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OneMain vs. Mariner: How They Compare for Personal Loans

March 6, 2018
Loans, Personal Loans, Personal Loans Reviews
onemain financial mariner finance
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OneMain Financial and Mariner Finance are two brick-and-mortar lenders that focus on personal loans for people with average or bad credit. Each company has branches where applicants can consult loan officers, offering the chance to explain their financial situation face to face.

OneMain, which has more than 1,600 branches across 44 states, requires applicants to visit a branch as part of the loan application process, with exceptions in areas lacking branches.

Mariner, together with its affiliate Pioneer Credit, has a smaller footprint, with about 450 branches across 22 states, mostly in the Northeast and Southeast. It, too, has required a branch visit to complete a loan application, but it recently introduced online-only loans to borrowers in nine states and plans to expand the offering.

The two lenders offer similar loan products, including secured, unsecured and co-sign loans, but interest rates can differ. Mariner’s lowest annual percentage rate for both secured and unsecured loans is 24% — one of the highest among lenders reviewed by NerdWallet. OneMain’s APRs start at 17.59% for unsecured loans and 9.99% for secured loans. The rates for both lenders top out around 36%.

OneMain Financial
4.0 stars out of 5
Mariner Finance
2.5 stars out of 5
Loan amounts
$1,500 to $25,000 $1,000 to $25,000
APR range
17.59% to 35.99%
9.99% minimum for secured loan
24.00% to 36.00%
Origination fee
Varies by stateVaries by state
Loan durations
One to five years One to five years
Minimum qualifications

  • No minimum credit score; OneMain borrowers’ average range is 600 to 650
  • No minimum income; borrowers’ average is $47,700

  • Minimum credit score of 600 (610 for online-only loans, where available)
  • No minimum income; Mariner borrowers’ average range is $35,000 to $45,000
  • Typical borrowers have five years of credit history
Good option for:

  • Bad credit
  • Secured loan
  • Co-sign loan

  • Bad credit
  • Secured loan
  • Co-sign loan

» MORE: Other lenders for bad credit

OneMain might be a better option if you:

  • Can qualify for its starting APRs, especially for secured loans, which are lower than Mariner’s
  • Need an unsecured loan of $10,000 or more. Loans above $10,000 from Mariner require collateral
  • Want free access to your credit score — something Mariner doesn’t offer

OneMain, formerly part of Citigroup until it was acquired by Springleaf in 2015, uses traditional factors like credit score, income and debt-to-income ratio to approve loans.

How to qualify: OneMain says it doesn’t have a minimum credit score requirement, but typical borrowers’ credit scores range between 600 and 650. Their average income is $47,700.

OneMain says 43% of its loans are secured loans, requiring collateral such as a car, truck or boat. Vehicles need to be appraised and insured. As with any secured loan, if you can’t pay it back, you risk losing your collateral.

Time to funding: Once OneMain approves your loan, you can often get the funds by check or prepaid debit card the same day. Getting the money by direct deposit takes one or two business days.

Costs: OneMain’s interest rates for unsecured loans range from 17.59% to 35.99%. The rate includes an origination fee, an amount that varies by state. OneMain’s starting APR on secured loans is considerably lower — 9.99%.

OneMain charges fees for late and unsuccessful payments, with amounts varying by state. It does not charge for making extra payments or paying the loan off early.

Click “Check Rates” to apply on OneMain Financial.

Mariner might be a better option if you:

  • Have an established credit history
  • Have filed for bankruptcy in the past
  • Prefer an online-only experience (that option is available in Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Tennessee, Utah and Wisconsin)

Mariner was founded in 2002 and traditionally has required borrowers to visit a branch — or a branch of its affiliated company Pioneer — to get a loan. The company recently started offering an online-only loan process on smaller loans.

How to qualify: Mariner normally requires a minimum credit score of 600 when you apply through the traditional process. The lender’s new online loan process requires a minimum score of 610.

“If an online applicant has a credit score below 610, their information will be referred to the closest branch, provided there is one within 60 miles. If there is not a branch, then the application would be declined,” says William Bartholomay, senior vice president at Mariner.

Secured and co-sign loans, as well as those larger than $7,000, typically are handled at a branch, he says. Loans above $10,000 must be secured with a car or other asset.

Mariner borrowers typically have a credit history of five or more years. Their average income, ranging from $35,000 to $45,000, is lower than the average of OneMain borrowers. Mariner says it considers applicants who have filed bankruptcy in the past.

Time to funding: People usually receive a response to their applications on the same day. After approval, Mariner typically funds loans within a day.

Costs: Mariner’s APRs range from 24% to 36% for both secured and unsecured loans. The APR may include an origination fee that varies by state. Other fees also vary by state.

Mariner Finance is available in Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.

If there is no Mariner branch near you, you can apply for the same loans at its affiliate company Pioneer Credit, with locations in Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Shop around to find the best personal loan

If your credit isn’t perfect, consider whether you want to apply for a loan on your own or with a co-signer. Putting up collateral, such as a vehicle, is another way to improve your odds or get a lower rate. Your best strategy may be to pre-qualify with both Mariner and OneMain and compare the pricing on any loan offers you get.

To compare Mariner and OneMain with other lenders, check NerdWallet’s lender marketplace. You’ll see estimated rates, monthly payments and credit score requirements from multiple lenders.

NerdWallet’s ratings for personal loans award points to lenders that offer consumer-friendly features, including: soft credit checks, no fees, transparency of loan rates and terms, flexible payment options, accessible customer service, reporting of payments to credit bureaus, and financial education. We also consider the number of complaints filed with agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This methodology applies only to lenders that cap interest rates at 36%, the maximum rate financial experts and consumer advocates agree is the acceptable limit for a loan to be affordable. NerdWallet does not receive compensation of any sort for our reviews. Read our editorial guidelines.

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