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Payoff Inc. is a personal lender that says it’s out to free people from debt. It targets consumers with outstanding debts and offers to repackage those balances at lower interest rates and better repayment terms.

Payoff loans are only available to consolidate credit cards – borrowers will have to look elsewhere for other needs.

Headquartered in Costa Mesa, California, Payoff prides itself on customer service and honest dealings. It offers free services to those struggling with credit and is accessible in a very modern, technologically-savvy way.

Application process

Applying for a Payoff loan is a four-step process:

  • Payoff gathers financial information, checks the rates on your existing credit card debt, and offers potential payment plans.
  • You select your preferred payment plan.
  • Payoff verifies your information — including income and credit score — in a pre-approval process.
  • Approval and assignment of a “Member Advocate.”

If an application is denied, Payoff will offer specific reasons why, and promises to “work with you to turn those financial weaknesses into strengths” through a free service called Lift. The Lift program is part training, part simplification and focuses on improving credit score while paying off existing debt.

Minimum requirements for Payoff loan approval include:

  • Minimum FICO credit score of 660 (though some exceptions may apply for those in the mid-600s)
  • Debt-to-income ratio cannot exceed 30 percent
  • Three years of credit history
  • No more than four credit inquires (does not include “soft inquiries”) in the six months prior to applying
  • Minimum 18 years of age and U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Valid U.S. bank account.

As of November 2015, Payoff was not offering loans in Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, South Dakota, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, and Wyoming.

Lending terms

Debtors can pay off between $5,000 and $25,000 in credit card debt through Payoff.

Lending terms are processed through a proprietary algorithm. Annual percentage rates (APRs) fall between 8 percent and 22 percent — a relatively high floor and relatively low ceiling for personal lenders – and financing terms can last up to 60 months.

There is an origination fee associated with a credit card consolidation, normally between 2 percent and 5 percent of the total loan amount. This fee is deducted from proceeds when the loan is booked.

Payoff doesn’t have prepayment fees with the loan, and the company is extremely transparent about lending terms. Each borrower’s Member Advocate is available to answer any questions or help restructure payments if necessary.

Loan funding

Payoff partners with Encore Capital Group, which purchases consumer debt, to offer its services. First Electronic Bank, an FDIC insured bank in Utah, issues all loans through the Payoff Platform.

Consumer complaints and reviews

Payoff has been accredited with the Better Business Bureau of San Diego, Orange and Imperial Counties since Jan. 16, 2015. The business had an A+ rating as of December, 2015. Reasons for this rating include:

  • Length of time of business operations
  • Volume of complaints relative to business size
  • Response and resolution to complaints

Perhaps due to its relatively short history with the BBB, there have been remarkably few complaints about Payoff closed – just one. Credit Karma has received 19 reviews, the majority of which are 5-star, contributing to an overall Payoff Loan ranking of 3.5 stars out of 5.

Positive reviews center on good customer service, attractive rates, and a sense of honesty and comfort. Negative reviewers generally acknowledge the good customer service, but they lament the lack of reporting to credit bureaus (Payoff loans don’t help build customer credit) and a lengthy process.

Is Payoff a good choice?

Payoff receives good reviews and has competitive rates, making it a solid option for those with burdensome credit card debt. The process is simple, transparent, and digital.

The company really does take customer service seriously. Once approved for a Payoff loan, a borrower is assigned a Member Advocate. The role of the Advocate is to personally handle any “questions, comments, concerns, or compliments.” The system ensures that the borrower consistently speaks to the same person at Payoff.

Compare rates and terms offered by multiple, vetted lenders at Credible.com.

Sean Ross is a writer, researcher and consultant. He holds a bachelor’s of science degree in economics, and has nearly a decade of experience working in financial services.