Reach your next goal
with a personal loan

When you’re ready to plan that big wedding, breathe new life into your kitchen, buy a new set of wheels or simplify your existing debt, a personal loan could bridge your budget gaps to reach your goals. There’s a personal loan to fit nearly any need, which makes understanding exactly how they work key to getting the best rate and repayment terms you’re eligible for.

This guide shows you how to compare top online lenders to narrow down a personal loan that satisfies what you’re looking for. We’ll take you from consideration to application to approval — including the documentation you’ll need and how to get an edge on low rates.

Even Financial Personal Loans

Even Financial Personal Loans

Quickly get matched to the best personal loan offer from top online lenders.

  • Minimum Credit Score Needed: 580
  • APRs as low as: 4.99%
  • Minimum Loan Amount: $1,000
  • Maximum Loan Amount: $100,000
  • Simple online application process
  • Free loan matching service

    Compare personal loans

    Use this table to compare the interest rates, loan amounts and eligibility requirements of top online lenders.

    Rates last updated October 20th, 2017

    Reveal your potential loan offers and rates

    Answer two quick questions to filter the loan offers and get the best one for you.

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    Finally, select where you live.

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    Unfortunately, none of the personal loan providers offer loans for that credit score. If you are in urgent need of a small loan, you might want to consider a short term loan.
    Name Product Product Description Min. Credit Score Max. Loan Amount APR Requirements
    Laurel Road Personal Loans
    Get a personal loan with no application or origination fees and a rate discount for autopay.
    From 5.5% (fixed)
    Must be a US citizen or permanent resident with a valid I-551 card
    Even Financial Personal Loans
    Get matched to the best loan offer instantly from top online consumer lenders.
    From 4.99% (fixed)
    Must have a minimum credit score of 580+. Must be 18+ years old and be an American citizen or permanent resident.
    Prosper Personal Loan
    Borrow only what you need for debt consolidation, home improvements, special occasions and more — with APRs based on your credit score.
    From 5.99% (fixed)
    Must be 18+ years old, an American citizen or US permanent resident and have a 640+ credit score.
    SoFi Personal Loan Fixed Rate (with Autopay)
    Borrow up to $100,000 with a competitive APR and no fees.
    Good to excellent credit
    From 5.49% (fixed)
    You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and 18 years or older.
    LendingPoint Personal Loans
    Get a personal loan with reasonable rates even if you have a fair credit score in the 600s.
    From 15.49% (fixed)
    Must have a fair credit score of 600 or better and verifiable income. Must live in a state where LendingPoint services.
    NetCredit Personal Loan
    Check eligibility in minutes and get a personalized quote without affecting your credit score.
    From 34 - 155% (fixed)
    Varies depending on your state of residence.
    LendingClub Personal Loan
    Borrow up to $40,000 with rates from 5.99% to 35.89% APR based on your credit score.
    From 5.99% (fixed)
    You must be over 18 years of age, a permanent resident of the US or an American citizen and have a steady source of income.

    Compare up to 4 providers

    What’s a personal loan?

    A personal loan is money you borrow from a lender that’s paid back with interest over a set period of time — usually between one to seven years. Your lender will determine your loan amount, interest rate and fees based on factors like your credit score.

    I want to…

    How top online personal loan lenders stack up

    Max Loan AmountAPR’s as low as…Best for…
    Prosper$35,0005.99%Finding a low-cost loan.
    LendingClub$40,0005.99%Finding multiple types of financing.
    SoFi$100,0005.49%Refinancing, especially student loans.
    Upstart$50,0007.16%Getting a loan with limited or poor credit.

    What can I use a personal loan for?

    What can’t you use a personal loan for? This type of financing can cover almost any large expense or even consolidate your debt. Check out our guides below to see how you can use them to reach your next goal, take care of financial obligations or fund your next big purchase.

    I want to…

    Just some of the top personal loan providers we compare

    Prosper provider logoLendingclub provider logousfpl-sofi-logo-personal-loans
    Lending Point provider logoPayoff provider logoAvant provider logo
    Upstart provider logoLaurel Road provider logoMoney Lion provider logo personal loans
    OneMain Financial provider logoBest Egg provider logoWells Fargo provider logo

    What types of loans can I take out?

    • General use personal loans
      Some lenders offer general purpose loans to use as you see fit.
    • Business loans
      You can borrow funds to grow your small business or get advances on your unpaid invoices.
    • Car loans
      Lenders offer car loans to buy a new or used vehicle or refinance your current auto loan.
    • Student loans
      There are multiple borrowing options to pay for school, including public and private student loans. Lenders also offer student loan refinancing to help you get a better rate on what you’ve previously borrowed.
    Can't I just use my credit card?
    You could, but it might cost a lot more if you need to cover a large expense. That’s because credit cards often have higher rates than personal loans.

    If you need cash right away or only want to make a small purchase, however, a using credit card can be a better choice.
    Find out more about when a personal loan or credit card makes sense

    What makes a personal loan competitive?

    There are a few key features you’ll want to consider when comparing loans. To find the best deal, ask yourself these questions:

    • Do I qualify for this loan? Don’t waste time researching a loan if you don’t meet the requirements.
    • Does it match my needs? Will you be able to take out the exact amount you need and afford to pay it back in a reasonable amount of time? If not, you might want to look elsewhere.
    • Does it have a competitive interest rate? Look at the rate itself, but also consider whether it’s fixed or variable — variable interest rates are subject to change.
    • What are the fees? Most lender will charge application, origination, prepayment or late fees.
    • How long will I have to pay it back? Aim for a loan term that gives you payments you can afford without being too long. Otherwise, you could wind up paying a lot in interest in the long run.

    5 essential tips to get the best rate on a loan

    I want a personal loan — where should I look?

    • Direct lenders
      These lenders offer straightforward application processes so you can conveniently borrow money online. If approved, your loan amount will be deposited into your bank account. Compare direct lenders above.
    • Lender matching services
      Brokers can pair you with a lender that suits your needs. After you fill out a preliminary application with the broker, you’ll be matched with a lender who offers the loan type you’re looking for in the amount you need. The lender must still make a decision on your application before you receive your funds.
    • Banks and credit unions
      If familiarity is important to you, you can consider getting a loan through the credit union or bank you already have a relationship with. The application process may be expedited if you have an existing account with the institution. Keep in mind that banks and credit unions tend to have stricter eligibility criteria than other lenders.
    • Peer-to-peer lenders
      Relatively new to the financial market, peer-to-peer lenders operate as marketplaces that bring investors and borrowers together. They essentially facilitate the loan process between individuals rather than offering the loans themselves.

    How much do personal loans cost?

    Two main factors contribute your loan’s cost: Interest rates and fees.

    • Interest rate. This is what the lender charges you to borrow money and is usually a percentage of the loan amount.
    • Fees. There are a few fees that can add to the cost of your loan. It’s common to see origination fees up to 5% of the loan amount. Watch out for prepayment penalties if you plan to pay your loan off early. Lenders may also charge for late or missed payments and unsuccessful or failed payments.

    Your combined interest and fees is known as an annual percentage rate (APR). Your APR can give you an idea of how much your loan is going to cost. Typical personal loan APRs can range from 5% to 20% APR, but can be higher for those with bad credit.

    Find out more about low-interest loans

    How can I get a lower rate on my personal loan?

    Watch the 2-minute video above or read the tips below.

    • Compare your options.
      If you have a long banking history with a current bank or credit union, one option is to consider borrowing from that financial institution. However, online lenders offer a wide variety of loan types that may fit your needs better than what your bank offers.
    • Find out your credit score and review your credit report.
      You’ll generally need a score in the “good” range — 680 and above — to secure a decent rate. Your credit score and credit report are two different things. The latter is a detailed record of your credit history. Learn how to get a copy of your credit report and be sure to check for errors. Correcting incorrect listings, such as unpaid accounts that were actually paid, can help improve your credit score and help you get a better APR on a loan.
    • Check rates, but don’t apply yet.
      Loan applications may appear as inquiries on your credit report. Be sure to review the eligibility criteria to see if you may qualify. When comparing your options, you can also ask if the lender can give you a pre-approval before submitting your actual loan application. Asking questions before you fill out an application can help narrow down your options.
    • Pay down your debt.
      Having a lower debt-to-income ratio can improve the rates and repayment terms you’re ultimately offered. Aim to keep it under 20%.
    • Only apply for the loan amount you need.
      The amount you apply for has a direct influence on the rate you’re offered, so only ask for as much as you need.

    Am I eligible for a personal loan?

    Lenders take on risk when they lend large amounts of money to borrowers. That’s why they require applicants to meet certain eligibility criteria. Here are some common qualifications lenders look for:

    • Good to excellent credit. Most lenders rely on credit scores when choosing borrowers to approve and even calculating specific loan terms. If you have poor or no credit, check out our guide on bad credit loans to see your options.
    • Employment. Most lenders will require you to be steadily employed. Some lenders have minimum income requirements as well.
    • US citizen or permanent resident. If you’re a US citizen or permanent resident, you’re able to apply for personal loans. Temporary residents are only eligible to apply with certain lenders and may need to build up a credit history. They may also need a US citizen to cosign the loan. You may be able to get one as a non-US resident if you have full-time employment and a US Social Security number.
    • 18 or older. Since the age of majority varies by state, the minimum age for lenders varies as well and is usually between 18 and 21.

    Personal loan application checklist

    The application process differs between lenders, but they’ll generally ask for the following:

    • Proof of your identity, like a government-issued ID, US passport or military ID
    • Your Social Security number and date of birth
    • Pay stubs, tax returns and other income details
    • Banking details for disbursing your funds and elective automatic repayments

    How to apply for a personal loan step by step

    Step 1: Determine how much you need to borrow

    The first thing you’ll need to do once you decide to apply for a loan is determine exactly how much money you’ll need. Borrowing too little or too much could leave you either unable to cover your costs or with extra money you’ll be repaying with interest.

    Step 2: Choose a loan type

    There are quite a few loan types available. Are you looking for a secured or unsecured loan? Do you want a fixed or variable interest rate? These are just a couple of questions to consider when choosing your loan type.

    Step 3: Shop around

    The first lender you come across may not have the best deal. Shop around and make sure to compare things like APR, fees, turnaround time, and term of the loan. You can check out our comparison table to compare these features. Be sure to read the requirements as well to make sure you qualify.

    Step 4: Apply

    Applying for a personal loan is typically a quick and straightforward process that goes something like this:

    • Personal details. Gather the necessary information such as proof of identity (passport, driver’s license, or ID), proof of address (utility bills or lease), and proof of income (W-2s, pay stubs or bank statements).
    • Loan application. This is where you request a certain loan amount, specify what you want the loan for and choose your terms. Many banks and lenders have applications online, so you avoid the hassle of having to go to a branch and fill out paperwork.
    • Loan agreement. If you’re approved, sign the loan documentation and agree to all the terms. With most lenders you’ll have a certain amount of time to rescind the agreement, should you change your mind.

    Check out our guide to applying for personal loans

    Step 5: Receive the funds

    Many lenders require that you have a checking account to receive your money via direct deposit, but that’s not always the only option. Some lenders may be able to send you a check in the mail.

    Step 6: Spend the money

    If you take out a loan for something specific, such as a new car purchase or debt consolidation, the lender may send the funds directly to the company you owe. If you take out a general personal loan, the funds will go to you to use for the purpose specified in your application.

    Step 7: Make payments on time.

    It’s important to make your payments on time so you don’t end up paying extra in fees. Be sure to verify how you will be required to make payments. Can you pay by phone with a credit card or account number? Is there an automatic payment option?

    Back to top

    Managing payments with a debt consolidation loan

    Already have a lot of loans? You may want to streamline your bills with a debt consolidation loan. This financial tool is designed to gather multiple debts into one place, often under one fixed rate.

    Look for a debt consolidation loan with a lower interest rate than what you’re already paying — that way you can also save on interest.

    How can debt consolidation help me save and manage my finances?

    How can I grow my business with a small business loan?

    It may sound counterintuitive, but sometimes taking on debt can actually strengthen your financial future. This is especially true when you’re looking to start up a new business, expand a current one or even fill in funding gaps while waiting for payment.

    Business loan options vary by lender but could include:

    • Traditional term business loans. National Business Capital, OnDeck and other online lenders offer more flexible loans to cover just about any business need.
    • Asset-based secured loans. Lenders like Biz2Credit can provide loans against your inventory or equipment to offer you funding you may not have otherwise been eligible for.
    • Peer-to-peer business loans. You can get funding from individual investors on online marketplaces like Bitbond and Able Lending to leverage the support of a network of people.

    As with any loan, you’ll want to carefully compare the fees, terms and eligibility of the business loan you’re interested in.

    Frequently asked questions about personal loans

    You can typically borrow between $1,000 and $50,000. Some lenders offer loans up to $100,000.
    Yes, although your options will be limited. You can consider a bad credit lender, a credit builder loan, a payday loan or any other alternative lender that looks beyond your credit score.
    What’s considered the best personal loan depends on your borrowing needs and what you can qualify for. You may want to compare things like interest rates, loan amount and how legit the lender is. Read our “best personal loans page” to learn how to find the best personal loan for you.
    Some lenders can approve your application by the next business day if you apply by a certain cut-off time. If additional verification is required or if you need to take documents to a branch location, this may delay the process a few days. You can usually find out the turnaround time from the lender before you apply.
    The interest rate is what the lender charges for lending you the money. The APR is more representative of the true cost of the loan as it includes all fees that come with the loan as well as the interest rate.
    You’ll likely be able to pay off your loan early. You may, however, be charged prepayment penalties depending on the lender.
    There’s no technical definition for this but prime borrowers are typically thought to have credit scores above 720, have no delinquencies on their credit report and have a minimum six-year credit history.
    As with any personal finance decision, the ability to repay what you borrow is crucial. However, if you’re receiving government benefits, you may still qualify for a short-term loan on welfare.
    Interest rates vary by lender, but can be as low as under 3% and as much as 36%. Generally, the higher your credit score, the lower your interest rate on a personal loan.
    Personal loans themselves aren’t bad for your credit. As long as you make regular payments and pay within the terms of the loan, a personal loan can actually improve your credit score to prove you can handle your debt responsibly.
    Most lenders offer loans from one to seven years.
    When you borrow money, you might end up with more than you actually need. Or a last minute, emergency expense might arise. Are you allowed to do whatever you want with the money as long as you repay it on time? This all depends on the type of loan you apply for. Some loans, such as home and student loans, come with restrictions and are virtually impossible to spend on something other than what they’re meant for. Auto lenders are typically more lenient but considering there will be a lien on your vehicle until the loan is repaid, it makes it more difficult to repurpose the funds. Some people will even take out loans without any plans of using the money the way they were intended to. In a process known as a “spread”, borrowers will invest money with the hopes of earning more than they have to pay in interest.
    While there’s technically no law against it, if you default, your lender could still choose to take legal action should they find out that you’ve used the money for something other than what you agreed to. This would be on the grounds that you falsified information on your application.

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    4 Responses

    1. Default Gravatar
      KortneyOctober 17, 2017

      Can I use my car title as collateral. For a short term loan

      • Staff
        GruOctober 17, 2017Staff

        Hello Kortney,

        Thank you for your interest in applying for a short term loan.

        Yes, you may use your car title as collateral.
        You may read more on the types of collateral used for loans here.

        Hope this helps.


    2. Default Gravatar
      DeannaFebruary 14, 2017

      Is there any possible way of getting a personal loan if you are expecting payment from back pay from SSI and can prove the amount going to you from SSI

      • Staff
        AdrienneFebruary 15, 2017Staff

        Hi Deanna,

        It may be dependent on each individual lender and their requirements. Your best bet is to compare your options and find a lender you’d like to apply with, and then give them a call to make sure this is possible.