Helix loans review: Expensive, small personal loans for emergencies

Woman sitting at computer, researching helix loansImage: Woman sitting at computer, researching helix loans

In a Nutshell

Helix offers small loans to people who want to cover an emergency expense like a car repair. But these loans come with very high interest rates and must be repaid weekly or biweekly.

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Pros Cons
Small loan amounts available Very high interest rates
No collateral required May face a late fee
Payments due weekly or biweekly

What you need to know about a Helix loan

Helix is the lending arm of Kendall Bank, which based in Overland Park, Kansas. The lender offers unsecured personal loans that don’t require collateral.

Helix says its loans are for emergency expenses and markets them to people with “less-than-ideal credit.” Its small loans range from $200 to $4,000 with terms of up to 24 months.

Very high interest rates

While you might be able to get approved for a Helix personal loan with bad credit, you’ll likely pay a very high interest rate. Even Helix’s lowest rates are high — and its upper rates go well into the triple digits, even exceeding the APRs of a typical payday loan.

Let’s put that in perspective. Say you borrow $1,000 with an APR of 199% that you’ll pay off over 12 months. When all is said and done, you will have paid nearly $2,400 back to Helix — much more than twice the amount you borrowed.

Keep in mind that Helix doesn’t charge a prepayment penalty, so you should pay off your loan early if at all possible to avoid more interest charges.

Payments due weekly or biweekly

To repay a Helix loan, you’ll usually have to make payments weekly or biweekly. This may cause cash flow issues for your budget, especially if you prefer a monthly payment option.

Fast funding possible

If you sign your loan agreement by 11 a.m. Central time on a business day, Helix says you may be able to get your money the same day. And you may get your funds the next business day if you sign your loan agreement after 11 a.m. Central time. But exact timing will depend on your bank.

A closer look at Helix personal loans 

If you’re considering a Helix personal loan, here are a few more details to think about.

  • May help build credit — Helix says that it reports payment history to at least one of the major credit bureaus. This can help you build your credit, as long as you make payments on time and in full. But late or missed payments may hurt your credit, so don’t take out a Helix loan if you aren’t confident you can make payments on time.
  • Not available in all states — Helix loans are offered in only 40 states, so they may not be an option for you.
  • May face a late fee — If you miss a payment, Helix may charge you a late fee. Multiple late fees can add up and increase the overall cost of your loan. Helix doesn’t tell you upfront what the charge is, though — you won’t know unless you get a loan agreement to sign.

Who is a Helix loan good for?

Helix loans are very expensive — its interest rates are much higher compared to other lenders’ rates and average personal loan rates. Explore every other option before applying for a Helix loan.

For example, you may want to use an existing credit card, ask for help from a family member or apply for a lower-cost payday alternative loan from a federal credit union.

Even a cash advance from popular apps like Dave or Earnin probably makes more sense, depending on how much you need to borrow.

If you decide to go with a Helix loan, do your best to avoid late payments and repay your loan early if at all possible.

How to apply with Helix

You can apply for a Helix personal loan online in a few minutes. Once you do, you may receive a decision instantly. Once you submit your application, Helix will perform a credit check via Clarity Services, which is owned by Experian.

If approved, you can review and finalize your loan agreement. You may be able to get your money as soon as the same day or the next business day. (Just remember that the exact timing typically depends on your bank.)

Not sure if Helix is right for you? Consider these alternatives.

  • Avant personal loan: If you need to borrow more money than Helix offers, Avant may be a good choice.
  • Brigit: Brigit may make sense if you want a small-dollar advance on your paycheck and prefer to pay a monthly fee instead of interest.

About the author: Anna Baluch is a freelance personal finance writer from Cleveland, Ohio. You can find her work on sites like The Balance, Freedom Debt Relief, LendingTree and RateGenius. Anna has an MBA… Read more.