Take the stress out of comparing personal loans by using a lender connection service.
How do personal loan brokers work?
Personal loan brokers — also called lender connection services — work in a similar way to mortgage brokers: they help you find a good deal on a personal loan. To do this, personal loan brokers have a network of lenders that have set eligibility criteria for potential borrowers.
If a personal loan broker is able to find a lender that might fit your needs, you’ll be presented with a preapproval offer. After this, you will likely have to finalize the offer with the lender directly, though some brokers are able to facilitate that portion of the process as well.
Compare personal loan matching services
Why should I consider a personal loan broker?
Lender connection services offer convenience. Rather than filling out multiple applications for a variety of lenders, a personal loan broker only requires you to fill out one application. You’ll receive your offers through the broker, which can save you time.
It might be particularly useful if you have trouble meeting the standard eligibility criteria at larger financial institutions. This is because brokers tend to have a better understanding of different lending requirements of various lenders, so they won’t recommend products that you are likely to be rejected for.
And to top it all off, using a personal loan broker is free. Instead of charging you, brokers receive a commission from the lender once you’re approved for a loan. You’ll save time without having to pay for the privilege of being connected to lenders.
How are personal loan brokers and direct lenders different?
|Personal loan brokers||Direct lenders|
|Application process||One application could connect you with multiple lenders. It takes about 10 minutes to apply.||One application per lender. It takes about 10 minutes to apply with each individual lender.|
|Types of fees||Usually free of charge, although peer-to-peer lenders may charge an origination fee.||Varies by lender. Fees can include an application fee, an origination fee, a prepayment penalty and a late fee.|
|Safety of your information||Websites are SSL-encrypted, but brokers will share your contact information with multiple lenders.||Websites are SSL-encrypted. They don’t share your information with anyone, and employees usually have restricted access.|
|Typical minimum qualifications||It depends on the lenders within the broker’s network.||Good to excellent credit, a regular source of income, at least 18 years old, a US citizen or permanent resident.|
How to find a good matching service
- Loans offered. Most brokers only connect borrowers with unsecured personal loans. If you need a specific loan, check to make sure your broker has that type of lender in its network.
- Loan conditions. Every personal loan comes with certain conditions regarding early payments, late payments and loan terms. Check with your lender to make sure you agree to the borrowing conditions.
- Type of interest. Most brokers only offer fixed-rate loans. If you’re interested in variable-rate loans, look for that information on the broker’s website before applying.
- Lender network. A larger network will increase the likelihood you’ll be connected with a lender that can finance your loan.
- Processing time. Brokers will need to underwrite your application before you can be connected with a lender. Usually this only takes a few minutes, but some with more strenuous eligibility criteria may take longer.
- Customer service. While you may not be working with your broker for the entire duration of your loan, you’ll want to be sure its customer service is top-notch just in case you have any questions or run into any problems.
- How they work. Some brokers operate almost entirely online, while others use the more traditional methods like phone, fax and mail.
What to avoid with personal loan brokers
- Small lender networks. The more lenders your broker has access to, the better your chance of getting the best loan available. Make sure your broker compares a large range of options, otherwise you might as well just do it yourself.
- Commissions. Most brokers run off of commissions, but you’ll still want to be sure how it affects the broker’s recommendations. Less honest brokers might push lenders that pay them higher rather than the ones that offer the best option for you.
- Fees and charges. There are multiple personal loan brokers that don’t charge a fee for a connection service. If you opt for one that does, ensure that all fees are clearly explained before you commit to your broker and your loan.
- Scams. Reputable personal loan brokers don’t charge a fee for you to apply. You should also be wary of other warning signs like an unsecure website or a company without a physical address.
A personal loan broker can be a handy tool when you’re ready to compare lenders but aren’t sure where to start. With many offering a connection service online, you can apply from the comfort of your own home without having to visit website after website to check terms. However, you’ll still want to make sure your lender is legit before you agree to a loan.
And if you’d rather compare direct lenders, our guide to personal loans can help guide you through the comparison process.