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Applying For A Personal Loan Online Vs. In Person: Is One Better Than The Other?

Hanna Kielar5-Minute Read

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Today, more and more everyday services have moved online – some as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and others just for convenience’s sake. Even something huge like applying for a loan can be done from the comfort of your home, as more financial technology (fintech) companies are offering personal loans now than ever before.

With the rise of online banking, online lenders have grown more prominent, and getting a loan online has proven convenient for some people who are looking to get their money fast. Still, there are many of us who prefer the in-person way of doing things.

Is either way right or wrong? In this article, we’ll break down the biggest pros and cons of applying for a loan online or in person, so you can decide for yourself.

Should I Apply For A Loan Online Or In Person?

Before getting into those pros and cons, let’s tackle some common questions you might have about applying.

Are Online Personal Loans Safe?

Sharing your personal information with a potential scammer is a real concern, especially when your Social Security number is involved. That said, as long as you’re working with a reputable lender, your online loan should be as safe as one from a bank or credit union.

Do some research on any lender you’re considering to confirm their legitimacy. You can do this by looking up customer reviews, perusing their website and contacting their customer service.

Do I Need The Money Fast?

The time it takes to get a personal loan can range from a few days to a week, depending on the lender. Applying through an online lender can get you your funds even faster. Because of the ease of submitting your forms and documentation, you could potentially see your money deposited into your account on the same day you apply. That alone could save you the stress of waiting for your funds to arrive for when you need them.

Do I Prefer In-Person Transactions?

Technology hasn’t totally erased human interaction; many feel more comfortable meeting in person for important matters like taking out a loan, particularly if they’re uncomfortable sharing their information online or over the phone.

That being said, many people prefer the convenience and flexibility of making financial decisions from the privacy of their own home.

Where Can I Find The Best Loan?

What will ultimately close the gap on what lender you choose are the rates and terms of the offered loan. Online lenders can be more lenient with lower credit scores, but borrowing from a bank where you have an existing checking or savings account could give you added benefits as well. The surest way to find the best deal is to simply shop around.

Online Vs. In-Person Loan Application

The application process for getting a personal loan is largely the same no matter how you do it, but one way is certainly faster. Read below the differences in the application experience when borrowing online or in person.

Applying Online

One of the benefits to applying online is that you can submit multiple prequalification applications to potential lenders in short order and find your best deal faster. You can also take advantage of online loan calculators to estimate what your monthly payments, rates and terms could be.

Once you’ve decided on your best lender, the online application process can be over before you know it. Without leaving your home, you can submit and sign the required documents and possibly receive your funds within the same or following business day.

Additionally, online lenders can discern your creditworthiness through utility payments, and debt-to-income ratio (DTI). This means that your credit score isn’t necessarily the be-all-end-all of you getting approved for a loan.

Applying In Person

Despite the increase in online lenders and fintech companies, there are still many people who prefer meeting face-to-face in a physical bank to acquire their loans. Going this route comes with a few caveats, though, as opposed to applying from the comfort of your own home.

First off, the conveniences of applying online are significantly reduced when meeting in person. You’re limited to the operating hours of the bank and loan officer with whom you’re dealing, and if your schedule doesn’t match theirs, it could take some time before a meeting is set.

Second, when you’re at home, you may have all of your necessary documentation easily within reach. If you arrive at the bank and find that you’ve left your tax documents or bank statements at home, then you’ll have to leave and get them or reschedule the meeting entirely.

One of the biggest disadvantages to applying in person versus online is that you lose the chance to research other loans and lenders during the application process. There could be better rates and terms with another lender, but you can’t do a quick search because you’re stuck in your meeting at the bank. Having all of your options in front of you before you put that ink to paper can make you more certain you’re making the right choice.

On the other hand, having a pre-existing relationship with a bank could mean you get a better interest rate on your personal loan. In that case, meeting face-to-face could reap more rewards in the long run.

Online Vs. Bank Loan: Pros And Cons

Online and in-person borrowing both have their own benefits and drawbacks, depending on your personal preferences. For your convenience, we’ve organized the pros and cons of each below. You should review these carefully before moving ahead with your method of choice.

Online Loans

Pros

  • They have a fast and easy application process you can do right at home.
  • The funds are directly deposited into your account within days.
  • You have the ability to shop for other loans during the application process.
  • Lower operating costs could mean you’re paying less overall.

Cons

  • You’re required to submit personal information through online forms.
  • You have to be alert to online scammers.
  • Some online lenders charge higher rates.

In-Person Bank Loans

Pros

  • You get face-to-face and personalized interaction with a loan officer.
  • You can ask questions as they come up when meeting in person.
  • A pre-existing relationship with a bank could get you discounted rates.
  • Some people prefer doing business in a physical location.

Cons

  • You have to go to the physical branch with all of the required documentation in hand.
  • You’re required to work within the bank’s hours when scheduling appointments.
  • Your loan can take longer to process, meaning your money may reach you more slowly.
  • Bank operating costs can get rolled into additional fees for the borrower.

Final Thoughts: To Apply Online Or Not To Apply Online?

That is the question. Getting a personal loan through an online lender has all of the speed and convenience to attract those who need their money fast, but some of us might miss the personalized experience of speaking in person with a loan expert. As it’s your money, it’s your choice in the end.

If you want to take online lending for a spin and are in need of Rocket-fast funding, apply today with Rocket Loans® and see if our rates and terms are right for you.

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Hanna Kielar

Hanna Kielar is an Associate Section Editor for Rocket Mortgage focused on personal finance, recruiting and personal loans. She has a B.A. in Professional Writing from Michigan State University.