Intro to Lightstream
LightStream is a lending division operated by the well-known SunTrust Bank. Based in Atlanta, Georgia, SunTrust was founded in 1865 and bought the assets of FirstAgain which was later used to launch LightStream in 2013. LightStream is SunTrust’s way of offering customers loans for various expenses ranging from auto repairs to home improvement projects to—you guessed it—medical expenses. After its creation, LightStream grew in no time, having thousands of clients already in the year 2014. The company provides unsecured medical loans, which basically means that once you’re approved for a loan from them, the funds go directly into your bank account and you can use them for any medical procedure you need. Because this is their format, they don’t really have a network of participating medical providers. Any provider can be a participating provider, since the money is yours to spend (and of course pay back!).
- Reasonable Terms
The terms of these loans are very reasonable. You can borrow between $5,000 and $100,000 and then pay it back over anywhere between 24 and 84 months. Furthermore, your interest rate is locked in and stays the same for the entire length of the loan. This makes for less worrying about your interest going up over time.
- The anything, anywhere loan. They don't offer credit financing, but their loans are extremely flexible. Once you're approved for one, the funds are deposited right into your bank account, at which point you're in total control of where and how you spend that money. In this way, you're not limited to a network of providers or even certain medical treatments. It becomes money in the bank to be used at your discretion. Some common treatments funded by LightStream are dental procedures, in vitro fertilization, and bariatric and cosmetic surgeries. The company says you can use this loan for almost any medical, dental, or fertility treatment.
- Lack of fees. LightStream won't pinch pennies with you. They charge nothing to apply for a loan, no loan origination fees, and no pre-payment penalties.
- Patient resources. Because the funds for your loan are deposited into your personal account, you have control over where they are spent. You can also manage your account online through LightStream's online portal. They pride themselves on offering an entirely paperless process for managing your loan, which means online you can do everything-from applying for a loan to signing documents to making your last payment. There's also a convenient loan calculator tool and even a rate beat offer. This means that, under certain conditions, LightStream will beat the APR of a competing company on your loan.
- Loans Only
- Credit Affected by Application Process
This company is a loan-only financer, which means they don't have any options like medical credit cards or a line of credit for a medical expense. You can only get a loan from them. What's more is that you have to borrow at least $5,000. If by chance you're looking for a very small loan, maybe of only a couple thousand dollars, or if you're looking for medical credit, LightStream isn't an option.
Credit Affected by Application Process
This isn't a major surprise, but the application process for a LightStream loan does indeed affect your credit score. When you apply for the loan, the company will do a hard pull of your credit score to view your history and determine eligibility (and APR rate, etc). Because it's a hard pull and not a soft, your credit may be affected during the application. Some companies just do a soft pull, which doesn't affect credit.
The Bottom Line
Despite the limitations of this company, it is still a highly recommended brand to work with for medical financing. In short, the pros outweigh the cons. The pros of a loan from LightStream include that they are operated by a well-established bank and that their loans are very flexible. Customers are still given a lot of control over their loans because the funds are deposited right into personal bank accounts and they're not limited to using these funds at certain providers.
For the customer who prefers credit over a loan, or even who prefers a loan smaller than $5,000, LightStream is not a recommended company. They require that you borrow at least $5,000, and they have no credit options. So despite the fact that they have loans for almost anything, they still don't have every option for every customer. Even for customers whose needs are met by LightStream's loans, be warned that your credit will be affected by applying for a loan. One nice thing about LightStream, though, is that they are confident enough in their products to include a guarantee for them. If you're not satisfied with their services in the first 30 days of working with them, they'll pay you $100. In many ways, then, the company has much to offer and even backs up their services with a guarantee.
*The APR rates listed in this review were current as of May 2019. Please visit LightStream's website for the most up-to-date rates.