In today’s economy, finding fast access to financing can be a challenge, especially for borrowers with damaged credit or limited incomes. Payday loans through companies like Explore Credit provide a potential solution when funds are needed right away and other options aren’t available.
But are Explore Credit’s payday loans a wise choice? In this definitive guide, we’ll explore what Explore Credit offers, its terms and conditions, eligibility requirements, customer service reputation, and alternatives to consider. Read on for a thorough review of one of the nation’s largest providers of payday loans.
What is Explore Credit?
Explore Credit is an online lender that offers various short-term borrowing options, including payday loans, installment loans, and lines of credit. Headquartered in Chicago, they operate in over 30 states and have been in business since 1997.
Overview of Explore Credit Services
Explore Credit provides an entirely online application and lending experience through its website and mobile app. Their main products include:
- Payday loans– Small-dollar loans, usually $100-$1,000, with a term of 7-30 days. The full balance is due on the borrower’s next pay date.
- Installment loans– Larger loans up to $3,000-$5,000 repaid over multiple scheduled payments, typically 3-6 months. These provide larger loan amounts than payday products.
- Lines of credit– Revolving credit lines up to $2,500 that can be drawn on as needed and repaid over time. Useful for managing recurring cash shortfalls.
While Explore Credit lacks brick-and-mortar locations, they provide customer service over the phone for application support, questions, and account management.
Applying for loans with Explore Credit
The application process with Explore Credit is streamlined for quick access to funds:
- Minimal application– Requires only basic personal information like name, contact details, employment info, and checking account number.
- Instant decision– Loan decision provided in 90 seconds or less after applying.
- eSignature of loan contract– If approved, documents can be signed electronically via DocuSign. No need to fax or scan paperwork.
- Same or next-day funding– Approved loans are funded as quickly as the same day or the next business day after signing loan documents.
Benefits of using Explore Credit
Explore Credit touts several advantages that make them an appealing option for borrowers in need of fast cash:
One of the major benefits Explore Credit provides is quick access to financing. Between instant approvals and funding as soon as the next day, qualified borrowers can get a short-term cash infusion deposited directly into their bank account faster than with most other lending sources.
Easy application process
The online application requires minimal information and takes just minutes to complete. Customers can apply from their computer, smartphone, or tablet at any time of day or night.
Flexible repayment terms
Depending on the loan product selected, borrowers can choose repayment terms that fit their budget and needs. Payday loans offer single repayment on the next pay date while installment loans allow repayment in multiple smaller payments over 2-6 months.
Access to larger loan amounts
While payday loans are capped at lower amounts like $500, Explore Credit’s installment loans provide access to up to $5,000 for borrowers who qualify. This expands the usefulness for more substantial expenses.
Loan products offered by Explore Credit
Explore Credit provides a range of short-term lending products tailored to various borrower scenarios.
These small-dollar loans range from $100-$1,000 with repayment due on the borrower’s next pay date, usually within 7-30 days. Fees are $15-$30 per $100 borrowed. If unable to fully repay on time, up to 4 extensions can be purchased, each with additional fees.
Payday loans help bridge an immediate cash crunch but can be expensive due to high interest and short repayment terms. Useful for emergency car repairs, medical bills, or avoiding late payments.
For larger borrowing needs, Explore Credit offers installment loans up to $5,000. These loans are repaid over multiple scheduled payments spanning 2-6 months. Interest rates start at 89% APR with origination fees of 4-6% deducted from loan proceeds.
Installment loans allow spreading a larger loan across multiple pay periods. Helpful for major purchases, consolidating bills, or other big expenses. Risk of high total fees over the full repayment term.
While not their primary offering, Explore Credit also provides fixed-rate personal loans up to $15,000 for qualified applicants. These loans have lower interest rates, 1-5-year terms, and predictable fixed monthly payments. Require a minimum 600 credit score and steady income.
Costs and fees with Explore Credit
Like most short-term lending, Explore Credit’s loans come with significantly higher costs than traditional financing options:
APRs on payday loans range from 200-300% while installment loans are 89-225% APR. Personal loans are lower at 29-99% APR.
A one-time origination fee of 4-6% of the loan amount is charged and deducted from loan proceeds. So a $500 loan receives only $470.
A late payment fee of $10-$50 applies for each late or missed payment on installment loans. Payday loans don’t have late fees but charge collection fees if defaulted.
Be sure to factor in the full costs over the loan’s term, not just the upfront fees. The interest and fees can add up quickly, making these loans expensive if not repaid quickly.
Eligibility and qualifications
Explore Credit offers relatively loose approval standards but borrowers still need to meet some basic requirements:
Credit score requirements
Minimum credit scores range from 500-600 depending on the specific loan product. While credit history is reviewed, they emphasize income and employment more heavily.
A stable monthly income of at least $1,200 per month is required. Pay stubs or bank statements are used to verify this. Retirees and self-employed can qualify in some cases with sufficient monthly deposits.
A valid photo ID and social security number must be provided. US citizenship or permanent residency is also required.
Make sure you meet their income, employment, and ID verification requirements before applying. Those with limited credit history or past credit issues are often approved as long as income criteria are met.
Repayment of Explore Credit loans
If you use Explore Credit, know what to expect regarding repaying your loan:
Payments can be made by debit card, ACH bank transfer, or by mailing a check. For convenience, payments are automatically withdrawn from the linked checking account used to receive the loan proceeds.
Extensions and renewals
Payday loans allow up to 4 extensions at an additional cost per extension. Installment loans don’t offer formal extensions but a new loan can be taken to refinance the balance.
There are no prepayment penalties for early repayment. However, the origination fee and accrued interest aren’t refunded if you pay off the balance early.
Avoid extensions if possible, which only increase costs. Instead, make payments on time and pay off the full balance early to reduce interest fees. Also, avoid back-to-back loans which create a debt cycle.
Customer service and support
Explore Credit provides customer service across three main channels:
- Phone support 7 days per week at 1-866-838-3731
- Email via the contact form on their website
- Mailed written correspondence to corporate headquarters
Phone service is available from 7 a.m. – 10 p.m. CT daily with limited holiday hours. Email and mail contacts are responded to within 1 business day.
Reviews are mixed, with some citing helpful experiences and others noting frustrating interactions. Communication can vary depending on the representative.
Reach out to their customer service team with questions before applying or if any issues arise during your loan. Be prepared that responsiveness may depend on who handles your inquiry.
Alternatives to Explore Credit
While Explore Credit is a popular payday lender, they aren’t the only option. Here are a few alternatives to consider:
Other online lenders
Companies like MoneyLion, Earnin, and Dave offer cash advances, payday-style loans, or early wage access. These work similarly to Explore Credit but may have different rates and qualifications.
Many credit cards offer cash advances or balance transfers with lower rates than payday loans. Downsides are variable rates and potential impact on credit scores if carrying a balance.
Traditional bank loans
Banks and credit unions offer personal loans, lines of credit, and low-rate credit cards. Approval is harder but interest rates are lower than online lenders. Small-dollar loans as low as $500 are sometimes available.
Payday lenders should be a last resort after exhausting cheaper sources of financing. But when funds are needed immediately, they provide a fast option.
Pros and cons of Explore Credit
Before choosing Explore Credit for a short-term loan, weigh the key pros and cons:
- Quick access to funds
- Easy instant approval decisions
- Low credit score requirements
- Multiple loan product options
- Very high interest rates
- Steep origination and late fees
- Risk of expensive debt cycles
- No early fee or interest refunds for early repayment
The speed and minimal qualifications are the biggest draws. However, the high ongoing costs make these loans expensive if used long-term or for larger amounts. Approach with caution and use only as a very short-term solution.
When fast funding is imperative and your options are limited, Explore Credit provides an accessible solution for getting a payday or installment loan quickly. Approval only requires a regular income source and basic personal identification.
However, borrowers should be aware these loans come at a high cost. Interest rates typically exceed 200% APR and substantial fees apply. It’s critical to have a repayment plan and avoid rollovers or back-to-back borrowing.
Overall, Explore Credit is a legitimate lender that offers swift access to cash when in a tight spot. But less expensive alternatives like credit cards or traditional lending should be explored first when possible. With high fees and stiff rates, Explore Credit’s loans work best as a short-term bridge to get through an urgent cash crunch, not a long-term solution.
Does Explore Credit do hard or soft credit checks?
They perform a soft credit inquiry that does not impact your credit score when you prequalify. Once you formally apply, they will do a hard credit check that can slightly lower your score.
How long does it take to get loan funds from Explore Credit?
If approved, funds can be deposited as soon as the next business day after signing your loan documents electronically.
Can I pay off an Explore Credit loan early?
Yes, you can make early repayments without any prepayment penalties. However, interest and fees already collected at origination cannot be refunded if you pay off the balance early.
What happens if I miss a payment on my Explore Credit loan?
With payday loans, the full balance becomes due immediately. Installment loans charge a late fee of $10-$50 and it will also impact your credit negatively.
Does Explore Credit work with bad credit borrowers?
Yes, they consider applicants with credit scores as low as 500 for their products. Approval is based more heavily on your steady income stream.
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