Peer-to-Peer Lending: Best Loans of 2020

P2P and platform lenders may be more flexible than traditional banks

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If you’re having trouble finding an affordable loan with a traditional bank or credit union, a peer-to-peer (P2P) lending company, or a similar lending platform, is worth a closer look. Unlike traditional lenders, peer-to-peer loan companies work with individual or corporate investors who supply money to fund business and consumer loans. Similarly, online lending platforms fund borrowers through their institutional lending partners.

Since investors are often allowed to pick the loans they want to fund, the approval process with a P2P loan company may be more flexible than it is with a traditional lender. Some P2P companies and lending platforms even use less conventional data to determine creditworthiness, relying on artificial intelligence software and other tools in addition to credit scores. 

We scoured the personal loan market and identified the six best loan companies in the peer-to-peer and lending platform arena. Here’s what you need to know.

Best Peer-to-Peer and Platform Loans of June 2020

Lender Why We Picked It APR Loan Amounts Terms Recommended Credit Score
Peerform Best Overall, Best for Low Rates and Fees, Best for Borrowers With Lower Credit Scores 5.99%-29.99% $4,000-$25,000 3 years 600+
Upstart Second Best Overall, Best for Recent Grads 8.13%-35.99% $1,000-$50,000 3 and 5 years 620+
Payoff Best for Paying Off Credit Card Debt 5.99%-24.99% $5,000-$35,000 2-5 years 640+
Prosper Best for Large Loans, Best for Joint Applications 7.95%-35.99% $2,000-$40,000 3 and 5 years 640+
Upgrade Best for Small Loans 7.99%-35.97% $1,000-$35,000 3 and 5 years 620+
LendingClub Second Best for Small Loans 10.68%-35.89% $1,000-$40,000 3 and 5 years 600+

Peerform: Best Overall, Best for Low Rates and Fees, Best for Lower Credit Scores

Peerform

Peerform uses its proprietary algorithm to grade applicants who may be more creditworthy than traditional credit scores suggest.

Unlike many competitors, Peerform gives borrowers with thin or damaged credit an alternative to high-interest payday loans and other predatory financial products, such as fee-laden credit cards.

And just as it stands out for being willing to lend to borrowers with relatively low credit scores, it’s a strong choice even for borrowers with strong credit. Peerform’s best rate of 5.99% is as low as we could find for a peer-to-peer or platform lending company (and pretty good for any personal loan), and even its maximum APR offer is comparatively low at 29.99%.

On the downside, Peerform does charge a number of fees, including a 1% to 5% origination fee and a 5% late fee. While these fees are within the normal range among lenders who charge them, not all competitors do. Plus, Peerform’s personal loans are only available in three-year terms. While there aren’t any penalties for paying your loan off early, if you need to stretch your payments for longer, you’re out of luck.

What We Like
  • Borrowers with lower credit scores may qualify

  • No outrageous rates above 30%

  • Extra-low APR for borrowers with great credit

What We Don't Like
  • Can’t borrow for longer than three years

  • No co-signers or joint applications allowed

  • Fees, including an origination fee for all borrowers

  • Not available to borrowers in Connecticut, North Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, or Wyoming

Peerform Personal Loan Details

Loan amounts $4,000-$25,000
Fixed APR Range 5.99%-29.99%
Loan Terms 3 years
Origination Fee 1%-5%
Late Fee 5% ($15 minimum)
Time to Receive Funds It varies, according to a Peerform customer service representative
Recommended Score Minimum FICO score of 600, according to Peerform
Funding Source May only be open to institutional investors currently

Upstart: Second Best Overall, Best for Recent Grads

Upstart

This unusual lending platform uses academic and employment credentials to look for borrowers with potential, even if they have thin or imperfect credit histories.

Upstart’s motto is “You are more than your credit score,” and indeed, you don’t even need to have a credit score to get a loan. (Even still, Upstart says its average borrower has a 689 FICO score—on the lower end of the “good” range.) In exchange for sharing unconventional information—things like the university you attended, your area of study, or who you’ve worked for—you may be able to secure a lower rate than you’d get from a traditional lender.  

Upstart may be particularly good for young, first-time borrowers like recent college graduates. It’s one of the few lenders with competitive terms that explicitly advertises a willingness to consider applicants without any credit history at all. Plus, Upstart’s lowest APR is pretty low, and there are no origination fees to borrowers with the strongest applications.

Not everyone will get approved for such a competitive loan, though. And Upstart has a very high maximum APR and charges some borrowers origination fees as high as 8%. That’s a good 2-3 percentage points higher than the maximum assessed by competitors on this list. The lender also won’t accept any co-signers, which could mean you’re more likely to get stuck with a high rate, depending on your creditworthiness.

What We Like
  • Accessible if you have a fair or thin credit history (even first-time borrowers are eligible)

  • Potentially better APRs for those with lower credit scores, thanks to alternative credentials

  • No origination fee for select borrowers

What We Don't Like
  • Very high maximum APR

  • High origination fees for some borrowers

  • No co-signers allowed

  • Not available to borrowers in Iowa or West Virginia

Upstart Personal Loan Details

Loan amounts $1,000-$50,000
Fixed APR Range 8.13%-35.99%
Loan Terms 3 and 5 years
Origination Fee 0%-8%
Late Fee 5% ($15 minimum)
Time to Receive Funds 1 business day after acceptance for most loans
Recommended Score If you have enough credit history to generate a FICO or Vantage score, you’ll need a minimum score of 620, according to Upstart. However, Upstart will consider your application if you don’t have any credit history
Funding Source Individual and institutional investors

Payoff: Best for Paying Off Credit Card Debt

Payoff

If you’re looking to refinance higher-interest credit card debt, Payoff loans have the most competitive rates we could find among online lending platforms and peer-to-peer lenders. (Unfortunately, you can’t get a Payoff loan for any other purpose.) Payoff’s average APR is just 15.49%, by far the lowest on this list and a good 5 percentage points lower than some competitors. 

You can get a Payoff loan for $5,000 to $35,000, so there’s probably enough breathing room to consolidate all of your card debt and predictably space out payments. Payoff also stands out for its wide range of repayment terms—two to five years—and lack of fees. The only fee Payoff may charge is an origination fee, and that can range from nothing to 5%.

If you have good credit and less than $5,000 in credit card debt, you may want to consider a credit card to lower your borrowing costs, assuming you can pay off your debt in under two years. Some cards offer a 0% APR on transferred balances for 18 or even 21 months. Just make sure the fee (often 4% to 5%) comes to far less than what you’ll save in interest. With a $4,500 balance, such a fee would add $180 to $225 to your final bill.

Payoff is not the best place for first-time borrowers, however. In order to get approved, you’ll likely need at least three years of credit history with at least at least two open tradelines (like credit cards or lines of credit) that are in good standing to get approved.

What We Like
  • Very competitive APRs

  • Various repayment periods

  • No late fee or returned payment fee

  • No origination fee for select borrowers

  • Unique financial education tools and unusual transparency about qualification process

What We Don't Like
  • Can’t be used for anything but refinancing credit card debt

  • No loans under $5,000

  • Inexperienced or light borrowers probably won’t qualify

  • Joint applications (so you can pay off your partner’s debt) aren’t allowed

  • Not available to borrowers in Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, or West Virginia

Payoff Personal Loan Details

Loan amounts $5,000-$35,000
Fixed APR Range 5.99%-24.99%
Loan Terms 2-5 years
Origination Fee 0%-5%
Late Fee None
Time to Receive Funds For direct deposit, 3-6 business days after acceptance; for creditors paid directly, 7-30 calendar days
Recommended Score Minimum FICO score may need to be 640, according to Payoff
Funding Source Institutional lending partners

Prosper: Best for Large Loans, Best for Joint Applications

Prosper

Prosper offers loans for a wide range of uses, including debt consolidation, home improvement, and medical bills. And like Upstart and Peerform, the lender boasts a custom approach to underwriting that relies on more than traditional criteria. One of the standout features is that applicants can borrow as little as $2,000 or as much as $40,000. 

Prosper charges a wide range of interest rates, up to a maximum APR of 35.99%. Unlike some competitors, though, Prosper lets you jointly apply with another borrower, giving you the chance to secure more affordable terms, assuming that borrower has better credit. 

Prosper also charges a number of fees, including a loan origination fee that’s at least 2.41%. That’s significant, since 1 or 2 percentage points can add up: 1 percentage point on a $10,000 loan, for example, adds another $100 to your cost.

What We Like
  • Wide range of loan options, including a maximum loan amount of $40,000

  • Joint applicants are allowed

What We Don't Like
  • Rates are relatively high, especially the maximum APR of 35.99%

  • Relatively high minimum origination fee

  • Borrowers with thin credit profiles aren’t eligible: you need at least three open tradelines

Prosper Personal Loan Details

Loan amounts $2,000-$40,000
Fixed APR Range 7.95%-35.99%
Loan Terms 3 or 5 years
Origination Fee 2.41%-5%
Late Fee 5% ($15 minimum)
Time to Receive Funds Within 5 days of acceptance
Recommended Score 640 (none disclosed by Prosper)
Funding Source Individual and institutional investors

Upgrade: Best for Small Loans

Upgrade

This lending platform is one of the few online personal loan lenders that offer loans as small as $1,000, and at better rates than several of the other lenders willing to make small loans. The most creditworthy borrowers will get an APR of 7.99%—even lower than what some traditional lenders charge. 

For less creditworthy borrowers, however, Upgrade may offer an APR as high as 35.97%—at the high end for this list and especially high compared to some more traditional bank and credit union options. Plus, there are origination fees of 2.9% to 8%, a range higher than most of our other top picks. Since origination fees are deducted from your loan amount, an 8% fee would eat up $80 to $2,800 of your loan—even a 2.9% fee adds up.

What We Like
  • Loans as small as $1,000

  • A competitive APR for smaller loans

  • Low late payment fee

  • Joint applications are allowed

What We Don't Like
  • Higher range of origination fees

  • Very high maximum APR

Upgrade Personal Loan Details

Loan amounts $1,000 to $35,000
Fixed APR Range 7.99% to 35.97% (lowest rates require autopay and paying off a portion of existing debt directly)
Loan Terms 3 or 5 years
Origination Fee 2.9% to 8%
Late Fee Up to $10
Time to Receive Funds Within 4 business days of approval
Recommended Score 620, according to Upgrade
Funding Source Institutional lending partners

LendingClub: Second Best for Small Loans

LendingClub

One of the older and best-known peer-to-peer lenders, LendingClub is a good choice if you need to borrow a small amount to get you through a rough patch. Like Upgrade, LendingClub is one of the few major lenders to offer loans for as little as $1,000. (Borrowers can take out as much as $40,000, too, making this a decent option for larger amounts.)

The company offers personal loans for a wide range of uses, though they can be costly––especially for borrowers with lower scores––and there are some fees, including an origination fee of 2% to 6% and a 5% late fee. (You can also use LendingClub to refinance your auto loan or pay your doctor or dentist too, but those loans work differently.)

In the fourth quarter of 2019, LendingClub says its average APRs were 11.93% for a three-year loan and 14.35% for a five-year loan. But the minimum personal loan rate advertised on its website has since gone up from 6.95% to 10.68%, so it’s unclear how indicative these figures are.

You may also be able to strengthen your application by adding a co-borrower with a higher credit score. Unlike some competitors, LendingClub allows you to submit a joint application.

What We Like
  • Loans as small as $1,000

  • Borrowers with lower credit scores may qualify for loans of less than $25,000

  • Joint applicants allowed

What We Don't Like
  • Very high maximum APR and relatively high minimum APR

  • Above-average maximum origination fee

  • Not available to borrowers in Iowa or in U.S. territories

LendingClub Personal Loan Details

Loan Amounts $1,000-$40,000
Fixed APR Range 10.68%-35.89%
Loan Terms 3 and 5 years
Origination Fee 2%-6%
Late Fee $5 ($15 minimum)
Time to Receive Funds As little as 4 days
Recommended Score FICO score may be as low as 600 for loans $25,000 and under, according to LendingClub. For more than that, you’ll probably need at least a 660
Funding Source Individual and institutional investors

What Is a Peer-to-Peer or Platform Lender?

A peer-to-peer lender is a company that helps connect borrowers to individuals, corporations, or other investors who have agreed to fund their loans. Similarly, when we refer to a lending platform, we mean a company that provides loans funded by banks and other lending partners.

Rather than borrowing money from just one lender, customers often receive money from multiple people or institutions. These investors are entitled to a fraction of the interest and fees the borrower pays, depending on how much they invested.

As a borrower, you won’t interact with the investors. Instead, you’ll work with the lending company in much the same way you would work with a traditional lender. The company will process your application, check your credit, and manage your loan going forward. It will also handle all of your payments and customer service inquiries.

In some cases, it could take a few weeks—from application to receipt of funds—for a peer-to-peer loan to be processed. Some lenders give investors 14 days to decide whether to fund a loan, and then you have to factor in the time to transfer the funds once you’ve accepted them.

P2P and Platform Loans vs. Other Loans

What We Like
  • Accessible to a wide range of potential borrowers

  • May have more flexible approval process

  • For certain borrowers, may be cheaper than traditional loans

What We Don't Like
  • Some have extremely high maximum APRs

  • Origination fees are common

  • Fees for late payments can be higher than on traditional loans

Peer-to-peer lending companies cobble together loan money from multiple investors, then let those investors essentially pick the loans they want to help fund. A peer-to-peer lender assesses your application and then might give you a creditworthiness grade, such as “AAA,” “A1,” “BB+” or “C.” 

Since the investor decides whom to help, borrowers who have struggled to get an affordable loan elsewhere may have better luck than they would with a bank or credit union, particularly if the investor has a higher tolerance for risk. (You may have to wait, though, for enough investors to pay into your loan before you can move forward.) Most P2P lenders welcome a wide range of borrowers, including those with less-than-perfect credit.

The best P2P companies and lending platforms set themselves apart with accessible loans, affordable rates, fast funding (once the investors have agreed to fund you), and easy online applications. But watch out: these lenders aren’t always the best borrowing option, especially if you have good credit. Check here for the best personal loans, or here for the best loans for borrowers with bad credit.

Some peer-to-peer lenders also claim to have fewer operating costs than traditional lenders, a savings they say they can pass on in the form of better rates. Even so, research by The Balance has found that these lenders often charge significantly higher APRs and fees than traditional lenders.

Most, for example, not only charge an origination fee (which is typically rolled into your loan’s APR), but also a late fee that’s a percentage of your outstanding payment. The fee is often 5%. If you’re late on a $250 monthly payment, 5% is just $12.50, but if you’re late on $1,000, you could be charged $50. Many banks have a cap of $39 on personal loan late fees, and credit unions, a limit of $25.

Personal loan lenders don’t have to list all their terms in one place the way credit card issuers do, so it can be a pain to research and compare your options. Using an online pre-qualification tool to get quotes can help you choose, but just remember there’s no guarantee you’ll actually be offered that rate (or even approved.) 

How We Chose the Best Peer-to-Peer and Platform Loan Companies 

The companies on this list offer comparatively affordable rates, lower fees (at least for a peer-to-peer or lending platform loan,) and flexible borrowing amounts. They are widely available in the U.S. and accessible to borrowers with a variety of credit scores.

We evaluated the limited number of peer-to-peer lenders and lending platforms on the market, immediately eliminating from contention any that targeted small businesses. Then we chose the best ones based on the following criteria: 

  • APRs (average as well as minimum and maximum)
  • Fees (including origination and late fees)
  • Available loan amounts
  • Flexibility of repayment terms

Article Sources

The Balance requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy .
  1. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "Understanding Online Marketplace Lending." Accessed May 1, 2020.

  2. Peerform. "Assessing Risk and Setting Interest Rates." Accessed May 1, 2020.

  3. Upstart. "Peer to Peer Lending on Upstart." Accessed May 1, 2020.

  4. Upstart. "What Are the Minimum Credit Requirements to Receive a Loan?" Accessed May 1, 2020.

  5. Payoff. "Getting Approved." Accessed May 1, 2020.

  6. Prosper. "Can I Apply for a Joint Account?" Accessed May 1, 2020.

  7. LendingClub. "What Is a LendingClub Note?" Accessed May 1, 2020.