LendingTree Review 2018

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Whenever you need to apply for a loan, you should always compare offers from several lenders to see who offers the best interest rate. But contacting multiple banks takes time. And you might have to speak with a loan officer just to get a quote. So, is using a loan comparison site like LendingTree a better use of your time?

After all, with one free search, you see the loan rates from multiple lenders. In this LendingTree review, we show you how LendingTree can save you time and money as you research loan options. We’ll also help you decide if it’s the best way to find your next loan.

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Summary

LendingTree provides you free loan quotes for auto, home, personal and student loans from five different lenders. If you prefer calling the bank yourself, LendingTree isn’t the best option for you.

How Does LendingTree Work?

You might already be familiar with the name LendingTree. For instance, if you google “home mortgage rates,” LendingTree will probably be one of the first search results to appear.

What you might not realize is that LendingTree isn’t a bank that lends you money.

Instead, it is a loan comparison site. In simple terms, LendingTree is a loan broker. You submit a loan quote request and they pass your information to their lending partners, who give you information about the rates you may qualify for. You can get up to five quotes when you make a request.

Convenience is the main benefit here. Instead of contacting each bank separately without LendingTree, you submit one form and the banks contact you.

LendingTree offers the following loan types through its lending partners:

  • Home mortgage loans (new and refinance)
  • Auto loans
  • Personal loans
  • Student loans
  • Business loans

Because LendingTree only provides loan quotes, these requests don’t affect your credit score. The one exception is auto loan quotes, which do affect your credit score slightly. More on that in a minute.

To get loan quotes, you first create an account, providing your name, email address and phone number. Once you set up an account, you’ll also have access to a free credit score and credit report monitoring.

The LendingTree site allows you to compare other types of products and services too, such as credit cards, bank accounts and credit repair services.

How Much Does LendingTree Cost?

LendingTree is 100% free to join and use. Even if you’re not ready to get a loan today, you can still join and get free quotes to see what your rates might be.

You are also never required to apply for a loan or sign up for LendingTree’s non-loan financial services like credit cards or credit repair.

How Does LendingTree Make Money?

If LendingTree doesn’t lend money and collect interest payments, how does it pay its bills? Providers who list their products on LendingTree pay the company.

LendingTree makes money in these three instances:

  • You request a loan quote
  • Your loan application gets approved
  • You sign up for non-loan products recommended by LendingTree

Do LendingTree Loan Offers Affect Your Credit Score?

Before we get too far into this review, let’s settle this one question. Except for auto loans, the  rate quotes don’t affect your credit score. For auto loan quotes, the terms and conditions state:

You are providing Express Written Consent under the Fair Credit Reporting Act for LendingTree, LLC, selected dealer(s), and/or up to five (5) partners with whom you are matched to obtain your consumer credit report information from your credit profile or other information from contracted Credit Bureau(s) associated with your credit inquiry. This means a hard pull of credit is done by partners to provide you with firm offers of credit.” (Emphasis is LendingTree’s.)

A hard pull does have a small impact on your credit score. A soft pull does not have any impact.

For the other rate quote requests (mortgage, personal loans and student loans), LendingTree clearly states that asking for a rate quote doesn’t affect your credit score. You’ll find this statement underneath the button you click to request a loan offer.

“Since you’re only prequalifying for non-auto loans, the different lenders perform a soft credit inquiry to provide a LendingTree quote. To get a firm offer of credit, the individual lenders will perform a hard credit inquiry to give you the exact interest rate and loan terms after speaking with a loan officer.”

Let’s say you decide to apply for a mortgage loan from at least two LendingTree partners. The first formal loan application counts as the hard pull and drops your credit score a few points. If you get a second or third rate quote for the same loan within 14 days, these extra quotes don’t count against your score.

What Loans Does LendingTree Offer?

What I like about LendingTree is its wide variety of loan options. Other comparison sites might only focus on mortgage rates, auto loans or personal loans.

Home Mortgage Loans

In a matter of minutes, you can get quotes for up to five lenders for the following home loans:

  • New home purchase
  • Refinance
  • Home equity loan
  • Home equity line of credit (HELOC)

You can request a quote from the website or the mobile app. LendingTree lets you browse detailed rate quotes for the five different lenders. When you only need a quick “ballpark estimate” it also breaks down the best loan terms for these four categories:

  • Fees
  • Estimated payment
  • APR
  • Interest rate

The detailed lender quotes are usually for 15 and 30-year terms. These quotes come with a contact phone number and customer reviews. Before you have a chance to view all this information, the lenders will start calling you. So, prepare for the near-instant phone calls.

For easy reference, you can retrieve past loan requests by clicking the “Your Loan Requests” button. That’s what I did since I didn’t have time to analyze every offer before the first lender called.

Because mortgage interest rates fluctuate slightly each day, you can request a new quote each day. But, LendingTree states that lenders may not match you with new offers after 10 days of rate quotes.

Once you decide which lender to use, you start the preapproval process with the lender. The rest of the process also takes place with the lender. You can leave feedback at LendingTree regarding the loan approval process.

My Experience With Requesting a Rate Quote

I requested a new home mortgage and received offers from five lenders. In my case, the five lenders were Quicken Loans Rocket Mortgage, JG Wentworth, LoanDepot, Insight Loans and J.B. Nutter. The different rates were for 30-year and 15-year mortgage terms.

To my surprise, the first lender phone call arrived about a minute after I requested a loan quote. I expected a quick response, but not an immediate response.

The other four lenders called shortly afterwards. It’s understandable in a way. After all, the lender only makes money if you apply for their loan, and being Caller #1 can be an advantage. I applied during normal business hours. Your case might be different if you apply in the evening hours.

If I didn’t answer the phone, the lender left a voicemail. If I didn’t respond to each lender on the first day, they’d try calling back the following days. I ended up speaking with three lender agents, all of whom were friendly and helpful in answering my questions.

One lender even sent a text message the next day letting me know that mortgage rates were lower than my initial quote. This both surprised and impressed me.

The different lender agents that tried calling me also sent an email. Their messages stated they tried calling me and provided more information about starting the mortgage application process.

Once I told the lenders I wasn’t interested in using them, I stopped receiving phone calls and email correspondence right away. Still, I share the sentiment of other reviewers I’ve read who complain that the phone calls feel overwhelming. Especially when you’re used to only talking to one lender at a time.

If you don’t want to receive phone calls from multiple lenders, you’re better off applying for a mortgage directly from the lender. But that means you spend more time getting rate quotes.

LendingTree Mortgage Rate Quotes vs. Other Banks

LendingTree’s mortgage rate quotes are competitive with other banks. In my experience, some rates were lower than I saw elsewhere. Other rates were the same or higher.

You might decide to just use the best rate from LendingTree. Or, you can also compare rates from non-LendingTree partners before you decide. To get the most accurate comparison, try getting all your quotes on the same day, since interest rates change daily. And input the same amount of mortgage points (loan interest prepayments) for each quote you request, as this optional upfront payment can reduce your APR.

That way, you can get a more accurate idea of what your APR (the loan interest rate plus loan fees you don’t pay upfront) and estimated monthly payment will be.

What I did like is that LendingTree uses a different set of lenders than other online sites. So, I was able to get quotes from more banks to truly find the best online mortgage rate.

If you have your heart set on using one bank, a better option can be dealing directly with them. You can still get a rate quote from LendingTree to compare rates. The LendingTree quote might give you more bargaining power as well.

Auto Loans

Of the different loans that LendingTree helps broker, only the auto loan requests require a hard credit pull. So, don’t get a quote until you’re within 45 days of buying a vehicle or refinancing your current car loan because your credit score will drop a few points.

I got this information by speaking with a LendingTree representative. I was told that if you get multiple rate quotes within 45 days after your first auto loan rate quote, you’ll only have one credit inquiry on your credit report. Requesting a quote 46 days or later counts as a second hard inquiry on your credit report.

The auto loan application process is similar to home loans. You can request a loan to buy a new or used car, motorcycle or RV. It’s also possible to refinance your existing car loan.

When requesting a quote, you enter the following loan details:

  • Loan term (i.e., 36 months, 50 months, 84 months, etc.)
  • Loan amount and down payment
  • Vehicle details

To get a more accurate rate quote, you might want to use the LendingTree auto loan calculator. This calculator helps you estimate your monthly payment. Then you plug those loan details into LendingTree to get offers for lenders after they look at your credit.

Personal Loans

You may need to borrow money for personal reasons like debt consolidation or credit card refinancing. LendingTree lets you borrow between $1,000 and $50,000. Most lenders, however, only offer maximum loan amounts of $35,000.

Depending on your credit history, you might see offers for more or less than you request to borrow.

Once again, getting a free personal loan quote doesn’t affect your credit score.

I requested a quote to refinance $5,000 of credit card debt. LendingTree provided offers from five lenders. But some of those lenders had different loan amounts and repayment terms from what I requested. This was sometimes confusing.

Most of my offers matched my $5,000 request. But other quotes were for $3,500, and there was even one for as high as $17,000. To keep your borrowing costs low, only borrow the amount you need and nothing extra.

You will also see offers for three-year and five-year repayment terms.

The lenders included the peer-to-peer lending platforms LendingClub and Prosper. There were also the commercial banks OneMain Financial, Marcus by Goldman Sachs and Discover.

Each lender sends you different variations of your loan request. Among my five lenders, I got a total of 31 “sub-offers.” These slightly different offers have different repayment lengths and borrowing amounts.

You can use the filtering tool to quickly sort offers by these  details:

  • Loan amount
  • Maximum APR
  • Monthly payment
  • Repayment term
  • Lender rating

You can also read the offer conditions and details on the quote page. These details tell you what you must do to get approved. Like all other free loan quotes from LendingTree, you have to submit a real application through the lender website to start the approval process.

Student Loans

You can use LendingTree to find private student loans. This is an option for any post-high school education level, from an Associate’s Degree to a Ph.D.

For these quotes, you will see fixed interest rate and variable interest rate quotes. The quotes also show the total loan cost, the monthly payment amount and the loan APR. For an official credit offer, you need to apply for an actual loan with one of the borrowers.

Before you decide to apply with a lender, you can read the loan terms and conditions on the rate quote page. Watching paint dry can be more enjoyable than reading the fine print. But do yourself the favor and read the details before you apply.

Business Loans

Small business owners can also use LendingTree to start the ball rolling on business loans as small as $1,000. You will need to answer a few questions about your annual revenues, profitability and how long you’ve been the current owner.

After submitting this information, lenders will contact you by phone to discuss further details.

Are LendingTree Loan Quotes Worth It?

Should you apply for a loan with LendingTree?

Like anything in life, there are advantages and disadvantages. Overall, LendingTree will probably save you time and money. But, we’ll cover both sides of the coin to help you decide.

Advantages

  • Compare offers from multiple lenders with a single request
  • Mortgage, personal and student loan quotes don’t affect your credit score
  • All quotes are 100% free

LendingTree loans are convenient because you get multiple offers with one request form. The quotes come from reputable lenders you have likely heard of before. And you might see quotes from one or two lenders you’re not familiar with.

Disadvantages

  • Auto loan quotes count against your credit score
  • Phone calls and lender emails can be overwhelming
  • Might not be the lowest rate available online

At the end of the day, the LendingTree lending partners might not always have the lowest rates. This might be most evident with home mortgage loans because mortgage points and lender closing costs affect the loan APR.

With other loans, the rate quotes will be more accurate because there are fewer variable fees.

Other LendingTree Products You Might Like

Besides loan quotes, LendingTree offers other financial products you might enjoy.

While these bonus features probably aren’t going to be the reason to use LendingClub, they’re a reason to continue using LendingTree when you no longer need a loan.

Free Credit Score

It seems like everywhere you look, someone is offering a free credit score. LendingTree is no exception. It provides your VantageScore from TransUnion.

Your score updates once a month. Plus, LendingTree provides credit monitoring alerts when changes to your credit report happen. For instance, when you apply for a new loan, the hard credit inquiry will show on your credit report.

This is a good free tool if you only want to see what your VantageScore and basic credit report is. For full-time credit monitoring, I prefer using a free service like CreditKarma. You see your VantageScore credit score from two credit bureaus. And Credit Karma also has a credit score simulator to see how credit events like getting a loan or missing a payment impacts your score.

It’s important to note that the VantageScore you see isn’t exactly the same credit score a lender will use for your official loan application. VantageScore is slightly different from the more widely used FICO score.

In any case, there are multiple versions of each type of score, and most lenders use specialized versions of one or both types of score. For instance a mortgage lender may use a specialized mortgage FICO score and VantageScore; same goes for car lenders.

The free VantageScore from LendingTree nevertheless does a good job estimating if you have excellent, good, fair or bad credit.

Financial Help

You might benefit from these four different tools and services that LendingTree offers:

  • Credit Analyzer
  • Debt Relief
  • Credit Repair
  • Bankruptcy

It’s free to see if these tools and services can benefit you.

Depending on the state you live in, LendingTree may recommend partners in your home state. As of December 2018, LendingTree doesn’t have any partners in my home state. I’m only able to use the credit analyzer tool.

While the lack of partners in all 50 states is a downside, it’s easy enough to find these remedies elsewhere online.

Credit Analyzer

This basic tool helps you prioritize your five most important financial goals. For example, reducing debt, improving credit and buying a home.

The analyzer helps you see how LendingTree can recommend relevant products to you.

For instance, my top goal is reducing debt. The analyzer shows my current credit card and loan balances, as well as the current debt consolidation loan rates I qualify for based on my VantageScore.

Debt Relief

When your finances are a mess and you need to get out of debt, LendingTree can help you find a debt relief company. These companies will negotiate a lower rate with lenders and create a debt repayment plan.

Bear in mind, these companies can be expensive when you have limited income. And because they stop payments on all your debts while negotiating with creditors, they will ruin your credit.

With extra effort, you can do the same things yourself. Another option is to use a nonprofit credit counselor to create a debt repayment plan. You may end up paying back more of what you owe than you would with a debt relief company, but you won’t completely tank your credit in the meantime.

Still, debt relief companies are one option to consider if you’re close to declaring personal bankruptcy.

Credit Repair

Your credit score might be lower because of reporting errors. For instance, the bank reports a missed payment when you actually paid on time. These negative marks stay on your credit report for up to seven years.

Although these errors aren’t your fault, it’s your responsibility to correct them. You must file a dispute with each credit bureau. Doing so will improve your score almost overnight, once the dispute is resolved.

LendingTree can recommend a credit repair agency to scour your credit reports for errors and advise you on what to do if you find them. Or, you can dispute credit errors for free yourself.

With the LendingTree mobile app, you can start the TransUnion dispute process in-app. You will still need to file separate disputes with Experian and Equifax if the same reporting error is on their versions of your credit report, too.

Bankruptcy

The final financial help tool is “Bankruptcy.” As you might guess, LendingTree can help you declare personal bankruptcy if that’s your only option.

Declaring bankruptcy stays on your credit report for up to 10 years. That’s a decade where you might struggle to qualify for credit, get a new job or switch apartments. Because of the implications, we at Well Kept Wallet advise that you save this option for last.

Do everything possible to keep from defaulting on your current accounts. It’s hard work. But the situation should improve once you begin paying off your first accounts. When this happens, you have more disposable income to work with to pay your other bills.

Compare Insurance Quotes

One thing most of us should do more often (and don’t) is compare insurance rates. It’s easy to overpay on these products and never realize it.

LendingTree lets you compare rates for these three insurance products:

  • Auto insurance
  • Homeowners insurance
  • Life insurance

One unique comparison option I like is being able to bundle multiple insurance products. For instance, I keep our homeowners insurance and life insurance with the same provider to get a multi-policy discount.

For auto and homeowners insurance, LendingTree’s two primary partners are Progressive and Liberty Mutual. While both of these companies have a good reputation, you might find a better rate with somebody else. I prefer having more than two options.

Instead, you might try Gabi for auto insurance and PolicyGenius for life insurance and homeowners insurance. In fact, LendingTree recommends PolicyGenius for life insurance.

Credit Cards

One way LendingTree and even the free credit score sites make money is when members apply for new credit cards. To be clear, don’t get a credit card if you don’t want one or can’t pay the balance in full each month. Credit card debt is no joke.

If you get a credit card, the LendingTree recommendations are good and similar to other free financial sites. Their recommendations are based on your credit score, which helps improve your approval odds.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you won’t qualify for a card with better rewards that isn’t their top recommendation.

For a better selection, I like Birch Finance. They analyze your current credit card spending to see if you have the best cards for your spending habits. If not, they recommend a card that can match your habits so you earn more rewards.

LendingTree Academy

One other bonus tool you might appreciate is LendingTree Academy. This is a free video library covering basic financial topics.

These are the five current topics you can learn more about:

  • Understanding your credit
  • Improving your credit
  • Choosing the right credit card
  • Getting your first mortgage
  • Understanding your loan estimate

Each topic has four to nine videos that are roughly three minutes long. These videos are engaging, do a good job of hitting the highlights and you only need to spend 30 minutes on each topic. They are worth watching if you don’t know much about these topics.

Most of us learn these lessons from experience after it’s too late. If you’re about to apply for a loan, it’s good to know this information before you apply.

LendingTree Mobile App

You might prefer to access LendingTree from your phone or tablet. The LendingTree mobile app is free to download and easy to use. LendingTree’s main goal is to make it as easy as possible for you to request loan offers. This app achieves that purpose.

For added security, you will create a secure PIN the first time you use the app. That way you don’t have to worry about your child or a stranger making a phony loan application in your name.

You will spend most of your time in three different sections of the app:

  • Home
  • Accounts
  • Products

These buttons are at the bottom of the app and are always present. To find resources that aren’t in these three sections, you can access the drop-down menu on the top-right corner. This menu is mostly your profile information and LendingTree contact information.

Home

The app’s home screen is similar to the dashboard of the LendingTree website. At first, you will see your credit score. Within the credit score section, you can view your score history, factors impacting your score and any alerts. You can also dispute errors with TransUnion using the app.

Scrolling below your credit score lets you access the LendingTree Academy.

Accounts

View your current credit accounts here. This includes any active credit cards or loans. You can also get LendingTree loan quotes from this section.

Products

In this third tab, you can browse LendingTree’s different loan, financial help and insurance products. As you might guess, you can request offers when you find a loan that interests you.

What We Like About LendingTree

  • Get free loan quotes from multiple lenders
  • Rates are competitive with other lenders
  • Loan quotes don’t affect credit score (except auto loans)
  • LendingTree Academy videos are helpful

With each loan quote, you will get prequalified offers from up to five lenders. You still have to submit a formal loan application with the lender you choose. Until you actually apply for a loan, you can compare rates for free.

Whether you use the LendingTree website or mobile app, the user experience is similar. You won’t have a hard time navigating the platform. And the quote request process is easy regardless of which loan type you want.

What We Dislike About LendingTree

  • Multiple quotes mean phone calls and emails from multiple lenders
  • Auto loan quotes require a “hard credit check”
  • Non-loan products like insurance tools and financial help lack depth

LendingTree excels at its core business of providing free loan quotes. The other non-loan products can also help you. But, you may find more value from sites that specialize in areas like free credit scores and debt counseling. Once you know what loan you need and how much you need to borrow, LendingTree proves its worth.

If you don’t want to get called by multiple lenders, you may also decide that directly contacting the bank yourself is the better option. To be fair, the lenders have been respectful when I told them I wasn’t interested and they haven’t called again.

Alternatives to LendingTree

You might consider these alternatives to LendingTree.

PersonalLoans.com

PersonalLoans.com is the best “apples to apples” competitor to LendingTree. But, this loan comparison site only offers quotes for personal loans. You still need to look elsewhere to compare rates for home, auto and student loans.

If you’re in the market for personal loans, you might try getting a quote from LendingTree and PersonalLoans to compare your options.

PolicyGenius

After you get a loan, the next step is to insure your purchase. Anytime you change your coverage policy, your rates may change. If you choose LendingTree to get multiple loan offers, you might use PolicyGenius to get multiple insurance rates.

I have used it to compare rates for different insurance products including car, life and home insurance.

It’s free to compare rates. And you get quotes from well-known and lesser-known insurers.

CreditKarma

I really like that LendingTree provides you with a free credit score. After all, they conduct a soft pull to provide accurate lender offers. Instead of a loan comparison site that happens to offer free credit scores, I prefer using a dedicated credit score website to track my score.

There are several to choose from, but CreditKarma is one of my favorites. It provides your VantageScore from two different credit bureaus. You also receive monitoring alerts when the two bureaus detect changes to your report.

Finally, it offers free identity monitoring. For instance, it’s because of CreditKarma that I know two of my old online passwords were compromised in data breaches. So, I won’t ever use these passwords again for my online accounts.

Summary

LendingTree can make finding the best loan rates easy. To make sure LendingTree offers the best rates, it’s not a bad idea to check the rates from your local bank or another online lender. Best of all, LendingTree is free to use even when you find a better offer elsewhere.

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