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.
Prosper Personal Loan

Prosper Personal Loans

You could borrow up to $35,000 for a variety of purposes, with rates starting from 5.99%.

  • Recommended Credit Score: 640 or higher
  • Minimum Loan Amount: $2,000
  • Maximum Loan Amount: $35,000
  • Loan Term: 3 or 5 years
  • Turnaround Time: 1-3 business days
  • Simple online application process
  • No prepayment penalties

    Compare personal loans

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

    Rates last updated August 23rd, 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
    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.
    Lending Club 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.
    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.
    Check your rate — without affecting your credit score — before applying for this unsecured personal loan.
    From 9.95% (fixed)
    You must have good to excellent credit, provide proof of a steady income and be a US resident who is at least 18 years old (19 years old in Alabama).
    Payoff Personal Loans
    Pay down your debt with a fixed APR and one monthly payment.
    From 8 to 25% (fixed)
    You must have a FICO score of 660 or higher, at least 3 years of credit history and a debt-to-income ratio of no more than 50%. You must live in a state where Payoff offers loans; check availability.
    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.
    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
    OneMain Financial Personal Loans
    Get a personal or auto loan with a quick and easy application and dedicated customer support.
    From 12.99% (fixed)
    Eligibility for a loan is determined by your financial history, credit history, income and expenses, and whether or not you have ever filed for bankruptcy.
    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.

    Compare up to 4 providers

    What is a personal loan?

    A personal loan is money you borrow from a lender that is paid back over a set period of time — usually between one to seven years. When you take out a personal loan, you’ll be charged interest or a monthly fee. How much you’re charged on top of the loan amount may depend on your credit score, among other factors.

    I want to…

    How top online personal loan lenders stack up

    Max Loan AmountAPR’s as low as…What makes them unique?
    Prosper$35,0005.99%Prosper offers a transparent loan application process with no hidden fees.
    Lending Club$40,0005.99%Lending Club provides loans for a wide variety of purposes, including auto refinancing and business.
    SoFi$100,0005.49%SoFi borrowers can receive support 7 days a week from dedicated customer service.
    Upstart$50,0007.16%Upstart considers other factors, such as your level of education and job history, so you can present a holistic application.

    What types of loans are available?

    5 essential tips to get the best rate on a loan

    Managing payments with a debt consolidation loan

    It can be hard enough to manage debt without having to keep track of multiple creditors. One way to streamline your bills is with a debt consolidation loan.

    This financial tool is designed to gather multiple debts — all unsecured debt, like credit cards, payday loans and hospital bills — into one place, often under one fixed rate. With rates that start at around 7%, these personal loans could save you significant interest in the long run. If you’re currently paying 12% APR on $10,000 in credit card debt, that’s $500 toward more quickly paying down your debt.

    You’ll also gain peace of mind knowing that you’ve gone from paying multiple bills to just one: your personal loan lender. Of course, you’ll need to find a loan with a lower interest rate than the debt you’re looking to consolidate. And you’ll want to avoid incurring additional debt — especially on cards you’re attempting to pay off — until you’re back in the clear.

    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. A business loan could provide access to the funds you need to make your next step.

    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.

    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 banking 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 to compare personal loans

    Here are some common features to compare when considering lenders:

    • Your eligibility. This should be the most important factor to consider. What’s the minimum criteria set by the lender – credit score, age, income, employment – and do you meet it?
    • The rate. Various factors affect your APR: your credit score, the amount you want to borrow, the loan term, the type of loan and the financial institution.
    • The costs. Look beyond the interest rate to the fees of the loan such as origination and prepayment fees.
    • Loan purpose. Does the lender offer the loan for what you need? Most lenders offer specific loans for a variety of needs, such as home improvement or debt consolidation.

    What can I use a personal loan for?

    You can use a personal loan for a variety of purposes. A more fitting question is: What can’t you use a persona loan for? Check out our guides below to see how you can use a personal loan 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 logoLending club 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

    How much do personal loans cost?

    The cost of your loan is influenced by fees and interest rates:

    • Interest rate. This is what the lender charges you to borrow money and is usually a percentage of the loan amount. Learn more about low interest rate loans.
    • 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.
    • Annual percentage rate (APR). This will give you an idea of the true cost of the loan expressed as an annual rate. It encompasses the interest charged on the balance of the loan, as well as any fees you might have to pay. Typical personal loan APR’s can range from 5% to 20% APR, but can be higher for those with bad credit.

    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 that financial institution for your personal loan. 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 on a personal loan. 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 (DTI) ratio 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.

    Am I eligible for a personal loan?

    Personal loans can be a convenient and affordable way to reach your financial goals and make large purchases. Because lenders are taking on a risk when they lend large amounts of money to borrowers, they require applicants to meet certain eligibility criteria in order to be approved. Here are some common criteria lenders tend to 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 a personal loan 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 you’ll generally need the following to complete a personal loan application:

    • 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 needs borrowed

    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.

    View our page on how to apply for a personal loan to see pictures of the process.

    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 personal loan with no restrictions on what you can purchase, you are free to spend the funds on whatever you’d like.

    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

    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.
    Depending on the loan you hold you may be charged prepayment penalties.
    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 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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    2 Responses

    1. 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.