Compare Personal Loans

From loan basics and additional fees to reviews and loans for good credit, we research everything you need to compare personal loans and make a decision. Learn how our editors compare the different factors of personal loans below.
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Personal Loans

What every informed consumer needs to know...

Personal Loans can be used for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to: unexpected charges (medical emergencies, vehicle repairs, emergency travel, etc.), credit card debt consolidation (credit cards can have much higher interest rates than personal loans), or a large one-time expense (wedding, home remodel, etc.). On the other hand, though they can be a great option to get cash fast, personal loans can also ruin your credit when handled irresponsibly.  

Due to the potentially high interest rates, it can be unwise to use an unsecured loan for a discretionary purchase like a vacation or a shopping spree. Since personal loans aren't secured by any collateral, there's a greater risk involved for lenders (who have no assurance you’ll repay it), and often, higher interest rates. Lenders will likely require a credit check to understand how you’ve historically handled debt, and usually require a general explanation of how you’ll use the money.

Typically, the loan will be fixed rate and fixed term, meaning the amount that you’ll pay per payment interval (most commonly monthly) does not change, and there is a set window of time in which you have to repay the debt before you face any penalties. Take the time to look over your finances before taking out a loan to make sure you only borrow what you are able to repay.

Personal Loans Checklist

How we Compare Personal Loans

Loan Basics - 19%
Additional Fees - 9%
Types of Lenders - 6%
Application Process - 3%
Service Features - 16%
Customer Service - 23%
Reviews - 9%
Loans for Good Credit - 15%

Loan Basics

When looking into securing a personal loan, there are some important factors to consider.

First and foremost, think about the potential amount of the loan you’re considering. Typical loan amounts range from $1,000 to $35,000. The amount you can get approval for will vary according to the lender, and is dependent on your income, credit scores, and the terms of your loan, as well as other factors. Remember, never take out a loan you can’t afford to pay back. We suggest you examine your income and monthly expenses to accurately determine the maximum amount you can afford to pay every month.

The interest rate refers to the cost you’ll pay to take out the loan. For personal loans, you’ll want to look at the Annual Percentage Rate (APR), which is the interest rate charged for a whole year, including any fees or additional costs associated with the transaction. Not all lenders offer the same APR, but it is always based on your credit scores and other application information. The better your credit scores, the lower your APR will likely be since the lender’s risk is diminished. Also look for a personal loan with a fixed interest, meaning the APR will not change throughout the life of the loan, making it easier to plan repayments.

If you want to challenge items on your credit report, view our 10 Best Credit Repair Services list.

The term of the loan is the amount of time you have to repay it, which is typically between six months and three years. The shorter your loan’s term, the fewer payments you’ll make and the less interest you’ll pay in the long run. However, keep in mind that the monthly payments will be larger. On the other hand, if you have a longer loan term, your payments will be smaller each month, but you will pay more interest during the life of the loan.

Additionally, lenders may have an origination or processing fee as well as the APR. These should be deducted upfront from the loan. For instance, if the origination fee is $50 on a $1000 loan, you should receive $950. You should never be asked to pay any fees before receiving the loan, so if a provider asks you to pay a fee in order to receive the funds, this could indicate a scam.

Personal Loans with the Best Loan Basics:

SoFiLendingTreeGuide to LendersPersonalLoansUpstartSignatureLoanAvant
Minimum Loan Amount5,0001,0001,0003,0001,0001,000
Maximum Loan Amount100,00035,00035,00035,00035,00035,00035,000
Approval TimeA few minutesA few minutesA few minutesA few minutesA few minutesA few minutesA few minutes
APRVariable: 4.82%-11.42% Fixed: 5.95%-12.99%Starts at 5.32% APR5.99% to 36%Starts at 6%Starts at 6.24%5.99%-35.99%Starts at 9.95%
Cash Advance
Payday Loans
Personal Loans
Loan Cancellation Option
Multiple Loan Qualification Depends on lenderdepends on the lender. Most lenders do allow users to apply for a loan more than once.Depends on lenderDepends on lender
Second Application Wait TimeDepends on lenderDepends on lenderDepends on lenderDepends on lender

Additional Fees

You will have to pay interest for each month you have the loan, so if you're able to pay it off earlier than expected, it will save some money. However, since lenders make their money from the interest earned on the loan, this also means they will not be making as much as they would if you stuck with your scheduled payments each month. As a result, some lenders will penalize you with early payment penalties. Many online lenders give you the freedom to repay the loan as early as you can, and get out of debt faster.

Just like any other creditor, if you have late or missed loan payments, you may be charged additional fees. Additionally, lenders have the right to report late payments to the credit bureaus, which could have a negative impact on your credit. If you think you will be behind on a payment or have to miss one completely, we highly suggest contacting your lender beforehand. They may be able to renegotiate the terms of your loan or waive the fee altogether. At the end of the day, the lender wants to be repaid, so they may be motivated to work with you to ensure they don’t lose their money.

If you find that the loan term is almost up and you are still unable to repay the loan, try negotiating to extend the length of your loan, or renew it all together. If this is an option, don’t be surprised if the terms of your loan agreement change, including your APR, or you find yourself responsible for additional fees or penalties. 

Personal Loans with the Best Additional Fees:

Types of Lenders

Traditionally, if you needed a loan, you would go to a Direct Lender, like a bank or credit union, which would loan you the money directly. Now, with the advent of the internet, companies have changed the way borrowers and lenders are able to connect. 

Loan Matching Services have become quite popular online and most of our Top 10 Personal Loan Companies provide this service. These companies serve as liaisons between borrowers and lenders. They accept your application information and match you with direct lenders that meet your specifications and offer the types of loans that you qualify for. Though this gives borrowers the ability to look for the best possible loan and compare offers, the downside is that some less reputable companies will sell your information to lenders instead of acting as a matching service. To avoid this, make sure to read the company’s privacy policy to see what they can and cannot do with your information.

Additionally, some personal loan companies offer an extra service called Peer-to-Peer lending, or P2P. Many companies that provide loan matching services also feature P2P loans. These facilitate matches between individuals, organizations and companies looking to invest, and borrowers looking for a loan. It's become a popular option for many consumers, as typically P2P can mean lower interest rates for borrowers, and higher returns for lenders. Other direct lenders like banks or credit unions have operational costs to consider (staffing, rental space, marketing, etc.), which they factor into the interest rates of their loans. Since P2P lending eliminates those additional costs, they can afford to provide more reasonable rates to borrowers. Additionally, though credit score is still a factor here, an individual investor may be more empathetic to your situation than a traditional lender.

Personal Loans with the Best Types of Lenders:

SoFiLendingTreeGuide to LendersPersonalLoansUpstartSignatureLoanAvant
Loan Matching Service
Direct Lenders
Peer-to-Peer

Application Process

For most personal loans, lenders require a credit check. As we mentioned, personal loans are unsecured, so the risk is higher for lenders. By checking your credit, a lender will be able to see how you’ve managed previous debt and get an indication of how you may manage a loan with them. The minimum credit score accepted is typically in the low 600s, but this depends on the lender.

If you are using a Loan Matching Service, a credit check may not be required to browse loan offers, or if it is, these companies will make a “soft inquiry” on your credit report, which will not impact your score. However, once you are matched with a direct lender, they'll probably require a “hard inquiry” in order to be approved for the loan, which will show up on your credit. You should be aware that too many hard pulls over a short period of time may scare off potential lenders.

If you have poor credit, though it still might be possible to find a willing lender, you’ll likely have to shoulder an enormous interest rate in order to lessen that lender’s risk. Keep that in mind before accepting the line of credit right away.

When you apply for a loan, lenders will require that you submit personal information. This application information includes your name, Social Security number, government-issued identification, home address, phone number, email address, checking account information, and possibly more. They also require that the applicant be at least 18 years of age, and some require US citizenship or permanent residency.

If you’ve filed for bankruptcy, you may not qualify for a loan with some personal loan providers. There are some companies who do not exclude potential borrowers because of bankruptcy, but just like individuals with poor credit, this may result in much higher interested rates and low loan amounts.

All lenders require a regular and reliable source of income. Most lenders require the borrower to be employed, however, some will consider disability payments, child support, alimony, or other income sources sufficient.  Again, it all comes down to the policies of the particular lender. Additional income-related information that may be required during the application process includes pay dates, monthly income verification, and a minimum employment duration requirement.

Some lenders require loan applicants to fax documentation to them, while others are able to process loans without hard copies. Before you apply for a loan, make sure you know what steps you’ll need to take to make the loan processing move quickly.

Personal Loans with the Best Application Process:

SoFiLendingTreeGuide to LendersPersonalLoansUpstartSignatureLoanAvant
Credit Check
Min. Credit Score680+639+<599 for $1K580+640+639+600+
18+ years of age
US Citizen or Permanent Resident
Social Security Number
Drivers License
Home Address
Email Address
Checking Account Information
Monthly Income (after tax)
Pay Dates
Current Source of Income
Bankruptcy Disqualification
Employment Duration Requirementat least 6 months
Professional Experience

Service Features

There are several features and stipulations to keep in mind when applying for a personal loan. Each state has different rules and regulations when it comes to personal loans, and not all lenders are licensed in every state. If you are not eligible for a loan because of the state you live in, try looking at another provider or think about visiting a local bank or credit union instead.

Once you have filled out your application, the lending company will consider your eligibility and then get back to you whether your loan has been approved or not. This approval process typically takes just a few minutes, but depending on the lender, your application could take longer.

Some lenders also offer direct deposit to checking accounts.  All of the Top 10 Personal Loan providers will deposit your funds directly into your checking account. Commonly the funds are deposited by the next business day, but some lenders offer same-day or overnight deposit. Inquire about these options if this is something you would prefer.

Loan providers also understand that taking out a loan is a major decision, and many give their customers the opportunity to change their minds after the loan has been approved and the funds has been moved to the borrower’s account. If this is offered, the company will generally give you a 24-hour cancellation window to change your mind, from when the money has been deposited in your account.

Additionally, some providers allow you to have multiple loans out at the same time, while others set the limit to one active loan per borrower. If you are interested in a second loan and your company is willing to give it, they may require you to show regular and timely payments on your first loan before considering approval for the second one. This usually means anywhere from 6 to 12 on-time payments. When repaying the loan, most lenders will allow you to set up electronic transfers to make paying on time easier. All of the Top 10 companies provide this option.

Personal Loans with the Best Service Features:

SoFiLendingTreeGuide to LendersPersonalLoansUpstartSignatureLoanAvant
Participating States47 + DC (TN, MS & NV are excluded)Continental US, Alaska and Hawaii50 statesContinental US, Alaska and Hawaii (Does not service Maine or North Dakota)Continental US, Alaska and HawaiiResidents of some states may not be eligible for a short term cash loan based upon lender requirements.Continental US, Alaska and Hawaii
Direct Deposit to Checking
Overnight Deposit
Next Business Day Deposit
Faxed Documents RequiredDepends on lending partnerDepends on lending partnerDepends on lending partner

Customer Service

If you are looking for a loan from an online loan provider, chances are you will need to apply online. However, some companies also accept applications by phone.

Customer support can be offered a number of ways, including email support, live chat, and a customer service phone line. There is a lot to consider when applying for personal loans, and committing to a loan can be intimidating, so we preferred companies that allow customers to speak to a representative. When your personal information and large sums of money are in play, being able to talk to a real, live person and ask questions is important.

No matter what kind of customer support options the provider has, make sure you are comfortable with the method of communication they emphasize. That way, if there are problems or you have questions about anything, you can contact the company in a way that suits your personal preference.

Be aware of information security. You'll be sharing a significant amount of private and personal information about yourself and your finances with the loan provider, so make sure that their website is secured with encryption. You can tell if a site or page is encrypted by looking at the URL. An encrypted page will start with “https” as opposed to “http.” Some websites only encrypt pages where data is transmitted, like the loan application screen or a customer log-in page, so we suggest checking there instead of on the company’s home page.

Also, read the company’s privacy policy before handing over sensitive information, as some providers stipulate that they can sell your information to lenders. This could open you up to continuous offers over the phone, through the mail, or to your email account, which can threaten the security of your personal information. In any scenario, you should be the one contacting them, not the other way around. If a lender is badgering you, consider that a red flag. Legitimate lenders don’t need to be this aggressive to attract borrowers. If there is no privacy policy available, take the extra steps to confirm the company's legitimacy by contacting them and requesting a copy of their policies and guarantees.

Finally, use common sense. If a loan offer sounds too good to be true, you can never seem to get in contact with the company, or anything else seems off, do not give them your information or accept the loan. There are a number of scams and disreputable companies out there preying on consumers, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

If you do give your personal information to what you later find to be an unreliable source, feel free to refer to our articles regarding identity theft for tips and precautions you may want to take to better protect yourself.

Personal Loans with the Best Customer Service:

Reviews

With so many Personal Loan companies to choose from, reading reviews from consumers who have been in your shoes can be a great way to help you reach a decision. Here are a few things to look for when combing through reviews:

  1. Statistical Significance: Make sure there is a statistically significant number of reviews for a company. If there are only two reviews, the overall rating is going to mean a lot less than if there are dozens or even hundreds of reviews. The more reviews there are, the more accurate the rating will be in regards to the company’s overall quality.
  2. Word Sentiment: Take some time to scan reviews for words that stand out. Do you see more positive or negative words being used? In addition to star ratings, the tone of the language being used can be a great way to get a sense of a customer’s overall satisfaction.
  3. Customer Care: If a company has an opportunity to respond to customer reviews, do they? Do the companies you are looking at make the effort to address individual feedback? When a company reaches out to customers, regardless of whether the review is favorable or not, this is a good indicator that they'll respect your feedback as well. If the company cannot respond, do the reviews address how responsive the company was to their concerns?
  4. Learn from other people’s mistakes: If there are negative comments about a specific issue, consider how this could have been avoided. For instance, if the problem was because someone didn’t understand their contract, take the time to review yours carefully to avoid making the same mistake. If on the other hand the company was clearly at fault, and they did nothing to resolve the complaint, this could be a red flag to keep looking.

To find the best personal loan for you, visit the Top 10 companies here!

Personal Loans with the Best Reviews:

SoFiLendingTreeGuide to LendersPersonalLoansUpstartSignatureLoanAvant
BBB RatingA- (Not accredited)A+A+D+ (Not accredited)A- (Not Accredited)Not AccreditedA
TrustpilotN/A9N/A8.39.77.19.1
CreditKarma4.84.94.6

Full Personal Loans Comparison

Loan BasicsAdditional FeesTypes of LendersApplication ProcessService FeaturesCustomer ServiceReviewsLoans for Good Credit
SoFi Personal Loans10.09.810.010.09.69.010.07.0
LendingTree Personal Loans10.010.010.010.09.79.09.06.0
Discover Personal Loans9.010.010.09.09.010.09.06.5
Even Financial Personal Loans9.010.08.09.58.49.59.06.0
Guide to Lenders Personal Loans9.09.010.09.58.59.09.56.0
Payoff Personal Loans9.08.07.89.59.010.08.56.0
LightStream Personal Loans10.09.09.08.08.08.59.06.9
Lending Club Personal Loans9.09.010.08.09.09.08.06.0
LoanMe Personal Loans9.08.59.08.09.08.59.05.0
PersonalLoans8.09.68.08.09.38.59.05.0
LoanStart Personal Loans8.08.08.08.09.08.59.55.0
Upstart Personal Loans9.08.010.08.08.08.06.06.0
SignatureLoan Personal Loans7.88.08.09.07.08.08.05.0
Avant Personal Loans5.05.08.05.08.98.58.56.0
LendingPoint Personal Loans8.08.08.08.07.06.07.05.0
Money Lion Personal Loans7.57.57.57.55.07.57.05.0
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FAQ

What happens if I can’t pay?

If you think that you will either be late or miss a payment, we suggest contacting your lender immediately.

Oftentimes, lenders will charge fees for late payments. If you miss a payment altogether, or have an outstanding payment for more than a month, lenders have the right to report this to the credit bureaus, which will impact your credit negatively. Late payments are one of the biggest factors in low credit scores and should be avoided whenever possible.

By contacting your lender before your payment is late, this shows them you're trying to find a solution to the problem. As a result, they may be more willing to waive late payment fees, give you more time to pay without reporting it to the credit bureaus, or renegotiate the terms of your loan.

Why do some lenders have Early Payment Fees for paying off a loan early?

A lender makes money from the interest that is charged every month. If a borrower repays the loan earlier than expected, lenders will not receive the full amount of expected interest. As a result, some lenders charge early payment fees to make up for the interest they would lose.

However, not all lenders do this, so we suggest looking for a loan that gives you the freedom to pay it off and get out of debt as soon as possible.

What is an Origination Fee?

When you take out a loan, oftentimes there is an origination or processing fee. This is a one-time payment that helps lenders cover the costs of processing the loan, like paying for the credit check or labor for the time it takes to set up the loan.

Never trust a company that requires you to pay them before they deposit the funds in your account!!! This is a common practice for scammers. Reputable companies will deduct the origination fee from the loan amount. For instance, if you take out a $1000 loan with a $50 origination fee, $950 will be deposited into your account.

What is a credit score?

Your credit score quantifies the information in your credit report. This allows lenders to set a standard for loan approvals and quickly assess an applicant’s credit standing.

Not all lenders calculate credit scores the same way, and depending on the scoring model, your score can vary. However, most models are very similar, so by looking at one credit score, you’ll get a general idea of what your score will be using another method.

What is a credit report?

Your credit report consists of historical information about how you’ve managed debt in the past and gives lenders and idea of how you will manage the debt you would have with them if approved for the loan. It includes information about past and present lines of credit, current debt with other lenders, your payment history, any accounts that have gone into collections, actions taken against you for non-payment, and more.

What is the interest rate and how is it determined?

The interest rate is the cost you pay to take out a loan, and is calculated as a percentage of your base loan amount. Interest rates are determined by the lender during the underwriting process, and usually directly correlate to the strength of the applicant's credit score. The stronger your credit is, the more likely you will receive a favorable interest rate.

The yearly interest rate and additional lender fees are often combined into one rate known as the Annual Percentage Rate (or APR). By looking at the APR, you can get a good understanding of how much you’ll pay for the loan, and help you budget your monthly loan payments.

Who can get a personal loan?

Anyone can apply for a personal loan. However, each lender has different requirements for who is eligible for a loan and typically looks at applicants’ credit history, current debt-to income ratio, and a number of other factors to determine how much of a risk you are to default on your loan. This process is called underwriting. If you have great credit, no other debts, and have a steady job with a regular income, lenders will see you as less likely to default on your loan and are more likely to approve you with more favorable terms. If you do not meet the lenders criteria, you will likely be denied for the loan, or be faced with extremely high interest rates.

Since all lenders have different underwriting requirements, it’s possible to be denied by one lender and be accepted by another. This is why shopping around is important.

What can I use a Personal Loan for?

From a planned expense (like remodeling your home or planning a wedding) to the unexpected (like medical emergencies or repairing your car after an accident), a personal loan can be used for almost anything. In addition to paying for large expenses, Personal Loans are often used to consolidate debt at a lower interest rates. This is known as refinancing and is particularly useful to those trying to pay off credit card debt, as credit cards often have higher interest rates than personal loans.

Will Personal Loan companies keep my personal information safe?

When it comes to online personal loans, even reputable companies may need to share your Personal Identifying Information (PII) to provide the best loan options. However, this does not mean your PII is less secure or more vulnerable than it would be with a traditional lender like a bank or credit union. This has to do with the way online personal loan companies operate.

Online personal loan companies fall into 3 categories:

Direct Lenders – These operate in much the same way as banks or credit unions do. The companies accept applications, process them and provide the loans themselves.

Loan Matching Services – These companies accept your application or information and match you to lenders that may be able to offer you a loan.

Peer-to-peer Lending – In this business model, individual investors become personal loan lenders which are matched with qualified borrowers.

Many of the best and most reputable online personal loan companies are loan-matching or peer-to-peer lending services. Their rise in popularity has a lot to do with the marketplace aspect of these business models (ability to provide one-stop-shop multiple offers from multiple lenders, instead of applying one-at-a-time with individual lenders). However, if you use this type of service, at some point the actual lender will need your PII to complete the loan application.

Reputable companies may share varying amounts of PII with their partner lenders in order to provide matches, or to help you continue the application process once you’ve accepted a loan offer. Either way, the best online personal loan companies take the security of your information very seriously, and have strict rules for lenders they work with to ensure your PII is only used for its intended purpose, in a secure/safe way. This is why we strongly recommend reading the company’s Privacy Policy, which outlines how your PII will be used, before sharing any sensitive information.

You do want to look out for companies who sell your PII to 3rd parties for marketing purposes or directly to lenders (rather than coordinate the matching themselves). This is when your information can become compromised. If you do find a company that sells PII, just see if there’s a way to opt-out (some companies ask you to send an email or click the “unsubscribe” button). If opting-out isn’t available, or there is no privacy policy, it’s safer to just stay away.

Latest Reviews

Reviews help other customers make decisions. Share your experience with Personal Loans
S
Silvia
2/22/2017
This site was quick and helpful. Also, their Terms and Conditions were very thorough.

B
billy marcum
Doniphan, Missouri
2/24/2017
trying to get a loan to pay my house hold bills

Faheem Purnell
Stafford, Virginia
2/24/2017
I Hope this line is a good choose lets see how the Apr is.

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