LightStream is likely to have a loan solution for you, whatever your requirements. Covering almost anything you could possibly think of under the banners of auto, home improvement, family life and recreation, options such as aircraft loans and horse ownership financing sit alongside adoption loans and hot tub financing. However, if your needs are a little more prosaic, LightStream ranks among the best debt consolidation companies too, particularly if you are looking for a loan with flexible terms.
Debt consolidation at LightStream involves securing a loan with which you can pay off your outstanding debts. This means the onus falls on you to clear your debts in the manner that you see fit, but the incentive is to end up with one monthly payment that must be made to LightStream, rather than many split across various debtors, and hopefully at a lower rate than what you have been paying already.
As the national online consumer lending division of SunTrust Bank, LightStream has the backing of one of America’s leading financial services companies. There is a promise to deliver a “revolutionary loan experience” too, although for most, simply being able to put their financial affairs in order should be reward enough.
LightStream Debt Consolidation review: Eligibility
- "Strong" credit record needed
- No student loan refinance option
The main requirements to qualify for a LightStream debt consolidation loan are a personal banking account into which the funds raised can be paid and payments can be taken, and importantly, a “strong” credit record.
A minimum credit score is not specified by LightStream, but it takes the time to lay out the characteristics that it believes individuals with “good credit” will normally share. These include “several years” of credit history, across a variety of account types such as major credit cards, installment debt and mortgage debt (if applicable). It also looks out for a good payment history with few, if any, delinquencies or repayment problems, a demonstrable ability to save, and “stable and sufficient" income and assets, so that it can be satisfied you will be able to repay your obligations.
As mentioned previously, LightStream seems willing to offer a loan for almost any occasion, although a notable exception is loans for the purpose of refinancing student debt.
LightStream Debt Consolidation review: Application process
Loan amounts: $5,000 - $100,000
APR: 5.95% - 20.49% fixed
Loan terms: 24 - 84 months
Fees: No fees or charges
Waiting time for funds: Same day turnaround possible
- Straightforward online application
- Funds delivered quickly
As you might expect, LightStream offers a quick and simple online application process. You must apply either from your computer or mobile device, through which you will receive - and must then e-sign - your loan agreement. It is made clear that application information is not accepted by phone, fax or email, while if you need support when completing your application, there is an online form that you fill in - there is no contact phone number on the site.
The process itself is split into four eminently manageable sections - loan information, personal information, security information, and finally “confirm and submit”, so there really shouldn’t be too much confusion.
In some instances, it might be possible to have your loan approved and see the funds in your account on the same day as you apply. If you’re not in that much of a hurry, you have 30 days after approval in which to have the funds transferred to your account.
One thing to be aware of is that LightStream does not provide loan pre-approvals, and will pull a hard inquiry from TransUnion or Equifax that could impact your credit score. That said, there seems a better-than-average chance that any negative impact will be temporary, given that 62% of customers who took a LightStream debt consolidation loan (during a four month period) saw their FICO score increase by more than 20 points.
LightStream Debt Consolidation review: Essential details
- High loan amounts, long terms
- "Rate beat" guarantee
LightStream offers loans ranging from $5,000 to $100,000, making it a suitable debt consolidation option if you have larger amounts of debt to your name; the most you can borrow through Avant, for instance, is $35,000. In offering terms of between 24 and 84 months, borrowers are also afforded the opportunity to repay loans over a longer period of time than Avant again, or Marcus.
As to the rates on offer, LightStream is more transparent than most, providing an extremely useful table of the range of APRs you can expect for various loan amounts over different terms. Overall, APRs range from 5.95% through to 20.49%, depending on the amount, term and your credit profile, and will be 0.5% cheaper if you select the AutoPay option, rather than paying by invoice. Under its “Rate beat program”, LightStream also promises to offer a rate 0.1% lower than the rate offered by a competing lender, if you can prove you were approved by a rival on the same terms.
As to fees, LightStream keeps it simple and does not charge any. It is also possible to pay off your loan early, in whole or in part, without incurring a charge.
LightStream Debt Consolidation review: Features
- AutoPay option lowers rate
- $100 satisfaction guarantee
The lower rates available by choosing AutoPay when you set up a loan makes this a near essential feature to adopt. By opting for AutoPay, your payment will go directly to LightStream from your bank account, so is likely to be far more practical than choosing to pay by invoice anyway.
A more unusual feature is the cash satisfaction guarantee - if you are not completely satisfied with your experience once you have received your loan, LightStream will email you a questionnaire so that it can learn where it went wrong, and will send you $100 on its return.
The lender also prides itself on its green credentials, given the ability to take out a “virtually paperless” loan. In addition, it promises to plant a tree with each loan that it approves.
LightStream Debt Consolidation review: Service
- Online account management
- Lack of guides and articles
As you might expect, almost complete management of your loan can be achieved through LightStream's online account services area. Once logged in, you can review your loan and payment history, make extra payments or pay off your loan, update your contact and security information, and apply for further loans.
As mentioned previously, online is the only way to go with LightStream, though if you email in a query, customer service is available Monday - Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday, from noon to 7 p.m. If you’re having trouble with your application, assistance is available on Sunday too. The FAQ section is comprehensive and should answer most questions, although if you’re looking for guides and how-to articles, this is one area in which LightStream could definitely improve.
If for some reason you forgo the lower rates available through AutoPay and are an invoice customer, payments must be returned by mail or via your bank’s bill-pay - payments cannot be made at SunTrust Bank branches.
Should you use LightStream Debt Consolidation?
If you’re in possession of a good credit score, and are happy managing everything online, LightStream has to rank among the best debt consolidation companies. The lengthy terms and large loan amounts offer a significant degree of flexibility, while nothing is hidden in terms of rates, and there is the rate beat program if you find a better deal elsewhere. No fees and a fast online application process are massive bonuses too.
The absence of an eligibility checker is one downside, with there being no way of knowing whether you definitely qualify for a loan without affecting your credit rating, while anyone looking for in-depth information on debt and how it can be managed will be disappointed. However, if you know your way around a website, and have the good credit score that LightStream requires, some excellent debt consolidation loan options should await.