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Square Cash App Review: What Is It and How Does It Stack up Against Its Competitors?

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.

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Square Cash App Review
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Square Cash, also known as the Cash app, is a peer-to-peer (P2P) payment service that’s part of the Square product portfolio. Headquartered in San Francisco, Square provides payment hardware and software solutions for individuals and businesses.

In this post, we’ll dig into the Cash app service to explain how safe it is to use, how it works and how it compares with other P2P payment products. Any fees and pricing mentioned below are accurate as of the date of publishing.

What is the Square Cash app?

The Cash app service is a simple way to split bills with family and friends. You just need an iPhone or Android to get started. There are a few extra bells and whistles that the Cash app has compared with other P2P payment services — and it’s starting to look more and more like a bank account with the ability to receive direct deposit payments and a companion credit card to make purchases or withdraw money at the ATM. The app can be used to buy and sell bitcoin. You can also use it for personal and business reasons. Cash for Business lets you accept money for goods and services. The Cash app just recently became available in the U.K.

How Square Cash works

The Cash app is remarkably easy to sign up for and use. You download the app onto your iPhone or Android. Next, you enter your phone number and email address to set up the account. Then you select if you want to use the account for personal or business transactions.

Keep in mind, signing up for the Cash for Business via the Cash app doesn’t afford you any significant merchant protections. The only real difference between a personal and business Cash app account is that you can issue refunds. You may want to consider Square Point of Sale instead if you need to do major transactions because it’s more robust.

How to send money with Square Cash

To send money, you hit the pay or request button. You type the name, $cashtag or phone number of the person who’s getting the money. The recipient will get an email or text message with the cash. You can also send money from a browser if you have the recipient’s $cashtag URL. Money can be sent from a debit card, credit card or from your Cash app balance.

How to receive money with Square Cash

To receive money, link your bank account or debit card to the app and select the cashout option. You can cash out the full amount of your balance or you can choose a specific dollar amount.

How long it takes to deposit money into a bank account

The Cash app offers instant and standard deposits:

  • Instant deposits are delivered to your bank account right away. There’s a 1.5% fee for this convenience.
  • Standard deposits are free but can take one to three business days to arrive in your bank account.

Square Cash app fees and fine print

Receiving money is free unless you choose the quick deposit option or you’re accepting money for business reasons. The quick deposit fee is 1.5%. For business transactions, the business owner pays a 2.75% fee for each payment received.

Sending money is free unless you use a credit card. The credit card transaction fee is 3%.

How does the Square Cash app make money?

The Cash app is free for P2P use but there are fees for extras that help the company make money. Fees for business transactions are one major source of revenue. Fees for quick deposits is another way Square makes money from the product.

Sending and receiving limits

If you send more than $250 in a week, you’ll be asked to verify your name, date of birth and the last four digits of your Social Security number. The sending limit increases to $2,500 (in most states) after verification.

If you receive more than $1,000 within 30 days, you’ll also be asked to verify your name, date of birth and the last four digits of your Social Security number. There’s no limit on receiving funds after your account is verified.

Other Square Cash limitations

You have to be 18 years or older to use the Cash app. It’s also only available to residents of the 50 states, though the Cash app recently launched in the U.K.

Square Cash safety

Square Cash and other cash apps are safe to use for the most part as long as you follow instructions and keep other people out of your account. Use the password lock on your phone and don’t share your account information with anyone. Cash itself has security locks including PIN entry, touch ID and facial ID. The app also uses encryption to protect data and stores bitcoin in a secure system.

The Square Cash app fraud protection

Cash app fraud protection is available for unauthorized payments. Unauthorized payments are transactions that show up on your financial statements without your approval. You should report these right away and in writing. You may get a temporary credit pending an investigation of the fraudulent transaction. The fraud investigation can take up to 45 days, and the credit may be revoked depending on the results.

The best defense against fraud is offense. Don’t open spam emails or click links that look sketchy to protect yourself from phishing. Phishing is a tactic fraudsters use to get a hold of your personal information. Lock your phone and don’t share your account. If you share your account with someone (i.e. your child, partner or family member), transactions they make without your permission could be considered authorized since you gave them access.

How to use Square Cash safely

Money scams are what tend to cause the biggest headache with P2P payment systems. Here are three scams to watch out for:

Scam #1: Someone sends you money in “error.”

This scam is when someone you don’t know sends you cash by “accident.” You, being a kind person, send the money back without knowing the initial transaction was from a stolen card or bank account. The fraudster is essentially getting you to send them clean money. The transfer sent “by mistake” is eventually reversed, and the scammer runs off with your cash.

Scam #2: Someone cancels your payment after receiving a product.

Product sellers beware; people can cancel their own payment. A payment can also be reversed if the money is from a stolen source. Cash is technically not yours until it’s deposited into your bank account.

A word of advice: Sign up for a Square business account if you’re doing business. Fortunately, Square has many other hardware and software products for merchants that offer more security for sellers than the Cash app. The Square Point of Sale app, for example, has no monthly fee, countless business features and chargeback protection of up to $250 each month. A chargeback is when a transaction is reversed because of a dispute or fraud. With the Square Point of Sale product, you may not get left completely empty-handed if a chargeback occurs.

Scam #3: Someone sells you a faulty product.

Buyers need to be careful as well. There are no buyer protections when you make purchases through the Cash App. Scammers are crafty. They could ask you to send them money for a knockoff product, counterfeit ticket or broken electronic. You may not notice your product isn’t the right item until it’s too late. There isn’t buyer protection offered through the app to reimburse you after fraud.

How to protect yourself from being scammed

The best way to protect yourself from Cash app scams is to only send money to people you know. This app is intended to help you transfer money back and forth between friends and family. Never send money to rectify an “accident” unless you trust the person.

Have you already been scammed? Report it to the company. You may not get compensation, but reporting new scams could help the company warn other users.

Square Cash app vs. other person-to-person payment networks

Here’s how Cash app stacks up against the competition as far as transfer speed, fees and security.

Square Cash app vs. PayPal

 

Transfer speed

Faster transfer?

Credit card fees

Other fees

Fraud protection?

Square Cash

1-3 days

1.5% fee for instant deposit

3% fee

Sellers pay a 2.75% fee for each swipe, 3.5% + $0.15 for manually entered transactions

Coverage for unauthorized transactions made from your account; chargeback protection for sellers who sign up for Square Point of Sale

PayPal

1-4 days

$0.25 per instant transfer

2.9% + $0.30 fee in the U.S.

Sellers pay a 2.9% fee + $0.30 per sale

Yes, when payments are made for goods and services

PayPal is a payment service that was founded in 1998. For many, it’s considered the go-to for stateside and international transactions. You can connect your bank account, debit card or credit card to PayPal. Money can be sent directly from your PayPal balance or from one of the aforementioned funding sources.

Fees. Accepting money is free (unless you’re selling items). The cost to send money internationally is different from location to location. You can review the full fee table here.

Network reach. PayPal has a broader reach than the Cash app, though Cash recently expanded to the U.K. PayPal can be used in the U.S. and abroad.

Payment types. PayPal payment types are similar to the Cash app. You can send money from your available PayPal account balance or from a connected bank account, debit card or credit card.

Speed. The Cash App and PayPal have about the same standard deposit speed. Both instant transfer options happen right away, but the PayPal instant transfer is cheaper.

Safety. PayPal does let you file disputes for unauthorized personal transactions. PayPal also puts a big emphasis on protecting the safety of buyers and sellers. Both PayPal and Square have business solutions with merchant protections. You can review the PayPal terms in detail here.

Square Cash app vs. Zelle

 

Transfer speed

Faster transfer?

Credit card fees

Other fees

Fraud protection?

Square Cash

1-3 days

1.5% fee for instant deposit

3% fee

Sellers pay a 2.75% fee for each swipe, 3.5% + $0.15 for manually entered transactions

Coverage for unauthorized transactions made from your account; chargeback protection for sellers who sign up for Square Point of Sale

Zelle

1-3 days for non-enrollees

Free transfers within minutes for current enrollees

None

None

There is no buyer or seller protection program; Users are protected from unauthorized activity

Zelle is a P2P payment system that’s offered by a network of banks such as Ally Bank, Bank of America, Citibank, Citizens Bank, Wells Fargo and more. Zelle is easy to use if your bank offers it. It’s a feature right in your online account dashboard. Transfers between Zelle account holders can happen within minutes.

Fees. There’s no fee to use the Zelle service, but you should still double-check that your bank doesn’t charge its own fee for cash transfers.

Network reach. There are more than 100 banks and credit unions that offer Zelle. Check out the full list of financial institutions that offer Zelle here.

Payment types. Money is transferred from bank account to bank account unless one person doesn’t have Zelle available via online banking. Someone who doesn’t have Zelle through their bank can still sign up to send and receive money by adding an eligible debit card to their account. Credit card usage isn’t available. In comparison, the Cash app does allow credit cards.

Speed. You can get money from both the Cash app or Zelle in up to three days. Both offer instant transfers. In Zelle’s case, instant transfers are free between people who are already enrolled.

Safety. Fraud protections for Zelle are slim. If you believe your account may be compromised, you must report it immediately to get any type of coverage. Zelle has no buyer and seller features or protections. Square is a larger platform with additional products for merchants which could made it more appealing if you need more than just P2P capabilities. In the terms and conditions, Zelle makes it clear that you should only be receiving from, or sending money to people you know.

Square Cash app vs. Google Pay Send

 

Transfer speed

Faster transfer?

Credit card fees

Other fees

Fraud protection?

Square Cash

1-3 days

1.5% fee for instant deposit

3% fee

Sellers pay a 2.75% fee for each swipe, 3.5% + $0.15 for manually entered transactions

Coverage for unauthorized transactions made from your account; chargeback protection for sellers who sign up for Square Point of Sale

Google Pay Send

2-3 days

Instant when using a debit card

Cannot use credit cards or prepaid cards

None

100% Fraud protection covers unauthorized purchases from your account

Google Pay Send is the P2P payment app that was once called Google Wallet. Google Pay Send can be used to send and receive money using someone’s email address or phone number.

Fees. Google Pay Send is free to use.

Network reach. Google Pay Send can be used on mobile and desktop.

Payment types. Google Pay Send must be used strictly with a debit card or bank account. The Cash app offers the credit card option when needed.

Speed. Most debit card transfers can happen within minutes, but it can take up to 24 hours to see a charge or credit to your account. Google recommends that you use the debit card option because of its speed. Google Pay Send bank account deposits can take up to three days.

Safety. Unauthorized transactions are covered 100% by Google Pay if they’re verifiable and reported within 120 days. The terms and conditions state the app should be used for only P2P payments with trusted individuals. You shouldn’t be making transfers for purchases. There’s no mention of coverage for purchase scams.

Square Cash app vs. Popmoney

 

Transfer speed

Faster transfer?

Credit card fees

Other fees

Fraud protection?

Square Cash

1-3 days

1.5% fee for instant deposit

3% fee

Sellers pay a 2.75% fee for each swipe, 3.5% + $0.15 for manually entered transactions

Coverage for unauthorized transactions made from your account; chargeback protection for sellers who sign up for Square Point of Sale

PopMoney

1-3 days

No

Does not accept credit cards

Free to receive money or pay a request;
$0.95 to send or request funds

Varies by state; Limited liability for unauthorized purchases if you notify Popmoney of lost or stolen password immediately

Popmoney is another P2P payment service that’s offered through the online account dashboard of participating banks. Like Zelle, Popmoney can do deposits that go directly to your bank account. Money can be sent using someone’s email address, phone number or bank account information.

Fees. Popmoney costs $0.95 when you send or request money. In comparison, the Cash app is always free to send peers money as long as you don’t choose the credit card option. Receiving money through Popmoney is free.

Network reach. You can still send and receive money through the website if you don’t have Popmoney available through your online bank account. However, using Popmoney through a participating bank is the simplest way to use the service. About 2,500 financial institutions currently offer Popmoney. You can see if your bank is in the network here.

Payment types. Payments can be made from an eligible bank account or debit card.

Speed. There’s no instant transfer option available for Popmoney like there is with the Cash App.

Safety. The fraud coverage for Popmoney is limited like with most P2P payment apps. There may be coverage for fraud if you tell Popmoney well in advance that your account could be compromised. You may only receive partial reimbursement if Popmoney finds that reporting your compromised account earlier could have stopped fraud. You should avoid buying and selling through this app because there aren’t purchase protections or merchant protections.

Square Cash app vs. Venmo

 

Transfer speed

Faster transfer?

Credit card fees

Other fees

Fraud protection?

Square Cash

1-3 days

1.5% fee for instant deposit

3% fee

Sellers pay a 2.75% fee for each swipe, 3.5% + $0.15 for manually entered transactions

Coverage for unauthorized transactions made from your account; chargeback protection for sellers who sign up for Square Point of Sale

Venmo

1-3 days

$0.25 per instant transfer

3% fee, except for authorized merchants

None

Unauthorized transfers covered protection if verifiable and reported within 60 days; Authorized merchant payments may be eligible for protection

Venmo is a P2P payment system owned by PayPal. PayPal and Venmo have similar payment processes. You can connect your bank account, debit card or credit card to send money. Money can also be sent from your Venmo balance.

Fees. Venmo isn’t completely free. There’s a pricey 3% fee if you use a credit card to make a payment, unless you’re using a credit card to send a payment to an approved business. There’s also an instant transfer fee of $0.25 if you want money received deposited in your bank account right way.

Network reach. You need to be physically in the U.S. with a U.S. mobile phone to use Venmo. You must also have a bank account to deposit funds.

Payment types. You can make payments from your Venmo balance, credit card, bank account or debit card.

Speed. The Cash app and Venmo both have similar regular transfer speeds and an instant transfer capability. However, the Cash app instant transfer is more expensive.

Safety. Venmo does let businesses use the system to accept payments, but only merchants that are approved. When using Venmo, stick to sending money to family and friends unless you’re buying from an authorized merchant. If you’re an independent seller, there are conditions you have to meet in order to sell with Venmo. One example of a condition is that you can’t receive payment for goods or services in person. Square merchant products may be easier to sign up for and may have fewer limitations.

Square Cash app vs. Circle Pay

 

Transfer speed

Faster transfer?

Credit card fees

Other fees

Fraud protection?

Square Cash

1-3 days

1.5% fee for instant deposit

3% fee

Sellers pay a 2.75% fee for each swipe, 3.5% + $0.15 for manually entered transactions

Coverage for unauthorized transactions made from your account; chargeback protection for sellers who sign up for Square Point of Sale

Circle Pay

1-4 days

Instant when using a linked debit card

Does not accept credit cards

None

Certain unauthorized transactions may be eligible for reimbursement, must report within 60 days

Circle Pay is one of the few payment systems that can be used internationally, and it has no fees or exchange markups. The preferred Circle Pay currencies are U.S. dollars, British pounds and euros. When you need to send money from the U.S. to friends or family abroad, PayPal, Circle Pay and Facebook Messenger (we’ll cover that option next) are payment options to consider.

Fees. Circle Pay is completely free to use. Instant deposits to your debit card are also free.

Network reach. Circle Pay can be used to send money from one country to another. With that said, be sure to shop around for exchange rates whenever sending money internationally. Search the web to check the exchange rate before choosing a payment service.

Payment types. Circle Pay only accepts debit cards or bank accounts to make payments. Square Cash accepts credit cards.

Speed. Instant transfers can happen when depositing money from Circle Pay to a debit card for free.
Bank transactions can take one to four business days or even longer if you’re moving money during the holidays. The Cash app could be just slightly faster.

Safety. Like other P2P payment services, Circle Pay does offer some coverage if unauthorized transactions are made with your account. The fraud has to be caught and reported in a timely manner to get reimbursement. No buyer and seller protections.

Square Cash app vs. Facebook Messenger

 

Transfer speed

Faster transfer?

Credit card fees

Other fees

Fraud protection?

Square Cash

1-3 days

1.5% fee for instant deposit

3% fee

Sellers pay a 2.75% fee for each swipe, 3.5% + $0.15 for manually entered transactions

Coverage for unauthorized transactions made from your account; chargeback protection for sellers who sign up for Square Point of Sale

Facebook Messenger

Up to 5 days

No

Does not accept credit cards

None

Facebook is not liable for payments via Messenger

Facebook users will probably find Facebook Messenger one of the easiest P2P payment systems to get started with because the payment feature is right in the Facebook Messenger app.

Fees. There’s no fee to use Facebook Messenger.

Network reach. The Facebook Messenger app is primarily for U.S. residents. In 2017, Facebook Messenger expanded to let users in France and the U.K. send and receive money within their borders. You can’t send money from one country to another.

Payment types. Debit cards or PayPal accounts are currently the only type of accounts you can connect to Facebook Messenger.

Speed. Facebook Messenger may be the slowest of all the payment apps we’ve covered. It can take up to five days depending on your bank while Cash app can deposit to debit cards instantly with a small fee.

Safety. Facebook puts in the terms that this app should only be used for peer transfers with people you know. If there are any disputes, you have to take them up with the other person in the transaction. Facebook takes no responsibility. The one shiny spot is that Facebook collects information from users like their legal name and birthdate for an added level of security. The name and date of birth on your ID must match your Facebook account to use payments.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

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Reviews

BrioDirect High-Yield Savings and CDs 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.

Written By

Reviewed By

BrioDirect is an online brand of Sterling National Bank, a brick-and-mortar bank based out of New York. By being online-only, BrioDirect is able to reduce its costs and potentially offer better deals for its customers. BrioDirect does not offer all the Sterling bank account types though, and only has two products: a high-yield savings account and CDs. Both accounts pay out respectable interest rates — especially compared with the returns at large national banks.

Our BrioDirect bank review covers the product details, along with the pros and cons, so you can decide if BrioDirect is the right place for your money.

BrioDirect High-Yield Savings account

APY

Minimum opening deposit

Monthly fee

1.25%$25None

Between a competitive interest rate, a low opening deposit requirement and minimal fees, the BrioDirect savings account is an excellent choice. However, it’s not the most accessible account, as it doesn’t come with a debit card and you can only take out money through bank transfers.

Rates

The Brio Direct savings account pays an excellent interest rate, competitive with the best online savings accounts on the market today. This high rate applies to all balances, large and small. You won’t earn more by depositing more but the upside is that even small accounts can earn a high rate. The only requirement is that you need to keep a balance of at least $25 in your account to earn interest.

Fees and minimums

The minimum opening deposit requirement for a Brio Direct high yield savings account is just $25. This account does not charge a monthly maintenance fee. If your balance falls below $25, you stop earning interest but there is no charge.

If you overdraft the account, BrioDirect charges $35 per overdraft/insufficient funds transaction. Since this is a savings account, you are limited to six withdrawals per statement cycle under the rules of Federal Regulation D. If you make more than six transactions, you will be charged $10 per excess transaction.

Transfers and limits

To deposit money into a BrioDirect Savings account, you can set up an ACH transfer from another bank account, send a check or make a wire transfer. Once your account is open, you can withdraw funds to another bank account by using the Sterling National Bank online banking portal or by calling the bank’s customer service hotline.

Since this is a savings account, you will face a $10 charge per excess transaction beyond the six withdrawals allowed per statement cycle mentioned above.

FDIC insurance

Considering BrioDirect is part of Sterling National Bank, you may be wondering whether Sterling Bank is FDIC-insured and if that applies to BrioDirect. The answer is yes, accounts at both organizations are insured by the FDIC to protect your deposits.

One point to keep in mind is that the FDIC maximum insurance limit applies to your combined account balances from both organizations. Now, since the FDIC limit is $250,000 per individual at an institution, this won’t be a problem unless you plan on having a six-figure balance. But if you do, make sure that your account balance combined at both organizations does not go over the FDIC limit.

Account accessibility

BrioDirect’s saving account offers online access through its website and mobile app. With these tools, you can check your balance and transfer funds to other accounts, like to a Sterling Bank savings account. However, Brio Direct Bank does not offer a debit card for ATM access. If you want to make a cash withdrawal, you’ll need to transfer money to another account first.

You also cannot service your account in person at a Sterling National Bank branch. For help, you need to either handle things online or by calling the customer service line.

BrioDirect High-Yield CDs

BrioDirect has a solid variety of short- and long-term CDs. The Brio CD rates are mostly competitive, especially compared with those at national banks, but they don’t quite match the very best online offers.

Rates and terms

Term

APY

30 day0.05%
3 month1.00%
5 month1.15%
9 month0.80%
12 month1.00%
18 month1.00%
24 month1.00%
30 month1.00%
36 month1.00%
48 month1.00%
60 month1.00%

The BrioDirect CDs come in terms ranging as short as 30 days to as long as five years. They are all traditional, fixed-rate CDs. They do not offer specialty products, like a bump-up CD that lets you increase the interest rate partway through the term.

The Brio Bank CD rates are mostly decent, except for their 30-day term, which is very low. However, while the Brio CD rates are respectable, you could potentially find even better rates with some of the best online CDs on the market today.

Minimum opening deposit

You must deposit at least $500 to open one of the BrioDirect CDs. It’s the same minimum opening deposit for any of the CD terms. If you make an early withdrawal and your balance falls below $500 for more than 20 days, the bank could close your account.

Early withdrawal penalties

You can withdraw your interest out of a BrioDirect CD before the end of the term without owing a penalty, though it will reduce your total earnings below the quoted APY. If you try to withdraw any of your deposit before your CD matures, BrioDirect will charge an early withdrawal penalty. The penalty depends on your CD term:

CD term

Penalty

Terms of 30 days or less30 days’ interest
Terms of 12 months or less90 days’ interest
Terms of 18 months or more but less than 60 months9 months’ interest
Terms of 60 months or more12 months’ interest

BrioDirect will charge the interest penalty even if it’s more than what you’ve earned. In other words, the bank could deduct the penalty from your initial deposit.

FDIC insurance

The BrioDirect CDs are also covered by FDIC insurance. However, since BrioDirect is part of Sterling National Bank, the limit applies to your deposit accounts at both institutions. FDIC insurance goes up to $250,000 per individual per bank. So long as your total balance in CDs and other deposit accounts at both organizations is below $250,000, you’re fully covered by FDIC insurance.

BrioDirect pros and cons

Pros

  • Competitive interest rates: The Brio Direct high yield savings rate is one of the highest on the market today, and is competitive even with the best online accounts. While the bank’s CD rates aren’t quite as high, they are still respectable for most terms.
  • Low deposit requirements: It only takes $25 to open a BrioDirect Savings account and $500 to open a CD, which is lower than the typical large lender. The bank’s accounts can be a good choice for customers with smaller balances.
  • Minimal fees on the savings account: The BrioDirect savings account does not charge a monthly maintenance fee. If your balance falls below $25, all that happens is you stop earning interest.

Cons

  • Lack of ATM access: The BrioDirect savings account does not come with a debit card. To withdraw cash, you’ll have to transfer funds to another account first, so your money is not immediately accessible.
  • Costly CD early withdrawal penalties: All the BrioDirect CDs charge early withdrawal penalties and they can be fairly steep, up to a full year of interest. BrioDirect does not let you withdraw any of your deposit without charging the penalty so make sure you can commit to the full term before signing on.
  • No in-person customer support: Since BrioDirect is an online bank, you can only get support through the website or over the phone. Even though BrioDirect is part of Sterling National Bank, you can’t visit a branch for in-person support.

How to open a BrioDirect Bank account

To open a BrioDirect Bank account, you apply through the bank’s website. You’ll need to provide your name, contact information, Social Security number and a form of ID like your passport, driver’s license or State ID. Since this is an online account, you can apply from anywhere in the United States.

You’ll need to make your opening deposit to complete the process of opening your account. BrioDirect suggests that you make the initial deposit by ACH transfer from an existing checking or savings account, but you can also deposit funds through wire transfer or by check. The bank’s website states it should only take a few minutes. Then, BrioDirect reviews the information to finish setting up your account.

Who is BrioDirect best for?

If you are comfortable with an online-only bank, BrioDirect could be an excellent choice. The bank’s high yield savings account is particularly impressive since there’s no monthly fee and the interest rate is competitive with nearly any account out there.

BrioDirect could also be a good fit for existing Sterling National Bank customers as they could manage both accounts through the same organization. If you’re on the fence about being a joint customer, this Sterling National Bank review can explain what the bank offers along with BrioDirect.

On the other hand, BrioDirect is not suitable for someone who needs fast and regular access to their money. Its savings account does not come with a debit card so to take money out, you need to make a transfer to another bank account, which takes time.

BrioDirect is also not a top choice for CDs. While its offers are decent, someone researching online could likely find a better offer. Finally, as an online-only bank, BrioDirect is not a good choice for someone who wants face-to-face customer service.

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.

Advertiser Disclosure

Auto Loan, Reviews

LightStream Auto Loan 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.

Written By

Reviewed By

If you’re in the market for a quick, affordable and hassle-free way to finance your next car, a LightStream auto loan should definitely be on your radar. It’s particularly well-suited for deal-seekers with good credit who don’t mind working with an online company when it comes to financing their cars. If you’d rather work with a local company that can offer in-person support, however, you might want to skip this lender.

How LightStream auto loans work

LightStream offers a wide range of options for financing your next ride, including:

  • Purchase of a new or used car, either from a dealer or an individual
  • Auto loan refinance (except it does not refinance its own loans)
  • Auto lease buyouts
  • Loans for motorcycles, as well as boats and RVs
  • Classic car loans

Auto loans at a glance:

  • Starting APR range: 3.49%–9.49%
  • Fees: None
  • Loan amounts: $5,000–$100,000
  • Terms: 24–84 months
  • Credit requirements: Minimum 660 credit score
  • Mileage or vehicle restrictions: None

LightStream offers the same starting rate whether you’re buying a new or used car from a dealer, something you don’t see at other lenders. But keep in mind that the lowest rates go to those with the best credit who opt for the shortest loan terms possible and use autopay to make their car payments.

Satisfaction guarantee

If you see a lower rate elsewhere, LightStream will beat any verified offer with a rate that is .10 percentage points lower. It also promises a $100 guarantee within 30 days if you aren’t satisfied with your loan experience.

How to apply for a LightStream auto loan

The only way you can apply for a LightStream auto loan is through its online form. It is an online lender, after all, so you should be comfortable with handling your business details — including the loan application — online. You’ll need to:

  1. Acknowledge receipt of LightStream’s statement on the use of electronic records.
  2. Agree to receive electronic records.
  3. Agree to use electronic signatures to sign your loan documents.

You’ll also need to have a Visa or Mastercard credit card to apply, which LightStream uses during the verification process.

You will be asked to provide:

  • The purpose, term and amount of desired loan
  • Your name
  • Your address
  • Phone number
  • Social Security number
  • Employment information
  • Annual income
  • Total amount of assets and equity in your home

From there, LightStream may contact you for more details and documentation. If approved, you’ll need to sign your loan documents electronically and provide LightStream with your bank account details. The money will then be deposited into your bank account, which means you’ll need to pass it along to the seller, whether that’s a dealer or private seller. LightStream will not send the money to the seller directly.

It’s important to note that LightStream doesn’t offer any preapproval options, but if you apply and are approved for a loan, you are under no obligation to accept the loan.

How to qualify for the best rates

LightStream requires good credit at a minimum, but looks for excellent credit when giving the best rates. It defines excellent credit as:

  • Five or more years of significant credit history.
  • A credit history with a variety of account types such as major credit cards (for example, Visa, MasterCard, Amex), installment debt (vehicle loans) and mortgage debt if applicable.
  • An excellent payment history with no delinquencies or other problems repaying debt obligations.
  • A proven ability to save as shown by some or all of the following: liquid assets (stocks, bonds, bank deposits, etc.), cash down payments on real estate, retirement savings and little, if any, revolving credit card debt.
  • Stable and sufficient income and assets to easily repay current debt obligations and any new loan with LightStream.

Pros and cons of LightStream auto loans

LightStream offers the convenience of an online lender with the backing of a brick-and-mortar bank as the online arm of Truist, the bank created by the merger of  SunTrust Bank and BB&T. But it’s important to weigh all of your options carefully when choosing an auto loan. It’s one of the biggest purchases you’ll make, after all.

Pros

  • Wide variety of loans: New, used, refinance and lease buyouts loans are available on a wide range of vehicles. Unlike other lenders, LightStream doesn’t place restrictions on your vehicle’s age, make, model or mileage.
  • Decent rates: We’ve seen lower starting rates at credit unions, but you’ll have to meet membership requirements. LightStream has no membership requirements and provides the same starting rates for new and used vehicles as well as refinance loans.
  • No down payment required: LightStream finances up to 100% of the car’s cost. Of course, it’s always best to put down as much as you can afford on an auto loan. This will help you save money over the life of your loan and avoid becoming underwater on that loan.
  • Quick funding: If you complete the application process and are approved by 2:30 p.m. EST, you could receive funds the same day.
  • Good reviews: LightStream auto loan reviews are generally positive.

Cons

  • Good credit required: To qualify for a LightStream auto loan you’ll need a credit score of at least 660 or better.
  • No preapproval process: Unlike many lenders, you’ll have to complete a full application in order to see your rates and terms. Still, the process is fast, and if you complete your rate shopping within a certain time period, multiple applications should not impact your credit any more than a single application.
  • No face-to-face service: If you’re the type of person who likes to seal the deal with a handshake after signing the documents, you’ll want to stick with some place local.

LightStream vs. Capital One

If you’d like a bit more of a guided approach to the car-buying process,  Capital One’s Auto Navigator loan options might be better for you. Rather than sending you cash directly that you can use on whatever car you want to buy, Capital One’s Auto Navigator service lets you first get prequalified for financing, and then shows you which dealers in your area may offer based on the type of car you want to buy and the financing you can afford.

If any of the offerings pique your interest, you can then finish the application and buy the car. It’s still a good idea to compare the offer with other new and used car loan rates.

LightStream vs. Carvana

Carvana works similarly to Capital One Auto Navigator in that you can prequalify for financing and browse real cars in your area that you may then be able to buy. It’s important to remember that Carvana only sells used cars and its financing is only available on Carvana cars. But it is possible to finance here with poor credit — Carvana requires borrowers to be 18 years old, have no active bankruptcies on their credit report and earn at least $4,000 per year.

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