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Best Loan Companies

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by ConsumerAffairs

Research Team

Updated on 03/02/2018

Whether they want to buy a car, house or business, most consumers will need a loan at some point in their life. Consumers can also take out personal loans to cover unexpected bills or consolidate credit card debt.

When consumers are ready to borrow money, they’ll have many lenders and types of loan companies from which to choose. Consumer should evaluate several lenders and loan offers before signing any paperwork, but with so many options, choosing a loan company can be overwhelming.

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    Compare Reviews for Top Loan Companies

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    LendingTree
    Read 1150 Reviews

    This mortgage marketplace gives you quotes from several lenders to help you get an FHA, VA or conventional loan.

    Credit Direct Loans
    Read 36 Reviews

    Credit Direct offers unsecured loans up to $40,000 and an online application. They are licensed in California, Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia and Arkansas.

    LoanMe
    Read 456 Reviews

    LoanMe provides personal loans in as little as four hours. We strive to make the process quick and easy to yield needed funds for one-time purchases or debt consolidation.

    Currency Capital
    Read 404 Reviews

    Currency Capital's services include various business financing options including business loans, equipment financing, equipment leasing and working capital. They offer competitive interest rates and 100 percent financing services.

    Westlake Financial
    Read 412 Reviews

    Westlake Financial was established in 1988 and is a part of the Hankey Group of Companies. It is headquartered in Los Angeles. Westlake offers auto financing through car dealerships across the United States.

    AmOne
    Read 236 Reviews

    Since 1999, AmOne has matched consumers and business owners with lenders to provide immediate access to loans. Our Loan Matching Specialists provide personalized guidance in finding and securing reliable funds.

    Credit Acceptance Corp
    Read 548 Reviews

    Credit Acceptance is a publicly-traded company that has been in business since 1972. It provides auto dealers with financing programs for traditional borrowers and those with poor credit. Dealers share in the company’s profits.

    Santander Consumer USA
    Read 1182 Reviews

    Santander is a Spanish-based bank with a global presence. It operates as Santander Consumer USA Inc. in the United States with headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas. The U.S. division focuses on auto loans.

    Cenlar Central Loan Administration
    Read 490 Reviews

    Cenlar is a loan service provider headquartered in Ewing, New Jersey. The company works with credit unions, banks, mortgage companies and other lenders to manage loans made by those institutions. Cenlar was founded in 1958.

    Business Finance Advance
    Read 70 Reviews

    Business Finance Advance has a free, quick quote option via their website that gives business owners an instant approval decision. They have a 95 percent approval rating, and their loans go as high as $2.5 million per location.

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    Profile picture of ConsumerAffairs
    ConsumerAffairs

    Research Team

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    The ConsumerAffairs Research Team believes everyone deserves to make smart decisions. We aim to provide readers with the most up-to-date information available about today's consumer products and services.

    What features matter most when choosing a loan company?

    Cost

    When you take out a loan, chances are you’re thinking more about the cost of the item you’ll purchase with the loan money than about the cost of the loan itself. If you don’t consider the loan cost, that item could end up costing much more than you expect. To ensure that you get the best deal on a loan, make sure you understand all fees associated with it and how interest will accumulate.

    • Interest rate: The interest rate is the money a lender charges you when you borrow money and is a percentage of the total amount borrowed. Your credit score will influence the interest rate a lender charges, because they will charge people deemed higher risk a higher rate. If your loan doesn’t have pre-payment penalties or precomputed interest, you’ll save money on interest by paying your loan off early.
    • APR: The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is often confused with the interest rate; however, the APR actually accounts for the total cost of the loan, including any one-time fees. When comparing loan offers, look at the APR to get the best price comparison.
    • Origination fee: The origination, or processing, fee, is a one-time charge that covers the cost of processing a loan. This fee is typically included in the overall loan amount, so you aren’t required to pay it up front.
    • Pre-payment penalties: Some lenders charge a fee if you pay off your loan early. These fees help the lender make up the money they lose in interest, but they also prevent people from getting out of debt early when they’re able to.
    • Precomputed interest: Loans with a precomputed interest rate use the original amount instead of the outstanding balance to determine the amount of interest a consumer will pay each billing cycle. This method means your payments may get smaller as time passes. However, if you pay the loan off early, you won’t save any money on interest.
    • Late payment fees: Most lenders will charge a fee if you pay your bill late. Avoid that fee by setting up autopay from your bank account or just put a reminder on your calendar to keep you on track.
    • Payment processing fees: Some lenders charge a fee to pay your bill in a certain way. For example, some lenders may charge a small fee if you pay your bill by phone or using a check instead of setting up automatic electronic withdrawals. Make sure you understand these fees and choose a lender that allows you to make your payment in the way you want for free.

    Trustworthiness

    When working with a lender, you should choose someone you feel comfortable with and who is trustworthy. In general, if you’re taking out a mortgage or auto loan from a well-established bank or credit union, you can feel confident in the lender’s credibility. If you’re working with an online loan company or new business, make sure to fully research the company to avoid being scammed. Scams may be most likely to occur with unsecured, personal loans.

    • Hold loans vs. flip loans: Determine whether the lender you’re working with will hold the loan after you close or if they’ll flip, or sell, it to another party. While lenders who flip loans aren’t more or less trustworthy than those who don’t, you’ll have to simply accept that the company they sell your loan to will be trustworthy and offer good customer service.
    • Customer service: Consider how easy it is to get in touch with your lender now to determine if they’ll be easy to reach later if you have any problems. Also consider how patient they are in answering your questions. They should be willing to address all your concerns and explain anything you’re confused about.
    • Registered: Lenders must be registered to do business with the appropriate authority, usually the department of banking or consumer credit, in every state in which they do business. You can find a list of state licensing authorities on the Nationwide Mortgage Licensing System & Registry website.

    Mortgage broker vs. loan officer

    When taking out a loan, you’ll have the choice to work with either a mortgage broker or a loan officer. There are perks to each one, so it is important to know the difference.

    • Loan officer: Loan officers work for the bank or lender, so getting a loan through them may be faster than working with a mortgage broker. These individuals are primarily accountable to their employer, so they may not always make recommendations that are best for you.
    • Mortgage broker: Mortgage brokers are a kind of middle-man between those seeking loans and multiple lenders. If you’re worried that your credit may make it difficult to get a loan, consider working with a broker because they can help you decide which lender is most likely to approve you. These individuals may also be able to help you find a better interest rate because they’ll be comparing multiple lenders.

    Other considerations

    There are a variety of other factors to consider when borrowing money. If at any point during the process you’re confused, make sure to discuss the matter with your lender.

    • Expertise: Look for a loan company that specializes in the type of loans you’re considering. If you’re working with a big bank, ask whether they have loan officers who specialize in certain types of loans.
    • Credit report: All consumers are entitled to get one free report from each credit reporting company every year. If you’re considering taking out a loan, request one of your credit reports as far in advance as possible to make sure no inaccurate information appears on it. Many credit cards show you your credit score for free; knowing your credit score may help you decide whether to work with a loan officer or mortgage broker.
    • Down payment: If you’re taking out a mortgage or car loan, consider how much of a down payment you’re able to make. The larger your down payment, the less money you’ll need to borrow. Saving a little longer to have a larger down payment could save you a significant amount of interest later.
    • Special programs: Many homebuyers qualify for special program loans, like FHA or VA loans, for example. Research these options to determine whether you qualify for any special programs before taking out a loan.
    • Private mortgage insurance: Individuals who qualify for a mortgage but do not have a down payment that accounts for 20 percent of the home’s value may be required to purchase private mortgage insurance (PMI), which will allow the lender to recover money if the borrower defaults on the loan. This insurance does not offer any protection to borrowers. PMI is usually between .5 and 1 percent of the total amount of the loan.

    What are different types of loans?

    Secured loans

    Secured loans rely on an asset (such as a car, a home or a boat) that will be used as collateral for the loan.

    Unsecured loans

    Unsecured loans are more difficult to qualify for and have higher interest rates because an asset for collateral is not required. These are sometimes called personal loans.

    Variable rate

    Variable rate loans have an interest rate that changes based on market rates. Consumers payments will vary based on changing interest rates. They may end up paying more or less in interest based on the overall economic situation.

    Fixed rate

    Fixed rate loans have an interest rate that remains the same for the entire life of the loan. The payments for these will remain the same, regardless of whether the market interest rate goes up or down.

    Home loans

    Home loans, or mortgages, are available to help people finance their homes. Conventional mortgages usually require the borrower to have a down payment for 20 percent of the purchase price.

    Car loans

    Auto loans are available for both new and used cars, and consumers can obtain car loans from banks and credit unions as well as most auto dealers.

    Business loans

    Those wishing to open a business or expand their current business can take out loans to finance their ventures.

    FHA loans

    Many private lenders work with the Federal Housing Authority to offer FHA mortgages. These loans require a much smaller down payment than conventional loans.

    Veterans Affairs loans

    Armed service veterans, current service members and their spouses may qualify for a Veterans Affairs (VA) mortgage. These home loans have a very low down payment, and borrowers aren’t required to purchase mortgage insurance.

    Who should take out a loan?

    House hunters

    Individuals who rent should consider taking out a loan to purchase their own home if they have a stable income. Mortgage payments are often lower than rent, and owning their property allows them to build equity.

    Home owners

    Homeowners who want to remodel or improve their house and those who want to lower their interest rate should consider refinancing their home.

    Small business owners

    Small business owners who want to expand their business should consider a small business loan.

    Credit card holders

    Anyone carrying an outstanding balance on a high interest credit card should consider whether they could save money on interest by taking out an unsecured personal loan.

    Compare Reviews for Top Loan Companies

    Seterus (formerly IBM Lender Business Process Services)
    Read 343 Reviews

    Seterus is a loan serving company that focuses on the mortgage industry. Seterus formerly operated under the name IBM Lender Business Process Services. The company started in 2006 and is headquartered in Beaverton, Oregon.

    Regional Acceptance
    Read 132 Reviews

    Regional Acceptance is a subsidiary of BB&T with headquarters in North Carolina. It offers vehicle financing options through more than 10,000 U.S. auto dealerships. The Regional website has information for borrowers and dealers.

    Prestige Financial Services
    Read 159 Reviews

    Prestige Financial Services, Inc. was established in 1994 and is headquartered in Salt Lake City. It offers subprime auto loans through car and truck dealerships across the United States. Loan applications are available online.

    Monterey Financial Services
    Read 113 Reviews

    Monterey Financial Services offers loan servicing, financing and debt recovery to businesses. The company also offers investment opportunities. Monterey Financial was established in 1989 and is headquartered in California.

    Lobel Financial Corporation
    Read 82 Reviews

    Lobel Financial offers auto financing to vehicle dealers for subprime customers. The company’s DealWRITER program lets dealers offer instant approval to those applying for financing, and customers can make payments online.

    Tower Loan
    Read 166 Reviews

    Tower Loan was founded in 1936 and now has over 200 locations in Alabama, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi and Missouri. The lender offers both unsecured and secured loans. Consumers can find locations on the company’s website.

    Lendmark Financial
    Read 67 Reviews

    Lendmark Financial Services is a consumer finance company that provides a variety of personal loans, automobile loans and retail merchant financial services. It was founded in 1996 and has over 130 branches in 11 states.


    Consumer Portfolio Services
    Read 112 Reviews

    Consumer Portfolio Services, Inc. (CPS) offers subprime vehicle financing options through auto dealers across the United States. The company was founded in 1991. CPS’s website has resources for consumers and dealers.

    Dell Finance
    Read 514 Reviews

    Dell offers financing for Dell products. Interested consumers can apply for financing online, and some borrowers or purchases may qualify for an interest-free period. Borrowers can also earn 10 percent back in rewards.

    CitiFinancial
    Read 97 Reviews

    CitiFinancial is a part of Citigroup Inc. In 2010, CitiFinancial began operating as OneMain Financial, which was later purchased by SpringLeaf. Services offered by CitiFinancial may still be serviced by Citigroup.

    Phoenix Financial LLC
    Read 26 Reviews

    Phoenix Financial LLC is located in Spokane, Washington. The company offers financing to consumers who purchase a vehicle from one of the five Auto Credit Stores located in the Northwestern United States.

    RoadLoans.com
    Read 171 Reviews

    RoadLoans.com offers car loans and auto refinancing loans for customers within a wide range of credit scores. Instant online decisions allow customers to get pre-approved before shopping for a new or used vehicle.

    Beneficial
    Read 336 Reviews

    Beneficial was part of HSBC that operated in most U.S. states. HSBC stopped operating under the Beneficial name in 2009, but the parent company continues to service loans issued by Beneficial.

    Credit Central
    Read 90 Reviews

    Credit Central offers installment loans with branches in Tennessee. Interested consumers can apply online, by phone or at a branch location. Decisions are made within minutes, and borrowers pick up their loan at any branch.

    Mid-Atlantic Finance Company
    Read 59 Reviews

    Mid-Atlantic Finance Company (MAF) allows auto dealers to offer in-direct financing to their customers. MAF specializes in subprime auto loans and purchasing loan pools. The company has been in business since 1989.

    GE Capital (formerly GE Money Bank)
    Read 1393 Reviews

    GE Capital, a subsidiary of General Electric, offers corporate financing to businesses in the aviation, industrial and energy industries. Beginning in 2014, Synchrony Bank took over all services offered to non-corporate customers.

    Challenge Financial Services
    Read 28 Reviews

    Challenge Financial Services buys and manages auto loans from dealerships. It specializes in subprime loans. The company’s headquarters are in California, with other offices in Arizona, Utah and Texas.

    Pioneer Lending Services
    Read 15 Reviews

    Pioneer Services is a financial services company dedicated to serving members of the military and their families. The company is the military division of MidCountry Bank, and it is headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri.

    Mepco Finance Corporation
    Read 19 Reviews

    Mepco Finance Corporation is a subsidiary of Independent Bank Corporation. It is headquartered in Chicago and has been in business since 1964. Mepco offers consumer financing to pay for auto warranties.

    World Acceptance Corporation
    Read 13 Reviews

    World Finance offers installment loans in amounts between $100 and $10,000. The lender has branches in 15 states and has been in business since 1962. Interested consumers can apply online, by phone or at any branch location.

    Mark One Financial
    Read 42 Reviews

    Mark One Financial purchases and services subprime and nonprime loans created by auto dealers. The company was founded in 2002 and is headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida. The website is useful for both consumers and dealers.

    Ameriloan
    Read 48 Reviews

    Ameriloan is a marketplace that helps potential borrowers find the right lender. Consumers apply on Ameriloan’s website, and then the company provides their information to lenders that offer payday, installment and personal loans.

    Carolina Title Loans
    Read Reviews

    Carolina Title Loans offers loans to those with clear car titles. Consumers can borrow up to $15,000 depending on their vehicle. Applications are available online and approved customers can get money in as little as 30 minutes.

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