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Personal Loans

Long-Term Personal Loans

Personal loans are flexible, unsecured loans for almost any expense, including medical bills, travel, wedding costs, debt consolidation, or home renovations. Unlike secured loans for cars or houses, personal loan amounts can go up to $100,000 and don’t limit how you spend the funds.

Long-term personal loans offer repayment terms for up to 15 years, which offers additional flexibility. It makes it easier to borrow large amounts while maintaining a reasonable monthly payment.  

Here’s everything you need to know about long-term personal loans, including how to find the best terms.

In this guide:

What is a long-term personal loan?

With a standard personal loan, you often get two to five years to repay. Long-term personal loans can have loan repayment terms of up to 15 years

A longer repayment term makes the monthly payment more manageable and allows you to afford a bigger loan. But it also stretches interest fees over a more extended period, increasing the loan cost. 

You can see an example of this in the table below: 

Loan details5-year term10-year term
Initial loan amount$20,000$20,000
Interest rate10%10%
Monthly payment$424.94$264.30
Total interest cost$5,496.45$11,716.18

With long-term personal loans, you get the short-term benefit of lower payments at the long-term expense of a higher total cost for the loan. As you consider a long-term loan, finding the right balance for your finances and goals is critical.

Where to find long-term loans online

Physical banks are an option for personal loans but are not the only ones. Many banks offer personal loans through their websites, and several online loans might also be options. Some of the best personal loan lenders operate solely online, with lower overhead costs.

We analyzed dozens of personal loan lenders, categorized them by their target credit profile, and limited your options to those offering long-term loans. Click the lender’s name below to jump to the details about its long-term loan.

Lender nameBest forMax. term (years)
LightStreamExcellent credit12
SoFiGood credit7
UpgradeFair credit7
UpstartThin credit5
Happy MoneyCredit card debt5

As with any loan, a good to excellent credit score gives you more options and likely a lower interest rate when you apply for a long-term personal loan. Many lenders consider credit scores of 700 or more good.

LightStream: 4.8 out of 5 editorial rating

Best for excellent credit

  • No fees
  • Same-day funding
  • Solid customer service

LightStream is an online lender that offers personal loans at low interest rates and terms up to 12 years. If you have excellent credit, you can access loan rates comparable to home equity loans. The company doesn’t charge fees and promises same-day funding once approved. 

One downside: No preapproval process means you can expect a hard inquiry on your credit report when you apply. 

  • Term lengths: 24 – 144 months
  • Loan amounts: $5,000 – $100,000     
  • APRs: 7.99%25.49% with autopay
  • Credit range: Excellent, good
  • Ability to prequalify? No, but you can preview loan options 
  • Full review: LightStream Personal Loan Review

SoFi: 5 out of 5 editorial rating

Best for good credit

  • No fees
  • Unique perks
  • Quick funding

SoFi is an online lender that started with student loans but has since branched out to other types. Now a chartered bank, the company offers personal loans, including long-term loans with repayment terms of up to seven years

SoFi’s unique perks include unemployment protection and no fees. The application process is simple, and you can get funds the same day. 

  • Term lengths: 24 – 84 months
  • Loan amounts: $5,000 – $100,000
  • APRs: 8.99% – 25.81%
  • Credit range: Good
  • Ability to prequalify? Yes
  • Full review: SoFi Personal Loan Review

Upgrade: 4.9 out of 5 editorial rating

Best for fair credit

  • Borrow up to $50,000
  • Origination fee
  • Quick prequalification process

Upgrade might be a terrific option if you have fair or poor credit. The company offers loan terms of up to seven years

You can quickly check your loan options and select the best one. But prepare for the origination fee, which is 1.85% to 9.99% and deducted from the loan amount. It’s a one-time expense, but the cost can add up, especially for larger loans. 

  • Term lengths: 24 – 84 months
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 – $50,000
  • APRs: 8.49%35.97%
  • Credit range: Fair
  • Ability to prequalify? Yes
  • Full review: Upgrade Personal Loan Review

Upstart: 4.8 out of 5 editorial rating

Best for thin credit

  • Inclusive scoring model
  • Origination fee
  • Quick application process

Upstart might be a solid option if you’re struggling to find a personal loan due to your credit score or lack of credit history. The company uses a unique credit scoring model that considers an applicant’s education and employment, which might make it easier to qualify for a loan.

Interest rates are competitive, but you could have an origination fee of up to 10%. It might be worth the extra expense if you need personal loan with a longer term of five years

  • Term lengths: 3 or 5 years
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 – $50,000
  • APRs: 5.20% – 35.99%
  • Credit range: Thin (i.e., little to no credit)
  • Ability to prequalify? Yes
  • Full review: Upstart Personal Loan Review

Happy Money: 4.8 out of 5 editorial rating

Best for credit card debt

  • Pay creditors directly
  • No late fees
  • Personalized support

If you opt for the Payoff Loan from Happy Money, the company can send your loan funds to your credit card company. It simplifies consolidating debt and takes a task off your to-do list. The longest term you can get with Happy Money is five years

Happy Money charges an origination fee of up to 5%. Once the loan is active, you won’t pay late fees or prepayment penalties. The APRs are competitive, and the application process is fast. It’s a solid option, especially for paying off credit card debt. 

  • Term lengths: 24 – 60 months
  • Loan amounts: $5,000 – $40,000
  • APRs: 11.25%24.81%
  • Credit range: Thin
  • Ability to prequalify? Yes
  • Full review: Happy Money Personal Loan Review

Where can I find a 15-year personal loan?

Fifteen years is the longest repayment term for a personal loan. Of all the lenders we researched, Navy Federal Credit Union is the only one offering 15-year personal loans. NFCU is a terrific lender if you’re eligible to borrow from it, but the eligibility requirements can be strict. Only members of the military and their families can join.

If you don’t qualify for a 15-year personal loan with Navy Federal, consider a 12-year loan with LightStream. With repayment terms of up to 144 months, LightStream is an excellent option for long-term personal loans. 

Pros & cons of long-term loans

Long-term personal loans offer unique perks, such as affordable monthly payments and higher loan amounts. But consider the potential downsides to make a balanced decision. 

Pros

  • Lower monthly payments 

  • Larger loan amounts for big purchases or expenses

  • Fixed interest rates

  • Predictable, stable payments

Cons

  • Higher interest rates

  • More time for interest to accrue

  • Fewer loan options

How a long-term loan could affect your finances

Long-term personal loans offer flexibility, but the payments can affect your finances for over a decade. Let’s imagine you have credit card debt with high interest rates and want to consolidate it into one loan. You take out a $35,000 personal loan at 7.99% to consolidate all your debts. 

Here’s what your repayment plan would look like for different loan lengths:

Term (yrs.)Monthly paymentInterest cost
5$709.51$7,570.60
10 $424.46$15,935.20
12$382.24$19,908.20
15$334.28$25,170.40

The difference between each term is significant. Longer terms can shave hundreds of dollars off your monthly bill but cost thousands more over the life of the loan. The more time you leave interest to accrue on a loan, the costlier the loan gets. 

Your credit history is crucial if you’re considering a long-term loan. The higher your credit score, the lower the interest rate on the loan, which reduces the impact of a longer term. 

Consider the following example, assuming a $35,000 personal loan with a 15-year term:

RateMonthly paymentInterest cost
7.99%$334.28$25,170.40
9.99%$375.90$32,662.00
13.99%$465.87$48,856.60

As you can see, a loan with a higher interest rate can cost you thousands of dollars over the life of a long-term loan.

Natalie Slagle, CFP®, underscores the importance of being aware of how much of the principal (original amount you borrow) you pay off over time:


Loan amortization occurs when a consumer’s monthly payment is the same, but the way it is being applied to the loan is different each month. How is this possible? Through a loan amortization schedule. 

Each time you make a monthly payment, a certain percentage of that payment goes toward interest, and the remainder is applied to the principal. That weighting shifts every single payment. Typically, a greater percentage will go toward the interest payment in the beginning of the loan. Eventually, that proportion will shift so more of your payment is applied to the principle. It’s hard to notice this occur because, as the consumer, you are making the same exact payment each month.


>> Read more: How do personal loans work?

Who should (and shouldn’t) consider a long-term personal loan?

Long-term personal loans can be helpful in certain situations but are not a cure-all for financial problems.

When to consider a long-term personal loan:

  • You want to fund a major home improvement project to add value to your home.
  • You’re consolidating large amounts of credit card debt.
  • You have a medical emergency and no other way to handle the costs.

When a long-term personal loan is unwise:

  • You’re trying to pay for a discretionary purchase, such as a vacation.
  • Your budget can handle a shorter repayment term.
  • You expect your income or earnings to decrease over the next decade.

If you take out a personal loan, Natalie Slagle, CFP®, recommends considering two strategies to repay it faster:


If you are paid every other week, consider making a payment every time you get paid rather than once a month. If you align it with your paychecks, you’ll make extra payments on the loan each year without it affecting your cash flow too much.  

Another strategy is to pay off extra principal with surplus funds alongside your scheduled monthly payments. By making ad hoc payments directly toward your principal, you’ll pay off the loan faster and minimize your interest expenses.


Alternatives to long-term personal loans

A long-term personal loan can be an excellent option, but it’s not your only one. If you decide it’s not the right choice, consider these alternatives. 

Home equity loan or HELOC

If you own a home and have equity, you might qualify for a home equity loan or line of credit (HELOC). Home equity loans offer fixed interest rates and stable monthly payments. On the other hand, HELOCs provide a flexible line of credit with variable interest you can use as needed. 

Natalie Slagle, CFP®, recommends understanding the pros and cons: “Home equity loans can offer more favorable rates than a personal loan since you now have collateral to secure the loan. However, because the collateral is your home, it’s important to understand the risks of using your residence to obtain more debt.” 

Personal line of credit

If you want the flexibility of a HELOC but don’t have sufficient home equity—or don’t want to risk losing your home if you can’t repay—consider a personal line of credit. These are similar to personal loans, but instead of borrowing a lump sum, you can borrow from it as needed, up to your credit line.

Credit card refinancing

If you want a personal loan to consolidate credit card debt, consider qualifying for a balance transfer card with a 0% introductory rate. It can be a terrific way to save on interest while you repay your debt. But it’s essential to stick to the plan, or you could pay excessive interest charges once the introductory period ends. 

Friend or family loan

If a close friend or family member is willing to lend you money, you can ask for a loan. But before you agree, make sure you’re comfortable borrowing from someone you know. 

Retirement plan loan

Many retirement plans allow you to take out a loan. According to Natalie Slagle, CFP®, “This can be a terrific option for borrowers. Just be sure to read the fine print about how the payoff works and what happens if you leave your job before repaying a 401(k) loan.”