MaxLend loan review: Sky-high rates for an emergency loan

Man and woman sitting together at home on their couch, considering a MaxLend loanImage: Man and woman sitting together at home on their couch, considering a MaxLend loan

In a Nutshell

MaxLend offers small personal loans that may help you get the money you need in an emergency. But the lender isn’t transparent about all of its eligibility requirements, and its rates are extremely high — so you will likely end up paying more in fees than what you originally borrowed.
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  • Online application process
  • Money may be available as soon as the next business day


  • Extremely high APRs
  • Low borrowing limits

What you need to know about a MaxLend loan

MaxLend is an online tribal lender that offers small, short-term installment loans of up to $3,000 — if you’re a returning customer. New customers may apply to borrow up to $1,500.

The company positions itself as an alternative to payday loans. Loan funds may be available in as little as one day and don’t require collateral or good credit.

Here are a few things you should know if you’re considering a loan from MaxLend.

Extremely high APRs

MaxLend may get you fast access to cash, but this comes with a big downside: MaxLend loan fees are incredibly high. Its annual percentage rates, or APRs, range from 471% to 841%.

For comparison, a typical payday loan comes with fees that equate to an APR of almost 400%, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. MaxLend is easily more expensive than this high-cost borrowing option.

Fees are charged for every $100 borrowed

MaxLend advertises its fees based on a rate per $100 borrowed. For example, if you borrow $100 and choose a weekly repayment rate, you’ll pay up to $14.75 in fees each week for each $100 that you borrow. If you decide to make your repayment monthly, you’ll pay a fee of up to $59 every month for each $100 that you borrow.

Seeing fees in dollar amounts rather than an APR can make comparing loan options confusing. It’s a good idea to ask to see the APR to get a clearer idea of how a MaxLend loan stacks up against other lenders.

$3,000 maximum loan amount

Compared to some traditional personal loans, MaxLend offers a much lower loan amount and shorter repayment period. Its minimum loan amounts are just $100, and the maximum ranges from $1,500 to $3,000. (If it’s your first MaxLend loan, the maximum loan amount you may qualify for is $1,475.)

MaxLend says the typical repayment period is nine months for a new borrower.

Good credit isn’t required

Personal loans can be difficult to qualify for if you have bad or no credit. That’s because many personal loans are unsecured, meaning there is no collateral, such as a car or savings account, to back up the loan.

MaxLend doesn’t require collateral, and it also doesn’t require you to have good credit. To qualify, you’ll need to have a verifiable income source and meet an unspecified minimum income — but MaxLend isn’t transparent about the exact minimum income you’ll need to be eligible for one of its loans.

A closer look at a MaxLend loan

Here are a few other MaxLend features to know about before you apply.

  • No prepayment penalty — There are no penalties for repaying your MaxLend loan early, which can be a good way to mitigate its high loan fees.
  • For emergency use — MaxLend recommends its loans for any emergency situations when you may be considering a payday loan.
  • Loans aren’t available in every state — MaxLend doesn’t offer loans in Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia, Washington or West Virginia.

Should I apply for a MaxLend loan?

A MaxLend loan should only be considered as a last resort — it’s a very expensive way to borrow money. A MaxLend loan may seem like a safer option than pledging your car title for a title loan, but its APRs are so high that you should shop around before you apply. If you miss payments, you could get trapped in a cycle of debt.

And the lender isn’t transparent about all of its eligibility requirements, which could potentially cause confusion when applying for a loan.

So before you turn to a MaxLend loan, explore other options that might be available to you. Consider using an existing credit card in an emergency. The average APR on a credit card is far less than what you’d pay with a MaxLend loan.

You also may want to consider a payday alternative loan from a federal credit union — the interest rate on these small, short-term loans can’t be higher than 28%, and you can’t be charged more than $20 to apply.

If you need a loan to pay for a large expense like a costly medical bill, talk to your provider. It may be able to offer an alternative, like a payment plan or a medical credit card, which could help you pay off the debt without paying the high fees that MaxLend charges.

If you decide to apply for a MaxLend loan as a last resort, make sure to read your entire loan agreement before you sign so you’ll understand any additional fees you might face during your loan term.

How to apply with MaxLend

To be eligible for a MaxLend loan, you’ll need to meet these requirements.

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have verifiable income deposited into checking account that meets minimum income requirements (though MaxLend doesn’t say what that minimum requirement is)
  • Have a bank account open for a minimum period of time (MaxLend doesn’t specify how long)
  • Not currently be in a bankruptcy case or intend to file for bankruptcy

Here’s how MaxLend’s application process works.

  • You’ll complete an application online by entering information such as the loan amount you’re requesting, your income amount and your bank details.
  • A customer service representative will call you to verify your information.
  • If approved, you’ll e-sign your loan documents and the money will be sent to your bank account, usually within one business day. But keep in mind that it may take longer to access your cash.

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

  • OneMain Financial: If a low credit score is holding you back from applying with another lender, you may want to apply for prequalification with OneMain Financial — the company may consider you even if you have bad credit.
  • Earnin: If you just need a small paycheck advance to hold you over, Earnin might be a good choice. The app offers early access to your paycheck — between $100 and $500 — with no interest or fees. (You tip what you think is fair.)

About the author: Erica Gellerman is a personal finance writer with an MBA in marketing and strategy from Duke University. She’s also the founder of The Worth Project: a weekly money newsletter you actually want to read. Her work has b… Read more.