If you’re looking for a personal loan to help smooth your cash flow, make a large purchase, or consolidate debt, Discover Personal Loans can be one choice for accessing the capital you need. Discover has been around since 1985, when it started as a credit card issuer. Since then, Discover has added a full suite of financial products, including bank accounts, student loans, home loans and personal loans.
Overall, Discover Personal Loans can be a good choice for those who want longer repayment options, including the ability to repay loans over the course of seven years. There are no origination or prepayment fees, and the company offers direct repayment of your creditors when you choose a debt consolidation personal loan. One feature of note is their 30-day money-back guarantee, where if you change your mind about getting a Discover personal loan, you can return your loan funds via check within 30 days and be charged zero interest. However, there are no options for adding a co-signer or getting a joint loan, and you can’t get a secured loan with Discover Personal Loans.
What to Know Before Getting a Personal Loan
Personal loans can be one way to access cash when you need it, but you need to consider your financial goals and situation before moving forward. Before getting a personal loan, consider whether you really need a personal loan, or if there’s another way to get the funding you need. Don’t forget to have a plan to repay the loan. Before choosing a personal lender, compare shop multiple lenders to find the best personal loan rate and terms.
As you shop around for a personal loan, understand that the actual rate you end up with may be different from the advertised rates. Your final rate depends on a variety of factors, including your credit score, income, and loan value and terms. You can pre-qualify for a loan or check your interest rate with a soft credit inquiry without affecting your credit score at some lenders. Other lenders, though, may require a hard credit inquiry to check your rate, which could potentially lower your credit score by a few points. No matter how they pre-qualify you, all lenders perform a hard credit inquiry when you officially apply for a personal loan. When choosing a personal loan, go beyond the interest rate to find out if the lender charges origination fees, prepayment penalties or late fees. These charges can raise the overall cost of the loan.
After you receive funding for your personal loan, make payments on time and in full to avoid additional fees or interest charges. This will also prevent your credit score from being hurt by late payments.
Finally, understand whether you’re getting a secured loan, which uses an asset such as a house or car as collateral, or an unsecured loan, which doesn’t require collateral. Secured loans are riskier for the borrower since you’ll lose your collateral if you default on payments, but they may offer lower interest rates.
Alternatives to personal loans
While a personal loan offers a way to pay for big expenses or consolidate debt, it’s not the only choice you have. Some alternatives to personal loans include:
- Home equity options. You can tap into your home equity through a home equity loan, home equity line of credit (HELOC), or cash-out refinance. All three options allow you to access the equity in your home for cash. Using your home equity may get you better rates than an unsecured personal loan. However, there are also drawbacks as well as advantages to using your home equity.
- Balance transfer credit card. Certain credit cards will let you transfer your existing debt to a new card for 0% APR for a period of time, typically ranging from 12 to 24 months. If you’re seeking to consolidate debt, using a balance transfer credit card can help. As long as you pay off the balance before the introductory period ends, you won’t be charged interest and you can demolish your existing debt. Make sure you can pay off the balance before the end of the introductory period, though, or you could be on the hook for a much higher APR.
- Personal savings. If you’re hoping to make a big purchase, saving up the necessary money can be a good way to avoid the pitfalls of personal loans. Having an emergency fund in place can also help you avoid needing to turn to a personal loan if an urgent need arises. Experts suggest that you keep between three and six months’ worth of expenses in your emergency fund. If you have time, consider taking a few steps to start building your emergency fund today.
- Credit counseling. Sometimes, instead of getting into more debt with a personal loan, it can make sense to turn to credit counseling when you’re struggling with debt and need help getting out. Free or low-cost credit counseling services are offered by many non-profit organizations, and can help you improve your financial habits and manage your debt. Credit counseling services won’t offer cash up front, but they can connect you with financial professionals who can teach you how to manage your finances and debt.
Pros and Cons of Discover Personal Loans
No origination or prepayment penalties
Direct payment to creditors for consolidation
Repayment term of up to seven years
Available in all 50 states
Offers a 30-day money-back guarantee
Charges a late payment fee
Doesn’t allow for co-signers or co-borrowers
No autopay discount
Discover Personal Loans Compared to Other Lenders
|Loan Term Range||3 to 7 years||2 to 7 years||2 to 5 years|
|Loan Amount||$2,500 to $35,000||$5,000 to $100,000||$5,000 to $40,000|
|Credit Score Needed||Not specified||680||600|
|Origination Fee||None||None||0% to 5%|
|Unsecured or Secured Debt||Unsecured||Unsecured||Unsecured|
How to Qualify for a Discover Personal Loan
In order to qualify for a Discover personal loan, you must be at least 18 years old and a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
On top of that, you must have a minimum household income of $25,000. However, even if you are unemployed, you might be able to qualify for a Discover personal loan if you meet other qualifications and someone else in your household meets the minimum income requirement. Discover doesn’t specify a minimum credit score requirement on its website, and didn’t return a request for information about credit scores in time for the publication of this piece.
Discover only offers unsecured personal loans, and doesn’t offer the option to add a co-signer or a co-borrower. If you don’t qualify using your own credit and income, you won’t be able to get help from someone else to co-sign on your loan.
Who Should Get a Discover Personal Loan
Discover Personal Loans can be used for a number of purposes, including personal items like vacation, debt consolidation, home improvement, weddings, medical costs and other personal expenses. It’s important to note, though, that a Discover personal loan can’t be used for:
- Business costs
- Real estate (there are home loans available through Discover)
- Education (Discover offers private student loans)
Discover personal loans are likely to work best for those who have good credit and don’t need a co-signer or co-borrower, due to the fact that there aren’t options for having others apply alongside you.
Discover can also work well for those who need money quickly, as it’s possible to get same-day decisions and receive your funds as early as the next day. The 30-day money-back guarantee gives you some flexibility if you find a better rate elsewhere or decide you don’t need a personal loan after all, though we’d recommend shopping around for the best rate before you send in your official application.
Discover can also work for those who need a longer repayment period of up to seven years or those who want to consolidate debt and have direct payment to your existing creditors.
Since Discover doesn’t list a minimum credit score, borrowers won’t know if they qualify unless they go through the entire rate check process. Luckily, checking your rate won’t affect your credit score, but those with fair or poor credit may find better luck with a bad-credit personal loan if they can’t qualify for a Discover loan.
Additionally, if you’re interested in getting additional discounts for having other accounts with Discover or if you want an autopay discount, you might want to compare options with other lenders.
How to Apply for a Discover Personal Loan
1. Decide how much you want to borrow
Prior to applying for a Discover personal loan, consider how much you want to borrow and what repayment schedule would work best for you. Think about what an affordable monthly payment would be for you and how that impacts your overall loan cost. For example, you can get a personal loan from Discover for up to seven years, resulting in a lower monthly payment. However, the longer term means you’ll pay more overall in interest charges over time.
2. Check your personal loan rate online
You can check your potential rate from Discover Personal Loans online within minutes by filling out a form at Discover’s website. There is no hard pull on your credit, so checking your rate won’t impact your credit score. Be sure to get quotes from multiple lenders to find the best possible rate.
3. Submit an application
Once you’ve made your comparisons and chosen a lender, you need to submit an official application. Doing this will trigger a hard credit inquiry, which can affect your credit score. In many cases, you’ll likely need to submit additional documentation, such as a photo ID, proof of your address, and proof of income.
4. Wait for loan approval, sign your agreement and receive funds
Discover can return a decision on the same day as you apply in some cases. Additionally, as long as you have everything you need readily available, you might receive your funds as soon as the next business day. The process can take longer if you’re self-employed or have some other circumstance that makes approval more difficult.