Best Personal Loan Companies

Mike Brown
Updated: October 2, 2020

Many or all of the companies featured provide compensation to LendEDU. These commissions are how we maintain our free service for consumers. Compensation, along with hours of in-depth editorial research, determines where & how companies appear on our site.

In this guide, you can compare our choices for the best personal loan companies and find answers to some of the most common questions that borrowers have.

The best personal loans have low rates, no or low fees, and a variety of repayment terms to choose from. You can use the funds for debt consolidation, home improvements, or typically whatever else you need money for.

Personal loans are generally offered with fixed interest rates that are lower than other financing options, such as credit cards, allowing for a straightforward repayment process. Your eligibility and the rates you are offered are mostly based on your credit score.

Compare Personal Loan Companies & Rates

LightStream

0.00% - 00.00%

Rates (APR)

2 to 12 Years*

Loan Terms

660

Min. Credit Score

What we like

  • Rate Beat Program available
  • Accepts joint applications for every loan type
  • LightStream has one of the highest loan limits; allowing borrowers take out up to $100,000
  • Zero origination, prepayment penalties, or late fees
  • Plants a tree for every loan

Additional Information

See our LightStream Personal Loans Review

*Your loan terms are not guaranteed and may vary based loan purpose, length of loan, loan amount, credit history and payment method (AutoPay or Invoice). Rate quote includes AutoPay discount. AutoPay discount is only available when selected prior to loan funding. To obtain a loan, you must complete an application on LightStream.com which may affect your credit score. You may be required to verify income, identity and other stated application information. Payment example: Monthly payments for a $10,000 loan at 6.14% APR with a term of 3 years would result in 36 monthly payments of $304.85. Some additional conditions and limitations apply. Advertised rates and terms are subject to change without notice. SunTrust now Truist 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 rights reserved. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Lending services provided by SunTrust now Truist Bank.

Loan Minimum $5,000
Loan Maximum $100,000
Time to Funding As soon as the same day3
Min. Annual Income Not provided
Min. Credit History Not provided
State Restrictions Available in any state
Origination Fees None
Prepayment Penalty None
Late Fees None
Upgrade

0.00% - 00.00%

Rates (APR)

3 or 5 Years*

Loan Terms

620

Min. Credit Score

What we like

  • Access to free credit monitoring, a credit simulator, and free educational resources
  • Upgrade may allow you to temporarily reduce your monthly payments due to hardships
  • Funds will be sent to your bank via ACH within one (1) business day of clearing necessary verifications
  • No prepayment penalties

Additional Information

See our Upgrade Personal Loans Review

* Personal loans made through Upgrade feature APRs of 7.99%-35.97%. All personal loans have a 2.9% to 8% origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Lowest rates require Autopay and paying off a portion of existing debt directly. For example, if you receive a $10,000 loan with a 36-month term and a 17.98% APR (which includes a 14.32% yearly interest rate and a 5% one-time origination fee), you would receive $9,500 in your account and would have a required monthly payment of $343.33. Over the life of the loan, your payments would total $12,359.97. The APR on your loan may be higher or lower and your loan offers may not have multiple term lengths available. Actual rate depends on credit score, credit usage history, loan term, and other factors. Late payments or subsequent charges and fees may increase the cost of your fixed rate loan. There is no fee or penalty for repaying a loan early. Personal loans issued by Upgrade's lending partners. Information on Upgrade's lending partners can be found at https://www.upgrade.com/lending-partners/.

**Accept your loan offer and your funds will be sent to your bank or designated account within one (1) business day of clearing necessary verifications. Availability of the funds is dependent on how quickly your bank processes the transaction. From the time of approval, funds should be available within four (4) business days. Funds sent directly to pay off your creditors may take up to 2 weeks to clear, depending on the creditor.

Loan Minimum $1,000
Loan Maximum $35,000
Time to Funding One business day**
Min. Annual Income None
Min. Credit History Typically 3 years
State Restrictions Not available in IA and WV
Origination Fees 2.9% - 8% of the loan amount
Prepayment Penalty None
Late Fees Up to $10
LendingClub

0.00% - 00.00%

Rates (APR)

3 to 5 Years

Loan Terms

600

Min. Credit Score

What we like

  • Founded in 2007, LendingClub is the largest online lender for personal loans in the U.S.
  • Ability to add a cosigner
  • Borrowers facing hardship have the option to make interest-only payments for three months
  • No prepayment penalties

Additional Information

See our LendingClub Personal Loans Review

Loan Minimum $1,000
Loan Maximum $40,000
Time to Funding As few as 3 days
Min. Annual Income None
Min. Credit History None
State Restrictions Not available in IA
Origination Fees 2% - 6% of loan amount
Prepayment Penalty None
Late Fees $15 or 5% of the unpaid amount
Upstart

0.00% - 00.00%

Rates (APR)

3 or 5 Years

Loan Terms

620

Min. Credit Score

What we like

  • Upstart considers factors other than your credit score when assessing your loan application
  • Accepts applicants with a part-time job or a job offer letter
  • Receive funds as quick as next day after approval
  • No prepayment penalties or hidden fees

Additional Information

See our Upstart Personal Loans Review

Loan Minimum $1,000
Loan Maximum $50,000
Time to Funding Typically one day
Min. Annual Income None
Min. Credit History None
State Restrictions Available in any state
Origination Fees 0% - 10% of the loan amount
Prepayment Penalty None
Late Fees $15 or 5% of payment

6 Best Personal Loan Companies

Below are reviews of our picks for the top personal loan lenders. You can find information about interest rates, term lengths, fees, and more.

The following companies are our partners that have been fully vetted by our Editorial Team, allowing us to keep the information up-to-date and giving us insights into which lender is best for what.

Here are our choices for the best personal loan companies. Click a lender to jump down to its review:

  • LightStream: Best for excellent to good credit, fast funding, no fees
  • Upgrade: Best for fair to bad credit, loans under $5k, checking rates
  • LendingClub: Best for fair to bad credit, loans under $5k, checking rates
  • Upstart: Best for fair to bad credit, checking rates
  • Avant: Best for bad credit, checking rates
  • Payoff: Best for fair credit, paying off credit card debt

LightStream

Best for: Excellent to good credit, fast funding, no fees

LightStream

Editorial Rating (5.0 / 5.0)

  • Minimum credit score of 660
  • $100 satisfaction guarantee on your experience1
  • Will beat the rate a competitor offers you by 0.10 percentage points
  • AutoPay discount of 0.50%
Rates (APR)

0.00% - 0.00%

Loan Terms

2 - 12 years

Loan Amounts

$5,000 - $100,000

Origination Fee

None

Time to Fund

As soon as the same day

LightStream is our best overall personal loan lender due to their low rates, wide range of loan amounts, lack of fees, and great benefits. The online-only lender mainly targets borrowers with good credit, allowing them to offer one of the most competitive personal loan products available today.

LightStream loans can be used for virtually any purpose. There is a maximum loan term of seven years when funds are used for anything other than home improvements; if used for home improvements, the maximum term is 12 years.

If you’re not satisfied with your personal loan, you can complete a questionnaire within 30 days of receiving your funds and LightStream will send you $100. In addition, LightStream is so confident in their product that they have a Rate Beat Program in which they will beat any rate a competitor offers you 0.10 percentage points if certain conditions are met (see site for details).

Since the loan application process is entirely online, borrowers don’t have to travel to a physical branch to fill out an application. You can also apply with a co-borrower to help improve your application. If approved, you may receive your funds as soon as the next day.


Upgrade

Best for: Fair to bad credit, loans under $5k, checking rates

Upgrade

Editorial Rating (4.8 / 5.0)

  • Minimum credit score of 620
  • Check your rates without affecting your credit score
  • Free credit monitoring and online education tools
Rates (APR)

0.00% - 0.00%

Loan Terms

3 or 5 years

Loan Amounts

$1,000 - $35,000

Origination Fee

0% - 0%

Time to Fund

As soon as the next day

Upgrade is another company that loans money to borrowers with fair and bad credit. Interest rates are competitive with other lenders who target borrowers in this credit range and there is a large range of loan amounts available. In addition, Upgrade charges no prepayment penalties so you can pay off your loan at any time without facing extra fees.

The entire application process can be completed online and you can receive your funds as soon as the next day. Also, checking rates won’t affect your credit score. Upgrade allows for joint applications which may increase your chances of being approved for the lowest rates. In addition, eligibility is more dependent on free cash flow as compared to other lenders.

If you end up taking out an Upgrade loan, you will have access to free credit monitoring and other credit health tools to help you build your score.


LendingClub

Best for: Fair to bad credit, loans under $5k, checking rates

LendingClub

Editorial Rating (4.5 / 5.0)

  • Minimum credit score of 600
  • Check your rates without affecting your credit score
  • Peer-to-peer marketplace instead of large bank or lender
Rates (APR)

0.00% - 0.00%

Loan Terms

3 or 5 years

Loan Amounts

$1,000 - $40,000

Origination Fee

0% - 0%

Time to Fund

As soon as 4 business days

LendingClub is a peer-to-peer marketplace that allows individuals to receive loans that are funded by other consumers. LendingClub personal loans are best suited for those with fair to poor credit scores, and they can be used for almost any expense.

The application can be completed in just a few minutes and you can check your rates with a soft credit pull that won’t affect your credit score. You can also apply with a co-borrower if you’d like. If you accept a loan offer, your funds will be disbursed to your bank account in as soon as four business days—which is slightly longer than some competitors.


Upstart

Best for: Fair to bad credit, checking rates

Upstart

Editorial Rating (4.5 / 5.0)

  • Minimum credit score of 580 or 620 depending on where you live
  • Check your rates without affecting your credit score
  • 10-day grace period for late payments
Rates (APR)

0.00% - 0.00%

Loan Terms

3 or 5 years

Loan Amounts

$5,000 - $30,000

Origination Fee

Up to 4.75%

Time to Fund

Next day

Upstart is another online lender offering competitive rates on loans to borrowers with bad and fair credit. The loans may, however, have large origination fees depending on your personal situation.

You can complete your application online and receive your funds as soon as the next day. Joint applications aren’t allowed but you can check your rates without affecting your credit score. You can also pay off your loan at any time without facing a prepayment penalty.


Avant

Best for: Bad credit, checking rates

Avant

Editorial Rating (4.5 / 5.0)

  • Minimum credit score of 580
  • Check your rates without affecting your credit score
  • No minimum income requirement
Rates (APR)

0.00 - 0.00

Loan Terms

2 to 5 years

Loan Amounts

$2,000 - $35,000

Origination Fee

Up to 4.75%

Time to Fund

2 days on average

If you have poor credit, then Avant may be your best option for securing a personal loan. It has built a proprietary formula to judge a borrower’s creditworthiness by utilizing advanced algorithms and analytical tools.

Loans can be used for a variety of purposes including debt consolidation, home improvements, and more. The application process is fairly straightforward. You can check your rates in a few minutes without affecting your credit score. If you like the terms offered, you can e-sign and the funds can be deposited into your account as soon as the next business day following a hard credit pull.


Payoff

Best for: Fair credit, paying off credit card debt

Payoff

Editorial Rating (4.8 / 5.0)

  • Minimum credit score of 640
  • Must have a debt-to-income ratio of 50% or less
  • Designed to help boost your FICO score
Rates (APR)

0.00% - 0.00%

Loan Terms

2 - 5 years

Loan Amounts

$5,000 - $35,000

Origination Fee

0% - 5%

Time to Fund

2 to 7 days

Payoff offers a personal loan designed to help borrowers eliminate credit card debt. Their loan allows you to consolidate multiple high-interest credit card balances into one monthly payment with a fixed interest rate.

Something that makes Payoff unique amongst other personal loan lenders is the transparency around their approval criteria. In order to be approved for a loan you will need a FICO score of 640 or higher, a debt-to-income ratio of 50% or less, and three years of good credit amongst other criteria.

If you are looking for a personal loan to help you repay high-interest credit card debt, then Payoff may be a good option.


How We Chose the Best Personal Loan Companies

In order to help you find a personal loan company, our Editorial Team spent over 50 hours analyzing our partner lenders for multiple data points. Each company was rated relative to others in their credit category.

We rated lenders based on interest rates, fees, term lengths, loan amounts, deposit time, soft credit pull availability, discounts, availability of cosigned or joint loans, BBB rating, Trustpilot rating, and extra benefits. You can learn more here.

What to Look for in the Best Personal Loan

In order to find the best personal loan, there are certain things you should consider. While the best loan for you will depend on your personal situation, here are some common things to watch out for:

Rates & Terms

Interest Rates: Look for personal loans with the lowest interest rates. The rate will have the biggest influence over the total cost of the loan, so it’s important to shop around for the lowest rate.

Repayment Terms: Lenders usually allow you to choose from a range of repayment terms. This is the amount of time you will have to make monthly payments for. Shorter term lengths result in higher monthly payments but more interest saved over time, and vice-versa for longer repayment terms. Make sure the lender you choose has a repayment term that will result in a monthly payment that fits your budget.

Available Discounts: Many lenders offer interest rate discounts to help reduce the total cost of the loan and to promote financially healthy behaviors. Most often, lenders will offer a rate discount (typically 0.25%) for setting up automatic payments. Other lenders may offer discounts for other things such as having a bank account with the lender.

Fees

Origination Fees: This fee is charged when you take out a personal loan and is calculated as a percentage of the total loan amount. Many of the best personal loan organizations don’t charge any origination fees, but some do. If there is one, be sure to consider it when calculating your total loan cost.

Prepayment Penalties: This fee is charged if you pay off your loan early. Like origination fees, most of the top personal loan companies don’t charge prepayment penalties. If you anticipate that you’ll want to pay off your loan faster than your term length requires, be sure to find a lender that doesn’t charge prepayment penalties.

Other Fees: Some lenders may charge other fees such as late fees or fees for paying with a check. Make sure to consider these fees before deciding on which personal loan is best for you.

Application Process

Soft Credit Check for Pre-Approval: Many lenders allow you to see interest rate quotes after they do a soft credit check. This won’t affect your credit score like a hard credit inquiry will, so you can shop around for rates without worrying about your credit taking a hit. Note that most lenders will perform a hard credit inquiry later on in the application process to determine if you are definitely eligible and what your rate will be.

If Co-Applicants/Cosigners Are Allowed: If you are not eligible for a personal loan on your own or would like to share the repayment responsibility with someone else, you should look for a lender that allows you to add a co-applicant or cosigner to your application. Check out our guides to learn more about personal loans with a co-applicant or personal loans with a cosigner.

Time to Funding: It will take each lender a different amount of time to process your application and disburse your funds to your bank account. If you need money sooner, be sure to choose a lender with a short funding time.

Other

Customer Reviews: It’s often valuable to read customer reviews and complaints on external sites like the Better Business Bureau and Trustpilot to see if there are any common issues with the companies you are considering that could negatively affect you.

When to Use a Personal Loan

Personal loans can be used for almost anything. That doesn’t mean that it’s a good idea to use them for everything, however.

You should make sure you are using the funds for something that will help you financially—such as paying off high-interest credit card debt or making improvements to your home—or something that is absolutely necessary like responding to an emergency.

You shouldn’t use personal loans for “wants” like a vacation or new clothes. While rates are typically lower than credit cards, they are still high enough that you shouldn’t go into debt unnecessarily.

Other common uses of personal loans include covering medical expenses, paying for a funeral, consolidating credit card debt, and paying for a wedding.

Before taking out a personal loan, be sure that it makes financial sense to go into debt for whatever you are planning to use it for. You should also calculate what your monthly payments will be to make sure you can afford them.

Personal Loan Interest Rates

Personal loans usually have fixed interest rates that won’t change over the life of the loan, making repayment straightforward and predictable.

Most lenders advertise annual percentage rates (APRs) for their loans. This includes all costs of the loan including both the interest rate as well as things like origination fees.

Your rate will mainly be determined by your credit history. Higher credit scores equal lower rates and vice-versa. Based on our past users and research, here are the rates you can expect based on your credit score:

  • Excellent credit (781+): Under 12%
  • Good credit (661-780): 12% – 16%
  • Fair credit (601-660): 16% – 26%
  • Poor credit (Under 600): 26%+

If you don’t have a good credit score, you may want to work on improving it before taking out a loan. This can help you secure a lower rate and reduce the amount of interest you pay over time. Check out our guide on how to improve your credit score.

Personal Loan Application Process

Applying for personal loans online has become much easier these days. With an emphasis on convenience, many of the best loan companies have focused on cutting the time required and difficulty of their applications.

Eligibility Criteria

Each lender has different eligibility criteria, but most personal loan lenders will look at your credit report and income. The higher your credit score and income, the more likely you are to get approved for a loan.

Online personal loan companies tend to approve borrowers who don’t have ideal credit scores more often than large banks and credit unions. Part of this has to do with a trend towards using additional criteria outside of credit history, including education, employment history, and free cash flow.

If you are a U.S. citizen you likely won't have an issue applying with any of these lenders, but for non-U.S. citizens there may be certain visa or green card requirements.

Information You’ll Need When Applying

When applying for personal loans, you will need to provide the lender with certain information so they can make a decision. For lenders with alternative credit models, you may need to provide more information, but in general, you will likely need the following:

  • Identification. A driver’s license, Social Security card or number, passport, or other official form of identification.
  • Proof of income. If you have an employer, you will need your W-2 forms and pay stubs. If you're self-employed, you will need your tax returns or bank statements.
  • Proof of address. You will likely need an official piece of mail like a utility bill with your address on it or a copy of your lease or deed.

Pros & Cons of Personal Loans

Like any financial product, there are pros and cons to consider before taking out a personal loan. Here are a few of the most important to consider:

Pros

  • Lower rates than alternatives. Personal loans typically have lower interest rates than credit cards and other financial products, making them a less expensive borrowing option if you have a decent credit score.
  • Fixed interest rates. Most personal loans have fixed rates that make repayment predictable, unlike loans with variable rates that fluctuate with the market.
  • Can be used for almost anything. Most lenders will let you use your personal loan funds however you see fit.
  • No collateral required. Personal loans are typically unsecured meaning you don’t have to offer collateral like you do with a home equity loan or auto loan.
  • Fast funding. Unlike home equity loans that can take weeks to receive your funds, you can usually get your personal loan funds within a few days.

Cons

  • High rates for borrowers with bad credit. Borrowers with credit scores under 600 or so may only be eligible for loans with rates above 20% or 30%, which make them very expensive and possibly difficult to repay.
  • Origination fees. While there are personal loans with no fees, most do have an origination fee of around 1% to 6%. These fees can increase the cost of the loan considerably.
  • Many scams in the industry. There are many scammers in the personal loan industry trying to make a quick buck off unsuspecting consumers. Be sure you are dealing with a reputable lender before providing any sensitive information.

Personal Loans vs. Credit Cards

Personal loans and credit cards are two popular options for covering expenses, and there are some key differences between the two that you should know about.

To start, credit cards are a form of revolving credit, meaning that you can continually use them to pay for things even after you pay off your balance. Personal loans, on the other hand, are installment loans that give you a lump sum of money upfront that you pay off over time. Once you pay off a personal loan, you will have to take another one out if you need more money. Credit cards are typically better for smaller purchases that you can pay off within a month, while personal loans are better for large purchases that you want to spread out over time.

As mentioned above, personal loans also typically have lower rates than credit cards, unless you have a bad credit score. This makes personal loans a good option to refinance credit card debt. For example, if you pay off a credit card with a 30% interest rate with a personal loan with a 15% interest rate, you will save significant money.


Recap of the Best Personal Loan Companies

Lender Rates (APR) Loan Amounts Min. Credit Score
LightStream 0.00 - 0.00 $0,000 - $000,000 000
Upgrade 0.00 - 0.00 $0,000 - $000,000 000
LendingClub 0.00 - 0.00 $0,000 - $000,000 000
Upstart 0.00% - 0.00% $0,000 - $000,000 000
Avant 0.00 - 0.00 $0,000 - $000,000 000
Payoff 0.00% - 0.00% $0,000 - $000,000 000

Personal Loan Resources

Personal Loan Types & Uses

Personal Loan Information