Smarter Loans is an online portal that gives borrowers an opportunity to compare personal and business loan rates across multiple lenders in Canada.
The ‘alternative’ lending space in Canada sometimes appears to be all over the map, and this is where a comparison platform like Smarter Loans comes into play. They help to categorize legitimate, credible, and trusted online lenders so borrowers can make an informed choice.
Smarter Loans and the Alternative Lending Industry
Smarter Loans was launched in 2016 and is based in Toronto, Canada. Their mission is:
to help Canadians find any type of loan and financing by connecting them with Canada’s most reputable lending companies.
They are a member of the Canadian Lenders Association, an organization that represents companies who provide loans and other credit to businesses and individuals through non-traditional means.
Alternative lenders aka online personal and business lenders are as popular as ever in Canada, and for good reason. They fill the void created by a lending gap and for some, are an alternative to credit card debt. Traditional ‘big’ banks are unable to provide loans to everyone and have more stringent requirements that may be difficult to meet. In addition, loan applications to banks can take several weeks to process.
Not every borrower wants to be assessed based only on a credit score/history and some small businesses/start-ups find it hard to raise capital by way of traditional lending. It is this need for non-traditional lending that has also led to the emergence of peer-to-peer lending and other crowd-funding alternatives.
Other reasons why individuals may seek alternative sources for personal loans include – credit card debt consolidation, emergency expenses, home repairs, etc. While personal loans will vary in interest rates depending on how the lender assesses the borrower’s credit risk, they often come with much cheaper rates than credit cards.
Stricter mortgage stress tests imposed in the new year have also led some mortgage borrowers to turn to alternative lenders who are not bound by the new rules.
Why Smarter Loans?
There are good reasons why Smarter Loans has become popular among Canadians for personal and business loan rates comparison.
1. Loan Finder
As shown below, their website displays different loan types and lenders all in one place. The most popular loan types are personal and business loans.
Using the loan finder tool, you can select your loan type (personal, business, mortgage, equipment, auto, etc.) and see which lenders are in your area. The tool also gives you a snapshot of the terms, loan amount and interest rate ranges available.
2. Compare and Contrast Lender Profiles
If you want more information about a specific lender, it is available. You can even go a step further and compare/contrast between lenders based on their published profiles.
The lender’s profiles provide an overview of the company, provinces where their services are available, website address, expert and customer reviews, eligibility requirements, documents needed for application, processing time, funding method, and repayment process.
3. Ease of Application
Based on the result from the loan finder tool, you can apply directly to the company of your choice. If you are undecided on which lender better meets your needs, Smarter Loans has a “Pre-Apply” form you can fill.
They will review your information and recommend the most suitable lender for your needs. Applications are usually processed within a few days.
4. Expert Reviews
According to Smarter Loans, they host “…only the most trustworthy, highest-rated personal and business loan providers in Canada.” Before companies are listed on their website, they are thoroughly researched and vetted by financial specialists and other industry experts. You can also read customer reviews and see what others have experienced.
5. Learning Centre
Their website has an extensive learning centre where you can find information and resources relating to business financing, personal loans, credit repair, debt consolidation, and much more.
Smarter Loans does provide a very useful service if you are in the market for a business or personal loan and need to obtain it via alternative lending.
Their website lists well-known (and not so well known) lenders and gives you a snapshot of what is on offer i.e. loan amounts available, rates, terms and conditions, documentation required, and so on. By narrowing your options early on, you can go directly to a lender that meets your needs and avoid the run-around from lender to lender that further risks damaging your credit score.
In a world where scammers are plentiful, you have to be careful who you are dealing with. Smarter Loans assists by helping to review and evaluate lenders for credibility before they list them on their website.
As with all things financial, read the fine print, ensure you understand the terms and conditions of your loan, and have a plan in place to pay it off as soon as possible.