Looking for a Personal Loan? (Here Are the Top 7)

Looking for the best personal loans? We’ve got you covered! We’ve done the research, so you don’t have to. Let’s dive into the top picks.

➤ Best Personal Loans

1️⃣ SoFi (Best Overall)

At the summit of our list sits SoFi. Why? Because when it comes to affordability and added perks, SoFi takes the cake. Let’s dive into why it earned its spot as the best overall personal loan provider.

  • APR Range: 8.99% – 25.81%
  • Loan Amount: $5,000 – $100,000
  • Loan Terms: 24 months – 84 months
best personal loans sofi wins

Why SoFi ?

With an APR range of 8.99% – 25.81%, SoFi offers one of the most budget-friendly options in the market. What sets SoFi apart is its inclusive benefits package.

This isn’t just about lending money; it’s about supporting your financial journey. Enjoy perks such as unemployment assistance in case of job loss, complimentary financial planning from an advisor, and even career counseling.

And the users seem to agree. SoFi clinched the fourth-best position in J.D. Power’s annual survey of customer satisfaction among personal loan lenders.

However, it’s not a perfect solution. The minimum loan amount of $5,000 might leave those seeking smaller loans in a bind. Additionally, while co-borrowers are welcome, the option for a co-signer or collateral is notably absent.

SoFi Pros and Cons

Zero FeesUnfortunately, SoFi doesn’t provide secured loan options.
Speedy FundingWhile co-borrowers are accepted, the option for a co-signer is a no-go.
Membership BenefitsThe minimum loan amount of $5,000 might be too high for some.

SoFi Qualifications

  • SoFi caters to all U.S. states and Washington, D.C.
  • Must be at least 18 years old in most U.S. states.
  • You need to have income or a job offer starting within 90 days.
  • SoFi accepts U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or non-permanent residents.
  • Loans can’t be utilized for real estate, investments, businesses, or college financing.
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SoFi’s a standout, but it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons against your specific needs. Ready for the next one?

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2️⃣ Discover (Best for Debt Consolidation)

Discover earns its spot as the go-to choice for debt consolidation.

  • APR Range: 7.99% – 24.99%
  • Loan Amount: $2,500 – $40,000
  • Loan Terms: 36 months – 84 months
best personal loans discover for debt consolidation

Why Discover?

If you’re steering clear of consolidating debt from a Discover card, Discover’s personal loan stands out for debt consolidation and various other financial needs.

The swift funding time, often with a next-business-day deposit, combined with low rates and zero origination fees, simplifies the repayment process. J.D. Power even ranked it as the third-best personal loan option in 2023.

While solo applicants are welcome, you can leverage your household income in your application, allowing a partner or family member to contribute.

However, co-signers, co-borrowers, and collateral options are off the table. It’s crucial to maintain timely payments, especially given Discover’s relatively high late payment fee of $39.

Discover Pros and Cons

No origination feeOnly accepts individual applications
Excellent customer satisfaction ratingsNo collateral option for secured loans
Direct payment option to creditorsUnable to consolidate debt from a Discover credit card

Discover Qualifications

  • Must be at least 18 years old
  • Minimum annual household income of $25,000
  • U.S. citizenship or permanent residency required
  • Available in all U.S. states and Washington, D.C.
  • Requires an email address, physical address, and access to a smartphone or computer
  • Loans cannot be used for consolidating debt from a mortgage, auto loan, or Discover credit card.

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3️⃣ Upgrade (Best Choice for Quick Funds)

best personal loans upgrade best for quick funds

Why Upgrade?

  • APR Range: 8.49% – 35.99%
  • Loan Amount: $1,000 – $50,000
  • Loan Terms: 24 months – 84 months

Upgrade caters to applicants with fair credit scores, offering a lifeline for those who may not qualify elsewhere.

To sweeten the deal, they provide three alternative options for those seeking lower rates: collateralizing with a car, applying with a co-borrower, or bringing in a co-signer. Once approved, funds can land in your account as swiftly as the next business day.

However, this convenience comes at a cost. Each personal loan carries an origination fee ranging from 1.85% to 9.99%, a notable expense compared to lenders with no such fees.

On the brighter side, Upgrade provides avenues for discounts, such as signing up for autopay or a debt consolidation loan. Additionally, they extend a $200 sign-up bonus for those opening and using a new Upgrade checking account in conjunction with their loan.

Upgrade Pros and Cons

Multiple discount optionsExpensive origination fee
$200 checking account bonusPoor customer satisfaction ratings
Allows collateral, co-borrowers, and co-signersHigh-interest rates for some applicants

Upgrade Qualifications

  • Available in all U.S. states and Washington, D.C.
  • Must be at least 18 years old in most U.S. states
  • Must have an email address and a bank account
  • Must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or non-permanent alien with a valid visa
  • Loans cannot be used for college expenses, illegal activities, investments, or gambling.

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4️⃣ Upstart (Best for Bad Credit)

  • APR Range: 5.20% – 35.99%
  • Loan Amount: $1,000 – $50,000
  • Loan Terms: 36 months – 60 months

Why Upstart?

For those with credit scores in the “bad” or “poor” range (between 300 and 579), finding a loan is challenging. Upstart stands out with the lowest minimum credit score on our list. They consider applicants with insufficient credit history to produce a score.

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Different Upstart partners have varying minimums, offering credit access to a broad range of credit profiles.

Borrow up to $50,000, and if approved, your funds can be disbursed in as little as one day, with rates capped at 35.99%. Even with no credit history, you can still be eligible if enrolled in or graduated from a degree program.

Upstart Pros and Cons

Low minimum credit scoreHigh origination fee
Fast fundingHigh APRs
Good loan amount flexibilityFewer loan term options than others

Upstart Qualifications

  • Full range of credit scores considered, including those with no score
  • Must be 18 years old
  • Requires an email, verifiable name, verifiable date of birth, and social security number
  • U.S. bank account with routing number
  • Minimum annual income of $12,000
  • Must have a job or one starting within six months
  • Must meet partner lenders’ credit requirements

5️⃣ PenFed Credit Union (Best for Excellent Credit)

  • APR Range: 7.99% – 17.99%
  • Loan Amount: $600 – $50,000
  • Loan Terms: 12 months – 60 months

Why PenFed Credit Union?

Pentagon Federal Credit Union (PenFed) is one of the largest and easiest-to-join credit unions in the country. With no special requirements other than depositing $5 into a savings account, you can access a wide range of loan options.

While you can apply without joining initially, membership is required to receive loan funds. Good credit is essential for approval, and if you lack it, applying with a co-borrower or using collateral may be options.

PenFed offers excellent rates, a variety of loan amounts, and a discount program for savings on various services.

PenFed Credit Union Pros and Cons

No origination feeDoesn’t allow co-signers
Excellent range of loan optionsHigh minimum credit score requirement
Easy membership requirementsDoesn’t offer direct payment to creditors

PenFed Credit Union Qualifications

  • 700 minimum credit score
  • Available in all U.S. states and Washington, D.C.
  • Must join the credit union by depositing $5 in a savings account

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6️⃣ OppLoans (Best with No Credit Check)

  • APR Range: 160.00% – 160.00%
  • Loan Amount: $500 – $4,000
  • Loan Terms: 9 months – 18 months

Why OppLoans?

OppLoans caters to borrowers with poor or no credit who struggle to qualify elsewhere. Unlike most lenders, OppLoans doesn’t base lending decisions on a borrower’s credit score or history.

With no origination fees and same-day funding, it provides accessibility. While interest rates are considerably higher at 160%, repayment terms are shorter (nine to 18 months), and the maximum loan amount is $4,000.

The platform offers personal finance resources and tools, earning strong reviews on third-party customer review sites like Trustpilot.

OppLoans Pros and Cons

No minimum credit score requirementVery high interest rates
Strong customer serviceShort repayment terms
Same-day funding availableNot available in all U.S. states

OppLoans Qualifications

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Have a bank account
  • Have a verifiable source of income
  • Receive income through direct deposit
  • Available in 37 states; not available in: Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia

7️⃣ U.S. Bank (Best for Big Bank)

APR Range: 8.24% – 24.99%

Loan Amount: $1,000 – $50,000

Loan Terms: 12 months – 84 months

Why U.S. Bank?

As the fifth-largest bank in the country with over 2,300 branches, U.S. Bank provides the advantage of in-person interactions. Current customers benefit from reduced credit requirements and increased maximum loan amounts.

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However, non-customers are limited to loans of $25,000 or less. Despite a former high reputation, U.S. Bank’s customer satisfaction ratings dropped in 2023. Offering secured loans and autopay discounts, it provides an option for various needs.

U.S. Bank Pros and Cons

No origination feePoor customer satisfaction ratings
Offers secured loansOnly available in about half of U.S. states
Autopay discountRestrictions for non-current customers

U.S. Bank Qualifications

  • Only available in 27 U.S. states
  • Read the Full U.S. Bank Personal Loans Review 2023

How to Choose the Best Personal Loans

What Is a Personal Loan and How Does It Work?

An unsecured personal loan is a versatile installment loan, usable for various purposes. Unlike specific loans like auto or mortgages, personal loans provide a lump sum after approval, typically through a bank deposit or mailed check.

The fixed monthly payment remains consistent throughout the loan’s duration, usually spanning a few years.

Most personal loans are unsecured, lacking collateral. However, some lenders allow you to secure a personal loan with assets like a car or cash savings, potentially leading to lower rates.

Personal loans can be solo or involve a co-signer or co-borrower, offering flexibility and added approval chances.

Where to Find Personal Loans

Finding personal loans is convenient through various banking channels, each with distinct features:

  • Banks: Offer personal loans but may have higher interest rates and stricter credit score requirements.
  • Credit Unions: Require membership but generally offer more flexible and affordable personal loans.
  • Online Lenders: Provide extensive options with easy-to-meet requirements, expanding choices significantly.

Reasons to Apply For a Personal Loan

Personal loans are popular due to their flexibility, used for:

  • Emergency expenses
  • Medical bills
  • Debt consolidation
  • Vacations or weddings
  • Home improvement projects

However, personal loans are typically not permitted for college tuition, business expenses, gambling, house down payments, or illegal activities.

Pros and Cons of Personal Loans

Consider the benefits and drawbacks of personal loans before borrowing:

Quick funding timesUnsecured loans are pricier than secured ones
Predictable monthly paymentsNegative impact on credit if payments are missed or defaulted
Cost-effective compared to credit cardsCollateral may be forfeited in the case of default on a secured loan
Versatile use for various expensesGood to excellent credit is necessary for the best rates
Builds credit with timely payments

Comparing Personal Loans

When evaluating loans, consider factors such as:

  • Interest rates
  • Origination fees
  • Loan amounts
  • Term lengths
  • Prepayment penalties
  • Credit score and income requirements
  • Options for co-signers or co-borrowers
  • Collateral options
  • Direct payment to old creditors for debt consolidation
  • Loan use restrictions
  • Customer reviews and ratings

How to Qualify For and Apply For a Personal Loan

Personal loans are generally easy to qualify for, with better chances if you have good to excellent credit, a consistent high income, and low existing debt payments. Each lender has specific requirements, and the application process usually involves:

  • Getting pre-qualified by providing basic details
  • Reviewing loan options, interest rates, and costs offered by the lender
  • Completing a full loan application with required documents
  • Receiving disbursed loan funds upon approval

Alternatives to Personal Loans

Consider other options based on your circumstances, such as:

  • 401(k) loan
  • Crowdfunding
  • Grants or charity
  • 0% APR credit card
  • Personal line of credit
  • Loans from family or friends
  • Home equity loan or HELOCs

Be cautious of deferred-interest store credit cards or financing offers that may lead to unexpected charges if not paid off within the interest-free period.

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Best Personal Loans FAQ

What Is the Best Bank for a Personal Loan?

In our research, U.S. Bank emerged as the top choice for personal loans among major banks. It boasts affordable rates, no origination fees, and availability in approximately half of the U.S. states.

If you prefer an online lender, SoFi is our overall recommendation. While offering similar rates to U.S. Bank, SoFi comes with additional perks, including free access to financial advisors and career counseling.

What Personal Loan Is the Easiest to Get Approved For?

If your credit or income doesn’t meet the ideal criteria, getting approval may be easier with a creditworthy co-signer or co-borrower. Some lenders also allow the use of collateral, increasing your chances of qualifying for a loan or securing lower rates.

What Credit Score Is Needed for a Personal Loan?

The average credit score for personal loan borrowers in the final quarter of 2022 was 685. However, this can vary. Certain lenders, like Upstart, have no minimum credit score requirement, while others may mandate a score over 700.

Traditional banks and credit unions typically have higher credit score requirements, while fintech lenders are more lenient.

How Much Money Can You Borrow With a Personal Loan?

While some lenders, such as SoFi, offer personal loans up to $100,000, the actual amount you qualify for depends on various factors.

Lenders evaluate your financial situation, considering monthly income and existing debt payments, when determining the maximum loan amount after you submit your application.

Should I Get a Personal Loan?

Deciding whether a personal loan is the right choice is a deeply personal decision. Examine your reasons for seeking the loan. Personal loans are versatile and can be used for various purposes, but they are particularly useful for emergencies or consolidating existing debt.

Assess your ability to afford the payments and use a personal loan calculator to understand the potential impact on your budget.

How Much Would a $5,000 Personal Loan Cost a Month?

The monthly cost of a personal loan, irrespective of the amount, depends on factors like loan amount, term, and interest rate. Utilizing a personal loan calculator is the easiest way to determine monthly payments.

For instance, a $5,000 loan over 60 months with a 19.60% interest rate (the current average for borrowers with excellent credit) would result in a monthly payment of $131.36.

What Is the Best Personal Loan Out There?

Based on research, SoFi stands out as the best option for personal loans, considering rates, fees, loan amounts, terms, and factors like customer experience.

While other lenders may offer lower rates, cater to weaker credit profiles, or provide longer terms, SoFi consistently ranks highest overall.

➤ Final Thoughts

SoFi stands out as the top choice for a well-rounded personal loan, offering a combination of low rates, swift funding, and high customer satisfaction.

Discover completes the list, offering some of the most cost-effective loans available today.

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Hey — It’s Pavlos. Just another human sharing my thoughts on all things money. Nothing more, nothing less.