Best Personal Loans

Compare best personal rates and lenders to fit your unique needs

We publish unbiased reviews; our opinions are our own and are not influenced by payments from advertisers. Learn about our independent review process and partners in our advertiser disclosure.

Personal loans allow you to borrow money to consolidate debt, fund home improvements, pay for major events, and more. These unsecured loans enable you to get cash without pledging collateral. With numerous lenders to choose from, we reviewed dozens of lenders to find the best personal loans with transparent fees and competitive rates. We looked for lenders that cater to applicants with a variety of credit scores, too, so that you can borrow from a company that fits your finances. Finally, we chose personal loan lenders that are easy to work with and that have streamlined online processes that let you estimate how much you’ll pay before you apply. 

Best Personal Loan Companies of October 2020

Lender Why We Picked It Fixed APR Minimum Loan Amount Maximum Loan Amount Terms Recommended Credit Score
LightStream Best for Excellent Credit 3.99%-19.99% with autopay* $5,000 $100,000 24-84 months* 680+
Rocket Loans Best for Fast Funding 7.16%-29.99% with autopay $2,000 $45,000 36 or 60 months 640+
Upstart Best for Fair Credit 7.98%-35.99% $1,000 $50,000 36 or 60 months 620+
SoFi Best With Unemployment Protection 5.99%-18.53% with autopay $5,000 $100,000 24-84 months 680+
LendingClub Best for Small Loans 10.68%-35.89% $1,000 $40,000 36-60 months 600+
Earnin Best Loan Alternative No interest charged Up to $100 per day Up to $100 per day Until your scheduled payday No credit check required

LightStream: Best for Excellent Credit

LightStream

If you have a high credit score, LightStream may be an excellent choice for a personal loan. It charges relatively low rates and no origination fees.

You can take as long as 84 months (144 months for home improvement loans) to repay eligible loans of $25,000 or more, which may keep monthly payments low. However, the longer you stretch out a loan, the more interest you pay. If you have the cash flow, it may be best to pay down your debt quickly.

LightStream offers a unique loan experience guarantee, too: If you’re not completely satisfied with your borrowing experience, Lightstream will give you $100.

What We Like
  • Low rates available for borrowers with excellent credit

  • Quick loan disbursal

  • No origination fees

What We Don't Like
  • Limited to borrowers with good or excellent credit

  • $5,000 loan minimum

LightStream Personal Loan Details

Loan Amounts $5,000-$100,000
Fixed APR 3.99%-19.99% with autopay*
Loan Terms 24-84 months* 
Fees No fees
Time to Receive Funds As soon as the same day for eligible applications
Recommended Credit Score 680+

Read the full review: LightStream Personal Loans

Rocket Loans: Best for Fast Funding

Rocket Loans

Rocket Loans offers quick funding for personal loans. If you’re facing an unexpected expense like a broken water heater or a dog needing surgery, you don’t have much time to wait for loan approval and disbursal. With Rocket Loans, you can get up to $25,000 on the same day you apply.

Rocket Loans charges origination fees ranging from 1% to 6% of your loan, which the lender deducts from your balance before sending the loan proceeds to you. For example, let’s say you borrow $10,000 to pay for home improvements. With a 6% origination fee, you’d owe $600. Rocket Loans would deduct that fee from the $10,000 you borrowed, so you’d actually receive $9,400 in your account.

You can potentially pay high interest rates with Rocket Loans, too. Depending on your credit score, income, and other criteria, the rate could be as low as 7.16% when you sign up for autopay, or as high as 29.99%.

What We Like
  • Potential for same-day funding

  • Instant decision in some cases

  • Loans for as little as $2,000

What We Don't Like
  • Potentially high interest costs

  • Only 3- or 5-year repayment terms

Rocket Loans Personal Loan Details

Loan Amounts $2,000-$45,000
Fixed APR 7.16%-29.99% with autopay
Loan Terms 36 or 60 months
Fees Late fee of $15, origination fee between 1%-6%
Time to Receive Funds Same day funding available
Recommended Credit Score 640+

Read the full review: Rocket Loans Personal Loans

Upstart: Best for Fair Credit

Upstart

Not everyone has excellent credit. With Upstart, you may be able to qualify for a loan with a credit score as low as 600. That score would put you in the “fair” range of a FICO score. So for borrowers struggling to find a loan, Upstart might be a smart solution.

The company allows you to borrow between $1,000 to $50,000 with repayment terms of three or five years, though loan minimums vary by state. Upstart charges an origination fee for some borrowers, and you might pay as much as 8% of your loan amount. Typical rates range from 7.98% to 35.99% APR.

What We Like
  • Minimum credit score of 600 recommended

  • Flexible loan amounts, depending on where you live

  • Quick loan disbursal

What We Don't Like
  • Only two options for repayment terms

  • Potentially high origination and interest charges

  • Not available everywhere

Upstart does not lend to Iowa or West Virginia residents. Minimum loan amounts are also higher in these states: $3,100 in Georgia, $5,100 in New Mexico, $6,000 in Ohio, and $7,000 in Massachusetts.

Upstart Personal Loan Details

Loan Amounts $1,000-$50,000 based on credit, income, and other information considered in your loan application.
Typical APR 7.98%-35.99%
Loan Terms 36 or 60 months
Fees Late fee of $15 or 5%, origination fee between 0%-8%
Time to Receive Funds At least 1 business day after you accept the terms of your loan, 2 days if you accept after 5pm EST
Recommended Credit Score 600+

Read the full review: Upstart Personal Loans

SoFi: Best With Unemployment Protection

SoFi

SoFi offers fixed- and variable-rate personal loans from $5,000 to $100,000. Loan terms can be as long as seven years, and SoFi offers you a lower APR if you set up automatic payments (rates range from 5.99% to 18.53% with autopay). However, SoFi may be (relatively) slow to disburse your loan. Whereas other lenders offer same-day or next-day funding, SoFi usually disburses funds within a few days.

SoFi personal loans have a unique perk: unemployment protection. If you lose your job through no fault of your own, you can apply for loan forbearance. If approved, you can postpone making payments in three-month increments, for up to 12 months total. While interest continues to accrue on the loan during that period, having the ability to postpone payments can give you the time you need to get back on your feet.

What We Like
  • No origination fees

  • Unemployment protection

  • Variable- and fixed-rate options

What We Don't Like
  • $5,000 loan minimum

  • Potentially slower funding than other lenders

SoFi Personal Loan Details

Loan Amounts $5,000-$100,000
Fixed APR 5.99%-18.53% with autopay
Loan Terms 24-84 months
Fees No late fees or origination fees
Time to Receive Funds Typically within a week
Recommended Credit Score 680+

Read the full review: SoFi Personal Loans

LendingClub: Best for Small Loans

LendingClub

Some lenders have fairly high minimums, requiring you to borrow several thousand dollars. If you need a smaller amount, it may be difficult to find a lender willing to work with you, and you may feel like you have to borrow extra just to get the cash you need. 

With LendingClub, you can borrow as little as $1,000 to pay for almost anything you want—car repairs, debt consolidation, and more. If you have less-than-perfect credit and need to shop among lenders, LendingClub may be worth a look. However, it’s important to know that LendingClub does not currently offer loans to residents of Iowa or U.S. territories.

LendingClub charges an origination fee that ranges from 2% to 6% of your loan amount. That fee comes out of the total loan balance and reduces the amount that goes into your bank account, so be sure to borrow enough to cover the fee and still have enough for whatever you need the loan for. Rates range from 10.68% to 35.89% APR.

What We Like
  • Loan amount as low as $1,000

  • Offers natural disaster support

What We Don't Like
  • Potentially high interest rate

  • Funding may take four or more days

If you have excellent credit, it's wise to compare offers from several lenders before borrowing with Lending Club. Lending Club's lowest rate is not as low as some other lenders, and all borrowers pay an origination fee.

LendingClub Personal Loan Details

Loan Amounts $1,000-$40,000
Fixed APR 10.68%-35.89%
Loan Terms 36-60 months
Fees Late fee of $15 or 5%, origination fee between 2%-6%
Time to Receive Funds At least 4 business days
Recommended Credit Score 600+

Read the full review: Lending Club Personal Loans

Earnin: Best Loan Alternative

Earnin

If you need a small cash injection to tide you over until your next payday, you may be tempted to use a payday loan or car title loan. But these types of debt can be extremely expensive and put you into a dangerous debt spiral. 

Earnin might be a reasonable alternative. With Earnin, you can access funds based on hours you’ve worked at your job, but haven’t yet been paid for. There are no fees, interest charges, or hidden costs, and you can cash out up to $100 per day. After your employer deposits funds into your account on payday, Earnin subtracts the amount you cashed out earlier. Then, you simply pay Earnin what you think is fair as a “tip”—it’s not required, and you could pay $0 if you wanted. Earnin asks you to pay what you can for the service to help cover the other borrowers who may not be able to pay anything for it. It’s a sort of community-driven fee system.

While Earnin can be helpful, you can only access small sums of money at a time. If you’re facing a bigger emergency—like an expensive car repair—you may need to find another source of money to pay for it.

What We Like
  • Fund amounts of up to $100 per day

  • No fees or interest charges

What We Don't Like
  • Employer systems must be compatible with Earnin

  • Regular pay schedule required with at least 50% of earnings directly deposited

  • Checking account deposits only

Earnin Personal Loan Details

Loan Amounts Up to $100 per day
Fixed APR Does not charge interest
Loan Terms Until your scheduled payday
Fees No late fees or origination fees
Time to Receive Funds Same day funding available
Recommended Credit Score No credit check required

Read the full review: Earnin Personal Loans

What Is a Personal Loan?

Personal loans are loans that you qualify for primarily based on your credit history and income. You typically do not need to pledge collateral to get approved for a personal loan, so you don’t necessarily need assets. As a result, you receive funds that you can use for almost anything (the funds aren’t tied to a home or auto purchase, for example).

How Do Personal Loans Work?

To use a personal loan, you apply for the loan, wait for approval, receive funds, and repay the loan. 

  • Application: To get a personal loan, apply with a lender by providing information about yourself, including personal information and financial details. For example, you typically need to tell the lender how much you earn, and you also need to provide an address, Social Security number, and other personal information.
  • Approval: Lenders evaluate your application to determine whether or not to approve your request. They typically review your credit score, how much income you earn relative to your debt, and other factors. If the lender agrees that you can repay the loan, you might receive one or more options (such as 2-year or 5-year loan offers). 
  • Funding: Lenders often fund your loan by transferring money directly to your bank account. If there are any origination fees, they’ll be taken from the loan amount before it’s deposited. From there, you can spend the money on whatever you need.
  • Repayment: With the loans listed here, you typically repay with automatic monthly payments that lenders pull from your bank account. If you have a fixed-rate loan, that monthly payment does not change over time, and you gradually pay down your loan balance. With variable-rate loans, the payment can change if interest rates move.

With a fixed-rate loan, the interest rate stays the same for the entirety of your loan term. As a result, your monthly loan payments never change and it may be easier to budget for them. A variable-rate loan has a rate that can fluctuate, potentially causing your payment to rise (or fall, if you’re fortunate).

What Credit Score Do You Need for a Personal Loan?

Lenders choose what types of borrowers they want to work with, and there’s no single credit score required for a personal loan. That’s why it’s important to find a lender that works with people like you. If you have less-than-perfect credit, look for lenders who focus on that market. If you happen to know your credit score, you can always contact lenders and ask them if you’re a good fit for their products.

If you have excellent credit, you’ll most likely have more options and lower interest rates from lenders than other borrowers.

When Is It a Good Idea to Get a Personal Loan?

A personal loan can provide funds for just about anything. It may make sense to use a personal loan whenever you need to borrow and you want to keep costs low. Still, there’s always a cost to borrow money, so you need to decide if it’s wise to borrow at all.

Compare rates and fees available to you from a variety of sources, including personal loans and credit cards. Credit cards may have low promotional rates, but you need to accurately predict how quickly you’ll pay off your debt (ideally before any teaser rates expire). If you’re not confident about doing that, a personal loan with a lower fixed rate might be a better option.

While a personal loan may be easier to qualify for than other types of loans, it’s important to understand whether you might get a better interest rate with a different type of loan that’s appropriate for your situation. For example, if you’re looking to purchase a car, you may be able to get a lower rate on an auto loan than a personal loan.

As of May 1st, the average interest rates advertised by the 26 lenders we track is 16.83%.

Should You Use a Personal Loan to Pay Off Debt?

Personal loans can be useful for consolidating and paying off debt. If you have high-cost debts (such as those on credit cards or payday loans), it could make sense to pay off those balances with a personal loan.

  • If you get a lower interest rate on the personal loan, you’ll spend less on interest overall, and more of each payment will go toward your loan balance.
  • You’ll have a fixed monthly payment that will pay off the loan by a specific date. Unlike credit cards with minimum payments that can allow debt to linger, personal loans are designed to be paid off in a certain time frame.

Before using a personal loan, you need to calculate if the strategy makes sense. Figure out how much you’re spending on interest, and compare that to any interest costs and origination fees for a new personal loan. You’ll want to ensure that using the personal loan ultimately helps you save money. If it doesn’t, it may not be the right move.

Where Can I Get a Personal Loan?

Personal loans are available from numerous sources. Online lenders offer personal loans with user-friendly application processes and competitive pricing. Also, local banks and credit unions can be an excellent source for personal loans. When you work with a local institution, you may have the opportunity to talk to a loan officer in person and discuss your finances in detail. Plus, you can potentially get same-day funding when you apply in person.

Consider getting quotes from at least three lenders, and compare interest rates, origination fees, and other loan features. Try to shop around and secure your loan within 30 days to reduce the number of inquiries to your credit, too. Take the time to decide the right length of repayment—the longer you take to repay, the more you’ll spend on interest. With all of this information in mind, you’ll be well-equipped to pick the right lender.

How We Chose the Best Personal Loans

Our writers spent hours researching loan options from more than 50 different lenders. Recommendations are based on personal loan companies offering a combination of good interest rates, loan terms, low fees, loan amounts, speed of funding, and more. These loan recommendations take into account that all borrowers have different needs and financial situations that may require loans that meet various priorities. Not every recommendation is right for every borrower, so consider all of your options before applying.

Compare Personal Loan Rates With Our Partners at Fiona.com

*Your loan terms, including APR, may differ based on loan purpose, amount, term length, and your credit profile. Excellent credit is required to qualify for lowest rates. Rate is quoted with AutoPay discount. AutoPay discount is only available prior to loan funding. Rates without AutoPay may be higher. Subject to credit approval. Conditions and limitations apply. Advertised rates and terms are subject to change without notice.

Payment example: Monthly payments for a $10,000 loan at 5.95% APR with a term of 3 years would result in 36 monthly payments of $303.99.

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. Rocket Loans. "FAQ: Is There an Origination Fee for This Loan?" Accessed Sept. 24, 2020.

  2. Upstart. "What Are the Minimum Credit Requirements to Receive a Loan?" Accessed Sept. 24, 2020.

  3. Upstart. "What Fees am I Charged?" Accessed Sept. 24, 2020.

  4. SoFi. "Disclosures & Disclaimers: Personal Loans." Accessed Sept. 1, 2020.

  5. LendingClub. "Personal Loan Rates and Fees." Accessed Sept. 24, 2020.

  6. Earnin. "Does Earnin Charge Fees or Interest?" Accessed Sept. 24, 2020.

  7. myFICO. "Credit Checks: What Are Credit Inquiries and How Do They Affect Your FICO Score?" Accessed Sept. 24, 2020.