What is LendingTree?
LendingTree describes themselves as “an online loan marketplace for various financial borrowing needs including auto loans, small business loans, personal loans, credit cards and more.” Consumers can use LendingTree to compare rates from a variety of Lenders.
Founded in 1996, LendingTree is currently the largest online lending marketplace in the United States. Their business model is similar to other loan marketplaces like Bankrate, Rocket Loans, Zillow and HSH.
In this review, we’ll explain how their process works, talk about the cost and analyze customer reviews and complaints to help you determine if LendingTree is right for you.
How LendingTree Works
To receive loan offers from Lending Tree, you first need to provide some basic information. This may include your name, address, credit score range, gender, marital status, birthday and email address. In some cases, you’ll have to provide a phone number and the last four digits of your Social Security number.
You may have to answer other questions such as:
- If you’re a current homeowner
- If you’ve had a bankruptcy or foreclosure in the past seven years
- If you or your spouse has ever served in the military
- If you have a co-borrower on the loan
- If you rent or own your home
When you give personal information to LendingTree, you agree to let them share these details with their loan partners. Multiple lenders will then contact you about submitting a full application.
Even though it bills itself as a full-scale marketplace, LendingTree doesn’t include every major lender or provider. The service will provide a quick snapshot of available lenders, but nothing like the breadth of options you can find by doing the research yourself.
When you submit a quote request on LendingTree, you’ll see a soft pull on your credit report, which won’t affect your credit score. If you complete a full application with a LendingTree affiliate, then you’ll see a hard pull on your credit. This will knock a few points off your credit score, but you should regain those in a couple of months.
LendingTree offers four types of home loans for single-family, townhome, condominium, multi-family home and manufactured or mobile homes:
- Home purchase
- Home refinance
- Home equity
- Reverse mortgage
Their mortgage options include conventional, VA, and FHA loans. You can use LendingTree to buy a primary home, secondary home or investment property.
If you’re buying a home without a real estate agent, LendingTree will even offer to provide your information to an agent.
One problem reported by borrowers is that mortgage rates on LendingTree are higher than with other lenders. Right now, my husband and I are refinancing our house and have selected a lender. I put in my real information for a home refinance and only saw one rate that was equal to our current refinance offer. The rest were much higher than other quotes I received.
LendingTree offers personal loans for the following reasons:
- Debt consolidation
- Pay off credit cards
- Home improvement
- Home buying
- Major purchase
- Car financing
- Wedding expenses
- Moving and relocation
- Medical expenses
Anyone interested in a personal loan needs to submit their reason, how much they want to borrow and how quickly they need the money. The maximum loan amount ranges from $1,000 to $50,000 and includes terms from two to five years.
LendingTree also lets shoppers filter the search by customer rating. That can provide valuable information, but it’s wise to research lenders on objective sites instead of only using reviews from the marketplace. Like other parts of LendingTree, the rates for personal loans may not reflect what the market actually has available.
LendingTree compiles credit cards and divides them into categories like:
- Low interest
- Balance transfer
- No foreign fee
- No annual fee
Users can narrow down their search further with groupings such as airlines, business, gas, cashback and a general rewards category. They can also filter by credit score or card types (Visa, American Express, Discover or Mastercard).
If you click on “Card Category” at the top center of the page, you’ll see extra categories such as:
- Apple Pay
- EMV Chip
There’s also a handy “compare” feature that lets users select a few cards and compare them side-by-side.
LendingTree can make it easier to see which cards you’re likely to qualify for, but it’s not a comprehensive review of all available credit cards. There are many reputable cards missing from their categories, so users should look at other sites before applying for a credit card.
LendingTree offers quotes for home, auto and life insurance, as well as insurance bundles. They can provide car insurance quotes for multiple vehicles, and can also bundle car and renters insurance in one policy.
Home insurance providers in the marketplace include Esurance, Allstate and Farmers Insurance, while life insurance companies include Fabric and Ladder.
Because LendingTree doesn’t include all major insurance providers, customers may not be getting the best rates they qualify for. This is where marketplaces like LendingTree may be harmful to customers.
When I input my personal information, I got a list of three companies offering quotes. I clicked on one of them and was transferred to their website, where I was expected to type in my information all over again for a quote.
This is another frustrating aspect of Lending Tree. A customer might think they’ve finished inputting all their information, only to be asked to repeat the process all over again.
LendingTree offers student loan refinancing and new student loans for both parents and children. Their refinancing partners include SoFi, Earnest, LendKey, Laurel Road and Citizens Bank.
Students looking for new loans need to supply their school name, total loan amount, graduation year, zip code and email address. Options include both fixed and variable-rate loans from lenders such as Discover, Sallie Mae, SunTrust and CommonBond. Interest rates will vary based on the institution, total loan amount and current market rate.
LendingTree fails to mention that borrowers should apply for student loans through the federal government before applying with LendingTree. Federal loans have more repayment options, lower interest rates and don’t require a cosigner. Parents can also take out federal loans for their children.
Though it’s known as a loan aggregator, LendingTree also provides recommendations for banking products such as CDs, savings, checking and money market accounts.
Unlike their other services, customers don’t have to submit personal information to see what’s available. This is because the rates aren’t dependent on credit score or location.
If you’re looking for a new bank, make sure to compare options outside of LendingTree. There are several high-yield banks missing from their list.
What to Know about LendingTree
LendingTree shows rates based off the information you supply. If you think you have a 750 credit score, you’ll see rates for that score. If your score is actually closer to 650, the final rate will likely be higher than the initial one. Use accurate information or you might discover a less desirable rate later on in the process.
Some users complain that rates on LendingTree aren’t competitive. If you’re using LendingTree as your only research tool, you probably won’t get an accurate view of what’s available. Look for rates outside of LendingTree to see what you actually qualify for. Remember to compare APRs, not just interest rates, because those reflect all possible fees.
Downsides of LendingTree
One major drawback to LendingTree - and a primary complaint among users - is that you have to input your email address and sometimes your phone number to get personalized quotes.
There’s no option to get a quote and then reach out to the lender yourself. It can be incredibly annoying to receive a barrage of phone calls and texts just because you asked for a quote.
LendingTree has an online form you can fill out that puts you on their “do not call” list. Unfortunately, this doesn’t apply to lenders who got your information from LendingTree. You’ll have to ask them directly to stop calling you.
One way to avoid this problem is by giving out a Google Voice number when filling out forms. This lets you input a real number where you can still access voicemails and text messages without granting access to your real cell phone. You can get a Google Voice number for free with a Google account.
Despite its limitations, LendingTree is still a reputable site that connects eager consumers with lenders. They have a Trustpilot score of 4.5 out of 5 with more than 7,500 reviews.
Borrowers considering a loan can use LendingTree as a jumping-off point. If they don’t like what they see, there’s no obligation to follow through.
Signing up on LendingTree should only be done once you’re ready for a loan; otherwise, you’ll be inviting lots of annoying phone calls. If you decide to use LendingTree, try to get quotes from a couple of other sites as well.