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Lending Tree Reviewed (Is it Legit or a Scam?)
Doug Lebda created Lending Tree in 1996 after a tiresome, time-consuming endeavor of his own. After shopping endlessly for a mortgage loan in Charlotte, NC, Doug had an idea. He wished for of a tool or website that would allow a person to shop many lenders at one time and then choose the one that works best for them. In 1998, his idea came to fruition and Lending Tree was founded. Since that time, the company has been sold and rebranded several times, which has lead consumers to believe that it’s a sign of scams or at the very least not as reliable as it once was. However, it seems that the consumers who feel the company is a scam or have complaints don’t truly understand the way it works.
To determine whether using Lending Tree is right for you or not, it’s important to understand the company’s business model. Lending Tree is not a lender. Instead, they create leads for consumers to reputable lending competitors. Below, we will go over all the details of using Lending Tree to help you determine whether it is right for you.
Table of Contents
As an underlying generality, Lending Tree is a website that allows banks to compete for customers’ business in a centralized location. Being able to shop for loans at home eliminates the need to visit many locations or sites. Whether a loan is granted or not is still dependent on an applicant’s credit approval, work and residential history, as well as whether they can afford the loan or not. Lending Tree does originate any loans; instead, they only connect consumers (private and commercial) to lenders in one place and offer choice, convenience, and value.
Minimum Debt Amount
Like all lenders, Lending Tree offers a plethora of loans to choose from in varying amounts. The minimum loan amount is $1,000.
Maximum Debt Amount
Lending Tree’s lenders base loan amounts on a variety of factors, which means maximum debt amounts vary from one applicant to another. However, the maximum personal loan amount rests at $35,000.
Lending Tree’s matchmaking service for lenders and applicants is free to users. But, there are costs involved. Lenders pay an up-front cost to Lending Tree to be a part of their network.
If you choose a loan brought to you by Lending Tree, you’ll be responsible for the same costs associated with a loan that you sought out entirely by yourself; including closing costs, processing fees, etc. In theory, this means you won’t pay any more money for a loan through Lending Tree as you would through a lender you sought out yourself.
However, the non-monetary cost involved with this process lies in the fact that Lending Tree operates as a marketing lead generator. What this means is they gather information and can sell it to third parties, which could result in many calls from lenders offering products and services.
In the company’s Terms and Conditions, it says they ask all lenders not to pass on any fees from participating in the service to its customers. However, they have no means or authority to enforce this request.
How it Works
One reason so many opt to use Lending Tree is because it is easy to apply. As soon as you land on their website, you’ll see several loan type options; including mortgages, autos, credit card consolidation, and much more. You will also find links to credit cards, online debt calculators, and other resources. Just, click on the kind of loan you are searching for and fill out a short form. Questions you can expect to answer on the form include:
- Legal name
- Contact information
- Social Security Number
- Residential history
- Personal assets
- Employment History
- Debts owed
After you fill out the form, you submit it to Lending Tree online. Soon, the service will match you with lenders that may meet your needs. From the matches you receive, you can evaluate your options and choose the best deal.
It’s important to note if you do not fill out the form completely, you will not receive the same results as someone who does. For instance, if you don’t give your entire social security number, you may only get results that say “contact lender.”
Lending Tree provides matchmaking services for several types of loans including:
- FHA and VA Home Loans
- Auto Loans (Car, Truck, Van, Etc.)
- Personal Loans
- Big Event Loans (ex. Wedding)
- Home Equity
Lending Tree offers leads to lenders all over the United States. Loans with varying interest rates are offered for consumers with good or bad credit histories. What this means for consumers is even those with poor credit history may be able to find a solution such as a refinance loan with competitive and fair rates.
Once again, it’s important to point out that Lending Tree is not a financial institution. Instead, it is a marketing lead generator and under law a mortgage broker. So, you shouldn’t expect to see Lending Tree accredited by the same institutions like banks. However, you should be sure to check that any bank or lender Lending Tree suggests is duly certified. Lending Tree has been accredited by the BBB since 1998.
What People Are Saying
The reviews of Lending Tree cover a broad spectrum. There are those that love the ease of the company and have left a stellar review as result. There are others that were disappointed with the options provided to them, or individuals who claim to have had loans denied after initially being approved. Some of these discrepancies can be attributed to changes in a person’s credit during the application process or incomplete information being provided to the lender. However, none of these concerns are what is reported most often about Lending Tree.
The largest concern and complaint associated with Lending Tree is their sale of user’s information to third parties. The application process is quick and comfortable to do in one’s home, but also comes with the risk of receiving many robocalls from lenders competing for a person’s business.
In Lending Tree’s defense, the sale of personal information is outlined in their terms and services. One of the only ways the company can make successful matches between applicants and lenders is to pass on personal, sensitive information. However, the companies participating in Lending Tree’s network are only permitted to do “soft pulls” of credit, which means there should be no negative impact to credit scores.
Quality of Service
As with any company, some people love the service and others have had negative experiences. The company’s long history, although convoluted at times, speaks to its ability to make customers happy. Most people would agree that a company simply can’t stay in business for nearly 20 years if they aren’t providing a valuable service.
Lastly, many people who have worked with the customer service representatives have said they were nothing short of amazing. The staff is educated in the business and services they offer and can provide answers and resource information that is beneficial. Consumers who were upset with the sale of their information also had positive experiences contacting Lending Tree to have their names removed from call lists and accounts deleted.
Lending Tree does not have a satisfaction guarantee. A consumer’s ability to receive a loan through one of the lenders they are matched with is based on information provided by the person filling out the form. Lending Tree makes no guarantees that a loan of any kind will be offered at any time.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is Lending Tree is legit and not a scam. If you are in the market for a loan and don’t have a ton of time to search for the perfect lender and compare rates; Lending Tree was designed exactly for you. It’s true you are only getting results from banks that paid to be part of the network, but at the same time, you may be able to get a deal from a lender you never even considered.
Overall, Lending Tree scores a 4 out of 5 stars. To truly be a 5-star business, the company has to figure out a way to decrease the risk of spam and unwanted phone calls from lenders to the consumers it serves.