Best Personal Loans | Top Lenders and Rates for 2021
If you’re considering a personal loan to help with debt consolidation or a big purchase – such as a wedding, vacation or home renovation – then make sure you compare the different offerings on the market and choose the right one for you.
A personal loan with a fair fixed rate is a good way to avoid the high-interest and variable rates charged by credit cards, and to create a simpler payment schedule you can keep track of more easily.
Today’s Best Personal Loan Rates
Here are some of today’s best personal loan rates:
Ideally, it’s best to avoid loans and debt altogether – but unfortunately, that’s often not the reality we live in.
Lenders differ in both the features of the loans they offer – such as loan value and loan term – and the credit score they demand.
The 14 Best Personal Loans for 2021
Here are the best personal loan lenders:
- 🏆 LightStream: Best Overall
- SoFi: Best for Fast Funding
- Earnest: Best for No Fees
- Marcus by Goldman Sachs: Best for Good Credit
- Payoff: Best for Average Credit
- Laurel Road: Best for Competitive Rates
- Best Egg: Best for Customer Ratings
- Upgrade: Best for Credit Management
- Upstart: Best for Younger Borrowers
- LendingPoint: Best for Bankruptcies
- Avant: Best for Customer Service
- OneMain Financial: Best for No Minimum Credit Score
- LendingClub: Best Lending Marketplace
- Prosper: Best Peer-to-Peer
LightStream, a division of SunTrust Bank, is very quick to decide on your application: if you apply during business hours, you could get approved and receive your funds within the same day. You’ll be assessed based on your assets, income, and payment history as well as your credit score.
You can also receive an unusually long home improvement loan term of 12 years, all other loan types go up to 84 months, where the minimum is two years – but bear in mind shorter loan terms tend to have the best rates.
Provided you have a good credit score, LightStream offers loans up to 100,000 and the lowest APR rates available on this list, as well as charging no fees.
The fixed rate you’re charged varies depending on loan purpose. For example, the rate for an auto loan may be different than if you need a personal loan for debt consolidation or medical expenses.
To get the lowest rate you’ll need to take advantage of the AutoPay feature to make your repayments automatically, which provides a 0.50% discount; the rate would be higher without AutoPay enabled.
SoFi Personal Loans
SoFi is short for Social Finance, a name which can be traced back to the company’s origins: SoFi was set up to help graduates with their student loan debt.
True to their social roots, SoFi will temporarily pause payment obligations of anyone who becomes unemployed during their loan term while they search for a new job.
ou can borrow from $5,000 to $100,000 for terms of 3, 4, 5, 6, or 7 years.
There’s an AutoPay feature, which gives a discount of 0.25%, ideal for those who know they’ll always be able to meet their payment and want to pay off the loan quicker.
The application is entirely online, and you’ll be able to access support seven days a week. The only disadvantage is that you’ll need a credit score of 680 or higher to get approved, which is higher than the other no-fees accounts.
Learn more, read our SoFi Review.
Earnest is a great option for those looking for a low-cost loan with no extra fees. Loan amounts range from $5,000 to $75,000. There are no fees, including origination fees.
Unlike other credit providers, Earnest takes additional factors into account when deciding on the payment plan to offer you, including your spending habits, education, and earning potential.
This means that if you score well on these aspects but have a low credit score, it could be a great option. Recent graduates with the chance to get a high-paying job in the future are good candidates.
Another advantage is that Earnest is very transparent about their interest rate structure. Instead of you having to fill in your details to receive an idea of your rate, you can look at a table that tells you the APR you can expect for different loan terms.
They also have a phone app so you can track your loan on the go. You need a credit score of 680.
Marcus by Goldman Sachs
Goldman Sachs is one of the biggest investment banks in the world, and it also has an online lending offshoot called Marcus, which offers high-yield savings and personal loans (also referred to as installment loans).
Marcus is another good choice for those who have a good credit score. The APR ranges aren’t as low as others, but you won’t have to pay any hidden fees, and you’ll get peace of mind knowing you’re borrowing from a reputable lender.
Loans can be between 36 and 72 months, but only individuals with high credit scores are likely to get long loan terms. You’ll need a credit score of at least 660 to get approval.
An added benefit is that if you manage to make your monthly payments for twelve months in a row, you’ll be eligible to defer a monthly payment without accruing extra fees or interest.
It only takes five minutes to sign up. You could then be approved within 24 hours, but it could take five days to receive your money.
Payoff actively helps its borrowers to improve their financial management by boosting their FICO score by up to 40 points. They also offer educational resources so that users can further stay out of debt, such as quizzes to assess your financial personality, and you can even contact customer service personnel for further guidance.
There are no fees for early payment, returned checks, or late fees – if you suspect you’ll be unable to make a payment, you can contact a representative to create an alternative plan. However, you will have to pay an origination fee of 2% to 5%.
You can take out a loan between $5,000 and $35,000 at an APR of 5.99% to 24.99%. Terms are between 24 and 60 months. The minimum credit score is only 640, but there are some additional requirements too. You’ll need a debt-to-income ratio below 50% to be eligible, and you also can’t have made any payments more than 90 days late over the last year.
You can check your rate within three minutes. You’ll then be able to customize your loan by choosing the term and rate that works best for you.
Learn more in our Payoff review.
Best Egg is all about helping you to accumulate the best possible nest egg for your financial goals. Best Company named Best Egg the #1 Personal Loan provider, and the company also has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
Loan values range from $2,000 to $35,000 with great interest rates. Best Egg could be a good choice for those with high credit scores. The main disadvantage is the origination fee of 0.99% to 5.99% of the loan value.
The minimum credit score to apply is a relatively low 640, but the average borrower has a credit score is 685, so the loans are certainly best suited to those who fall on the higher end of the ‘average credit’ spectrum. You can choose a three- or five-year repayment plan.
Upgrade boasts a ‘smarter way’ for you to use credit since they give out credit-building and credit health tools.
The rates offered by Upgrade are reasonable, but you could end up getting hit by high fees. Although there are no prepayment fees, there’s an origination fee of 1.5% to 6% of the original amount and a late fee of $10.
You can take a loan between $1,000 right up to $50,000. The term length is between 3 and 5 years. Once you’ve been approved, you should receive the funds within one day.
Upgrade loans are relatively accessible to anyone. The minimum credit score is 620, which is reasonably low, but you’ll need a higher score than this to avoid being hit by the highest rates, and minimum monthly cash flow of $800 is obligatory. There’s also no minimum salary requirement, but the average applicant earns at least $30,000.
Unfortunately, Upgrade loans aren’t available to those living in the states of Iowa, Vermont, or Wisconsin.
Learn more in our full Upgrade personal loans review.
If you’re struggling to find a loan due to your lack of credit history or being a young person, Upstart wants to help you.
They partner with banks that offer loans to people with a credit score as low as 600 provided they have high earning potential – this is assessed using measures like job history, having a college degree, and your area of study.
You also can’t have a history of delinquency, any recent bankruptcies, or more than six inquiries on your credit score from the last six months.
Loans range from $1,000 to $50,000 in value and loan terms can last three or five years. There are no prepayment fees, but you’ll have to pay an origination fee of up to 8% and a late fee of 5% or $15 (whichever is greater).
Upstart boasts that 99% of applicants receive their money within one business day. The main exception is student loan funding, as this requires you to send in a college transcript as proof.
For qualifying applicants, Upstart is also great for reducing high-interest debt.
Read more in our Upstart Review.
LendingPoint is unusual for accepting customers who have filed for bankruptcy over the last year, making it a viable option for those with even the lowest credit scores. The minimum score is just 585, although you’ll also need a minimum salary of $20,000 a year.
This offer is made possible because other factors are considered to make the application fairer: job history (preferable at least a year with your current employer), financial history (including banking), income, and whether your credit behavior is improving. After applying and being approved, you should receive your funds just one day later.
You can take out a loan between $2,000 and $25,000. If you have decent credit, LendingPoint APRs may be a little high for you. The loan term length can be between 2 to 4 years.
There’s an option to enable AutoPay (although there’s no bonus for using it with LendingPoint) and to pay twice a month, which can help with budgeting for some.
Avant gives loans to individuals who fall slightly below the average credit score – you only need a credit score of 580 to apply, although the average borrower has a score between 600 and 700. The average income of customers is also quite high, at over $60,000.
You can obtain a loan amount between $2,000 to $35,000. You’ll also have to pay an origination fee (which they call an administration fee) between 0.95% and 4.75%, but there are no other fees involved. The loan lengths range from 24 to 60 months.
You’ll be able to access customer support seven days a week by phone, email, or chat. You can only have your funds transferred within a day.
Read more in our Avant personal loan review.
OneMain Financial is a long-term lender; the company has been around for over 100 years. They’re unusual for not having a minimum credit score requirement, but the average score is 600-650.
You’ll be offered between $1,500 and $20,000, and you’ll also need to pay an origination fee.
These rates are quite high, which is the price for choosing a lender with no minimum credit score, but they offer a co-signing option to ensure you stay on the lower side of the rates. The term lengths are 24, 36, 48, and 60 months.
Unlike many of the other lenders, you can’t complete the whole process online; you’ll need to visit a branch to discuss your requirements.
Lending Club is largely viewed as the pioneer of marketplace lending – it was founded back in 2007 and has given out more than $50 billion since then. The company claims that the average customer saves $1,300 by using Lending Club.
You need a minimum credit score of 600, but Lending Club will ease this slightly if you take advantage of the cosigning option. As long as your cosigner has a score of at least 600, your credit score could go as low as 540. You and your cosigner will also need a joint debt-to-income ratio of 35% or less.
Using Lending Club, you can get a loan of up to $40,000. You’ll have to pay an origination fee between 1% and 6% and a late fee.
Lending Club is more flexible: it lets you pay your lender directly if you want, and you may also be eligible for a hardship plan.
Learn more in our Lending Club personal loans review.
Prosper has rates and fees compared to more traditional lenders who look for borrowers with good credit. Unfortunately, it’s not suitable for those who low credit scores – the minimum score needed is 640, and the average is an impressive 717.
Loan values range from $2,000 to $40,000. There are no prepayment penalties, but you’ll have to pay an origination fee ranging from 2.41% to 5% of the total amount borrowed and a late payment fee of $15 or 5% of the paid amount (whichever is lowest).
The platform offers personal loans for 3 or 3 year fixed terms. You can check your rate instantly and, if you go ahead with the loan, you’ll receive the money within five days.
A major disadvantage is the lack of flexibility. As well as needing to pay a fee for late payment, there’s no option to adjust your payment schedule once you’ve committed.
Learn more in our Prosper personal loan review.
What’s The Best Online Loan Company For Bad Credit?
If your credit score is below 600, there are still a few options available for you. Lending Club, LendingPoint, Avant, NetCredit, and OppLoans each state 600 or lower as their minimum credit requirement. The one you choose depends on just how bad your credit is and how flexible a repayment scheme you need.
Although their conditions are far from ideal, beggars can’t be choosers; a personal loan is often still preferable to traditional payday loans and credit card debt.
Learn more about the best personal loans for bad credit, or check your rate with our number 1 pick below.
How Do Personal Loans Work?
When an individual borrows from a lender, this is called a personal loan. Possible lenders include banks, credit union, or marketplace lenders – and we discussed all three types in this article.
The key measure used to compare different personal loans is the APR (Annual Percentage Rate). The APR is much more relevant than the interest rate because it incorporates all the fees charged and makes it easier to directly compare the terms of different loans.
Other fees you could be charged include an origination fee, prepayment fee, and a late fee. An origination fee is a one-off fee you’ll pay initially when you take out a loan; the amount you’ll pay depends on your credit score and is charged after you receive the money. The prepayment fee is a charge you’ll have to pay for paying a loan off early, while a late fee is a cost imposed if you miss your monthly payment.
The rate you’re given for a personal loan typically depends on your credit rating, how much you want to borrow, and the term of the loan you want.
Some providers also consider your yearly salary, debt-to-income ratio (your debt expressed as a percentage of your income), or even your college education and earning potential.
It’s a good idea to check your credit score before you apply for a loan to get an idea of what to expect. This can be done for free and without affecting your credit score on a website like Credit Sesame.
They say that the less you need a loan, the easier it is to get one – unfortunately, this is true. If you have a low credit score, you’ll still be able to find a provider, but prepare to be ripped off.
Can I Get a Personal Loan With a 700 Credit Score?
The average American has a FICO credit score of 695, and having this score wouldn’t preclude you from any of the providers mentioned in this article. In fact, anything above 670 is deemed ‘good’ and will make you eligible for most loans.
Nonetheless, having an ‘acceptable’ score won’t guarantee you a good APR; you usually need a credit score of at least 740 to be offered a rate on the lower end of the spectrum advertised by providers.
Once you get to a credit score below 600, you’re likely to start running into trouble. Many providers won’t offer you a loan at all, and those that do will offer you a very high rate.
Here’s a list of the credit score requirements of all providers mentioned from highest to lowest:
- Earnest: 680
- SoFi: 680
- Marcus by Goldman Sachs: 660
- Discover: 660
- Laurel Road: 660
- Prosper: 640
- Best Egg: 640
- Payoff: 640
- Upgrade: 620
- Upstart: 620
- Lending Club: 600
- LendingPoint: 585
- Avant: 580
- NetCredit: 500
- OppLoans: 350
- OneMain Financial: None
Which Personal Loan Is Best For You?
If you want a personal loan to pay for an expensive wedding or a fancy vacation, then it could be worth reconsidering whether or not the expense is truly necessary and worth going into debt over.
But I get it – sometimes life gets in the way, and there really is no choice but to take out a loan. Debt consolidation is a perfect example.
If you are going to take out a personal loan, you need to get the most bang for your buck. Remember that checking your rate with a loan provider never affects your credit score, so it may be worth comparing multiple companies before you commit.
No matter what your credit score, there’s a loan out there for you. Just do your research and make sure you can meet the obligations of your payment plan.
*Payment Example: Monthly payments for a $10,000 loan at 5.95% APR with a term of 3 years would result in 36 monthly payments of $303.99.
Truist Bank is an Equal Housing Lender. © 2021 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.