By Jill Jaracz


5 Min. To Read

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If you're mired in credit card debt, personal loans can be one option for paying off that debt. These loans allow you to pay off your credit cards in one swoop, oftentimes at lower interest rates than what you're paying on your cards. You can also get a fixed rate loan, which means you'll always know what your monthly payment will be when repaying it.

Credit reporting firm Experian says that personal loans used to be a "last resort" for consumers, but now thanks to the prevalence of Fintech companies, they're more available than ever before—and Fintechs don't make it as difficult to get them.

One reason banks are generally conservative with doling out personal loans is because they're unsecured loans aren't collateral-backed. Secured loans have an asset that banks can take if the borrower doesn't repay them, but in an unsecured loan situation, the lender is going on faith (and your repayment history) that you'll be able to pay back the loan.

While Fintech companies are taking more of this personal loan market – TransUnion reports that Fintechs have gone from five percent of the personal loan market in terms of balances, it now commands almost 40 percent of the market.

But there are tools on the market that can help banks remain competitive and allow consumers options for their personal loan needs. Upstart is an AI-based lending platform that banks use to originate personal loans or use along their own lending programs. With AI helping to automate the financial modelling that banks do to determine whether or not to approve a loan. This technology can lower the risk for banks and give consumers faster access to loan money.

"Credit is generally overpriced and unfairly distributed, because it relies on techniques developed before the advent of modern computing. But technology and data science, in the form of AI, have the opportunity to change all of that," said Upstart co-founder Paul Gu in a statement.

In Upstart's case, rather than sending a borrower their loan money via check, they can get it through a direct electronic transfer, which can show up in a borrower's account within one business day. Borrowers can also repay their loans via electronic transfer, which enables faster loan payments and helps borrowers avoid late payments and delinquencies.

Now Upstart has launched Direct Credit Card Payoff, a new feature that gives borrowers the option of sending their personal loan money directly to their credit card issuers, bypassing the need for the personal loan money to first go to a borrower's bank account and sit there until the borrower made their credit card payments with it. It also ensures that the personal loan money actually pays down or pays off the credit cards, as the borrower intends.

However, borrowers' intentions don't always become the reality, as sometimes borrowers get a personal loan, and when they see that large sum of money in their bank account, they don't use it to pay off their card debt like they're supposed to. This unfortunately means that they're still paying credit card debt on top of the personal loan repayment. Upstart's Direct Credit Card Payoff makes sure that doesn't happen, which can give banks a little peace of mind in making that unsecured loan.

"Borrowers who pay off their credit card debt immediately are less likely to default," said Dave Girouard, co-founder and CEO of Upstart, in a statement. "When you can reduce the risk of lending for banks while simultaneously helping consumers make the right financial decision, it's a win-win."

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