A personal loan allows you to borrow money to consolidate high-interest debt, finance a large purchase or cover emergency expenses. If you have strong credit and a steady income, finding the best personal loan for your needs, especially if you can secure a low interest rate, could save you thousands. Here’s what you need to know about choosing a personal lender and getting approved.
Max. Loan Amount
Min. Credit Score
|4.99% to 17.99%||$50,000||650|
|6.24% to 10.24%||$50,000||Not disclosed|
|4.74% to 20.28%||$100,000||Not disclosed|
|2.49% to 19.99%||$100,000||670|
|5.99 to 24.99%||$35,000||660|
|5.99% to 24.99%||$40,000||550|
|Not disclosed||$50,000||300 (or insufficient history)|
|5.74% to 19.99%||$100,000||Not disclosed|
|6.99% to 19.99%||$40,000||670|
|5.99% to 19.49%||$50,000||660|
U.S. News selects the Best Loan Companies by evaluating affordability, borrower eligibility criteria and customer service. Those with the highest overall scores are considered the best lenders.
To calculate each score, we use data about the lender and its loan offerings, giving greater weight to factors that matter most to borrowers. Personal loan companies are evaluated based on customer service ratings, interest rates, maximum loan term, minimum and maximum loan amounts, minimum FICO score, online features, and origination fees.
The weight each scoring factor receives is based on a nationwide survey on what borrowers look for in a lender.
To receive a rating, lenders must offer qualifying loans nationwide and have a good reputation within the industry. Read more about our methodology.
Although PenFed Credit Union – officially Pentagon Federal Credit Union – serves members of the armed forces, military associations, veterans and retirees, and their families, a military connection is not required to become a member. The credit union offers personal loans for eligible members and eligible co-borrowers in all 50 states, as well as in Guam, Puerto Rico and Okinawa, Japan.
If you need money fast, Alliant Credit Union typically makes same-day online personal loans between $1,000 and $50,000. The $14 billion Chicago-based credit union, founded in 1935, is one of the biggest in the nation, with 600,000 members.
SoFi, short for Social Finance, offers personal loans of up to $100,000 to borrowers with very good to excellent credit. The nationwide lender was founded in 2011 and is known for offering loans with no fees. In addition to personal loans, SoFi offers student loans, auto and student loan refinancing, home loans, and small-business financing.
LightStream is the online consumer lending division of Truist, which formed in 2019 from the merger of BB&T and SunTrust. SunTrust acquired the assets of online lender FirstAgain in 2012 and relaunched the business as LightStream.
Discover is a digital bank and payment services company known for its credit cards. But Discover also offers other products, including fixed-rate personal loans of up to $35,000 to borrowers nationwide. The lender charges no fees as long as you pay on time.
Happy Money offers the Payoff Loan, which is designed to consolidate credit card debt. Loans of up to $40,000 are available everywhere except Massachusetts and Nevada.
Upstart is a lending platform that uses artificial intelligence to improve access to affordable credit. Based in California and founded by former Google employees in 2012, Upstart also applies AI to reduce lending risks and costs for its bank partners. The lending intermediary provides unsecured personal loans from $1,000 to $50,000 to borrowers anywhere in the U.S. except West Virginia or Iowa.
Wells Fargo was established in 1852 and is one of the largest banks in the country, servicing 1 in 3 U.S. households. The financial services company makes customizable personal loans of up to $100,000 with flexible terms from 12 to 84 months.
Marcus by Goldman Sachs provides online personal loans and other consumer finance products. Established in 2016 by Goldman Sachs, the lender offers loans of up to $40,000.
U.S. Bank has physical locations in more than 25 states and offers both short- and long-term personal loans with fixed annual percentage rates starting at 5.99%. Current customers may qualify to borrow up to $50,000 with a credit score of 660 or above, and options are available for noncustomers willing to open a checking or savings account.
When you shop around for the best personal loan rate, you can save. Compare personal loan offers with national average personal loan trends to know whether you’ve found a competitive interest rate.
You could pay a higher interest rate or a lower one, depending on your credit score.
*Rate as of Mar. 16, 2022
Select your desired loan amount and loan purpose, your credit score range, and your state to see estimated annual percentage rates and loan terms.
A personal loan is a lump sum you can borrow from a bank, a credit union or an online lender and repay over a fixed amount of time, unlike a credit card or line of credit.
Personal loans are typically unsecured, which means they are supported by your creditworthiness rather than collateral. Collateral is an asset, such as a car or house, a lender may use to recoup its losses if you default on a secured loan.
You can get a personal loan from different types of lenders, including traditional brick-and-mortar banks and online lenders. They serve borrowers with varying credit scores, income levels and other requirements.
- Depending on the lender, borrowers can potentially receive funds for personal loans in as little as one business day.
- Personal loans can help borrowers consolidate high-interest credit card debt and pay it off faster at a lower interest rate.
- Personal loans are delivered as a lump sum.
- Personal loans are typically unsecured, so the borrower doesn’t have to use collateral.
- Depending on the lender, borrowers may have to pay origination fees, or even prepayment fees.
- A personal loan may have a higher APR than other options, such as a 0% credit card or a home equity loan, depending on creditworthiness and other factors.
- Personal loans may be difficult for consumers with fair credit or below to obtain.
Lenders often set minimum requirements and will likely look at your credit score, payment history, income and debt-to-income ratio.
If you’re furloughed or unemployed, the lender may ask you for documentation that indicates when you’ll return to work, such as your furlough letter or a job offer.
If you’re applying for a secured loan, the lender will also consider your collateral.
Although they won’t work for everyone, personal loan might make sense in certain situations. You may consider applying for a personal loan if you have an emergency expense, need to make a large purchase or want to consolidate some of your high-interest debts.
There are times when a personal loan might not be the best option, though. While personal loans can be used as home improvement loans, for example, you may want to consider a home equity loan instead if you don’t mind using your home as collateral. And for some types of special purchases, such as a wedding or a vacation, it’s best to plan and save so you can pay cash rather than take out a personal loan.
Follow these steps to apply for a personal loan:
1. Get preapproved rates. Make sure the lenders you’re requesting rates from will obtain them using a soft credit inquiry. When you request a rate quote, you’ll provide your personal information, such as your address, income and Social Security number, on the lender’s secure website. You’ll indicate the amount you want to borrow, the reason for borrowing and the repayment term length you prefer.
Once you give these details, you’ll be informed of rates and how to formally apply for a loan.
2. Compare offers. Research different lenders to find the best personal loan interest rate.
3. Choose your top one or two lenders. Then formally complete your loan application, which will trigger a hard credit inquiry on your credit report. Keep in mind that even with good credit, you won’t be guaranteed approval or a particular interest rate.
Personal loans are available from:
- Brick-and-mortar banks.
- Credit unions.
- Online lenders.
- P2P lenders.
A bank or credit union could offer personal service, especially if a location is nearby. But online lenders sometimes offer more convenience, especially for consumers who prefer to apply, manage and close personal loans online. Online peer-to-peer lending platforms allow users to borrow funds from an investor, rather than from a traditional bank. These platforms may have more flexible credit requirements than traditional banks and could be a good option if you might not otherwise qualify for a personal loan.
You can prequalify for loan offers by providing some basic information so the lender can run a soft credit check. After you’ve compared loan terms, amounts, fees, interest rates and other factors from multiple lenders, you can formally apply for a loan, which requires a hard credit check. If you’re approved, you may receive your personal loan quickly from an online lender – in some cases, as soon as the following business day after approval.
Strive to obtain preapprovals from a variety of lenders so you can compare rates, terms and other factors for different types of personal loans.
The best personal loan companies offer low interest rates, favorable loan terms and flexible payment options. Because each lender has distinct terms and conditions, you should know what you want in a personal loan before you start comparison shopping.
“Consumers can choose the best personal loan by doing their research, shopping around between multiple lenders, reading the fine print and only selecting a loan that they know they can afford to repay,” says Jared Kaplan, former CEO of OppFi, a financial technology company that offers bad credit loans.
An easy place to begin is to check that a lender is licensed in your state. Make sure each lender can offer personal loans where you live. Then, you can compare these other key factors to help you choose the right lender.
Each lender sets its own terms, such as:
- Minimum and maximum loan amounts. Every lender has a minimum and maximum loan amount. If you’re looking for a small personal loan of less than $2,000, for example, you’ll need to find a lender offering loans at that amount.
- Minimum and maximum term lengths. Lenders also have minimum and maximum term lengths, which vary among lenders. It’s not uncommon for borrowers to have 60 months to pay off their personal loans, but some lenders offer term lengths of up to 144 months. The longer your loan period is, the lower your payments will be, but you might pay more in interest. If you can afford a higher monthly payment, go with the shorter loan period to save on interest.
- Loan use restrictions. Some lenders have restrictions on how you can use your loan. These vary by lender. Don’t lie about how you’re going to use the money. Lying on your loan application can be deemed loan fraud and result in extra charges.
- Disbursement times. Lenders also have their own time frames for how quickly you’ll receive your personal loan funds. Some lenders offer funding as soon as the next business day after approval. Usually, funds are distributed within a few business days, and most lenders will disburse them electronically.
Lender Loan Fees and Penalties
One of the most important aspects to compare before choosing the best personal loan is what each lender charges in fees. Fees can significantly increase the cost of a personal loan.
Because most lenders enforce late fees, you should always pay your loan on time. Some lenders waive late fees, including Marcus by Goldman Sachs and SoFi, but you should still expect interest to accrue if you pay late.
If you don’t have enough money in your account, most lenders will charge a minimal fee for returned payments.
Though rare, prepayment penalties may apply when you repay your loan ahead of schedule.
Choices vary by lender, so make sure your lender has options that work best for you.
Most lenders offer flexible payment options, including autopay, check by mail or online, and even a chance to change your payment date.
Some lenders, such as Upgrade and U.S. Bank, provide an autopay discount, which can reduce your rate if you enroll.
Researching Personal Loan Companies
Before you move forward with a lender, be sure to read personal loan reviews so you know what to expect – or when to avoid a lender.
Kaplan recommends researching lenders on the Better Business Bureau website to check for negative marks or complaints.
Some lenders offer loans with additional features that make them a better fit for certain borrowers.
Personal loan interest ranges are typically from about 6% to 36%, depending on creditworthiness and other factors. Generally, the higher your credit score, the better your personal loan interest rate.
Also, the higher your credit score, the greater choice of personal loans you’ll have with favorable terms. Companies want to work with people who have good or excellent credit scores and are more likely to offer personal loans with better terms to these consumers.
“Realistically, you probably need a credit score of 680 to 700 or higher” to qualify for a personal loan, says Joseph A. Carbone Jr., certified financial planner and founder of financial planning firm Focus Planning Group. “If you are in a range of 620 to 680, you might need a co-signer to secure the line.”
But your credit score is not the only factor lenders consider when determining whether to approve you or what interest rate to offer. Companies will request information about your job, your minimum annual income, how stable your income is, your savings and more. Your answers can determine your eligibility.
- Personal loans for medical expenses: If you are struggling to come up with the cash to pay for your medical bills, you might consider taking out a personal loan.
- Personal loans for debt consolidation: This type of personal loan allows the borrower to consolidate some high-interest debts, such as from credit cards, medical bills or other loans, and make one low-interest payment each month.
- Personal loans for pet expenses: If you don’t have pet insurance and are faced with a large emergency vet bill, a pet loan can help finance major expenses such as surgery or cancer treatment for an animal in your family.
Best Egg is an online lender founded in 2014 that is owned and administered by from Marlette Funding, a financial services company with banking and technology experience. Best Egg offers personal loans starting at $2,000 that can be used to cover medical bills, home remodeling and a variety of other expenses. Cross River Bank in New Jersey issues Best Egg loans, which can be funded in as little as one business day.
RocketLoans offers personal loans to qualified borrowers in all states except Iowa, Nevada and West Virginia. These loans are designed for people with fair to excellent credit who need to borrow up to $45,000 for debt consolidation, home improvements, medical expenses and business or other expenses.
Axos Bank launched in 2000 and is owned by San Diego-based Axos Financial. You won’t find any brick-and-mortar branches, but the bank has offices throughout the country. Axos Bank not only offers personal loans but also CDs and checking, money market, retirement, and savings accounts.
LendingUSA was founded in 2015 as a lending solution for borrowers and merchants. The company provides point-of-sale customer financing through more than 10,000 merchant partners in various sectors, including medical, pet, funeral and other consumer services.
Upgrade offers access to personal loans, the Upgrade card with a personal line of credit, rewards checking, and credit monitoring and educational tools. Founded in 2017 in San Francisco, the firm also has operations offices in Phoenix and Montreal.
PNC Bank can trace its history back to 1852 and the Pittsburgh Trust and Savings Co. Today, PNC Bank is the seventh-largest bank in the U.S., and it features a wide range of consumer and business banking services. Among its suite of products, PNC offers personal, unsecured installment loans up to $35,000. Applicants are considered based on satisfactory credit history, ability to repay and income.
Founded in 2005 and based in San Carlos, California, Oportun originates unsecured personal loans of up to $10,000 in 12 states. Loans are available in 27 additional states through Oportun’s partnership with MetaBank.
Chicago-based Avant has lent more than $6.5 billion to borrowers since its 2012 founding. In partnership with WebBank, Avant offers secured and unsecured personal loans and a credit card. Most borrowers have credit scores between 600 and 700, according to Avant.
LendingPoint is an online lender specializing in unsecured personal loans from $2,000 to $36,500 for borrowers with fair credit. The Georgia-based lender issues loans with annual percentage rates of 9.99% to 35.99% and repayment terms of two to five years to people in every state but Nevada or West Virginia. Funds may be available as soon as the next business day after the lender approves the loan and receives all documents.
FreedomPlus is an online lender offering personal loans from $7,500 to $50,000 to meet a range of needs and promising quick approval and disbursal. A prospective borrower begins by applying online and then talks with a loan consultant.
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