If you are in a similar situation to me, Springleaf is probably one of the few options available to you. I just got my check from them today, and getting to that point was rather painless with a few caveats. I will write a detailed review below, but the short answer is that I would recommend this place to someone with a low credit score who has an urgent need for a lump of cash to pay some bills. It is a better interest rate than the payday loan places. They will try to push you to get credit insurance with your loan, but it was easy enough to tell them no to that. The branch manager assured me that I can make payments online and that this is a simple interest loan with no prepayment penalty. There were a few snags, but at the end of the day I have my money and can take care of some bills. If I have any problems down the road, I will come back and change my review. For now, I give them four stars.
Now, here is the long review...
My FICO score is in the low 600's, and I have a stack of medical bills that need to be addressed plus I am buried under a high interest (157%) long-term personal loan that I took through one of the payday loan places. To pay off the personal loan and medical bills, I needed about $4000. I was also hoping to get a little extra money to fund a trip to Chicago for a wedding this summer. With my credit score, I didn't even bother trying a traditional bank or credit union, and I was turned down by Prosper and LendingClub. So, Springleaf was one of my only options to get a loan.
I filled out their online application, and I heard back from the branch manager the next day. Over a couple more days, he put together a package for me and gave me two options. I could either get a "personal property loan" for $3500, or put up my pickup truck as collateral and get a $5100 vehicle title loan. I originally chose to do the vehicle title loan.
Now, here comes one of the reasons that I only rated the place as four stars. Similar to other reviewers, I had to drive over 40 miles to get to the nearest office. That was not a big issue in and of itself, but I wanted to make sure that there was nothing I was missing so I wouldn't have to make the trip more than once. Well, when I got there with all my paperwork (pay stub, W2, apartment lease, documentation of my bills, registration/insurance/title for my vehicle, and photo ID) it was only then that I learned I could not use my truck as collateral right now because the registration is due soon. They never told me about this requirement beforehand! Since I have to get some smog work done before I can renew my registration, there was also no way to correct that problem in the near future. So that took away one of my loan options. So much for that Chicago trip! If you are looking to get a vehicle title loan through them, make sure your registration does not expire within the next 60 days.
Another reason I knocked off a star from them is that they kept trying the hard sell with me on the credit insurance. In fact they offer four or five different types of loan insurance, but I had already told him before I came in that I didn't want any of the insurance, so I just cut him off when he tried to pitch them to me again. Thank goodness for the reviews on this site, or I probably wouldn't even have noticed that they were going to automatically add insurance (which is apparently their standard practice).
Another reason why I downgraded them by a star was this practice they have of trying to pay the consolidation bills directly. They didn't ask for all of my individual medical bills, but they did want to pay the payday loan place directly. I understand why they do that (they want to make sure you are not increasing your debt load with this loan), but sometimes that just isn't an option. Since the payday loan place directly debits my bank account for payments, and I never receive a statement with an option for mail-in payments, I had no idea how to go about repaying it with a check from Springleaf. I had to explain that and bring in some web page printouts to show him how that loan works, and assure him that the first thing I would pay off would be that payday loan.
The final reason that I knocked off a star is the interest rate. I understand that a loan place like this is going to charge high interest. Part of the reason is that they have a corner on the market for bad credit loans, and part of the reason is that they need to cover the attrition of the inevitible number of these high risk loans that are going to default. They are charging me 34.99%. That is higher than any of my credit cards, but it is still a better rate than the 157% the payday loan place was charging.
Overall, I am happy. I was previously paying $400 a month for that high interest loan and I had no idea how I was going to address this stack of medical bills. Now I will be paying $151 a month and the medical bills and payday loan place will be history. With any luck, I will even have some extra money to pay this loan off sooner. I didn't get as much money as I originally wanted, but they did take some big burdens off my shoulders.
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