Compare Personal Loans

From loan basics and service features to additional fees and customer experience, 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 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.

How we Compare Personal Loans

Loan Basics - 20%
Service Features - 20%
Qualification - 20%
Additional Fees - 20%
Customer Experience - 20%

Loan Basics

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

First and foremost, in order to obtain an online quote you will usually have to specify the purpose of the loan. Then 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.

The average response time is the time it takes to get an answer on whether or not your loan is approved. And the average disbursement time is how long it generally takes to get the money into your hands or into the hands of the creditors it is meant to pay off.


Personal Loans with the Best Loan Basics:

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.

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. If you are using the personal loan to consolidate debt or pay off multiple credit cards, some lenders pay creditors directly which is a convenient, time-saving step. 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.

 When repaying the loan, most lenders will allow you to pay online and/or set up autopay debits from your checking account (autopay can often qualify you for a lower interest rate). All of the Top 10 companies provide this option. 

You could also opt for some other service features designed to help you in times of need. Credit insurance insures your debt if you were to die or suffer some disability. Unemployment protection would waive payments during a set period of joblessness. Redraw facility would be the option to take out in cash a portion of what you have already paid down in case of some emergency.

Personal Loans with the Best Service Features:

LendingTreeSoFiEven FinancialPayoffGuide to LendersDiscoverLightStreamLoanMePersonalLoansLending Club
Direct DepositYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Pay Creditors DirectlyYesYesNoNoNoYesNoNoNoYes
24 Hour CancellationNoNoNoNot StatedNoNoNot StatedNot StatedNot StatedYes
Make Payment OnlineYesYesYesNoYesYesNoNoYesNo
Credit InsuranceYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Unemployment ProtectionNoYesYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Redraw FacilityYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo


Whether you are dealing with a loan matching service or direct lender, all lenders will eventually require your social security number to do a credit check. Online matching services will sometimes initially do a soft pull, but when you are ultimately matched with the lender there will be a hard pull. As we mentioned, personal loans are unsecured, so the risk is higher on the lender's side. 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 of course this depends on the lender.

Other things they will want to take a look at depends on the entity you are dealing with. Lenders might want to know your debt to income ratio, they also may require you to verify your employment, job title, and salary. Still others might want to know the highest level of education you progressed to and even your GPA in some cases. In some cases lenders might require your monthly housing costs and verification of your liquid, non-liquid, and retirement assets.

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.


Personal Loans with the Best Qualification:

LendingTreeSoFiEven FinancialPayoffGuide to LendersDiscoverLightStreamLoanMePersonalLoansLending Club
Minimum Credit ScoreDepends on Lenders660Depends on Lenders660Depends on Lenders660680Not Stated580600
Debt/Income RatioUp to 45%NoneNot Stated50% or lessNot StatedNot StatedN/ANot StatedNot Stated18.32%
Employment VerificationYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Income VerificationYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Education VerificationNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Monthly Hosting Cost VerificationNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Value of HomeNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Liquid Assests VerificationNoNoNoNoNoNoYesNoNoNo
Retirement Assets verificationNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo

Additional Fees

At the outset of the loan, many lenders charge application and origination fees. The application fee is what the lender charges to cover the expenses of processing the loan. The origination fee is usually expressed as a percentage of the entire loan amount (usually 1%-5%). Some of the lenders on our Top Ten List waive these two fees entirely. 

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.

Lenders may also charge you a check processing fee if you pay by paper check instead of online, and a returned check fee if that check bounces.


Personal Loans with the Best Additional Fees:

LendingTreeSoFiEven FinancialPayoffGuide to LendersDiscoverLightStreamLoanMePersonalLoansLending Club
Application FeeYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Origination FeeYesNoNoYesNoNoNoYesYesYes
Late Payment FeeYesYesYesNoYesYesNoNoYesYes
Returned Check FeeNoYesYesNoYesYesNoNoNoNo
Check Processing FeeNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo
Prepayment FeeYesNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNoNo

Customer Experience

To measure the quality of customer interaction with a given personal loan provider we look at several factors. We take into consideration the number and subject matter of complaints as reported by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB), a U.S. government agency who since 2011 has compiled over 1.1 million complaints about financial institutions, banks, and other lenders. We also consider the Better Business Bureau grade as well as statistically significant BBB complaint percentages. We also take into consideration the company's Trustpilot score. 

Personal Loans with the Best Customer Experience:

Full Personal Loans Comparison

Loan BasicsService FeaturesQualificationAdditional FeesCustomer Experience
LendingTree Personal Loans10.
SoFi Personal Loans10.
Even Financial Personal Loans9.
Payoff Personal Loans10.
LoanStart Personal Loans9.
Guide to Lenders Personal Loans9.
Discover Personal Loans9.
LightStream Personal Loans10.
Loans Under 369.
LoanMe Personal Loans9.
Lending Club Personal Loans8.
Upstart Personal Loans8.
SignatureLoan Personal Loans7.
LendingPoint Personal Loans8.
Money Lion Personal Loans7.
Avant Personal Loans5.
Select 2 personal loans companies to compare


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.

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Rhoda B
, Texas
I need the money to help me get my sales tax paid to get my disable child back and forth to Little Rock AR at least 3 to 4 times a month please I need the money

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Irving, Texas
I got a great review.

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Hendersonville, North Carolina
I don't know I had never used them

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