What Are Personal Loan Origination Fees?

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ByChristopher Boston
Reviewed byAlvin Yam, CFP
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ByChristopher Boston
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Reviewed byAlvin Yam, CFP
Edited byCasie McCoskey
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Updated: May 17, 2024

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Suppose you take out a personal loan for $10,000 but only receive $9,700 from your lender. You might be wondering why you didn't receive the full amount. The reason for this is usually the origination fee, which is a percentage of the loan amount lenders charge for processing your loan application. In this case, a 3% fee reduced the amount you received.

Origination fees directly affect both the amount you receive and the total cost of the loan. Knowing about these fees is helpful before you apply. It ensures you accurately assess how much you'll actually receive and the true cost of the loan, preventing surprises in your financial planning and loan repayments.

Key Takeaways

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An origination fee is a one-time fee a borrower usually pays upfront. It's also known as an administration or underwriting fee.

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Several factors affect a personal loan's origination fee, including your credit score and the loan amount.

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Not all lenders charge an origination fee. Those that do usually charge 1%–8% of your loan amount.

What Personal Loan Origination Fees Are

An origination fee is a one-time cost that lenders charge for processing your personal loan application. This fee covers the cost of underwriting the loan, which includes verifying your information and evaluating your creditworthiness. Origination fees vary widely, typically ranging from 1% to 8% of the loan amount. The exact percentage depends on factors like the loan amount, loan term and your credit score.

Not all lenders charge an origination fee, but those that do may implement this fee in one of two ways. Some may deduct the fee directly from the loan amount before disbursing the funds to you. For instance, on a $10,000 loan with a 5% fee, you would receive $9,500. Alternatively, adding the fee on top of the loan balance means you receive the full amount, but you must repay it over the loan term along with interest.

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Keep in mind that origination fees aren’t the only fee you might encounter when applying for a personal loan. There are others, such as:

  • Late Payment Fee: Lenders charge this fee when you fail to make a loan payment by the due date. It acts as a penalty for late payment, encouraging timely repayment and compensating the lender for the delay.
  • Prepayment Penalty: Some lenders charge a prepayment penalty if you pay off your loan earlier than the agreed term. This fee compensates the lender for the interest they lose when you pay off a loan early.
  • Non-Sufficient Funds Fee: Also known as a returned check fee, this is charged when your payment method, such as a check or automatic payment, is returned due to insufficient funds in your account. It covers the lender's processing costs for the failed payment transaction.

Why Lenders Charge an Origination Fee

Lenders charge an origination fee for personal loans primarily to cover the costs of processing a new application. This includes tasks such as:

  • Processing of the loan application
  • Verifying personal and financial information
  • Conducting credit checks
  • Underwriting the loan
  • Funding the loan

Essentially, the fee compensates the lender for the time and resources invested in determining a borrower's creditworthiness and the potential risk of the loan.

It's worth noting, however, that not all lenders charge an origination fee. This can be attributed to their differing business models and competitive strategies. Some lenders might opt not to charge this fee to attract more customers by offering a lower overall loan cost. In contrast, others include the fee to offset operational costs while maintaining their interest rates at a competitive level.

Whether a lender charges an origination fee can also depend on the type of financial institution, with some online lenders and credit unions offering more flexibility in fees to stay competitive.

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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) provide regulations and guidance for lending practices. However, specific rules vary among lenders, and lenders have flexibility in how they collect origination fees on personal loans. Credit unions, which are member-owned financial cooperatives, often have more flexibility in fee structures than traditional banks. — Alvin Yam, CFP®

How Lenders Determine Origination Fees

Lenders consider several factors when determining the origination fee for a personal loan. These help assess the risks and costs associated with the loan. While the factors below are the most common, they may vary between lenders.

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    Credit Score

    Your credit score is critical in determining the origination fee. A good credit score of 670 or higher suggests a lower risk for the lender, often resulting in a lower origination fee. However, a lower credit score can lead to a higher fee, as it indicates a higher risk of default, and the lender uses the fee to mitigate this risk.

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    Lenders evaluate your income as an indicator of your ability to repay the loan. A higher and stable income makes you a less risky borrower, which can lead to a lower origination fee. Conversely, if your income is lower or less consistent, lenders might increase the origination fee to balance the heightened risk of potential repayment issues.

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    Loan Amount

    The size of the loan plays a significant role in determining the origination fee. Lenders often charge higher origination fees for larger loans, reflecting the increased risk and administrative costs.

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    Debt-to-Income Ratio

    The debt-to-income (DTI) ratio is a key indicator of your financial health and is used by lenders to determine the origination fee. A lower DTI ratio indicates that your debt is manageable relative to your income, which can lead to a lower origination fee. On the other hand, a higher DTI ratio suggests higher financial stress, potentially increasing the origination fee as the lender compensates for the increased risk of default.

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Let's say you're planning to consolidate your debts and need to borrow $15,000. You compare offers from various lenders and discover they all charge an origination fee. The lowest is 1%, which translates to $150, while the highest is 8%, which is $1,200.

After looking at all the annual percentage rates (APR), you decide to accept the offer of the lender that charges a 6% origination fee. Your lender deducts it from your funds, so you only receive $14,100.

If you need the entire $15,000, you'll have to request a higher amount. Otherwise, you'll be short by $750. To ensure you borrow enough for your needs, divide your loan amount by 94%. In this case, you need to borrow $15,958. This ensures you still get $15,000 after paying the origination fee on your loan.

Are Origination Fees Worth the Cost?

An origination fee shouldn't make or break your decision to accept a loan offer. Evaluate several factors to determine whether the fee is justified. Here are some steps to help you make this assessment:

Measure the APR

The APR (annual percentage rate) includes the interest rate and any fees, like origination fees, giving you a comprehensive view of the loan's cost. Comparing APRs from different lenders helps you understand how much the origination fee adds to the overall cost of the loan. A lower APR might indicate that the origination fee is reasonable and makes the loan more cost-effective in the long run.

Determine the Type of Interest

Understanding whether the loan has a fixed or variable interest rate will help you anticipate costs. A fixed interest rate means your payments remain the same throughout the loan term, which can make an origination fee more manageable. With a variable rate, if your rate increases during the lifetime of your loan, you may end up paying more in the long term.

Assess the Loan Amount and Repayment Terms

Consider how the origination fee impacts the total loan amount and your repayment plan. A high fee on a small loan or a loan with a short repayment period can significantly increase your monthly payments. Assessing this in relation to the loan amount and term helps determine if the fee is proportionate and reasonable.

Compare Multiple Quotes

Always compare loan offers from various lenders. This comparison should include not just the origination fee but also interest rates and other terms. By comparing multiple quotes, you can see which lenders offer competitive fees and terms, helping you decide if a particular origination fee is worth it.

Calculate Other Fees

Apart from the origination fee, consider other potential fees like late payment and prepayment penalties. Adding these to your loan's total cost helps evaluate the full financial impact. Understanding all associated fees will help you decide if the overall cost, including the origination fee, is acceptable for your financial situation.

Following these steps to evaluate your loan's terms and conditions will help clarify if the lender's origination fee is worth the cost.

FAQ About Personal Loan Origination Fees

MoneyGeek compiled a list of frequently asked questions about personal loan origination fees to provide valuable insight and help you make informed decisions that align with your financial situation and goals.

Can I negotiate my origination fee?
Do all lenders charge an origination fee?
Why is the loan origination fee so high?
Who is responsible for paying the origination fee?
Can origination fees be waived?
Is the origination fee the same as points?

About Christopher Boston

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Christopher (Croix) Boston was the Head of Loans content at MoneyGeek, with over five years of experience researching higher education, mortgage and personal loans.

Boston has a bachelor's degree from the Seattle Pacific University. They pride themselves in using their skills and experience to create quality content that helps people save and spend efficiently.

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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.