Personal loan annual percentage rates (APR) — the loan’s interest rate, plus fees — can range from 4% to 36%. The average personal loan APR is around 9.5%, according to a 2019 Experian study.
The rate you get depends on the following factors:
Credit score. With most lenders, you need an excellent credit score of 760 or higher to qualify for the lowest advertised interest rate.
Income. Lenders look at your annual and monthly income to check if you have enough regular cash flow to afford monthly repayments.
Debts. Lenders also look at your bills and other monthly expenses. The lowest interest rates go to borrowers with a debt-to-income ratio (DTI) below 20%.
Collateral. Securing your loan with an asset makes it less risky to the lender and gets you lower rates.
Term. Lenders tend to to offer higher interest rates the longer you take to repay the loan.
Amount. Often, the lowest available rates are only available on the highest loan amounts.
Use. How you plan to use a personal loan can affect your rate. For example, if you use a loan for debt consolidation, your lender might offer a lower rate than if you wanted funds to pay for a vacation.
You have a variety of personal loan providers to pick from. However, you’ll typically have more loan options if you have a stronger credit score. Depending on the type of provider you choose, you can apply for a personal loan in person, online or over the phone.
Direct online lenders. Online lenders have more flexible lending criteria and offer a straightforward application process. If approved, your personal loan can be deposited into your bank account as soon as the next business day — but it may take up to a week.
Banks. Personal loans from a bank are often the least expensive option out there — many also offer interest rate or origination fee discounts to current customers. But it can be harder to get approved at a bank, and new customers can expect to wait weeks to get approved.
Credit unions. Personal loans from a credit union are usually easier to qualify for than a bank, but often have higher interest rates and fees. You also must become a member to apply — which is often limited based on where you live or your profession.
Peer-to-peer platforms. Peer-to-peer platforms connect borrowers with investors who fund the loan. They usually offer loans that are be easier to qualify for than a bank or credit union, but tend to charge high origination fees — even compared to direct online lenders. And it can take weeks to get your funds.
Brokers and connection services. Brokers and connection services take your personal information to help you compare providers. Brokers often charge a fee for their service but offer assistance with the application. Connection services are automated and don’t make lending decisions themselves.
Where can I get a loan during the coronavirus outbreak?
U.S. Bank, Gesa Credit Union, KeyBank and many others are offering low-cost emergency loans to customers affected by COVID-19. These typically come with low or no interest rate and the option to defer payments for several months. You can often qualify with a low credit score or no credit history.
WATCH: Is now a good time to take out a personal loan?
Watch our short video where we sit down with OneMain Financial to discuss how a personal loan may be able to ease your financial burden during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn how to decide if a personal loan is right for you.
What are the requirements for a personal loan?
There’s a personal loan for almost any type of borrower. But you have to meet the following criteria to qualify with most lenders:
Good credit. The credit score cutoff is often around 670 — and usually higher if you want a low rate.
Steady income. You typically need to bring in at least $24,000 a year.
Employment. Some lenders will only work with borrowers who are employed full time.
Low debt-to-income ratio. Most lenders require your monthly expenses to be no more than 43% of your monthly income, though the lower the better.
Age of majority. In most states, you must be 18 to borrow. But the age of majority is 19 in Alabama and Nebraska, and 21 in Mississippi.
Frequently asked questions about personal loans
Read more about personal loans with these answers to common questions.
What is the best place to get a personal loan?
The best place to borrow depends on your priorities. If you need money fast, an online lender can get you funds as soon as the next business day. But if you’re looking for a low interest rate or origination fee, banks tend to offer the least expensive option.
Can I get a personal loan with a credit score of 550?
You can qualify for personal loan with a credit score of 550. But your options are limited if you have bad credit — or a credit score under 580. If you need money quickly, you might consider a bad-credit lender, which often offers funding as soon as the next business day.
But you could end up paying a higher interest rate and origination fee than you would with a bank or online lender that offers personal loans to those with good credit scores. If you have the time, you might be eligible for personal loans from a credit union or local bank. These which often have lower credit requirements than big national banks and offer relatively low interest rates.
Can I get a personal loan for $100,000?
While most lenders offer funding between $2,000 and $50,000, it’s possible to find a $100,000 personal loan. But not everybody can qualify. Generally, you’ll need to have a credit score of at least 760, a debt-to-income ratio under 20% and enough income to support monthly payments for the loan term you choose.
What is the easiest loan to get approved for?
Online lenders tend to have higher approval rates than other providers and often offer some of the easiest personal loans to get approved for. But going for a lender with a high approval rate often means you’ll land a higher interest rate and origination fee than you might pay with another provider. Consider prequalifying with a few lenders with minimum credit score, debt-to-income ratio and other requirements that you meet.
When should I use a credit card instead?
Credit cards can be a better choice if you can repay the amount you need to borrow within a month or two. While your credit card likely has a higher interest rate than a personal loan, you could end up paying no interest at all if you can pay it back over a short period of time. A personal loan is helpful when you want to pay off a large purchase or refinance credit card debt with a low monthly payment.
How long can I take out a personal loan for?
Most lenders offer personal loan terms that range from three to seven years. However, it’s possible to find a loan term as short as one year. Your loan term determines your monthly payment and total loan cost. To strike a balance between monthly payments and total loan cost, go for the shortest term you can afford.
How do personal loans affect my credit score?
Personal loans can improve your credit score by adding to your history of on-time payments and diversifying the types of credit in your name.
When you apply, it can temporarily hurt your credit, however, since lenders run a hard credit check which dings your score. And if you miss a payment or default, it can damage your credit.
Can I take out a personal loan to invest?
You can, but it might not end well. Investing itself is incredibly risky and taking out a personal loan increases that risk even more.
Some experienced investors take out personal loans after they’ve gotten the hang of weighing the risks, but it takes a while to get to their level. And even they don’t always win.
What is a prime borrower?
Prime borrowers typically have credit scores above 720, no delinquencies on their credit report and a minimum six-year credit history.
Can I get a loan with no origination fee?
Yes, many lenders offer loans with no origination fee — and several offer loans with no fees at all. Compare no-fee personal loans and find the best option for your needs.
How do I get an unsecured loan?
Unsecured loans, or otherwise known as signature loans, are loans that don’t require any collateral. They are based on your creditworthiness. Keeping your credit score at good or excellent and a clean credit history will get you a better rate. Usually you need to have proof of income, be a resident of the US and have a Social Security number to apply for an unsecured loan.
What happens if I use my loan for a different purpose than I applied for?
Often, nothing will happen — unless the lender finds out. But if you violate the contract of your loan, your loan goes into default.
Your lender could also take legal action if it finds out that you used the money for something other than what you agreed to. This would be on the grounds that you falsified information on your application.
Can I buy a house with a personal loan?
No. To purchase a home you’ll need a mortgage. Mortgages work differently than personal loans and are a bit complicated. To learn more about how home loans work, read our guide to mortgages.
Anna Serio is a trusted lending expert and certified Commercial Loan Officer who's published more than 1,000 articles on Finder to help Americans strengthen their financial literacy. A former editor of a newspaper in Beirut, Anna writes about personal, student, business and car loans. Today, digital publications like Business Insider, CNBC and the Simple Dollar feature her professional commentary, and she earned an Expert Contributor in Finance badge from review site Best Company in 2020.
A strong cashback card if you want to build your credit score.
How likely would you be to recommend finder to a friend or colleague?
Very UnlikelyExtremely Likely
Thank you for your feedback.
Our goal is to create the best possible product, and your thoughts, ideas and suggestions play a major role in helping us identify opportunities to improve.
finder.com is an independent comparison platform and information service that aims to provide you with the tools you need to make better decisions. While we are independent, the offers that appear on this site are from companies from which finder.com receives compensation. We may receive compensation from our partners for placement of their products or services. We may also receive compensation if you click on certain links posted on our site. While compensation arrangements may affect the order, position or placement of product information, it doesn't influence our assessment of those products. Please don't interpret the order in which products appear on our Site as any endorsement or recommendation from us. finder.com compares a wide range of products, providers and services but we don't provide information on all available products, providers or services. Please appreciate that there may be other options available to you than the products, providers or services covered by our service.