For Millennials — those born 1982 or later — getting a financial start in life has been a struggle. Banks, skittish to open the coffers since the credit crisis of 2008, have only compounded the problem. Perhaps that's why alternative lenders have become so hot. All told, 14 percent of Millennial small business owners have worked with non-traditional lending services. That's huge compared to older generations — just 1 percent of Baby Boomers (ages 50 to 68) and 3 percent of Gen-Xers (ages 35 to 49) have received funding from non-traditional lenders.
Intrigued? Read on for our roundup of the top Millennial-friendly alternative lenders on the block.
For many Millennials, qualifying for a bank loan can seem impossible. But at Upstart, "You are more than your credit score." The company considers things like your education and career experience when calculating your rate, which you can check free of charge on the homepage. Paying off credit cards and shedding student debt becomes much more feasible when your rate is based on Upstart's predictive modeling algorithm, which measures your future income — not just what you're earning in the now. It's an algorithm that Upstart co-founder Paul Gu said the company is always working to improve.
"When you have perfect predictions, you get to have the lowest costs and you can save people more money as you get better at predicting," he told Millennial Magazine. Folks with advanced degrees and good jobs — or at least a job offer — will get the best rates from Upstart.
2. Lending Club
With a web design reminiscent of Facebook, Lending Club caters to those in need of fast cash. And the whole process can be completed online. Perhaps it should be no surprise that Lending Club is the most popular peer-to-peer platform in the country, particularly among Millennials. The greatest benefit of P2P loans are their low interest rates, which means you can save money in the long term. Lending Club charges fees of 1.11 percent to 5 percent for new loans, depending on the size of the loan. Once you're approved, you'll receive the funds in a few business days (which is much faster than a bank). In the new age of robo-lending, Lending Club is the veteran.
SoFi stands for "social financing." As far as company names go, this one couldn't be more fitting. Piggybacking off Millennials' comfort and familiarity with social networking, SoFi, which specializes in student loan refinancing, taps into borrowers' alumni networks, connecting them to investors from the same alma mater. It's sort of like banking meets LinkedIn.
SoFi makes borrowing personal, which comes with a slew of added benefits — opportunities for career advising, networking, and entrepreneurial support. In fact, SoFi claims its novel alumni lending scheme has helped 60 members find new jobs and more than 20 entrepreneurs start new businesses. Investors also benefit: Loan documents make clear that other alumni will be notified if the borrower defaults, thereby encouraging the borrower to make timely, in-full payments — for fear of embarrassment, if nothing else.
Another non-bank lender trying to trim away at the $1.2 trillion in outstanding student loan debt is CommonBond. So far the company has handed out more than $150 million in loans to more than 2,000 students and graduates across the nation. What sets CommonBond apart from other alternative lenders is that it allows student loan debtors to consolidate undergrad and graduate loans into a variety of fixed and variable rate loans.
The company claims it saves the average borrower $10,000 in repayment costs. There are no application fees, no origination fees, and no prepayment penalties. Plus there's this feel-good bonus: For every degree fully funded on the CommonBond platform, the company funds the education of a student in need at a Pencils of Promise school for a full year.