5 Tips for Finding the Best Military Loan Lenders

Military loans bring the power of specialized lenders to borrowers with unique lifestyle, pay system and professional demands. The military lending niche of the financial services industry has had a history of predatory practices. Use these tips to help you find the right lender with the military loans you need.

Tip #1. Investigate Your Lender

Most lenders - including banks, credit unions and payday lenders - will claim to have military specialization if they operate near a military facility. There also are full-service financial institutions that only work with the military.

Do a three-point check of any lender you are thinking of doing business with.

Lender Qualifications - Talk to the military loans specialist at any lender you are interested in. They do not have to have been in the military to understand the demands you face, but they must be experienced in dealing with military pay and benefits and the challenges of military lifestyle.

Check References - The base financial office will have a list of any lenders who have been put off limits or who have been cited for predatory or abusive tactics. Word-of-mouth references are effective as well, if a friend in your unit has had a good experience.

Better Business Bureau - Check with the local Better Business Bureau. If the lender has a bad reputation in the civilian community, he will likely have one in the military community.

Tip #2. Use Your Experience with Your Branch

The military pay system is uniform across service branches but rank structure and demands of service are not. A lender who specializes in military loans and has a good track record in your community still needs to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the specific challenges of your branch of service at any given time.

Tip #3.  Make Sure the Loan Is Competitive

It won't matter if a lender knows about the military in general and your branch in particular if the rates or military loan terms they offer are not competitive. Make sure that for home and auto loans, you are getting the same or better rates you would than with a bank focused on the civilian borrowing community.

Be especially wary of payday and cash advance operations. The upside of these is you can quickly get money without collateral or good credit, but the rates charged on these short-term loans or advances can be very high, and late or slow repayment makes the loan or advance balance mount quickly.

Tip #4. Check Online Access to All Services

Military borrowers are unique in that the day after they close a loan they might be deployed half way around the world for an unknown amount of time. Families often are separated. But military families still must pay loans on time. Be certain your lender offers military loans that you can pay online and get for help online if needed. Good military lenders know the challenges of your lifestyle and have adapted their services to it.

Tip #5. Make Sure Your Lender Is There When You Need It

Not only do you need a stable military lender who has a solid track record offering military loans, you also need a lender who will be there if the worst happens. Military service is dangerous, and you want a lender who has demonstrated the ability to deal with your family if you are deployed, injured or killed in action.

The best place to start is with your base finance office and members of your unit to determine which lender knows how to take care of you.

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