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Payoff Review – Get a Personal Loan to Get Out of Credit Card Debt


FEATURED PROMOTION

Payoff Logo

Our rating

4.3/5

Payoff Pros

  • Very few fees
  • Reasonable interest rates (usually lower than credit cards)
  • Transparent qualification and approval criteria
  • Convenient application process

Payoff Cons

  • Not for the truly credit-impaired
  • Origination fees up to 5%
  • Suitable only for credit card debt


Dig Deeper

Additional Resources

Payoff is an online-only debt consolidation loan provider with a friendly, transparent approach to the dry business of making and managing loans.

It may be too much to say Payoff makes borrowing money to get out of debt fun, but the company definitely tries to illuminate the process for financial novices and convince each client they’re not just another number. If you’re faced with high-interest credit card balances, Payoff is worth a closer look.

Payoff: The Basics

Payoff is a debt consolidation lender for consumers with high-interest credit card debt. Here’s a quick look at its loans’ structure and terms, current as of late 2021 and spelled out in detail on its Rates and Fees page. They’re subject to change at any time.

  • Principals range from $5,000 to $40,000 in most states.
  • Loan terms are 24 months, 36 months, 48 months, or 60 months (two to five years).
  • Rates in most states range from about 6% APR to about 25% APR, depending on borrower creditworthiness, loan term, and other factors.
  • Origination fees range from 0% to 5%, depending on loan term and borrower creditworthiness.
  • Ongoing fees are basically nonexistent. Payoff has no fees for application, early or extra payments, late payments, returned checks, check processing, or ongoing maintenance (monthly or annual).

Payoff is transparent about its qualification requirements. Eligible borrowers must have:

  • A FICO score of 600 or better
  • A low debt-to-income ratio, although Payoff doesn’t impose an absolute maximum
  • Several years of credit history, although Payoff doesn’t specify a minimum length
  • A sufficient number of open and satisfactory tradelines, such as credit cards and home equity lines of credit
  • A reasonable credit utilization ratio, although Payoff doesn’t specify an acceptable maximum
  • No current delinquencies and no delinquencies greater than 90 days within the past 12 months

Payoff’s qualification requirements are subject to change. In fact, they appear to be loosening somewhat over time. In 2015, Payoff’s minimum required FICO score was 700. In late 2016, the minimum allowable FICO score was 660, and in early 2021, the minimum was 640. Payoff once limited prospective borrowers to no more than one current installment loan, but that stipulation appears to be gone as well.

Payoff is cleared to make loans in most (but not all) states — about 45 in all.


How Payoff Works

Interested in a Payoff loan? Here’s what you need to know about getting and managing one. Keep in mind that even if you live in a state not served by Payoff, you can still take advantage of nonloan resources.

Qualification and Approval

If you live in a state served by Payoff, you can apply for a loan at any time. To initiate your application and receive preliminary approval, you need to provide some basic personal information and consent to a soft credit pull.

Once you have your approval in hand, you can choose to continue with the origination process or hold off and shop around with other providers. If your application is denied, you may need to wait a while to apply again.

Documents and Verification

If you choose to continue, Payoff asks for additional information that proves your identity and income. You also need to provide a full picture of your cash flow.

Relevant documents include:

  • Photo ID, such as a driver’s license or state identification card
  • Your two most recent pay stubs or a Form 1040 if you’re self-employed
  • Bank account and credit card statements
  • A statement from your primary bank account (including your mortgage payment if you own your home)
  • A scan or photo of a voided check (credit union customers only)

You can upload these documents using Payoff’s secure document upload feature. In lieu of a bank statement, you can consent to link your bank account directly to Payoff’s secure computer system. This lets Payoff see your recent statements and activity, but it doesn’t allow it to modify your account information.

Origination and Payment

Once you’ve uploaded or sent in all relevant documents, Payoff takes three to seven days to review everything. If your loan receives final approval, Payoff conducts a hard credit pull, which can negatively impact your credit score. Following final approval, your loan should originate within two to five business days.

Going forward, you make a single loan payment per month instead of multiple payments on your existing credit card debts. You can put additional funds toward your loan at any time or prepay the entire principal at no additional cost.

Each Payoff loan is originated by one of its lending partners. These include:

  • Alliant Credit Union
  • First Tech Federal Credit Union
  • Blue Federal Credit Union
  • Cross River Bank
  • Green State Credit Union
  • TechCU (Technology Credit Union)
  • Teachers Federal Credit Union
  • Veridian Credit Union
  • US Alliance Financial

Note that Payoff only allows customers to consolidate debts held on their personal credit reports. If you manage your finances jointly with a spouse, you can’t consolidate jointly held debts.

Privacy Policy and Third-Party Marketing

Payoff’s privacy policy and third-party marketing practices are worth calling out. Payoff collects your personal and financial data from a variety of sources for use in a variety of applications, both internal and external.

Additionally, only residents of California and Vermont are fully protected by the stipulation that Payoff “will not sell, share, transfer, or otherwise disclose your nonpublic personal information to or with any non-affiliated third parties without your explicit prior consent.” Residents of other states are protected only insofar as local statutes permit.

It’s not clear how frequently Payoff customers receive marketing materials from the company’s affiliates. Still, if you value your privacy, any outreach is probably too much. The good news is that Payoff allows you to opt out of third-party marketing.


Key Features of Payoff

Payoff applicants and borrowers have these useful features at their disposal:

Monthly FICO Score Updates

Payoff provides updates about your FICO score for free each month at no cost. Your update includes basic information about how your score is calculated and at-a-glance changes from the previous month.

Job Loss and Career Support

Payoff is committed to supporting borrowers who have lost their jobs or otherwise have fallen on hard times. Support is situation-specific but generally involves more flexible payment plans, consultations with Payoff’s recruitment team, and help with interviews and resume preparation.

In-House Customer Support Team

Payoff touts its in-house customer support team, the Member Experience Team staffed with Member Experience Advocates. The team is reachable by phone, email, and live chat during business hours (Pacific time).

You’ll occasionally receive personalized correspondence from the Member Experience Team. For instance, when you’re first approved for a loan, someone on the team will send you a handwritten note welcoming you into the fold.

Payoff Dashboard

Your Payoff Dashboard is the nerve center of your Payoff account. In addition to loan information, it includes a detailed overview of your Financial Wellness Guide, along with personalized recommendations and tips (often in the form of Payoff Life articles) pertaining to your situation.


Advantages of Payoff

Payoff has a number of notable advantages for applicants and borrowers, including few fees, low interest rates, a refreshingly transparent approach, and a convenient application.

  1. Few Fees. Beyond the origination fee, Payoff’s fees are basically nonexistent: no annual fee, prepayment fees, late fee, check processing fee, or returned check fee. This really sets Payoff apart from traditional debt consolidation loans, whose small but persistent fees convey the impression that their issuers are more interested in nickel-and-diming their customers than solving their financial problems.
  2. Relatively Low Interest Rates. Payoff’s interest rates aren’t world-beating, but they’re also not excessive. Roughly 6% APR to roughly 25% APR is better than marketplace lenders such as Prosper and Lending Club, for example. Both of those companies’ high-end rates approach or exceed 30% APR.
  3. Transparency. Payoff clearly values transparency. Its website lays out its loans’ rates, terms, and qualification requirements in a can’t-miss fashion, and the application and verification processes are designed to be as suspense-free as possible. Some competing online lenders, such as Avant, are less clear about exactly what it takes to qualify and receive loans or lines of credit.
  4. Quick, Convenient Application. Payoff’s application process is quick and convenient. From start to finish, it takes no more than 30 minutes, as long as you’re not required to provide additional information to verify your income or identity. The bank account link is particularly helpful, as Payoff can glean most of the financial information it needs by analyzing your primary account.
  5. Lots of Ongoing, Personalized Support and Resources. Payoff is nothing if not personalized. Even after you complete your financial wellness assessments and originate your loan, you have access to a robust menu of personalized, high-touch support, including Member Experience Advocates in Payoff’s office (as opposed to call center employees working remotely), personalized financial recommendations based off the information you’ve provided Payoff, and assistance in the event of job loss or other financial hardship.

Disadvantages of Payoff

Payoff isn’t perfect. Key disadvantages include relatively strict qualification criteria, potentially high origination fees, high minimums, and restrictions on loan use.

  1. Strict Qualification Criteria. Payoff has fairly strict qualification criteria. You need a FICO score of 600 or higher — much higher if you want a favorable APR — a relatively low debt-to-income ratio, and several years of credit history. You also have to have ample income, although Payoff doesn’t specify its minimum income cutoff. So if you’re in the process of building or rebuilding your credit, or between jobs, Payoff is not for you.
  2. Origination Fees Range Up to 5%. Payoff’s origination fee ranges up to 5% on 60-month loans. That’s $1,000 on a $20,000 loan — not a small chunk of change. By contrast, many credit cards charge 3% for balance transfers, and the best balance transfer cards waive balance transfer fees altogether for new account holders.
  3. Not Suitable for Small Debt Loads. Payoff’s minimum loan size is $5,000. If you’re struggling with small but persistent credit card balances, this cutoff might be too high. In this case, balance transfer credit cards are likely a better fit.
  4. Suitable for Credit Card Debt Only. Payoff’s debt consolidation loans are intended for use with credit card balances only. Under very limited circumstances, Payoff may be able to help with certain types of installment loans, but these arrangements are usually made on a case-by-case basis, and first-time borrowers should not expect them. Other types of debt are best addressed by specialized lenders — for instance, SoFi for student loan debt.
  5. Third-Party Marketing Is Opt-Out. As software companies go, Payoff isn’t particularly invasive. However, it does collect personal and financial information from a variety of sources, including external applications such as social media, and reserves the right to share that information liberally with affiliates. If you’re not a fan of this practice, you need to affirmatively opt out — an extra step that your busy schedule may or may not be able to accommodate.

How Payoff Stacks Up

Payoff is a very good choice if you’re eager to consolidate high-interest credit card debt. But it’s not the only game in town.

Here’s how Payoff compares against SoFi, another popular debt consolidation lender.

PayoffSoFi
Loan Size$5,000 to $40,000Up to $100,000
Loan Term24 to 60 monthsUp to 84 months
Minimum Credit Score600700
Origination Fee0% to 5%None

Final Word

Like many startups, Payoff is constantly tweaking and improving its services. The company has some exciting new products in the mix, including an automated savings tool that may rival existing apps such as Digit.

As a financial company, Payoff faces additional hurdles. Every state’s financial regulations are a bit different, and Payoff’s resources are finite, especially given that it directs much of its firepower to improving the customer experience. (Those psychologists, neuroscientists, and Member Experience Advocates don’t come cheap).

It also can’t be everywhere at once. If you live in a state not served by Payoff, the best you can do right now is wait for that to change.

FEATURED PROMOTION

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The Verdict

Payoff Logo

Our rating

4.3/5

Payoff Pros

  • Very few fees
  • Reasonable interest rates (usually lower than credit cards)
  • Transparent qualification and approval criteria
  • Convenient application process

Payoff Cons

  • Not for the truly credit-impaired
  • Origination fees up to 5%
  • Suitable only for credit card debt
Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided by any bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and has not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of the bank, credit card issuer, airline, or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved, or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Brian Martucci writes about credit cards, banking, insurance, travel, and more. When he's not investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, you can find him exploring his favorite trails or sampling a new cuisine. Reach him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.

FEATURED PROMOTION