LightStream Personal Loans Review

LightStream, a division of SunTrust Bank, is an online consumer lender that provides fixed-rate loans of $5,000 to $100,000. LightStream’s personal loans can be used for “practically anything,” but it features loans on its website for purchasing a vehicle, home remodels, debt consolidation, medical expenses, weddings and other major purchases. Furthermore, to reel in consumers during the shopping process, it offers to beat competitor rates by 0.10% if presented with a loan offer of the same terms but a better rate. Also, if you don’t enjoy the loan process with LightStream, it’ll reimburse you $100 as part of its loan experience guarantee program. 

According to LightStream’s website, it believes that “consumers who have established good credit have earned the right to a simple loan process and excellent rates.” This indicates that borrowers with fair to poor credit — or no credit — likely won’t qualify for LightStream loans. LightStream also prefers borrowers who have “a proven ability to save, evidenced by some or all of the following: liquid assets, cash down payments on real estate, retirement savings and little, if any, revolving credit.” The lender appreciates borrowers who have a variety of account types, including credit cards and vehicle loans.

Nonetheless, if you have a good credit score, LightStream might be a good option. You can get competitive rates and could receive your funds as quickly as the day you apply.

Pros

  • No fees whatsoever
  • Receive funds as early as the same day
  • Rate discounts available

Cons

  • Strict eligibility requirements
  • Relatively high minimum loan amount
  • No option to prequalify for loans

LightStream by the numbers

  • APR range: 3.99% to 17.29%
  • Min-max loan range: $5,000 to $100,000
  • Repayment term range: 2 to 12 years
  • Minimum credit score: 660
  • Minimum gross income: Not specified
  • J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Score: Better than Most (4 out of 5)

Fees

  • Origination fee: $0
  • Late payment fee: $0 

Restrictions

  • No loans or refinancing for college or post-secondary education
  • No loans to refinance existing LightStream loans
  • No business loans

Who should consider LightStream personal loans?

LightStream has a very specific type of borrower in mind for its personal loans. Namely, LightStream loans are designed for people with at least five years of good credit history, a stable income and no delinquencies on their debt repayment history.

If you have an excellent credit history, a low income-to-debt ratio, and a steady income, you should seriously consider LightStream if you need a personal loan. If you don’t have a stellar credit history, you can apply for a LightStream loan with a co-signer to increase your chances of being approved.

LightStream also has fast funding, so borrowers who need a quick cash infusion for an emergency car repair or medical bill can secure a loan quickly with this lender. 

Who should avoid LightStream personal loans?

LightStream’s highest stated APR is 17.29%, which would be relatively low if you qualified for one of its loans with a poor credit score. But borrowers with poor credit wouldn’t likely be considered by LightStream in the first place. If you have a poor credit history, no credit history or delinquencies on your previous debt repayments, you’d be better off looking elsewhere for a personal loan unless you can find a qualified co-signer.

This lender also makes it clear that verified income during the application process cannot be from the cannabis industry, whether it is legal in your state or not. So if you work in a dispensary or another aspect dealing with cannabis, you will not be approved for a loan.

How to apply for a LightStream personal loan

Applying for a LightStream loan is easy through the LightStream website. Here’s how to get started.

  1. Navigate to lightstream.com.
  2. Click on the “Apply Now” button on the home page or in the navigation bar.
  3. Fill in the fields with information about the loan you want and your personal information.
  4. Create a LightStream account and password under the “Security Information” tab.
  5. Click the “Submit” button under the “Confirm and Submit” tab.

LightStream will then review your application and determine if you qualify for the loan you want. If you’re approved, you could receive your funds as soon as the same day you apply. According to the LightStream website, the lender processes applications from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Monday through Friday and from noon to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Alternatives to LightStream

Although LightStream is part of a traditional bank (SunTrust), they operate exclusively online. That said, LightStream is just one player in a burgeoning ecosystem of online and alternative lenders. Here are some of their biggest competitors.

SoFi

SoFi began as an online student loan refinance lender but has since branched out into personal loans, home loans and investment products. SoFi’s borrower requirements aren’t as stringent as LightStream’s. If you don’t have excellent credit, SoFi might be an option for a personal loan or to refinance student loans.

Unlike LightStream, SoFi charges fees for late and returned payments, although they don’t charge an origination fee. Their loans are repayable over 3 to 7 years, unlike LightStream’s maximum 12-year term.

Best Egg

Another online lender, Best Egg’s APR’s go as high as 29.99% on personal loans. You can qualify for some competitive rates through Best Egg, but only if you have an excellent credit score. That said, the lowest APR is 5.99% compared to LightStream’s lowest: 3.99%.

Best Egg might be a good alternative if you don’t want to borrow much, as its loans go as low as $2,000.

Marcus

Like LightStream, Marcus by Goldman Sachs doesn’t charge any fees, and you can apply for a personal loan online through its website. The bank offers fixed-rate loans of $3,500 to $40,000, so it’s another good option if you don’t need a loan of $5,000 or more.

Naturally, you can get better rates if you have good or excellent credit. If you don’t, you may still qualify for a loan from Marcus, but you can expect a higher APR. Rates vary from 6.99% to 28.99% and repayment terms only go as long as 6 years.

Michael Rand

Contributing Writer

Michael Rand is a business and personal finance writer based in Beverly, Massachusetts. He holds a master’s degree in writing from Salem State University and spent years producing content for financial services clients as an agency writer. His work has been featured in publications like Interest.com, The Simple Dollar, and PersonalLoans.org.