Stilt loan review: Personal loans targeted at immigrants and the ‘underserved’

Couple looking over their finances to apply for a stilt loan Image: Couple looking over their finances to apply for a stilt loan

In a Nutshell

Stilt says it offers personal loans for immigrants and “underserved” people in the U.S. You don’t need a Social Security number or credit history to apply. But Stilt lends only in certain states and isn’t upfront about its full range of interest rates.

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Pros Cons
May qualify if you hold certain U.S. visas Application may take 24 hours or more to process
Considers more than your credit scores Doesn’t accept co-signers
Competitive starting interest rates Not transparent about full range of interest rates

What you need to know about a Stilt personal loan

Stilt says it offers loans to “immigrants, visa holders and underserved people” who live in the U.S. Even if you don’t have any credit history or a Social Security number, you might still be considered for a Stilt personal loan, depending on other financial factors. 

Stilt loan amounts range from $1,000 to $35,000, with maximum loan terms of up to 36 months. There are no prepayment penalties, so you can pay off your loan early without an additional fee and save on interest. 

Considers people with several visa types

Stilt doesn’t require a Social Security number or green card to apply. The lender accepts loan applications from people covered by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, as well as the following types of visas:

  • CPT
  • OPT
  • H-1B
  • O-1
  • TN
  • J-1
  • L-1

Considers info other than credit scores

Many lenders rely on your credit scores to determine whether to approve you for a loan. Stilt doesn’t have a minimum credit score requirement and says it will look at other factors — such as current employment (or employability), education, collections and bankruptcies — when reviewing your application. This may be helpful if you have no credit or less-than-perfect credit. 

Doesn’t accept co-signers

Since you can’t apply for a Stilt loan with a co-signer, you’ll need to demonstrate to Stilt that you qualify on your own. This may be an issue if you’re unemployed or have a history of collections or bankruptcies. 

Offers competitive starting interest rates — but doesn’t disclose its maximum rates and fees

Stilt offers decent starting interest rates but says qualifying for its best rates depends on its evaluation of your employment, education and visa status — as well as other financial factors and any collection accounts you may have. 

Be careful: Stilt doesn’t publish its full range of interest rates, so it’s unclear how high your rate could be if you don’t have strong credit. 

The lender also charges an origination fee that it describes as “small” — but, again, it won’t disclose that amount unless you receive a loan offer.

A closer look at Stilt personal loans 

If you’re considering a Stilt loan, here are a few more details to consider. 

  • Approval and funding time If you apply for a Stilt loan, the lender says it will give you an update on your application’s status within 24 hours (one business day). If approved, funding typically takes two to three days to hit your bank account. This may be a drawback if you need the cash quickly and can’t wait a few days for money. 
  • Not available in all states — Stilt offers personal loans in only 16 states: Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin and Virginia.
  • Bank account linking required — Stilt requires you to connect to your bank account during the application process so it can verify your income. This may be uncomfortable if you don’t want to share your account information. 
  • May be used to build credit — Since Stilt reports payment history to most major credit bureaus, it may help you build a positive credit history in the U.S., as long as you make payments on time and for the full amount due.
  • Loan limit for international students — If you’re studying in the U.S. from abroad, Stilt limits student loan amounts at $5,000. It says common uses for the loan are expenses such as tuition, buying school supplies and living expenses. 

Should I get a Stilt loan?

If you have an eligible visa but you lack credit history in the U.S., a Stilt loan may be worth considering. A Stilt loan may help you build credit in the U.S. since it reports to some of the major credit bureaus. And a loan from this lender can help you access the money you need if you don’t have a Social Security number or meet the requirements of other lenders. 

You can apply for prequalification and view your potential rate without affecting your credit scores. You’ll want to check the interest rate you’re offered and any other fees carefully, since Stilt doesn’t say upfront what its higher rates might be. 

And if you think you might want to accept the offer, remember that Stilt will run a hard inquiry on your credit before your offer is final — prequalification isn’t a guarantee that you’ll be approved for a loan, and the rates you’re shown may change after you formally accept. A hard inquiry can also pull your credit scores down a bit temporarily. 

If you have strong credit or an established credit history in the U.S., you’ll probably want to look elsewhere. And it’s always good idea to apply for prequalification from a few lenders and compare potential loan offers if possible.

How to apply with Stilt

To apply for a Stilt loan, you’ll need to fill out a short online application. To be eligible, Stilt says you must live in the U.S. and have the following:

  • A U.S. bank account in your name 
  • A U.S.-based personal phone number
  • A U.S. address in a state where Stilt is licensed to operate 
  • An eligible visa that’s legal and valid for at least six months 

You’ll also have to provide a number of documents, including your passport, visa type, resume and references. Note that Stilt will perform a hard credit inquiry only if you sign an offer letter. 

After you apply, Stilt will contact you with an update within 24 hours — you might get an approval decision or a request for more info. Again, if approved, the money will typically be deposited into your bank account in two to three days. 

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

  • Earnin: If you want to advance a small amount from your upcoming paycheck, Earnin doesn’t ask for your Social Security number or check your credit. You must be a U.S. resident to be considered for a loan.  
  • MoneyLion: If you want to build your credit and don’t mind a monthly membership fee, a MoneyLion credit-builder loan may be a good option for you. Keep in mind that you’ll need a valid U.S. Social Security number to be considered for a loan.

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.