What pre-approved loan offers by mail mean + what to do with them

What pre-approved loan offers in the mail mean

You received a loan offer in the main. Find out what it is and what your next step should be.

Snail mail can come with all kinds of trash. We’ve all stood by the mailbox and ripped up those free all-expense-paid trips for two before promptly recycling them. Among the bills, postcards and letters, sometimes there are mail offers from financial institutions. These packets and letters sometimes announce boldly that you’re pre-approved for a loan.

If you receive one of these, you’ve likely built up some credit and might even be a homeowner. Offers can be from a bank you’re affiliated with or even a lending company you’ve never heard of. Read further to find out how these financial institutions get your information, what pre-approval means and if the offer you received is worth exploring.


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You could borrow up to $35,000 for a variety of purposes, with rates from 5.99%–35.99%%.

  • Recommended Credit Score: 640 or higher
  • Minimum Loan Amount: $2,000
  • Maximum Loan Amount: $35,000
  • Loan Term: 3 or 5 years
  • Turnaround Time: 1-3 business days
  • Simple online application process
  • No prepayment penalties

    What exactly are pre-approved loan offers?

    Mailed-out pre-approved loan offers typically contain an online code or a form for you to complete to apply for a loan. The hook is that you’re already pre-approved for a specified amount that can be anywhere from several hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.

    Despite what we call it, “pre-approval” does not guarantee that you’ll get a loan if you apply. When companies extend these offers, they do so with cursory information from either a third party or a soft credit pull. These potential lenders have determined that you meet the eligibility criteria and might meet the financial requirements. Their information for you may be out of date, which means you may not actually be able to receive the advertised financing.

    What is a soft credit pul?

    Whereas a “hard pull” refers to a potential lender contacting the three major credit bureaus to get your credit score, a “soft pull” is an inquiry into your credit history that does not affect your credit score. Credit card providers and other lenders often conduct soft pulls of your credit without you knowing it, typically to determine whether you’re borrowing material. Pre-approval and credit card offers are often a result of these soft pulls on your credit.

    Why do companies send out pre-approved loan offers?

    Pre-approval mailers are proven marketing tools — pure and simple. For banks and credit unions you have an existing relationship with, it’s an attempt to bring their way even more of your business.

    However, you can receive letters from banks that you’ve never done business with or lenders you’ve never even heard of. Rather than encouraging repeat business, these providers are likely attempting to raise brand awareness. In other words, the mailers are a way for them to get more exposure and potentially get more customers.

    Perhaps the offer is a pre-approved loan for up to $15,000 at a solid rate. If you’ve had a major purchase on your mind or if you’re considering debt consolidation, it could be rather tempting. The most basic point of the offer is to attract more borrowers, whether you know the lender or not.

    • Advantages of pre-approved loan offers

    A primary benefit of being pre-approved for a loan is that you have a higher chance to receive a loan in an amount you need. Additionally, pre-approved offers typically expedite the application process by pre-populating the application form once you’ve inputted your unique offer code.

    If you didn’t already know of the lender, you may learn about a new provider that fits your needs. In that case, the lender has benefited from successful marketing.

    • What to watch out for

    Accepting a mailed offer just because you’re pre-approved might not be the most sound idea. You’ll want to be cautious to be sure the offer isn’t a scam.

    First, your pre-approval letter could be an attempt to get you to give up personal information that could then be used illegally. The scam could be a tool to open up accounts in your name, or the scammer could sell your information. Either way, not a good time.

    To avoid these types of scams, double-check any information you receive. If your pre-approval is from a well-known bank, you can call and ask them about the promotion. Also search online to see if you can find independent reviews of a lender you aren’t familiar with.
    5 warning signs of a loan pre-approval scam

    There’s also the possibility that the rate you’re approved for isn’t the best you can get. In the same way that you probably wouldn’t buy a TV based on one ad, it might serve you well to shop around. Many lenders are available that can offer online pre-approval as well.

    Is a pre-approved loan offer worth pursuing?

    If you have the time and are willing to do some research, it could be worth pursuing a pre-approved loan offer. Remember that an offer by mail may not be the best offer you can get, which means you could benefit from fully comparing your options online before diving in on it.

    Are mailed offers the same as what’s online?

    Not always. You’ll find differences in the rates offered by mail and those offered online. Depending on the lender, you may find that either carries a better — or even the same — offer.
    The common thread between the two offers is that they both use preliminary information about your finances to determine pre-approval. Neither guarantees a certain rate or even guarantees you’ll be offered a loan once you submit the full application.

    Want to apply for a personal loan online today? Compare top online lenders

    Rates last updated April 20th, 2018

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    Name Product Product Description Min. Credit Score Max. Loan Amount APR
    Even Financial Personal Loans
    Get connected to competitive loan offers instantly from top online consumer lenders.
    4.99%–35.99% (fixed)
    Monevo Personal Loans
    Quickly compare multiple online lenders with competitive rates depending on your credit score.
    3.09%–35.99% (fixed)
    Upgrade Personal Loans*
    Affordable loans with two simple repayment terms and no prepayment penalties.
    5.96%–35.97% (fixed)
    Borrow only what you need for debt consolidation, home improvements and more — with APRs based on overall creditworthiness.
    5.99%–35.99% (fixed)
    LendingClub Personal Loan
    A peer-to-peer lender offering fair rates based on your credit score.
    5.98%–35.89% (fixed)
    CompareFirst Personal Loans
    An easy-to-use loan connection service geared toward introducing first-time borrowers to affordable personal loans.
    2.99%–36% (fixed)
    Best Egg Personal Loans
    A prime lender with multiple repayment methods.
    5.99%–29.99% (fixed)
    FreedomPlus Personal Loans
    Consolidate debt and more with these low-interest loans. Cosigners welcome.
    4.99%–29.99% (fixed)
    Laurel Road Personal Loans
    Get a personal loan with no application or origination fees and a rate discount for autopay.
    5.5%–11.74% (fixed)
    LendingPoint Personal Loans
    Get a personal loan with reasonable rates even if you have a fair credit score in the 600s.
    15.49%–34.99% (fixed)
    NetCredit Personal Loan
    Check eligibility in minutes and get a personalized quote without affecting your credit score.
    34%–155% (fixed)
    OneMain Financial Personal and Auto Loans
    An established online and in-store lender with quick turnaround times. Poor credit is OK.
    typically around 18.49%* (fixed)

    Compare up to 4 providers

    Bottom line

    Mailers are a form of advertising that’s becoming archaic. And pre-approval offers are just that: advertisements. If you’re in the market for a personal loan, it could be worth it to compare your options online and do a little research. A mailed pre-approval might be convenient, but it could also be costly if you accept an offer without knowing the lowest rate you could qualify for.

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    Even Financial Personal Loans

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    Borrow only what you need for debt consolidation, home improvements and more — with APRs based on overall creditworthiness.

    LendingClub Personal Loan

    A peer-to-peer lender offering fair rates based on your credit score.

    SoFi Personal Loan Fixed Rate (with Autopay)

    Borrow up to $100,000 with a competitive APR and no fees.

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