Type anything into a Google search bar regarding loans, student debt or finance and you’ll find a plethora of websites offering you expert advice. With a little investigating, you’ll soon learn that not all these websites are created equal. From predatory business tactics to less than valuable information, it can seem impossible to differentiate the good guys from the bad guys.
Credible.com is inarguably on the “good” side of those search results. It’s important to understand that Credible is not selling you anything directly. Instead, they provide personalized loan options from vetted lenders.
That’s to say they are like the Kayak.com of student loan and personal finance options. These loan recommendations began with student loan refinancing, but have grown into multiple financing options that students or graduates may need like credit cards or personal loans.
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What is Credible?
When you’re taking a vacation, Kayak is a website that helps you find hotels, flights, and rental cars but doesn’t actually sell these services themselves.
In the same way, Credible is a marketplace for different types of loans from student loan refinancing to credit card consolidation. They research lending options and make real-time recommendations to you that are personalized and based on your current credit score. They then present these options side by side for you to easily compare.
You’re probably wondering if this is all free. What an incredibly altruistic company, right? Not entirely; after all, they do have to stay in business somehow. When Credible pulls together a list of vendors and makes recommendations to you, the process is based on several factors.
When you choose a particular vendor, Credible is paid a commission on that sale. Think of them as a well-intentioned middleman between you and potential lenders.
That is not to say that Credible will push you into the loan that pays them the highest commission. Stephen Dash, CEO of Credible and a former JPMorgan investment banker, thinks that “the student loan market is in need of increased transparency.”
He also says that Credible is “designed to empower students and graduates to take control of their financial future.” This philosophy seems to permeate the company and people have started to take notice.
How can Credible help me?
Credible.com is first and foremost a marketplace for students and graduates to refinance their student loans. In an interview with NBC Nightly News, Stephen Dash says that for every $3 in outstanding student debt, $1 can be refinanced to a lower rate.
He claims that the average user of Credible can cut their interest payment by 37%. The average student graduates with $35,000 in student debt so savings can be significant, particularly when considering the length of the loan can last a decade or more. But Credible doesn’t just focus on student loan refinancing.
They can also help you find a student loan in the first place. So if you’re trying to figure out how to fill the gap between your financial aid package and your tuition bill, you could certainly consider applying for a Credible loan.
Also, realizing that students incur debt outside of student loans, the lender also offers recommendations on personal loans and credit cards as well. They understand that in the current environment, incurring debt to go to school is a necessary evil and try to help you make the best of it with low terms and smaller overhead.
It’s important to understand that while Credible’s partner lenders accept both federal and private education loans for refinancing, any new loans offered are private. While refinancing can significantly reduce your interest rate, you will lose some protections if you’re transitioning from a federal loan.
This is not necessarily a bad thing but is certainly something to consider before refinancing. This is especially true if you expect to use income-based repayment or a forgiveness program. Credible is very upfront with all this information and appears to stand by their founding principle, “to provide borrower’s the level of transparency they deserve.”
How does Credible’s process work?
Credible is not just a passive website listing out advertisers. Whether you’re looking to refinance your student debt or consolidate your credit cards, you’ll be asked to fill out a one-page form. Credible then performs a soft credit check which does not adversely affect your credit score.
It does, however, allow them to assess what loans are right for you. From there they’ll give you pre-qualified loan options based on your credit, income, and other factors. These options are then presented in a side by side comparison and will include criteria such as total repayment amount, APR, and monthly payment.
These pre-qualified loan offers will be submitted to you in real time. You can compare them against each other and against your current loan to choose the one that’s right for you. Fixed rates start at 3.5% APR and variable annual rates can start as low as 2.14%. Considering that some student loans can have interest rates as high as 6% or more, this could potentially result in significant savings for you.
Once you choose a lender, you’ll be asked questions as you’re guided through the loan process. The lender will run a hard credit check before finalizing the offer. Once you complete the application process with Credible the lender will contact you directly to finalize it.
Since your loan is through the specific lender, not Credible itself, be sure to read all the details of your loan agreement. You’ll also make payments to the lender, not to Credible.
Who is qualified to apply for loans through Credible?
The eligibility requirements to use the services offered by Credible are not overly cumbersome. In order to use Credible, you must be a U.S. citizen or a permanent U.S. resident with a permanent address in the country. You also must be over 18 years of age and have more than $5,000 in student loan debt.
Pre-qualified loans are based on your creditworthiness and not everyone will immediately qualify. If you have applied for loans through Credible but did not pre-qualify for one through any of their recommended lenders, you can still request an offer.
This, however, does require that the lender perform a hard credit check which may in and of itself affect your credit score. Additionally, you may be asked to include a co-signer so be sure to read the fine print before accepting any loan offer.
Fortunately, FICO, the credit scoring model used by most lenders, understands when you are shopping for a loan. If you have multiple credit inquiries, or hard checks, for the same financial product within 30 days, they only count it as one inquiry against your credit score.
So if you have multiple credit checks within one month but they’re all from student lenders or student refinancing company, you won’t be penalized for every single inquiry. FICO finally appreciates a consumer who knows how to rate shop.
Can I use a co-signer with Credible?
Co-signers are often required by lenders if you have poor or limited credit. You can better your chances of qualifying for more attractive refinancing terms by adding a co-signer with strong credit to your application.
Simply provide their information in your profile form, and Credible will reach out to them to get the information they need to move forward. Any adult who is a U.S. citizen or resident may qualify as a co-signer, as long as their annual income reaches at least $24,000.
Right now, co-signers and borrowers can’t view each other’s information on Credible. However, if you fail to repay your refinanced loan, your co-signer will be on the hook for the bill.
It can be a potentially tenuous situation, so don’t choose this option lightly. Still, using a close friend or relative to help you save on your student loan payments can be a huge benefit — it’s just a matter of risk versus reward.
How do you contact Credible?
If you’ve determined your needs and ready to pull the trigger you can go straight to the Credible.com website, fill out their one-page form, and receive your pre-qualified loan options. If you still have questions, however, there are several ways to contact credible. Credible is located in San Francisco, California. Their contact information including mailing address is below.
101 Green Street
San Francisco, CA 94111-1723
There are also faster online options available for getting in touch with a customer service representative. On the bottom right-hand page of their website is a button that states, Request a Call or Chat! From there you can start chatting with a Credible.com representative or request that they call you. If you want to reach them by phone you can call them at (866) 540-6005.
With over 50 employees and having raised millions of dollars in capital, Credible has the talent and the cash to offer you what most shoestring companies pretend to be. Their customer service is consistently ranked best in class. If you have any questions or still aren’t sure if their services are right for you, just give them a call or initiate a chat to clarify your concerns.
Does Credible have a good reputation?
They actually only have one bad review on BBB’s website. It was from someone who didn’t fully read their terms of service and didn’t realize that Credible will run a soft credit check when you use their service. Many users of the site report significantly lower interest rates, while customers say that the process is fast, easy, and fair. One reviewer even states that he wishes he had found them sooner.
Credible.com is very obviously a for-profit business and are paid a commission by their partners. However, they are trying to tackle a problem that affects millions of people. They do so using a very Silicon Valley startup mentality with the goal of arming you with as much information as they can. They strive to be as transparent as possible while guiding you through a process that can be both intimidating and time-consuming.
In a sea of online lenders advertising lower interest rates on your student loans, Credible certainly stands out from the pack. While they may not be a fit for everyone, and not everyone will qualify to work with them, they appear to have the best of intentions.
With new student loan companies popping up every day, it’s more important than ever to compare offers while utilizing a secure platform. Credible does just this while keeping you, the borrower, in mind.