LightStream Personal Loans Review

LightStream offers flexible and affordable loans for good to excellent credit

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LightStream

LightStream

Investopedia’s Rating
4.0

Our Take

If you have good or excellent credit and you're looking for a no-frills inexpensive loan, LightStream is a good bet. It's not as flashy and doesn't offer as many perks as other lenders, but it does offer low rates, zero fees, and even a rate-beating program.

  • Pros & Cons
  • Key Takeaways
  • Company Overview
  • specifications
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Rate-beat program

  • Flexible funding times

  • Low interest rates and zero fees

  • Large loan amounts and long term lengths available

Cons
  • Requires a credit card

  • Uptick in recent complaints

  • Requires good or excellent credit

  • Doesn't offer loan pre-qualification

  • Lackluster customer support options

Key Takeaways
  • LightStream offers fixed-rate personal loans for a wide range of uses.
  • If you're approved, you can get funds as soon as the same day, or schedule your disbursement out to 90 days in the future, in the case of home improvement loans.
  • Despite all of the personal loan options advertised on the website, they all basically offer the same rates and terms—except for the home improvement loans, which are a tad cheaper.
Company Overview

LightStream began life in 2005, when it was known as "FirstAgain." It was one of the very first lenders to offer an entirely digital personal loan, all the way from application to payoff. In 2012 it was purchased and rebranded as the modern-day LightStream by SunTrust Bank, which itself recently rebranded to Truist Bank. 

LightStream has been an award-winning lender, although recent complaints about the company have tarnished its reputation. It's available to people living in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. 

specifications
APR Range
6.99% - 23.99%
Loan Amount
$5,000 - $100,000
Loan Terms
24 months to 120 months
Recommended Minimum Credit Score
660
Average Origination Fee
0.00%
Late Fee
$0.00
Why Trust Us
38
Lenders reviewed
40
Loan features considered
1,520
Data points analyzed
112
Primary data sources used
Investopedia collected key data points from several lenders to identify the most important factors to borrowers. We used this data to review each lender for fees, accessibility, repayment terms, and other features to provide unbiased, comprehensive reviews to ensure our readers make the right borrowing decision for their needs.

Pros Explained

  • Rate-beat program: LightStream offers to beat the rate of any competitor by 0.10% if you're approved for a loan. However, you'll need to be aware of a few bits of fine print first.
  • Flexible funding times: You can opt to receive loan funds anywhere from the same day you apply (if you complete everything early enough in the day) up to 30 days out from the date you're approved. For home improvement loans, you can even schedule disbursement dates up to 90 days in the future.
  • Low interest rates and zero fees: LightStream doesn't offer the very lowest personal loan rates out there, but they're not far off. In addition, there are zero fees with the loan—not even late fees. (Your credit score may still drop if you pay late, however.)
  • Large loan amounts and long term lengths available: You can borrow up to $100,000 with a LightStream loan, way more than most other lenders. And depending on how much you're borrowing, LightStream may offer you loan term lengths ranging from two to 12 years. 

LightStream currently advertises rates as low as 5.99% on its main page, but that ultra-low rate is for vehicle loans. The rates for personal loans are higher, as noted above.

Cons Explained

  • Requires a credit card: Unlike most other lenders, LightStream requires you to provide a Visa or Mastercard credit card—not a debit card—for "verification purposes." You won't be charged for anything, but if you don't have a credit card, this could preclude you from getting a loan.
  • Uptick in recent complaints: Recent complaints against LightStream's customer service and loan policies have toppled the company's J.D. Power rating from the #1 online personal loan lender in 2020 to a below-average ranking in 2022. 
  • Requires good or excellent credit: If you don't have good or excellent credit, it's unlikely that LightStream will approve you for a loan. There are many lenders out there who do specialize in personal loans for people with suboptimal credit, but LightStream isn't one of them.
  • Doesn't offer loan pre-qualification: Unlike most lenders, LightStream doesn't offer any options to check your rate and get pre-approved for a loan using a soft credit pull. Instead, you'll need to complete a full application, which will result in a hard credit inquiry that can ding your score by a little bit for a few months.
  • Lackluster customer support options: There's no way to call someone up or launch a live chat if you need immediate help. Instead, the only way to reach out to LightStream initially is via a single email address.

Types of Personal Loans Offered by LightStream

LightStream offers unsecured personal loans for a wide range of purposes. It lists more than 25 different uses on its website, including some of the following choices:

  • Adoption loans
  • Debt consolidation loans
  • Hot tub loans
  • Medical loans
  • Wedding loans

However, don't let the fancy marketing fool you. These are all basically the same personal loan, just split up into specific terms that people might be searching for online. If you check the loan options within each of those categories, you'll see that the rates and terms listed are all the same. 

The only exceptions are for vehicle loans and home improvement loans, which actually are slightly different. The rates offered are a tad cheaper, and with home improvement loans you'll also get more flexibility in when your loan funds are disbursed. 

  • Home improvement loan rates: 6.99%–20.74% APR (with autopay)
  • All other personal loan rates: 7.99%–23.99% APR (with autopay)
  • Vehicle loan rates: 5.99%-15.14% depending on vehicle (with autopay)

In fact, just like most other personal loans, you can basically use a LightStream personal loan for whatever you want, except for a few things:

  • Illegal operations
  • Business expenses
  • Post-secondary education
  • Refinancing a LightStream loan you already have
  • Buying investments, life insurance, or saving for retirement or education

Time to Receive Funds

You have a lot of flexibility in when you want to receive your loan funds if you're approved. If you need them ASAP, you can receive your funds as soon as the same day if you complete all requirements before 2:30 p.m. Eastern Time on a business day. To use this option, you'll need to log in to your account and schedule a wire transfer for 3 p.m. ET. You can also opt for an ACH transfer, but this may take a bit longer.

If you don't need the funds immediately, you have 30 days to schedule a disbursement for most personal loans. For home improvement loans, that bumps up to 90 days. This can be a handy option if you'd like some time to shop around, or you don't need to make a big purchase yet. For example, there's no point in taking the loan out yet if you're still waiting for the contractors to send you an invoice, but knowing you're already approved can give you peace of mind.

By scheduling funds to be sent out later, you won't owe any interest or have to make any payments until you're actually ready to get and spend the money. Just remember that the clock starts ticking from the day you're approved.

Borrower Requirements

You'll need a minimum credit score of at least 660 in order to be approved for a LightStream loan. There are other personal loan requirements as well, but LightStream doesn't disclose this information. You will need to earn enough income and have a low enough level of debt so that LightStream feels confident you'll be able to repay the money it's lending you.

LightStream Personal Loan Features

  • Mobile app: You can handle all aspects of a LightStream personal loan through its iOS and Android apps, including applying for the loan. The reviews on the apps are mixed, however. 
  • Rate-beat program: LightStream will beat the rate of any competitor by 0.10% if you meet these four requirements: 1) get a cheaper loan offer for the same amount and term length LightStream offered; 2) the loan offer must be generally available to everyone, and not an individual promotion; 3) the competing offer must be for an unsecured loan; 4) submit the loan offer to LightStream by 2 p.m. ET up to two days before your LightStream loan is disbursed. 
  • $100 loan experience guarantee: If you're not happy within 30 days of taking the loan out, you can contact customer service to get a questionnaire explaining your reasoning. Then, they'll send you $100. It's not quite a refund, but at least it's something.

Co-Signers and Co-Applicants

LightStream allows you to create a joint application with another person. It's even required if you'll be counting personal income from someone else in your household, such as your spouse. However, LightStream doesn't differentiate between a co-signer and a co-borrower. Everyone listed on the loan will be equally responsible for making the payments. 

Can You Refinance a Personal Loan With LightStream?

No. LightStream does not refinance its own personal loans.

Customer Service

LightStream doesn't offer as robust a customer support team as other personal loan lenders. In fact, it's downright bare-bones in comparison. But if you run into problems with your loan or have questions, it is generally possible to get ahold of someone if you're patient.

  • By email: customerservice@lightstream.com
  • By mail: PO Box 117320, Atlanta, GA 30368-7320
  • Customer service hours: Monday–Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET, or Saturday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET.

Customer Satisfaction

Not too long ago, LightStream had a great reputation. In fact, in 2020, J.D. Power ranked it as the #1 online personal loan lender for customer satisfaction. 

Starting in 2019, however, complaints began piling up from customers with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. As of this writing, there are 18 official complaints, mostly involving problems with getting approved for the loan and receiving conflicting information from customer support representatives. 

Negative reviews also abound with Trustpilot. It’s enough that J.D. Power booted LightStream to a below-average ranking in its most recent lender satisfaction study. 

Applying for a LightStream Personal Loan

Since LightStream doesn't offer loan pre-qualification, you'll need to be prepared to complete a full loan application. This doesn't mean you're obligated to take the loan out, but you will get a temporary hit to your credit from the hard credit inquiry LightStream will need to do.

You can apply in two ways: on the website, or through the LightStream app. Here's the information you'll need to fill out in the loan application:

  • What you plan to use the loan for
  • Last four digits of your driver's license
  • Your employment and income information
  • Visa or Mastercard credit card information
  • Your banking and investment account balances
  • Length of time you've lived at your current address
  • How much you want to borrow, and which term length option you'd like
  • Your personal contact information, date of birth, and Social Security number
  • Your housing costs (rent or mortgage payment) and any home equity you have

LightStream processes loan applications seven days a week, so you shouldn't need to wait too long before hearing back. If approved, the company will send you a contract to sign. From there, you can schedule when you want to receive the loan funds within the time limits for your selected loan.

Make sure to select autopay while filling out your LightStream loan application. If you don't and opt to make payments manually from the start, LightStream will bump your rates up by 0.50% for the duration of your loan, even if you opt in to autopay later.

Alternative Personal Loan Lenders

  LightStream LendingPoint  Rocket Loans 
APR Range 6.99%–23.99% 7.99%–35.99% 8.416%–29.99%
Loan Amount  $5,000–$100,000  $2,000–$36,500  $2,000–$45,000 
Loan Terms  2–12 years  24–72 months  36 or 60 months 
Recommended Minimum Credit Score  660  Not disclosed  640
Origination Fee  None 0%–8%  Up to 7% 
Time to Receive Funds  Same day  1 business day  Same day 

Final Verdict

LightStream is a good choice if you're looking for a low-cost loan and you have good or excellent credit. If you don't, or if you prefer a more well-designed user interface and useful perks like the ability to move your payment date around, we'd suggest looking elsewhere. In addition, if you do proceed, keep in mind that LightStream's customer service options aren't anything to write home about and complaints have been on the rise lately. 

Wondering about your options? Take the time to check your rates with a variety of lenders; start with our picks for the best online personal loans.

Methodology

Investopedia is dedicated to providing consumers with unbiased, comprehensive reviews of personal loan lenders. To rate providers, we collected hundreds of data points across more than 40 lenders, including interest rates, fees, loan amounts, and repayment terms, to ensure that our reviews help users make informed decisions for their borrowing needs.

Article Sources
Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy.
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