Founded in 1996 and headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina, LendingTree is not an alternative lender, per se. What LendingTree does is connect potential borrowers with one of their lending partners. While LendingTree is a well-known name in and of itself, many of its partners are also known entities in the alternative lending space. Kabbage, Credibly and OnDeck, are just a few of the lenders that work with LendingTree. Many borrowers use LendingTree as a tool which saves them time and effort in their attempt to find the best possible deal that will satisfy their funding needs.
Through its myriad partners, LendingTree is able to provide access to some of the most popular types of small business loans, including SBA loans, equipment financing loans, invoice factoring, short-term loans and working capital lines of credit. And because LendingTree isn’t the “decision maker” in the lending process, there are no hard and fast rules for borrower requirements. Each of its partner lenders will have set their own parameters for lending. What LendingTree does in its application process is make the best match for you, based on the needs of your business, plus your credit history, FICO score, revenue and profitability. Essentially, it will do the work for you in weeding out non-contenders for your business. Of course, the best offers and rates will be available for those borrowers who have stronger credit backgrounds and financial outlooks, but LendingTree believes that there is a lender match for any borrower.
It is important to note that SmartBiz offers business owners bank loans only, most of which have very strict minimum requirements. If your business is eligible for an SBA loan or other bank loan, SmartBiz can help you streamline the application process. If you are looking for a private funder or if your business is facing financial difficulties, another lender may be a better fit for you.[wpsm_column size=”one-half”][wpsm_pros title=”PROS:”]
- Borrower may get up to five options for a lender match
- Most types of small business loans available
- Borrower loan qualifications are broad-based and relaxed in some cases
- New businesses are not automatically excluded
- Business size does not matter
- No restrictions on use of funds
- Website only provides very generalized information
- Fees and terms are intentionally opaque since match is initially unknown
- By reviewing options, you consent to contact from network partners or affiliates
As has been previously stated, LendingTree is not a lender, just a facilitator between borrowers and lenders. As such, it is able to offer a number of different types of loans for different types of borrowers; besides small business borrowers, LendingTree can help consumers satisfy their financial needs. It should be said here that in those cases where a business might not be able to obtain a small business loan, a personal loan might satisfy that same need.
According to the LendingTree website, they can act as a facilitator for the following types of loans:
- Small business loans
- Personal Loans
- Home Purchase
- Home Equity
- Home Refinance
- Reverse Mortgage
- Debt Consolidation
- Credit Cards
- Student Loan
- Student Loan Refinance
- Credit Repair
While the eye-catching options on the LendingTree landing page are there to help you begin the process for a loan, it’s less clear where to navigate to if all you’re looking for is information on which loan is best for you. However, the menu option at the top left will provide you with a very nice list of the types of loans that might be available to you, and if you click on them they will give you some very generic information about the product and what the requirements might be for it as well as the benefits of using that product over another.
Rates and Fees
Because LendingTree is a matchmaker, or middleman, if you prefer, there are no specific interest rates or fees that can be associated specifically with them. That said, each of LendingTree’s lender partners will have their own requirements for lending which will determine the interest rate, rate structure, type and term of the loan. Essentially, that puts the onus on the borrower to carefully review the offer you might get to ensure that you are not getting “ripped off.”
At a minimum, a borrower will need to understand the lender’s interest calculation, and how it will be applied. For example, is the rate variable or fixed, is it accrued on a daily basis, is interest fully amortized? What kind of fees is the LendingTree network partner going to charge you? Will there be an origination fee, and if so, is it a flat fee or based on the loan amount? Is it deducted from the initial proceeds or added to the loan balance? Are there maintenance, service or subscription fees? How are late fees assessed and when do they become due?
While LendingTree makes the application process simple enough, their assistance pretty much ends there. The bottom line is that a borrower really has to be cognizant of the benefits and the risks of one lender over another.
Borrower requirements will ultimately vary depending on the offers you receive from LendingTree’s network partners. At a minimum, and depending on the type of loan you intend to apply for, you will probably need the following:
- Name and contact information
- Valid ID
- Business name and location
- Federal tax ID number
- Industry type
- Minimum time in operation (6 months or a year, depending on the lender)
- Annual revenue
- Accounts receivable
- Recent bank statements
The application process at LendingTree couldn’t be simpler; however, that’s about the most positive thing one can say for it. It is an online process and it starts with you choosing the product which most interests you. You will answer a series of questions, beginning with how much you are looking for, what is your annual revenue, what is the name of your business, how long have you been in operation, what is your full name, and finally, how do you prefer to be contacted (phone or email). That’s it. After that you wait for contact from one of the LendingTree partners.
It is then that the process could get more cumbersome, but it will, of course, be dependent upon which partner makes the offer and what their own criteria and documentation needs might be.
If you receive more than one offer, it is in your best interest to do your homework so that you do, truly, get the best match. You can even start by reading the research we’ve done about each one of the top small business lenders. You can also check out what other borrowers have said about a particular lender. The lender review page will allow you to cull through the lenders by category (small business, consumer, student loan, etc.), as well as name, or state (because not all lenders are permitted to operate in all states). Is that enough to make a decision? Perhaps, if the risks aren’t that great. But if your loan is for a high amount, or has a longer term, or a rate that is on the higher side, it would not be a bad idea to keep digging. Always take customer reviews with a grain of salt; low ratings might just be a bitter borrower who was denied, while high ratings (and a great deal of them, all with similar sounding commentary) could just be bots intended to hike up the ranking.
Help & Support
Customer service representatives at LendingTree are available Monday through Saturday to answer questions about the application process. They are not able to assist with specific questions on specific loan products as you will need to work directly with the lender you choose. For generic questions, LendingTree also has a wide social media presence and can be reached through Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.
LendingTree is accredited with the Better Business Bureau where it received an A- rating. The BBB says that the reason it did not achieve an A+ rating is because it does not respond to customer complaints. Nonetheless, reviews for LendingTree are primarily positive, with most appreciating the ease of the application process.
On Trustpilot, with 6,570 reviews, 82% of those gave LendingTree a 5-star rating; only 3% gave it a poor or bad rating. The vast majority of those who gave LendingTree a poor rating said that it was because of “aggressive” tactics in that they were getting spammed or harassing phone calls which did not end even after they unsubscribed to the process. Others complained that a hard pull on their credit was done without their consent and those reviewers advise not to provide your social security number because LendingTree’s less scrupulous partners will pull a history without consent.
LendingTree is merely a middle man, but if you’re looking for a place to do your one-stop-shopping then they could be just what the accountant ordered. It must be said that is entirely up to the borrower to understand exactly what they might be getting into by following through on the application process, i.e. clicking the submit button. Once an offer is received, it is important that the borrower review all the terms, requirements, conditions and restrictions carefully; LendingTree will not accept responsibility for your potential risks or losses.
Moreover, if a borrower decides not to accept any offer, it could take days (or longer) before the incessant phone calls from prospective lenders stops. And even if a borrower does accept an offer, it is very likely that other lenders will continue to solicit business from you.
The bottom line is LendingTree does exactly what is sets out to do; making a match for each borrower, and they do that quite well.