Key takeaways

  • An online lending network lets you simultaneously compare personal loan offers, including rates, terms and fees from a company’s partner lenders.
  • When you submit your application, the network uses the personal and financial information you provide to connect you with lenders that best match your unique financial situation.
  • Using an online loan network might be an excellent option if you prefer applying from the convenience of your home.

When securing a personal loan, there are several types of lenders to consider, including banks, credit unions and finance companies. Of these options, it is also wise to consider online lending networks.

These types of lenders enable you to check out a few different loan options at once using a marketplace, all online. Using a network lets you quickly compare loan options and potentially secure the best loan for your needs.

Direct lenders vs. online lending networks
When working with direct lenders, you submit separate applications to each loan office. In the case of a network, you submit one application to be shared with many lender partners.

How to secure a loan with an online lender network

Using an online lender network to secure a personal loan is somewhat similar to the traditional application process in that you can expect a credit pull and a basic questionnaire. While every network varies slightly, there is an overarching basic process you can expect when applying for a personal loan through an online lender network.

1. Submit an online form and application

After arriving at the network’s site, you will need to fill out some information on yourself, your finances and your need for a loan. At this point, you should also prepare for a soft or hard credit check, as the network will use your credit to match you with the best loan options you qualify for.

2. Review loan options

After the network has a grasp on your needs and credit score, it will match you with one or more lenders. You can then determine which loan option is best for you. Pay close attention to available rates, any restrictions on the amount you can borrow and the term.

3. Choose your loan

After determining which lender best fits your needs, you will likely be sent to that lender’s site where you can take the final steps to secure your loan. Depending on the lender, you could get your funds in just one business day. After receiving the loan, signing up for automatic payments is recommended so you never fall behind.

Benefits and drawbacks of an online lending network

Before deciding to secure a personal loan through an online lending network consider the advantages and disadvantages of the process.

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  • Ability to compare loan options all in one place. Unlike traditional loan options, with a network, you can compare loan APRs, terms and fees from one view.
  • Broad view of available lenders. Many networks have relationships with a wide range of lender types. These lenders span in terms of accepted credit ranges as well as loan types.
  • Lower risk of denial. Because the network has a firm grasp on your credit you will not waste time applying for loans you might not get accepted to.
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  • No face-to-face support. There is no ability to arrange in-person customer service. This is especially notable for those who may be unfamiliar with the borrowing process.
  • Security risk. Although most networks have strong security and are legitimate, it is possible to come across loan options that may not be reputable. Be sure to only enter personal information on trusted sites.
  • Lack of history. The online lending space is comparatively new. Unlike its big-bank competitors, the process does not boast as much history. Which does carry the risk of error.

Who is an online lending network best for?

An online lending network is best for those who are interested in handling the entire personal loan process from the comfort of their home and feel confident in using technology to achieve that. The ease of loan comparison coupled with the back-end work handled by the network ensures you are presented with loans that match your needs.

This also makes using an online lending network an especially good option for those with bad credit. While borrowers with strong credit have a wide range of loan options, those with poor credit must approach the process more tentatively. By applying first through the network you can avoid the frustration of denial as you will only be presented with financial institutions that can cater to your needs.

The bottom line

It is hard to look past the convenience that comes with securing a loan through an online lending network. The process is fairly straightforward and can take much less time than working with a loan officer in person. Before setting out on your personal loan journey, consider this as an option while staying current on personal loan rates.