Align Personal Loan Review

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Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the financial institution.

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What is Align?

The first thing you need to know about Align is that it’s not a traditional personal loan, complete with interest rates and a fixed monthly payment. Instead, Align bills its lending product as an Income Share Agreement, or ISA, in which you pledge a certain percentage of your income upfront for the term of the agreement in exchange for the cash.

It’s a unique business model unlike anything else in the personal loan world, and it’s the brainchild of one man: Nathan Popkins, a former investment banker. Sadly, Popkins passed away six years after founding the company in 2011, when it was known as “Cumulus Funding.” Since then, the company’s employees have carried on his vision of granting ISAs to people who seek a different kind of personal loan.

There’s a lot to unpack in how Align’s ISAs work. They may or may not be right for your situation, but we’ll walk you through the details in this review. That way, you’ll be able to tell if they’re worth investigating further.

Align personal loan highlights

  • Variable payments: ISAs claim a certain percentage of your income for a set period of time. If you earn more, you’ll pay more. On the other hand, if you lose your job, you won’t owe any payments until you’re earning an income again.
  • Contract buyouts: You can “pay off the loan” by paying Align a lump sum to exit the contract. This means you can’t send in extra payments each month to get out of the contract sooner.
  • Job loss support: If you lose your job, Align provides services such as resume reviews and job search assistance.
  • No origination fees: Align doesn’t charge origination fees.
  • APR: N/A. Rather, you’ll pay a set percentage of your income (up to 10.00%)
  • Minimum credit requirement: Varies
  • Terms: 24 to 60 months
Align Personal Loan Details
Terms
Fees and Penalties
  • Term lengths: 24 to 60 months
  • APR: N/A. Rather, you’ll pay a set percentage of your income (up to 10.00%).
  • Loan amounts: Up to $12,500
  • Time to funding: 1-3 business days
  • Credit check: Not specified
  • Origination fee: None
  • Prepayment fee: None
  • Late payment fee: Not specified
  • Other fees: Not specified

Align product details

It’s important to understand the differences between the ISAs that Align offers and a traditional personal loan that any other lender offers. With Align, you pledge to share a certain percentage of your income — up to 10.00% — with Align for a two- to five-year period. If your income goes up, you’ll pay a higher monthly payment to Align. If your income goes down, your payment will also go down accordingly.

Align bills itself as your financial partner because it has a vested stake in making sure you’re able to continue working and making your payments. And because Align doesn’t get paid if you don’t get paid, that’s true to some extent. That’s why the company offers unemployment support if you lose your job. To prove it, you’ll need to provide Align with documents showing you’re currently receiving unemployment benefits, or a termination letter from your employer. If you can do this, Align will provide job search assistance, such as reviewing your resume, helping you search for available positions, etc.

It’s also important to note that it’s tougher to “get out of debt” with Align. With a typical loan, you can get out of debt sooner by making early payments — either on a regular basis, or repaying the remainder of the loan in one fell swoop. That’s not how Align works.

Rather, you’ll be provided with a “buy-out number” that will change over the term of your ISA according to a pre-set schedule (it will disclose these numbers to you before you sign the paperwork so you’ll know what they are). If you want to get out of the contract and stop sharing your income with Align, simply pay that buy-out number to the company in one lump sum, and you’re free to part ways. This means you can’t get out of the contract sooner by making multiple, smaller extra payments. Instead, you’ll need to save them up until you’re able to pay the lump sum all at once.

Eligibility requirements

  • Minimum credit score: Varies
  • Minimum credit history: Not specified
  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: Not specified

Unfortunately, Align doesn’t provide any more information about what is needed to qualify for an ISA. The company is not transparent about whether residents of certain states are excluded, how much income you need, credit requirements, age requirements or any other factors. If you’re interested in finding out what Align might be able to offer you (if anything), your only choice is to go ahead and get a quote from the company.

Applying for an income share contract from Align

Applying for an ISA with Align isn’t much different from checking your rate with any other lender. You’ll have to log onto the company’s website and enter some basic information about yourself — name, address, Social Security number, etc. — and then submit the application. After that, a customer service agent will contact you to discuss what, if any, ISAs the company can offer you. This process could be completed as soon as the same day you apply.

If you decide you like the company’s offer and sign on the dotted line, Align will deposit the money into your account within one to three business days. If your income changes thereafter, you agree to let Align know so it can change your payment amount until the ISA contract is finished.

Pros and Cons of an Align Personal Loan
Pros
Cons
  • Variable payments: If your income changes, your monthly payments will change to match your new income.
  • Job loss support: If you lose your job, Align offers a range of different support services to get you back and working (and paying) again.
  • Wide range of uses: You can use an Align ISA to fund almost anything, from debt consolidation to weddings.
  • Impossible to calculate the cost of financing: Since the ISA is based on a share of your income and you can’t predict the future, it’s impossible to calculate the true cost of the ISA compared to a traditional loan.
  • Nontransparent requirements: Align doesn’t give much information regarding who will qualify for an ISA.
  • Contract buyouts: You can’t make regular extra payments to get rid of your obligation sooner. Instead, if you want to get out of the contract, you’ll need to buy it out with a single lump sum payment.

Who’s the best fit for an Align loan?

Align certainly isn’t right for everyone. If you think your income might be increasing dramatically over the next two to five years, Align might end up being far more expensive than a traditional personal loan in the long run.

For example, if you earn $50,000/year now and are required to share 10% of your income for the next five years, that means you’ll pay Align a total of $25,000 by the time your contract ends. But if you get a break and are hired on to a new job earning $100,000 right after you’re approved, you’ll now have to repay the company a total of $50,000 — twice as much as you’d originally planned, which makes for one hefty finance charge, especially since the company only gives out ISAs of up to $12,500.

Speaking of finance charges, it’s also impossible to calculate the true finance cost of the loan since it relies on your future income, which no one can predict with 100% accuracy. Thus, it’ll be impossible to compare whether this “loan” is any cheaper or more expensive than your alternative options for getting a personal loan.

Instead, if you’re the type of person who doesn’t care about finance costs as much as making sure you’re able to meet the monthly payments, then an ISA might be right for you. That’s especially true if you work in an unsteady job market, because Align is the only lender who will completely drop your payments down to zero — with no expectation of you having to repay an unpaid amount later — that we’ve seen out there. For some people, this peace of mind is definitely worth the cloudiness surrounding how much it’ll cost you in the end.

Alternative personal loan options

OneMain Financial

  • APR range: 16.05% – 35.99%
  • Credit requirements: 0 minimum credit score
  • Terms: 24 to 60 months
  • Origination fee: Varies

If you need your money on the same day and need a larger amount (up to $30,000), OneMain Financial may be a good lender to check your rates with. OneMain Financial actually requires you to visit a lending office in person to complete the application and potentially get your funds, so this may be limiting for many people. However, unlike Align, OneMain Financial does offer secured loans (i.e., you pledge some sort of collateral such as a car or an RV) which can make it easier to qualify for a loan if you have a poor credit score and aren’t otherwise able to get the cash you need.

Peerform

  • APR range: 5.99% – 29.99%
  • Credit requirements: 600 minimum credit score
  • Terms: 36 or 60 months
  • Origination fee: 1.00% - 5.00%

Peerform is a peer-to-peer lender lending platform, which means that your loan is funded GoFundMe-style from individual investors. It can take up to two weeks to fund a loan, so this isn’t a quick fix if you need cash fast. If you’re looking for a larger loan amount — up to $25,000 — this might be a better option for you than Align.

LendingClub

  • APR range: 6.95% – 35.89%
  • Credit requirements: 600 minimum credit score
  • Terms: 36 or 60 months
  • Origination fee: 1.00% - 6.00%

If you need to take out a larger amount — up to $40,000 — and don’t necessarily need that cash fast, LendingClub is one option to consider. LendingClub is another peer-to-peer lending platform, which means that it can take some time to fund your loan. If you get enough investors to chip in for your loan, the company will disburse the money to you. This process usually takes about seven days, according to LendingClub.

Interested in a personal loan?

Here are the top personal loan lenders of 2019!
LenderAPR RangeLoan Amount 
1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Fixed rates from 5.990% APR to 16.990% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 5.74% APR to 14.70% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of March 18, 2019 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. See APR examples and terms. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 5.72% APR assumes current 1-month LIBOR rate of 2.49% plus 4.28% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.
  2. To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull.
    See Consumer Licenses.
  3. Minimum Credit Score: Not all applicants who meet SoFi’s minimum credit score requirements are approved for a personal loan. In addition to meeting SoFi’s minimum eligibility criteria, applicants must also meet other credit and underwriting requirements to qualify.
  4. SoFi Personal Loans are not available to residents of MS. Maximum interest rate on loans for residents of AK and WY is 9.99% APR, for residents of IL with loans over $40,000 is 8.99% APR, for residents of TX is 9.99% APR on terms greater than 5 years, for residents of CO, CT, HI, VA, SC is 11.99% APR, and for residents of ME is 12.24% APR. Personal loans not available to residents of MI who already have a student loan with SoFi. Personal Loans minimum loan amount is $5,000. Residents of AZ, MA, and NH have a minimum loan amount of $10,001. Residents of KY have a minimum loan amount of $15,001. Residents of PA have a minimum loan amount of $25,001. Variable rates not available to residents of AK, TX, VA, WY, or for residents of IL for loans greater than $40,000.
  5. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

2 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for Payoff.

Payoff Disclosures

  1. All loans are subject to credit review and approval. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, credit usage and history. Currently loans are not offered in: MA, MS, NE, NV, OH, and WV.

3 Important Disclosures for FreedomPlus.

FreedomPlus Disclosures

  1. All loans available through FreedomPlus.com are made by Cross River Bank, a New Jersey State Chartered Commercial Bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender. All loan and rate terms are subject to eligibility restrictions, application review, credit score, loan amount, loan term, lender approval, and credit usage and history. Eligibility for a loan is not guaranteed. Loans are not available to residents of all states – please call a FreedomPlus representative for further details. The following limitations, in addition to others, shall apply: FreedomPlus does not arrange loans in: (i) Arizona under $10,500; (ii) Massachusetts under $6,500, (iii) Ohio under $5,500, and (iv) Georgia under $3,500. Repayment periods range from 24 to 60 months. The range of APRs on loans made available through FreedomPlus is 5.99% to a maximum of 29.99%. APR. The APR calculation includes all applicable fees, including the loan origination fee. For Example, a four year $20,000 loan with an interest rate of 15.49% and corresponding APR of 18.34% would have an estimated monthly payment of $561.60 and a total cost payable of $7,948.13. To qualify for a 5.99% APR loan, a borrower will need excellent credit on a loan for an amount less than $12,000.00, and with a term equal to 24 months. Adding a co-borrower with sufficient income; using at least eighty-five percent (85%) of the loan proceeds to directly pay off qualifying existing debt; or showing proof of sufficient retirement savings, could help you also qualify for the lowest rate available.

4 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Personal Loan Rate DisclosureFixed interest rates from 6.79% – 20.89% (6.79% – 20.89% APR) based on applicable terms. Lowest rates range from 5.99%-18.99% (5.99%-18.99% APR), are for eligible applicants, require a 3-year repayment term, and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
  2. Loyalty Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower has submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, student loans or other personal loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI and VT. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) disclosed in the Truth-In-Lending Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan, and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  3. Automatic Payment Discount: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their Citizens Bank Personal Loan during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account two or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.

5 Important Disclosures for LendingPoint.

LendingPoint Disclosures

  • Loan approval is not guaranteed. Actual loan offers and loan amounts, terms and annual percentage rates (“APR”) may vary based upon LendingPoint’s proprietary scoring and underwriting system’s review of your credit, financial condition, other factors, and supporting documents or information you provide. Origination or other fees from 0% to 6% may apply depending upon your state of residence. Upon LendingPoint’s final underwriting approval to fund a loan, said funds are often sent via ACH the next non-holiday business day. LendingPoint makes loan offers from $2,000 to $25,000, at rates ranging from a low of 9.99% APR to a high of 35.99% APR, with terms from 24 to 48 months. The loan offer(s) shown reflect a 28 day payment cycle which is being offered as a courtesy as many of our customers are paid on a biweekly schedule and thus this may better align the loan payment dates with your actual income receipt schedule.

6 Important Disclosures for LendingClub.

LendingClub Disclosures

All loans made by WebBank, Member FDIC. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, and credit usage & history. The APR ranges from 6.95% to 35.89%*. The origination fee ranges from 1% to 6% of the original principal balance and is deducted from your loan proceeds. For example, you could receive a loan of $6,000 with an interest rate of 7.99% and a 5.00% origination fee of $300 for an APR of 11.51%. In this example, you will receive $5,700 and will make 36 monthly payments of $187.99. The total amount repayable will be $6,767.64. Your APR will be determined based on your credit at the time of application. The average origination fee is 5.49% as of Q1 2017. In Georgia, the minimum loan amount is $3,025. In Massachusetts, the minimum loan amount is $6,025 if your APR is greater than 12%. There is no down payment and there is never a prepayment penalty. Closing of your loan is contingent upon your agreement of all the required agreements and disclosures on the www.lendingclub.com website. All loans via LendingClub have a minimum repayment term of 36 months. Borrower must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or be in the United States on a valid long term visa and at least 18 years old. Valid bank account and Social Security number are required. Equal Housing Lender. All loans are subject to credit approval. LendingClub’s physical address is: LendingClub, 71 Stevenson Street, Suite 1000, San Francisco, CA 94105.

†Per reviews collected and authenticated by Bazaarvoice in compliance with the Bazaarvoice Authentication Requirements, supported by anti-fraud technology and human analysis. All reviews can be reviewed at reviews.lendingclub.com

**Based on approximately 60% of borrowers who received offers through LendingClub’s marketing partners between January 1, 2018 to July 20,2018. The time it will take to fund your loan may vary.


7 Important Disclosures for Earnest.

Earnest Disclosures

  1. Earnest does not lend in Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky, Nevada, or Rhode Island.

8 Important Disclosures for Avant.

Avant Disclosures

* The actual rate and loan amount that a customer qualifies for may vary based on credit determination and other factors. Funds are generally deposited via ACH for delivery next business day if approved by 4:30pm CT Monday-Friday. Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank, member FDIC.

** Example: A $5,700 loan with an administration fee of 4.75% and an amount financed of $5,429.25, repayable in 36 monthly installments, would have an APR of 29.95% and monthly payments of $230.33


* Important Disclosures for Upgrade Bank.

Upgrade Bank Disclosures

* Your loan terms are not guaranteed and are subject to our verification and review process. You may be asked to provide additional documents to enable us to verify your income and your identity. This rate includes an Autopay APR reduction of 0.5%. By enrolling in Autopay your payments will be automatically deducted from you bank account. Selecting Autopay is optional. Annual Percentage Rate is inclusive of a loan origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Late payments or subsequent charges and fees may increase the cost of your fixed rate loan. All loans made by WebBank, member FDIC. Please refer to Upgrade’s Terms of Use and Borrower Agreement for all terms, conditions and requirements.

** Accept your loan offer and your funds will be sent to your bank via ACH within one (1) business day of clearing necessary verifications. Availability of the funds is dependent on how quickly your bank processes this transaction. From the time of approval, funds should be available within four (4) business days.

5.74% – 16.99%1$5,000 - $100,000

Visit SoFi

7.54% – 35.99%$1,000 - $50,000

Visit Upstart

7.99% – 35.89%*$1,000 - $50,000

Visit Upgrade

5.99% – 24.99%2$5,000 - $35,000

Visit Payoff

5.99% – 29.99%3$7,500 - $40,000

Visit FreedomPlus

6.79% – 20.89%4$5,000 - $50,000

Visit Citizens

9.99% – 35.99%5$2,000 - $25,000

Visit LendingPoint

6.95% – 35.89%6$1,000 - $40,000

Visit LendingClub

6.99% – 18.24%7$5,000 - $75,000

Visit Earnest

9.95% – 35.99%8$2,000 - $35,000

Visit Avant

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

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