Euro am Sonntag tested: Liquid again with one click: Which banks offer the best online installment loans | message
by Felix Petruschke, Euro am Sonntag
The digitalization has been on the advance for years: the Internet, the PC and the smartphone play an increasingly important role in many people’s everyday lives. The corona crisis and the associated distance requirements, the mask requirement in shops and working from home are accelerating this development.
In short: an even bigger part of life than before is currently (unfortunately) taking place online. This also applies to the rules of personal finances – for example in the form of online banking and online loans. Taking out a loan in particular becomes more important in times of crisis. Be it because larger purchases are easier to handle because the VAT rate has been reduced for six months; be it because money is becoming scarce due to short-time work or a collapse in orders. Financial experts also advise consumers to take out a precautionary loan rather than risk overdrawing their accounts. Most banks continue to increase their overdraft rates: In May, the interest rate for an overdraft facility averaged 7.59 percent, according to the Bundesbank – and thus almost at the same level as in 2019.
The good news for consumers: A loan usually has significantly lower interest rates. This is shown by the test of installment loans by the German Customer Institute (DKI) on behalf of € uro am Sonntag. Branch banks (Euro am Sonntag edition 33-2020) and online banks (Euro am Sonntag edition 34-2020) were tested.
The online loan does not differ from other types of loan in terms of loan amount, term and loan terms. Only the distribution channel is different. The setting of the conditions and even the conclusion are made via the Internet without direct contact with an employee in the branch (documents can also be sent by post). Customers then receive a loan from the bank, which they have to repay at a fixed monthly rate.
Big differences in costs
For the test: The DKI examined loans from 13 supraregional providers. The auditors looked at creditworthiness-dependent online installment loans at ten institutes. The three addresses Comdirect, Deutsche Kreditbank and ING were checked with regard to their offers of online installment loans that are not dependent on creditworthiness. So much in advance: The costs of the 13 houses differ greatly in some cases.
The DKI check included around 500 customer contacts, which were evaluated using 180 individual criteria. To make the offers easier to compare, the auditors designed ten sample cases for different borrowers who should take out installment loans in the range of 5,000 to 35,000 euros (see table below). For this purpose, the auditors obtained the specific conditions of the providers.
In addition, the 13 institutes were asked for further information, which was particularly included in the test categories of conditions and loan offers. For test purposes, the sample customers also turned to the banks by phone and e-mail to find out how competent, quick and friendly the employees were to respond to inquiries.
For sample cases nine and ten, the providers were also asked to state the conditions for residual debt insurance (protection against death, unemployment and incapacity for work). The costs for the residual debt insurance were also rated as being light.
The most important criteria of the test can be found below (“This is how it was tested”) as well as the tables with the individual categories “Overall rating”, “Conditions”, “Loan offer” and “Customer service”.
Targobank scores with flexibility
In the case of creditworthiness-dependent online installment loans, last year’s winner Targobank won the test again this time. As in the test of branch installment loans (Euro am Sonntag issue 33-2020), Targobank also impressed with a very good loan offer: In seven of the ten sample cases, the test winner incurs the lowest costs. Another benefit is the flexibility of the online loan. Change requests from credit customers during the term, such as lowering or increasing the rates, are free of charge. Additional fees are only due for deferrals.
Other pluses: Retirees as well as self-employed and freelancers can apply for a loan – this is rather the exception in comparison. Targobank also impressed in the area of customer service. The hotline employees were rated by the auditors as being exceptionally friendly, helpful and competent.
With an overall rating of “satisfactory”, the Consorsbank and Creditplus Bank did the worst for online loans based on creditworthiness. However, none of the offers were extremely negative for the DKI testers. The main drawback of the two bottom lights in the test was the comparatively high interest rates: Consorsbank demands the highest effective annual interest rates in eight sample cases; the Creditplus Bank in one case. On the other hand, the examiners positively noticed that Creditplus customers have the option of submitting a simplified application for small loans below EUR 3,000.
Deutsche Kreditbank convinced
The front runner among the providers of online installment loans that are not creditworthy was the Deutsche Kreditbank with an overall rating of “very good”. Last year’s winner ING and the Comdirect followed on the other places. Both providers received an overall rating of “good”.
The Deutsche Kreditbank (DKB) convinced in sample cases one to eight with the lowest costs and the lowest effective annual interest rates. Further advantages: The DKB also offers freelancers, self-employed persons and pensioners a loan. In addition, customers can apply for a loan from a sum of EUR 2,500 – this is the lowest sum in the “not creditworthy” category. As the only bank among the creditworthiness-independent providers, customers of Deutsche Kreditbank have the option of taking out residual debt insurance in addition to the loan. And: The hotline employees were able to provide satisfactory answers to all questions asked over the phone.
Savings potential of up to 6,171 euros
Another finding of our test: “The higher the loan amount and the longer the term, the greater the differences that can be determined in terms of costs,” summarizes DKI boss Jörn Hüsgen. Depending on the loan amount, there are differences of 135 to 6,171 euros between the cheapest and the most expensive offer for creditworthiness-dependent loans. In the case of offers that are not creditworthy, the differences range from 38 to 1,604 euros. The interest rates are between 1.74 and 6.49 percent. So it’s worth comparing. And a look at the previous week shows: Not every online loan is cheaper than a loan that you take out personally from a bank advisor.
Image sources: Neonn / Shutterstock.com, Hadrian / Shutterstock.com, Finanz Verlag, Finanz Verlag