LightStream Personal Loans: 2017 Review

Loans, Personal Loans, Personal Loans Reviews
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4 stars out of 5

NerdWallet rating: 4.0 / 5.0
Good for: Good credit, debt consolidation


LightStream stands out by giving borrowers with excellent credit low interest rates on unsecured personal loans.

LightStream could be a good fit if:

  • Your credit score is 680 or higher
  • You have several years of credit history with a variety of accounts, such as major credit cards, a mortgage or auto loans
  • You have a retirement savings account, stocks and bonds or other ways to prove your ability to save money
  • You have a co-signer; LightStream takes joint applications and allows one party to have a lower credit score

LightStream at a glance

Typical APR2.19% – 17.49% with autopay;
2.24% – 17.54% without autopay
Loan amounts$5,000 - $100,000
Time to fundingAs soon as the same day
Origination feeNone
Soft credit check with application?Yes, in some instances


» MORE: Apply to LightStream for auto loans

LightStream personal loan review

To review LightStream, NerdWallet collected more than 30 data points from the lender, interviewed company executives, completed the online loan application process with sample data and compared the lender with others that seek the same type of customer or offer a similar product. Loan terms and fees may vary by state.

LightStream’s interest rates on unsecured personal loans are low enough to compete with traditional loans that require collateral.

The lender’s model is based on one simple factor: What you buy determines the interest rate you pay. If you meet its high credit standards, LightStream has interest rates tailored for everything from buying a horse to paying for fertility treatments. (The company doesn’t offer loans for college tuition or businesses, however.) For those who fall just short of its high credit standards, the lender may offer the option of a secured personal loan.

LightStream recognizes that a loan to pay off existing debt is inherently riskier than, say, one for buying a new car, says Todd Nelson, the company’s director of business development.

No other online lender offers interest rates tailored to a specific purpose. Pave offers lower rates to borrowers who take loans for self-improvement. Earnest and SoFi allow high loan amounts and offer low rates to those with excellent credit, but they don’t differentiate based on loan purpose.

LightStream is an arm of SunTrust Bank, and it’s also one of the country’s oldest online lenders. Founded as FirstAgain in 2005, the company was acquired by SunTrust in 2012. Borrowers don’t need to be SunTrust customers to get a loan.

LightStream’s Rate Beat program

Shopping around could get you a discounted interest rate. LightStream says it will beat a competitor’s interest rate by 0.10 percentage point, assuming you can show you are approved by the competitor for a regular fixed-rate loan with the same amount, term, purpose and payment method.

Getting a second loan approval, from LightStream or another lender, likely won’t ding your credit score again, since credit bureaus usually allow a 14- to 45-day window for rate shopping.

How to apply for a LightStream loan

When you apply for a loan on LightStream’s website, you’ll be asked to select your loan purpose. You can then view the range of potential interest rates you might receive for that purpose. You can apply on your own or with a co-signer.

If you want to compare rates for multiple lenders, including LightStream, you can apply on NerdWallet using the button below. NerdWallet checks its lender marketplace and displays all the loans for which you pre-qualify. Applying won’t affect your credit score.

More about LightStream

LightStream loan requirements

  • Minimum credit score: 680
  • Minimum income: None specified
  • Minimum credit history: None. Typical borrowers have several years of credit history with a mix of account types and good payment history with few, if any, delinquencies.
  • Debt-to-income ratio: Not disclosed

LightStream terms

  • Annual percentage rate range for unsecured loans: 2.19% to 17.49% with autopay; 0.50 percentage point higher without autopay
  • Loan amount: $5,000 to $100,000
  • Loan duration: Two to seven years

LightStream fees and penalties

  • Origination fee: None
  • Prepayment fee: None
  • Late fee: None

Before you take a personal loan

Consider a 0% APR credit card

Check your credit and know your financial strengths

Learn how personal loans work

Calculate payment scenarios

Amrita Jayakumar and Jeanne Lee are staff writers at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: or Twitter: @ajbombay or @jlee_jeanne.

Updated March 17, 2017.

Personal Loans Ratings Methodology

NerdWallet’s ratings for personal loans award points to lenders that offer consumer-friendly features, including soft credit checks, no origination fees, payment options, short time to funding, interest rate caps of 36% and no prepayment penalties. Features are considered for their positive impact on consumers’ credit history and financial health. To ensure accuracy and consistency, our ratings are reviewed by multiple people on the NerdWallet personal loans team.

5 stars out of 5 — Among the very best for consumer-friendly features

4.5 stars out of 5 — Excellent; offers most consumer-friendly features

4 stars out of 5 — Very good; offers many consumer-friendly features

3.5 stars out of 5 — Good; may not offer something important to you

3 stars out of 5 — Fair; missing important consumer-friendly features

2.5 stars out of 5 — Poor; proceed with great caution