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Personality matters when it comes to consolidating credit card debt. At least Payoff Inc. thinks so.

The company takes an individualized approach to helping consumers, starting with a free assessment of your “financial personality.” The quiz, designed by eHarmony’s former chief scientist, Galen Buckwalter, asks questions about your financial goals and habits. It may tell you, for example, that you’re a contrarian who rarely reaches out for help and needs to have a little more fun.

“Having this personal insight into your habits is huge, ” says Scott Saunders, Payoff’s chief executive officer. “It empowers you to make better financial decisions in the future.”

Payoff also assigns customers a “member advocate” who provides support and financial guidance. For example, if you miss a payment, you won’t be charged a late fee; instead, you can set up a meeting with your advocate to create a payment plan.

What makes Payoff different

The Costa Mesa, California-based lender wants to enable financial literacy and good money habits, according to Saunders.

The lender says it will let approved borrowers see their score on a monthly basis in partnership with credit bureau TransUnion. It will also give them a breakdown of the factors that contribute to their score and how financial institutions use the score to make lending decisions.

In keeping with its philosophy of responsible lending, Payoff says it doesn’t make multiple loans to a single person. And unlike most online personal loans, which can be used to pay for anything, Payoff’s can be used only to consolidate credit card debt. But the company does plan to offer other products and services in the future, a spokeswoman says.

Payoff’s loan and credit standards

Prospective borrowers can run a soft credit check on Payoff’s website to see if they qualify for a loan. This won’t affect their credit scores.

Those who don’t qualify can take advantage of Lift, a free consultation program to improve their credit by building good financial habits and reducing debt. Those who do qualify have their funds deposited electronically.

While no one stands over borrowers as they write checks to pay off their credit card balances, Payoff says its intent is clear.

“We only market to and work with members who are motivated to pay off their credit card debt, ” a spokeswoman says.

Here’s what you need to know about Payoff’s debt consolidation loans.

Payoff’s credit standards

  • Minimum credit score required: 660
  • Minimum gross income required: $25, 000
  • Limitations: Loans can be used only to pay off credit card debt
  • Minimum credit history: 3 years
  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: 50% or less

Interesting facts

  • JOE LYNAM is an Irish journalist working for the BBC in the United Kingdom.
    Lynam is the Business Correspondent with the BBC's flagship current affairs programme BBC Newsnight, under Economics Editor Paul Mason
    Between 2008-2012, Joe was the BBC's Weekend Business Correspondent covering economic, business, company, financial and personal...

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