Over the past decade, online lenders have taken the credit industry by storm. In 2017, over 73% of loans to new customers originated online. Storefront lenders are now a dying breed, but online lenders are multiplying exponentially. There are an endless array of options to choose from, whatever your needs and creditworthiness levels are. That plethora of choices can cause a lot of potential borrowers to get stuck with analysis paralysis. It’s helpful when you can find reviews that do most of the due diligence for you. For instance, this Lendgreen review will tell you everything you need to know about the business. If you’re considering borrowing from them, read this first.
What is Lendgreen?
Lendgreen is a strictly online lender that provides short-term, high-interest, installment loans to consumers. They’re flexible with their underwriting and are more than happy to work with people who don’t have attractive credit profiles.
Unfortunately, their loans are much more expensive than traditional borrowing options. The company acknowledges publicly that they’re costly and that borrowers should only take out one of their loans in dire circumstances. In their fine-print disclaimers at the bottom of their home page, Lendgreen states: “This is an expensive form of borrowing. Lendgreen loans are designed to assist you in meeting your short-term borrowing needs and are not intended to be a long-term financial solution.”
If that phrasing sounds familiar, it’s because that’s essentially the same old song and dance that payday lenders have been performing for years. In fact, there’s a dangerously thin line between traditional payday loans and short-term installment lenders. Installment loans have longer repayment terms and higher principal balances, but they both tend to lock people in a cycle of debt.
Is Lendgreen Licensed?
Lendgreen’s mailing address is in Wisconsin, but they do business from the Native American reservation in Lac du Flambeau. They don’t have a license from the state like traditional banks or even most other online lenders.
Lendgreen is a tribal lender, which means that they’re a legal subsidiary of a Native American tribe and abide by tribal laws (plus the applicable federal laws). Lendgreen is an extension of the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians, which is the party that endorses the business license on their site.
Because they’re tribal lenders, Lendgreen benefits from the Native Americans’ tribal immunity. That makes it almost impossible to sue them. They use that privilege primarily to get around state regulations, including the interest rate limits.
Lendgreen discloses their tribal status and its implication in their fine print, which states: “Lendgreen is not subject to suit by you or any third-party for any reason. If you are not comfortable doing business with a sovereign Indian tribe that is not subject to suit, you should immediately discontinue using and accessing this site.”
Working with a tribal lender that can casually shrug off lawsuits is dangerous. They can and will break the laws that are only in place to protect consumers.
Typical Loan Terms
Fortunately, Lendgreen is pretty open about their typical loan terms. There are some details that borrowers can only learn after receiving their loan documents, but most of the impactful terms are available to the public. Here are the most significant ones that borrowers need to know:
- Principal balances between $400 to $1,500
- Maximum principal balances for first-time customers of $1,200
- Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) between 720% and 795%
- Repayment schedules between three and 18 months
- Additional fees for late or non-payment
Lendgreen’s interest rates are outrageously high, even among their fellow tribal lenders. At their lowest effective interest rate (720%), a $400 loan with a three-month repayment term would end up costing $553 in interest. That would break down into three monthly payments of $318 for a total repayment amount of $953.
Looking at a business’ history of customer satisfaction (or lack thereof) says a lot about what you can expect when interacting with them. Lendgreen has been in business for at least eight years, so they have a decently verifiable online reputation. There are quite a few Lendgreen review pages across the internet. Here are some of the highlights that potential borrowers need to know.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is one of the best places to gather customer reviews. They have a more robust screening system than most crowdsourced review sites and use the information they receive to rate companies themselves.
Unfortunately, Lendgreen’s BBB profile only has a couple of traditional reviews. Both are negative, though, and give the company the lowest possible rating (1 out of 5 stars). However, such a small sample size doesn’t say much.
The BBB also allows customers to make formal complaints against the business, and there have been 23 in the last three years. That’s still not a very large base, but that may just imply that the lender doesn’t do much business. The Lac du Flambeau Chippewa Indians have roughly a dozen lending companies.
The complaints provide a more in-depth picture of the company than the Lendgreen review notes. 76% of them are about problems that customers have with the billing process. That’s common with installment and payday lenders because they often fail to convey how expensive their loans are, which leads to borrowers thinking they should’ve paid the balance back already.
Some of the other issues that customers report in the complaints are:
- Failure to keep a proper record of customer payments and balances
- Letting borrowers remain in default for years at a time without contacting them, then demanding payment after the interest has become insurmountable
- Bothering consumers about loans that they never took in the first place
It’s worth noting that despite the seemingly universally negative customer experiences, the BBB rates the company an A+ for their customer service. For a business that’s been operating for eight years, there is a low number of complaints. The company has also addressed all of them, to some extent, which speaks to their proactivity, if nothing else.
Another useful lens into a business’s reputation is to look at any lawsuits that customers have initiated against them. While there are no results online for suits against Lendgreen itself, there are some for proceedings against their alleged owners: The Lac Du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians.
Isaiah A. Jones III sued the leaders of the tribe in 2019 for their illegal business practices while operating as RadiantCash, another entity of theirs. As mentioned above, they have several, including Loan at Last. Unfortunately, the federal court that heard the case ruled in favor of the Tribe and upheld that their tribal immunity protected them.
While Lendgreen loans are almost always too expensive to be a good idea, there are some understandable reasons behind borrowers’ desire to work with them. Lendgreen knows this and plays up their traits that are most attractive to someone in need of emergency support. Here are some of the most readily identifiable:
- Their online application is brief enough to complete in a few minutes and very user-friendly.
- Their qualification requirements are easy enough to meet that virtually any working adult can do so.
- They can transfer loan funds to approved customers within the same business day of approval.
- Their principal balances go as low as $400 which is perfect for financing small emergencies.
In all fairness, these loans would be perfect for their target market (people in financial distress with low creditworthiness) if not for the unreasonably high interest rates and fees.
Borrowing from Lendgreen can be tempting at first, but doing even a little bit of due diligence reveals that they’re not safe. They’re nearly identical in form and function to the traditional payday lending model, which consistently traps borrowers in a cycle of debt. If anything, they’re worse than payday lenders since they have higher loan balances, longer repayment terms, and tribal immunity.
These are the biggest problems with Lendgreen:
- Their interest rates reach almost 800% APR, which is roughly 47 times that of the average credit card.
- Lendgreen willingly provides loans to people who can’t possibly repay them.
- Tribal immunity means that Lendgreen is much more likely than their licensed counterparts to break the law.
Truthfully, these are the same downsides to working with just about every tribal lender. Lendgreen doesn’t do anything to differentiate themselves from the rest of their industry in any positive way.
How to Apply for a Lendgreen Loan
If this Lendgreen review hasn’t persuaded everyone not to work with the lender yet, some may still wish to apply. For better or worse (usually worse), there’s not much to the process. Lendgreen likes to lure borrowers into applying before they can do too much research into the company or the true cost of borrowing from them.
These are the only requirements necessary to apply:
- Be a U.S. citizen
- Reside in a state other than Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
- Not be a member of the military or a spouse/dependent of one (the Military Lending Act protects them)
- Be at least 18 years old
- Receive regular income that meets their minimum monthly net income requirement (undisclosed)
- Own a checking account that is Automatic Clearing House (ACH) accessible
Note that they don’t require that borrowers have any particular credit score. In fact, they don’t check scores through the three main credit bureaus at all. If a potential applicant meets these criteria, they can apply with a reasonably high chance of approval.
Their application only asks for the following information:
- Personal Information: contact details and driver’s license numbers
- Income Information: source, frequency, and amounts
- Banking: bank name, routing and account numbers, and age of the account
While it only takes a few minutes to complete Lendgreen’s application, it’s not something to do lightly. Providing private data to a third party is always a risk. It’s doubly so when that third party might not be trustworthy.
Those who apply for a loan from Lendgreen give them a lot of power to make their lives difficult, even if they don’t sign a loan agreement. With a person’s Social Security Number, contact information, and bank account numbers, there’s no end to the trouble they could cause. Even if the worst they do is share it with another unwanted party, the consequences could be disastrous.
Better Alternatives to Lendgreen
Consumers typically turn to businesses like Lendgreen because they’re desperate for financial support, unable to qualify for it from traditional lenders, and fail to fully understand the costs. It’s an understandable mistake, but still a mistake, nonetheless.
There are plenty of financing options out there for people with bad credit that are far superior to installment loans from Lendgreen. Here are some of our favorites:
- Paycheck Advance Apps: While these apps aren’t technically loans, they are the perfect substitute for people in need of a little bit of cash. They let users get up to a few hundred dollars for the hours they’ve worked during a pay period before payday.
- Secured Personal Loan Providers: For people with valuable assets, these loans are a great way to get around poor credit. Lenders don’t like giving money to people they think may not pay them back, but collateral renders that whole argument a moot point.
- Credit Unions: Credit unions operate similarly to traditional banks, but consumers have to become members before they can use their services. They usually offer loans at much more affordable rates than banks, even to people who have less than stellar credit.
Any of these alternatives would be a better option than taking a loan from Lendgreen, or any other tribal lender, for that matter. They’re almost (if not just as) accessible and infinitely more affordable.
The Bottom Line
If you’re looking for a yes or no recommendation on Lendgreen, here’s your answer: Take your business elsewhere. Lendgreen’s installment loans carry effective annual interest rates that are nearing the quadruple digits. Only businesses who are confident that they’re immune to lawsuits would dare to charge rates that high.
If your financial situation is so dire that you’re considering a tribal installment loan, something is wrong. Give yourself some breathing room by using one of the alternative lending options that we mentioned above, then work on fixing the fundamental imbalance in your earning and spending. Cut down your costs or increase your income until you don’t need to rely on unsustainable debt anymore. If you need help, consider working with a local credit counselor. Their services are free, and they can help you get your finances back on the right path. Find one in your area today!