Whenever you need to borrow money, don’t go with the first lender to offer the cash you need. They may come with high interest rates and stiff repayment terms that can make your loan significantly more expensive. Any personal loan company worth their salt won’t overwhelm you with fees, and they will offer a competitive interest rate.
Personal loans can not only save you money because of a lower interest rate, but they can also improve your credit score with every on-time payment. Since they are for a fixed borrowing amount, you can’t add to the balance like credit cards either which makes it harder to stay in debt.
Too many people think they must pay an interest rate of least 15%, 20%, or sometimes even more because that’s the rate their credit card, medical care provider, or retailer charges. As you will find out, you may be able to refinance your debt and get an interest rate in the single digits with a personal loan.
Table of Contents
- The Best Personal Loan Companies
- What is a Personal Loan?
- Personal Loans Can Save You Thousands of Dollars
- How Are Personal Loan Interest Rates Determined?
The Best Personal Loan Companies
The companies mentioned below offer great loan options and don’t have hidden fees. You may have to pay origination and application fees, but you can still easily save thousands of dollars compared to high-interest loans or carrying a credit card balance that too many people think is “the only way” to borrow money.
Another trend you will notice is that most of the top lenders are not a traditional brick-and-mortar bank. In the last decade, online banking and peer lending have made it easier to qualify for a loan with a lower interest rate.
While you still can apply for a personal loan from your local bank or credit union, online lenders will usually provide a more competitive quote because of fewer operating expenses.
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 at a below average interest rate!
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!
2. 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.
3. Even Financial
Even Financial is unique from most of the other companies listed in this post because they don’t provide personal loans. Rather, they help you search and compare to find the best rates available from many different lenders.
Some of the lenders you can find on Even Financial are also listed in this post, but this tool makes it easy to compare rates all in one convenient location on the Even Financial website.
The rates on personal loans you can find on Even Financial are as low as 4.99%, which is a big difference from the 15% (or more) you may be paying on your credit card debt.
Launching 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 6.87%, 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, and they will work on delivering the money to your bank account the next day. Upgrade even lets you customize your payment due date making it one of the most flexible lenders on this list.
SoFi is another top pick because of their low-interest rates and generous lending terms. With their personal loans, you can borrow between $5,000 and $100,000 for up seven years with a fixed interest rate as low as 6.574% APR with Autopay.
Hopefully, you will never need to use this benefit, but SoFi offers unemployment protection that temporarily pauses your payments until you find a new job. 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.
A large Peer-to-Peer lender is Prosper, where you can borrow up to $35,000. All loans are a fixed rate with either a 3-year or 5-year loan term.
Peer-to-Peer lending (P2P) is a recent phenomenon in the finance industry as private investors lend directly to borrowers like you and skip the traditional bank loan application process that can only make a loan more expensive.
In addition to debt consolidation loans, Prosper also lets you apply for baby and adoption loans, home improvement, small business, and special occasion loans with interest rates starting at 6.95%.
Although other lenders on this list offer smaller borrowing minimums, the least you can borrow from Prosper is $2,000. Other lenders require at least $5,000 to qualify for a personal loan.
When you don’t want to borrow money from a bank, LendingClub can be the perfect solution. They are also a Peer-to-Peer lender.
By cutting out the bank, LendingClub can deliver you a lower interest rate (currently as low as 6.16%) and also increase your approval chances.
LendingClub offers fixed-rate personal loans up to $40,000 for either 36 months (3 years) or 60 months (5 years). When you apply, LendingClub performs a soft inquiry so your credit score will not be affected by the loan application. The entire application takes about seven days to complete.
You can use LendingClub to apply for personal loans, small business loans, and auto refinancing.
As of this writing on August 9, 2018, you can get a rock-bottom 3.09% APR with AutoPay, check out LightStream. This offshoot of SunTrust Bank is offering a fixed 3.09% APR to borrowers with good to excellent credit when you borrow at least $10,000 for a loan term of 24 months to 36 months and sign up for autopay. This low rate is possible when you buy a new 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 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 offers student loans, as well as student loan refinancing. But, rather than acting as an actual lender, LendKey is the bridge between community banks and credit unions and borrowers who want to refinance their student loan debt.
With LendKey, you can get rates as low as 2.58% variable APR, or 3.15% fixed APR if you sign up for autopay. There’s also no loan origination fee, and it won’t harm your credit to shop rates on LendKey’s website.
LendKey’s borrowers have saved over $16,000 by refinancing. Plus, many lenders available on LendKey’s website offer flexible repayment options, like 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. They offer personal loans from $1,000 to $50,000 in three and five-year repayment terms to consolidate your credit card debt, student loans, starting a business, and other 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-Googlers. They use their knowledge that helped build the best search engine to create the first peer-to-peer platform that uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to revolutionize the personal loan sector.
As a result, Upstart can successfully offer credit to borrowers that other lenders might gloss over while at the same time maintaining a missed payment rate 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 5.94%.
The only fee you will pay is an origination fee. Unlike other lenders that charge more if you make a payment by paper check, 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.
Instead of solely relying on your credit report to approve or deny your loan application, Earnest uses “deep data” like your job history, income potential, college experience, and saving patterns to get you the lowest interest possible. If some of the other lenders have turned you down because of having little to no credit history, getting a quote from Earnest can be time well-spent.
Earnest offers fixed rate and variable rate loans with interest rates as low as 2.57% APR for a variable rate and 5.25% for fixed loans. One reason why Earnest can deliver such a low interest rate is that you only have up to three years to repay the balance. If you need more than three years to pay off your loan, choose a different lender.
You can apply for the three following types of loans from Earnest:
- Student Loan Refinancing
- Parent PLUS Loan Refinancing
- Personal Loans
Peerform is one of the few P2P platforms that lend to borrowers with average credit who have a credit score as low as 600. If you have average credit, you may not qualify for the 5.99% APR, but you can still get a lower interest rate than if you apply at your local bank where the personal loan interest rates can start at 10%.
P2P lenders like Peerform have been so successful in recent years because they have made it easier for almost any borrower to 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 P2P 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 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.
If you experience “lender’s remorse,” Discover will let you return the entire borrowed principal penalty-free within the first 30 days.
You can use Discover’s personal loans to consolidate debt or pay for large expenses including your wedding or medical bills. In case you didn’t know, the main reason most people apply for a personal loan is to pay for medical expenses.
PersonalLoans.com is not a lender, but a personal loan search engine that helps you find loans as small as $500. You can also specify your loan term to be as short as six months 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, including a bank account, income, and credit score. Lenders will review your information, and 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 $10,000. This minimum borrow requirement is higher than the other lenders on this list, but if you are going to borrow at least $10,000 anyways, the application can be worth the lower-than-usual interest rate.
To apply to FreedomPlus, you will need a credit score of at least 640, an annual salary of $34,000 or higher, and a debt-to-income ratio below 40%.
You can earn an additional interest rate discount 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
If you prefer a well-established national bank with physical branches, 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-lenders at 6.99%.
In addition to the option of in-person service, current Wells Fargo members can enjoy relationship discounts. And, 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 because of their relationship bonus.
You won’t pay any application, origination, or prepayment fees with your loan application, which is a crucial financial blessing when you’re trying to pinch pennies. The application process can be completed online, and you can receive your requested funds within two business days.
Citizens Banks offers loan terms from three to seven years. You must borrow between $5,000 and $50,000. And, they lend to all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico when you have a “strong credit history” and an annual income of $24,000 or higher.
When you have “near prime” credit with a credit score near 600, LendingPoint analyzes your income, job history, financial history, and credit behavior to approve your credit request. LendingPoint’s loans will be the most like your credit card because their lowest APR is 17.47%.
If you are currently paying more than 20% with your credit cards, this is still an opportunity to get out of debt and rebuild your credit.
Despite the relatively high interest rates, LendingPoint only offers personal loans with 12-month and 24-month loan terms with 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.
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, like a credit card or your student loans. 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
- Medical bills
- Any other personal expenses
The #1 reason to apply for a personal loan is to refinance your current high-interest debt. It’s a perfect money-saving opportunity if you have credit card debt where you can easily have a 21% interest rate. With a personal loan, your interest rate can be as low as 5.99%.
This single decision can save you thousands of dollars that you would pay in interest if you kept the balance on your credit cards or didn’t consolidate your debts.
Personal loans can also save you money by refinancing student loans. Even though student loan interest rates are cheaper than most forms of consumer debt, you can still save tens of thousands of dollars in loan interest if you have to repay undergraduate, graduate, and professional loans.
Applying for a Personal Loan
The personal loan application process is a cinch. In some cases, you can even get same day approval with the money in your account tomorrow.
Each lender and loan company has different lending requirements. For instance, they might not be licensed to lend to particular states. As long as your credit score is above 600, you are gainfully employed, and responsibly use your credit, 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 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 you’re like the average American and with 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. Except, more money repays the borrowed principal, meaning 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, 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, don’t borrow more than you have to and try to repay the balance as quickly as possible.
Fixed Rate Loans vs. Variable Rate Loans
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 to hedge against potentially higher interest rates. Variable rate loans generally have a lower interest rate than their fixed rate cousins. They can save you money unless interest rates climb, then you pay more long-term.
Right now, most lenders will offer a fixed rate loan for 5.99%. 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.
If the variable rate goes above 5.99%, you can actually spend more in interest long-term. Variable rate loans are better than paying 15% or 20% credit card interest rates. But, is the potential savings from a 0.50% lower variable rate worth the additional risk?
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.
For example, a three-year $10,000 loan with a Prosper Rating of AA would have an interest rate of 5.31% and a 2.41% origination fee for an annual percentage rate (APR) of 6.95% APR. You would receive $9,759 and make 36 scheduled monthly payments of $301.10. A five-year $10,000 loan with a Prosper Rating of A would have an interest rate of 8.39% and a 5.00% origination fee with a 10.59% APR. You would receive $9,500 and make 60 scheduled monthly payments of $204.64. Origination fees vary between 2.41%-5%. APRs through Prosper range from 6.95% (AA) to 35.99% (HR) for first-time borrowers, with the lowest rates for the most creditworthy borrowers. Eligibility for loans up to $40,000 depends on the information provided by the applicant in the application form. Eligibility is not guaranteed, and requires that a sufficient number of investors commit funds to your account and that you meet credit and other conditions. Refer to Borrower Registration Agreement for details and all terms and conditions. All loans made by WebBank, member FDIC.