Mobile loans: How to apply for a loan using your smartphone

Woman walking down a street, looking at her phoneImage: Woman walking down a street, looking at her phone

In a Nutshell

Looking for a loan? You can apply for a loan directly from your smartphone. But before you submit a mobile loan application, make sure you understand the app’s or mobile site’s security measures.
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If you want to skip pen to paper, you can apply for a loan directly from your smartphone.

Modern technology has streamlined the lending process for people who like a paper-free process. With today’s mobile loan-application process, you can apply for a loan with just your smartphone. Just make sure to have your personal information handy.

What is a mobile loan application?

Many banks and online lenders allow you to apply for a loan through your desktop web browser. Mobile loan applications take it one step further for people who don’t want to fire up a computer to handle their loan applications.

When we refer to mobile loan applications, we broadly mean any loan you can apply for via a mobile app or the mobile web browser on your smartphone or tablet.

With a mobile loan, the entire process from start to finish is handled digitally. You apply for the loan, the company reviews your application and, if your application is approved, the loan funds are disbursed without a visit to the bank.

You can use your mobile device to apply for several types of loans:

  • Personal loans are a type of installment loan you can use to pay for major purchases such as wedding expenses, home improvements or debt consolidation.
  • Auto loans provide financing for a new or used car. Some lenders may let you apply to refinance your loan on your mobile device.
  • Payday loans are short-term loans for a small amount of money meant to bridge a gap until your next paycheck. Just remember that even if you can apply quickly through your phone, payday loans should be a last resort because the interest rates are so high.
  • Car title loans allow you to take out a short-term loan and use the title to your car as collateral in exchange for money. But just like payday loans, these should be a last resort.

Is it safe to submit a loan application from my smartphone?

Mobile loans are convenient, but there are risks associated with applying for a loan through your smartphone that you may not face at a brick-and-mortar bank or credit union.

Before applying for a loan, make sure you understand how the app or mobile site works and what security measures the company has in place to protect your information. Here are a few tips on what to look for when downloading and using an app.

  • Install apps only from trusted sources: Before installing an app or applying for a loan on your phone, ensure that the company is a legitimate lender. Research the lender and/or its parent company on the Better Business Bureau website, look at customer reviews of the app, and download the app from an established app store, like Apple’s App Store or the Google Play store.
  • Understand app permissions before accepting them: Before installing the app, make sure you read the privacy settings and are comfortable moving forward. Before granting access permissions to an app, make sure you know what information the app wants access to. If unsure, limit permissions and check the privacy settings for the app.
  • Accept operating system updates: Make regular updates to the operating system, as updates frequently have security patches to prevent exposure to cyberthreats.
  • Don’t use public Wi-Fi: When using your mobile loan site or app, disconnect from public Wi-Fi networks. Use a password-protected network instead.

Is a mobile loan right for me?

If you’re looking to borrow money, applying for a loan with your mobile device may be a good choice for you. However, consider these pros and cons before you apply for a loan.

Pro: You can apply for a loan on the go

With a mobile loan, you can apply for a loan wherever you can use your mobile phone — in your home, on a train or even in a grocery store. When you need money quickly, having that accessibility can be invaluable.

Con: It helps to be comfortable with technology

To apply for a mobile loan, you need a certain level of comfort with a smartphone. If you struggle with basic phone functions, such as texting or taking photos, a mobile loan may not be right for you.

Pro: You can compare rates

With a mobile loan, there’s no need to visit individual bank branches to get loan quotes. You can compare offers from multiple lenders from your phone. Comparison shopping may help you snag a lower interest rate on a loan that best fits your needs.

Con: Some apps could put your personal information at risk

As mentioned above, there is some cyberthreat risk when you use an app or mobile site to apply for a loan. Ensure the app is run by a reputable company before submitting your application.

Pro: Loans may be processed quickly

With mobile sites, your loan application could be processed quickly. You could get a decision within a few hours. If approved, you might be able to get your money in as little as one business day.

Con: There’s no face-to-face customer service

In most cases, mobile loans are done entirely digitally. If you have a question about the process or trouble with a certain part of the application, you don’t necessarily have the option of in-person assistance unless you are applying with a bank or credit union that has a local branch. You may have to write to customer support via an online form or make a phone call.

Bottom line

Mobile loans allow you to apply for the money you need quickly on the go — as long as you have your smartphone handy and reliable internet service. If you take steps to protect your personal information, mobile loans may be a secure and convenient choice. But before you submit your application, make sure you compare offers from multiple lenders to help get the best rates and terms for you.

You’ll also want to make sure you have personal information such as your income, employment info and Social Security number available since you’ll typically need that information to apply for a loan.

About the author: Kat Tretina is a personal finance writer with a master’s degree in communication studies from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Obsessed with her many side hustles, she focuses on helping people pay down their … Read more.