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7 best personal loans for March 2023

Save on discounts, interest and fees with our editors’ picks.

A personal loan is money that you borrow to cover a large, one-time expense and repay with interest in monthly installments. It can be an inexpensive way to finance a big project like a home improvement or consolidate high-cost debt — at least compared to credit cards. But in a time of rising interest rates, getting the lowest rate and no fees requires near-perfect credit.

While rates typically range from 4% to 36%, the average personal loan interest rate is now 11.23%, according to the Federal Reserve, up from 9.09% in 2021. And while the best personal loans don’t charge fees, a no-fee personal loan is more difficult to come by than it was a year ago. The lenders in this list offer some of the most competitive rates and terms available today, with options for all credit types.

Best overall: LightStream

LightStream personal loans

Finder Rating: 4.83 / 5 ★★★★★

LightStream offers some of the lowest rates out there, with no fees. Its Rate Beat program promises a rate .10% below any competitor's unsecured loan rate if you're approved for that lower rate. It also has a generous 0.5% autopay discount and offers a $100 satisfaction guarantee. But you may struggle to qualify if you don't have good credit. You also can't check your rate without affecting your credit.

Best for young professionals: SoFi

SoFi personal loans

Finder Rating: 4.45 / 5 ★★★★★

This online lender offers low interest rates and loans up to $100,000 as soon as the same day you're approved. On top of this, SoFi borrowers can access perks like free financial planning and career coaching. This makes it great for young professionals that also want help establishing their career and building wealth. But SoFi doesn't disburse money to creditors if you want to consolidate debt. You also can't borrow more than $5,000.
  • Available in all states

Best for debt consolidation: Discover

Discover personal loans

Finder Rating: 4 / 5 ★★★★★

This online lender will send at least 70% of your loan directly to your creditors, making it easy to pay off high-interest debts. It also doesn't charge origination fees and can disburse your loan as soon as the next business day. But the maximum loan amount is low compared to other lenders on our list. And Discover charges a high late fee of $39 as soon as you miss a payment. Most lenders have a 15-day grace period.
  • Available in all states

Best for fair credit: Upstart

Upstart personal loans

Finder Rating: 4.15 / 5 ★★★★★

Upstart has a high maximum interest rate, but you can qualify with a credit score of just 300. Upstart uses more than just your credit to make a decision — your employment history and education also play a role in its underwriting process. Plus, if you don't have enough credit history for a high FICO score, Upstart will still consider you. However, Upstart's application asks for more information that you might otherwise give a lender – including your SAT score, in some cases. And while there is technically no credit score minimum, most Upstart borrowers have a score in the high 600s.
  • Not available in: West Virginia

Best for bad credit: OneMain Financial

OneMain Financial personal loans

Finder Rating: 3.4 / 5 ★★★★★

OneMain Financial's interest rates start higher than some of its competitors. But it's not a bad deal for borrowers with poor credit. This lender is one of the few lenders that doesn't require a minimum credit score. And it allows you to secure your loan with collateral for a lower interest rate. But it's still expensive. If it's not an emergency, consider taking steps to improve your credit to help you get a lower rate.
  • Not available in: Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont
* OneMain Disclosures:
Example Loan: A $6,000 loan with a 24.99% APR that is repayable in 60 monthly installments would have monthly payments of $176.07.

Not all applicants will qualify for larger loan amounts or most favorable loan terms. Loan approval and actual loan terms depend on your ability to meet our credit standards (including a responsible credit history, sufficient income after monthly expenses, and availability of collateral). Larger loan amounts require a first lien on a motor vehicle no more than ten years old, that meets our value requirements, titled in your name with valid insurance. Maximum annual percentage rate (APR) is 35.99%, subject to state restrictions. APRs are generally higher on loans not secured by a vehicle. Depending on the state where you open your loan, the origination fee may be either a flat amount or a percentage of your loan amount. Flat fee amounts vary by state, ranging from $25 to $400. Percentage-based fees vary by state ranging from 1% to 10% of your loan amount subject to certain state limits on the fee amount. Active duty military, their spouse or dependents covered under the Military Lending Act may not pledge any vehicle as collateral for a loan. OneMain loan proceeds cannot be used for postsecondary educational expenses as defined by the CFPB’s Regulation Z, such as college, university or vocational expenses; for any business or commercial purpose; to purchase securities; or for gambling or illegal purposes.

Borrowers in these states are subject to these minimum loan sizes: Alabama: $2,100. California: $3,000. Georgia: Unless you are a present customer, $3,100 minimum loan amount. Ohio: $2,000. Virginia: $2,600.

Borrowers (other than present customers) in these states are subject to these maximum unsecured loan sizes: Iowa: $8,500. Maine: $7,000. Mississippi: $7,500. North Carolina: $7,500. New York: $20,000. West Virginia: $14,000. An unsecured loan is a loan which does not require you to provide collateral (such as a motor vehicle) to the lender.

Best for comparing lenders: Monevo

Monevo personal loans

Finder Rating: 4.4 / 5 ★★★★★

Monevo is an online marketplace that can help you find a personal loan if you don't know where to start. Compare personalized offers from its partners by filling out a quick online form. Its partners offer low interest rates, with options for all credit scores. But by using its service, you're agreeing to share your information with its partner lenders. And many people complain about a high volume of phone calls and emails from lenders after using similar services.
  • Available in all states

Best credit union loan: PenFed Credit Union

PenFed Credit Union personal loans

Finder Rating: 3.6 / 5 ★★★★★

PenFed Credit Union accepts borrowers with credit scores as low as 650and, like all federal credit unions, caps interest rates at 18%. You can also borrow as little as $600. But its maximum loan amount also runs low compared to other providers on our list. And it can take a couple of weeks to receive your funds — which it disburses by check.
  • Available in all states

Methodology: How we choose the best providers

Finder’s lending experts review more than 120 lenders against 16 key metrics to narrow down the best personal loans:

  • Minimum APR
  • Maximum APR
  • Origination fees
  • Minimum loan amount
  • Maximum loan amount
  • Minimum loan term
  • Maximum loan term
  • Number of states served
  • Minimum credit score
  • Joint application availability
  • Turnaround time
  • Online application availability
  • Prequalification process
  • BBB ratings
  • Trustpilot ratings
  • Other features, such as rate discounts

We weight the lender’s minimum and maximum APR to focus on the best low-interest personal loans. And we regularly review our top selections as lenders enter and leave the market.

Honorable mentions

The following lenders could be a good option but didn’t quite measure up to our picks for the best in category.

Runner-up for fair credit: Upgrade

  • Why it didn’t make the cut: Upgrade charges a 1.85% to 8.99% origination fee, which is high — especially for a lender that doesn’t work with bad credit.

Upgrade specializes in fast fair-credit personal loans as an alternative to what you’d find at a bank. But it charges high origination fees compared to Upstart, which it deducts from your funds before you receive it. Borrowers who meet its 620 credit score minimum may be able to find better options elsewhere.

Runner-up for fair credit: Prosper

  • Why it didn’t make the cut: This fair-credit lender charges slightly higher rates than Upstart and more heavily relies on credit scores.

While there’s a chance you won’t pay an origination fee at Prosper, this lender charges slightly higher APRs than Upstart — from 6.99% to 35.99%. Upstart’s unique credit rating system also makes it easier to qualify for a good rate even when your credit history is thin. So while Prosper might accept credit scores as low as 600, Upstart may offer a better deal to fair-credit borrowers.

Runner-up for debt consolidation: Happy Money

  • Why it didn’t make the cut: Happy Money’s rates run slightly higher than Discover, and it offers credit card consolidation only.

Happy Money (formerly Payoff) offers a niche product for credit card consolidation. But rates start at a high 8.99% APR, and origination fees are as high as 5% — meaning you might not be able to save as much as with other lenders. The fact that it doesn’t consolidate other types of debt makes it more limited than our debt consolidation winner, Discover.

How to compare personal loans

Keep in mind these top factors to find the best personal loan for your budget and needs:

  • Review the requirements, especially the minimum credit score, to help you avoid lenders that you are ineligible for.
  • Look at the APR to quickly compare costs. This number represents the interest and fees you’ll pay over one year.
  • Consider origination fees to weigh the upfront cost of the loan. Lenders typically deduct this from the funds before you receive them or add it to your balance.
  • Rule out lenders that don’t offer the loan amount you’re looking for to avoid overborrowing.
  • Look for a repayment term that offers affordable monthly payments. Use our personal loan calculator to see how the term affects your payments.
  • Assess the lender’s reputation by reading vetted customer reviews on sites like the Better Business Bureau and Trustpilot.

Also consider how the application process meets your needs by looking at factors like the turnaround time and whether you can apply online. When you’ve narrowed down your choices, prequalify with your top picks to compare personalized offers — if those lenders offer prequalify.

When to get a personal loan

Ideally, a personal loan should help you save money or even increase your wealth. The most common way to use a personal loan is to consolidate debt or invest in a home improvement.

Debt consolidation involves taking out a loan to pay off one or more credit accounts. The average credit card rate is 19.07%, according to the Federal Reserve, about 8 percentage points higher than your average personal loan. That means you can likely save on interest and get out of debt more quickly simply by using a personal loan to pay down your accounts.

The low, fixed rates of a personal loan make it great for small home improvements that can increase your home’s equity by increasing its value, such as renovating a bathroom.

When to avoid a personal loan

A personal loan can be a lifesaver to help cover a medical or emergency expense, but it might not be the best choice in a pinch.

Personal loan monthly payments are the same every month, which can strain your budget if your income changes. Payment flexibility can be important: 54% of Americans are stressed about personal loan payments, according to Finder’s Consumer Confidence Index, while only 45% worry about credit card debt.

How to get a lower rate on your personal loan

You may be able to combine these tactics to ensure a low interest rate on a personal loan.

Increase your credit score

Check your credit score online to understand your credit score range and get an estimate of the number your lender will see.

Knowing your credit score can help you understand the types of rates you’re eligible for. Most personal loans require a FICO score of 670 or higher. If your FICO score is below 670, consider taking steps to improve your credit first, such as paying your bills on time, paying down your debt and correcting any inaccuracies on your credit report.

Consider an alternative lender

Not all lenders rely on your FICO score alone to determine your creditworthiness. More lenders than ever are using algorithms to assess the creditworthiness of borrowers.

Some, like Upstart, have found their own algorithms are more accurate at predicting your likelihood of defaulting on a loan. Using these algorithms allow lenders to specialize in a specific type of borrower — in Upstart’s case, young professionals who haven’t had the chance to build a strong credit history.

You still need strong personal finances to qualify with these lenders, but these alternative credit scoring methods offer more ways to highlight financial strengths like a consistent savings habit.

Apply for a shorter term

Lenders tend to offer lower interest rates to short-term loans. For example, SoFi offers the lowest personal loan rates on two-year loans, while rates for their seven-year loans can be more than 5% higher.

The gap is tighter at LightStream, where seven-year loan rates are almost 4% higher than their two-year loans.

Apply with a federal credit union

The National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) bars federal credit unions from charging more than 18% in interest. This maximum rate is regularly updated by the NCUA board, which could extend the cap or increase it on September 10, 2024.

But even if the rate increases a percentage point or two, it’s still lower than the average rates of many other lenders. For example, the average interest rate on Upstart personal loans is 26.57%, even though it offers rates as low as 6.7% APR.

Stick with your bank

Your bank might offer a relationship discount on your interest rate if you have a current checking or savings account. Banks can offer discounts as high as 0.5%, and using your own bank may also help you get your loan funds faster.

Sign up for autopay

Some lenders offer a 0.25% rate discount if you sign up to have payments automatically debited from your account. And this rate can be on top of your other relationship discounts if you use autopay for a loan from your current bank.

Look for low-rate guarantees

Lenders like LightStream don’t just offer competitive rates, but also guarantee to beat other lenders if your offer meets specific requirements.

Shop around

Don’t just go with the first loan offer you find. Comparing lenders can sometimes lead you to an even better deal.

Prequalify to compare personalized rates

Prequalifying for a loan gives you the opportunity to see what kind of loan you can qualify for based on some basic financial and credit information. Because it usually involves a soft credit check, it doesn’t affect your credit score — unlike an application. There’s no guarantee you’ll get the rates and terms quoted, but prequalifying can give you an idea of the kind of offer you might receive.

If you decide to pursue the personalized offer after prequalification, the lender moves forward with a hard credit pull and asks you to provide more documents for loan approval.

To see the rates you may qualify for without going through the prequalification process, most lenders offer calculators that allow you to enter your own financial details. But the results you get won’t be as accurate and they definitely aren’t binding.

Where to get a low-interest personal loan

While banks are a traditional choice for borrowing money, you can get a personal loan from a range of different lenders, including digital lenders and fintechs.

Lender typeDetails
Credit unionsCustomer-owned institutions that offer low rates to a wide range of credit types compared to other lenders. Federal credit unions legally can’t charge rates over 18%.
BanksOffers some of the lowest rates out there with a credit score of at least 670 to qualify — and some only offer loans to current customers.
Online lendersLenders may offer higher rates on average, but typically put less weight on credit score than a bank or credit union.
Connection servicesHelps you prequalify with partner lenders to find the lowest rate you qualify for.

How fees affect your rate

Your APR is not just your interest rate. It includes the interest and fees you’d pay over one year, giving you a more accurate idea of how much your loan is going to cost.

Fees that typically factor into your APR include:

  • Origination fees — which can run between 1% and 10% of your loan amount
  • Application fees — which you typically pay when applying, whether your loan is approved or not
  • Prepayment penalties — which vary in cost, but should be included in your loan agreement

If you have good or excellent credit, you’ll likely have the same APR and interest rate. That’s because lenders generally don’t charge application or origination fees unless they see the borrower as a risk. But loans for borrowers with fair and poor credit almost always have origination fees.

Regardless, Finder uses APR to provide an apples-to-apples way to compare the cost of a loan among lenders.

Average personal loan rates by credit score

Your credit score is one of the most important factors that lenders use to determine the interest rates you qualify for. The two credit scoring models are FICO and VantageScore 4.0.

It’s not a perfect science, and FICO and VantageScore have some differences, but your credit scores can help you predict what interest rates you may receive when borrowing credit and help you choose a lender that can accommodate your credit rating.

Credit score rangeAverage estimated interest rate (%)*
Less than 560158.87%

*Source: LendingTree consumer data, Q4 2022.

Fast vs. low-interest personal loans

If you need your money fast, you can find lenders that fund your loan in 24 hours or less. But you may find yourself trading a more competitive interest rate for a quicker turnaround time.

Consider the following factors that could affect how quickly your loan is funded:

  • Eligibility requirements. Choose a loan option that you can easily qualify for for faster turnaround.
  • Loan amount. If the amount you need is too close to a lender’s maximum loan amount, you may have to jump through additional hoops, adding time to the underwriting process.
  • Employment. Self-employed borrowers and those who work irregular hours may have to spend more time proving their income.

Doing your research and having your documents in order can also help move things along.

How to manage a personal loan

Planning how to manage your loan once it’s funded can give you a little more confidence as you apply.

Keep in mind these three loan management features:

  1. Sign up for automatic payments to save money on interest and late fees. But make sure you budget for the new payment to ensure the money’s in your account on the payment day each month.
  2. Check your loan agreement for prepayment penalties to make sure you won’t take a financial hit if you pay off your loan early.
  3. Check out your lender’s forbearance program to see whether you can pause your payments if a hardship makes it so you can’t repay for a few months. These programs can make your loan more expensive but help keep you from defaulting.

Compare personal loans from top partners

Narrow down top lenders by APR, loan amount and more to find the best for your budget and goals. Select Compare for up to four lenders to see their details side by side. Select Learn more to go to a partner’s site or More info to read our editorial review.

1 - 6 of 6
Name Product Filter Values APR Min. credit score Loan amount
Upstart personal loans
Finder Rating: 4.15 / 5: ★★★★★
Upstart personal loans
5.40% to 35.99%
$1,000 to $50,000
This service looks beyond your credit score to get you a competitive-rate personal loan.
Best Egg personal loans
Finder Rating: 3.8 / 5: ★★★★★
Best Egg personal loans
8.99% to 35.99%
$2,000 to $50,000
A prime online lending platform with multiple repayment methods.
OneMain Financial personal loans
Finder Rating: 3.4 / 5: ★★★★★
OneMain Financial personal loans
18% to 35.99%
$1,500 to $20,000
An established online and in-store lender with quick turnaround times. Poor credit is OK.
Finder Rating: 4.3 / 5: ★★★★★
4.98% to 35.99%
Poor to excellent credit
$1,500 to $100,000
Get prequalified loan offers in 2 minutes or less. Will not affect your credit score.
Upgrade personal loans
Finder Rating: 4 / 5: ★★★★★
Upgrade personal loans
8.24% to 35.97%
$1,000 to $50,000
Affordable loans with two simple repayment terms and no prepayment penalties.
LightStream personal loans
Finder Rating: 4.83 / 5: ★★★★★
LightStream personal loans
5.99% to 23.99%
Good to excellent credit
$5,000 to $100,000
Borrow up to $100,000 with low rates and no fees.

Personal loan alternatives

A personal loan may not be the best option in all situations — especially when rates are high and it’s difficult to qualify for a low rate.

Consider four alternatives before you apply:

  • Home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) allow you to open a line of credit secured against your home equity and access funds as needed. They typically have lower rates than personal loans, but you risk foreclosure if you default.
  • Personal lines of credit work like a credit card but give you funds in cash for expenses you can’t pay on credit. They typically offer lower interest rates than credit cards, but they’re not as common as other financing options.
  • Credit cards may be an option if you don’t always have room in your budget for fixed monthly payments. With rates this high, credit card payment flexibility might be worth the extra cost.
  • Cash advance apps offer quick, small paycheck advances, sometimes for a suggested tip. But while there might not be a fee associated with the advance, some apps require you to pay a membership fee to access the advance.

Recap: Best personal loans

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