LightStream vs. American Express: Which Personal Loan Is Right for You?

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Edited byMorgan Hull
Edited byMorgan Hull

Updated: September 26, 2023

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MoneyGeek’s research helps you compare rates for two notable personal loan lenders — LightStream and American Express — so you can make an informed decision about which personal loan is best for you.

With long repayment terms and high loan amounts, LightStream fits borrowers who prefer to avoid shorter repayment periods. In contrast, American Express’ low APRs make it a viable option for borrowers with good credit.

Key Takeaways

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LightStream offers borrowers the capital to fund big and small projects. American Express reduces the amount you’ll pay in interest through its low APRs for American Express cardholders with good credit histories.

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Personal loan requirements, interest rates and terms will vary by lender so it’s important to learn about all the options first.

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Whether you’re buying a first home or setting up a new business venture, there are other factors that can influence your borrowing options, like your credit score and income.

LightStream or American Express: Overview

We evaluated two of the market’s leading lenders to help you decide which lender is the best for you. Both LightStream and American Express offer low APRs relative to other lenders. However, American Express has an APR range from 4.93% to 19.97%, while LightStream has an APR range from 4.49% to 20.49%.

In addition to each lender’s APR, MoneyGeek researched up-to-date information on personal loan lenders' credit score, loan amount and repayment terms so you can choose the best one for you.

LightStream


  • LightStream

    Borrowers who do not want to be pressured by short repayment terms may find LightStream a very suitable choice.


    • 4.49% to 20.49%APR Range
    • 660Minimum Credit Score
    • $5,000 to $100,000Loan Amount Range
    • 24 to 84 monthsRepayment Terms
    • Same DayTime to Receive Funds

    LightStream offers lending services to business owners and consumers. Its loan terms range from 24 to 84 months depending on your desired loan amount and the intended purpose of your loan. It offers a relatively low interest rate for people with good credit, and loans have no prepayment penalties for early payoff. Discounts are also offered for borrowers who activate automatic payments.

    The lender also has same-day funding, which makes borrowing easier. However, it does require a minimum credit score of 660, which can make it challenging for those with low credit scores to qualify.

    Pros

    • Discounts available
    • Relatively low APR
    • High maximum loan amount
    • Long repayment terms

    Cons

    • High minimum loan amount
    • Good credit score requirement
    • Co-signers not allowed
    • Loan amount: $5,000 to $100,000
    • Repayment terms: 24 to 84 months
    • Minimum credit score: 660
    • Time to receive funds: Same day
    LightStream

American Express


  • American Express

    American Express offers loans at low APRs to borrowers with good credit.


    • 4.93% to 19.97%APR Range
    • 660Minimum Credit Score
    • $3,500 to $40,000Loan Amount Range
    • 24 to 84 monthsRepayment Terms
    • Same DayTime to Receive Funds

    Although American Express personal loans are only available to American Express cardholders, those that qualify will receive more fair interest rates in comparison to other lenders. The lender offers loans ranging from $3,500 to $40,000 with interest rates between 4.93% and 19.97%. This makes it a good fit for borrowers who want to save money on interest, or pay off their loan early without hassle.

    Again, only American Express cardholders with a minimum credit score of 660 are eligible. It should also be noted you may obtain a higher interest rate if your credit score is only at or slightly above the minimum requirement.

    Pros

    • BBB accreditation
    • Low APR
    • Mobile application available
    • No origination fee or prepayment penalty

    Cons

    • High credit score requirement
    • No autopay discount
    • Late fees
    • Loan amount: $3,500 to $40,000
    • Repayment terms: 24 to 84 months
    • Minimum credit score: 660
    • Time to receive funds: Same day
    American Express

APR Range

Lender
APR Range

LightStream

4.49% to 20.49%

American Express

4.93% to 19.97%

APR stands for annual percentage rate and refers to the percentage of interest you’ll pay per year for your loan. The APR you receive is impacted by several factors, including your credit history, the loan amount, the term or length of your loan and your debt-to-income ratio.

Although American Express personal loans have a significantly lower APR range than LightStream, only American Express cardholders are eligible for its personal loans.

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MONEYGEEK’S VERDICT

Personal loans from American Express have a more narrow APR range than those offered by LightStream. The lender also offers low APRs to those with good credit. A loan with a higher APR costs more over time in interest and fees than a loan with a lower one. So, if you're choosing between several financing offers, make sure to compare their APRs before making your final decision.

Minimum Credit Score

Lender
Credit Score

LightStream

660

American Express

660

When you apply for a loan, a lender will check your credit score to determine whether they are willing to lend you money. Credit scores are based on the information found in your credit report, which is a summary of your credit history. Building a good credit score requires you to show financial responsibility through practices such as paying your monthly bills on time.

If your score is too low, lenders may deny you or charge you a higher interest rate than other borrowers with higher scores. Conversely, if your score is much higher than the lender’s requirement, you may be eligible for its lowest possible interest rate.

LightStream and American Express personal loans have the same minimum credit score requirement of 660, which is considered fair.

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MONEYGEEK’S VERDICT

In this category, LightStream and American Express tied. However, if your credit score is close to the minimum requirement, you may want to consider improving it before applying. A high credit score can help you secure low-interest rates.

Keep in mind, though, that credit scores are just one factor to consider in choosing the right personal lender. Look at other aspects to arrive at a sound decision.

Loan Amount Range

Lender
Loan Amount Range

LightStream

$5,000 to $100,000

American Express

$3,500 to $40,000

The loan amount range refers to the amount you can borrow from a lender. Lenders will determine your loan eligibility and capacity for loan repayment based on your credit rating, income and more.

American Express' and LightStream's personal loan amounts are one of the biggest differences between the two lenders. The latter offers loan amounts ranging from $5,000 to $100,000. Meanwhile, American Express can only offer $3,500 up to $40,000. These figures show that LightStream can help fund large expenses, while American Express personal loans are best for those seeking a smaller loan amount.

The loan amount you need to look for depends on your current financial situation. It’s best to assess your needs first, so you don’t get a bigger loan than necessary.

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MONEYGEEK’S VERDICT

The better choice in this category depends specifically on how much you need. However, most borrowers taking out big personal loans may be attracted to LightStream because it has a higher loan ceiling. Compared to American Express’ personal loan ceiling, the difference is $60,000.

However, loan amounts are not the only aspect you should look at when taking out a personal loan. Assess your needs to find the right lender for you.

Repayment Terms

Lender
Repayment Terms

LightStream

24 to 84 months

American Express

24 to 84 months

The repayment term is the length of time over which you’ll repay your loan. A long repayment period correlates to a lower monthly payment; however, you’ll likely pay more in interest over the life of your loan. This isn't always true, though, because factors like your credit score and debt-to-income ratio also affect your interest rate.

LightStream and American Express tie in this category. Both offer repayment terms from 24 to 84 months. Your specific needs and circumstances will determine the repayment term most appropriate for you. Short-term loans may be best if you want to save on interest rates. Long-term loans, on the other hand, are best for those who do not want to be burdened by costly monthly payments.

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MONEYGEEK’S VERDICT

LightStream and American Express personal loans offer the same repayment terms, so there is no winner for this category. However, while you can choose a repayment term that best fits your budget and ability to repay the debt, it is better to choose a short repayment term, especially if you are able to make higher monthly payments toward your principal. This would mean a lower interest rate on your loan and a simple loan repayment timetable. Consider your financial priorities before securing a repayment term.

That being said, it’s best to consider other factors besides repayment term options. Doing so will allow you to find the best personal loan lender for you.

Time to Receive Funds

Lender
Time to Receive Funds

LightStream

Same day

American Express

Same day

LightStream and American Express are two great options for borrowers who need a fast, secure way to get funds. You may be able to get a personal loan from both lenders as soon as it’s approved.

There are, however, some factors that may cause your funding to be delayed. These include the amount you want to borrow, the length of your repayment period and your credit score.

Savvy borrowers can get speedy approvals and easy loans by applying online before visiting a lending office because most companies allow them to prequalify.

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MONEYGEEK’S VERDICT

If you’re in need of funds sooner rather than later, American Express and LightStream’s personal loan funding times are nearly instantaneous. Both lenders are able to send funds as soon as they approve your application.

Being able to collect the money you need quickly is an attractive option, but take a look at your other options first. In addition to fund disbursement time, you should always compare different lenders' rates, fees and track record before choosing who to borrow from.

Final Thoughts

From this review, it’s clear that LightStream and American Express personal loans are at par with each other in many ways: similar credit score requirements, turnaround times and repayment term options.

The key differences between the two lie in availability, loan amounts and APR ranges. American Express personal loans are only available to American Express cardholders. The loan amounts offered by LightStream are higher than those of American Express, but it also has a higher maximum APR. Meanwhile, American Express may not be able to lend you a large amount of money, but it has a lower maximum APR than LightStream.

If you have a good credit history, American Express is definitely worth considering. This is especially true if you don’t intend on borrowing a larger-than-life amount — just enough to fund small projects.

Nevertheless, your decision depends on your individual circumstances, so make sure you consider all aspects of taking out a loan.

Frequently Asked Questions About Personal Loan Lenders

MoneyGeek answered borrowers’ most frequently asked questions about personal loans to help you make the best financial decision.

What documents do I need to provide to personal loan lenders?
How do I know what my credit score is?
Do lenders conduct a hard inquiry?
Are interest rates on personal loans the same for all lenders?
Do lenders charge fees for personal loans?
What are the advantages of applying for a personal loan online?
Is prepayment allowed on personal loans?
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The content on this page is accurate as of the posting/last updated date; however, some of the rates mentioned may have changed. We recommend visiting the lender's website for the most up-to-date information available.

Editorial Disclosure: Opinions, reviews, analyses and recommendations are the author’s alone and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any bank, lender or other entity. Learn more about our editorial policies and expert editorial team.