not simply a different way of dealing with a faceless lender. “We do have a robust customer service team that is available to help,” Cain said.

What if your loan isn’t funded?

If your loan application is denied, you will receive an adverse action notice that provides the specific reason for the denial.

Cain says it’s hard to say exactly why a loan application would be denied, as every person’s credit profile is unique. However, some common reasons credit applications may be denied even though the borrower has a good credit score include:

  • Problems verifying employment. A stable job and stable income indicate that you’ll be able to pay your lender back. If the lender has trouble verifying your employment history, they may decline your application.
  • Not enough income. If you don’t have enough income in relation to your existing debt obligations to pay back the loan, most lenders will deny credit.
  • Bankruptcy. Lenders are often wary of approving a loan after you’ve declared bankruptcy. A bankruptcy may remain on your credit report for up to seven or 10 years, depending on the type filed.
  • Credit card utilization. If you are using a large percentage of your available credit, you may be seen as a potential risk to lenders.

If your loan application is denied, check your credit report to make sure that there are no inaccuracies that are dragging down your credit score. You can check your credit report with each of the three credit reporting agencies for free once a year at annualcreditreport.com.

Also, review your loan application to ensure you filled it out completely and accurately. If you find any errors in your credit report or application, correct them and apply again. Otherwise, take a look at the adverse action notice and see what you can do to improve your situation.

While there are no quick fixes for a bad credit score, small steps can improve your score over time.

  • Reduce the amount you owe. Stop using credit cards and make a plan to pay down existing balances.
  • Pay your bills on time. Payment history accounts for as much as 35 percent of your FICO score, so set up payment reminders to avoid missed or delinquent payments.
  • Avoid closing unused cards. Part of your credit score depends on the average length of time you’ve been using credit, so closing old accounts can actually hurt your score.
  • Don’t open new accounts too rapidly. A large number of new accounts in a short time frame can make you look risky to lenders, so apply for and open new accounts only as needed.

Shopping around

Each platform has their own lending criteria, loan limits, fees, interest rates, and areas of operation. Take a look at the FAQs and other information on the provider’s website to get an overview of the types of loans they offer, and the rates and fees they charge.

Here are a few to get started:

Lending platform

Loan amount

Terms

Who it’s best for:

Upstart


$1,000-$50,000

36 & 60 months

Borrowers who may not have an
excellent FICO score (or any score
at all) but are good loan candidates
based on other factors such as
education and job history

Prosper


$2,000-$40,000

36 or 60 months

Borrowers interested in a personal
loan to consolidate credit card debt,
fund home improvements, vehicle
purchases or other life events,
or start, or expand a small business

Lending Club


$1,000-$40,000

36 or 60 months

Borrowers interested in a personal
loan for consolidating high-interest
debt, funding home improvements,
or paying for unexpected expenses

Funding Circle


$25,000-$500,000

6 months to 5 years

Borrowers looking for funding to start
or expand their business

Keep in mind that interest rates and other terms can change, so you should compare rates and other terms from a variety of lenders every time you need to borrow.

The P2P lending market is only a little over a decade old, thus P2P platforms have not had the long history of government oversight to which banks and credit unions have been subjected.

And there is reason to be cautious about getting involved in P2P lending. In 2016, the Department of the Treasury released a report, Opportunities and Challenges in Online Marketplace Lending, looking at the opportunities and risks of P2P lending. Their concerns included:

  • The use of data-driven algorithms for making credit decisions has the potential to violate fair lending laws and doesn’t allow applicants to check and correct the data being used.
  • Interest rates may be high. The report acknowledged that the majority of loans are made to borrowers with good credit scores, but some platforms offer loans to borrowers with poor credit (FICO scores as low as 580) at interest rates as high as 36 percent.
  • Borrowers using P2P lending to refinance federal student loans lose the protections available to federal student loan borrowers, including income-driven repayment plans, loan forgiveness, and deferral or forbearance while the borrower returns to school or faces economic hardship or disability.
  • Many borrowers use P2P loans to fund small business development, but it may be difficult to enforce consumer protection laws and regulations, contract law, or fair lending laws with P2P platforms since these platforms are not subject to the same oversight as traditional banks.
  • While many marketplace lenders clearly disclose loan rates and terms, not all platforms are as transparent. The report acknowledged a need for standardized disclosures.
  • Most P2P platforms service loans only until a loan becomes delinquent, at which point collection is outsourced to a collection agency. Not all platforms have plans in place to work with borrowers who are experiencing financial distress or plans to continue servicing loans if the company goes out of business.

However, they are required to follow the same state and federal laws as other lenders. If you encounter any problems with a P2P lender, you should submit a complaint to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The CFPB began accepting complains about P2P lenders in March of 2016. We reviewed the complaints database in December of 2017 and counted more than 300 complaints about some of the largest P2P lenders. Consumers who submit complaints assign categories themselves and can opt not to have their complaint narrative published, so it’s difficult to parse the top complaints, but they include:

  • Having difficulty getting the loan
  • Problems making payments
  • Problems with the payoff process
  • Being charged interest or fees that aren’t expected
  • Inaccurate information reported to the credit bureau

These problems aren’t unique to P2P lenders, given that borrowers from traditional banks can face similar frustrations. Still, it’s important to know what other borrowers have experienced if you’re thinking of pursuing a P2P loan.

Lending Club and Prosper are the most popular platforms, but experts expect the industry to grow, so it’s worth expanding any comparison shopping beyond the biggest players. Just do your research before providing your personal information.

  • Search for the lender online. Is the platform mentioned in roundups of the best P2P platforms from reputable financial websites? Do your search results include consumer complaints?
  • Check the platform’s rating with the Better Business Bureau.
  • Make sure the platform takes steps to protect your personal data. They should have security and privacy certification from a company like TRUSTe or Symantec.

Alternatives to a P2P loan

It makes sense for anyone interested in a P2P loan to also compare alternatives before committing to a loan:

  • Community banks
  • Credit unions
  • Friends and family

Peer-to-peer lending can be a less expensive alternative to high-interest credit cards and easier to get than a bank loan. But, like all borrowing decisions, it needs to be carefully considered for your individual financial circumstances. The bottom line is that P2P is another option, and more options and increased competition are always good for borrowers.

LendingTree
APR

5.99%
To
35.99%

Credit Req.

Minimum 500 FICO

Minimum Credit Score

Terms

24 to 60

months

Origination Fee

Varies

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on LendingTree’s secure website

LendingTree is our parent company

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.

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.

Janet Berry-Johnson
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Janet Berry-Johnson is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Janet here

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Top 5 Personal Loan Myths of 2019

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When it comes to personal loans, many Americans are more likely to turn to credit cards as a way to pay emergency bills, enjoy a dream vacation, or pay for items they can’t afford with cash.

According to Experian, existing personal loan debt was at $273 billion in the second quarter of 2018, while existing credit card debt was at $782 billion in the same period.

But it also shows personal loans with a greater year-to-year change in debt growth than credit cards. Whether personal loans are a viable option for expenses depends, apparently, on who you ask.

Awareness seems to be a key factor. When people are in the dark about financial solutions, they will draw their own conclusions, often leading to false perceptions.

What are some of the myths about personal loans?

5 things people say about personal loans

Myths about personal loans have developed over two centuries, making them hard to debunk.

Fortunately, the internet makes it easier than ever to not just raise awareness about personal loans and to clarify misconceptions, but to find the lowest interest rates and apply for loans.

Personal loans have a difficult and lengthy application process

Before the internet, borrowers had to apply for a personal loan by visiting their bank. During the days of the Morris Plan banks, they often evaluated borrowers based on character and income. This may have meant dressing in your Sunday best and arriving for a meeting with a loan officer with stacks of paperwork, pay stubs and tax returns.

Today, applying for a personal loan is easier than applying for a home equity loan or a mortgage.

You can apply easily online in just a few clicks. Many lenders will ask you to provide your Social Security number, your monthly expenses — including any outstanding debt such as mortgages, car loans, student loans and credit card debt — and your income.

Keep in mind that applying for a personal loan may require a hard credit inquiry and could lower your credit score. If you can, try to pre-qualify for a loan before you apply.

You won’t qualify for a personal loan if you don’t have excellent credit

This common misconception couldn’t be further from the truth. Personal loans are available for borrowers with a FICO Score as low as 500, but you won’t get the best rates with a rock-bottom credit score.

Most lenders look for borrowers with a credit score of 670 or higher. But a score of 800 or more will net you the best terms and interest rates.

Personal loans have lower interest rates than credit cards

Unlike the other myths explored, this one has some truth to it. It all depends on your creditworthiness.

Borrowers with a credit score of 720 or higher get personal loans at an average APR of 7.09%, according to LendingTree data, which is lower than the current 14.73% average APR for credit cards. (Disclosure: MagnifyMoney is owned by LendingTree.)

But if your credit is between 660 and 679, the average APR for a personal loan jumps to 16.72%.

It might be smarter to open a credit card with a 0% introductory APR for balance transfers and pay down as much debt as you can during that introductory period. With on-time payments, your credit score will rise and you can continuing using the same process until your high-interest debt is paid off.

Personal loans have high interest rates

“Personal loans have high interest rates” and “personal loans have lower interest rates than credit cards” might seem to be contradictory misconceptions.

In fact, they show just how much confusion there is about personal loans. Some people perceive the rates to be too high, while others assume a personal loan will offer a lower interest rate than their existing credit card debt.

There is just not enough awareness about personal loans being a good option for many people.

So what’s the truth?

If you have an excellent credit score, you could qualify for a personal loan with single-digit interest rates, which is lower than most credit cards.

Personal loans are also a better option than predatory payday loans, which can have an APR of almost 400%.

But if you own a home, a secured loan such as a home equity loan or home equity line of credit will almost certainly deliver a lower interest rate than an unsecured personal loan.

Personal loans just aren’t right for many borrowers

Many people don’t think of themselves as a good candidate for a personal loan. Maybe they feel their credit isn’t good enough or they don’t make enough money to quality.

Homeowners often consider home equity loans or HELOCs before personal loans. And, of course, the 70 million Americans carrying credit card debt month to month may not have thought about a personal loan.

But you could be a good candidate for a personal loan if you have excellent credit and need cash to consolidate credit card debt, pay medical bills or make a large purchase.

With an easy online application process, personal loans are increasingly becoming a smart choice for many borrowers.

What are your personal loan options?

In spite of the myths surrounding them, personal loans continue to grow in popularity.

In the second quarter of 2018, personal loans showed the greatest year-over-year growth than any other type of loan, according to Experian. Personal loan debt increased by 11.4%.

Borrowers looking for cash to pay off revolving credit cards or remodel their home may want to consider a personal loan. If you’re considering a personal loan, check your credit reports from all three credit bureaus and repair any errors to be sure your credit is in tip-top shape so you can qualify for a lower interest rate.

If your score isn’t where you’d like it to be, take time to pay down existing debt to improve your credit utilization ratio and raise your credit score. Avoid opening or closing accounts before applying for a personal loan since these actions could reduce your score.

As your credit score is increasing, use the MagnifyMoney personal loan marketplace to find a loan with the lowest rates and best terms for your situation. Always remember to do your research, consider all your options and make sure your finances are in order before applying for a personal loan.

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.

Dawn Allcot
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Dawn Allcot is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Dawn here

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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.

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.

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

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