Best for: borrowers with excellent credit looking for the lowest rates
Lowest starting rates we’ve seen
0.50% discount for autopay
Longest repayment terms
No pre-qualification (can’t check rate before applying)
Likely requires very strong credit history
Clunky website and application
In-depth Review of Lightstream Personal Loans
Lightstream is the online personal loan brand of SunTrust Bank (which recently merged with BB&T and has been renamed Truist). Lightstream bills its personal loans as “loans for practically anything” – a point its website reinforces with pages like “loans for hot tubs” and “loans for RVs”. This isn’t fundamentally different than any other personal lender — most personal lending companies have few or no restrictions on how you can use the funds.
Lightstream does boast the lowest starting APR of any lender we’ve reviewed, with a range from 3.99-20.49% (3.49-19.99% with autopay). Be warned: the lowest rate is only available for certain combinations of loan length, loan amount, and loan purpose — and you likely need an extremely excellent credit history to qualify. Some additional details are available on Lightstream’s website, but you really won’t know until you apply.
Some relatively minor drawbacks to Lightstream include their somewhat confusing website/application process and no ability to check your rate before applying.
What is the benefit of “pre-qualifying”?
Pre-qualifying allows you to check what loan terms and rates you qualify for using a “soft pull” of your credit report — which isn’t visible to other lenders and doesn’t harm your credit score. Unfortunately, Lightstream doesn’t currently offer the ability to directly check your rate before you apply.
Lightstream Personal Loan Details
|Loan amount range||$5,000-$100,000|
|Loan lengths||24-144 months|
|Interest rate type||Fixed interest rate|
|APR range||3.99% - 20.49%|
|Fees||Origination fee: None
Late fee: None
Prepayment fee: None
|Can check rate with no impact to score?||No|
|Loan uses||Lightstream literally uses the tagline “loans for practically anything”. Common loan purposes for a Lightstream loan include: refinance credit cards; consolidate debt; major purchase; home improvement; vacation; moving/relocation; medical expenses; etc.|
|Time to fund||Lightstream advertises one of the fastest timeframes to receive your loan proceeds -- potentially the same day you apply. So long as it is a business day, your application is approved, and you sign your loan agreement, provide funding instructions, and complete any required final verification by 2:30pm Eastern Time, the loan can be disbursed the same day. This compares favorably to other personal lenders, especially peer to peer lenders, which may require several days for investors to fund your loan.|
|Joint application (co-borrower) option||Yes|
|Minimum qualifications||Minimum credit score: 660|
|Can send loan proceeds directly to creditors (for debt consolidation loans)||No|
|Other||No pre-qualification: note that unlike most other personal lenders, there is no option to “check your rate” or see if you pre-qualify without having an impact on your credit score -- Lightstream does do a hard credit check. Keep this in mind if you’re in the “just shopping” or price comparison phase, as too many hard inquiries (generally, more than two within six months) can hurt your credit score and likelihood of being approved for some loans.
Rate Beat Program: if you receive an offer from another lender lower than Lightstream (for comparable amount and loan purpose), Lightstream will beat it by 0.1%.
Satisfaction Guarantee: Lightstream offers $100 to unhappy borrowers who’ve had their loan for fewer than 30 days. You must contact the company and complete a survey to qualify.
Representative Loan Example
Borrow $10,000 for 36 months
Receive $10,000 (no origination fee)
3.49% fixed APR (with autopay)
Pay back $292.98 per month for 36 months
Total repaid $10,547.28
Cost of financing $547.28
What People Are Saying
CFPB complaint data: 356 complaints in last 24 months (related to personal loan, debt collection, or credit reporting for parent SunTrust Bank)
Trustpilot rating: Poor (2.4/5) from 11 reviews
Better Business Bureau: Not accredited, A+ Rating (for parent SunTrust Bank)
A note on reviews
When looking at reviews or complaints, we urge you to think about them in context and take them with a grain of salt. For instance, companies that have more customers are likely to generate more complaints to the CFPB — so the raw number of complaints on its own doesn’t paint the full picture.
Similarly, it’s possible for companies to attempt to game ratings on services like TrustPilot, by timing when they ask borrowers for a review to encourage positive comments and by challenging negative reviews on the platform.
Most of all, borrowers should be cautious in how they interpret a firm being Better Business Bureau (BBB) “Accredited” or having an A+ rating. BBB “Accreditation” means merely that a business makes a commitment to make a good faith effort to resolve customer complaints and follow the BBB’s Code of Business Practices. It’s not clear how closely adherence to these practices is followed or how non-compliance is enforced.
Also note customer reviews are not included in the BBB rating, and it’s possible to have an “A+” rating despite having a poor customer rating.