Online lending makes it easy to borrow money. You don’t need to sit across from a bank manager who looks you in the eye and questions why you missed a credit card payment two years ago.

You don’t have to be ridiculed for bad credit; you don’t have to wait days for approval.

Online lenders allow you to take out personal loans without leaving your home. But there are a lot of predators waiting to scam you out of your money, too.

1. Research the Lender

Don’t just choose a lender because they’re offering to give you money in the next few hours. You need to do your own research when picking a lender. Search for the company and website name to see if any complaints have been filed against the company.

The Better Business Bureau is a resource to view complaints against a lender.

But, lenders may not join the Better Business Bureau. Even if a lender doesn’t have a page, they may still have complaints. Search forums, too.

If a lender has fraudulent practices, you’ll be sure to find people complaining online.

2. Focus on Interest Rates

High interest rates are common with online lenders. If you want a lender to overlook bumps and bruises on your credit, you’ll need to deal with high interest rates. These lenders know that their target customer is struggling to pay for “something.”

This “something” can be anything, from a television to vital medical bills for their children.

Higher interest rates are easy to ignore when your child’s health is on the line. You’ll often need to dig deep into the fine print to find the interest rate for the duration of your loan. Installment loans that don’t penalize you for making a full payment are ideal.

If you can swing making a full payment, you’ll avoid high interest rates and penalties with these types of loans.

3. Rules on Early Payoff

Building off of our last point, there are some lenders that will penalize you for paying off your loan balance early. These lenders should be avoided. Ask your loan provider if there is a penalty for paying off your balance before the scheduled date.

If a lender is going to penalize you for satisfying your loan early, you’ll want to take your business elsewhere.

4. Apply Directly with a Lender

There are a lot of loan comparison websites that help you find loans quickly from a variety of vendors, but there is always a catch. Someone is getting paid when you take out a loan, and these fees are often attached to your loan in some way.

If you want the lowest rates, apply with the lender directly.

Brokers will pass your information on to the highest bidder, and then you’ll be left with high-payment loans. Instead, find lenders that want to offer you a good rate without the added commission and fees attached.

Finally, you’ll want to do one more thing: understand the interest rate.

If you have a fixed rate loan, this means your payments will remain consistent. Variable interest rates may be lower some months, and other months, these rates may lead to significantly higher payments.

Fixed rate loans are often preferred so that you always know how much you’ll be paying on a loan.