Members of the armed forces and veterans have pledged their lives to protect their country and loved ones. The government has created several programs that offer opportunities for veterans and help with their finances. Military loans are one of their initiatives. Active military members and veterans are eligible to apply for a military loan to raise additional funds. We’ll share some information about military loans and if they make sense for veterans who need financial assistance.
Bank, Borrow, Invest, Grow
What Is a Military Loan and the Military Lending Act?
A military loan is a consumer loan reserved for active members of the military, veterans, and some dependents. You can use this loan for any reason, such as buying a new car or paying for your utilities. The Military Lending Act provides protection for active-duty borrowers. As a result, their loans cannot exceed the Military Annual Percentage Rate, currently at 36% APR. That rate may seem high, but it includes application fees and certain other fees not counted as finance charges. Other protections include a prohibition of prepayment penalties or requiring borrowers to submit to mandatory arbitration of disputes. Loans from lenders who violate the act may have the loan declared void.
What Types of Loans Are Covered Under the Military Lending Act?
The Military Lending Act covers several types of loans, including personal or signature loans. Loans that use vehicles, appliances or housing as collateral do not qualify.
Do You Have to Be on Active Duty to Apply for a Military Loan?
Active-duty members can receive military loans, but they’re not alone. You can apply for a military loan even if you are no longer on duty.
Things to Consider Before Getting a Military Loan
- Consider Possible Discounts: Some veterans can receive discounts on their loans. These discounts reduce the APR, which could make monthly payments more affordable.
- Compare the Top-End Range of Interest Rates: Review other financing options that fit your needs and compare their interest rates. Don’t rush to apply for the first loan you find.
- Prequalify with a Provider: A prequalification estimates how much money you can borrow. Prequalification helps you request the optimal amount of money for your loan.
- Check for Additional Fees: You won’t only pay the interest. Loans may come with additional fees such as the origination fee, late payment fee, and others. The Military Lending Act protects veterans from prepayment penalties, but you may encounter other fees.
- Evaluate the Lender’s Customer Support Options: It’s common for borrowers to have questions about their loan, repayment, and what they can do. Customer support is supposed to answer these questions and provide guidance. Make sure a lender has excellent customer support before taking out a loan. You don’t want to be left in the dark if you have an urgent question about your loan.
Steps to Apply for Veteran and Active-Duty Military Loans
Military loans provide useful financing to help with various expenses. Follow these steps to apply for a military loan.
1. Check Your Credit Score
Your credit score reveals your current position. This score typically impacts what loans you qualify for and how much you will pay in interest. Some lenders will post credit score requirements. Avoid submitting applications to lenders with higher credit score requirements than your current credit score.
FICO, the credit rating agency, ranks credit scores this way:
- Poor: 300-579
- Fair: 580-669
- Good: 670-739
- Very Good: 740-799
- Exceptional: 800-850
Borrowers gain access to many loans with a good (670-739) credit score and lower interest rates as their scores move up. Checking your score reveals whether you are in good standing or close to that category.
Bank, Borrow, Invest, Grow
2. Improve Your Credit Score If Necessary
Everyone should work on improving their credit scores. People with lower credit scores could get access to better rates by raising their credit scores.
Paying expenses on time is one of the best ways to raise your credit score.
You can also help improve your credit score with MoneyLion’s Credit Builder loan. The sole purpose of a Credit Builder loan is to strengthen your payment history, the metric that makes up 35% of your credit score. If you are a Credit Builder Plus member (1) , you get access to up to a $1,000 Credit Builder loan (2) , and MoneyLion will report your payment history to the three credit bureaus monthly. Don’t wait for the urgency of needing your first or next loan.
Visit Moneylion’s website to sign up for Moneylion’s Credit Builder Plus and apply for a Credit Builder Loan. (3)
3. Determine How Much You Need to Borrow
Have an amount in mind when you approach a lender. (They may not agree to loan you all that you want.) It is always wise to ask for only as much money as you need.
4. Shop Around and Compare Lenders
Reach out to multiple lenders and see which one will give you the best APR.
5. Submit Your Application
Decide which lender you want to work with, and submit the loan application.
Alternatives to Military Loans
We have outlined some alternatives to military loans below.
- USA.gov: The government’s website has a marketplace for benefits, grants, and loans. They offer federal benefits programs that help borrowers become self-sufficient or lower their expenses. The site has a separate section for Military Programs and Benefits. You can review financing choices on their site.
- PenFed Foundation: PenFed Foundation is a nonprofit organization that has helped over 140,000 military families since 2001. The nonprofit taps into support networks and resources to help veterans build strong financial futures. The foundation has a list of emergency financial resources available to service members and veterans.
- Veterans Families United: Veterans Families United provides veterans with resources to help with their everyday needs. They don’t only help with loans. Veterans Families United provides support to homeless veterans, wellness resources, and tutorials for family and friends looking to help a loved one who served in the military.