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Best home improvement loans

Before you tackle your next renovation project, compare your funding options and interest rates.

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.

Home improvement loans are a great choice when you’re facing expensive repairs or renovations to your house. These personal loans are meant to cover a wide variety of expenses without risking your home’s equity or putting up collateral. Our top picks are based on the size of your project and how you might want to use your funds. But like any personal loan, carefully compare your home improvement loan options before making a final decision.

7 best home improvement loans

  • Best for small projects: Discover
  • Best for midsize projects: Upstart
  • Best for large projects: SoFi
  • Best for ongoing projects: Upgrade

Best for small projects: Discover personal loans

Varies
Min. Credit Score
6.99%
Starting APR
$35,000
Max Loan Amount
While Discover is often touted as a great choice for debt consolidation, its personal loans can also be used for home improvement. Discover allows you to finance up to $35,000 for up to 84 months — good for small projects and small monthly payments. And although it doesn't offer automatic payment discounts like some lenders, signing up for autopay can help you avoid the steep $39 late fee.

Pros

  • Loan terms up to 84 months
  • Green loans also available
  • No upfront fees

Cons

  • Relatively high maximum APR
  • No autopay discount
  • Minimum loan term of 36 months
Loan Amount $2,500 – $35,000
APR 6.99%
Interest Rate Type Variable
Min term 36 months
Max term 84 months
Turnaround Time 1 to 7 days
Upstart personal loans logo
Finder Rating: 4.15 / 5

★★★★★

Check my rate
at Upstart personal loans's secure site

Best for midsize projects: Upstart personal loans

600
Min. Credit Score
7.68%
Starting APR
$50,000
Max Loan Amount
Upstart accepts borrowers with fair credit scores of 580 or 600, depending on your state. This makes it a good choice for a wide variety of borrowers who need to fund a midsize home improvement project — especially because its underwriting process considers your income and career alongside your credit score. However, some borrowers may pay a higher APR, and there is a chance you could face an origination fee up to 8%.

Pros

  • Fair credit OK
  • Holistic underwriting process
  • Some states have higher loan amounts

Cons

  • High maximum APR
  • Origination fee up to 8%
  • Only two loan term options
Loan Amount $1,000 – $50,000
APR 7.68% to 35.99%
Interest Rate Type Fixed
Min. Credit Score 600
Min term 36 months
Max term 60 months
Turnaround Time 1 to 3 business days
SoFi personal loans logo
Finder Rating: 4.3 / 5

★★★★★

Check my rate
at SoFi personal loans's secure site

Best for large projects: SoFi personal loans

680
Min. Credit Score
5.99%
Starting APR
$100,000
Max Loan Amount
SoFi doesn't charge any fees — not even late fees — and its borrowers have access to benefits including a checking account, lower rates on future loans and career counseling. And for large projects, it's hard to beat a maximum loan amount of $100,000. But you'll want to plan ahead: Some borrowers have reported that it took 30 days to receive their funding. Borrowers who only meet the minimum requirements may not fare as well, either. Your APR could be over 20% — and you likely won't qualify for the maximum loan amount.

Pros

  • No fees
  • Large loans up to $100,000
  • Variety of member benefits

Cons

  • High minimum loan amount of $5,000
  • Potentially long turnaround of 30 days
  • Relatively high maximum APR
Loan Amount $5,000 – $100,000
APR 5.99% to 18.85%
Interest Rate Type Fixed
Min. Credit Score 680
Min term 24 months
Max term 84 months
Turnaround Time Up to 30 days
Disclaimer
Fixed rates from 5.99% APR to 18.85% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of February 25, 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. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. 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.
Upgrade Card lines of credit logo
Finder Rating: 3.98 / 5

★★★★★

Check my rate
at Upgrade Card lines of credit's secure site

Best for ongoing projects: Upgrade Card lines of credit

600
Min. Credit Score
6.99%
Starting APR
$20,000
Max Loan Amount
Upgrade offers a flexible line of credit for borrowers with fair credit, so it's a good choice if you have an ongoing project with no set budget. That being said, each draw is its own loan with a 60-month term. This means you may receive different interest rates each time you borrow. But because it comes with its own Visa card, you can spend online or at a store to quickly cover unforeseen expenses for your home improvement.

Pros

  • Spend with a Visa Upgrade card
  • Fair credit OK
  • High debt-to-income (DTI) ratio OK

Cons

  • Relatively high maximum APR
  • Potentially long turnaround of 4 days
  • No flexibility on loan term
Loan Amount $500 – $20,000
APR 6.99% to 29.99%
Interest Rate Type Fixed
Min. Credit Score 600
Max term 60 months
Turnaround Time 4 business days

Best for quick funding: LightStream home improvement loan

Good to excellent credit
Min. Credit Score
Competitive
Starting APR
$100,000
Max Loan Amount
Not only can LightStream get your funds on the same day you apply, it also offers some of the best terms out there for borrowers with good to excellent credit. You can borrow up to $100,000 for your home renovation, and LightStream even offers financing specifically for adding a pool to your backyard. But there's no preapproval process. When you apply, LightStream will do a hard pull of your credit. There's also no way to email or call its customer service team. Instead, you'll have to fill out a form on its website if you have any questions before or after you apply.

Pros

  • Same-day funding available
  • Multiple rate discounts
  • Large loans up to $100,000

Cons

  • Must have valid credit card
  • No preapproval process
  • High minimum loan amount of $5,000
Loan Amount $5,000 – $100,000
APR Competitive
Interest Rate Type Fixed
Turnaround Time Varies
Disclaimer
All loans are subject to credit approval by LightStream.

Truist Bank is an Equal Housing Lender. © 2020 Truist Financial Corporation. SunTrust, Truist, LightStream, the LightStream logo, and the SunTrust logo are service marks of Truist Financial Corporation. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Lending services provided by Truist Bank.
Marcus by Goldman Sachs personal loans logo
Finder Rating: 3.8 / 5

★★★★★

Check my rate
at Marcus by Goldman Sachs personal loans's secure site

Best for no fees: Marcus by Goldman Sachs personal loans

660
Min. Credit Score
6.99%
Starting APR
$40,000
Max Loan Amount
Marcus by Goldman Sachs doesn't charge any fees — but late payments could be penalized with higher interest rates. However, its low starting rates and midsize loans make it a good choice if you're looking for a bank-backed loan for your home improvements and no fees. Service members can also take advtange of even lower interest rates, which are some of the lowest on the market.

Pros

  • Rewards for on-time payments
  • Service member APR as low as 4%
  • No fees

Cons

  • Higher interest for late payments
  • High minimum loan amount of $3,500
  • Average borrower has 700+ credit score
Loan Amount $3,500 – $40,000
APR 6.99% to 19.99%
Interest Rate Type Fixed
Min. Credit Score 660
Min term 36 months
Max term 72 months
Disclaimer

Marcus By Goldman Sachs® Offer Terms and Conditions


Your loan terms are not guaranteed and are subject to our verification of your identity and credit information. To obtain a loan, you must submit additional documentation including an application that may affect your credit score. The availability of a loan offer and the terms of your actual offer will vary due to a number of factors, including your loan purpose and our evaluation of your creditworthiness. Rates will vary based on many factors, such as your creditworthiness (for example, credit score and credit history) and the length of your loan (for example, rates for 36 month loans are generally lower than rates for 72 month loans Your maximum loan amount may vary depending on your loan purpose, income and creditworthiness. Your verifiable income must support your ability to repay your loan. Marcus by Goldman Sachs is a brand of Goldman Sachs Bank USA and all loans are issued by Goldman Sachs Bank USA, Salt Lake City Branch. Applications are subject to additional terms and conditions.

LendingTree personal loans logo
Finder Rating: 4.6 / 5

★★★★★

Check my rate
at LendingTree personal loans's secure site

Best for comparing lenders: LendingTree personal loans

670
Min. Credit Score
5.99%
Starting APR
$50,000
Max Loan Amount
LendingTree is a good choice if you want to quickly compare a variety of personal loans and pick the best option for your home improvement project. Its network of lenders have interest rates starting at an extremely low 2.49%. But you have to have good to excellent credit to get started. Some borrowers may also struggle with the high volume of marketing emails or phone calls — although you can unsubscribe from these.

Pros

  • History of positive customer reviews
  • Large loans up to $50,000
  • Multiple offers for one online form

Cons

  • Complaints about marketing calls and emails
  • Not a direct lender
  • Specific terms depend on lender
Loan Amount $1,000 – $50,000
Interest Rate Type Fixed
Min. Credit Score 670
Turnaround Time If you apply during work hours on a business day you can get access to approved funds within 24 hours.

What is a home improvement loan?

Home improvement loans are unsecured personal loans you can use to pay for renovations and repairs. You won’t need to use your home’s equity as security, and lenders typically consider your credit score and other finances when determining approval.

How does a home improvement loan work?

When you borrow a home improvement loan, your funds can be used to pay for labor, equipment and supplies to complete projects on any part of your home. Like any personal loan, repayments are due monthly — and cover both principal and interest.

Loan terms and interest rates vary significantly between lenders. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks, so it’s important to compare your options to find the best one to suit your budget and renovation plans.

Table comparing a home improvement loan vs. a home equity loan vs. a HELOC

When is a home improvement loan a good idea?

Most people don’t have the ability to save up thousands of dollars for necessary repairs and improvements. This makes a home improvement loan a good choice in a few circumstances, including:

  • Emergency repairs your savings can’t cover
  • Improvements to existing spaces
  • Increasing your home’s overall value before selling

Are home equity loans or HELOCs ever a better option?

It depends on your needs. People turn to home equity loans and HELOCs for lower rates and longer terms. But because the amount you borrow is limited to the current equity in your home and your ability to repay the loan, it may not be enough to cover the full cost of a large renovation.

However, if you struggle to qualify for an unsecured personal loan, a home equity loan or HELOC can be a good choice, since your credit won’t play as much of a role in determining approval.

Home improvement loanHome equity loanHELOC
Best forBorrowing without using your home as collateralProjects with a set budget that you pay off over a longer termOngoing projects that you plan on completing over several years
Loan amountUp to $100,00080% to 90% of your current equity80% to 90% of your current equity
Secured?NoYesYes
APR range5% to 36%2.5% to 10%3.5% to 8.5%
Terms2 to 7 years5 to 15 years
  • Draw period: 5 to 10 years
  • Repayment period: 10 to 25 years

What are the benefits of taking out a home improvement loan?

Here are a few ways a home improvement loan can beat out other types of financing:

  • Fund time-sensitive repairs. Home improvement loans typically cost less than credit cards — and may only take a few business days to process. If you don’t have the savings to cover a big expense, a home improvement loan can help you save money without postponing repairs.
  • Low rates. While some loans are more expensive than others, borrowers with good to excellent credit are likely to get a lower rate than they would on a credit card. This means less money paid overall, cutting the cost of your home reno.
  • Flexible terms. Not every lender offers the same terms.There are loans with shorter terms if you’re looking to flip your house and loans with longer terms for people who want to pay a little every month to modernize their home.
  • Minimal restrictions. Home improvement loans can be used to fund equipment, supplies and labor. Just be sure to calculate how much you’ll need before you get started — if you don’t borrow enough, it may be hard to qualify for a second loan.

How to choose the best lender

Because best is subjective, here are a few tips to guide you toward the best lender for your home improvement project:
  • APR. Most lenders charge an APR between 5% and 36%. Try to pick a lender that has a lower minimum and maximum APR. After all, if your lender doesn’t offer an APR above 20%, you won’t have to worry about hitting the upper end of 36% — the highest possible rate a personal loan provider can offer due to government regulations.
  • Loan amount. If a lender has a low maximum amount, you may not be able to borrow as much as you need to complete your project with the materials and labor you want. Make sure your lender offers loans that fit your budget before you apply.
  • Credit requirements. Not every lender accepts borrowers with scores lower than 640. Make sure your lender will work with your credit history and finances — or improve your credit score to avoid rejection.
  • Preapproval process. A preapproval process allows you to check your rate before taking a hit to your credit. This allows you to compare offers from multiple lenders to see which is the best deal.

Alternatives to home improvement loans

Beyond personal loans, there are a handful of other ways you can pay for a home improvement or renovation:
  • Home equity loans. A home equity loan allows you to borrow a lump sum against the equity of your house. This keeps rates low, and lenders typically allow you to borrow anywhere from 80% to 90% of your home’s value.
  • HELOCs. A home equity line of credit (HELOC) functions similarly to a home equity loan. Your credit limit is still based on the equity in your home, but rather than a lump sum, you’ll receive a line of credit that can be drawn from as needed to pay for work and supplies.
  • Federal programs. A Title I Property Improvement Loan can be used for both small and large projects. They have low, fixed interest rates and are typically secured by your mortgage or deed. If you plan on making improvements to make your home more green, you may also want to consider the Energy Efficient Mortgage Program.
  • State and local programs. You may be able to qualify for a specialty loan program provided by your city or state. These programs vary based on location, so check out the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) website and ask the bank you normally work with to find out what’s available in your area.
  • Credit cards. Credit cards should be used sparingly for home improvements because of their high interest rates. However, they can be useful for weekend projects and emergency repairs. And if you qualify, you may want to look into a 0% APR promotional period to keep your expenses low.
  • Cash-out refinance. A cash-out refinance allows you to get a new mortgage for more than your home is worth. The extra cash can be used for home improvements. The exact amount you can borrow depends on your home’s equity.

How can I increase my home’s value?

While there’s no guarantee that your home’s value will increase after a renovation, picking the right lender and project can help add equity back into your property.

  • Consider the project. Different projects have different effects on your home’s value. A necessary repair will likely keep the value the same, while an upscale kitchen remodel may be a pricey way to sell your home quickly.
  • Plan for the future. Certain renovations may not add thousands of dollars to your home’s value, but if you’re planning on staying rather than selling, then it might be a worthwhile project to invest in.
  • Request an estimate. Keeping costs down and getting good work done depends on your contractor. Have a few contracting companies come in to give you an estimate on the project’s costs. This will help determine your budget and get you the most value for work done.
  • Compare lenders. Once you have a good idea about the cost and scope of your project, you can find a lender that meets your needs. This will help you avoid over- or under-borrowing — and ensure you’re getting the most out of your renovation or repair.

How do I apply?

The application process differs between lenders, but in general, you’ll need to follow these steps:

  1. Visit the lender’s website and navigate to its application.
  2. Enter information about yourself, including your income and employment.
  3. Submit your application and wait for a response.

Your lender will process your information and either approve or deny your application. If approved, you may be required to submit additional documents to prove your identity, employment or income.

What do I need to apply?

When you apply, you will typically be required to provide some basic information, including:

  • Social Security number
  • Date of birth
  • Monthly or annual income
  • Bank account information
  • Government-issued photo ID
  • How much do home improvements cost?
  • The cost of your home improvement or renovation depends on the type of project you’re looking to complete.

How much do home improvements cost?

The cost of your home improvement or renovation depends on the type of project you’re looking to complete.

ImprovementWhat it involvesAverage cost
Adding square footageRemoving walls to expand the interior of a home or apartment.$7,000 to $100,000
Basement remodelingPutting down a floor, building walls, installing electric and plumbing lines.$10,500 to $27,000
PlumbingHiring a plumber to replace old pipes or install new plumbing systems.$300; $45 to $150/hour
Electric workHiring an electrician to redo part of your building’s wiring.$350; $50 to $100/hour
PermitsGetting permission from your state and local authorities to start construction.$900
Solar energyBuying and installing solar panels.$25,000 to $35,000
New water storage tankPurchasing a water storage tank and installing it.$100 to $2,500

Renovation cost guides

What to consider before getting a home improvement loan

A home improvement loan can be helpful if you don’t have time to build up your savings, but it’s still an expensive option.

  • Avoid taking on too much debt. If you apply for a loan you can’t afford to pay off, you run the risk of taking on debt you can’t manage. Make sure you budget for your repayments based on your financial situation before you apply.
  • Budget for the unpredictable. Construction doesn’t always go exactly as planned. If anything happens that affects the budget or schedule of your renovations, it could leave you without the money you need to finish the job. In this case, a personal line of credit may be a better way to cover unexpected costs.

Bottom line

If you don’t have the savings to handle an emergency repair or a much-needed renovation, a home improvement loan may be able to help — especially if you don’t have enough equity in your home to take out a home equity loan or HELOC.

You can learn more about how personal loans work and find even more lenders with our guide.

Frequently asked questions

Answers to common questions about home improvement loans.

What type of loan works best for financing home improvements?

It depends on your needs. An unsecured home improvement loan is a good option if you don’t want to use your home as collateral and don’t mind a higher APR. A home equity loan or HELOC is good if your home has plenty of equity and you want to score a low rate with a longer term.

Learn more about your financing options by reading our guide to home renovations.

Can I get a home improvement loan if I have poor credit?

There are some home improvement loans available for people without great credit. However, if you do have a low credit score, you might have a better chance of being approved if you apply for a secured loan, like a home equity loan or HELOC.

Can I use a home improvement loan on my vacation rental?

Yes, you can use a home improvement loan on your vacation rental. In fact, simple improvements may help your place stand out from the pack to bring in an ample return on investment.

Are there useful credit cards for home improvement?

Yes. Some credit cards can offer rewards and discounts at home improvement stores along with other perks, such as deferred interest. Compare the best home improvement credit cards to narrow down your options.

Can I finance landscaping projects?

Yes. There are typically four financing options when it comes to landscaping projects: Personal loans, home equity lines of credit, home equity loans and credit cards. To learn more about the options and which best suits your project, read our guide to landscaping loans.

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