This article was reviewed by Brad Stevens, a member of the Finder Editorial Review Board and 30-year veteran of the credit industry who specializes in rehabilitating struggling banks.
Our team has reviewed over 120 personal loan providers, including banks, credit unions, online loan providers and connection services. We combed through all of them to find the best personal loans in 2021, and provide updates every month.
When choosing the best personal loans, we consider each lender’s rates and fees, terms and loan amounts, funding speed and borrower perks. We also look at customer reviews on the Better Business Bureau and Trustpilot, and we ran our own user testing with six borrowers to find out what's most important to them.
I need help covering bills during the coronavirus outbreak. Can I get a personal loan?
Possibly — Gesa Credit Union and some others are still offering low-cost emergency loans to customers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. These typically come with low or no interest and the option to defer payments for several months.
Aside from these emergency options, other lenders are still offering personal loans as they normally were, though you might be able take advantage of deferred repayments.
SoFi may be best known for its student loan refinancing option, but it also offers a wide range of personal loans — qualified borrowers may be approved for up to $100,000. It offers competitive rates, accepts coapplicants and has no fees. And perks like career coaching and personalized financial assistance are what really set SoFi apart from other lenders.
Fixed rates from 4.99% APR to 19.63% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of August 11, 2021 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, income, and other factors. See APR examples and terms. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.
Alliant Credit Union comes with a number of features in addition to its competitive starting APR for borrowers with good credit. In addition to same-day deposit of funds, it comes with no prepayment penalties and a debt protection plan. But you must be an Alliant Credit Union member or apply for membership, and the starting APR jumps to 10.24% if you choose a five-year term.
Same-day approval and deposit
No origination or prepayment fees
Protection plan in case of job loss, disability or death
Your credit score isn't the only factor this peer-to-peer lender takes into account when evaluating your application. In fact, your work experience and level of education will make more of an impact on your potential rates and terms. And it's fast — sometimes as soon as one business day after approval.
While OneMain Financial's interest rates are higher than typical personal loan providers, its APR range is still less than you'd find working with a short-term lender. Same-day funding is available to eligible applicants. And you may be able to get a better interest rate by securing your loan with collateral.
Not available in: Alaska, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan, Rhode Island, Vermont
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.
This comparison service has lenders in its network that accept borrowers with credit scores as low as 450. And Monevo is upfront about all of the lenders in its network, and some have rates as low as 3.49% for borrowers with strong creditworthiness. Checking your rates also won't affect your credit.
Available in all states
Lenders that accept all credit types in network
All partners listed on its website
Connecting with a lender doesn't affect credit score
Prosper is a pioneering peer-to-peer lender that offers loans funded by investors, instead of a bank. You can qualify with a credit score of 640 and a relatively high debt-to-income ratio, making it a solid choice if you already have loans or credit cards. You’ll have to pay an origination fee of up to 5%, however. And it can take as long as five business days to receive your loan.
Not available in: Iowa, North Dakota, West Virginia
Laurel Road is one of the only lenders that accepts cosigners — someone who can help you meet eligibility requirements when you can’t on your own. This can help you take advantage of its competitive APRs and perks, like its $300 referral bonus and special rates for healthcare professionals.
This online lender will disburse the funds directly to your creditors if you sign up for debt consolidation. But its low maximum amount might not make it ideal for debts above $35,000. While other sites often pick Payoff as their top choice for debt consolidation, we chose Discover because it works with more than just credit card debt. Some sites also picked Marcus, but we preferred Discover’s lower rates, longer terms and perks like its 30-day return period.
Available in all states
No origination fee
30-day return policy
Sends debt consolidation loans directly to creditors
If you have good to excellent credit, LightStream may be a great deal when you're looking to fund your next home improvement project. Its competitive rates mean a low cost for those who qualify. And if you get a better offer from another lender that meets certain criteria, it may beat that rate.
Available in all states
High autopay discount of 0.5% points
Funds up to $100,000
Rate Beat Program could land you a lower rate than competitor
This online lender is one of the few that can fund your loan as soon as the same business day. And you don’t need to have perfect credit to qualify. But its starting APR is relatively high at 7.16%. And you might have to pay an origination fee of up to 6%.
Not available in: Iowa, Nevada
Funding as soon as the same day
640 credit score OK
Positive customer reviews
Origination fee of 1% to 6%
Relatively short 10-day grace period of for payments
Shopping around and comparing offers can get you a great deal. Here are a few tips as you begin your search for the best personal loan.
Nail down your priority before shopping around. Do you care the most about rates? Monthly repayments? Overall loan cost? Consider what matters the most to you and start comparing lenders based on that feature.
Check that you’re eligible before you apply. Even if you have excellent credit and a high income, you might not be eligible for every loan. Some lenders don’t operate in every state, while others won’t work with self-employed applicants. If you’re not sure what the requirements are, reach out to the lender’s customer service team and ask.
Use a repayment calculator to compare costs. Comparing interest rates is a good way to get a quick idea of which loan is the least expensive — as long as they have the same terms. When you’ve narrowed down your choices, use our calculator to find out how much each option might cost you in the short and long term.
Read customer reviews to get an idea of the quality of customer service you can expect with a lender. Take reviews with a grain of salt — people typically don’t go to the Better Business Bureau or Trustpilot when they’re satisfied with a product. But if you notice a pattern of complaints, that could be a red flag.
Score better rates by improving your credit
No matter where your score sits, improving your credit is a simple way to decrease the cost of borrowing. Improve your score quickly by:
Paying down the balances of some of your credit cards
Correcting late payments
Signing up for Experian Boost to list your phone and utility bills on your credit report
When a lender sees you have a good handle on your finances, it’s that much more likely to approve you for a lower interest rate and higher loan amount on your next personal loan.
Best personal loan rates and summary
4.99% to 19.63%
An extensive benefits program for borrowers, including unemployment protection as well as financial and career advice.
Alliant Credit Union
6.24% to 27.24%
An autopay discount and the ability to skip a month of payments without interest when you make 12 on-time payments in a row.
8.94% to 35.99%
Funding in as little as one business day and an underwriting process that considers your education and career.
18% to 35.99%
Less expensive than a short-term lender but still considers credit scores as low as 300.
3.49% to 35.99%
An award-winning service that helps you compare multiple options, even if your credit score is as low as 450.
Low starting rates compared to other lenders, a 0.5% rate discount and its rate beat program.
7.50% to 24.75%
Applying with a cosigner
This is one of the only lenders that accepts cosigners — not coborrowers or coapplicants.
6.99% to 24.99%
Consolidate multiple types of debt with a loan that gets paid directly to your creditors — and comes with a 30-day return policy.
7.95% to 35.99%
A high minimum debt-to-income ratio and relatively short turnaround time compared to other P2P lenders.
7.16% to 29.99%
Loans with a fast turnaround
A turnaround as fast as the same business day with a relatively low credit score cutoff of 640.
How much your loan costs depends on the rates, terms and how much you borrow. Use this calculator to get an estimate of your monthly repayment and the total cost of your loan by entering the APR, loan amount and term.
Monthly repayments calculator
Calculate how much you could expect to pay each month
Taking out a personal loan isn’t always the right move — consider these alternatives before filling out that application.
Home equity loans or lines of credit are ideal if you need to borrow money to make home repairs or other renovations that could increase your home’s value. Since your home is used as collateral, these tend to come with lower rates.
Credit cards have APRs that are typically higher than your traditional unsecured personal loan, but the convenience can help you cover an emergency expense faster than most personal loans.
Pay advance apps are ideal if you only need to borrow a few hundred dollars or don’t have the credit to qualify for a traditional personal loan. You can gain access to your paycheck early — usually for a small membership fee or optional tip.
At the end of the day, the best personal loan depends on your needs and your finances. There are a number of loan types and lenders to cover pretty much any situation, so do some careful research when you’re searching for a loan. Start by reading our guide to personal loans so you know where to look and how to tell when an offer really fits your needs.
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.
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