Written by Spotloan

As a consumer, you like to know what you can expect from the products and services you purchase. You like transactions to be, you know, transactional. You give someone X dollars in exchange for Y product or service, and you both go on your respective ways, better off for it.

In the short-term loan industry, though, not all transactions are that straightforward. The fine print can include details that come as an unpleasant surprise later. Fortunately, there are tools that can help you know what you can expect.

Here are 5 ways that you can use ratings and reviews to choose a short-term lender that delivers what you’re expecting:

1) Treat your loan better than a taco.

Before you go to a new restaurant, you may spend some time reading reviews on Yelp or Google. You probably check out the menu. You might even scope out transportation routes and parking before you make the final decision. And that’s just for a taco!

When you are choosing a loan, you need to be careful to make the right decision. Your finances are no joke and choosing the wrong lender can lead to unexpected fees or permanent marks on your record. You owe it to yourself to spend the time that you would spend choosing where you’re going to have dinner.

2) Find a reputable rating source

Let's pretend for a second that you're a lender. And — we know this is a stretch — let's pretend that you are a less-than-honest lender. Even if your policies upset many of your customers, you'll still have some that had a good experience, whether through dumb luck or because they didn't personally encounter any shady policies. Those customers will be willing to give you a good review.

So, you take that review, put it with other cherry-picked good reviews, and post it on your website. That lets you represent a history of providing great service, even if that's not the case. 

This example is the exact reason why finding a reputable source of reviews is vitally important. Neutrality is valuable. Similar to how you can’t trust every good review on a company’s own website, you also can’t trust every bad review on certain social media sites, which tend to be sounding boards for disgruntled customers that may not be indicative of the average customer’s experiences. You may want to use a third-party site that doesn't allow editing or censoring of ratings and reviews.

That's not all to say that every lender that posts positive reviews on their website shouldn't be trusted. You'll find good reviews of Spotloan's services here — you'll find thousands more backing them up on Trustpilot.

3) Trust the average.

You can’t always trust the best reviews, because you never know if someone has been given an incentive to rate a company. You also can’t trust all the worst reviews, because (contrary to the old saying) the customer really isn’t always right. But the average, on the other hand, may be a little more trustworthy.

If you see a common complaint being repeatedly brought up, you may want to give it some thought. Likewise, if you see reviewers repeatedly praising a lender for something, there's probably a reason for that. 

Some people are easier to please than others, and some are harder. But at the end of the day, when you look at reviews, you start to see trends and themes emerging. This is often a sign that you can feel confident that your experience will be similar to that of other customers.

4) Safety in numbers.

Hundreds of reviews is good. Thousands is even better. 

Dozens, though, may not be a good indication of what it's actually like to do business with a particular lender. The higher the number of reviews, the less likely it's possible for a lender to stuff the ballot box, so to speak. Smaller numbers of positive reviews are easier to fabricate.

When those numbers get to the hundreds, and then the thousands, you can feel more confident that those reviews are from actual customers who are sharing their personal experience with a lender. Let's be honest: Real customers sharing their personal experience is exactly why you're reading reviews.

As for real customers, Spotloan currently has more than 8,000 ratings from them on Trustpilot

5) Trust your gut.

If you are in the market for a short-term loan, it's likely you found yourself in an unexpected situation. You don't want to compound the problem by choosing a lender that will take advantage of you. So don't just check the ratings and read the reviews — take them to heart and listen to what they make the voice in your head say.

Does the lender work with its customers to give them options to pay back their loans? Does the lender nickel-and-dime its customers with surprise fees around every turn? You may discover that what you read in reviews doesn’t match what you see advertised front and center on a lender’s website.

Spotloan strives to be an honest, straightforward lender that provides its customers with the exact service they were expecting. The ratings and reviews can help you determine if you think that’s the case.