What is a Personal Loan Marketplace?

A personal loan marketplace allows you to compare multiple loan offers in one place. You can quickly compare rates, repayment terms, and more.

Updated: July 19, 2023

What is a Personal Loan Marketplace?

Applying for personal loans can be a time-consuming process. Traditionally, borrowers have had to reach out to each individual lender to check their eligibility, then manually record and compare rates, terms, and fees. With so much to keep track of, you could easily miss out on the best loan offers without even knowing it. Fortunately, there’s a better way to shop for loans: through a personal loan marketplace.

What is a personal loan marketplace?

A personal loan marketplace is an online platform where borrowers can view a variety of personal loan offers in one place. Marketplaces also allow you to prequalify for dozens of loans in a matter of seconds. That means the rates you’re seeing on your screen are actual, customized estimates, adjusted according to your credit score and financial goals.

Navient Marketplace is one of the leading online financial marketplaces1. We collaborate with Fiona, a partner marketplace with a robust personal loans database. With double the search power at your fingertips, you can easily find personal loans with competitive rates and favorable repayment terms.

What is a personal loan?

A personal loan is a type of installment loan: a bank, credit union, or online lender lends money to an individual in a single lump sum. The borrower then repays the loan via a series of monthly payments, or installments. Unlike an auto or mortgage loan, a personal loan can be used for nearly any purpose, including home improvements, medical bills, or debt consolidation and refinancing.

Personal loans are typically unsecured loans. With an unsecured personal loan, you don’t have to provide collateral to convince the lender that you’re good for your debt. If you don’t have a strong credit history, though, you may still be able to qualify for a secured personal loan. Secured loans tend to have higher interest rates, but the collateral provides lenders with a little extra reassurance in lieu of a strong credit history.

What is Fiona?

Fiona is the engine behind Navient Marketplace’s personal loan search platform. To use it, simply go to the Navient website and enter your desired loan amount, credit score, and a few other details. Your information will then be passed on to the Fiona system, which is a powerful personal loans marketplace that partners with more than 300 lenders to help you find the best rates and terms available. Once Navient passes off your personal information, Fiona will use it to match you with custom loan offers from top lenders like SoFi, Upstart, Marcus by Goldman Sachs, and LightStream.

How does a personal loan marketplace work?

A personal loan marketplace is not a direct lender. Instead, it serves as a bridge, connecting lenders and borrowers. Here’s how the process works in five basic steps:

1. Input your information

First visit the marketplace website to complete a prequalification form. This form will ask some basic questions about your identity and credit history. You’ll need a good credit score to qualify for most options and an excellent credit profile to qualify for the best personal loan offers. You may also have to state your desired loan amount and intended loan purpose. Usually, the process takes only a few minutes.

2. Get prequalified

Once it has your basic personal info, Fiona conducts a soft credit inquiry. This helps the platform verify your identity and prequalify you for loan offers with various financial institutions. Unlike browsing lenders’ advertised rates, which are usually only offered to very few borrowers, prequalification helps you get an accurate idea of what personal loan rates you could qualify for personally.

This prequalification step only involves a soft inquiry into your credit, which won’t affect your credit score. A soft inquiry is just a preliminary peek at your credit report. Credit bureaus know that prequalifying doesn’t necessarily mean you’re taking out a new line of credit, so they won’t count it against you.

Remember: prequalification is not a guarantee of loan approval. You won’t get your final, official loan offer until you complete a formal application process.

2. Receive loan offers

Once Fiona prequalifies you, you should see several loan offers pop up on your screen. Each offer will list its loan amount, its annual percentage yield (APR), and whether it has a variable or fixed rate.

If you submit your details but no loan offers come up, it’s possible that your credit score isn’t high enough to meet lender requirements. While there’s no minimum credit score requirement to use the marketplace, many lenders have more stringent requirements. If you have a credit score below 580, a lot of credit card debt, a high debt-to-income ratio, or several open lines of credit, you may not qualify for many loan offers.

3. Compare lenders

Once you have a few personal loan options to choose from, it’s time to compare. Be sure to consider these factors:

Annual percentage rate (APR): Most borrowers know to look for loans with the lowest rates. That said, interest rates aren’t the only factor in a loan’s price tag. Some lenders also charge origination fees and other costs. The best way to gauge the total cost of a loan is to look at its APR. APR is a measure of a loan’s interest rate combined with any regular fees. If you have a bad credit score, you probably won’t qualify for many loans in a low APR range. That said, it may still make sense to take out a personal loan if you need to. You can always refinance it later if your credit score improves.

  • Fees: On top of the regular fees included in APR, some lenders charge late fees, prepayment penalties, or overdraft fees. If you have a tough time making on-time payments, these fees could rack up, making even loans with lower interest rates quite expensive. Before you select a lender, check their disclosures for hidden costs.

  • Loan amounts and term length: Personal loan amounts often range from $1,000 to $250,000. Loan terms vary from six to 144 months. Make sure any potential loan offers align with your financial goals.

  • Perks: Some loan providers provide extra perks, like an annual skip-a-payment option, which lets you make one late payment per year without penalty. Some lenders also provide an autopay discount which gives you a lower interest rate if you sign up for automated loan payments made from your checking account. If you’re stuck trying to decide between two lenders, these perks can serve as a tie-breaker.

4. Apply for the loan

Once you’ve selected a lender, click on your top choice and you’ll be redirected to the lender’s website to complete a full loan application. You’ll need to provide your social security number, income information, and other personal details. After the lender receives your application, they will perform a hard credit check, which may lead to a small, temporary dip in your credit score.

5. Receive your loan funds

Once your application is processed, your lender will send you a final loan offer. You can either accept this offer or turn it down and apply with another lender instead.

The good news is that applying with a second lender won’t lead to an additional dip in your credit score — as long as you do it soon. That’s thanks to a consumer protection rule called “the rate shopping exception.” If you apply for multiple loans within a 14-day period, most credit bureaus will lump these together as a single application and only penalize your credit score once.

Once you choose to accept a loan offer and finalize the loan agreement, keep an eye on your bank account. While some personal loan lenders will deposit funds as soon as the next business day, most will issue your disbursement within five to seven business days.

Compare personal loan rates on Navient Marketplace

Personal loans are a popular source of fast funding for everything from emergency expenses to debt consolidation loans. No matter how you plan to use the funds, a personal loan marketplace can help you make sure you’re getting the best rates. To that end, Navient Marketplace collaborates with Fiona, a leading personal loan search tool. Explore your options and find personalized loan rates by visiting the marketplace today.

1Navient customers are invited to consider personal loan offers through our partner Fiona. Navient has not shared your information with Fiona and is not involved in the personal loan application process in any manner. All information is submitted directly to Fiona and any personal loan offers are made directly by participants in Fiona's lending platform, powered by Engine by MoneyLion. Engine by MoneyLion is the industry-leading embedded financial marketplace and independent subsidiary of MoneyLion Inc. ("MoneyLion") (NYSE:ML). Checking your rate will not affect your credit score. Eligibility is not guaranteed and requires that a sufficient number of investors commit funds to your account and that you meet credit and other conditions.

 

Loan proceeds may not be used for postsecondary educational expenses, including refinancing federal or private student loans.

 

Navient may receive compensation when you click on links associated with this Navient Marketplace. Navient is not being compensated for any application, quotation, or the purchase of any financial products

 

Disclaimer: This blog post provides personal finance educational information, and it is not intended to provide legal, financial, or tax advice.

 

Information in this blog, including the rates advertised are current as of 5/26/2023 and subject to change. For current rates, please visit https://marketplace.navient.com.

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