Springleaf Financial – Review of Personal Loan Program
Springleaf Financial is a bit unique in the online personal loan space because it has been in business for over 90 years and has a nationwide network of branches. In fact, they advertise that "2 out of 3 Americans live within 25 miles of a branch."
With that history and presence, Springleaf is a top direct lender to consider if you are thinking about a personal loan. After all, you can use a personal loan from Springleaf Financial Services for a wide range of purposes:
Overview of Springleaf Personal Loans
Springleaf offers both unsecured (or signature) and secured personal loans of up to $25,000. And you can apply for your loan either online, by telephone, or in one of their locations. So they do provide a convenience factor that is hard to match.
Personally, we recommend using the online application. You will not need to wait for a customer service representative to become available, you do not need to twiddle your thumbs while your application is reviewed, and you will have time to contemplate your decision in a pressure free environment.
Springleaf is usually able to process your loan application in one hour or less. If you apply from home, you can use that time to compare your loan terms against our personal loan checklist to make sure you are comfortable with the terms. And, if there is something you do not understand or are not comfortable with, we encourage you to give Springleaf a call.
Springleaf's application should only take you 3 to 5 minutes to complete. And they strive to give you a decision within an hour of competing the application. If approved, you should be able to receive your funds by the next business day.
Please note that Springleaf advises clients applying in their stores that completing the paperwork at a branch often takes 30 to 45 minutes.
When you apply with Springleaf, you need to be aware that they are more stringent than other online lenders when reviewing your application. So you will need to have the following prepared before your loan will be funded:
Your drivers license (with the address matching your current home address)
Recent pay stub as proof of income
Routing and account number for your checking or savings account
Source of collateral (such as a car), if you are applying for a loan over $7,500
At this time, Springleaf are not available in the following excluded jurisdictions are: Alaska; Arkansas; Hawaii; Iowa; Kansas; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Montana; Nebraska; Nevada; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New York; North Dakota; Rhode Island; South Dakota; Utah; Vermont; andWyoming
Do You Qualify?
Springleaf describes their average customers as having the following attributes:
FICO score of 590 - 660 (but as low as 550)
Income of at least $25,000 per year
Age 25 - 54
Not having been in bankruptcy for at least 6 months
Of course, these are average attributes. So, if you are age, credit score, or income do not perfectly align, do not be discouraged.
Note If You Previously Declared Bankruptcy: Springleaf says they will decline any applicant out of bankruptcy for less than 6 months. Additionally, between 6 and 24 months, they will require collateral (such as a car). And, if you filed bankruptcy more than 24 months ago, they reserve the right to require collateral, even if your loan amount is less than $7,500.
Advantages of a Springleaf Personal Loan
We think the greatest advantage are its convenience factors.
First, you have multiple ways to apply. This can be online, over the phone, or in one of their hundreds of branch stores.
The application process is quick and simple. And approval and funding are fast. Usually your decision will be made within one hour, with funding as soon as the next business day.
You have multiple options when making a payment. Unlike a lot of online lenders, you are not required to set up automatic ACH payments.
Instead, you can choose to pay online, by phone, in a branch, or at Walmart. And depending where you pay, you can have your payment debited directly from your checking account, or use a check, cash or your debit card.
As we advised above, be prepared to prove your income. Depending on the type of income you receive, you may need anything from your stub to a copy of your signed tax return.
Another factor we do not like is the Springleaf website does not make it clear what range of terms may be made available until their underwriting is completed. While we do not expect any "guarantee" of what interest rate you will qualify for, we always hope that online lenders will disclose the range of rates available, as well as the length of loan that you can take out.
That being said, Springleaf offers loans from 1 year to 5 years, with APRs falling between 25% and 36% - which can often be higher than what you might pay for credit card debt.
Also beware collateral will be required for larger loans (more than $7,500) or if you suffered a prior bankruptcy. This collateral will often be your car.
Lastly, several customer complaints online suggest that Springleaf agents push for you to pay extra to "insure" your loan against potential unemployment. Complaints range from the insurance option being expensive, applied without permission, or not useful when actually faced with unemployment.
The Bottom Line
Convenience for applications and payments
Any size loan to meet your needs, up to $25,000
Secured and unsecured loans
Prior bankruptcy not an automatice disqualification
Stringent underwriting requirements
High interest rates
Available terms not disclosed until underwriting completed
Push you to insure your loan for extra fee
Our verdict is that Springleaf Financial personal loan program is one of the better signature loan programs available in the market today. While we all wish for lower fees, the truth is that making emergency funds quickly available to those with poor and average credit scores is a risky business. Springleaf does a good job of balancing their risk allocations with top notch customer service.
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