Mariner Finance Personal Loans: 2022 Review

Mariner Finance personal loans are an option for bad-credit borrowers, but high rates and fees, in addition to some potentially deceptive practices, may not make it a first choice.
Aug 15, 2022

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Our Take

3.0

NerdWallet rating 

The bottom line:

Bad-credit borrowers and those with a history of bankruptcy may qualify for a personal loan from Mariner, but it would lack consumer-friendly features that are common with most bad-credit online lenders.

Mariner
Est. APR
18.99-35.99%
Loan amount
$1,000-$25,000
Min. credit score
580
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Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Option to pre-qualify with soft credit check.
  • Secured, joint and co-signed loans.
  • Mobile app to manage loan.

Cons

  • Rates are high compared with other bad-credit lenders.
  • Available in a limited number of states.
  • May charge origination and one-time payment fees.
  • May require in-person visit.

Compare to Other Lenders

Upgrade
Upstart
NerdWallet rating 
NerdWallet rating 
Est. APR

7.46-35.97%

Est. APR

5.42-35.99%

Loan term

2 to 7 years

Loan term

3 to 5 years

Loan amount

$1,000-$50,000

Loan amount

$1,000-$50,000

Min. credit score

560

Min. credit score

None

Compare estimated rates from multiple lenders

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Full Review of Mariner

Mariner Finance personal loans are available to borrowers with bad credit scores (629 or lower) and those with a history of bankruptcy, but their high rates and fees make them a less-than-ideal option for most borrowers.

Mariner engages in some practices that may not be consumer-friendly, like mailing checks to prospective borrowers to provide unsolicited loans and promoting credit insurance. Compare other bad-credit lenders before applying with Mariner.

Table of Contents

Mariner personal loans at a glance

Minimum credit score

580 for online applications.

APR

18.99% - 35.99%.

Fees

  • Origination fee.

  • Late fee.

  • Nonsufficient funds fee.

  • One-time online and phone payment fees.

Amounts vary by state.

Loan amount

$1,000 to $25,000 for in-person applications. $1,500 to $15,000 for online applications.

Repayment terms

1 to 5 years.

Time to fund after approval

1 to 2 business days for online applications.

Loan availability

Loans not available in AK, AR, CO, CT, HI, ID, IA, KS, ME, MA, MI, MN, MT, NE, NV, NH, ND, RI, SD, VT, WV, WY and Washington, D.C.

Where Mariner personal loans stand out

Soft credit check to pre-qualify: Mariner lets borrowers pre-qualify online to see their potential annual percentage rate and amount without affecting their credit. Previewing loan offers, including monthly payments, helps you assess how the loan fits into your budget and whether you want to submit a formal application.

Secured loans: Applicants can secure a personal loan with a vehicle or certain types of personal property. Secured loans often have lower APRs because the lender has something valuable to take if you fail to repay the loan. Weigh the benefit of using your property as collateral against the risk of losing it.

Joint and co-signed loans: Mariner accepts co-borrowers and co-signers. With both loan types, the co-applicant’s credit and income are taken into account and can help you get approved or get a lower rate. A co-borrower on a joint loan has equal access to the loan funds and information about payments, but a co-signer doesn’t. In either case, your co-applicant must make payments if you fail to.

Mariner requires applicants seeking a secured, joint or co-signed loan to visit or call a local branch to apply.

Where Mariner personal loans fall short

High rates: Mariner’s APRs are high compared with other bad-credit and online lenders. Though bad-credit borrowers are often quoted the highest personal loan rates, Mariner’s nearly 19% starting APR is especially high.

Fees: Depending on your state, Mariner may charge an origination fee and a fee for making a one-time payment online or by phone. Origination fees — which the lender usually takes out of the loan before sending you the funds — are typical with bad-credit lenders. You’d be hard-pressed to find another lender that charges you to make a payment.

May require an in-person visit: Borrowers can apply online for loans between $1,500 and $15,000, but you'll have to visit a branch for smaller or larger amounts. Few lenders require an in-person visit for any loan amount.

Little flexibility on payment date: Borrowers who get an online Mariner loan can’t choose their initial payment date, but those who visit a branch can choose a date within 45 days of signing the loan agreement. The lender says borrowers can usually change the payment date once during the life of the loan. Payment date flexibility is helpful if the initial payment due date becomes inconvenient due to a job change or new bill payments. Some lenders let you choose the initial due date and change it multiple times.

Live checks and credit insurance

Loan-by-mail product: To reach new customers, Mariner uses a loan-by-mail offer, or “live check,” that can be signed and cashed by the recipient. This loan requires no application; rather, Mariner says it solicits consumers who meet its underwriting criteria based on credit report information, including debt repayment history and credit utilization. These offers are made to customers in every state where Mariner operates except for Illinois, New Jersey and New York.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reports several customer complaints against Mariner’s loan-by-mail product.

Optional insurance: Mariner offers borrowers the option of credit insurance, which covers your loan if you’re unable to pay due to unexpected life events including involuntary job loss, illness, accident or death.

However, this insurance adds to your loan costs and may not be necessary if you already have a life or health insurance policy.

How to qualify for a Mariner personal loan

Many lenders have basic requirements to apply, and some have financial requirements or recommendations to qualify for a personal loan.

To apply for a Mariner personal loan, you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen.

  • Have a Social Security number.

  • Be 18 years old in most states.

Mariner doesn’t disclose many of its borrower requirements, but says online applicants must have a minimum credit score of 580. The lender uses the FICO score version 9 in application decisions.

Rather than having a minimum income requirement, Mariner says it bases loan decisions on a borrower’s ability to repay the loan. Some lenders review bank statements or checking account transactions to determine if you have enough leftover cash each month to cover the loan payment. Mariner allows borrowers to include income from employment, a partner, alimony, retirement, child support and Social Security on an application.

Here are details about Mariner’s average borrower, according to the lender.

  • Average credit score: 640. Most borrowers have a score between 580 and 720.

  • Average loan amount: $4,700.

  • Average loan term: 37 months.

  • Average loan APR: 27%.

  • Common loan purposes: Unexpected expenses, home improvement, large purchases, vacations and debt consolidation.

Before you apply

  • Calculate your monthly payments. Use a personal loan calculator to determine what APR and repayment term you’d need to get a loan with affordable monthly payments.

  • Make a plan to repay the loan. Review your budget to see how the loan’s monthly payments impact your cash flow. If you have to cut other expenses to repay the loan, it’s better to know that before you borrow.

  • Gather your documents. Mariner requires proof of income, which can be W-2s, paystubs, tax returns or bank statements. The lender also requires a valid form of ID, such as a driver’s license or passport, and a Social Security number. Having these documents before you apply can speed up the process.

How to apply for a Mariner personal loan

Here are the steps to apply for a Mariner loan, based on information from the lender and our experience completing the pre-qualification process.

  1. Pre-qualify on Mariner’s website. Click “Check My Offers” on the lender’s website and choose your loan amount. Then, enter personal information like your name, email, address, income, whether you rent or own, and your Social Security number. There is no hard credit pull at this stage.

  2. Preview loan offers and accept the one that fits your budget. Mariner will show you loans that you qualify for, including amounts, repayment terms and monthly payments. In some cases, the lender may refer you to a branch. Once you accept a loan offer, you’ll submit a formal personal loan application. This could require more documents, like W-2s, pay stubs and bank statements to confirm the information you gave during pre-qualification. Mariner will also do a hard credit check when you apply, so your credit score could temporarily dip.

  3. Make a plan to repay the loan. Because Mariner reports payments to all three major credit bureaus, on-time payments will help build your credit score and missed payments will hurt it. Setting up automatic payments and keeping an eye on your budget are two ways to manage your loan payments.

Compare Mariner with other lenders

Personal loan lenders offer different rates, loan amounts and special features, so it pays to weigh other options. The best personal loan is usually the one with the lowest APR.

Universal Credit and SeedFi are both lenders that accept bad-credit borrowers but offer lower rates and budgeting and credit-building features.

Mariner vs. Universal Credit

Universal Credit personal loans are best for bad-credit borrowers who want to build credit. Because the lender is operated by online lender Upgrade, borrowers get access to all the features Upgrade offers, including credit-building tools and educational resources. Though rates are still high with Universal Credit, the lender offers multiple rate discounts.

Unlike Mariner, Universal Credit doesn't offer secured, joint or co-signed loans, which may be a difference-maker if you need help qualifying.

Mariner vs. SeedFi

SeedFi offers a personal loan and savings account in one. The lender gives you part of the loan to use immediately for an urgent expense and puts the rest into a savings account. Once you pay off the full loan amount, the savings are yours. This is a low-rate loan for borrowers with low credit scores who need a small loan and want to build savings.

Unlike Mariner, SeedFi doesn’t have a co-signed or joint loan option, but the lender accepts borrowers with no credit, so you may not need a co-applicant to qualify.

How we rate Mariner personal loans

NerdWallet writers rate lenders against a rubric that changes each year based on how personal loan products evolve. Here’s what we prioritized this year:

Category

Star rating

Affordability

Transparency

Loan flexibility

Customer experience

Overall

Affordability An affordable loan has low rates and fees compared to other similar loans and may offer rate discounts. Transparency A transparent lender makes information about the loan easy to find on its website, including rates, terms and loan amounts. Transparency also means allowing users to pre-qualify online to preview potential loan offers and reporting payment information with the major credit bureaus. Loan flexibility A flexible loan is one that lets users customize terms and payments. That means offering a wide range of repayment term options, allowing the borrower to change their payment date, offering loans in most states and funding it quickly. Customer experience A good customer experience can include a fully online application process, financial education on the lender’s website and a customer service team that’s available most of the time and can be reached multiple ways.

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Methodology

NerdWallet’s review process evaluates and rates personal loan products from more than 35 financial institutions. We collect over 45 data points from each lender, interview company representatives and compare the lender with others that seek the same customer or offer a similar personal loan product. NerdWallet writers and editors conduct a full fact check and update annually, but also make updates throughout the year as necessary.

Our star ratings award points to lenders that offer consumer-friendly features, including: soft credit checks to pre-qualify, competitive interest rates and no fees, transparency of rates and terms, flexible payment options, fast funding times, accessible customer service, reporting of payments to credit bureaus and financial education. We also consider regulatory actions filed by agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. We weigh these factors based on our assessment of which are the most important to consumers and how meaningfully they impact consumers’ experiences.

This methodology applies only to lenders that cap interest rates at 36%, the maximum rate most financial experts and consumer advocates agree is the acceptable limit for a loan to be affordable. NerdWallet does not receive compensation for our star ratings. Read more about our ratings methodologies for personal loans and our editorial guidelines.

Frequently asked questions