Can You Use a Personal Loan for a Home Down Payment?

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Scraping together the down payment on their mortgage is the biggest challenge facing many would-be homebuyers. And lots of those would probably like to use a personal loan to top up their savings so they reach their lender’s threshold. But can they do that?

The short answer is that few lenders would give their consent to a borrower looking to use a personal loan for their down payment. You would be taking on new debt and then taking on even more debt on top of that…not exactly the greatest solution.

The good news is that there are lots of different options out there for low down payment mortgages and even assistance programs that can help you get together funds for a down payment.

How Much Do I Really Need For A Down Payment?

Let’s make sure you know how big your down payment needs to be. Because, if you are a bit fuzzy on that, you are not alone. And you could be in for some good news.

A survey of professionals at a 2017 conference hosted by the Mortgage Bankers Association revealed a persistent myth: Twenty-eight percent of respondents thought “consumers still mistakenly believe that a 20 percent down payment is a requirement for purchasing a home.” And another four in 10 respondents thought that even those who knew 20 percent isn’t necessary still believed they’d find it difficult to buy a home with less.

Those consumers couldn’t be more wrong. Creditworthy buyers can usually get approved for a mortgage with a down payment as small as 3 or 3.5 percent. And some (more than you may think) who qualify for specialist mortgage programs need put down nothing. Discover more about all those options below.

Here are the minimum down payments required for a selection of mortgages.

Remember: You may get a better mortgage rate if you increase the amount you put down.

The Best Mortgages for a Low Down Payment

Type of Loan

Down Payment Requirement


Mortgage Insurance

Credit Score Requirement

FHA

FHA

3.5% for most

10% if your FICO credit score is between 500 and 579

Requires both upfront and annual mortgage insurance for all borrowers, regardless of down payment

500 and up

SoFi

SoFi

10%

No mortgage insurance required

Typically 700 or higher

VA Loan

VA Loan

No down payment required for eligible borrowers (military service members, veterans, or eligible surviving spouses)

No mortgage insurance required; however, there may be a funding fee, which can run from 1.25% to 2.4% of the loan amount

No minimum score
required

homeready

HomeReady

3% and up

Mortgage insurance required when homebuyers put down
< 20%; no longer required once the loan-to-value ratio reaches 78% or less

620 minimum

homeready

USDA

No down payment required

Ongoing mortgage insurance not required, but borrowers pay an upfront fee of 2% of the purchase price

620-640 minimum

Conventional loans (one not backed by a government program)
A conventional loan is simply a type of mortgage loan that isn’t backed by a government program. Usually these loans require a 5 to 20 percent down payment, though that can be as low as 3 percent using offerings such as Fannie Mae’s HomeReady or Freddie Mac’s Home Possible mortgages. You will need to be reasonably creditworthy.

SoFi

SoFI offers mortgage loans for minimum down payments of 10 percent. You can borrow between $100,000 and $3 million. And you will not have to pay for private mortgage insurance (we’ll talk more about PMI below), even though you have not reached the usual 20 percent down payment threshold. But you will need to have good-to-great credit and sound finances.

Federal Housing Administration mortgage (FHA loan)

FHA mortgages require a 3.5 percent down payment if your credit score is 580 or higher. This can be good if your credit score is less than stellar, but it may be more costly than other options. That is because you will be liable for mortgage insurance premiums (MIPs), which will be added to your monthly mortgage payments.

U.S. Dept. of Agriculture mortgage (USDA loan)

USDA loans require no down payment, unless you have significant assets. There are various eligibility criteria, including your having a low to moderate income. And you must purchase in an eligible area, although those areas make up 97 percent of the nation’s land mass. You can check if you and your area qualify using a tool on the USDA website.

Veterans Affairs mortgage (VA loan)

VA loans also require no down payment. These are for veterans, those still serving in the military and related groups. You can check your eligibility on the VA website. If you qualify, it is highly likely this will be the best mortgage you can get.

Learn more by checking out our guide to The Best Mortgages That Require No or Low Down Payment.

3 Ways To Get Help With Your Mortgage Down Payment

Down payment assistance programs

Before exploring ways of borrowing to top up your down payment funds, you should definitely check out your eligibility under various assistance programs. These are typically targeted at middle- and low-income buyers, and you may have to use a lender that participates in the program.

Some programs provide outright grants or gifts that do not have to be repaid. And they are often available to both first-time buyers and existing homeowners.

Many of these down payment assistance (DPA) programs are state-based. You can click through to your local offering, if any, from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) website, which has a link for each state. You should also call your city or county to see if it operates a similar, parallel program.

Others are run across multiple states by nonprofits, such as the National Homebuyers Fund. Freddie Mac recommends a look-up tool on the private Down Payment Resource website as a way of tracking down DPA programs for which you might be eligible.

Finally, do not forget to check with your human resources department. Some employers offer help.

Using a gift from family or friends

Suppose you cannot get help from a mainstream DPA or your employer. Perhaps your parents or another close relative, fiancé, fiancée or domestic partner may be willing to give you a gift toward your down payment. Your lender should normally have no problems with this arrangement. But it is very likely to apply a couple of industry-standard rules:

  1. You must meticulously document the gift process and provide copies of the donor’s withdrawal slip or check, and the recipient’s deposit slip. If appropriate, a copy of the donor’s check to the closing agent is fine.
  2. You must provide a letter or form signed by the donor declaring that the payment is a gift and not a loan. This must include certain information and statements, and you can download a sample gift letter from the NOLO legal website.

Many lenders will allow this gift to cover 100 percent of the down payment. However, some may prefer you to provide some of the funds yourself.

Expect your loan officer to be mildly suspicious of large gifts. Some applicants try to sneak through money that is actually a loan in disguise, risking jail time or fines for mortgage fraud. If you raise any red flags, your loan officer can investigate the funds in great detail, including their ultimate source.

It is generally fine to borrow money from friends or relations for part of your down payment, providing you declare the loan(s) to your lender. It can then include your repayments when it assesses your ability to afford your mortgage.

Central to that assessment is your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. As the name suggests, that is the proportion of your monthly income that goes out in debt payments, including minimum payments on credit cards and standard payments on instalment loans, such as auto, student and personal loans, as well as your new mortgage. You should also include any regular commitments for alimony or child support.

LendingTree has a DTI calculator that can help you determine yours. If you plan on borrowing for your down payment, include the payments on the loan(s) from your family or friends when you use it. It is unlikely a lender will allow your DTI to be higher than 50 percent. Some types of mortgage require 43 percent, and many lenders prefer it to be in the 30s.

Borrowing from yourself

One way to keep your DTI low is to borrow from yourself because not all lenders count repayments of such loans in your DTI, even if you have to make them. But you need to check your lender’s policy before you proceed, and either rule out this option or find a more sympathetic source for your mortgage.

How do you borrow from yourself? By raiding your retirement pot. You may be able to make a withdrawal or take a loan from your 401(k), IRA or Roth IRA to fund your down payment.

But, unless you are a tax accountant, you should take professional advice before doing so. No, really. This is a big step with lots of potential implications.

Potential implications of raiding your retirement funds

  1. Unless you use money in a Roth IRA, you could find yourself with significant tax liabilities if the loan isn’t repaid.
  2. If you withdraw money from your 401(k), your employer could demand immediate repayment in full if you switch jobs or otherwise leave.
  3. Some 401(k) funds have rules against this sort of borrowing.
  4. Whatever you do, there is a high chance your retirement fund will take a big hit.

As previously suggested, take advice from a trusted, reputable professional.

Advantages of making a 20 percent down payment

There’s a reason that 20 percent down payment myth survives. It may well be that, decades ago, your parents or grandparents had to find that much as a minimum.

And 20 percent remains an important threshold for borrowers. Put down that much or more, and you won’t have to pay for private mortgage insurance (PMI).

You have to pay the premiums for PMI (they are mostly wrapped up in your monthly mortgage payment, but you may have to make an upfront payment too), but the only benefit you get from them is an ability to borrow with a smaller down payment. If any claim is made on the policy, probably because you have defaulted on your loan, the payout will go directly to the lender.

The biggest downside to a low down payment: PMI

Like we mentioned, most mortgage loans that come with a low down payment requirement have a big caveat — the added cost of private mortgage insurance.

The amount you pay for PMI will depend on the type of mortgage you choose and maybe your personal circumstances:

  • Conventional loan — You will get a quote from your lender. Monthly payments are typically lower than on some other types of mortgage and will depend on your credit score and the size of your down payment. Your upfront payment is likely to be small or sometimes zero.
  • SoFi loan — There is no PMI and so no MIPs on these loans with a down payment equal to or higher than 10 percent.
  • FHA loan — This is often the most expensive type of PMI. But its costs are not affected by your credit score, and the size of your down payment tends to have less impact. So this is a good bet if your credit is iffy and you don’t have substantial savings. At the time of writing, in 2017, you can expect to pay 1.75 percent of the loan value as an upfront charge, and then anything between 0.45 percent and 1.05 percent annually, depending on how much you borrowed and the sizes of your original loan and down payment. Although calculated on an annual basis, ongoing premiums are spread evenly through the year and collected through your monthly payments. If you cannot afford the upfront payment, it may be possible to wrap it up in your overall loan.
  • USDA loan — This is similar to the FHA loan’s PMI model, but typically has lower upfront and monthly payments. As with FHA loans, if you cannot afford the upfront payment, it may be possible to wrap it up in your overall loan.
  • VA loan — You do not pay ongoing monthly premiums with one of these. However, you do pay an upfront cost, called a “funding fee.” For first-time buyers in 2017, these range from 1.25 percent to 2.4 percent, depending on your type of service and the size of your down payment. For regular military with a zero down payment, it is 2.15 percent. If you cannot afford that funding fee, you may be able to wrap it up in your overall loan.

Most sorts of PMI terminate (either automatically or on request) when your mortgage balance reaches 80 percent of the contract price or the property’s appraised value when you bought your home. However, that does not apply to FHA loans. You will likely be on the hook for PMI premiums for those until you move or refinance.

Should you wait to get a mortgage until you can avoid PMI?

By now you may be pondering a dilemma: Should you jump into the market now and swallow those PMI costs? Or might you be better off holding back until you have the whole 20 percent down payment, thus avoiding PMI altogether?

Your smart choice largely depends on the real estate market where you want to buy. It might also depend on the market where you are selling, if you are not a first-time buyer. And it is mostly down to math.

A matter of math

Research home-price trends in your target neighborhood to see whether they are rising (they are in most places) and, if so, how quickly. Bear in mind that some forecasting companies expect growth to continue, but more slowly. For example, CoreLogic calculated home prices grew 6.7 percent nationwide in the year ending July 2017, but expects that to slow to 5 percent by July 2018.

It makes sense to go ahead and jump into the housing market if you anticipate that the value of your home will increase sufficiently year after year to offset the added cost of PMI.

Once you have a feel for those price trends, use a calculator like MagnifyMoney parent company LendingTree’s mortgage calculator to model your options. It will itemize your PMI as part of your total monthly payment. Work out how much you could save by avoiding PMI, and compare that with how much you stand to lose in home-price inflation if you wait to save that 20 percent.

You are now in a position to make an informed decision over whether to buy now or carry on saving. Of course, if in the meantime you find the home of your dreams, you can always choose to go with your heart rather than your head.

For more information, read What Is PMI and Is It Really That Bad?

One last thing about personal loans…

There are lots of things to like about personal loans. They are easy, quick and relatively cheap (or often free) to set up. They almost always have lower interest rates than credit cards for equivalent borrowers. And they make budgeting simple, because you know how much you will pay each month, subject to rate hikes.

However, typically their rates are noticeably higher than secured loans, such as mortgages and home equity products. And you need good credit to get a low interest rate.

Some lenders advertise personal loans for as much as $100,000. Others have more modest caps. How much you will be able to borrow will depend on many factors, including how easily you can afford to repay it and your credit score.

Find out more at Shopping for Personal Loans.

The post Can You Use a Personal Loan for a Home Down Payment? appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

5 Things You Need for a Successful Home Fitness Routine

Here's everything you need to get in shape at home.

Have you been skipping the gym too many times? Enough with the excuses. Just because you can’t get out (or don’t want to join a gym), doesn’t mean you can’t stay fit. Here’s everything you need to work out at home successfully without going into debt.

1. The Right Surface

If you have a spare area in your home to call your own, create a cushioned surface with Soft Tiles, which are interlocking 5/8-inch thick mats made of a non-toxic ethylene-vinyl acetate foam ($120 at SoftTiles.com for a nine-piece set covering a 6 1/2-foot by 6 1/2-foot space). These waterproof tiles are available in a ton of colors and have attachable beveled edges to create a smooth transition from the floor, so no tripping. Keep it simple with a color or two or use the Soft Tiles “mat builder” feature to create your own design.

If your workout space needs to be convertible, a yoga mat is a good way to go. There are different thicknesses, colors and patterns available, so check out a yoga lifestyle site like Gaiam.com for lots of high quality options.

2. The Right Apparel

You might think you’re just working out at home, so why wear anything special? Think again.

“Gearing up in clothing that’s designed for you to work out is one of the most powerful reminders to get into your fitness practice,” said Tara Mackey, health expert, author of “Cured By Nature” and founder of The Organic Life blog. “When I was first starting to change my exercise habits, I simply left my workout clothes and running shoes out by my bed the night before. This becomes an automatic reminder to make fitness a priority — first thing in the morning.”

I recommend ultra comfortable clothes you can also see yourself wearing for a run or at the gym. For women, a supportive workout bra is a must. The Tasc Performance TTFN (Ta Ta For Now) Studio Sports Bra ($44 at TascPerformance.com) is a mid-impact sports bra with supportive straps and a wide bottom band. It has crisscross straps in the back and side cutouts, so it’s cute under a loose tee if you make it to the gym or have to run out for an errand.

My new favorite leggings are the Luna Leggings from Liquido ($84 at LiquidoActive.com), which are said to help with microcirculation, firmness and reduce the appearance of cellulite. All I know is they are comfy and flattering. They are great to work out in, but are equally as comfortable for all-day wear.

For men, the Shēdo Lane Men’s Short Sleeve Sun Shirt ($28 at ShedoLane.com) is one of the softest tees you’ll own. The fabric has stretch and movement and, if you decide to go for a run, the shirt has an Ultraviolet Protection Factor of 50+. The Hylete verge II flex-woven zip pocket shorts ($80 at Hylete.com) feel virtually weightless but are durable and have features like a zippered pocket and a two-way drawstring allowing you lace the shorts inside or outside, depending on your preference.

3. The Right Tools

No matter what kind of workouts you prefer, it’s wise to stock up on a few essentials should you decide to branch out. A good place to start is with an all-in-one kit like the FitKit — Total Fitness in a Kit ($39.99). This kit contains essentials like resistance bands, a door anchor and a jump rope. It’s also weighs only 2 pounds so it’s good for travel. It includes fitness cards to help get you started and you’ll have access to a library of more than 250 exercises. For more workout options, check out YouTube, where you’ll find hundreds — if not thousands — of free fitness videos of any style, length or discipline you can imagine.

Mackey suggests weights as well. “Even if you have to use soup cans (which is what I did before I could afford a set of weights), make sure you are lifting at least a little bit every day,” she said. “Today, the investment is minimal; you can find five-pound weights for less than $20 on Amazon.” I also like to have a couple of kettle bells and an exercise ball on hand.

4. A Good Recovery Rub

Even if you’re working out at home, you can go overboard. For days when you are experiencing soreness, keep a muscle rub, like the Procure Epsom Salt Rub ($5.97 at Walmart) on hand. This lightweight gel is a blend of of Epsom salt and aloe vera to sooth sore muscles. And it’s fragrance-free so you won’t smell like a walking bottle of menthol.

5. An Alternative Exercise Option

And for those days when you don’t feel like doing anything at all, place a Posture Cushion ($37.99 at BackPainHelp.com) on the chair at your desk. Not only is it helpful for back pain and is comfortable to sit on, it functions like a fitness ball. Its unstable surface forces your body to sit actively to stay balanced, which, in turn, strengthens your core. If you’ve invested in a fitness ball, you can replace your desk chair with it for the same effect.

As you begin your new workout regimen you’ll want to meet with your doctor to make sure you’re healthy enough to do the workouts you’re planning. Likewise, you’ll want to check your financial health before buying a bunch of equipment. You don’t want to gain physical fitness at the cost of fiscal fitness. You can start by checking your credit scores absolutely free on Credit.com.

Image: Mikolette

The post 5 Things You Need for a Successful Home Fitness Routine appeared first on Credit.com.

Earnest: Personal & Student Loans for Responsible Individuals with Limited Credit History

Earnest - Personal & Student Loans for Responsible Individuals with Limited Credit History

Updated August 21, 2017

Earnest is anything but a traditional lender for unsecured personal loans and student loans. They offer merit-based loans instead of credit-based loans, which is good news for anyone just starting to establish credit. Their goal is to lend to borrowers who show signs of being financially responsible. Earnest is working to redefine credit-worthiness by taking into account much more than just your score.

They have a thorough application process, but it’s for good reason – they consider different variables and data points (such as employment history, education, and overall financial situation) that traditional lenders don’t.

Earnest*, unlike traditional lenders, says their underwriting team looks to the future to predict what your finances will look like, based upon the previously mentioned variables. They don’t place as much emphasis on your past, which is why a minimal credit history is okay.

Additionally, as their underwriting process is so thorough, Earnest doesn’t take on as much risk as traditional lenders do. With their focus on the financial responsibility level of the borrower, they have less defaults and fraud, which allows them to offer some of the lowest APRs on unsecured personal loans.

Personal Loan (Scroll Down for Student Loan Refinance)

Earnest offers up to $50,000 for as long as three years, and their APR starts at a fixed-rate of 5.25% and goes up to 12.99%. They claim that’s lower than any other lender of their type out there, and if you receive a better quote elsewhere; they encourage you to contact them.

Typical loan structure

How does this look on paper? If you needed to borrow $20,000, your estimated monthly payment would be $599-$638 on a three- year loan, $873-$911 on a two- year loan, and $1,705-$1,744 on a one-year loan. According to their website, the best available APR is on a one-year loan.

Not available everywhere

Earnest is available in the following 36 states (they are increasing the number of states regularly, and we keep this updated): Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Washington D.C., West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Get on LinkedIn

Earnest no longer requires that you have a LinkedIn profile. However, if you do have a LinkedIn profile, the application process becomes a lot faster. When you fill out the application, your education and employment history will automatically be filled in from your LinkedIn profile.

What Earnest Looks for in a Borrower

Earnest AppEarnest wants to lend to those who know how to manage and control their finances. They want borrowers to know the importance of saving, living below their means, using credit wisely, making timely payments, and avoiding fees.

They look at salary, savings, debt to income ratio, and cash flow. They want borrowers with low credit utilization – not those maxing out their credit cards and experiencing difficulty in paying.

Borrowers must be over 18 years old and have a solid education background. Ideally, they attended college or graduate school, have a degree, and have a history of consistent employment, or at least a job offer that gives them the opportunity to grow.

Overall, Earnest wants to make sure borrowers are taking their future as seriously as they are. After all, they’re investing in it! The team at Earnest knows that money often holds people back when it comes to being able to achieve their dreams and goals, and they’re all about helping borrowers get there.

For that reason, Earnest seeks to learn more about those that apply for loans with them. They review every line of your application, and they want to develop a lifelong relationship with their borrowers. They genuinely want to help and see their borrowers succeed.

The Fine Print – Are There Any Fees?

Earnest actually doesn’t charge any fees. There are no late fees, no origination fees, and no hidden fees.

There’s also no penalty for prepaying loans with Earnest – they encourage borrowers to prepay to reduce the amount of interest they’ll pay over the life of the loan.

Earnest states that one of its values is transparency (and of course, here at MagnifyMoney, that’s one of ours as well!), and they are willing to work with borrowers who are struggling to make payments.

Hala Baig, a member of Earnest’s Client Happiness team, says, “We would work with the client to make accommodations that are appropriate to help them through their situation.”

She also notes that if borrowers are late on payments, they do report the status of loans on a monthly basis.

What You Can Do With the Money

The $30,000 loan limit is enough to pay off debt such as an undergraduate student loan, medical debt, or consumer debt, relocate for a job, improve your home or rental property, help you fund a down payment, or further invest in your education.

Earnest’s APR is much, much better than you’ll receive on many credit cards, and it could be a viable way to decrease the burden of debt you’re currently experiencing.

Earnest logo 1

The Personal Loan Application Process

Earnest does a hard inquiry upon completion of the application. They’re very open about this on their website, stating that hard inquiries remain on credit reports for two years, and may slightly lower your credit score for a short period of time.

Compared to Upstart, their application process is more involved, but that’s to the benefit of the borrower. They aim to underwrite files and make a decision within 7 business days – it’s not instantaneous.

However, once you accept a loan from Earnest and input your bank information, they’ll transfer the money the next day via ACH, so the money will be in your account within 3 days.

Student Loan Refinance

When refinancing with Earnest, you can refinance both private and federal student loans.

The minimum amount to refinance is $5,000 – there’s no specific cap on the maximum you can refinance.

We encourage you to shop around. Earnest is one of the best options, but there are others. You can see the best options to refinance your student loans here.

Earnest offers loans up to 20 years. Unlike other lenders, Earnest allows borrowers to create their own term based on the minimum monthly payment you’re comfortable making. Yes, you can actually choose your monthly payment, which means the loan can be customized to your needs. Loan terms start at 5 months, and you can change that term later if needed.

You can also switch between variable and fixed rates freely – there’s no charge. (Note that variable rates are not offered in IL, MI, MN, OR, and TN. Earnest isn’t in all 50 states yet, either.)

Fixed APRs range from 3.35% to 6.39%, and variable APRs range from 2.81% to 6.19% (this is with a .25% autopay discount).

If you refinance $25,000 on a 10 year term with an APR of 5.75%, your monthly payment will be $274.42.

The Pros and Cons of Earnest’s Student Loan Refinance Program

Similar to SoFi, Earnest offers unemployment protection should you lose your job. That means you can defer payments for three months at a time, up to a total of twelve months over the life of your loan. Interest still accrues, though.

The flexibility offered from being able to switch between fixed and variable rates is a great benefit to have should you experience a change in your financial situation.

As you can see from above, variable rates are much lower than fixed rates. Of course, the only problem is those rates change over time, and they can grow to become unmanageable if you take a while to pay off your loan.

Having the option to switch makes your student loan payments easier to manage. If you can afford to pay off your loans quickly, you’ll benefit from the low variable rate. If you have to take it slow and need stability because you lost a source of income, you can switch to a fixed rate. Note that switching can only take place once every 6 months.

Earnest also lets borrowers skip one payment every 12 months (after making on-time payments for 6 months). Just note this does raise your monthly payment to adjust for the skipped payment.

Beyond that, Earnest encourages borrowers to contact a representative if they’re experiencing financial hardship. Earnest is committed to working with borrowers to make their loans as manageable as possible, even if that means temporary forbearance or restructuring the loan.

Lastly, if you need to lower your monthly payment, you can apply to refinance again. This entails Earnest taking another look at your terms and seeing if it can give you a better quote.

Who Qualifies to Refinance Student Loans With Earnest?

Earnest doesn’t have a laundry list of eligibility requirements. Simply put, it’s looking to lend to financially responsible people that have a reasonable ability to pay their loans back.

Earnest describes its ideal candidate as someone who:

  • Is employed, or at least has a job offer
  • Is at least 18 years old
  • Has a positive bank balance consistently
  • Has enough in savings to cover a month or more of regular expenses
  • Lives in AR, AZ, CA, CO, CT, FL, GA, HI, IL, IN, KS, MA, MD, MI, MN, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OR, PA, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA, Washington D.C., and WI
  • Has a history of making timely payments on loans
  • Has an income that can support their debt and routine living expenses
  • Has graduated from a Title IV accredited school

If you think you need a little help to qualify, Earnest does accept co-signers – you just have to contact a representative via email first.

Application Process and Documents Needed to Refinance

Earnest has a straightforward application process. You can start by receiving the rates you’re eligible for in just 2 minutes. This won’t affect your credit, either. However, this initial soft pull is used to estimate your rates – if you choose to move forward with the terms offered to you, you’ll be subject to a hard credit inquiry, and your rates may change.

Filling out the entire application takes about 15 minutes. You’ll be asked to provide personal information, education history, employment history, and financial history. Earnest takes all of this into account when making the decision to lend to you.

The Fine Print for Student Loan Refinance

There aren’t any hidden fees – no origination, prepayment, or hidden fees exist. Earnest makes it clear its profits come from interest.

There are also no late fees, but if you get behind in payments, the status of your loan will be reported to the credit bureaus.

Earnest logo

Who Benefits the Most from Earnest

Those in their 20s and 30s who have a good grip on their finances and are just getting started with their careers will make great borrowers. If you’re dedicated to experiencing financial success once you earn enough money to actually achieve it, you should look into a loan with Earnest.

If you have a history of late payments, being disorganized with your money, or letting things slip through the cracks, then you’re going to have a more difficult time getting a loan.

Amazing credit score not required

You don’t necessarily need to have the most amazing credit score, but your track record with money thus far will speak volumes about how you’re going to handle the money loaned from Earnest. That’s what they will be the most concerned about.

What makes you looks responsible?

Baig gives a better picture, stating, “We are focused on offering better loan alternatives to financially responsible people. We believe the vast majority of people are financially responsible and that reviewing applications based strictly on credit history never shows the full picture. One example would be saving money in a 401k or IRA. That would not appear on your credit history, but is a great signal to us that someone is financially responsible.”

Conclusion

Overall, it’s very clear that Earnest wants to help their borrowers as much as possible. Throughout their website, they take time to explain everything involved with the loan process. Their priority is educating their borrowers.

While Earnest does have a nice starting APR at 3.35%, remember to take advantage of the other lenders out there and shop around. You are never obligated to take a loan once you receive a quote, and it’s important to do your due diligence and make sure you’re getting the best rates out there. If you do find better rates, be sure to notify Earnest. Otherwise, compare rates with as many lenders as possible.

Shopping around within the span of 45 days isn’t going to make a huge dent in your credit; the bureaus understand you’re doing what you need to do to secure the best loan possible. Just make sure you’re not applying to different lenders once a month, and your credit will be okay.

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The post Earnest: Personal & Student Loans for Responsible Individuals with Limited Credit History appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

Avant Loans: Review These Rates Before You Apply for a Loan

Avant Loans Review

AvantAvant_Logo* is a personal loan provider willing to accept borrowers with less than perfect credit scores.

The interest rates are between 9.95% – 35.99% and loans are as small as $1,000 and as high as $35,000.

Avant does not charge a prepayment penalty.

Origination fees range from 0.95% – 4.75%, which may be lower than the competition.

They also emphasize speed, and can get the loan to you by the next business day if you have all of your documentation.

What credit do you need?

Avant does not have a hard FICO score cutoff (it varies depending upon the individual). In general, you will have a much better chance of being approved if your score is above 580, and you can apply for a loan here. Avant is available in all states except Colorado, Iowa and West Virginia.

If you have excellent credit, you may be able to get an interest rate as low as 4.82% with another lender and should definitely shop around.

While Avant* can offer good rates, you should make sure you compare their rates to other providers. And if you are willing to borrow at 35.99%, you should put together a plan to build your credit score over time so that you can get lower cost options. We can help you get started with our debt guide.

Have you tried these lower rate options?

More and more lenders are willing to work with responsible people who have less than perfect credit.

You may qualify for a low rate credit card to pay off your other bills. If your credit score is above 680, you will mostly likely be able to qualify for a low interest rate credit card. You can check to see if you are approved for a credit card without hurting your score. We have a list of where and how to check for your PRE-APPROVED and PRE-QUALIFIED credit card offers.

There are other personal loan companies with lower rates. We keep a list of companies that offer good personal loan rates to people with less than perfect credit. Unlike a lot of other sites, you won’t get calls from a bunch of loan companies.

You only get in touch with the ones you’re interested in dealing with. And many will tell you your rate without doing a hard pull of your credit report or requiring a phone call.

 See our list of low rate personal loans you might qualify for

You should apply for several you feel comfortable with so you have several rates to compare and you can get lenders fighting for your business.

Are you trying to build your credit score?

Don’t use a loan through Avant (or any loan) just to build your credit score.

Yes, a loan through Avant is reported to the major credit bureaus and paying one on time is a good thing for your credit report.

But there’s a much cheaper way to improve your credit and have a bigger impact.

Get a secured credit card. Even with really bad credit you can get approved – and some have no fees at all.

Using one to build credit is simple – we have a guide here.

You just charge a small amount on the secured card every month, and pay the bill on time and in full each month. After about a year or so of doing that you could see a substantial rise in your score if you make all your other payments on time.

There is no need to get a loan simply to improve your score.

Done all of that?

Avant can be a very good option for borrowers, given its transparency and speed. You can check your rate without hurting your score by clicking on the link “Apply Now” below.

Avant_Logo

Apply Now

It’s better than most options you’ll find from payday loan shops because:

It’s a real installment loan. You’re given a real monthly payment, and your payments pay down the loan itself, not just interest, so you have at least a shot at paying it all off if you keep up the payments.

You can check your rate without impacting your credit score. Avant will use a soft pull to provide you with an interest rate. We applaud this, because it enables consumers to shop for the best loan for their needs without worrying about harming their credit score. Many traditional lenders do not offer this.

Reviews of their customer service are decent. No one likes paying high rates, and Avant is not a place for really low rates. But they do get decent reviews online for their customer service and treating people with decency.

But make sure you get a secured credit card as well so you can more quickly build up your credit profile. That will help you graduate to lenders who can offer you much more reasonable rates, or get a lower interest rate at Avant.

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The post Avant Loans: Review These Rates Before You Apply for a Loan appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

5 Ways to Drastically Save on Groceries

Food eats up a big portion of budgets. Here's how to slim that spending down.

According the USDA, the average American family of four spent an average of $250 per week on food in February 2017, if they had a moderate to liberal budget. That can mean upwards of $1,000 a month on food or $12,000 annually. That is a huge chunk of most budgets and can be scary to see in writing.

While this is the average, it does not need to be your reality.

There are simple things you can do to save money on your groceries. I’ve got my five best tips here. I’ve been following these ideas for years and they really can work.

1. Switch Stores

There are times when your larger grocery store might offer a better discount on some items — like these things grocery stores will do for you for free. However, have you ever stopped to ask yourself if you’re shopping at the store that offers you the best prices? It may not be worth driving too far, as you may lose more in gas expenses than you’d recoup in savings, but take stock of your local stores and see if there’s one that really may have better bargains.

For example, if you have an Aldi nearby and are not shopping there, you may be missing out on the simplest way to save. It is true they do not accept coupons, however, the prices there are often lower than the prices you pay at your regular store, even if you clipped a coupon. There are lots of options out there, so make sure you’re considering what others might be right for you.

2. Shop Ahead

Most people create a shopping list based on the items they need now. That is important, but you may also want to add items you will need later when you find them on sale.

To help, if you look at your store’s weekly ad, often times the items you see on the front page are loss leaders, which means the store may actually lose money on the prices they are offering. So this may be the time to get the best deal. These sale items can be discounted as much as 50%. This may mean that you purchase three, four or more of the item on sale. Doing so allows you to feed your family and get the lowest price possible.

Keep in mind, stores tend to do this with the idea that these extremely low prices will draw you in and you’ll do all your shopping there, ultimately making up their losses on their sales. If you do decide to shop there, and see other items that are “on sale,” make sure you flip up the sales tag to see if you’re really getting a discount.

3. Plan Ahead

The reason most grocery budgets fail is because people fail to plan. Each week, sit down and plan your meals including breakfasts, lunches (don’t forget meals for work and school), snacks and dinner. And make sure you do your planning the right way. (If you’re looking for frugal meal ideas, check out this 16-cent breakfast.)

The problem most people face with meal planning and budgeting is they do it backward. Most people plan their meals and then create a shopping list but you may want to consider working it from another direction.

First, check your pantry and your freezer. If you happened to get a deal on chicken breasts last week and three weeks earlier rice was on sale and you bought several bags, you can use these items to create chicken and rice. You now have a meal planned that will cost you no extra money.

Once you’ve planned your meals based on what you have on hand, look at the weekly ad. Check to see what is on sale that you might want to use for this week’s menu. Add in those extra items your family needs this week.

Finally, plan out additional meals you need and add those items to your list. Hopefully, most of what you need for your food for the week is already in your pantry or freezer or is going to be on sale.

With a bit of planning and changing your way of thinking, you can knock down that weekly grocery budget.

4. Create & Use a Price Book

As mentioned above, stores can offer amazing deals on items you need. You should stock up, but how much should you buy? That is a challenge, but if you track the sales cycles you can learn how much to buy as you follow when items go on sale.

The way a price book works is simple. You write down the product that is on sale including the size, date and what you paid (not taking coupons into account). Then, watch the weekly ads. The next time you see that same item go on sale, make a note in your book.

As you do this, you will start to understand the sale cycles and can buy just enough to get you through each period of time, so you don’t have too much on hand, but just enough to help ensure you always get the best price.

Of course, not all items follow a cycle, but you might be surprised to learn which items do. However, you have to put in a little bit of work to break the code for yourself.

5. Use Coupons the Right Way

I’m not against using coupons. In fact, I feel they are a great way to save money. However, you need to use them in the right way.

The problem many couponers face is they use coupons as soon as they get them. That is not always the best way to make them work for you. Instead, consider saving them to use when items are on sale.

When you find those items on the cover of the weekly ad (like we mentioned in point two) and you have a coupon to pair with the sale, you’ve really increased your savings and turned a hot deal into a smokin’ hot deal.

So when you get the coupons in your Sunday newspaper, file them away. Watch the weekly deals, and get out the coupons when you can pair them. In fact, if you really watch, you will learn that many items that have coupons go on sale after the coupons are released. That is not a coincidence.

Now you’ve got the tools and tips you need to really make a difference with your budget. It might take a little effort to implement some changes, but it can be worth it.

Want to save more? Here are five tricks to get discounts on everything you buy. And no matter how much you save, try to stay on budget. Going into debt to buy groceries could affect your credit. You can see where your credit stands by checking two of your scores free on Credit.com.

Image: 97

The post 5 Ways to Drastically Save on Groceries appeared first on Credit.com.

Where to Get the Best Personal Loan Rates Online

Where to Get the Best Personal Loan Rates Online

Updated September 10, 2017

If you want a personal loan to pay off credit card or other debt, the absolute fastest and most effective way to lower the interest you pay is to apply for a balance transfer, with a 0% rate. You can read our guide to balance transfers to learn about their pros and cons.

But a balance transfer isn’t for everyone, especially if your credit score isn’t perfect or if you need to borrow cash.

A personal loan with a set payoff period a few years from now is often the next best thing with these advantages:

  • One monthly payment
  • A set rate
  • You don’t need absolutely perfect credit
  • You can check your rate without touching your score

There are more attractive deals than ever thanks to some new online lenders and you can see sample rates below for excellent credit and good credit.

Tip: Apply for several loans to check rates. Every lender has different approval criteria and different pricing models – and the difference in rate between lenders (even for people with excellent credit) can be significant. So long as you shop with lenders that use a soft credit pull, you can check your rate without negatively impacting your credit score.

Start Here – Multiple Lenders at Once

LendingTree

Dozens of lenders participate in LendingTree’s personal loan shopping tool – including all of the lenders listed on this page. (Full disclosure, LendingTree is our parent company.) With one application, LendingTree will perform a soft credit pull (with no impact to your score) and match you with multiple loan offers. This is our favorite (because it is easy) way to get multiple offers from lenders in minutes. For people with excellent credit, you could get an interest rate below 6%. For people with less than perfect credit, there are many lenders participating with more liberal acceptance criteria.

apply-now

Why is this a good way to save?

Banks don’t care much for personal loans because the lower rates earn them less profit than credit cards.

Fortunately, some new companies believe you should be able to get a competitive rate without dealing with credit card intro offers, even if your credit isn’t perfect.

They’re doing it by lending online only without the overhead of branches.

They pass the savings on to you through better rates, and you can check up on them below.

Personal loans for Excellent Credit

The following providers are for you if you want the absolute lowest possible rates that reward a record of no late payments and good income, even though you have some high rate debt you want to clean up.

Unless you get a rate of 5% or less, you’re probably better off with balance transfer deals, but the convenience of a fixed payment and walking away from credit cards makes personal loans appealing.

[SoFiPL]SoFi[/SoFiPL]

SoFi

[SoFiPL]SoFi[/SoFiPL] offers some of the lowest interest rates available if you’re looking to refinance your credit card debt or borrow cash. You’ll need to have a good record of paying your bills on time, but they’re willing to offer rates that are very competitive [SoFiOrgFee]without an origination fee[/SoFiOrgFee].

[SoFiPL]Sofi’s[/SoFiPL] believes if you’ve graduated college or went to grad school you’ll be a more responsible borrower, so they may be more likely to give you a better rate, even if your credit history is limited.

For example, if you have $10,000 in credit card debt, good income, and great credit, their best rate could save you as much as 0% balance transfer deals once you factor in the fees for each.

What we like best about [SoFiPL]SoFi[/SoFiPL] is that they offer [SoFiOrgFee]no origination fee[/SoFiOrgFee] and [SoFiPrepayFee]no prepayment penalty[/SoFiPrepayFee]. If you think you may be able to pay off your loan earlier (or want the flexibility to do that), [SoFiPL]SoFi[/SoFiPL] is the only lender we reviewed that charges no fee at all. Given their very low rates, we think anyone with good credit should start with [SoFiPL]SoFi[/SoFiPL] first, and then compare their offer to the rest of the providers.

Rates: [SoFiAPR]5.49% -14.24%[/SoFiAPR], fixed*, with AutoPay. You can also select a variable interest rate. With AutoPay, the variable rates are from [SoFiAPR]5.17% – 11.32%[/SoFiAPR]*. Rates are based upon 1-month LIBOR.

Upfront fee: [SoFiOrgFee]0% – No origination fees[/SoFiOrgFee], [SoFiPrepayFee]no prepayment fees[/SoFiPrepayFee] and no balance transfer fees

Amount: [SoFiLoanAmt]$5,000 – $100,000[/SoFiLoanAmt]

Period: [SoFiTerm]3, 5 or 7 years[/SoFiTerm]

Available states: All states except Tennessee and Nevada.

APPLY NOW Secured

on SoFi’s secure website

[BesteggPL]BestEgg[/BesteggPL]

BestEgg

[BesteggPL]BestEgg[/BesteggPL] is an online personal loan company that offers low interest rates and quick funding. [BesteggPL]BestEgg[/BesteggPL] is one of the fastest growing personal loan companies in the country, largely because it has been able to provide one of the best combinations of interest rate and loan amount in the market.

You can check to see [BesteggCreditScore]your interest rate without hurting your score, and they do approve people with scores as low as the mid-600s. If you have an excellent credit score[/BesteggCreditScore], [BesteggPL]BestEgg[/BesteggPL] will be very competitive on terms.

Upfront fee: [BesteggAPR]0.99% – 5.99%[/BesteggAPR]

Amount: [BesteggLoanAmt]up to $35,000[/BesteggLoanAmt]

Period: [BesteggTerm]up to 5 years[/BesteggTerm]


[LightStreamPL]Lightstream[/LightStreamPL]

LightStream

[LightStreamPL]Lightstream[/LightStreamPL] is a great choice for people with excellent credit. It is actually part of a bank you might have heard of, SunTrust Bank. They were recently set up to offer some of the best personal loan rates available, and they are delivering. The interest rate you are charged depends upon the purpose of the loan. Interest rates can be [LightStreamAPR]as low as 1.99%[/LightStreamAPR] for a new car purchase (and [LightStreamPL]Lightstream[/LightStreamPL] does not put their name on your title. They just put the cash in your bank account, and you can shop around and pay cash for the car). [LightStreamAPR]Home improvement loans start at 3.99% [/LightStreamAPR], making them cheaper and easier than a home equity loan.

They’ll also approve and deposit your money fast, often the same day, and give extra consideration if you have money in your 401K or equity in your home.

[LightStreamPL]LightStream[/LightStreamPL] has created an exclusive offer, just for MagnifyMoney readers. (This offer went live in January 2016). Credit card consolidation loans for MagnifyMoney readers are now [LightStreamAPR]as low as 4.19%. The highest rate is 14.49%[/LightStreamAPR]. Just beware: [LightStreamPL]LightStream[/LightStreamPL] does a [LightStreamInq]hard credit pull[/LightStreamInq].

Upfront fee: None

Amount: [LightStreamLoanAmt]$5,000 – $100,000[/LightStreamLoanAmt]

Period: [LightStreamTerm]2 – 7 years[/LightStreamTerm]

Available states: All


Personal Loans for Good Credit

These providers may be able to help you out if you’re not approved for the very best rates or a 0% balance transfer offer. Check those deals first, there’s no real harm to do that, but if they fall through, give these a try.

[LendingClubPL]LendingClub[/LendingClubPL]*

Lending Club

You might not have heard of [LendingClubPL]LendingClub[/LendingClubPL] yet, but they are a big player in online loans. And they offer a wide range of rates and terms based on your credit profile and needs. [LendingClubCreditScore]Generally you’ll need a score of about 600 or higher to get approved[/LendingClubCreditScore].

Rates: [LendingClubAPR]5.99 – 35.89% APR[/LendingClubAPR]

Upfront fee: [LendingClubOrgFee]1 – 6%[/LendingClubOrgFee]

Amount: [LendingClubLoanAmt]up to $40,000[/LendingClubLoanAmt]

Period: [LendingClubTerm]up to 5 years[/LendingClubTerm]

Available states: All except Iowa and West Virginia

APPLY NOW Secured

on Lending Club’s secure website


[BesteggPL]BestEgg[/BesteggPL]

[BesteggPL]BestEgg[/BesteggPL] (reviewed earlier in this post) will approve people with [BesteggCreditScore]credit scores as low as the mid-600s[/BesteggCreditScore]. If you have good credit and are looking for a loan, you should consider [BesteggPL]BestEgg[/BesteggPL].


[UpstartPL]Upstart[/UpstartPL]*

Upstart

[UpstartPL]Upstart[/UpstartPL] offers loans that look a lot like the ones from the bigger online lenders like [LendingClubPL]LendingClub[/LendingClubPL] or Prosper.

They’ll let you [UpstartLoanAmt]borrow up to $35,000[/UpstartLoanAmt] for [UpstartTerm]3 years[/UpstartTerm]. But the key is they will take into account the schools you attended, your area of study, the grades you earned in school, and your work history to see if you can get a better rate.

So while the range of rates [UpstartPL]Upstart[/UpstartPL] offers is similar to the bigger guys, if you did well in school, you might find the rate you actually get is lower than what the others will offer you, so it’s worth trying.

You’ll [UpstartCreditScore]need a 640 or better FICO[/UpstartCreditScore] and your monthly payments can’t be more than 55% of your monthly income.

Rates: [UpstartAPR]7.39% -29.99%[/UpstartAPR]

Upfront fee: [UpstartOrgFee]1% – 8%[/UpstartOrgFee]

Amount: [UpstartLoanAmt]$5,000 – $50,000[/UpstartLoanAmt]

Term: [UpstartTerm][3 & 5 year loans available/UpstartTerm]

Available states: All


PenFed

Previously, PenFed offers a fixed rate of 9.9% interest rate for 5 years. Veterans get extra special attention so it’s worth checking this online only offer. You have to be a member of the PenFed credit union, but that’s easy and anyone can do that online as part of the process.

Rates: 9.99%

Upfront fee: None

Term: 5 years

Available states: All


Personal Loans for Minimal Credit

[AvantPL]Avant[/AvantPL]*

[AvantAPR]APRs range from 9.95% – 35.99%[/AvantAPR] and there is [AvantPrepayFee]no prepayment fee[/AvantPrepayFee]. You can check to see your interest rate without hurting your credit score. Just one warning: if you are willing to borrow money at 35.99%, then you really need to step back and think about building a longer term financial plan. You can download our free Debt Guide, which will help you put together a plan so that you never have to pay interest rates this high again.

[AvantPL]Avant’s[/AvantPL] platform offers access to [AvantLoanAmt]loans from $1,000 to $35,000[/AvantLoanAmt], with [AvantTerm]terms from 2 to 5 years[/AvantTerm]. The minimum [AvantCreditScore]credit score varies, but we have seen people with scores as low as 580 get approved[/AvantCreditScore].

The good thing about Avant is that these loans are amortizing. That means it is a real installment loan, and you will be reducing your principal balance with every payment.

Rates: [AvantAPR]9.95% – 35.99%[/AvantAPR]

Upfront fee: [AvantOrgFee]0.95% – 4.75%[/AvantOrgFee]

Amount: [AvantLoanAmt]up to $35,000[/AvantLoanAmt]

Period: [AvantTerm]up to 5 years[/AvantTerm]

Available states: All except Colorado, Iowa and West Virginia.

For Example: A $6,500 loan with an administration fee of 3.75% and an amount financed of $6,256.25, repayable in 36 monthly installments, would have an APR of 29.95% and monthly payments of $265.40.

APPLY NOW Secured

on Avant’s secure website


Springleaf

Springleaf offers personal loans through its branch network to people with less than perfect credit. You can start your application online. If you qualify, you will have to visit a branch to complete the application. Once in the branch, if you have all of the required documents, you can receive you loan proceeds immediately via check.

You can borrow from $1,500 to $25,000. The interest rates are not low, and can go up to 36%. They will also charge an up-front origination fee that is not refundable. You should definitely shop around at other lenders first, given the high cost of the loan and the need to visit a branch.

Rates: 25.10%-36.00%

Upfront fee: varies

Amount: up to $25,000

Period: up to 5 years


As these new companies evolve, expect even more attractive options to emerge, so when you think about lowering your rates, don’t just look to the banks you know.

Give an online lender a chance. You may be rewarded with lower rates, good service, and faster freedom from debt.

promo-personalloan-wide

* We’ll receive a referral fee if you click on offers with this symbol. This does not impact our rankings or recommendations You can learn more about how our site is financed here.

Got questions? Get in touch via Twitter, Facebook or email (info@magnifymoney.com)

The post Where to Get the Best Personal Loan Rates Online appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

SoFi Review: Personal & Student Loans with Low Rates and No Fee

SoFi Review: Personal & Student Loans

Updated August 21, 2017

[SoFiPL]SoFi[/SoFiPL] is an online loan company that offers student loan refinancing options, mortgages and personal loans. [SoFiPL]SoFi[/SoFiPL] offers some of the lowest interest rates and the best consumer experience in the market. We have researched thousands of products from hundreds of companies, and [SoFiPL]SoFi[/SoFiPL] is one of our favorites. However, they have strict credit criteria and target people with good jobs, good income, a proven ability to manage a budget and good credit history. If [SoFiPL]SoFi*[/SoFiPL] approves you, you will probably have a difficult time finding a lower interest rate anywhere else.

In this post, we will review both Student Loans and Personal Loans. (They have just launched mortgages, and we will be updating this post later with a review of that product). For each, we will discuss:

  • The details of the product: how much can you borrow, and at what price
  • Approval criteria: how does [SoFiPL]SoFi[/SoFiPL] underwrite, and who are they likely to accept

In addition, at the end we will give you more details of [SoFiPL]SoFi[/SoFiPL], including who funded them, how big they are and their reputation.

Student Loan Refinance (Skip Ahead for Personal Loans)

[SoFiSL]SoFi[/SoFiSL] has just reduced the minimum loan amount. You can now refinance as [SoFiSLLoanAmt]little as $5,000[/SoFiSLLoanAmt] of student loan debt. There is no cap on how much you can refinance. Based upon your cash flow, [SoFiSL]SoFi[/SoFiSL] will try to provide an option to refinance all of your student loan debt.

There is [SoFiSLOrgFee]no origination fee[/SoFiSLOrgFee] and [SoFiSLPrepayFee]no prepayment penalty[/SoFiSLPrepayFee]. It offers some of the lowest rates out there. [SoFiSLAPR]Fixed APRs range from 3.35% – 7.125%*, and variable APRs range from 2.815% – 6.740%[/SoFiSLAPR].* These rates are available so long as you enroll in auto-pay.* Given that interest rates are at an all-time low, you should think carefully before signing up for a variable interest rate. If you can pay off your loan in a short period of time, you could save a lot of money. If it will take you longer, you may not want to take the interest rate risk.

You can refinance on a [SoFiSLTerm]5, 10, 15, or 20 year term[/SoFiSLTerm].

For example, if you borrow $30,000 on a 10 year term at an APR of 4.615%, your monthly payment will be $312.58. Under those terms, you’re paying back a total of $37,509.60 (120 payments). If you borrow the same amount, but have a 6.8% APR, your monthly payment is $345.24, paying back a total of $41,428.80. In this case, [SoFiSL]SoFi’s[/SoFiSL] low rates have the potential to save you nearly $4,000.

[SoFiSL]SoFi[/SoFiSL] will refinance both private and federal student loans. However, if you refinance a federal loan you will give up all federal protections and programs, including income-based repayment programs. [SoFiSL]SoFi[/SoFiSL] is unique among private lenders because it offer unemployment insurance, free of charge. If you lose your job for no fault of your own (you can’t quit), [SoFiSL]SoFi[/SoFiSL] will suspend your monthly payments until you find a new job. You can do this for up to 12 months. The interest that accrues during this period would be added to the loan.

[SoFiSL]SoFi[/SoFiSL] also offers an entrepreneur program to help graduates who dream of owning a business.

Under this program, loans can be deferred for six months so borrowers can focus on growing their businesses. [SoFiSL]SoFi[/SoFiSL] provides access to networking events, mentors, and investors.

Refinancing with [SoFiSL]SoFi[/SoFiSL] isn’t an option for everyone. First, refinancing is currently unavailable to those residing in Nevada, and variable rate options aren’t available to those in Ohio or Tennessee.

Second, [SoFiSL]SoFi[/SoFiSL] has a list of available schools and programs it services. If your school or program isn’t on that list, you won’t be eligible to refinance.

Third, [SoFiSL]SoFi[/SoFiSL] typically [SoFiSLInq]requires applicants to have excellent credit[/SoFiSLInq]. [SoFiSLCoSigners]It occasionally accepts co-signers – you must call to review your situation with a representative. However, there’s no co-signer release if you move forward with one on your loan[/SoFiSLCoSigners].

To be eligible to refinance your student loans with [SoFiSL]SoFi[/SoFiSL], you need to meet the following requirements:

  • You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident 18 years or older
  • You need to have a 4-year undergraduate or graduate degree from a Title IV accredited institution
  • You have to be employed or have an offer of employment starting in 90 days from the time you apply
  • You need to be in good standing on your current student loans
  • You should have a good, stable employment history
  • A strong monthly cash flow is a must
  • [SoFiSLCreditScore]An excellent FICO score will improve your chances of being approved[/SoFiSLCreditScore]

The application process is straightforward and [SoFiSL]SoFi’s[/SoFiSL] pre-approval should take you less than 15 minutes to complete. You likely won’t need most of the documents listed below until you’re ready to move forward with a loan, but they’re good to have on hand while you’re shopping around.

  • Existing student loan information [SoFiSL](SoFi[/SoFiSL] will need your account information for the loans you wish to finance)
  • Employment information – salary, offer of employment, length of employment
  • Most recent pay stubs as proof of income and employment (if you’re currently employed)
  • Diploma or transcript in the event [SoFiSL]SoFi[/SoFiSL] needs to verify your graduation

It’s good to note [SoFiSL]SoFi[/SoFiSL] accepts screenshots from your PC and pictures taken from a phone, so if you don’t have access to a scanner, there’s no need to worry.

If you’re ready to get started, you can apply for a refinance and check your rate by clicking the button below.

APPLY NOW Secured

on SoFi’s secure website

Details on [SoFiPL]SoFi’s[/SoFiPL] Personal Loan

At [SoFiPL]SoFi,[/SoFiPL] you can [SoFiLoanAmt]borrow between $5,000 and $100,000[/SoFiLoanAmt].

There is [SoFiOrgFee]no origination fee,[/SoFiOrgFee] [SoFiPrepayFee]no prepayment penalty[/SoFiPrepayFee] and no balance transfer fee. They are truly unique in this regard.

You can [SoFiTerm]borrow the money for 3, 5 or 7 years[/SoFiTerm].

In addition, [SoFiPL]SoFi[/SoFiPL] offers unemployment protection. Unlike traditional personal loan companies, they are not looking to make money from unemployment insurance. Instead, they are offering it as a feature and a brand promise. And the insurance is generous. If you lose your job through no fault of your own, you will be given a payment holiday. Interest will continue to accrue on the loan (and be added to the balance), but no payment will be due and your loan will continue to be reported as current to the credit bureau. You can have 3 consecutive months of payments made at a time, and you can have up to 12 months of payments made during the life of the loan. That offers great flexibility. In addition, they offer job placement services to help you find a job.

[SoFiAPR]Fixed interest rates range from 5.49% to 14.24%[/SoFiAPR]* – but you have to sign up for auto-pay in order to get these rates. In addition, [SoFiPL]SoFi[/SoFiPL] offers [SoFiAPR]variable interest rates from 5.17% – 11.32%* with auto-pay. The rates are based upon 1-month LIBOR and are capped at 14.95%[/SoFiAPR].*

You can use the loans for almost any purpose: pay off credit card debt, home improvement, or anything else because the money can be deposited as cash in your checking account.

APPLY NOW Secured

on SoFi’s secure website

What Does It Take to Get Approved?

In order to be approved for a loan, you must at least meet the following requirements:

  • You are a US citizen or permanent resident
  • You are at least the age of majority in your state (typically 18)
  • You are currently employed
  • You have graduated from a selection of Title IV accredited universities or graduate programs (only for the student loan product. For personal loans, there is no university requirement).

Personal loans are not available to residents of the following states: Mississippi, Nevada and Tennessee.

If you fail to meet the above criteria, you will be rejected. However, just because you meet these criteria does not mean that you will be approved. [SoFiPL]SoFi[/SoFiPL] will:

  • Perform an analysis of your ability to repay. They do a “cash flow analysis” looking at your income and expenditure, making sure you can pay
  • Perform an analysis of your history with credit. Missed payments and defaults will most likely get your rejected. You need to have a strong history of repayment. Although they are not a FICO-driven lender (because they look at education, employment and cash flow), the following people will likely have a difficulty getting approved:
    • People who do not have excellent credit. In particular, if you have missed payments or have rapidly built up debt, you could find it difficult to qualify.
    • If you have a “thin credit file”, you will still have a good chance of getting approved. A thin file means that you do not have much information in your credit report. Although that could be a problem with traditional credit scores, [SoFiPL]SoFi[/SoFiPL] might still be willing to work with you.
    • People with collection items, judgments or other negative legal action

[SoFiPL]SoFi[/SoFiPL] offers some of the lowest interest rates out there, and they are picky about who they approve. If you have a good degree, a good job and a history of making payments on time, you will likely be able to benefit from [SoFiPL]SoFi[/SoFiPL].

And here is the best news: you can check to see if you will be approved, and the interest rate you would receive, without hurting your credit score. [SoFiPL]SoFi[/SoFiPL] uses what is called a [SoFiInq]“soft pull”[/SoFiInq] to determine your interest rate and your loan amount.

Given how low the interest rates are at [SoFiPL]SoFi,[/SoFiPL] if you have a college degree you should take the 3-4 minutes to see if you can be approved. The only cost is your time.

Screen Shot 2015-02-26 at 6.49.15 PM

Remember that you’re in no way obligated to take a loan once you apply.

Unless you accept the loan and go through with the hard credit inquiry, [SoFiPL]SoFi[/SoFiPL] doesn’t hold you to taking the loans presented to you.

All About [SoFiPL]SoFi[/SoFiPL]

You can trust [SoFiPL]SoFi[/SoFiPL]. They are a very well funded start-up, having raised $164 million from some of the biggest and most influential venture capital firms in the Silicon Valley.

They have also built a very strong relationship with investors, and have funded more than $2 billion in loans to date.

[SoFiPL]SoFi[/SoFiPL] has been created with a mission to revolutionize the way we borrow in this country. In particular:

  • They want to make it easy for people to shop for a loan, believing that you should be able to get your interest rate without hurting your score
  • They want to create an easy, seamless experience with a great user experience
  • They want to cut out the costs of the big banks, giving lower interest rates to borrowers and higher interest rates to lenders
  • They want to create a different type of borrowing experience, by providing unemployment insurance as a free benefit.

Their mission, and their personal loan product, align to the vision of MagnifyMoney. When we created MagnifyMoney, we hoped to find lenders like [SoFiPL]SoFi,[/SoFiPL] and are pleased to award them an A+ Transparency Score.

APPLY NOW Secured

on SoFi’s secure website

We only have one criticism: their underwriting criteria is very tight right now. Hopefully, over time, they will be able to expand the criteria and be able to provide the great experience to people who may have experienced some financial difficulties in the past.

The post SoFi Review: Personal & Student Loans with Low Rates and No Fee appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

The Ultimate Guide to Getting a Better Job This Year

You've decided it's time to get a better job — now here's how you do it.

This is the year you’re going to make more money — or take on a leadership role at work, apply for your dream job or even try a completely new career path. Whatever it is, you know you want something in your professional life to change.

Understandably, you might be overwhelmed by the prospect of making your work dreams a reality. These job-hunting tips from the pros should make it more manageable.

If You’re Just Starting to Look for a New Job (or Thinking About It)

Evaluate What’s Truly Important to You
Yes, the amount on your paycheck is important. After all, you need to pay your bills. But what else do you want from your next gig — a shorter commute? A place you can advance? Flexible schedule? Whatever it is, make the added elements of your next job part of your search to help increase the odds you’ll be happier wherever you land.

Look at Companies, Not Just Jobs
Instead of only focusing on job listings that are already posted, expand your search to find companies you think you’d enjoy working at. They may not have anything right away, but taking the step toward talking with a hiring manager about what you think you’d bring to the table may provide opportunities you wouldn’t have had otherwise.

“Make a list of the items that you like and wish were part of your current culture and compare it to future opportunities,” said Tony Gulley, managing partner of Executive Casting, a recruiting firm based in Raleigh, North Carolina. “Culture is the foundation of satisfaction and a cornerstone for employee retention, so you should not overlook this.”

Find a Mentor & Heed Their Advice
If there is someone in your field (or in your place of work) whose career, motivation, abilities or other traits you wish to emulate, tell them so and ask if they would be willing to help you become better at what you do. Don’t be shy about asking for this help. It’s not a one-way street, and the mentor as much as the mentee benefits from the relationship. Mentoring can help a seasoned professional become more cognizant of things they may do as a rote response to business situations. This will position you to advance in your current workplace or seek a better job elsewhere.

Pick Up New Skills
Eyeing a job in sales but deathly afraid of speaking in public? Perhaps it’s time to brush up on your skills. A little training or an after-work class can help you beef up your resume where you need it most.

Revamp Your Resume …
Are you still using that resume you crafted in college? Sure, you’ve updated it along the way, but maybe it’s time to consider either starting from scratch or getting rid of some of the details on there that are taking up prime real estate. Ask yourself if those early jobs are really reflective of your skillset or where you want to go in your career. If not, clear them off and make room for other more important details.

Remember, a lot of companies and recruiting firms use software to scan resumes, so prepare yours for a digital review. Dawn D. Boyer, a Virginia-based resume writer and career consultant, stressed the importance of composing digital resumes in word-processing documents with simple, easy-to-read formats that include keywords related to the type of work you’re looking for.

… And Make Sure You Proofread It
There are enough challenges to getting a new job, so don’t stand in your own way by sending application materials with errors.

“It’s shocking how many resumes cross my desk with incorrect grammar, improper punctuation, and multiple misspellings,” said Susan McNeill, a recruiter for Back to Basics Learning Dynamics, an education company in Delaware. “A sloppily written resume is an immediate red flag.”

Network, Network, Network
Sometimes the best way to find the next step is by talking to someone who’s been there. Reach out to your alumni network, tap friends or send cold emails to start conversations.

“Cold call companies and express your interest in hearing about any future openings in your line of work” said Jana Tulloch, a human resources professional at software education company DevelopIntelligence in Boulder, Colorado. “Often there are vacancies on the horizon that just haven’t been posted, and you could be the early bird who gets the worm.”

If You’re Actively Looking

Get Uncomfortable
Growth doesn’t happen by sitting still. You don’t improve your skills or opportunities by not stretching a bit, so volunteer to take on duties and projects that you might not feel completely qualified for. The same holds true when applying for jobs, especially if you’re a woman. Men are far more likely than women to apply for positions for which they might not meet every criteria.

Find a Recruiting Agency
There are plenty of services out there that help companies fill positions with qualified candidates, and the companies using these services tend to be larger employers with better benefits and salaries (they also pay the recruiters, not you, so don’t think you have to pony up any cash). You can reach out to these companies directly to make sure they know you exist, but it’s also wise to make sure you’re easy to find on the internet. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is updated and your resume is linked to it. Also, making your profile searchable on job sites like Monster.com and TheLadders.com can be helpful.

Check Your Credit
Some employers will pull a version of your credit report as part of their hiring process, and you’ll want to keep errors or unknown missteps from hurting your prospects. You can get your credit reports for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com and view your free credit report snapshot, updated every 14 days, on Credit.com. Got bad credit? Here’s what to do if an employer wants to check out your credit report.

Prepare to Be Googled
According to a 2016 CareerBuilder survey, 59% of hiring managers use search engines to research candidates while 60% are also looking up applicants on social media — and, yes, what they find could cause you to lose out on a position. What could cost you, specifically? Survey says provocative or inappropriate photographs and videos, discriminatory comments, badmouthing of former employers or fellow employees, and poor communication skills. What can help? Background information that supports your job qualifications, a professional image, a wide range of interests and (you guessed it) good communication skills.

Find Out What You’re Worth
Use sites like Glassdoor to find out what other people at your level in your field make. That information can help you in the job search and negotiation process.

If You’re Going On Interviews

Review Your References
You want references that can speak to your work ethic and accomplishments firsthand, not necessarily the person in your orbit with the flashiest job title. If you’re thinking of adding someone new, be sure to clear it with them first. If you’re satisfied with your current advocates, double-check that their contact information is current. They can’t stump for you if the prospective employer can’t actually get in touch with them. Plus, the hiring manager might count a wrong number against you.

Don’t Forget Interview Prep
“Don’t show up empty-handed,” Boyer, the career consultant, said. “Your carry-in list should be a paper copy of your resume, a paper copy of your list of recommendations if they ask for them, and a typed list of questions to ask the future employer.” She also recommended bringing pre-written thank-you notes so you can drop it in the mail immediately upon leaving the building.

Ask For Feedback When You Get Rejected
Use the job-application process as a learning tool. If you don’t get an interview — or if you do and they choose another candidate — ask the recruiter or hiring manager why they didn’t select you and what you could do to improve your chances for getting a position like the one you applied for.

Keep an Open Mind
While it’s helpful to have a checklist in mind, having too many requirements may hold you back. Keep an open mind so you give each opportunity the consideration it deserves.

Image: Geber86 

The post The Ultimate Guide to Getting a Better Job This Year appeared first on Credit.com.

Payoff Personal Loan Review

personal loan

Updated December 13, 2015

Payoff* is a company that offers personal loans. Their goal is to help consumers get out of debt, and they don’t even like to be described as a loan company. If their algorithm is able to detect that you are going to use this loan to go further into debt, rather than payoff your existing debt at a lower interest rate, they may decline you. The goal of their business is in their name: they want you to payoff your high interest rate credit cards so that you can accelerate your debt repayment.

They currently offer a personal loan product, and in this review we will describe:

  • The terms of the loan (price, maximum loan amount, interest rate)
  • The qualification criteria
  • The application process

Terms of the Loan

Interest Rate: Between 8% and 25% APR

Loan Amount: $5,000 – $35,000

Term: Up to 60 months

Origination Fee: Between 2% – 5% of the loan amount, deducted from your proceeds when you book the loan

There are no prepayment or penalty fees with the loan.

The Qualification Criteria

Payoff is extremely transparent about their requirements for a loan. If you don’t meet the minimum criteria outlined below, you should not bother applying. If you do meet these minimum requirements, you should then apply online to see what interest rate and loan amount you would be offered. The great thing about Payoff is that you will not hurt your credit score by applying online. They use a “soft pull” – not only for the initial application, but all the way through to funding. They do not believe that shopping for a faster way to get out of debt should harm your credit score.

Here are the requirements:

Minimum FICO Score: 660 or higher (these scores can vary month to month. If you have a score in the mid-600s, you should give an application a try)

Debt-to-income ratio: 50% or lower. Payoff uses an “unsecured debt-to-income” ratio. Take the monthly payment of personal loans, credit cards and other debt, and divide that by your monthly income. If that ratio is 50% or less, you can get approved. For example, if you make $1,000 a month and pay $500 towards your credit cards and personal loans, you will have a 50% deb-to-income ratio (= 300 / 1000).

Age of credit history: You need to have at least 3 years of credit. In other words, you oldest open credit card should have been opened at least 3 years. They are not looking to work with people who are brand new to credit, and already in a lot of debt.

Other credit requirements: You need to have at least 2 “open and satisfactory” accounts. That means you have at least 2 accounts that are open, and where you have been paying on time. In addition, you can not have opened more than 1 personal / installment loan in the last 12 months. Remember: they want to target people who have debt but want to get out, and a lot of recent borrowing could indicate that you are headed further into debt.

Delinquencies: You should be current on all of your debt. In addition, you should not have been 90 days or more delinquent on any debt in the last 12 months.

And you can not have any tax liens.

In summary: Payoff is looking for people who have found themselves in debt. If you make your payments on time and are responsible, but just feel like the balance on your debt is never going down (because all of your money goes to interest), Payoff could be for you. If you have bad credit, very little credit, or continue to take on more debt every month, Payoff is not the right option.

The Application Process

The application process is very simple. You start by visiting Payoff and applying online. You can do that here*.

You will be asked a few questions, and Payoff will look to see if you are qualified for the loan. They will give you an indication of the loan amount and interest rate. You can do all of that without hurting your credit score.

Payoff may want to verify some of your information. They will walk you through the process.

Once all of the verification is complete, they will transfer the funds to your bank account.

It is a very easy, digital process. But they also have a call center that can answer your questions along the way.

In Conclusion

We spoke to the management team at Payoff. They really are trying to be different. Their goal is to help people get out of debt, and they only want to work with people who share that goal.

If you have a score in the mid-600s, have never missed a payment and are serious about getting out of debt (so that you stop putting all of your money towards interest), Payoff could be the best option for you. And given that you can see your interest rate with a soft pull, you really don’t have anything to lose by checking.

You can apply at Payoff here:

Apply Now

You can see other personal loan options here.

The post Payoff Personal Loan Review appeared first on MagnifyMoney.

OP/ED: CFPB Should Strengthen Its Payday Loan Rules

CFPB-payday-loan-rules

A few years ago, Corri Varner of Savage, Minnesota needed a new pair of glasses so she could drive to her church. She was short on funds and went to a payday lender to borrow money to cover the cost. She was loaned the money, but it came with a steep fee and high interest rate. When her loan came due, she needed to take out a new loan to cover the previous loan, plus the fee and interest. Her new loan came with its own set of high fees and interest rate. Before she knew it, Corri was stuck in a “debt trap” – being forced to borrow each month to pay off the last month’s loan.

She isn’t alone. Each year millions of Americans get stuck in similar debt traps because of predatory payday lenders.

The good news is that earlier this year, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) took a first step to crack down on lenders that make high interest, short-term loans. It has drafted new rules to make sure payday lenders don’t saddle consumers with excessive fees and outrageous interest rates. But the CFPB still has the opportunity to change its rules before they take effect, and I’m urging them to stand up for consumers by eliminating loopholes in their proposed rules and making sure the rules are as strong as possible.

According to the CFPB, 70% of borrowers of payday loans are forced to take out another loan when their first loan expires. And one in five borrowers are forced to repeat this cycle ten times or more. These debt traps can rob consumers through outrageously high charges – often with interest rates of more than 300% a year. And lenders sometimes cause consumers even more financial trouble by making repeated attempts to debit a customer’s bank account, even if there’s no money in it. That can put consumers on the hook for hundreds of dollars in overdraft fees.

The CFPB’s new rules would require a payday lender to verify that a customer actually has the ability to repay a loan before it’s issued. That means payday lenders have to check a consumer’s income, debt, and other data before making a loan, to ensure the customer has the resources to repay it. A family needs to put food on the table, pay rent, or make a car payment. And the rules will also prevent payday lenders from repeatedly debiting a customer’s account if the account doesn’t have any money in it. That means payday lenders won’t be able to run up overdraft fees as some have in the past.

While these rules will be good for consumers overall, it’s important to close loopholes that could undermine their effectiveness. For example, in some cases, under the CFPB’s proposed rules, payday lenders would be allowed to make up to six loans to a person without having to do a full review of the borrower’s ability to repay. In addition, the proposed rules wouldn’t apply to some longer-term loans either. So, I’ve been pushing the CFPB to close these two loopholes before the payday lending rules take effect.

In Congress, I’m also taking on abusive payday lenders. First, I’m fighting for legislation to cap the interest rates that payday lenders can charge. Instead of charging interest rates higher than 300% a year, I think we should set a national cap on how much lenders can charge, just like the 15 states that have already enacted interest rate caps of 36% or lower. And second, I’ve been pushing for legislation to crack down on online lenders that try to skirt U.S. laws by setting up their computers in foreign countries.

The new payday lending rules are an opportunity to secure a big step forward for this country’s working families. Although there’s more to do, we should be glad that for the first time, our country will soon have basic, national standards for payday lenders. It’s an important step to stopping the debt trap cycle that payday lenders have been forcing upon Americans.

This story is an Op/Ed contribution to Credit.com and does not necessarily represent the views of the company or its partners.

Image: Zoran Zeremski

The post OP/ED: CFPB Should Strengthen Its Payday Loan Rules appeared first on Credit.com.