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Lightstream Personal Loan: 2020 Review

| Money Rates Columnist.
min read

lightstreamLightStream is a personal loan provider offering loans of up to $100,000 for applicants with good-to-excellent credit. This LightStream review contains the fast facts, pros and cons, and in-depth evaluation so you can confidently choose the best personal loan for your needs.

 

Why Should I Apply With LightStream?

LightStream can be an excellent choice for those with great credit:

  1. No. 2 on the J.D. Power 2019 Personal Loan Satisfaction Study's rankings - a real achievement
  2. Annual percentage rates (APRs) that start at an industry-leading 3.49% and go up to 16.79% (as of this writing)
  3. Loan amounts from $5,000 to $100,000
  4. No fees
  5. You can make joint applications - Co-signers are welcome
  6. Long terms available - This can help you keep your payment low if your loan amount is larger
  7. Seriously quick - In some circumstances, your money could be in your bank the same working day you apply

Just recognize that you'll need strong finances and excellent credit going back several years to get the best deals.

Apply with LightStream now

How Does LightStreamWork?

LightStream is the national online consumer lending division of SunTrust Bank. So it's a traditional (though high-tech) lender rather than a peer-to-peer one. That means it can make near-instant lending decisions, verify quickly and get your loan proceeds into your bank account faster than almost anyone else - sometimes on the same day you apply.

What Kind of Loans Does LightStream Offer?

Here are the headline facts that could help you decide whether LightStream is right for you:

  • Loan amounts range between $5,000 and $100,000
  • APRs' advertised range goes from 3.49% up to 16.79%, as of this writing
  • Pick your loan term from 24, 36, 48, 60, 72, 84, 96, 108, 120, 132 or 144 months. Terms over 72 months are reserved for those borrowing $25,000 or more
  • Online sources suggest a minimum credit score of 660. But the lender says, " ... we believe there is no single definition for 'good credit.'"
  • Maximum DTIs* not published and vary by the purpose for which you're borrowing. Expect them to be generally low
  • No prepayment fees - you can pay off your debt early without penalty
  • Co-signers and joint applications are welcome
  • No preapproval or prequalifying. You apply and a hard credit inquiry will be part of the process
  • Fixed rates only
  • No lender fees

*DTIs are debt-to-income ratios. They're the percentage of your pretax income that you pay to service your debts and pay your rent or mortgage.

How Do I Apply With LightStream?

Obviously, you need to know how to apply. With LightStream, you can only do so online. However, you can call for help from a human for extended hours on six days a week.

The company's website describes a three-step application process. To quote:

  1. Apply online - You will receive a response shortly during business hours
  2. Accept loan agreement - Once approved, e-sign your loan agreement and setup your loan for funding
  3. That's it! Use your loan - Receive your funds as soon as today!

Lenders are legally obliged to verify your identity. And most require proof of employment (pay stubs or similar), recent bank statements, possibly recent tax returns and so on. So you may prefer to have those to hand in case they're requested and be prepared to upload them.

How Soon Can I Get My Money With LightStream?

LightStream is understandably proud of its ability to get your funds to you quickly. Some borrowers receive their money on the same day they apply. According to the small print on the lender's website:

You can fund your loan today if today is a banking business day, your application is approved, and you complete the following steps by 2:30 p.m. Eastern time:

  1. Review and electronically sign your loan agreement
  2. Provide us with your funding preferences and relevant banking information
  3. Complete the final verification process

Few, if any, competitors can match that speed. So how long does it take to get your money? Very little time indeed.

LightStream BBB Rating

Things are a bit foggy around the Better Business Bureau's listing for LightStream. But that's not a reason to be suspicious. LightStream is owned by SunTrust and that's recently merged with BB&T to form Truist. So all sorts of associated legal entities are only beginning to settle down after the upheaval.

SunTrust itself has an A+ BBB rating in Atlanta, GA, which is where LightStream's head office is based. And A+ is as good as those BBB ratings get.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and LightStream

Federal regulator the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau maintains a database of consumer complaints. And, through the whole of 2019, only four complaints were logged there against LightStream. Those were listed under SUNTRUST BANKS, INC after filtering for installment loans, which is what personal loans are.

MoneyRates Editorial LightStream Rating

Star rating: 5 stars

With its ultra-low interest rates, zero fees, fast turnaround and great customer satisfaction, we're struggling to find anything bad to say about LightStream. True, it's a pity its exceptional offering can't be available to those with less than good credit. But you could perhaps take a less-attractive loan, get your debt under control and increase your credit rating, and eventually refinance into a more rarefied loan like LightStream's.

Compare Personal Offers Now

What Are the Alternatives to LightStream?

Of course, LightStream has competitors at the high end of the market. And some may get better deals from them, even if LightStream advertises the lowest rates. As always, the trick is to compare custom personal loan quotes to find your personal best offer.

Unfortunately, many who are less creditworthy may stand little chance with this lender. So let's explore some alternatives that might prove perfect for you, regardless of your credit score.

LendingClub

This might be a good bet if LightStream's credit requirements are too rich for you. Because LendingClub considers applicants with scores as low as 600. And it accepts joint applications, so you can make yours more attractive with a co-signer.

Payoff

As its name implies, Payoff specializes in paying off (consolidating) existing debts, especially credit card balances. Expect to pay an origination fee but not ones for late payments. If you're serious about becoming debt-free, it provides helpful online advice and assistance to get you there.

Best Egg

You're likely to need a credit score of 640 to get far with Best Egg. But, if you pass that threshold, this lender has good reputations for both competitive rates and getting your money to you quickly. Expect an origination fee - and late ones, if you don't pay punctually.

Upgrade

Again, you're likely to need fair credit (620 or higher) to proceed with Upgrade. But you can use a co-signer if that's an issue. Rates are competitive rather than exceptional and origination and late fees apply. But there's a reassuring hardship program if you get into trouble down the line.

Prosper

Prosper is another lender that can be helpful to those with fair credit, though its minimum is a score of 640. But, again, you can enhance the attractiveness of your application with a co-signer. An origination fee seems inevitable. But you can avoid others if you pay promptly each month.

SoFi

On this list, SoFi has the most similar offer to LightStream's: big loans, no fees and low rates. And you can prequalify on SoFi's website without hurting your credit score. So, if you have a great score, why wouldn't you get a quote from both?

How to Find Your Best Personal Loan

It's really important to get quotes from multiple lenders so you can compare personal loans. You may be shocked by the differences between the deals you're offered. That's because different lenders tend to specialize in different types of borrowers. And you need to find the one that most favors people like you.

If your need for a loan isn't urgent, you may be able to get yourself a better deal by making yourself a more attractive borrower. Working on your credit score and paying down your card balances are great ways to start.

And you may thank yourself later if you match the term of your loan (the period it lasts) to the purpose of your loan. You may be fine with making your final payment in five years if you borrowed in order to be free of debt and you've achieved your goal by then. And long terms are often fine for things like home improvements or business startups. But you're likely to resent making payments 12 years after you get home from the vacation you borrowed to fund - even if it was a special one.

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