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Personal Loans

Where to Get an Unsecured Personal Loan

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.

applying for an unsecured loan
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Life always has a way of coming up with new ways to surprise us. When those surprises call for quick cash, an unsecured personal loan might be what’s needed to fill in the gap between the funds you have and the debts you owe.

Taking out a personal loan to consolidate your existing debts might be wise if you’re facing high interest rates. Also, rolling all your debts into a single payment and interest rate can make it easier to manage and track how much you owe and how long it’ll take for you to pay off the loans.

An unsecured personal loan may also be preferable to selling your assets to get the money you need to pay for large purchases or unexpected emergencies.

What is an unsecured personal loan?

A personal loan is considered unsecured when it’s not backed by collateral, such as your car, which could be repossessed by the lender if you default on your loan agreement. Instead, unsecured loans are backed only by your promise to repay the lender, which is why they are called unsecured, or sometimes signature, loans.

Because an unsecured loan doesn’t require you to put down any collateral, lenders rely heavily on various factors to determine whether you’ll pay back your loan in full. Such factors include:

What can an unsecured personal loan be used for?

An unsecured loan is provided to the borrower in a lump sum and can be used for virtually anything, including:

  • Debt consolidation, which is where you use the personal loan to pay off high-interest debts, leaving you with an easier-to-manage single interest rate and monthly payment.
  • Special experiences such as a wedding or honeymoon so that you can enjoy the experience without worrying about the money.
  • Home improvements or other large appliance purchase, but borrowers should also consider alternatives such as a home equity loan or a home equity line of credit.
  • Medical bills for an unexpected treatment that isn’t covered by your health insurance.
  • College tuition to invest in your and your child’s future.
  • Business expenses to scale and set up your organization for success.
  • Unexpected expenses for those emergencies that often come up in life.

Still, borrowers should make it a point to check with their lender for any guidelines on ways in which the funds can be used.

Personal unsecured loans generally have term ranges between two and five years and rates that are usually fixed. The monthly payment is based on how much money you owe and the interest rate, which is determined by your credit rating and financial history. Some lenders offer revolving lines of credit that allow borrowers to withdraw as needed and only pay interest on the amounts withdrawn.

Where to find unsecured personal loans

If you’ve decided that a personal loan is right for you, you’ll need to begin researching lenders and the terms they offer.

MagnifyMoney offers a personal loan marketplace where you can discover lenders and review the loan terms they offer. But you may also consider these lenders:

Company
APR
Terms
Credit Req.
LendingTree

As low as 3.99%

24 to 60

months

Minimum 500 FICO®

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

LendingTree is our parent company

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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 3.99% (3.99% 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.
SoFi

5.99%-17.67%

24 to 84

months

680

Minimum Credit Score

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

Advertiser Disclosure.

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)
Marcus by Goldman Sachs®

5.99%-28.99%

36 to 72

months

Not specified

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

Advertiser Disclosure.

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. 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. For New York residents, rates range from 5.99% to 24.99% APR.

Up to 29.99%

36 or 60

months

700

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 $2,000-$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.

6.95%-35.89%

36 or 60

months

Not Specified

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

9.95%-35.99%*

24 to 60**

months

600

Minimum Credit Score

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

Advertiser Disclosure.

Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank, member FDIC. *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 $5,700 loan with an administration fee of 4.75% and an amount financed of $5,429.25, repayable in 36 monthly installments, would have an APR of 29.95% and monthly payments of $230.33.

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.
PenFed Credit Union

Starting at 6.49%

36 to 60

months

700

Minimum Credit Score

SEE OFFERS Secured

on PenFed Credit Union’s secure website

5.59%-35.99%

36 or 60

months

620

Minimum Credit Score

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

You’ll find that personal loan lenders take different forms: traditional banks, credit unions, online lenders and peer-to-peer (P2P) lenders. If you’re not sure which lender is right for you, consider these pros and cons for each.

Traditional banks

At one time, brick-and-mortar banks might have been your best option for a personal loan. But nowadays, you may find that your local bank isn’t a competitive option. Why? Because banks with physical branches have higher overhead costs than online lenders — and they’re still trying to make a profit off your loan. Still, they can be a convenient option.

Pros

  • Can visit your local branch to learn more and apply
  • Likely a trusted and known brand

Cons

  • Higher fees
  • May have stricter loan requirements

Credit unions

Because credit unions aren’t trying to profit off your loan, they can generally offer lower interest rates on their personal loans. But to get a personal loan through a credit union, you have to become a member first — and you won’t qualify for membership at every credit union.

Pros

  • Lower fees
  • May have lower loan requirements

Cons

  • Have to become a member before applying
  • Fewer locations compared to a big bank

Online lenders

Online lenders don’t have brick-and-mortar locations. That could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your needs. But with fewer overhead costs, online lenders are competitive options for personal loans.

Pros

  • Competitive rates and terms
  • Easier to research, plus streamlined application processes

Cons

  • Little name recognition can make them hard to find
  • No physical locations for in-person aid

P2P lenders

P2P lending is what it sounds like: Instead of going to a bank, borrowers receive their loans from their peers who they are connected to through a platform. Since P2P lending is only online, overhead costs are low and customers get lower interest rates. A personal loan through P2P lending comes with some cons, such as an origination fee, which is deducted from the total loan amount before the borrower gets their lump sum. Also, loans are not available in all states, and they can depend on debt-to-income ratio, financial history and career experience. They are generally limited to borrowers with above-average credit and income levels.

Pros

  • Can share your story if you’re struggling to qualify
  • Work with people rather than companies

Cons

  • Likely to receive high rates
  • Harder to qualify for a loan

How to compare personal loans: 3 factors to consider

With so many options, it’s beneficial for borrowers to consider several lenders for a comparison. Below are some considerations to take into account when shopping for a personal loan:

Interest rate

Take a look at MagnifyMoney’s personal loan marketplace and you’ll see that rates are as low as 3.99%. Your loan’s interest rate will impact how much you pay throughout the life of the loan, so it’s important to shop around for the best rate.

Interest rates are determined through various factors, depending on the lender, but they are generally decided based on the borrower’s credit, income and whether there’s a cosigner.

Fees

Fees are serious factors to take into account when choosing a lender as they will greatly impact your total loan amount. Here are two common fees:

  • Origination fees are charged by the lender for processing a personal loan application. The origination fee is either presented as a flat rate or a percentage of the loan, which is typically withdrawn from the full amount of the loan and incorporated in the APR. This fee is negotiable.
  • Prepayment penalties are charged when a borrower pays off their loan ahead of the term schedule.

View our list of lenders with no personal loan fees here

Lender perks

If you have a strong credit history and are a good candidate for a personal loan, lenders will usually work with you on a repayment schedule that doesn’t overwhelm you each month. For instance, some lenders will allow you to use a cosigner who has good credit for a lower interest rate and term on your loan.

Some lenders take a nontraditional approach to the merit-based system utilized in personal loans. For instance, Earnest offers flexible terms along with customized loan and repayment plans, which work well for recent graduates who haven’t yet had the opportunity to establish a strong credit history. Upstart, founded by “ex-Googlers,” uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to determine whether someone would be a good borrower based on their education, career, job history and standardized test scores.

Some lenders are forgiving during challenging times. SoFi offers loan forbearance during a job loss. During this time, the interest will continue to accrue, but SoFi will not consider your payments overdue. LendingClub leaves its borrowers alone for at least 30 days if they’ve been affected by a natural disaster.

Applying for an unsecured personal loan

Most online lending platforms use a soft pull during the application process so that you will be able to shop around for the best interest rate and loan term without hurting your credit. These are called preapprovals or pre-qualification checks, but they are usually contingent on you passing a hard credit inquiry after you’ve accepted the loan offer.

While shopping around for the lender that works best for you, consider using MagnifyMoney’s loan payment calculator to get an idea of possible monthly payments. Put in the amount you need, the period you’ll need it for and the interest rate to get the estimated amount you’ll pay each month.

Submitting your application

Since an unsecured loan is not backed by anything other than a borrower’s creditworthiness, you’ll need a good credit score and documentation — recent pay stubs, tax returns and an offer letter to prove employment status – proving you have enough income to repay the new loan.

If you have this kind of information handy, the application process can be quick and simple.

Receiving loan funds

This varies by lender, but decisions are usually made quickly. Funds can be deposited as early as the same business day. Check with your lender on wait times.

Once you have your funds, make sure you are responsible with them. Taking on new debt can be scary if you don’t have a plan for repayment, so make sure you understand how your personal loan fits into your budget.

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.

Vivian Giang
Vivian Giang |

Vivian Giang is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Vivian here

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Personal Loans

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
iStock

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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By clicking “See Offers”, you may or may not be matched with any lender mentioned in this article. Based on your creditworthiness, you may be matched with up to five different lenders in our partner network.
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%

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

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

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

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%

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

Advertiser Disclosure

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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