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%.
|$1,500 to $25,000||$1,000 to $25,000|
|17.59% to 35.99%|
9.99% minimum for secured loan
|24.00% to 36.00%|
|Varies by state||Varies by state|
|One to five years||One to five years|
» 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.
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 580 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, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, 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, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
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, apply on NerdWallet’s lender marketplace. You’ll see all the loans for which you pre-qualify based on the information provided in your application. You can compare rates in one place. Filling out an application won’t affect your credit score.
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 absence of 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.
— Among the very best for consumer-friendly features
— Excellent; offers most consumer-friendly features
— Very good; offers many consumer-friendly features
— Good; may not offer something important to you
— Fair; missing important consumer-friendly features
— Poor; proceed with great caution