Finder makes money from featured partners, but editorial opinions are our own.

Personal loans review and rating methodology

How Finder rates personal loan products and providers.

Getting a personal loan can be a smart move. Whether you need to repair or replace a vehicle, finish a home renovation project, pay for school or consolidate debt, a personal loan offers a more cost-effective borrowing method than fast cash strategies, such as credit cards or payday loans.

The problem is the quantity of choice. Plenty of lenders offer a wide variety of personal loans with a multitude of terms and conditions. To help narrow down the options, Finder publishes unbiased reviews of personal loan providers along with informative guides. Finder experts also publish best lists — lists that narrow down the best lenders and loans in Canada. By analyzing dozens of factors, we find the best loan providers or personal loan products based on your needs and requirements.

To ensure we evaluate each loan provider and personal loan product equally, we use a rating system that considers various factors, such as interest rates, fees, customer support, transparency, flexibility, speed, and accessibility. Through this analysis, Finder experts can rate the best personal loan providers and rank the best lending products offered in Canada. Finder experts use this information to develop robust pros and cons for each company and product and to inform our best personal loan lists. These data-focused best lists help anyone looking for a personal loan to make a more informed decision about the lending product that best suits their needs.

Finder’s methodology for evaluating personal loan criteria

Finder experts collected over 4,600 data points for more than 110 lenders operating in Canada. The aim was to develop a robust, data-centric approach to rating and ranking personal loan providers and to develop an objective method for calculating a Finder Score for every product in the personal loans marketplace.

Finder research in numbers FPL methodology

The Finder Score: What we look for when rating personal loans

The scores used for Finder personal loan provider reviews and Finder best list ratings — known as the Finder Score — are based on a scale of 1 to 5, where five is the highest score.

Finder Score: 5-Star Rating

★★★★★ — Excellent

★★★★★ — Good

★★★★★ — Average

★★★★★ — Less than Average

★★★★★ — Poor

The Finder Score is determined using a weighted average that factors in more than 4,600 points of data across 72 factors distributed among 12 lender criteria and collated into 4 main evaluation categories:

  1. Borrowing requirements
  2. Loan costs
  3. Speed, flexibility and reliability
  4. Additional features

To evaluate all personal loan lenders and products fairly, Finder experts applied weights to these categories.

Finder experts assigned the weightings based on the importance of each of the 72 factors. This quantifiable formula was uniformly applied to all personal loan providers to create a rating that identified the best providers and products based on borrower suitability.

Assigning a weighting is key, as not every loan product suits every customer. By focusing on weighting methodologies that quantifiably measured providers and products based on Canadian borrower needs, Finder could rate and rank lenders and loans based on suitability. For instance, a borrower with poor credit would find better lending options in the Best Bad Credit Loans in Canada list since the weightings used to rate the lenders were adjusted to reward providers with more favourable criteria for borrowers with lower credit scores.

In addition to the weighted category lists, Finder experts also collected data on the type of lender and where each provider operated in Canada and used this information to develop comprehensive regional best personal loan lists or best criteria-based lists, such as best alternative personal loan lender or best bank or credit union installment loan.

4 main evaluation categories for all personal loan reviews and lists

Most borrowers don’t want to wade thousands of data points to find their best loan options. Canadians want easy-to-read and easy-to-understand methods of assessing a lender or loan product. To do this, Finder experts distilled more than 4,600 data points across 12 sections into four main evaluation categories.

Evaluation Category #1: Borrowing Requirements

In the Borrowing Requirements category, Finder experts collected information and data on how lenders assess and measure the creditworthiness of borrowers, among other factors. For instance, does a lender accept multiple income streams or will they limit approval to borrowers with full-time employment? Other factors captured in this category include credit scores, loan terms, and other eligibility criteria.

Evaluation Category #2: Loan Costs

To capture the impact of how much it costs a borrower to obtain a loan, the Loan Costs category examined and compared both minimum and maximum posted annual percentage rates (APRs). This category defaulted to posted interest rates if APRs were not readily available. However, Finder experts didn’t limit the cost of borrowing to interest charges. Turns out, additional fees and penalties can add up quickly. To capture a comprehensive view of loan costs, this category also included details on origination fees, brokerage fees, late penalties, and non-sufficient funds (NSF) charges, among other fees and penalties.

Evaluation Category #3: Speed, Flexibility and Reliability

Most borrowers don’t want to wait for days or weeks to find out if they are approved for a loan — or to get access to borrowed funds. As a result, the Speed, Flexibility & Reliability category captures how fast it takes to complete a loan application, how quickly it takes the lender to review the application and the speed at which funds are available to the borrower. While speed is critical, so are flexibility and reliability — factors that capture the ease at which a borrower can manage their loan and the confidence the borrower can adopt when working with the lender.

Evaluation Category #4: Additional Features

Finally, the Additional Features category helped to capture all the subjective and objective extras borrowers could expect. For instance, did the lender offer credit reporting — a feature that would be very important to borrowers trying to grow or rebuild their credit score — or does the lender offer a variety in the types of loans offered or provide no-credit-check pre-approvals?

What a Finder Score personal loan 5-Star rating means

Lenders that get the highest rating with Finder meet these criteria:

  • Fees: Charge low or no fees
  • Process speed: Offers instant or same-day application review and approval
  • Funding speed: Offers direct e-transfer of funds
  • Annual percentage rates (APRs): Lowest APRs or interest rates
  • Customer service: Receives excellent customer reviews and feedback
  • Eligibility: Accepts a wide variety of income sources
  • Flexibility: Products available for a variety of borrowers and lender offers various points of contact to customers
  • Reliability: Member of regulatory board or licensed member association
  • Bonus features: Perks, such as reporting payments to credit bureaus or free credit score monitoring

Calculating the Finder: Best Personal Loans in Canada list

Based on Finder expert input, the four evaluation categories used to calculate the Finder: Best Personal Loans in Canada list were assigned the following weightings:


As with all personal loan ratings and reviews, these four categories comprised 12 criteria that encapsulated more than 70 data points used to collect information and calculate a score for each lender and product.

For the Finder: Best Personal Loans in Canada list, a weighting was assigned to each of the 12 criteria which was applied to the raw score. That means if the Loan Costs category was given a weight of 20%, then the data within this category accounted for 20% of a lender’s total score.

The weightings helped to create a quantifiable formula that is applied to all personal loan providers and used to determine a list of overall best personal loans in Canada.

As a result, the evaluation criteria for the best personal loans in Canada are as follows:

Finder: Personal Loans Evaluation Criteria for Reviews and Best Lists

Picture not described


Not every lender operates in all regions within Canada and some regional providers are more competitive than national brands. As a result, the Finder: Best Personal Loans in Canada list included only lenders and personal loan providers that operated in five or more provinces or territories in Canada.

Calculating the Finder: Best Bad Credit Loans in Canada list

Based on Finder expert input, the four evaluation categories used to calculate the Finder: Best Bad Credit Loans in Canada list were assigned the following weightings:

Note: The Finder: Best Bad Credit Loans in Canada list included only lenders and personal loan providers that operate in three or more provinces or territories in Canada.

Calculating regional best bad credit loan lists

To help identify the best lenders and products in each Canadian region, Finder experts used the weightings for the Finder: Best Bad Credit Loans in Canada list but limited the loan providers to only brands that operated in each specific region.

Calculating the Finder: Best Installment Loans in Canada list

Based on Finder expert input, the four evaluation categories used to calculate the Finder: Best Installment Loans in Canada list were assigned the following weightings:

Note: The Finder: Best Installment Loans in Canada list included only lenders and personal loan providers that operated in five or more provinces or territories in Canada.


Calculating regional best installment loan lists

To help identify the best lenders and products in each Canadian region, Finder experts used the weightings for the Finder: Best Installment Loans in Canada list but limited the loan providers to only brands that operated in each specific region.

Calculating the Finder: Best Debt Consolidation Loans in Canada list

Based on Finder expert input, the four evaluation categories used to calculate the Finder: Best Debt Consolidation Loans in Canada list were assigned the following weightings:

Note: The Finder: Best Debt Consolidation Loans in Canada list included only lenders and personal loan providers that operated in five or more provinces or territories in Canada.


Calculating regional best debt consolidation loan lists

To help identify the best lenders and products in each Canadian region, Finder experts used the weightings for the Finder: Best Debt Consolidation Loans in Canada list but limited the loan providers to only brands that operated in each specific region.

For Canadians with poor credit and a need to consolidate debt, there is a Finder: Best Bad Credit Debt Consolidation list, where assigned category weightings are:


Articles that use the Finder: Personal loans review and ranking methodology

Hundreds of hours went into this research and evaluation, and, as a result, Finder uses this analysis in dozens of personal loan articles and provider reviews. You can find the results of this methodology on the Best Personal Loans in Canada round-up and on the Best Debt Consolidation Loans in Canada post along with regional lists for Ontario, BC and Alberta. The Finder: Personal loans review and ranking methodology is also included on the Best Installment Loans posts and the Best Bad Credit Loans pages.

Finally, the evaluation and methodology were used to develop the Finder Score — a five-star rating that rates personal loan providers and products — that can be seen on more than 60 provider and product reviews, with the goal of adding this data-centric rating to all lenders and products operating in the Canadian personal loan marketplace.

Examples of where to find our Finder Score include:

Why you can trust Finder evaluation methodology for personal loans in Canada

Finder is independent - icon

We’re independent

Finder is not owned or operated by a finance company, mortgage broker or other Canadian fintech business. As an independent comparison site, Finder writers, editors and publishers can express opinions, relay information and provide data that helps you — the reader.

Finder - we are experts - icon

We’re experts

Finder experts have published various guides on debt and debt management, along with dozens of data-backed comparisons and best lists. Our experts regularly provide insight to industry partners and will appear in the media to discuss lending insights.

Finder experts spent the time - icon

We spent the time

Finder experts researched and rated more than 110 loan providers operating in the Canadian lending marketplace. It took a team of experts to accomplish this task — and more than 450 hours to complete the process.

Finder is here to help - icon

We’re here to help

Since 2017, Finder has helped millions of people find, research, and select the best personal finance products. You don’t need to provide personal information or go through complicated sign-up processes to access this information. We’re here to help.

About Finder

Finder is a personal finance comparison site with a mission to help Canadians save, invest, spend wisely and grow their wealth. Each month, Finder provides half a million Canadians – and more than five million globally – with independent and trustworthy financial information. Our goal is to help people make better financial decisions by providing objective, comparative insight on thousands of products and services.

As a global fintech website and app, Finder provides consumers free access to smart money content. Whether it's expert insight, product or service comparisons or independent reviews, Finder helps consumers stay on top of their finances while saving time and money.

Finder is available to consumers in Canada, Australia, America and the United Kingdom. Initially launched in 2006 by three Australians – Fred Schebesta, Frank Restuccia and Jeremy Cabral – Finder's global reach now includes thousands of products and services in hundreds of financial categories and provides expert content and independent reviews to more than five million users each month.

More guides on Finder

Go to site