Skip to Main Content

LightStream vs. SoFi: Which personal loan is right for you?

Two people in a cafe
Hinterhaus Productions/Getty Images
Bankrate Logo

Why you can trust Bankrate

While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation for .

If you’re looking to get a personal loan, LightStream and SoFi are two online lenders you may consider.

SoFi began in 2011 as a student-focused lender but has since expanded to offer a variety of banking and lending services. LightStream is an online lending division of Truist Bank (formerly part of Suntrust). It got its start in 2013 as a lender focusing on borrowers with strong credit.

Both lenders can be good options, so compare them to decide which will work best for you.

LightStream vs. SoFi at a glance

Both LightStream and SoFi are online lenders that let borrowers get unsecured personal loans. However, each site targets different types of borrowers, so it’s important to understand the differences between them.

SoFi LightStream
Bankrate Score 4.6 4.6
Better for Longer term loans

Borrowers with a cosigner

Lowest possible rates

Fast funding

Loan amounts $5,000 – $100,000 $5,000 – $100,000
APRs 5.74% – 21.78% 3.49% – 19.99%
Loan term lengths 2 to 7 years 3 to 6 years
Fees None None
Minimum credit score 680 660
Requirements US citizen, permanent resident, or non-permanent resident alien

Employed and with sufficient income, or written offer for employment to start within 90 days

Not disclosed
Time to funding Within a few days As soon as same day
Cosigners permitted Yes No

LightStream personal loans

LightStream offers flexible personal loans that you can use for anything from buying a car, remodeling your home, or consolidating existing debt. The lender focuses on borrowers with good credit so that it can keep costs low and doesn’t charge origination fees or prepayment penalties.

To secure the best interest rates, borrowers have to sign up for automatic payments. LightStream offers an autopay discount of 0.50% APR.

One thing that sets the lender apart is that you can get the money the same day you apply if you apply early in the day and have excellent credit.

Pros

  • High loan maximum
  • Same-day funding
  • Low interest rates
  • No fees

Cons

  • Requires good credit
  • No cosigners permitted

SoFi personal loans

Though SoFi began as a student-focused lender it now offers personal loans to all sorts of borrowers. The company also offers banking and investing services.

If you already work with SoFi for other loans, banking, or investing, it can be convenient to keep all of your money in one place and use the company for lending too. It means dealing with fewer accounts and passwords and makes it easier to keep track of your finances.

SoFi also benefits from the fact that it allows for cosigners. If you have poor credit but a willing cosigner, SoFi might approve you if LightStream won’t. If you have excellent credit, then this is less of a concern.

Pros

  • Cosigner permitted
  • Get multiple financial services in one place
  • Qualify with a short credit history
  • Longer loan terms available

Cons

  • Funding can take a few days
  • Higher minimum and maximum interest rates

How to choose between LightStream and SoFi

LightStream and SoFi are very similar lenders. If you’re thinking about getting a loan, it might be hard to choose.

If you have a cosigner, consider SoFi. LightStream doesn’t let borrowers apply with a cosigner, meaning that you’ll have to work with SoFi if you want to have two people on your loan. This can be important if your credit isn’t great.

If you want the cheapest possible loan, consider LightStream. If you have excellent credit, LightStream offers the lower interest rates of the two. That means that you can save the most money if you borrow from LightStream.

If you want more time to repay the loan, consider SoFi. SoFi offers loan terms as long as seven years, one year longer than LightStream. This can help you secure a lower monthly payment which may make your loan more affordable. However, keep in mind that loans with longer terms usually cost more overall.

If you need money quickly, consider LightStream. If you have great credit and apply for a loan early in the day, LightStream can fund your loan on the same day. That means money in your account on the day that you apply. If you’re facing a major financial emergency and need quick cash, LightStream is likely the better choice. SoFi offers quick funding, but it still takes a few days.

Bottom line

LightStream and SoFi both offer similar loans. However, for borrowers with excellent credit, LightStream edges out the competition thanks to its slightly lower interest rates and the ability to get money the same day that you apply. However, if you already use SoFi for its other financial services or need to apply for a co-signer, SoFi is still a solid lender.

If you’re in need of a loan, there’s little reason not to check your rate with both companies to see which gives you the best offer.

Written by
TJ Porter
Contributing writer
TJ Porter is a contributing writer for Bankrate. TJ writes about a range of subjects, from budgeting tips to bank account reviews.
Edited by
Loans Editor, Former Insurance Editor