Reach your next goal
with a personal loan

When you’re ready to plan that big wedding, buy a new set of wheels or simplify your existing debt, a personal loan could help you reach your goals. Understanding exactly how personal loans work is 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 your choices. 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 December 11th, 2017

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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.
    680
    $45,000
    From 5.5% (fixed)
    Must be a US citizen or permanent resident with a valid I-551 card. Best for people w/ 680+ credit scores and $60,000+ annual income.
    Even Financial Personal Loans
    Get connected to competitive loan offers instantly from top online consumer lenders.
    580
    $100,000
    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.
    LendingClub Personal Loan
    A peer-to-peer lender offering fair rates based on your credit score.
    660
    $40,000
    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.
    Prosper Personal Loan
    Borrow only what you need for debt consolidation, home improvements, special occasions and more — with APRs based on your credit score.
    640
    $35,000
    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
    $100,000
    From 5.49% (fixed)
    You must be a US 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.
    600
    $25,000
    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.
    550
    $10,000
    From 34%% (fixed)
    Varies depending on your state of residence.

    Compare up to 4 providers

    How top online personal loan lenders stack up

    Max Loan AmountAPRs 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’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 determines your loan amount, interest rate and fees based on factors like your credit score.

    What can I use a personal loan for?

    A better question is: 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 term loans. Some lenders offer general purpose loans to cover large personal expenses. These can either be secured by collateral or unsecured. Secured loans tend to have lower interest rates than unsecured loans, even if they’re more of a risk.
    • Personal lines of credit. Get access to a revolving amount of funds — similar to a credit card but with a higher limit and typically lower expenses. Great for funding continuous projects that might come with unexpected expenses. These can also be secured or unsecured.
    • 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.
    • Business loans. You can borrow funds to grow your small business or get advances on your unpaid invoices.

    Can't I just use my credit card?

    You could, but it might cost a lot more if you need to cover a large one-time 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. That’s because personal loans can sometimes take weeks to go through.
    Find out when a personal loan or a credit card makes more sense

    Growing a 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 expand your business, have seasonal sales or 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.

    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.

    I want a personal loan — where should I look?

    • Direct online lenders. These lenders offer straightforward application processes so you can conveniently borrow money online. If approved, your loan amount is 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 facilitate the loan process between individuals rather than offering the loans themselves.

    Getting a personal loan from a bank

    Getting a personal loan from a bank may seem like an obvious choice. If your bank offers them, it might not be a bad idea to look into your borrowing options — they sometimes offer discounts to people that already have an account. However, bank loans typically have stricter eligibility requirements, have a longer turnover time and are sometimes even more expensive than other options.

    Banks also have a reputation of being more reliable, but that’s not always the case — customer service at banks is sometimes actually worse than non-traditional lendersWhat you need to know about personal bank loans

    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. Your loan can come with either variable or fixed interest rates. Variable interest rates are typically lower but can increase over the life of your loan. Fixed interest rates might start off higher but stay the same.
    • 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 annual percentage rate (APR) is an expression of your interest rate and fees as a percentage. Your APR can give you an idea of how much your loan is going to cost. APR doesn’t include late fees, nonsufficient funds fees (NSF) or prepayment penalties.

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    Personal loan rates by credit score

    Personal loan APRs typically range from 5% all the way up to 36%, which is the legal limit for personal loan APRs in most states. Rates can sometimes go lower, but it’s uncommon. In fact, most people don’t get the lowest advertised rate on a personal loan, even if they have excellent credit. Here’s what rate you might expect based on your credit score.

    Credit typeScore rangeYou might get an APR around..
    Excellent800 or higher9%
    Very good740–79911%
    Good670–73915%
    Fair580–66928%
    Poor579 and underNot likely to get approved

    So who gets the highest rate? People with long and impeccable credit histories, high salaries and almost no debt. Sometimes even those people can’t qualify for the lowest rates unless they apply to borrow over a certain limit.

    Find out more about getting a low-interest loan

    5 tips for getting the best rate on a loan

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

    • Compare your options. If you have a long history with a bank or credit union, you might want to consider borrowing from that financial institution to take advantage of member perks. 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 (DTI) is sometimes just as important as having good credit: It can improve the rates and repayment terms you’re ultimately offered. Aim to keep your DTI 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.

    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.
    • Can I borrow the amount I need? 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, late or NSF fees.
    • How long will I have to pay it back? Aim for a loan term that gives you monthly repayments you can afford without being too long. Otherwise, you could wind up paying a lot in interest in the long run.

    What lenders look for in a personal loan applicant

    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.
    • Low debt-to-income ratio. You can calculate your DTI by dividing your monthly debt payments by your monthly income. Lenders can rely on this number as much as your credit score and normally don’t accept anyone with a DTI above 43%. A good DTI is anything below 36%, though as we mention before, under 20% is ideal.
    • Employment. Most lenders require you to be steadily employed. Some lenders have minimum income requirements as well that can include wages, alimony, pensions or any other form of funds coming in on a regular basis.
    • 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: Figure out how much you need to borrow

    The first thing you need to do once you decide to apply for a loan is determine exactly how much money you want to borrow. Borrowing too little or too much could leave you either unable to cover your costs or with extra money that increases how much you pay in interest.

    Step 2: Choose a loan type

    There are quite a few loan types available, which you can review above. But beyond that, ask yourself what you’re looking for within your loan type. Do you want a secured or unsecured loan? Do you want a fixed or variable interest rate?

    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 table of loan providers to compare these features. Be sure to read the requirements as well to make sure you qualify before submitting an application.

    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 your 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 your 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

    Paying off a personal loan

    So you’ve been approved and the money is in your bank account. You’re done, right? Not quite. Now you have to pay it back.

    Set up autopay

    Many lenders — especially online lenders — require you to set up autopay with your bank account. Others might give a discount on interest if you set it up.

    Autopay is a great way for you to make sure you don’t miss any payments, but don’t think you can just forget about your loan. If your account doesn’t have enough money to cover your payment, you could be slapped with an NSF fee.

    Stay in touch

    In fact, it’s a good idea to stay in touch with your lender, especially if you run into any trouble making repayments. Many lenders are willing to renegotiate your loan if you have an unexpected financial problem. You won’t know until you ask. The fastest way to get in touch is usually by phone. Some lenders also have a live chat option, but those are generally better for finding basic information.

    Paying it off early

    Most personal loans have interest that accumulates during your loan term, but some require you to pay most of your interest in the first few months. With the first type of loan, check if your lender do prepayment fees. If not, you can save on interest by paying off your loan early.

    Paying off your loan early has other benefits: It can get you out of debt faster and improve your debt-to-income ratio

    If you’re considering prepaying your entire loan, look for your payoff amount — not your balance. Your payoff amount includes interest and fees and you can typically find it on your online account. Don’t have an online account? Call your lender.

    5 easy tips for paying off your loan early

    1. Make half of your monthly repayment amount every two weeks. That is, not twice a month. It’ll feel like you’re paying roughly the same amount but you can save on interest and shave a few months off of your loan term.
    2. Round up your repayments. Rounding up your payments to the nearest $50 is ideal, but even the nearest $20 could help you repay your loan months — or even years early.
    3. Make one large payment during your loan term. Making one large payment toward your loan’s principle can help you save a lot on interest during the course of your loan.
    4. Don’t skip payments. Not only will you likely have to pay a late penalty, your interest will continue to accumulate at a faster rate.
    5. Refinance. If your credit score has improved over the course of your loan term — or you experienced other positive changes in your financial situation — you might be able to qualify for another loan with more favorable terms, which you can use to repay your original loan. Lower interest almost always means savings when the term length stays the same — or gets shorter.

    Read about repaying your loan early

    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?

    Personal loans glossary

    Definitions

    A to C

    Accrued interest. Interest that’s accumulated on a loan since it was issued but has not been paid yet.

    Adjustable rate. Also, variable rate. An interest rate that’s subject to change.

    Amortization. A loan that has regular, scheduled repayments that go toward paying both the loan’s interest and principal.

    Annual percentage rate (APR). An expression of a loan’s interest rates and fees as a percentage.

    Appreciation. An increase in an asset’s value (such as a car or home).

    Balloon payment. A large payment at the end of a loan, common on short-term loans with interest-only repayments.

    Broker. A third party that acts as an intermediary between lenders and borrowers for a fee.

    5 Cs of credit. An easy way to remember what lenders look at when determining your creditworthiness. The five Cs are: Character, capacity, conditions, capital and collateral.

    Capitalized interest. Interest that’s added to your loan’s principal instead of being treated separately.

    Closing. Also, settlement. The final step in taking out a loan, when the loan agreement is signed and the funds are dispersed.

    Cosigner. Someone who also signs your loans and holds responsibility to repay it if you default.

    Compound interest. Interest that is periodically added to a loan based on your accumulated interest and principal.

    Consumer reporting agency. Also, credit bureau. An agency that gathers information from your creditors to compile your credit report and credit score.

    Creditworthiness. How a lender values your likeliness to be able to repay a loan. Your credit score is typically used as the best expression of your creditworthiness, though your income, debts, age, employment status also play a large role.

    D to N

    Debt-to-income ratio. Your gross monthly income divided by your gross monthly debt payments.

    Default. A failure to repay debts, which can result in the seizure of collateral or lawsuits.

    Deferred payment. An arrangement in which a borrower doesn’t have to start making payments on a loan until a certain agreed-upon time (common with student loans).

    Depreciation. A decrease in an asset’s value (such as a car or a home).

    Down payment. An initial payment you make upfront when purchasing an expensive item. A loan is used to cover the rest of its cost.

    Equity. The difference between the value of an asset (like a car or home) and the balance of a loan used to pay for that asset.

    Escrow account. A third-party account that holds money before two parties go through with a transaction. Common with debt settlement companies.

    Fixed-rate loan. A loan with an interest rate that stays the same throughout its life.

    Grace period. The amount of time a borrower has to make a payment before the lender charges a late fee.

    Guaranteed loan. A loan where a third party agrees to assume at least part of the debt if the borrower defaults.

    Interest. The amount a lender charges for letting someone borrow its assets, typically expressed as a percentage.
    Loan agreement. The contract that a borrower signs agreeing to the lender’s terms and conditions.

    Minimum and maximum loan amount. The largest and smallest amount of money a lender is willing to let someone borrow.

    Negative amortization. When the loan payment doesn’t cover the accrued principal for that period, which is added to a loan balance.

    P to Z

    Prepayment. Paying more than your monthly payment on a loan,

    Prime rate. The interest rate that lenders give to their most creditworthy customers, generally based on the Federal Reserve or Wall Street Journal’s prime rate.

    Principal. Your loan balance, not including interest.

    Purchase option. The option to buy a leased car or home, typically for a balloon payment.

    Refinance. Taking out another loan with more favorable terms to pay off a debt.
    Revolving debt. Open-ended access to a certain amount of funds that you pay off as your borrow, (like a credit card).

    Secured loan. A loan that is backed by collateral.

    Simple interest. Interest that’s calculated based on your loan’s balance, not balance and accumulated interest.

    Subprime. Credit for borrowers with bad or poor credit, typically with higher interest rates.

    Term. The amount of time a borrower has to repay a loan.

    Title. A document that proves ownership of an asset (like a car or home).

    Unsecured loan. A loan that is not backed by collateral.

    Upside-down loan. When you owe more money on an asset that it’s actually worth.

    Variable rate. Also adjustable rate. An interest rate that’s subject to change over the loan’s life.


    Frequently asked questions about personal loans

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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

      • Default Gravatar
        GruOctober 17, 2017

        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.

        Cheers,
        Gru

    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.

        Best,

        Adrienne