If you need to borrow money, don’t go with the first lender you find. The loan may come with high interest rates and stiff repayment terms that can make your loan significantly more expensive. Any personal loan company worth its salt won’t overwhelm you with fees, and they will offer a competitive interest rate.
Personal loans can save you money if you’re able to secure a lower interest rate. They can also improve your credit score with every on-time payment you make. Bonus: Since personal loans are for a fixed borrowing amount, you can’t add to the balance like you can with credit cards. This makes it easier to get out of debt and stay out.
Too many people think they must pay an interest rate of 15%, 20%, or sometimes even more on debt. Just because that’s the rate your credit card, medical care provider, or retailer charges doesn’t mean you’re stuck with it. As you will find out, you may be able to refinance your debt with a personal loan and get a lower interest rate. You may even be able to drop your interest rate down to the single digits with a personal loan.
Table of Contents
- What is a Personal Loan?
- The Best Personal Loan Companies
- 1. Credible
- 2. Upgrade
- 3. Even Financial
- 4. Best Egg
- 5. SoFi
- 6. Prosper
- 7. LendingClub
- 8. LightStream
- 9. LendKey
- 10. Upstart
- 11. Payoff
- 12. Earnest
- 13. Peerform
- 14. Avant
- 15. Discover Personal Loans
- 16. PersonalLoans.com
- 17. FreedomPlus
- 18. Wells Fargo
- 19. Citizens Bank
- 20. LendingPoint
- 21. Marcus by Goldman Sachs
- 22. Citibank Personal Loans
- 23. Credit Direct
- Applying for a Personal Loan
- Personal Loans Can Save You Thousands of Dollars
- How Are Personal Loan Interest Rates Determined?
What is a Personal Loan?
In case you’ve never heard of a personal loan before, or you need to refresh your memory, a personal loan is an unsecured loan where no collateral is required. It works similar to a credit card or your student loans in that way.
One benefit of having a personal loan is that in most cases, you can spend the money however you desire.
You can use a personal loan for the following reasons:
- Refinance existing high-interest debt for a lower interest rate
- Refinance student loans
- Remodel your house
- Start a small business
- Pay medical bills
- Pay other personal expenses
The #1 reason to apply for a personal loan is to refinance your current high-interest debt. Compared to credit card debt, which can carry an interest rate as high as 25%, a personal loan may be a bargain — your interest rate can be as low as 5.99%.
Save Money on Interest
This single decision can save you thousands of dollars that you would otherwise pay in interest. If you kept the balance on your credit cards or didn’t consolidate your debts you could be paying a lot more to banks and lenders.
Personal loans can also save you money if you’re refinancing student loans. Student loan interest rates are often cheaper than most forms of consumer debt, but not always. Depending on your student loan rates, you can still save tens of thousands of dollars in interest if you consolidate to a lower rate loan product.
If you’re still curious about personal loan basics, scroll to the bottom of this article. We’ve got all you need to know about different types of loans, how interest rates are calculated, and how you can apply for a personal loan.
Otherwise, read on for our recommendations of the best personal loan companies.
The Best Personal Loan Companies
We’ve researched some of the best personal loan companies out there, just for you. The companies mentioned below offer great loan options and don’t have hidden fees.
Note that with some of these companies you may have to pay origination and application fees. However,you can still easily save thousands of dollars compared to high-interest loans credit card interest rates.
Too many people think using high-interest loans or credit cards is the only way to borrow money. But in fact, there are lower interest rate options out there.
Another trend you will notice with these loan companies is that most of the top lenders are not involved with a traditional brick-and-mortar bank. In the last decade, online banking and peer lending have made it easier for companies to offer lower interest loans.
Online loan companies don’t have to worry about offsetting costs for large buildings, so they can offer lower rates. This makes it easier for consumers like you to find a loan with a lower interest rate.
You still can apply for a personal loan from your local bank or credit union. However, online lenders will usually provide a more competitive quote because of fewer operating expenses.
Here is a list of popular personal loan companies that may be able to help you lower your debt’s interest rate. If you qualify, you may be able to pay off debt faster.
Credible is one of our favorite recommendations because it’s a loan search engine. You can quickly compare the rates of up to eight lenders at once. Plus, the rates can be as low as 4.99% APR for personal loans to refinance your credit card debt!
If you have student loans to refinance, you can also refinance your federal and private student loans. The average Credible user saves $18,688 by refinancing their student loans!
Launched in the spring of 2017, Upgrade is a newcomer founded by two former executives of Lending Club. With a $1,000 borrowing minimum and an APR as low as 6.99%, Upgrade is one of the most affordable lenders. You have the option to apply for a three- or five-year loan.
You can borrow up to $50,000 using Upgrade. If all goes well, it will work on delivering the money to your bank account the next day. Upgrade even lets you customize your payment due date. This feature makes it one of the most flexible lenders on this list.
3. Even Financial
Even Financial is different from most of the other companies listed in this post because it searches for the best loan terms for you, and matches you with the lender that best meets your needs.
Unlike Credible, Even doesn’t provide a list of all the lenders and their rates. Rather, Even steers you to the best choice for you.
The rates on personal loans you can find on Even Financial are as low as 4.99%. This could be a big difference from the 15% (or more) you may currently be paying on your credit card debt.
4. Best Egg
Best Egg offers next-day deposit once they approve your application. Fixed rates are as low as 5.99% with a three to five-year loan term. They offer personal loans up to $35,000.
This might be the first time you’ve ever heard about Best Egg. It’s important to know they have an A+ Better Business Bureau rating. With a $2,000 minimum borrowing requirement, it can be really easy to qualify for a loan if you only have a small balance.
SoFi is another top pick because of its low-interest rates and generous lending terms. With SoFi’s personal loans, you can borrow between $5,000 and $100,000 for up seven years. And, it offers a fixed interest rate as low as 6.99% APR if you set your payment up on autopay.
SoFi has other benefits, too. Hopefully, you will never need to use this benefit, but SoFi does offer unemployment protection. This feature temporarily pauses your payments if you lose your job. You won’t have payments on your SoFi loan for three months, but the benefit can be extended for three more three-month increments, up to 12 months total for the life of the loan.
This benefit is unheard of for private loans. Other lenders require you to continue making the minimum monthly payment regardless of your employment status. In fact, the only other similar benefit offered is a federal student loan forbearance request that allows you to pause payments penalty-free.
SoFi lets you borrow money for:
- Student loan refinancing
- Medical resident student loan refinancing
- Home mortgages
- Personal loans
And, you will never pay an origination fee or prepayment penalty.
One of the largest peer-to-peer lenders is Prosper, which allows you to borrow up to $40,000. All loans are a fixed rate with either a three-year or five-year loan term.
Peer-to-peer lending (P2P) is a recent phenomenon in the finance industry. It allows private investors lend directly to borrowers like you. This means you can skip the traditional bank loan application process that can make a loan more expensive.
In addition to debt consolidation loans, Prosper also lets you apply for baby and adoption loans. Other options are home improvement, small business, and special occasion loans. And, Prosper has interest rates starting as low as 6.95%.
Like Prosper, LendingClub is a P2P lender that can offer lower interest rates (currently as low as 6.11%) and possibly give you a better chance of approval than a bank would.
LendingClub offers fixed-rate personal loans of $1,000 to $40,000 for either 36 months (three years) or 60 months (five years). When you apply, LendingClub performs a soft inquiry so your credit score will not be affected by the loan application. The entire approval process takes about seven days.
You can use LendingClub to apply for personal loans, small business loans and auto refinancing.
If you’re in the market for a personal loan with a super-low interest rate, check out LightStream, As of this writing on August 9, 2018, you can get a rock-bottom 3.09% APR with AutoPay,
This offshoot of SunTrust Bank is offering a fixed 3.09% APR to borrowers with good to excellent credit. You need to borrow at least $10,000 for a loan term of 24 months to 36 months to qualify. Additionally, you need to sign up for automatic payments. This low rate is possible when you buy a new or used vehicle and is slightly lower than the industry average for a new car loan.
If you want to consolidate your debt, Lightstream is also offering debt consolidation loans for 5.89% APR on a $10,000–$24,999 loan with autopay. By signing up for autopay instead of paying manually, you’ll save 0.50% APR. As Ben Franklin would say, “A penny saved is a penny earned.”
LendKey is for people who want to refinance their student loan debt. LendKey has a network of community banks and credit unions, and partners them with borrowers who want to refinance their student loan debt.
With LendKey, you can get rates as low as 2.51% variable APR, or 3.49% fixed APR if you sign up for autopay (as of Sept. 13, 2018). There’s also no loan origination fee, and it won’t harm your credit to shop rates on LendKey’s website.
LendKey’s borrowers on average save over $16,000 by refinancing. Plus, many lenders available on LendKey’s website offer flexible repayment options. Some examples include interest-only payments for the first four years. This is a benefit that can rarely be found when refinancing student loans.
Young professionals with minimal credit history should consider Upstart. It offers personal loans of $1,000 to $50,000 in three- and five-year repayment term. This could help you to consolidate your credit card or student loan debt. You could also get a loan to start a business or pay for personal expenses.
Upstart takes your education, area of study, and job history into consideration when you apply for a loan. Once Upstart approves your application, you will receive the money the next day. Since launching in 2014, Upstart has funded more than $1.4 billion in loan requests.
Here’s another cool fact about Upstart; it was founded by ex-Google employees. They used their knowledge to build the first lending platform that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to price credit and automate the borrowing process.
As a result, Upstart can offer credit to borrowers that other lenders might pass over. However, they’re still making smart loans. Upstart has a missed payment rate that is currently below the industry average.
Payoff specializes in credit card debt consolidation and has refinanced more than $100 million so far. Current interest rates are as low as 5.65%.
The only fee you will pay is an origination fee. You won’t pay typical fees with Payoff. For instance, other lenders might charge more if you make a payment by paper check. However, with Payoff payments made by snail mail never cost extra.
The Payoff loan term can be between two and five years in length. Payoff also offers job loss support to restructure your monthly payments if you lose your job. This benefit is becoming more common, but it is still a rarity among private lenders.
Some lenders rely solely on your credit report to approve or deny your loan application. However, Earnest uses “deep data” like your job history, income potential, college experience, and saving patterns to get you the lowest interest possible.
Earnest offers student loan refinancing with variable rates starting at 2.47% APR with autopay. It also offers personal loans with fixed rates as low as 6.99%. Personal loan terms are three to five years.
Bonus: Earnest will let you get an estimated interest rate without affecting your credit score.
Peerform is one of the few P2P platforms that lend to borrowers who have a credit score as low as 600. If you have average credit, you may not qualify for their top category 5.32% APR, but you can still potentially get a lower interest rate than at a bank.
P2P lenders like Peerform have been so successful in recent years because they have made loan consolidation easier. Borrowers can more easily responsibly refinance their current debt and avoid the bank for new financing too.
With Peerform, you can borrow up to $25,000 per loan and your all loans have a three-year (36 months) loan term.
Avant caters to borrowers with a credit score between 600 and 700. Interest rates start at 9.95% APR for a 24-month loan. All loans have a fixed interest rate.
Like a few other lenders, Avant looks beyond your credit score at your educational and professional background to get the lowest interest rate possible.
You can borrow from Avant for debt consolidation, home improvement, and unexpected emergencies.
15. Discover Personal Loans
With Discover Personal Loans, you will pay zero fees (as long as you pay on time) and can receive a same-day lending decision. Discover offers loan terms from 36 months to 84 months, and interest rates start at 6.99% APR.
Bonus: If you experience “lender’s remorse,” Discover will let you return the entire borrowed principal penalty-free within the first 30 days. You won’t find very many lenders with that generous benefit.
You can use Discover’s personal loans to consolidate debt or pay for large expenses including your wedding or medical bills. One of the most common reasons people apply for a personal loan is to pay for medical expenses.
With higher copays and deductibles on insurance plans these days, medical expenses can accrue quickly. Using a consolidation loan to help manage those bills can save you money and stress.
PersonalLoans.com is not a lender, but is a personal loan search engine. This search engine can help you find loans as small as $1,000. You can also specify your loan term to be as short as 90 days or up to six years.
Lenders in PersonalLoans.com’s network offer loans up to $35,000 with interest rates starting at 5.99% fixed APR.
To begin finding your loan offer, all you have to do is submit a request with some basic information. You’ll need to share your bank account information, for instance. You’ll also need to share your income and credit score. Lenders will review your information quickly. You could be presented with a great loan offer within just a few minutes!
FreedomPlus offers a 4.99% fixed interest rate when you borrow at least $15,000. This minimum borrow requirement is higher than the other lenders on this list. However, if you are going to borrow at least $15,000 anyway, it’s worth applying.
To apply to FreedomPlus, you will need a credit score of at least 640. You also need an annual salary of $34,000 or higher, and a debt-to-income ratio below 40%.
You can earn an additional interest rate discounts by having a co-signer and owning a retirement account with at least $40,000 in assets. Both of these discounts can lower your interest rate by 2%–3%!
18. Wells Fargo
Do you prefer a well-established national bank with physical branch locations? Wells Fargo offers personal loans without an application fee or origination fee when you apply for a fixed-rate loan. Since Wells Fargo is a brick-and-mortar lender, their starting interest rate is a little higher than the online-only lenders. Their starting interest rate for personal loans currently sits at 6.99%.
In addition to the option of in-person service, current Wells Fargo members can enjoy relationship discounts. You can get discounts by opening a checking account, for instance.
Wells Fargo has a fast processing time for loans, too. You can even receive next-day funds if you are in a financial bind and need the money fast. Now, there’s no need to apply for a payday loan.
19. Citizens Bank
Another brick-and-mortar option for personal loans is Citizens Bank. Interest rates start at 5.99% for a fixed, three-year loan. That rate drops to 5.74% if you also bank with Citizens Bank.
You won’t pay any application, origination, or prepayment fees with your loan application. This is a crucial financial blessing when you’re trying to pinch pennies. The application process can be completed online. In most instances you can receive your requested funds within two business days.
Citizens Banks offers loan terms from three to seven years and loan amounts of $5,000 to $50,000. Note that Citizens Bank prefers you have a “strong credit history” and an annual income of $24,000 or higher if you want a personal loan with them.
When you have “near prime” credit with a credit score near 600, you could qualify to borrow money through LendingPoint. LendingPoint analyzes your income, job history, financial history, and credit behavior to approve your credit request. Note that LendingPoint’s loans will be the most like your credit card because their lowest APR is 15.49%.
If you are currently paying more than 16% with your credit cards, this is an opportunity to get out of debt and rebuild your credit. However, if your current card rates are lower than 16%, you may want to check with other lenders.
Along with the relatively high interest rates, LendingPoint only offers personal loans with 12-month and 24-month loan terms. And they offer a maximum loan size of $24,000.
If you’re currently planning on repaying your entire balance within two years and canceling your card once the balance is repaid, you can refinance with LendingPoint today to cancel your card immediately.
21. Marcus by Goldman Sachs
Financial powerhouse Goldman Sachs created Marcus to “help people achieve financial well-being”, according to their website. They offer personal loans from $3,500 up to $40,000.
Their website says there are never any fees with a Marcus loan. That means no application fee, no origination fee or no prepayment fees. There aren’t even any late fees with Marcus, although you should still pay your loan on time to protect your credit rating.
And they have interest rates starting as low as 6.99 percent. Marcus offers loan terms from 36 months up to 72 months. It’s important to note that interest rates with Marcus are generally higher if you stretch out your term. Also, the better your credit, the lower the interest rate you’ll qualify for.
Bonus: Marcus also offers a high yield savings account. As of this writing, it’s paying a yield of 1.85%.
22. Citibank Personal Loans
Citibank offers personal loans of up to $30,000. You can get a fixed rate loan with interest rates ranging from 7.99% to 17.99%. Loan amounts range from $2,000 up to $50,000 with Citibank. Loan terms can be negotiated for as little as 12 months or up to 60 months.
However, if you choose a loan term longer than 36 months, you might pay a higher interest rate. Also, if you default on your payments your interest rate could increase as well.
23. Credit Direct
Credit Direct will help you find options for personal loans between $1,000 and $40,000. They work with lenders to help you find the best solution for your loan needs. Credit Direct can help you get several different types of loans, such as:
- Credit card refinancing loans
- Debt consolidation loans
- Home improvement loans
- Medical expense loans
And more. Credit Direct offers several ways to make borrowing money easier. First, their loan application process only takes five minutes. Second, once you’re approved you can sign all of the documents via an e-doc service.
Third, approved funds are direct deposited into your bank account. Credit Direct works with 15-20 other lenders to find you the best rate possible. Note that they only work with residents in certain U.S. states.
With over 20 lenders to choose from, you’ve got a good chance of finding a personal loan that works for you. Here is some other information you might want to know about personal loans.
Applying for a Personal Loan
The personal loan application process is a cinch. In some cases, you can even get same day approval and have the money in your account tomorrow.
Each lender and loan company has different lending requirements. For instance, a lender might not be licensed to lend in particular states. Some companies have minimum credit score requirements for borrowers as well.
Generally, though, as long as your credit score is above 640, most lenders will look at your application. Lenders also like it if you are gainfully employed and responsibly use credit now and in the past few years. If you meet these three qualifications, you have a good chance of being approved for a personal loan.
Once you receive your personal loan money, immediately pay off your credit card balance or other debts. This debt consolidation tactic not only helps you enjoy a lower interest rate, but you’ll just have one monthly payment. Fewer monthly payments make it easier to budget. And, it’s harder to forget your payment.
Personal Loans Can Save You Thousands of Dollars
Let’s assume have a credit card balance of $5,600 and a 21% APR. For this example, it takes three years (36 months) to repay the entire $5,600 balance.
Now, let’s compare how much interest you will pay keeping the balance on your credit card. Your three options are a credit card interest rate of 21% APR or a personal loan with a 10% or 5.99% APR:
|Interest Rate||Total Interest Paid|
Taking a few minutes to transfer your high-interest debt to a cheaper personal loan can easily save over $1,000. And, your monthly payment will also drop $30 in the process.
If you’re living on minimum wage, any drop in your monthly interest charges will tremendously improve your quality of life. Having to pay less interest also means you can continue to make the same monthly payment as before.
However, note that making bigger payments repays the borrowed principal faster. This means you’ll become debt free sooner!
How Are Personal Loan Interest Rates Determined?
Like any other loan, your personal loan interest rate depends on your creditworthiness. Essentially, that means what’s your current credit score and your credit history? The better your credit, the lower your new interest rate will be.
Personal loan interest rates also depend on the three following factors:
- How much you borrow
- The loan term (how many months you have to repay the loan)
- A fixed interest rate or a variable rate
You will usually have a higher interest rate when you choose a longer repayment term (60 months vs. 36 months) and have a higher loan balance.
So, you can save even more money by keeping two things in mind. The first is to not borrow any more than you have to to consolidate your debts. The second is to try and repay the balance as quickly as possible.
Pay extra payments as you can, and put any unexpected money toward your loan. Unexpected money can be found in overtime hours, gifts, tax returns, by selling things you don’t need, etc.
Fixed Rate Loans vs. Variable Rate Loans
Variable rate loans generally have a lower interest rate than their fixed rate cousins at the beginning of the loan term. But if interest rates climb, you may pay more long-term.
Unless you can repay your entire balance in one or two years, you should almost always consider applying for a loan with a fixed interest rate. This will help you hedge against potentially higher interest rates in the future.
Getting a fixed rate loan will ensure you always know what rate you’re paying and your payment amount.
Right now, most lenders will offer a fixed rate loan for between 5.99% and 7.99%. A variable rate loan may have an interest rate of 5.49% that adjusts quarterly. Every three months, your variable rate can increase, decrease, or remain the same.
With a fixed rate, your interest rate will remain the same for the entire life of the loan. If your interest rate is 6%, it will never go higher. Even if the lender begins charging 8% to new borrowers, your rate remains the same! Choosing a variable rate loan in a market with rising interest rates can quickly become expensive.
Many people think their only option to save money on high-interest debt is to use a debt consolidation agency. In reality, that’s one of the most expensive ways to refinance your debt. Consider applying for a personal loan. You can easily reduce your interest rate by 15 percentage points and save thousands of dollars.
Until now, personal loans might have been the best-kept secret that high-interest lenders didn’t want you to know.