1. Explore the lender’s borrower benefits: Does the lender offer you various benefits? These benefits may include a low origination fee (a lender can charge up to 1%), a low default fee (a guarantor can charge up to 1%), and reduced interest rate for ontime repayment or auto debit payments. Is it possible to lose these benefits, and if so, what circumstances can lead to the loss of benefits?
2. Test drive the lender’s customer service: Call their 1-800 numbers. How long did you have to wait before speaking to a representative? How long were you placed on hold, if at all? Ask the customer service representatives a few questions.
For example: Do they sell their loans? The lender themselves may have excellent service, but if they sell your loans on the secondary market, will the company that bought your loans offer this same exemplary service?
OR What are their hours of operation? Are these hours compatible with your needs? What online resources are available if you cannot reach a customer service representative?
3. Visit the lender’s website: Look for borrower education, debt management resources, and online payment options. Do they offer education tools such as repayment calculators or tutorials that answer your questions and respond to their needs? Can you make online payments if you’re living outside the US?