The Best Personal Loans for Your Financial Situation And Needs
If you’re considering a personal loan, it can be overwhelming sifting through all your options. To help you research loans, we’ve searched our lending marketplaces and singled out the best personal loan rates and offers, depending on your credit profile or use for a loan. (Click here to see our methodology.)
If you have good or excellent credit, you may enjoy APR rates as low as 5.99% with Best Egg, making it a lender with one of the best personal loan rates. While Best Egg does accept scores as low as 640, its APR rates can go as high as 29.99% if you don’t have at least a good credit score. To qualify for its lowest APR rate, you’ll need a credit score of at least 700 and an annual income of at least $100,000.
This lender offers loans up to $50,000, though loan amounts depend on which state you live in. Residents of Massachusetts have a minimum loan amount of $6,500; New Mexico and Ohio, $5,000; and Georgia, $3,000. For a second Best Egg loan, your total existing loan balances with this lender cannot exceed $50,000.
Santander Bank, N.A
With a good or excellent credit score, you could access
Santander Bank, N.A’s best APR rates which can go as low as 6.99%. However, in order to obtain these rates, you’ll need to meet Santander’s requirements.
Since you’ll need to go to one of Santander’s physical locations to obtain a personal loan, you’ll need to live in one of the following states:
You’ll also need to qualify under Santander’s credit requirements (not listed) and enroll in the lender’s automatic payment system called ePay. If you choose to opt out of ePay, your APR will be raised by 0.25 percentage points and your monthly payments wiLL increase. Santander’s minimum borrowing limit is $5,000 and peaks at $50,000. This lender also does not charge an origination fee.
SoFi offers borrowers some of the lowest and best personal loan rates. With an APR that can go as low as 5.99% for borrowers with good or excellent credit, you can take out as much as $100,000 through this lender. In order to qualify for the low APR rates, you’ll have to sign up for SoFi’s auto payment program.
There are no origination fees you’ll have to pay through SoFi, and this lender even offers unemployment protection should you lose your job while you’re paying off your personal loan. SoFi allows borrowers to pause your monthly payments in three-month increments, up to 12 months over the life of the loan. Keep in mind that interest will continue to build during this time period.
With a credit score of 600 and above, you may be able to qualify for one of Avant’s personal loans. This lender’s APR rates can be as low as 9.95%, but for borrowers with less than ideal credit, those rates can go as high as 35.99%.
Like with LendingPoint, Avant will not penalize you for paying early and also offers the option to refinance your loan. On the downside, should you not put down your monthly payment within 10 days of its due date, Avant will charge you a late fee of $25 if your payment is 10+ days late. Minimum loan requirements may vary depending on which state you live in.
At LendingPoint, you can be approved for a loan even if your credit score is as low as 585 — the lowest score on our list. LendingPoint offers borrowers loan amounts of up to $36,500 and its lowest APR rate is 9.99%, the highest between these three lenders. If your credit score is fair or bad, however, you may be subject to much higher APR rates.
LendingPoint will also consider borrowers that have experienced bankruptcy as long as it occured more than 12 months beforehand and will not penalize you for paying early. Unfortunately, LendingPoint personal loans are only available in certain states and cosigning is not an option for borrowers.
Upstart not only accepts credit scores as low as 600, but also offers APR rates that can dip down to 4.37%. Keep in mind, however, that if you’re a borrower with fair or bad credit, you may not qualify for such low APR rates. Out of these three, Upstart has the lowest APR rate as well as the highest ceiling as far as loan amounts go — up to $50,000. These factors categorize Upstart as one of the best personal loan rates you can find as a borrower with fair or bad credit.
Aside from low APR rates, there are plenty of other benefits to Upstart. You can qualify for a personal loan with Upstart in as little as one day. Upstart takes into account more than just your credit score. This lender also examines your education background, employment and area of study when considering you for a personal loan.
The downside is that if you live in Georgia, Massachusetts, Ohio or New Mexico, your minimum loan amounts are much higher and are as follows:
New Mexico: $5,100
Marcus by Goldman Sachs®
Marcus by Goldman Sachs® charges absolutely zero fees, which could save you money over the other options covered here. According to the lender, a credit score of 660 or higher might land you a debt consolidation loan with a lower interest rate than you’d find on a credit card.
One unique benefit Marcus by Goldman Sachs offers to borrowers is if you pay back your personal loan on time for 12 months, the lender will give you the option to skip the next month’s loan payment. No interest will accumulate during that time if you choose to go that route.
While Payoff has comparatively good APRs and standard loan terms of 24 and 60 months, its loan offering is specifically aimed at borrowers who want to pay off or lower their credit card debt. Depending on your circumstances, the origination fee is 0.00% - 5.00%.
In addition to having a minimum credit score of 640, to be eligible for this loan you must have no current delinquent payments and a solid credit history. Payoff will also consider your debt-to-income ratio, credit utilization rate and the age of your credit history.
Rocket Loans, part of the Quicken Loans group, has personal loans available specifically for debt consolidation. Out of the three lenders listed for best personal loan rates for debt consolidation, Rocket Loans has the highest loan amount available at $45,000. If you sign up for Rocket Loans’s autopay feature, you could receive a 3% discount on your interest rate.
While the Rocket Loans personal loan process is quick and straightforward, loan terms are limited to either 36 or 60 months. Should you be late on your personal loan payments, you may be charged a $15 per occurrence.
Sometimes home renovations can take much longer than you ever could have imagined. If you’re planning significant upgrades, you might want to apply for your home improvement loan from LightStream, since this lender allows you the longest period of time to pay it back.
Another potential benefit of this lender is its maximum borrowing limit is quite sizable at $100,000, far higher than the maximum offered by the two other lenders shown here. No origination fee from LightStream also means a potentially lower cost of borrowing compared with OneMain Financial. APR rates with LightStream may vary depending on the purpose of your personal loan and whether you sign up for the lender’s autopay service.
With 1.00% - 10.00% as your lender, you can apply for either a secured or unsecured personal loan. One of the perks borrowers can find with this lender, especially those in a hurry to obtain quick cash, is that you can receive funds within a day if you’re approved for a personal loan for home improvements.
To get a hold of a larger loan through OneMain Financial, you’ll need to use your vehicle (no older than 10 years) as collateral. Should you not put a lien on your vehicle, you may be subject to higher APR rates. Minimum and maximum loan amounts depend on the state you live in.
You can borrow up to $50,000 from this lender to make improvements around your home and have plenty of time to pay it off — up to 36 or 60 months. You could also get the funds deposited directly into your account within a day of being approved.
However, Upgrade is not available in all 50 states. Borrowers will also be charged an origination fee, but could save money by signing up for Upgrade’s auto payment feature.
What is a personal loan?
A personal loan is a loan that you can obtain through a bank, credit union or online lender that can be used for almost anything, including the following:
Home improvement projects
Emergency or medical expenses
While most personal loans are unsecured — meaning you will not be required to offer up collateral such as a vehicle, home equity or savings account to a lender — some lending institutions do offer secured loan options that may offer better APR rates. While there are lenders out there willing to work with you if you are in need of a personal loan and have a fair or bad credit score, you will generally receive much more favorable loan rates and terms if you have a good-to-excellent credit profile. Lenders may also consider factors like your income, employment, debt-to-income ratio and your credit utilization ratio.
Pros and cons of personal loans
Personal loans can offer borrowers plenty of benefits but also downsides if you’re not in the best position to take on a new loan. Be sure to weigh your options carefully before agreeing to a personal loan.
Fixed interest rates
May pay high APR rates if you have a fair or bad credit score
May improve your credit score
Could damage your credit score if you fall behind on payments
Fixed monthly payments
May have to pay late payment fees if you’re late on your monthly repayments
No risk of losing your property if the loan is unsecured
Could lose your property if the loan is secured
How to know which is the best personal loan for you
Look for a competitive APR. This affects the total amount you’ll have to pay back over the life of your loan. While your credit score may have a direct effect on the interest rate you’ll be charged, some lenders could consider other eligibility criteria such as your debt-to-income ratio and income.
Research each lender’s fee structure to determine which may be your most affordable option. Consider, for example, payment processing charges, origination fees and prepayment penalties.
Consider how long you’ll realistically need to pay back the loan. A shorter loan term means you’ll be paying less interest. While it may ultimately cost you less to repay, ensure you can actually afford the higher monthly payments before signing the dotted line.
Find out how long each lender would take to fund your loan. If you need a fast personal loan, you’ll want to find lenders who fund loans as soon as one day after approval.
What it takes to qualify for a personal loan
As the tables shown earlier in the article demonstrate, lenders have differing standards about what credit score is necessary to qualify for a personal loan. Also, credit score is just part of the picture that lenders look at when deciding whether or not you are likely to meet your loan obligations.
In addition to credit score, here are some other things lenders may look at in deciding whether you qualify:
Availability of a cosigner
The lending market is in a period of change. The emergence of peer-to-peer lenders, other nonbank lenders and online loan platforms has introduced some nontraditional underwriting methods into the market. Some examples:
Some of these nontraditional methods might work in favor of would-be borrowers who have limited or less-than-ideal credit histories. In particular, if you have run into a brick wall trying to get a loan from a traditional bank, you may want to look for a lender that uses a range of metrics beyond your credit score.
How to get the lowest personal loan rate
Given all of the above, the following are some steps for getting the lowest personal loan rate:
1. Check your credit history. Mistakes or other problems with your credit report can cost you in the form of higher personal loan interest rates, and could possibly prevent you from getting a loan. Check your credit history early in the process, so you can have time to correct any errors or address any other issues in your credit report.
2. Hold off on changing jobs. Employment continuity is an issue with some lenders, so if it’s avoidable, it would be best not to have a recent job change when you are applying for a loan.
3. Know what you are looking for. Understand what size and length of loan you are looking for before you start to shop, and also know what your credit score is. These factors all affect the personal loan rates you will be offered, so you can’t do any serious shopping before you know these details.
4. Shop around. Once you have a handle on your needs and circumstances, shop around rather than jump at the first loan offer you find. The extra time spent can pay off for years to come in the form of lower interest rates.
5. Compare APRs, not just interest rates. Cost factors on personal loans include both the interest rate and any origination fees. Looking at APR (the annual percentage rate including all costs) will help you put rates and fees into the right perspective.
6. Consider a cosigner. If you can get a cosigner with good credit, it might help you get a better rate on your loan, and then if you handle the subsequent repayment well, it can improve your credit history.