Two woman having breakfast and taking a selfie

Compare small-dollar personal loans

We value our editorial independence, basing our comparison results, content and reviews on objective analysis without bias. But we may receive compensation when you click links on our site. Learn more about how we make money from our partners.

Borrow just enough to get by without the high interest rates charged by short-term lenders.

Small-dollar personal loans are a handy tool when you need to pay for small expenses. While how much you can borrow — and the terms of your loan — will vary by lender, you won’t see APRs over 36%.

Our top pick: Upgrade Personal Loans*

  • Min. Credit Score Required: 620
  • Min. Loan Amount: $1,000
  • Max. Loan Amount: $50,000
  • APR: 6.98% to 35.89%
  • Requirements: At least 18 years old, US citizen or permanent resident, verifiable bank account, valid email address
  • Flexible loan options
  • No prepayment penalty
  • Quick turnaround

Our top pick: Upgrade Personal Loans*

Affordable loans with two simple repayment terms and no prepayment penalties.

  • Min. Credit Score Required: 620
  • Min. Loan Amount: $1,000
  • Max. Loan Amount: $50,000
  • APR: 6.98% to 35.89%
  • Requirements: At least 18 years old, US citizen or permanent resident, verifiable bank account, valid email address
Promoted

Where can I find a small-dollar personal loan?

You have a few places to turn to for small-dollar personal loans, including online lenders, credit unions and banks.

Online lenders

Online lenders are a common choice for small personal loans because of their speed and flexibility. Many serve borrowers with bad to fair credit, although their APR tends to reach the legal maximum of 36%. For borrowers with good to excellent credit, rates can be much lower and are often designed to compete with banks.

Most online lenders only require basic personal information — your name, date of birth, Social Security number and bank account details — to process your application. And if you’re approved, you may be able to receive your loan in one to two business days. For banks and credit unions, you may have to wait a week or more.

Credit unions

Many credit unions — whether local or federal — offer small-dollar loans. As nonprofit institutions, credit unions are able to focus on the needs of their members. This means many are able to overlook some problems in your credit history. While you’ll need to be a member to qualify, many local credit unions offer membership to residents of the surrounding area.

If you’re a member of a federal credit union, you might also want to look into payday alternative loans (PALs). These are extremely small loans between $200 and $1,000 with APRs capped at 28%. Smaller credit unions may also offer loans similar to PALs.

Banks

Some banks offer small-dollar personal loans, but they’re few and far between. You might want to begin your search with PNC, Citibank or TD Bank — they all have small personal loans starting at around $1,000 or $2,000.

You might also want to consider a local bank. Much like credit unions, these tend to have lower rates overall and less strict lending criteria. And many banks that offer personal loans also offer rate discounts, often up to 0.25% for using your regular checking or savings account to make automatic payments.

Compare lenders that offer small-dollar personal loans

Updated October 20th, 2019
Name Product Filter Values APR Min. Credit Score Min. Loan Amount Max. Loan Amount
6.98% to 35.89%
620
$1,000
$50,000
Affordable loans with two simple repayment terms and no prepayment penalties.
6.49% to 17.99%
650
$500
$25,000
With over 80 years of lending experience, this credit union offers personal loans for a variety of expenses.
5.67% to 35.99%
620
$1,000
$50,000
This service looks beyond your credit score to get you a competitive-rate personal loan.
6.95% to 35.89%
640
$1,000
$40,000
A peer-to-peer lender offering fair rates based on your credit score.
6.95% to 35.99%
640
$2,000
$40,000
Borrow only what you need for debt consolidation, home improvements and more — with APRs based on overall creditworthiness.
9.95 to 35.99%
580
$2,000
$35,000
Conveniently check your loan options without affecting your credit score.
18% to 35.99%
Varies
$1,500
$20,000
An established online and in-store lender with quick turnaround times. Poor credit is OK.

Compare up to 4 providers

What are my other options to borrow a small amount?

You’re not limited to banks and online lenders when you need a small amount of cash. Here are a few other options to consider:

  • Financial assistance programs. Most states offer financial assistance programs for residents who may be struggling financially. You can browse a list of programs available in your state or simply go to your state’s website to see what programs you might qualify for.
  • Pay advance apps. Pay advance apps aren’t like a personal loan. Instead, you’ll receive funds based on the amount you worked during your last pay period. And you don’t need to worry about repayments: The amount you were advanced — plus any fees — is automatically withdrawn from your bank account on your next pay day.
  • Credit cards. If you only need a few hundred dollars, you might want to consider a credit card cash advance. While they tend to come with APRs around 30% and multiple fees, they’re a more affordable option than taking out a payday loan.
  • Short-term loans. Payday and installment loans should be your last option. Due to the high cost and short turnaround, borrowing even a small amount can add up. Be sure to compare your short-term loan options carefully before settling on a lender.

Small-dollar personal loans aren’t short-term loans

Although many short-term lenders refer to their products as personal loans, there’s an important difference: A personal loan won’t have an APR over 36%. Meanwhile, short-term loans tend to come with APRs well over 300%. This can cause many short-term loan borrowers to fall into a cycle of debt — taking out a new payday loan to pay off their first one.

When comparing your options, be sure to check the lender’s rates and fees. If it’s advertising personal loans but offers a high APR, it’s likely a short-term loan provider.

Bottom line

A small-dollar personal loan can be an affordable option when you only need a few thousand dollars to cover an expense. But before you commit, read our guide to personal loans to learn more about how they work and compare lenders.

Frequently asked questions

Was this content helpful to you? No  Yes

Ask an Expert

You are about to post a question on finder.com:

  • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
  • finder.com is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
  • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
  • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

Finder.com provides guides and information on a range of products and services. Because our content is not financial advice, we suggest talking with a professional before you make any decision.

By submitting your comment or question, you agree to our Privacy and Cookies Policy and Terms of Use.

Questions and responses on finder.com are not provided, paid for or otherwise endorsed by any bank or brand. These banks and brands are not responsible for ensuring that comments are answered or accurate.
Go to site