Man sitting on couch with laptop and dog

Applying for a Loan Online vs. In-Person: Which Is Better?

Wondering About
Personal Loan
Interest Rates?

Apply online with Rocket LoansSM and instantly see what you prequalify for. No hidden fees, and same-day funding is available.

Explore your mortgage options

NMLS #3030

*Connect with a mortgage specialist

We teamed up with Rocket Mortgage to help you get house-hunting sooner. Answer a few questions and an agent will reach out to discuss your options.

Get Started by selecting an option below

What kind of loan are you interested in?

What to expect

Tell us what you need and a representative from Rocket Mortgage will give you a call. You’ll have support at every step.

What kind of property do you want to purchase? What kind of property do you own?

Why we’re asking

Rocket Mortgage® can provide a more accurate rate estimate if they know what kind of property you’re interested in.

NMLS #3030
How do you use your property? How would you use this property?

Why we’re asking

Having a little more information upfront helps Rocket Mortgage® provide a personalized rate faster.

NMLS #3030
When are you planning to buy?

Still House Hunting?

Hope you find your dream home soon! In the meantime, it’s never too early to know your rate.

NMLS #3030
Are you a first-time home buyer?

It’s all good:

Whether it’s your first – or second property – Rocket Mortgage® can provide you with a rate estimate.

NMLS #3030
Do you have a second mortgage?

It’s all good

If you have a second mortgage, it’s no problem. Letting us know helps to customize your rate.

NMLS #3030
What is your credit score?

Don’t know your score?

Don’t sweat it! Make your best guess. Credit scores range from 300 (low) to 850 (excellent).

NMLS #3030

Tell us a bit more about you

What happens next?

A representative from Rocket Mortgage® will be in touch to discuss your commitment-free, personalized rate. Then you can decide whether you’d like to lock it in!

NMLS #3030

Enter your contact info so Rocket Mortgage® can get in touch!

By providing your contact information and clicking the "Agree & Send Information" button below, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. You also expressly consent by electronic signature to receive telephonic sales, promotional, marketing and other calls and text messages, including any calls and messages sent by any automated system or other means for the selection or dialing of telephone numbers, or using an artificial or prerecorded voice message when a connection is completed, from Rocket Mortgage, its Family of Companies, our partner companies and our marketing partners at the telephone number you have provided, even if that telephone number is on a corporate, state, or national do-not-call list or registry. Your consent and agreement to receive such calls or text messages is not a condition of purchasing any property, goods or services from us, our Family of Companies or any of our partners.

NMLS #3030

From movies to groceries, you can get almost anything you need online from the comfort of your home. But there are advantages to doing things in person. A 70-inch flatscreen still isn’t as big as the silver screen of the movie theater, and there’s quite a difference between hand-selecting your own produce and letting a personal shopper pick it for you.

So, when it comes to personal loans, which is better? Should you apply for a loan online or in person? The short answer is that it comes down to tradeoffs and preferences. In this article, we’ll explain what each method offers and the tradeoffs that come with it so that you can make the best choice for you.

Get Cash Fast

Rocket LoansSM offers same-day funding for personal loans. Get prequalified and get the cash you need, fast.

Key Differences Between Applying for a Loan Online and In-Person

Obviously, there’s a difference between filling out an application digitally online and filling one out with paper and pen in an office. However, the differences between online and in-person loan applications go far beyond how you fill in your information, they affect the entire process.

Finding potential lenders

If you know you want to apply for a loan in person, you need to account for that when searching for lenders. Rather than looking up the top-rated lenders, you’ll likely begin by searching for lenders in your area. Keep in mind that by committing to an in-person experience, you’re narrowing your available pool of lenders to choose from.

Recommendations and word-of-mouth can also take on more importance when hunting for an in-person loan experience, as there may not be as many reviews available online.

Choosing a lender

Regardless of whether you wind up going with a lender you can see in person or an online lender, you should take the time to ask them questions and get to understand their product offering.

If you can visit a lender in their office, they’ll be able to address your concerns face-to-face. Some people are more comfortable with interacting this way, and you can really get a sense of a lender’s communication style and get a read on some intangibles like how much you trust them.

Online lenders will still be able to answer your questions, it will just be done via phone or through online chat. The key information conveyed will be the same. Some people prefer communicating this way and saving the time it takes to drive to and from a physical location.

Whichever you choose, make sure to compare the annual percentage rate (APR) of lenders you’re considering. This figure combines the total cost of the interest and fees a lender charges.

Application processing

Typically, brick-and-mortar lenders don’t have the digital support system that online lenders do. They may require physical copies of supporting documentation and physical signatures. This can slow down the application processing time for certain types of loans.

Online lenders, by necessity, must be equipped to handle every aspect of the application online from start to finish. This can lead to faster processing times.

Applying Online vs. In-Person Pros and Cons

Here’s how the advantages and disadvantages of applying online stack up to applying in person.

Applying for a loan online

PROS of applying for a loan online👍


You don’t need to drive to the branch location and you don’t need to worry about what time the office closes. If you feel like submitting your application at midnight on a Saturday, you’re free to do so.

More choices

When you’re willing to apply online, you open up the potential pool of lenders to choose from, giving you more choices than just those within reasonable driving distance.

Compare prequalified offers

Many online lenders allow you to get prequalified online without committing to the loan or hurting your credit score. This allows you to compare offers from multiple lenders fast.

Fast approval

When you do submit an application with an online lender, they usually have a digital support system in place to process it quickly. If you’re approved, the funds can sometimes be released as quickly as in one business day.

CONS of applying for a loan online👎

Less personal attention

You don’t get the personal touch when you apply online. There’s no handshake or getting to know the person issuing you the loan.

Submit sensitive information online

When you apply online, you’ll need to submit sensitive information like your social security number and financial data through online forms. While these forms are usually secure, some people feel uncomfortable doing this.

Risk of scammers

There’s a higher risk of getting scammed online versus when you’re sitting in a loan officer’s office. Make sure to verify that you’re on the correct site and that you submit your information through the appropriate forms.

Need Cash?

Applying for a personal loan has never been easier. Get the cash you need with competitive terms from Rocket LoansSM.

Checking your options won’t affect your credit score.

Applying for a loan in-person

PROS of applying for a loan in person👍

Personal attention

Many people respond well to the personal attention you get applying in person. They might also feel more comfortable asking their questions during face-to-face interactions.

Develop relationships

If you get along well with the person who helps you, there’s the potential of working together again for potential loans in the future, like a mortgage.

Advantages for members

If you’re a member of a bank or a credit union with a physical presence, sometimes they offer their members perks like discounted rates or breaks on the fees necessary to close the loan.

CONS of applying for a loan in person👎


In addition to the time the appointment takes, you must also account for the time to drive to and from the lender’s office.

Limited by business hours

To apply online you have to make it to the physical location during business hours. This can be a challenge, especially if you work full-time.

Potential for additional fees

It costs money to keep physical branches open. Many institutions pass some of those costs on to the consumer through additional fees.

How To Decide If Applying Online or In-Person Is Right for You

Here are some questions to ask yourself to help you gauge which option might be a better fit for your needs.

  • Is personal interaction important to you? When it comes to finances, plenty of people value good eye contact and a strong handshake. If that’s the case for you, then an in-person loan application might be better for you.
  • Do you need the funds fast? Online lenders typically have the edge when it comes to approval speed. If you need the funds fast for something like an emergency, an online lender might be the way to go.
  • Do you keep digital records? You’ll need to submit digital records as a part of an online application. If you only have paper copies of things like your tax returns and W-2s, it may be more convenient to go into an office and avail yourself of their copy machine. (Unless you have a printer with a scanner.)
  • Are you comfortable submitting sensitive information online? Many Americans have become accustomed to putting credit card information and their social security numbers into countless forms online. However, many others don’t have this experience or aren’t comfortable with it. If you’re interested in applying online, be sure you’re okay with submitting sensitive personal information through secure digital forms.

FAQs about applying for a loan online vs. in person

Is it safe to apply for a loan online?

Using a legitimate online lender is safe. However, you need to be aware of scammers when applying for a loan online.

Is there a difference between applying for a loan online or in person?

In terms of the information that is required, there is not. The lender will need to verify the same personal information like your credit score and debt-to-income (DTI) ratio to assess the strength of your application.

Are you more likely to be approved for a loan if you apply in person?

Your approval odds should not be affected whether you apply online or in person. However, the lender you choose can affect your chances of approval as different lenders can have different requirements to qualify for the loan.

Final Thoughts on Whether You Should Apply for a Loan Online or In-Person

It’s possible to secure a loan either by applying online or in person. There are tradeoffs and benefits that come with both, so the option that’s most appealing to you will depend on your preferences. 

Remember, you’ll be paying the loan off for years after you get it. While the application process is important, don’t let the prospect of an online lender scare you off from getting a great deal, or vice versa if a brick-and-mortar lender catches your eye.

Ready for a Personal Loan?

Applying through Rocket LoansSM is fast and easy.

Checking your options won’t affect your credit score.

The Short Version

  • The difference between online and in-person lenders affects the entire loan process, from the potential pool of lenders to choose from to the application processing time
  • Pros of applying online include a bigger potential lender pool, the ability to compare prequalified offers and fast processing times
  • Pros of applying in person include personal attention, the ability to build relationships and potential discounts offered to members
Back to top of page

You Should Also Check Out…

Our team of financial experts write, review and verify content for accuracy and clarity.