search facebook-square linkedin-square twitter envelope

Discover Financial Services is the issuer of the Discover Card, the third largest U.S. credit card. While many people are aware of the Discover Card, the company also has a lending business that provides home equity loans, student loans and personal loans.

Application process

Unlike other lending sites, Discover does not have an easily accessible application form for home equity loans. Rather, you must call a Discover loan representative at the phone number listed on the site. According to the site, Discover prepares much of the paperwork on your behalf. The site offers a loan application checklist that describes information you can give on the phone, and mail in. There is a tool to help you estimate how much you can borrow.

Discover does offer online applications for student loans and personal loans. You fill out the forms and review the terms. Personal and student loans are decided within 15 minutes, but home equity loans take longer.

Home equity loans

Discover home equity loans are available up to $150,000, have no origination fees, no prepayment penalties, and no closing costs except if you live in Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Tennessee or Virginia.

You must have a credit score of at least 620, good credit history, verifiable employment and income, and sufficient equity in your home. You can borrow untapped equity in your home, but the amount, interest rate and repayment period will depend on several factors, including your credit profile, home appraisal and geographic location. Closing typically takes about four weeks. The loan is secured by your home.

Personal loans

You can obtain from $2,500 up to $35,000 through a Discover personal loan. As of October, 2016, the loan has a fixed rate (between 6.99 percent and 24.99 percent APR) but a flexible repayment timeline (36 to 84 months). There are no closing fees or prepayment penalties, and approved loans are funded on the next business day. You must have a good credit score and strong financial history. Funds are distributed directly to your bank account. You can return the loan funds within 30 days and pay no interest.

Student loans

Discover offers private student loans that cover up to 100 percent of school-certified college costs. There are no fees of any kind. If you have a GPA of 3.0 or higher, you get a 1 percent cash reward on each new loan. As of October, 2016, variable rates range from 3.62 to 10.62 percent APR, and fixed rates range from 6.24 to 11.99 percent APR. You can choose either the in-school or deferred payment option.

Loan funding

Discover funds its loans through Discover Bank.

Consumer complaints and reviews

Discover Financial Services has been accredited by the Better Business Bureau since 1989. As of October 2016, Discover carried a BBB rating of “A+.” It’s not possible to separate loan complaints from those about credit cards, but of the 746 complaints about the company closed by the bureau in the last three years, 195 concerned advertising and sales issues, and 297 were about Discover’s products or service.

In July 2015, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau announced a consent order in which Discover Bank agreed to refund $16 million to borrowers and pay a $2.5 million civil penalty to settle allegations that it engaged in illegal student loan servicing practices.

Is Discover a good choice?

The loan products seem to offer good value. We assume they’ve cleaned up their student loan act.

Eric Bank writes about small business, personal finance and science. He holds a master’s of science in finance from DePaul University and an MBA from New York University.