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- Pros & Cons
- Key Takeaways
- Company Overview
Fast funding times
Large loan amounts and long term lengths available
Low interest rates and zero fees
Uptick in recent complaints
Requires good to excellent credit
Doesn't offer loan pre-qualification
Limited customer support options
- LightStream offers fixed-rate personal loans for a wide range of uses.
- If you're approved, you can get funds as soon as the same day, or schedule your disbursement out to 90 days in the future, in the case of home improvement loans.
- LightStream advertises a variety of different loan types on its website, but they're all unsecured personal loans. Some loans for certain purposes have slightly different rates and terms, however.
LightStream began life in 2005, when it was known as "FirstAgain." It was one of the very first lenders to offer an entirely digital personal loan, all the way from application to payoff. In 2012 it was purchased and rebranded as the modern-day LightStream by SunTrust Bank, which itself rebranded to Truist Bank.
LightStream scores lower than average in J.D. Power's 2023 Consumer Lending Satisfaction report, and it has received quite a few consumer complaints in regards to customer service. It's available to people living in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.?
- Fast funding times: You can opt to receive loan funds anywhere from the same day you apply (if you complete everything early enough in the day) up to 30 days out from the date you're approved. For home improvement loans, you can even schedule disbursement dates up to 90 days in the future.
- Large loan amounts and long term lengths available: You can borrow up to $100,000 with a LightStream loan, much more than most other lenders. And depending on how much you're borrowing, LightStream may offer you loan term lengths ranging from 2 to 7 years.
- Low interest rates and zero fees: LightStream may not offer the very lowest personal loan rates out there, but they're not far off. In addition, there are zero fees with the loan, aside from interest fees—not even late fees. (Your credit score may still drop if you pay late, however.)
- Rate-beat program: LightStream offers to beat the rate of any competitor by 0.10% if you're approved for a loan. However, you'll need to be aware of a few bits of fine print first, in regards to making sure the loan-to-beat is similar to your LightStream loan.
LightStream's lowest rates are reserved for loans used for home improvement projects, like kitchen and bath remodels, landscaping, solar panel and swimming pool additions, etc. This feature, along with its large loan amounts, makes LightStream a good option for big projects at home.
- Uptick in recent complaints: Recent complaints against LightStream's customer service and loan policies have toppled the company's J.D. Power rating from the #1 online personal loan lender in 2020 to a below-average ranking in 2023.
- Requires good to excellent credit: If you don't have good or excellent credit, it's unlikely that LightStream will approve you for a loan. There are many lenders out there who do specialize in personal loans for people with suboptimal credit, but LightStream isn't one of them.
- Doesn't offer loan pre-qualification: Unlike most lenders, LightStream doesn't offer any options to check your rate and get pre-approved for a loan using a soft credit pull. Instead, you'll need to complete a full application, which will result in a hard credit inquiry that can ding your score by a little bit.
- Limited customer support options: There's no way to call someone up or launch a live chat if you need immediate help. Instead, the only way to reach out to LightStream initially is via a single email address: [email protected].
Types of Personal Loans Offered by LightStream
LightStream offers unsecured personal loans for a wide range of purposes. It lists more than 25 different uses on its website, including some of the following choices:
- Adoption and fertility loans
- Debt consolidation loans
- Swimming pool and hot tub loans
- Medical loans
- Wedding loans
- Auto loans
However, don't let the fancy marketing fool you. These are all basically the same personal loan, just named in ways that people might be searching for online. However, you may find that certain loan purposes have slightly different terms.
LightStream's home improvement loans and vehicle loans typically stand out. The lowest rates offered may be a tad cheaper than other loan types, and with home improvement loans you'll also get more flexibility in when your loan funds are disbursed, as mentioned above.
Take note that the rates below include a 0.50% autopay discount.
- Home improvement loan rates: 8.49%–21.74% APR *with autopay
- New/used auto loan rates: 8.69%-15.94% *with autopay
- All other personal loan rates: 7.49%–25.49% APR *with autopay
In fact, just like most other personal loans, you can basically use a LightStream personal loan for whatever you want, except for a few things:
- Illegal operations
- Business expenses
- Post-secondary education
- Refinancing a LightStream loan you already have
- Buying investments, life insurance, or saving for retirement or education
Time to Receive Personal Loan Funds
You have a lot of flexibility in when you can receive your loan funds if you're approved—more than with most lenders. If you need the funds ASAP, you can receive the money as soon as the same day if you complete all requirements before 2:30 p.m. ET on a banking business day (sign loan agreement, provide banking information, and complete final verification).
To use this option, you'll need to log in to your account and schedule a wire transfer for 3 p.m. ET. You can also opt for an ACH transfer, but this may take a bit longer.
If you don't need the funds immediately, you have 30 days to schedule a disbursement for most personal loans. For home improvement loans, that bumps up to 90 days. This can be a handy option if you'd like some time to shop around, or you don't need to make a big purchase yet. For example, there's no point in taking a home improvement loan out if you're still waiting for the contractor to send you an invoice, but knowing you're already approved can give you peace of mind.
By scheduling funds to be sent out later, you won't owe any interest or have to make any payments until you're actually ready to get and spend the money. Just remember that the clock starts ticking from the day you're approved.
You'll need a minimum credit score of at least 680 in order to be approved for a LightStream loan. There are other personal loan requirements as well, but LightStream doesn't disclose this information. You will need to earn enough income and have a low enough level of debt so that LightStream feels confident you'll be able to repay the money it's lending you.
LightStream Personal Loan Features
- Mobile app: You can handle all aspects of a LightStream personal loan through its iOS and Android apps, including applying for the loan. Reviews of the apps are mixed, however.
- Rate-beat program: LightStream will beat the rate of any competitor by 0.10% if you meet these four requirements: 1) get a cheaper loan offer for the same amount and term length LightStream offered; 2) the loan offer must be generally available to any customer with a similar credit profile to yours, and not an individual promotion; 3) the competing offer must be for an unsecured loan; 4) submit the loan offer to LightStream by 2 p.m. ET no later than two days before your LightStream loan is disbursed.?
- $100 loan experience guarantee: If you're not happy within 30 days of taking the loan out, you can contact customer service to get a questionnaire explaining your reasoning. Then, they'll send you $100. It's not quite a refund, but at least it's something.
Co-Signers and Co-Applicants
LightStream allows you to submit a joint application with another person. It's required if you'll be counting personal income from someone else in your household, such as your spouse. However, LightStream doesn't differentiate between a co-signer and a co-borrower. Everyone listed on the loan will be equally responsible for making the payments.
Can You Refinance a Personal Loan With LightStream?
LightStream provides refinance loans, but you can't use a LightStream loan to refinance an existing LightStream loan. You can only refinance loans from other lenders.
LightStream doesn't offer as robust a customer support team as some other personal loan lenders. In fact, it's downright bare-bones in comparison. But if you run into problems with your loan or have questions, it is possible to get ahold of someone if you're patient.
|email@example.com||M–F: 9:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. ET
Saturday; 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET.
|Mail?||PO Box 117320, Atlanta, GA 30368-7320||-|
Not too long ago, LightStream had a great reputation. In fact, in 2020, J.D. Power ranked it as the #1 online personal loan lender for customer satisfaction.?
Starting in 2019, however, complaints began piling up from customers at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. As of this writing, there are 18 official complaints, mostly involving problems with getting approved for the loan and receiving conflicting information from customer support representatives.?
Negative reviews also abound with Trustpilot. It’s enough that J.D. Power booted LightStream to a below-average ranking in its 2023 lender satisfaction study.?
How to Qualify and Apply for a LightStream Personal Loan
Since LightStream doesn't offer loan pre-qualification, you'll need to be prepared to complete a full loan application. This doesn't mean you're obligated to take the loan out, but you may get a temporary hit to your credit from the hard credit inquiry LightStream will need to do.
You can apply in two ways: on the website, or through the LightStream app. Here's the information you'll need to fill out in the loan application:
- What you plan to use the loan for
- Last four digits of your driver's license
- Your employment and income information
- Your banking and investment account balances
- Length of time you've lived at your current address
- How much you want to borrow, and which term length option you'd like
- Your personal contact information, date of birth, and Social Security number
- Your housing costs (rent or mortgage payment) and any home equity you have
LightStream processes loan applications seven days a week, so you shouldn't need to wait too long before hearing back. If approved, the company will send you a contract to sign. From there, you can schedule when you want to receive the loan funds within the time limits for your selected loan.
Make sure to select autopay while filling out your LightStream loan application. If you don't and instead opt to make payments manually from the start, LightStream will bump your rates up by 0.50% for the duration of your loan, even if you opt in to autopay later.
Compare LightStream With Other Personal Loan Lenders
|Loan Terms?||24–144 months?||24–72 months?||36 or 60 months?|
|Recommended Minimum Credit Score?||680?||660||640|
|Time to Receive Funds?||Same day?||Same day?||Same day?|
LightStream is worth exploring for its low rates and flexible terms, but it won't be right for everyone. Browse more loan options with our picks for the best lenders in a variety of categories:
The Bottom Line
LightStream is a good choice if you're looking for a low-cost loan and you have good or excellent credit. Rates are competitive for qualified applicants, and its funding options and loan terms make it a good pick for home improvement projects. But if that doesn't fit your situation, or if you prefer to pre-qualify or have useful perks like the ability to move your payment date around, we'd suggest looking elsewhere.
Is it hard to get approved by LightStream?
LightStream has relatively strict credit requirements, with a minimum recommended credit score of 680. This is higher than most lenders we've reviewed that disclose credit requirements, and it means LightStream loans are typically reserved for people with good to excellent credit. LightStream doesn't disclose income and other requirements.
What are the income requirements for a LightStream personal loan?
LightStream doesn't disclose any specific income requirements. Typically, lenders want to see that you make enough money to pay back the amount you'd like to borrow after accounting for other debts. Different lenders have different requirements, but the more you make, the easier it is to qualify for loans and credit cards.
Some lenders have low income requirements, and some actually have no such requirements (but beware working with payday loan lenders and similar companies). Explore the best loans for low income or learn more about loans with no income verification.
Can you pre-qualify for a LightStream loan?
No, you can't pre-qualify for a LightStream loan. Although many lenders do allow you to pre-qualify and check your rates with no effect on your credit, LightStream requires you to submit a full application. This will generate a hard credit inquiry, which can hurt your credit scores a bit temporarily. This is unfortunate because it makes rate shopping a bit more difficult and costly, although the downsides are minimal—and if you get a loan with a great rate, it's worth the trouble.
Is LightStream a legit company?
Yes, LightStream is a legitimate company that primarily offers unsecured personal loans. It was formerly part of SunTrust Bank, and when SunTrust merged with BB&T in 2019 to form a new financial institution—Truist Bank—LightStream became a division of that new bank.
To evaluate and rank personal loan providers we collected hundreds of data points across more than 70 lenders, including traditional banks, credit unions, fintechs, and special interest finance companies. We researched and evaluated APRS, loan amounts and terms, fees, customer experience and much more. To rank the lenders in our database and to generate star ratings, we weighted the data we collected, based in part on what consumers told us were the most important features of a personal loan and lender. We grouped those factors into four broad areas:
- Loan costs (Advertised APR, fees and six other factors): 29.25%
- Loan terms (Loan amount, repayment term and three other factors): 22.25%
- Borrowing requirements (Credit score, membership requirement and six other factors): 28.5%
- Additional features (Online application, pre-qualification and eight other factors): 20%
Learn more about how we evaluated personal loans in our complete methodology.