Best Installment Loans

How to choose the right lender

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With an installment loan, funds are disbursed in a single lump sum and can be used to pay for various things like consolidating debt or making home improvements. Installment loans carry a fixed interest rate and are repaid in equal installments of principal and interest over a set number of years. This is a type of non-revolving credit, which is different from revolving credit in that once the principal is repaid, it can’t be borrowed again. 

Data from the U.S. Federal Reserve System indicated that in February 2021 non-revolving consumer credit including consumer installment loans in the United States increased at an annual rate of 7.3%, and revolving credit increased at an annual rate of 10.1%. 

To help you pick the best installment loan, we evaluated over two dozen installment loan lenders based on rates, reputation, credit score needed, and more.

Best Installment Loans for 2021

Best Overall : Best Egg


Best Egg

Best Egg

Why We Chose It: Best Egg allows people with credit scores as low as 550 to potentially get approved, and the best-qualified borrowers can get rates as low as 5.99%.

What We Like
  • Excellent customer ratings

  • Good starting APR of 5.99%

  • Low minimum credit score of 550+

What We Don’t Like
  • Low $50,000 maximum loan amount

  • Origination fee of 0.99% to 5.99%

  • High maximum APR of 29.99%

  • Relatively short time in business

Best Egg was founded in 2014 and is headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware. Although Best Egg’s maximum loan amount is relatively low at $35,000, it’s possible to qualify with a credit score as low as 550, and the best-qualified borrowers can benefit from APRs as low as 5.99%. This means a wide variety of people can qualify for an installment loan with Best Egg and it’s why we selected it as the overall best installment loan. 

In addition to its lower-than-average APR and credit score requirement, Best Egg has a solid reputation among users, with many citing that the loan application process is easy and customer service is helpful.

The key terms and requirements for an installment loan with Best Egg are:

Loan Amount $2,000 to $50,000
Repayment Terms 36 or 60 months
APR Range 5.99% to 29.99%
Fees Origination fee of 0.99% to 5.99%; no prepayment penalty
Minimum Credit Score 550+ (better rates with scores of 700+)
Application & Funding Speed Apply online in minutes

Read the full Best Egg Personal Loan Review

Best for Good Credit : Marcus by Goldman Sachs


Marcus-by-Goldman-Sachs

Why We Chose It: Borrowers with credit scores of at least 660 can potentially qualify for an installment loan.

What We Like
  • Good starting APR of 6.99%

  • Good maximum terms of 72 months

  • Only 36 CFPB installment loan complaints during the most recent three years

What We Don't Like
  • Low maximum loan amount of $40,000

  • Funding could take up to four days

Marcus is a division of Goldman Sachs, a financial services company that was founded in 1869. The headquarters of Marcus by Goldman Sachs is located in Draper, Utah. You can get an installment loan of up to $40,000 with Marcus by Goldman Sachs at an APR starting as low as 6.99%. You typically need to have a fair-to-good credit score of at least 660 to qualify for an installment loan with Marcus by Goldman Sachs. This is why we chose Marcus by Goldman Sachs as offering the installment loan that’s best for good credit.

A search of the CFPB’s consumer complaint database for Goldman Sachs revealed 39 complaints during the most recent three-year period related to installment loans. This is a relatively low number of complaints compared to other companies we’ve reviewed. Plus, Goldman Sachs provides timely responses to issues, which is a positive sign.

The key terms and requirements for an installment loan with Marcus by Goldman Sachs are:

Loan Amount $3,500 to $40,000
Repayment Terms 36 to 72 months
APR Range 6.99% to 19.99%
Fees No fees
Minimum Credit Score 660+
Application & Funding Speed Apply online in minutes; get funded in as few as four days

Read the full Marcus Personal Loan Review

Best for Bad Credit : Upstart


Upstart company logo

Why We Chose It: Upstart only requires a credit score of 580 and looks at various factors when making its lending decisions.

What We Like
  • Low minimum credit score of 600

  • Factors other than your credit score are evaluated

  • Only 29 CFPB complaints related to installment loans in the past three years

What We Don’t Like
  • Average 1.63-star BBB customer rating

  • High maximum APR of 35.99%

  • Relatively short time in business

Upstart was founded in 2012 and is headquartered in San Mateo, California. You can get an installment loan of up to $50,000 with Upstart, with rates ranging from 6.76% to 35.99%. Although this is the highest maximum APR of the companies we reviewed, you can also potentially get approved with a credit score as low as 600. This is because Upstart considers more than just your credit score in its lending decision, although the specifics aren’t disclosed. For these reasons, we think Upstart offers the installment loan that’s best for bad credit.

A review of the consumer complaint database for Upstart revealed 45 complaints related to installment loans during the most recent three-year period. This is a relatively low number of complaints compared to many other lenders we’ve evaluated. Some of the common issues are trouble getting the loan, problems making payments, and unexpected fees or other charges. These issues highlight the importance of making sure you submit all requested information and carefully review your loan terms before committing to it. 

The key terms and requirements for an installment loan with Upstart are:

Loan Amount  $1,000 to $50,000
Repayment Terms 36- and 60-month terms
APR Range 6.76% to 35.99%
Fees No prepayment penalty
Minimum Credit Score 600+
Application & Funding Speed Apply online in minutes; get funded as soon as the next day

Read the full Upstart Personal Loan Review

Best Bank : Wells Fargo


Wells Fargo

 Wells Fargo

Why We Chose It: Wells Fargo has been in business since 1852 and offers installment loans of up to $100,000 at APRs as low as 5.74%. Plus, you won’t pay any origination fees or prepayment penalties.

What We Like
  • Long history of operations

  • Good starting APRs of 5.74%

  • No origination fees or prepayment penalties

  • High maximum loan amount of $100,000

What We Don't Like
  • Credit score requirements not disclosed

  • 134 complaints with the CFPB related to installment loans in the last three years

Founded in 1852, Wells Fargo is headquartered in San Francisco, California. In addition to installment loans, Wells Fargo offers a full suite of banking products including deposit accounts, credit cards, and mortgages. 

The maximum installment loan you can get with Wells Fargo is $100,000, one of our list’s largest. Its starting APR is also reasonable at 5.74%, and you won’t pay an origination fee. Although Wells Fargo doesn’t disclose its minimum credit score, you can expect to need a credit score of at least 600 to qualify. This is why we think Wells Fargo has the best bank installment loans.

A search of the CFPB’s consumer complaint database related to installment loans with Wells Fargo revealed 125 complaints during the most recent three-year period. There are various reported issues, including problems getting loans, trouble making loan payments, and unexpected charges or fees. Carefully completing your loan application and thoroughly reading your loan documents can help you avoid these types of issues. Although the number of complaints is high compared to other companies we’ve evaluated, Wells Fargo provides timely responses to all complaints. 

The key terms and requirements for an installment loan with Wells Fargo are:

Loan Amount $3,000 to $100,000
Repayment Terms 12 to 84 months
APR Range 5.74% to 24.24%
Fees No origination fee or prepayment penalty
Minimum Credit Score 600+
Application & Funding Speed Apply online in minutes; get funded as soon as the next day

Read the full Wells Fargo Bank Review

Best Credit Union : PenFed Credit Union


PenFed Credit Union personal loans

 PenFed Credit Union personal loans

Why We Chose It: Membership to PenFed Credit Union is open to people located throughout the United States, as well as the District Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and Okinawa. It’s easy to become a member, and you can get rates as low as 5.99%.

What We Like
  • Becoming a credit union member is easy

  • Good starting APR of 5.99%

  • No origination fees or prepayment penalties

  • Only 17 CFPB complaints related to installment loans in the past three years

What We Don't Like
  • Credit union membership is required

  • Credit score requirements are not disclosed

  • Low maximum loan amount of $35,000

Pentagon Federal Credit Union, or PenFed, was founded in 1935 and is headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia. It offers installment loans and other banking products to people located in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and Okinawa. Anyone can become a member of PenFed, even those without military experience. 

You can get an installment loan of up to $35,000 with APRs starting at 5.99% from PenFed. You won’t pay origination fees or prepayment penalties and you can get funded as soon as the next day. Although PenFed doesn’t disclose its minimum credit score requirements, you can expect to need a credit score of at least 680. These are the reasons why we think PenFed Credit Union offers the best credit union installment loans. 

We reviewed the CFPB’s consumer complaint database and found only 15 complaints related to installment loans with PenFed Credit Union in the last three years. This is a low number relative to many of the other companies we’ve evaluated. As is typical, complaints were mostly related to getting the loan, making payments, and experiencing unexpected fees or interest. The good news is PenFed provides timely responses to all complaints.

The key terms and requirements for an installment loan with PenFed Credit Union are:

Loan Amount $1,000 to $35,000
Repayment Terms Up to 60 months
APR Range 5.99% to 17.99%
Fees No origination fees or prepayment penalties
Minimum Credit Score 680+
Application & Funding Speed Apply online in minutes; get funded as soon as the next day

Best for Large Loans : LightStream


Light Stream

Why We Chose It: LightStream offers installment loans up to $100,000 with rates as low as 2.49%, which was the lowest starting APR of all the companies we reviewed.

What We Like
  • Low 2.49% starting APR

  • Factors other than credit score considered

  • High $100,000 maximum loan amount

  • Only 22 CFPB complaints related to installment loans during the past three years

What We Don't Like
  • No specific credit score requirement

  • Factors considered other than credit score aren’t clearly disclosed

LightStream is a Truist Bank division (formerly SunTrust), a bank that was founded in 1872 and is headquartered in Charlotte, North Carolina. The company stands out from the competition because it offers installment loans up to $100,000 with APRs as low as 2.49% and no fees. 

You’ll need to have good-to-excellent credit to qualify for an installment loan with LightStream. Although LightStream doesn’t specify the minimum credit score, a reasonable expectation is a score of at least 680. In addition to your credit score, LightStream will also consider the length of your credit history, how much cash you have on hand, whether your revolving credit card debt is manageable, and your level of debt to recurring income, among other factors. 

We reviewed the CFPB’s consumer complaint database and found only 22 complaints about Truist Bank related to installment loans within the past three years. This number is relatively low compared to other companies we evaluated, plus Truist is good about providing timely responses to complaints. The complaints we saw are not out of the ordinary and relate primarily to problems getting loans, making payments, and credit reporting inaccuracies. 

The key terms and requirements for an installment loan with LightStream are:

Loan Amount $5,000 to $100,000
Repayment Terms 24 to 144 months
APR Range 2.49% to 19.99%
Fees No fees or prepayment penalties
Minimum Credit Score Not specified, but 680+ is expected
Application & Funding Speed Apply online in minutes; same-day funding is possible

Read the full LightStream Personal Loan Review

Best for Debt Consolidation : LendingClub


Lending Club

 Lending Club

Why We Chose It: With LendingClub, you can use your loan proceeds for a wide variety of purposes. This includes consolidating your credit cards and other debt, as well as transferring balances. Plus, you might even be able to get approved if you only have a credit score of 600 or better.

What We Like
  • Fair credit score of 600+ may be sufficient

  • Factors other than credit score considered

  • No prepayment penalty

  • Allows for debt consolidation

What We Don't Like
  • 237 CFPB complaints related to installment loans in the past three years

  • Low maximum loan amount of $40,000

  • High APR range of 8.05% to 35.89%

  • Origination fee of 2% to 6%

Founded in 2006 and headquartered in San Francisco, LendingClub is a peer-to-peer lender offering installment loans in all states except Iowa and the U.S. territories. You can use the funds from your LendingClub installment loan to consolidate your debt and credit cards and you can even transfer balances from other loans, which is what makes it best for debt consolidation.

You can get an installment loan with LendingClub of up to $40,000. Although its APRs are relatively high and it carries origination fees (which are captured in the APR calculation), even people with a relatively low credit score might qualify for an installment loan with LendingClub. A customer service representative explained that the company looks at around 200 proprietary factors when making its lending decision, and credit scores typically need to be better than 600. 

We reviewed the CFPB’s consumer complaint database and found 237 complaints related to installment loans with LendingClub during the most recent three-year period. This is a high volume of complaints relative to other companies we’ve evaluated. However, even though there are many complaints, the nature of the complaints isn’t out of the ordinary. Plus, Lending Club provides prompt responses to all issues. 

The key terms and requirements for an installment loan with LendingClub are:

Loan Amount $1,000 to $40,000
Repayment Terms 36 or 60 months
APR Range 8.05% to 35.89%
Fees Origination fee of 2% to 6%; no prepayment penalty
Minimum Credit Score 600+
Application & Funding Speed Apply online in minutes; get funded in as few as four days

Read the full LendingClub Personal Loan Review

Best for Unemployment Protection : SoFi


SoFi

Why We Chose It: Not only does SoFi offer installment loans of up to $100,000, but it also has an unemployment protection program that can help people recover from an unexpected job loss that wasn’t their fault.

What We Like
  • Only 34 CFPB complaints related to installment loans in the past three years

  • High $100,000 maximum loan amount

  • Unemployment protection available

What We Don't Like
  • Funding takes several days

  • Acceptance of a forbearance agreement could negatively impact your credit

  • Your loan must be in good standing to use unemployment protection

Founded in 2011 and headquartered in San Francisco, SoFi offers installment loans of up to $100,000 with rates starting as low as 5.99%, but SoFi also has an unemployment protection program that’s available if you lose your job for reasons that are outside your fault. 

Although SoFi doesn’t disclose its minimum credit score requirements on its website, one of the company’s customer service representatives told us that you need a score of at least 680. Once you get a loan, make sure to pay as agreed, so you’re able to take advantage of SoFi’s unemployment protection program should you need it in the future. This is because, in addition to showing that it wasn’t your fault that you lost your job (in other words, the job loss was involuntary), your loan also must be in good standing. This feature is what makes SoFi best in our review for unemployment protection.

If you’re approved for unemployment protection, your loan will be placed into forbearance. This status will be reported to the credit bureaus, meaning there could be some impact on your credit score. Make sure to carefully review the terms of the forbearance agreement before accepting it.

A review of the CFPB’s consumer complaint database for installment loans with SoFi revealed 34 complaints over the past three years. The number of complaints and nature of the complaints are not out of the ordinary compared to other companies we’ve evaluated. Plus, SoFi provides quick responses to all issues, which is great news.

The key terms and requirements for an installment loan with SoFi are:

Loan Amount $5,000 to $100,000 
Repayment Terms 24 to 84 months
APR Range 5.99% to 18.85%
Fees None
Minimum Credit Score 680+
Application & Funding Speed Apply online in minutes; get funded in several days

Read the full SoFi Personal Loan Review

Final Verdict

We reviewed over two dozen lenders to find the best installment loans. The best lenders can get you financing of up to $100,000 with rates ranging from a low of 2.49% to a high of 35.99%. You can even get approved with credit scores as low as 550, and some of the lenders consider factors other than your credit score when making their decision. 

Although all of the installment loans on our list are good options, we chose Best Egg as the best overall installment loan because the company has an excellent reputation and even people with credit scores as low as 550 can potentially get approved for an installment loan at lower rates than some of the other lenders we picked.

Compare Loan Providers

Lender Why We Picked It APR Range
Best Egg You can potentially get approved with a credit score as low as 550, and the lender has an excellent reputation 5.99% to 29.99%
Marcus by Goldman Sachs You need to have a fair-to-good credit score of 660 or better to get approved 6.99% to 19.99%
Upstart You can potentially get approved with a credit score as low as 600 6.76% to 35.99%
Wells Fargo You can get up to $100,000 from one of the largest banks in the United States 5.74% to 24.24%
PenFed Credit Union It’s easy to become a member in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and Okinawa 5.99% to 17.99%
LightStream You can get up to $100,000 in financing at reasonable rates 2.49% to 19.99%
LendingClub You can use the loan proceeds to consolidate various types of debt easily 8.05% to 35.89%
SoFi You can use its unemployment protection program if you lose your job and meet specific requirements 5.99% to 18.85%

FAQs

What Is an Installment Loan?

An installment loan is financing that has a fixed interest rate and is repaid in regular installments of principal and interest. The loan is repaid in full by the end of the financing term (e.g., three or five years). Installment loans can either be secured by collateral (e.g., a car) or unsecured. Since lenders are taking more risk when they issue an unsecured loan, these come at a higher cost than secured loans.

What Is the Difference Between Installment Loans and Revolving Credit?

An installment loan is issued in a single lump sum, has a fixed interest rate, and is repaid in equal payments of principal and interest over a set number of years. Once an installment loan is repaid, you have to apply for another loan to get more money. In contrast, revolving credit is money that can be borrowed and repaid over and over again. You’ll typically only be required to make interest-only payments on revolving credit, although some lenders require you also to repay a small portion of the principal each month. Revolving credit usually has a variable rate

A car loan is one type of installment loan. However, it’s also possible to get unsecured installment loans. Credit cards and home equity lines of credit are examples of revolving credit. 

Are Installment Loans Secured or Unsecured?

Installment loans can either be secured or unsecured. Some lenders issue unsecured personal loans that can be used to consolidate high-interest credit cards or other debt, pay for medical expenses, purchase solar panels or other energy-efficient improvements to your home, or make different types of home improvements. 

You can also get secured installment loans. A car loan is a typical example of a secured installment loan. 

Who Should Get an Installment Loan?

You should get an installment loan if you don’t have enough cash to make a necessary purchase and have enough income to pay off the loan in the short-term, typically three to five years. An installment loan might also be the right way for someone to consolidate their debt with higher interest rates into a single lower interest rate loan. This can make it possible to repay the debt more quickly. 

What Do Installment Loans Cost?

The cost of an installment loan varies depending on the collateral, the borrower’s qualifications, and the loan term’s length. This is because there is more risk associated with loans that are: unsecured, made to less creditworthy borrowers (e.g., people with lower credit scores or lower levels of income), and with longer repayment terms. 

For an unsecured loan with a repayment term between 12 and 84 months, you can expect to pay an APR ranging from 2.5% to 36%. 

How We Chose the Best Installment Loans

We evaluated over two dozen lenders before selecting our list of the best installment loans. Our review consisted of looking for lenders with good reputations that clearly disclose their rates and fees, loans with credit score requirements to fit various circumstances, and financing options that can get you funded in days. 

All of the choices on our list offer reasonable rates and terms, help people with various credit situations get financing, and are funded in days.

Article Sources

  1. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. "Consumer Credit - G.19." Accessed May 17, 2021.

  2. Trustpilot. "Best Egg Personal Loan Reviews." Accessed May 17, 2021.

  3. CFPB. "Consumer Complaint Database." Accessed May 17, 2021.

  4. CFPB. "Consumer Complaints Upstart Holdings." Accessed May 17, 2021.

  5. CFPB. "Consumer Complaint Database." Accessed May 17, 2021.

  6. CFPB. "Consumer Complaint Database." Accessed May 17, 2021.

  7. CFPB. "Consumer Complaint Database." Accessed April 15, 2021.

  8. CFPB. "Consumer Complaint Database." Accessed Jan. 27, 2021.

  9. CFPB. "Consumer Complaint Database." Accessed Jan. 27, 2021.