PERSONAL FINANCE BLOG

Money shouldn´t stop making your plans come true. Learn how personal loans can help you!
Align Lender Review
3 Jul 2018

Align Lender Review

Whether you are looking to consolidate debt or pay for your wedding, a personal loan can help you reach your goals. As many as 13.7 million Americanshave a personal loan balance.

It can be nerve-wracking agreeing to a certain APR and fixed repayment plan. This is where Align can help by offering you a loan based on income.

Keep reading to find out if an income sharing agreement personal loan is right for you.

About Align

Back in 2011 Align began as Cumulus Funding. The name was changed to Align in 2017 to better portray the financial services they offer.

The methodology behind Align is that it is important to be flexible with borrowers. They want to “be aligned” with their customers.

Critics claim that Align is taking advantage of those who are less financially secure. Align positions themselves as investing in their customer’s financial futures.

The company is based in Chicago, Illinois. Even though they haven’t been in business long, they have already issued millions of dollars in ISA loans.

The Basics

Align claims that they are offering income sharing agreements that are more flexible than traditional personal loans. Just as with traditional loans, your income, creditworthiness, occupation, and location are all considered.

The difference is your income is used to determine what you pay, not just your likelihood of paying. You are not given a set interest rate percentage based on your credit score and ability to pay.

What are Income Share Agreements?

The amount you pay is based on a percentage of your income. The idea behind this repayment plan is that you will pay more or less based on your current income.

The most common situation where you will see an ISA agreement is a student loan for education. Align took this loan structure and applied it to other life events like paying off debt, weddings, or medical bills.

You are not required to provide any collateral. This gives Align the ability to give you a loan for virtually any purpose you wish.

Repayment Periods

You will be given a fixed term repayment period. This could be anywhere from two to five years.

The Process

The first step is to fill out the application form online. The form is very basic asking for your name, phone number, address, occupation, and income.

You will need a credit score of at least 600 and an annual income of at least $22,000. You may need to provide bank statements and paycheck stubs as proof of income.

Align will verify your information and confirm the information you provided is correct. Once verified Align will work with you to find a loan and repayment plan that works best for you.

All that is left is to finalize the agreement. You will receive the funds within one to three business days upon finalizing your agreement. Most people receive the money the next day.

How Your Income is Determined

In general terms, Align will consider your income to be the money you receive from productive labor. You’ll need to report the number that is on your annual W2 and any documented pension.

There are certain items that cannot be considered as a part of your income. These include inheritance money, dividends awarded, unemployment payments, winnings from a lottery, and partnership income.

Loan Purpose

You are not limited in what you choose to use the money for. Everything from home repairs, debt consolidation, medical bills, and weddings qualify.

The Pros

One of the biggest advantages to using Align income share funding is that your loan funds will be deposited in just one day. This is perfect if you are in a bind and really need your loan funds.

Your repayment plan is based on your income, but no more than 10% will go towards your monthly Align payments. If your income happens to go down, so will your payments.

This could result in your payments being zero. There are also no origination fees for prepayment penalties.

Support Team

Align offers multiple different ways to assist borrowers in getting the answers they need. You can start with the help page on their website.

If you don’t find the answer there you can send an email to the support team. You can also call there 800 number for live support if you prefer.

Life Changes and so Does Your Payment Amount

Your monthly payment can decrease if you become unemployed, medically disabled, or have your salary or hours cut. The amount your payment is lowered is proportional to the amount of decrease in income.

No Extreme Rate Hikes

Once you begin to make a higher income your monthly payment will also increase. It will only increase based on the fixed percentage rate that you originally agreed to when you borrowed.

This means you don’t have to worry about suddenly having to owe a large sum to make up for the previous decreased payments. It also allows you to budget and plan for the predictable amount you will owe each month.

You’re Given Example Scenarios

It can be tough to predict just what your income will be in two, three, or five years. Align attempts to alleviate some of this anxiety by providing you with examples of what you could end up owing.

The examples will show you what rates you could end up paying in the future. You will be able to compare those rates to traditional loans before you commit to a loan based on income.

Buyout Rights

If at any time you have the ability to pay off your loan, you can without any penalty. This is an option you should consider if you have a significant pay increase.

You will never be required to pay more than your original loan amount for your buyout. You will also be provided with your buyout totals when you agree to your loan.

The Cons

The amount you can borrow is quite limited starting at $1,500 and capped at $12,500. This limits the usefulness of the loan.

Monthly Payments Totally Zero Dollars

The catch to having a zero monthly payment is that you must have been involuntarily unemployed. You cannot quit your job and expect to not have to pay.

You will need to provide proof of job loss by showing your unemployment assistance paperwork. You can also provide your separation letter from your employer if it meets certain requirements provided by Align.

The amount you pay is based on your pretax income. This could make a big difference to the amount you bring home once taxes and insurance are also taken out.

Your Payment is Sort of a Mystery

While you will agree on a certain percentage of your monthly income, it is difficult to predict what your future income will be. This means you may not know exactly what your future payments could end up being.

For most customers who borrow from Align, their payments fluctuate throughout the life of the loan. The best you can do is follow an estimated amount and know that you may need to adjust your monthly payment amount in the future.

No Joint Borrowing or Co-Signors

Align does not offer loans to married couples wanting to borrow together. You cannot have a co-signer on your loan either.

Sample Application

We processed a couple different applications through Align with varying information. We used incomes ranging from $50,000 to $100,000 and terms from 4 to 5 years.

The equivalent APR for Align’s repayment plans ranged from 37% to 94%. This is incredibly high in comparison to the APR you would get with a traditional loan. This rate is better than a payday loan.

The Actual Customer Service is Lacking

We mentioned earlier that they offer an online portal and 800 number for customer service. A review of customer reviews will show that their customer service department is less than desirable.

Many customers complain about not being able to talk to someone who can assist them. There are multiple complaints about how your online account doesn’t provide any useful information.

This includes your outstanding balance, old statements, payment history, or any credits to your accounts. You’ll be required to call into the customer service department for this information.

Unreliable Billing

Another common complaint among customers is the unreliability of the billing department. Customers won’t have their monthly payment withdrawn on the expected date.

This can lead to a missed or late payment report to the credit agencies. It will then be your responsibility to correct the mistake.

The Verdict on Align

In comparison to a traditional personal loan, you are going to pay a lot more with a loan from Align. The advantage is that your payments are flexible.

If you are unsure of your financial future a loan from Align may fit your needs. The process is easy and fast done all online.

This results in you getting your loan funds in as little as one day. Just be aware that their customer service isn’t top notch.

Request your personal loan today with Bonsai Finance.