LightStream home improvement loans review
Competitive financing with minimal fees — but you'll need good credit to qualify.
Rather than opting for a home equity line of credit (HELOC) — and bearing the cost of multiple fees and a variable APR — you might want to consider LightStream instead. Its home improvement loans come with minimal fees and competitive fixed APRs. But if your credit and savings aren’t up to par, you might not qualify.
How does a home improvement loan through LightStream work?
LightStream, the lending division of SunTrust — now Truist — offers unsecured home improvement loans with low rates and limited fees. And because you don't have to put up security, you'll keep the equity of your home intact during the renovation process.
You can borrow between $5,000 and $100,000, and may qualify for extended terms lasting between 85 months and
But make sure you go into it with an idea of exactly what you need before you apply. "It's really important for all consumers to set a budget, have a plan and do their homework," LightStream's Senior Vice President Todd Nelson tells Finder.
"If it's a larger ticket project, you might want to look for affordable financing. That's where LightStream comes in. We allow consumers to borrow up to $100,000 for any type of project. And, maybe more importantly, get a very attractive interest rate and have the ability to have the money in their account as quickly as the same day. This means they become a cash buyer for everything they purchase under the project."
If approved, you must transfer the funds to your bank account within 30 days. If you don't, you'll need to reapply. And no matter how much you borrow, your loan must be used for home improvement. LightStream loans can be used for almost anything, but the rates and terms may vary depending on what it's used for.
LightStream is a division of SunTrust Bank
SunTrust and BB&T have merged to form Truist, which now backs all of LightStream's loans. The terms of its home improvement loans haven't changed yet, but you may see that your loan is underwritten by Truist instead of SunTrust. Reach out to Lighstream if you have any questions about the merger or how it affects your home improvement loan.
How much will I pay for a home improvement loan through LightStream?
To start off, here's a payment example: Monthly repayments for a $10,000 loan at 5.99% APR with a term of three years would result in 36 monthly repayments of $304.17.
Now that we've covered the basics, let's look at the interest rate:
- The interest rate is fixed. It won't change over the lifetime of the loan.
- Interest accrues daily. The interest you pay is based on the unpaid principal balance of your loan. Your payment will be applied to interest first, and the remainder will go toward the principal.
- Low rates. LightStream offers competitive APRs. Your rate is determined by the amount you want to borrow, your loan term and your credit profile.
- You'll save with AutoPay. If you choose to receive an invoice, your rate will be 0.5% higher.
What are the benefits of a LightStream home improvement loan?
From its potentially fast turnaround to its minimal fees, here are a few perks of taking out a LightStream home improvement loan:
- Same-day turnaround available.† You may be able to get your home improvement loan funds on the same day you apply. This type of quick turnaround means you can start your project on your schedule without having to wait days for your application to process.
- Satisfaction guarantee. LightStream is so sure you'll be satisfied with the loan process, it comes with a guarantee: After initiating a complaint and completing a questionnaire, you could receive $100§. Loans are also backed by LightStream's Rate Beat Program, which promises to beat another lender's offer — if it qualifies.
- Minimal fees. LightStream doesn't charge any origination, application or prepayment fees. But you may still be on the hook for late fees if you miss a payment.
- No equity required. Unlike home equity loans or lines of credit, LightStream doesn't require you to use your home as collateral.
- Easy online process. LightStream is an online lender, so you can complete the entire process in just a few minutes — without setting foot in a bank.
What to watch out for
LightStream's loans do have a few faults. Most complaints are due to not being approved, but remember: You need good to excellent credit to qualify.
In addition, you should be aware of the following:
- Higher APR for invoice payments. If you choose to pay by invoice, your interest rate will be 0.50% higher. Select AutoPay on loan acceptance to avoid the higher rate.
- You must have a valid credit card. This is for verification purposes only, and no charges are applied.
- You must use your loan for home improvement. When you apply for a home improvement loan, LightStream requires you to use your funds for home improvement on a specific property. If you use your loan to pay for anything else, you may void your contract.
Should I get a home improvement loan during COVID-19?
If you have the credit and income to qualify for a loan, it could be. a good investment in your home — and your mental health. Home improvement loans have seen a spike since the beginning of the outbreak, according to Nelson.
"As most of us are working from home, it's not surprising that the demand for home improvement loans has gone up dramatically," he says. "You're in your home 24/7, so you're looking at all of these projects that you wish you'd done or now you desperately need a home office. Those things have become a priority for a lot of Americans, and so they're investing in their home."
Am I eligible?
Qualifying for a LightStream loan requires good to excellent credit, and you must have sufficient income to repay any existing debt in addition to the loan.
LightStream considers good credit to be:
- Several years of credit history
- Credit history with a variety of account types
- Good payment history
- Evidence of the ability to save
"From a consumers' perspective, I think in order to establish and maintain a good credit history, it's really important to be very careful and cautious about when you apply for a loan," Nelson says.
"Making sure that if you take out a loan, you always pay your bills on time and that you're not taking on more debt than you can reasonably manage. And it's also smart to have some kind of rainy day fund. So in case an emergency pops up, you have the ability to take care of it and not be completely leveraged to the hilt."
How to apply
Applying for a home improvement loan through LightStream is a simple online process that takes about 10 minutes. Typically, you should receive a response quickly if you apply during business hours.
Follow these steps to get started:
- Click the Go to Site button to be redirected to LightStream's website, then click Apply Now.
- Read over LightStream's basic requirements, then select your loan purpose, the amount you need to borrow and other details for your loan.
- Enter information about yourself, your finances and the property you want to improve if different from your primary residence.
- Create an account with LightStream by choosing a user ID, password and security question.
If your application is approved during a business day and you want same-day funding,† complete the following steps by 2:30 p.m. ET:
- Review and electronically sign the loan agreement.
- Provide LightStream with your banking information and funding preferences.
- Complete the final verification process.
What information will I need to apply?
To apply, you'll be asked to provide the following information:
- Personal details. This includes your full name, home address, contact info, Social Security number, date of birth and driver's license number, among other general information.
- Income and employment details. This includes your work status, annual income, liquid assets and retirement assets.
- Property info. This includes your total monthly housing costs, the estimated equity in your home, your address, occupancy type and property type.
- Security info for account setup. You'll need to select a user ID, password and security question and answer.
I got a LightStream home improvement loan. Now what?
Before you begin shopping for the perfect hardware for your new kitchen cabinets, it's important to understand how to make payments on your new loan and take advantage of its features.
When you applied for your loan, you opted for either AutoPay or invoice payments:
- AutoPay. Repayments are automatically withdrawn from your bank account each month. Once you've set up this feature, you're good to go. Selecting AutoPay results in a lower APR.
- Invoice payments. These repayments must be made through the mail — you can't make payments at or through a SunTrust Bank branch. Invoice payments result in a slightly higher APR, so consider setting up AutoPay to avoid a higher interest rate.
Applying for a LightStream home improvement loan is a simple process for applicants with good to excellent credit. If your credit history enables you to qualify, this loan is a great option to finance your home renovation projects.
However, if you don't qualify, you may want to compare your other home improvement loan options or check out the providers on the table below.
LightStream not right for you? Compare other providers
Frequently asked questions
Are there any prepayment penalties?
No, you will not incur penalties or fees for paying off your loan early.
Do I need to be an existing SunTrust customer to qualify for a LightStream loan?
No, LightStream serves customers across the United States — regardless of whether they bank with SunTrust.
How long will it take before I get an answer to my application?
Applicants typically receive an answer quickly during business hours. If additional information is required, a LightStream representative will follow up through email. The timing of LightStream's response after that depends on how quickly you provide the requested information.
* Payment example: Monthly payments for a $25,000 loan at 6.89% APR with a term of 12 years would result in 144 monthly payments of $255.63.
† You can fund your loan today if today is a banking business day, your application is approved, and you complete the following steps by 2:30 p.m. Eastern time: (1) review and electronically sign your loan agreement; (2) provide us with your funding preferences and relevant banking information; and (3) complete the final verification process.
§ After receiving your loan from LightStream, if you are not completely satisfied with your experience, please contact them. They will email you a questionnaire so they can improve their services. When they receive your completed questionnaire, they will send you $100. LightStream's guarantee expires 30 days after you receive your loan.
LightStream reserves the right to change or discontinue their guarantee at any time. Limited to one $100 payment per funded loan. LightStream and Truist teammates do not qualify for the Loan Experience Guarantee.