If you’re considering a personal loan to fund a purchase or restructure your debt, you may have wondered how to get the best deal. One of the easiest ways to search for personal loan offers is to use an online comparison service.
How Does an Online Comparison Service Work?
Online comparison services have become increasingly popular in recent years. Just like with an insurance comparison site, you can enter your details and requirements once and then see the top results from a variety of providers.
As you would with an individual lender, you’ll need to provide the online comparison platform with some basic details including your name, employment status and income.
However, most sites will perform a comparison check using a soft credit pull. This means that the search will not impact your credit report. You’ll only trigger a hard credit pull if you decide to go ahead with one of the personal loan deals.
Many of the comparison sites will provide a list of results, where you can explore the terms and decide if you want to proceed. In many cases, you can click through to the specific lender, which means that you don’t need to make separate phone calls or remember reference numbers.
Pros & Cons of Using Personal Loan Marketplace
As with any financial product or service, there are both positive and potential negatives associated with using personal loan marketplace websites. Being aware of both sides will help you to make an informed decision about whether they are a good choice for you.
This can be a massive timesaver, as you won’t need to keep filling in the same details over and over again. These platforms allow you to complete one application form and receive multiple loan deals and quotes.
Personal loan marketplace websites are designed to make comparing loan deals easier. You won’t need to keep track of the rates, terms and other pertinent features as they are all laid out on one screen. This will allow you to scan the details and then narrow down your options.
If you’re unsure of your credit status, it can be challenging to find lenders that are best suited to your circumstances. Marketplace websites will narrow down the options to lenders appropriate to your credit status, so you don’t waste time.
While this doesn’t apply to all personal loan marketplace websites, there are some that will conduct a hard credit pull to obtain your loan deals and quotes. This could negatively impact your credit score.
Although many marketplaces have lots of lender partnerships, they do not represent the entire marketplace. This means that you may find a better deal outside of the marketplace with a little legwork.
Most marketplace websites are free to use, but you do need to watch for fees and charges. Many platforms use lenders that impose origination fees and other charges, which could leave you out of pocket.
LendingTree is one of the largest online lending marketplaces in the US. It has been operating for over 20 years and offers access to various financial products including personal loans, student loans and small business loans.
- You can gain access to the funds within one business day.
- LendingTree allows cosigner applications. This can help you to improve your chances of approval or qualify for a lower interest rate if you have less than ideal credit.
- Some loans do attract a prepayment fee, which is rare with personal loans. This means that if you decide to pay off your loan early, you’ll incur a fee.
- As with most comparison sites, you can’t find any specifics on the website about the types of deals available until you enter your personal details.
- Unlike many other comparison sites, LendingTree will perform a hard credit pull to check for available loan offers. This means that you can’t prequalify or evaluate your options without any impact to your credit report.
Credible is one of the most well established comparison platforms, as it has been operating since 2012. Unlike many online comparison service platforms, Credible offers quotes for a variety of finance products including personal loans, student loans and more.
- One of the most attractive features of Credible is that the platform has a Best Rate Guarantee. The company guarantees to find the lowest rates and if you find a better one, Credible will give you a $200 gift card.
- You can shop for personal loan deals whether you need a small loan or need a larger amount.
- As with many of the comparison platforms, Credible is free to use and many Credible lenders don’t charge origination or service fees.
- Credible keeps your personal information private and will only send it to a lender if you approve.
- Credible claims to have an extensive lender network, but does not specify how many lenders it works with. This means that you may not get a comprehensive picture of the current marketplace.
Fiona is an online marketplace showing various lending partner deals according to your specific qualification criteria. You can explore your options whether you have excellent, good, fair or even poor credit.
The platform is free to use and you can also search for student loan refinancing, online savings accounts and credit cards.
- Fiona only uses soft credit inquiries to check for partner offers, which means that your credit score will not be negatively affected.
- You can see the loan deals with multiple lenders in a matter of minutes. You can browse the different lenders with a preview of estimated loan terms including monthly payments and APRs.
- Fiona has an easy to navigate website, which has an intuitive layout. You can search for loans by various factors including loan amount, credit score or loan purpose.
- You can complete a formal application directly from the Fiona site, if you decide to proceed with a loan deal.
- Some Fiona lenders do charge a loan origination fee, which could be deducted from the funds you receive from the lender.
4. 5K Funds
5K Funds is an online marketplace that aims to make it easy to find loan deals from multiple lenders. You can use the loan for any purpose and the platform makes it quick and easy to start comparing your finance options.
5K Funds Features:
- 5K Funds has a quick and easy online application process that only requires you to complete a short form on the website.
- You can quickly compare rates from different lenders and see what you can be approved for.
- As with many online comparison services, 5K Funds does not provide information about specific lenders until you’ve been prequalified.
- You may need to provide additional information that is not commonly required for basic inquiries including your Social Security Number.
- Unlike many marketplace platforms, 5K Funds may run a hard credit check. So, if you don’t want to impact your credit score, you’ll need to check the terms and conditions carefully before you submit the form.
Monevo is a free website which allows you to explore personal loan options from a variety of lenders at once. The platform gathers multiple offers based on your application and qualification criteria, so you can then pick the best offer for you.
Monevo searches for deals from a panel of over 30 top banks and lenders and you can get your results within 60 seconds with no impact on your credit score.
- The Monveo platform is available on your computer, but you can also use the search tool using your phone or mobile device. This makes it easier to find the best rates even if you’re busy on the go.
- Monevo only uses soft credit pulls during the application process. This means that you can explore your options without impacting your credit score.
- Monevo offers personalized offers with a high maximum loan amount. This is higher than many personal loan lenders.
- This comparison site offers access to loan deals from more than 30 lenders, so you can get a good idea of what offers are available in the wider marketplace.
- You can only access personal loans. So if you’re not sure if you want a personal loan or another type of loan, such as a home equity loan, this will mean you can’t compare the different types of loans in one place.
LoansUnder36 has been operating since 2014 and it is designed for those looking for smaller loans.
However, it takes its name from the guarantee that there will be no rates higher than 36% APR. This means that you can be sure that the loan deals will not have unreasonably high rates.
- LoansUnder36 has over 100 lending partners, so you can access a wide variety of loan options with just one application form.
- The rates are capped at 35.99%, so even if you have less than ideal credit, you’ll know you won’t pay more than this rate.
- LoansUnder36 will connect you with the lender you choose, which may mean that you need to answer additional questions to complete the application process.
- When you choose a lender, you can have the funds directly deposited into your designated bank account, so you don’t need to wait for a check.
- While LoansUnder36 does not charge any fees to use the service, there may be fees applied by your chosen lender, so you need to watch the small print carefully.
PersonaLoans.com is an online platform connecting you with a variety of lenders including peer to peer and conventional finance companies.
The platform is quite transparent about the general borrower requirements, so you can see if you meet these recommendations before you go to the trouble of completing an application form.
- Despite its name, PersonalLoans.com provides access to a variety of loan products. You can select bank loans, peer to peer loans and other options. Each one has different borrower requirements, so you can explore your options.
- You can receive no obligation rate quotes, so you can see the types of offers without needing to provide your bank account details.
- com will connect you with lenders that fit your specific criteria. Whether you want a large or small loan with a short or longer repayment term, the platform will find lenders that fit the bill.
- Although it does not make any guarantees, most personal loans are funded the following business day, so you won’t be waiting long to receive the cash.
- com does have a lower lending cap than some of the other platforms we’ve discussed. This means it may not be the best option if you need a larger personal loan.
Table of Content
Things to Consider When Using an Online Comparison Service
As we’ve touched on above, there are some positives and negatives to using online comparison services. So, there are a number of things you should consider when you’re using these types of platforms. This includes:
- Is There a Hard Search? This is the first thing that you need to consider before you hit submit on your inquiry. If you are simply checking out your possible options, the last thing you need is a hard credit pull, which could damage your credit score. A good comparison service will only initiate a soft pull unless you consent to proceed with a specific deal.
- The Full Loan Terms: Some online comparison services put an emphasis on the monthly payment you can expect, but this is only part of the picture. You will need to look at the full loan terms including the rate, repayment term, and any fees to determine if it is the right deal for you.
- Does It Beat Your Bank? You’re likely to already have a relationship with some financial institution where you can get a loan. So, you should consider whether the comparison site can beat any quote from your bank. Many banks offer preferential rates to their existing customers, so get a quote that you can use as a baseline in your comparison shopping.
- Does It Provide a List of Options? Some personal loan marketplaces are actually third-party lead generation sites. This means that they don’t actually provide a list of loan options, but instead pass your details on to various lenders. This could mean that you end up getting a lot of emails and phone calls from individual lenders.
- Are There Any Fees? Finally, you need to consider whether there are any fees associated with the platform. Most are free to use, but some exclusively deal with lenders that charge a loan origination fee.
When It’s Good to Use It?
Online comparison services can be a great tool and there are a number of scenarios when it is good to use one. The main reason to use such a service is if you want a quick snapshot of the types of loans that you could qualify for.
You can complete the online form at any time of the day or night and get a list of deals to compare. This is a massive timesaver, as you don’t need to fill in multiple forms or wait on hold for a representative to give you a quote.
Another time when it’s good to use online comparison services is if you don’t want any obligations. If you’re unsure about whether you want to go ahead with a loan and don’t want to deal with any hard selling tactics, you can simply submit a form and see the possibilities. You can ponder the options and then decide to proceed or not at your leisure.
Online comparison services are also good if you want to check if the deals are better than your current loan. If you want to check if your current loan is still competitive, you can assess the marketplace without impacting your credit score or alerting your current lender. This can provide a great tool if you want to negotiate better terms.
When It’s Better to Skip?
Of course, there will be circumstances when it is better to skip the online comparison service. The first would be if the platform does not have an extensive lender panel. You could be easily missing out on some of the best loan deals, simply because the platform does not work with particular lenders.
It may be better to skip using these services if there are fees associated with them. If you have decent credit and can qualify for a loan with your local bank, there is no point in paying an origination fee with an online comparison site loan.
It is also a good idea to avoid platforms if they don’t provide actual loan quotes. If the platform is simply a third party lead generation site, you’ll need to speak to each individual lender anyway. This could mean that your email is spammed with multiple lender emails or your phone rings off the hook as lender salespeople try to get your business.
Do Online Comparison Services Hurt My Credit Score?
This depends on the specific online comparison service and whether they use a hard or soft credit pull to generate your loan quotes. As you’re likely to be aware, your credit score can be adversely affected each time a financial institution initiates a hard credit pull. Many online comparison sites don’t do this and instead rely on a soft pull to obtain your basic details without impacting your credit score.
So, if you are worried about hurting your credit score, be sure to look for online comparison service platforms that state that they only use a soft credit pull or “pre qualify” you for loans. You can usually tell if the platform will conduct a hard pull in the disclaimer before you click submit. Read through this carefully and if you see you need to give permission for a hard pull, give this platform a miss.
Do Online Comparison Services Have Access to All the Best Personal Loan Lenders?
Each online comparison service works with a different panel of lenders to offer loan deals. There is often some overlap, with some of the most high profile lenders working with multiple platforms. This is because lenders have a relationship with the specific platform, offering a commission for bringing you to them as a customer. This is how comparison sites make money.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t guarantee that the platform has access to all the best personal loan lenders. Some personal loan lenders do a lot of business without relying on these platforms, so they only offer deals directly.
The best way to check if the platform does offer access to a good variety of lenders is to check their “About Us” page. This will usually provide insight into the number of lenders and provide examples of their highest profile relationships.
Can I Get a Personal Loan With a 600 Credit Score?
600 is considered a fair credit score, but this doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to find a personal loan. While the best deals and terms are typically reserved for those with good or excellent credit, there are many lenders in the marketplace who offer competitive rates for those with fair or even poor credit.
In this instance, a personal loan comparison site can be a great tool.
The platform can ascertain an approximate credit score for you and provide access to lenders who typically offer the best terms for your credit. This means that you won’t be presented with deals from lenders who only offer loans to those with excellent credit.
You can compare the personalized quotes and determine which represents the best deal for you and your current circumstance. Just be sure to pay attention to the terms and conditions, as paying an origination fee can quickly negate the benefits of a lower rate.
How Do Online Comparison Services Make Their Money?
We’ve touched on this earlier, but it is an important point that is worth going over in more detail. Online comparison services act as the middle person between you and lenders. They are in place to bring business to lenders and the lenders reward them financially for this.
Online comparison services have negotiated terms with each lender or partner on their platform. This is why they may have fewer or more lenders on their panel. Each time the platform forwards a customer application on to the lender and the loan is processed, they receive a commission.
This is strictly between the lender and the platform and this commission will not appear on your loan paperwork or impact your funds.
Which Personal Loans Are Available?
When you use an online comparison service, you’ll be presented with a list of potential options. It is down to you which loan deal you proceed with. You’ll be responsible for checking the terms and conditions to ensure that you are happy before you proceed.
This means that you can go ahead with any of the loan quotes you’re presented with. Simply look at the monthly cost, APR, repayment term and any potential fees to decide which one is best for you.
Can I Get a Cheaper Rate Through a Comparison Service?
It can be confusing when you see a quote on a comparison service that is cheaper than a direct quote you already have, but it does happen. This occurs when the comparison service has negotiated preferential terms for its customers.
This means that the lender has agreed that customers of platform A can receive a discounted rate. So, while you may have been quoted 15% APR, if you go through the platform, you’ll get 14%.
However, you should be aware that the reverse can also be true. Some lenders keep their best deals for direct customers. This is because they don’t need to pay a commission to a referring platform, and pass some of these savings on to you.
If you have an existing relationship with a lender, it is always a good idea to obtain a personal loan quote before you start comparison shopping. At the very least, it can provide a good baseline to determine if a quote represents a good deal. At best, you may be able to negotiate a price match, so you get to stay with a lender you know and still get the best rates.
How Long Can a Comparison Service Keep Sending Emails?
Once you sign up to use a comparison service, you are likely to find that you are on their email list. You’re likely to have given consent to be included in the email mailing list when you hit submit.
If you check the terms and conditions, this is usually in the small print. However, some platforms are very open about this and have a check box to consent to future email correspondence.
If you’re on the platform’s email list, it means that periodically you will receive emails offering access to their services. This can be frustrating if you’ve already agreed to a loan elsewhere.
While there is no hard and fast rule about how long the site can keep sending emails, they must include an email address, so you can unsubscribe.
If you check the bottom of the email, you’ll usually find an unsubscribe link. If you click this, it will direct you to a webpage where you confirm you no longer want to receive emails. After you do this, you should no longer receive any messages.
Can I Get Phone Calls From a Comparison Service?
Some comparison services will follow up with phone calls. In some cases, the form you submitted gave permission for individual insurers to call you with a quote. This is why you need to carefully read the disclaimer before you click submit.
If you prefer not to get phone calls, look for a check box designating permission for phone call communication that you can untick. If you make sure that this box is unticked, you should not be bothered by sales calls.
If there is no such box and the form states that you must provide a phone number, double check the disclaimer to ensure that the company will not follow up by phone.
You should not get a personal loan if you are already struggling to manage your finances and are not sure if you will be able to meet the repayments. While it may be tempting to get an influx of cash, it will lead to further adverse effects on your credit report, hurting your finances in the long term.
A personal loan can be a good option if you have a specific purchase in mind and are confident that you can make the monthly repayments on time each month. This can be a good way to spread the cost without incurring the hefty interest fees associated with credit cards.
All personal loans are subject to status, so if you are rejected, you will need to look at your credit report. There could be some red flags such as a high credit utilization ratio or debt to income ratio, which you will need to work on to improve your score.
Once you have worked on improving your credit, you could consider reapplying in six months or more.
You can get pre approved for a personal loan, which will indicate a very good chance of approval. If you proceed with your application, the lender will notify you that you have been approved and advise you of when you can expect to receive the funds.
This will depend on your credit. If you have a good credit score and your credit utilization ratio is below 30%, the chances are that you can qualify for a personal loan even with a car loan.
Again, this will depend on your credit. However, if you want a new loan to supersede your existing loan, be sure to state this on your application. This will let the lender know you intend to pay off the old loan and you will not be running the two together.
You can refinance personal loans at any time, but you may incur an early repayment fee. Just bear in mind that each time you apply for a personal loan, there is an adverse impact on your credit score.
So, it is a good idea to wait at least several months before attempting to refinance.
As with other forms of credit, banks will look at your income, debt levels, credit score and your credit utilization ratio. This will determine your overall creditworthiness and whether you represent a lending risk.
A personal loan can have a detrimental impact on your credit, as your credit utilization ratio will go up. However, as you make payments, this will drop and your score should correct itself.
It is possible to use a personal loan to build credit. Each time you make a payment, it will be reported to the credit bureaus. So, if you keep your account in good standing, it will help to build credit over time.
Your reason can have an impact on whether the lender considers you to be a risk. For example, if you already have credit card debt or other loans and want to use a new loan to refinance, letting your lender know this will affect their decision.
If you have a good credit score and want to consolidate your higher rate debt into a lower payment, it can be a sound idea.
However, you need to watch that you get a good rate and that paying it off over a longer period will not end up in greater interest charges. If you have a poor credit score, you may not be offered an attractive rate, so you would be better off concentrating on paying off your existing accounts.