Debt consolidation loans are everywhere these days. Banks offer them, so do credit unions. Payoff by Happy Money is neither of these, but it could still help you Payoff your stifling credit card bills.
Payoff brands itself as a “financial wellness company” with the goals of “reinventing our relationship with money” and “accelerating our journey toward financial well-being.”
This sounds great on the surface, but before making any irreversible commitments, let’s break down Payoff’s approach to debt consolidation and see how well it stacks up against its competitors.
Payoff attributes its program’s success to the application of “science, psychology, and technology.” The Payoff team consists of financial professionals, clinical psychologists, and data scientists. This might sound like overkill for some who are just looking for a simple way out of their credit card debt, but Payoff believes its program can help increase your credit score and has designed it with this purpose in mind.
According to a Payoff study, clients who paid off at least $5,000 in credit card debt saw their score jump by an average of 40 points.
- Type of Debt Relief – Debt Consolidation
- Eligibility & Requirements – 600+ credit score; at least three years of credit history; satisfactory DTI (no more than 43%)
- Fees – 99% to 24.99% APR; 0% to 5% origination fee
- Credit score impact – Soft inquiry to check rate; hard inquiry takes place after approval, may lower your credit score for a short while.
- Consumer Reviews – mixed
How Payoff’s Program Works
Payoff’s debt consolidation loan or the Payoff Loan has loan terms ranging from 2-5 years with loan amounts falling between $5,000 and $40,000.
Here’s how to apply for the Payoff Loan:
Step 1: Apply for the Payoff Loan at payoff.com. There are no application fees to worry about, and this won’t affect your credit.
Step 2: Review the rates and terms. Select the option that works best for what you’re trying to accomplish. If you need more time to Payoff the loan, you can aim for longer term limits. If you’d like to save the most money throughout the loan, select the lowest interest rate and shorter term limits.
Step 3: Verify loan terms and personal information. Make sure this is something you’re comfortable committing (insert term limit) years to, and eSign your loan documents.
Step 4: Receive your funds within 2 to 5 business days and Payoff your debt!
Your payments are pulled directly from your bank account. You can change your payment date once a year, but don’t skip payments without contacting Payoff ahead of time.
Payoff Eligibility & Requirements
Some lenders are notorious for keeping a tight lid on how they do things, which can make it hard to determine whether or not you qualify and ends up wasting a whole lot of your time.
Fortunately, Payoff prides itself as being a transparent lender. It provides a breakdown of the factors that go into its approval process, giving us insight into how it evaluates potential borrowers.
A minimum FICO score of 600 is required to qualify for a loan through Payoff. Debt to income ratio (DTI) is also a factor they look at. Usually, you want a DTI below 43% to qualify.
The age of your credit history is another factor. The longer you have had an account open, the better it looks. This is because it takes a level of responsibility to successfully manage a credit account over time. Payoff also verifies you have a good history of open and satisfactory trades. This is another way of saying you pay your bills on time.
Let’s not forget the credit utilization ratio. If you use too much credit, lenders become wary of extending you any more. They would prefer you use no more than a third of the available credit per line of credit.
So, if you have a credit card with a cap of $1,000, you should utilize no more than $300 to keep your credit score in good standing and maximize your shot at qualifying for a loan. Apply this rule to each line of credit you have.
Minimum loan amounts differ in New Mexico and Maryland where borrowers can qualify for $5,100 and $6,100 respectfully. The Payoff Loan is not available in Massachusetts or Nevada.
One final note on eligibility: You need at least three years of credit history to qualify. So if it’s only been a year or two since you first opened your credit accounts, this may not be the loan for you.
Fees for Payoff’s Services
Applicants for the Payoff Loan can find APRs ranging between 5.99% to 24.99%. The only other fee for borrowing money through Payoff is the origination fee. This ranges between 0% to 5% of the loan amount.
This compares well to other loans that often come with fees to apply, fees when you pay too late, and even fees when you Payoff too early. However, more and more lenders are opting to drop fees altogether to pull in more customers. Borrowers with good credit can often find loans that carry no fees, at all.
Pros & Cons of Debt Consolidation with Payoff
Pros and cons can vary depending on your goals. Payoff’s pros are centered around efficiency and customer service, while its main cons relay a difficulty in qualifying. Even with a decent credit score, there are a few obstacles that may deter low-income borrowers new to the world of credit.
Pros of Payoff
- Rates are lower than most credit cards
- Reliable customer service
- Fast and easy application
- No prepayment, late payment, or application fees
- Pre-qualify without hurting your credit score
Cons of Payoff
- No joint application process. could make it harder to qualify.
- Minimum 3 years of credit history needed to qualify.
- Up to 5% origination fee
- SSN requirement
Is Payoff Right for Me?
Payoff recommends catching up on any delinquencies before applying. Delinquency refers to being behind on a credit payment. This means even an overdue car payment or credit card bill could weaken your shot at approval.
You may be wondering how you’re supposed to catch up on your credit card bills BEFORE you even get the loan that’s supposed to help you do it. For this reason, Payoff is a better option for those caught up with their debts who are still unsatisfied at the rate they’re going.
Consolidating your credit card debt can simplify what has become a tortuous process. Even if you’re paying your bills online, having to remember due dates and passcodes for four or five different accounts can overwhelm the best of us.
A debt consolidation loan can not only simplify this process, but it lets you modify your loan terms to better suit your current goals, which may have changed since you first took out credit.
Payoff has a somewhat low credit score threshold of 600. This makes it a good option for lower income borrowers (who tend to have lower credit scores) so long as they have at least three years of credit history under their belt.
Alternatives to Payoff
If you don’t qualify for the Payoff Loan, you can wait another 30 days and try reapplying, or you can check out another debt relief option altogether.
A debt management plan or DMP is designed to free you of your unsecured debt. These programs can consolidate credit card debt much like a DCL, but they don’t require you to pull out a loan or open another credit account. DMP’s are offered by accredited counseling agencies that often are nonprofit organizations. You’re set up with a counselor who can analyze your financial situation and tell you your best options going forward. The agency can also negotiate new deals with your creditors that may waive late fees or reduce interest rates. These programs are easier to qualify for than loans, as they accept applicants regardless of credit score.
Avant Debt Consolidation Loan
Avant puts its credit score requirement at 580, which makes this a good option for those who are struggling to break 600. There is no prepayment penalty, but there are late fees and origination fees to deal with. Keep in mind that borrowers with lower scores will likely pay a lot in interest. Avant caps its rates at 35.99%.
Wells Fargo Debt Consolidation Loan
These loans require a minimum credit score of 600, however for larger loan amounts a higher score may be necessary to qualify. It is recommended that you have a score of at least 660 before applying. Wells Fargo offers loans for up to $100,000 with rates ranging from 5.74% to 19.99%. These loans are ideal for high-income borrowers with good credit who need a larger than average loan amount.
Payoff Reputation & Consumer Reviews
Payoff has an A+ accreditation with the Better Business Bureau. However, reviews among actual clients remain mixed.
- The customer service team has been described as “friendly, attentive, and punctual.”
- Positive reviewers raved about cutting off years in loan payments and saving hundreds of dollars in interest fees.
- Many were satisfied by the quick process, applying Monday and seeing the funds before the week’s end.
Not all customers were satisfied with Payoff’s service.
Those who felt the process took too long often noticed it was because they had sent the wrong paperwork. You can avoid delays by making sure to send in the right documents.
Some things you should have at the ready for verification purposes:
- Bank statement or credentials to link your account
- Drivers license, ID, or passport to verify identity.
- Two most recent pay stubs or most recent tax return to verify income.
Some reviewers lamented over duplicate charges on their account and mix-ups over eligible documents leading to a costly delay in funding. Some self-employed borrowers complained of a lackluster income verification process that failed to accommodate their unique employment situation.
About The Author
Bents Dulcio writes with a humble, field-level view on personal finance. He learned how to cut financial corners while acquiring a B.S. degree in Political Science at Florida State University. Bents has experience with student loans, affordable housing, budgeting to include an auto loan and other personal finance matters that greet all Millennials when they graduate. He has a prodigious appetite for reading, which he helps feed with writing from Scottish philosopher Adam Smith, the “Father of Capitalism.” Bents writing also has been published by JPMorgan Chase, TheSimpleDollar and Interest.com.
- N.A. (ND) Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved from https://www.payoff.com/loan/questions/
- N.A. (ND) Reviews: Payoff. Retrieved from https://www.creditkarma.com/reviews/personal-loan/single/id/Payoff_Personal_Loan