Our experts answer readers’ personal loan questions and write unbiased product reviews (here’s how we assess personal loans). In some cases, we receive a commission from our partners; however, our opinions are our own.
Personal loans are excellent options for people in need of fast cash to cover expenses like medical bills or home improvement projects. There are personal loans for borrowers who want a sizeable chunk of money and for those who just need a bit of change to tide them over.
The best personal loan option for you may depend on your credit score, as one lender may offer a better deal than another. The higher your credit score, the lower the rate you’ll usually receive.
Best Personal Loans of 2023
LightStream Personal Loan – Product Name Only SoFi Personal Loan – Product Name Only Wells Fargo Personal Loan – Product Name Only Avant Personal Loan – Product Name Only PenFed Credit Union Personal Loan – Product Name Only Service Credit Union Personal Loan – Product Name Only Upstart Personal Loan – Product Name Only
We’ve gathered the best lenders for people with a range of credit scores, with a specific focus on finding companies that offer low APRs.
Compare the Best Personal Loans of 2023
Our Experts for the Best Personal Loans
We consulted personal loan and financial experts to give their insights into finding the best low-interest student loans for your needs.
- Markia Brown, certified financial education instructor and registered financial associate at Money Plug, LLC
- Ryan Wangman, loans reporter at Personal Finance Insider
How to Choose the Best Personal Loan
To pick the best personal loan for you, take stock of the factors that are most important to you. Many borrowers zero in the lowest interest rate, but also look at any fees, the minimum credit score needed, and the accessibility of the lender’s customer service.
Also look at the different types of lenders you may borrow with. Some people may feel comfortable with an online lender, while others may prefer a credit union or bank. You’ll also want to make sure you’re able to select a term length that works for you and that your loan’s purpose is allowed by the lender you choose.
Guides like this one will help you compare multiple lenders in the same place to weigh their pros and cons. Keep in mind that you should also read individual reviews of any lenders you’re considering.
Insider combed through the fine print of personal loans and compared our findings to those of personal finance sites including NerdWallet, MagnifyMoney, and ValuePenguin. The research included personal loans at all different credit levels. We considered factors like:
- APR range: We considered interest rates, or what it costs to borrow. However, APRs are variable, and could change in the future.
- Variety of term lengths: We looked for banks that offered variety in loan terms, or the length of time it will take to repay the loan. The longer a loan is, the more likely it is to cost more.
- Fees: Early payoff, origination, and administrative fees can increase the cost of borrowing. Where possible, we looked for loans without fees.
- Nationwide availability: Loans considered were available in most US states, if not all 50.
Personal Loan Frequently Asked Questions
Where else can I find personal loans?
If you’re a local credit union member or have one nearby to join, it could be worth checking on rates for a personal loan there. Smaller lenders like credit unions can often offer much lower interest rates than bigger banks and lenders. They also tend to be more flexible about credit requirements. It might be worth checking on their rates and terms as part of your research.
Is a personal loan right for me?
Personal loans aren’t right for every situation, nor every person. They can often be difficult to qualify for, with high credit score requirements. Personal loans also carry high interest rates, which could mean there are better options out there.
Personal loans have higher interest rates than you’d see on car loans or student loans. For larger purchases that won’t fit within a credit limit, a personal loan might be the right option. It’s worth calculating the interest you’ll pay, and carefully considering options like a secured loan to bring down the interest rate. However, personal loans should be used wisely, as they have high interest rates and could be risky when there’s collateral involved.
What are the alternatives to a personal loan?
For small amounts, you might find that a 0% APR credit card would be a better fit. Such cards can be especially useful for consolidating credit card debt or making purchases that you’d like to pay off over time. Generally, they have 0% APRs for the first 12 to 16 months from opening. Pay off the card in full before the introductory period is up, and you won’t pay interest on your purchase.
What credit score do I need for a personal loan?
Many lenders don’t disclose a minimum credit score, but they may be able to give you a general sense of your approval chances when you offer them your financial information. If your score is too low to qualify, take steps to improve it by reviewing your credit report and lowering your credit utilization ratio (the percentage of your credit limit you’re currently using).
What options do you have if you can’t repay your loan?
Before you take out a loan, understand what protections your lender offers in case you run into financial emergency, such as a job loss. For instance, SoFi offers forbearance in case you lose your job during your loan repayment. Interest will still accrue when your payments are paused, but you’ll get temporary financial relief during a stressful time.
LightStream Personal Loan – Product Name Only
Why LightStream stands out: Truist created LightStream for online loans, and the bank offers personal loans for things like home remodels, medical debt, and debt consolidation. LightStream is the best option for those with excellent credit because its lowest APR is lower than any other lender on our list — even though SoFi has a higher minimum credit score requirement.
Look out for: High credit score requirements. LightStream’s minimum credit requirement for a personal loan is 660, so this lender might not be right for all credit types.
Read Insider’s full review review of LightStream Personal Loans.
SoFi Personal Loan – Product Name Only
Why SoFi stands out: SoFi’s personal loans have a minimum credit score requirement of 680, at the lower end of what’s considered a good credit score. People with a good credit score will likely be able to get a good rate with SoFi, but borrowers with an excellent credit score may be able to snag a lower rate with LightStream.
Interest rates on these loans range by about 13 percentage points, making for a smaller range than offered by other companies. This means interest rates for borrowers with relatively lower credit scores can only go so high.
Look out for: A relatively high minimum income for approval. According to loan comparison site Credible, less than 1% of borrowers approved for personal loans through SoFi have an income of less than $50,000 per year, and a majority make more than $100,000.
Read Insider’s full review of SoFi Personal Loans.
Why Wells Fargo stands out: Wells Fargo’s personal loans offer low interest rates, smaller minimum borrowing amounts, and shorter terms than others. Wells Fargo offers loans between
Look out for: It’s worth noting Wells Fargo’s history with data security and compliance. The bank has faced several federal penalties for improper customer referrals to lending and insurance products, and security issues associated with creating fake accounts several years ago.
Read Insider’s full review of Wells Fargo personal loans.
Why Avant stands out: Personal loans are generally offered to those with better credit scores, but online lender Avant offers personal loan options for borrowers with credit scores as low as 600. It has a lower limit than other lenders, with $35,000 as the maximum loan amount.
Look out for: Administrative fees. Avant’s personal loans carry
It’s also worth noting that interest rates are high from this lender. While this is a good option for anyone with credit scores in the lower 600s, those with better credit could find better rates elsewhere.
Read Insider’s full review of Avant personal loans.
PenFed Credit Union Personal Loan – Product Name Only
Why PenFed stands out: For borrowers looking to take out a small amount of money, PenFed offers loans as small as $600. This could make the credit union an attractive alternative to a payday loan.
Look out for: Membership requirements. You don’t need to be a member of the credit union to apply for a personal loan, but you’ll have to be a member to get your loan. If you’ve served in the military or work at qualifying associations or organizations, you’ll qualify.
However, you have a pretty easy workaround if that doesn’t apply. You can join by opening a savings account with a $5 minimum deposit.
Read Insider’s full review of PenFed Credit Union personal loans.
Service Credit Union Personal Loan – Product Name Only
Why Service Credit Union stands out: Service Credit Union has excellent customer support, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The approval process takes about 24 hours, and after your loan application is accepted, you may even be able to get your money the same day.
Look out for: Membership requirements. Much like with most credit unions, you’ll need to meet certain requirements to be eligible. If you’ve served in the military or Department of Defense or work at qualifying associations or organizations, you’ll qualify. If that doesn’t apply to you, you can join the American Consumer Council for free with a promo code.
Read Insider’s full review of Service Credit Union personal loans.
Upstart Personal Loan – Product Name Only
Why Upstart stands out: One of Upstart’s main separators is its underwriting process, which is how the lender decides who gets a loan and how much to charge in interest. Like any lender, Upstart considers credit scores as part of the process. But it also considers employment history and education history, such as where you went to school and your area of study.
Look out for: Potentially high origination fees. Upstart’s personal loans can have
Read Insider’s full review of Upstart personal loans.
Personal Loan Credit Score Requirements
Credit scores play a big role in your ability to get a personal loan, and how much you’ll pay to borrow the money. The better your credit score, the lower your interest rate is likely to be, and the less you’ll pay in interest over the life of the loan.
You can find your credit report for free on annualcreditreport.com from any of the three major credit bureaus weekly through the end of 2023. While this report won’t give you your credit score, it will show you information about your credit and payment history, which lenders use to decide whether to give you a loan. Reviewing your credit report can help you know what you need to improve.
You can get your score at no cost on your credit card statement or online account.
Credit scores fall into five categories in a range of 300 to 850, according to FICO:
- Very poor: below 579
- Fair: between 580 and 669
- Good: between 670 and 739
- Very good: between 740 and 799
- Exceptional: above 800
While credit does have an impact on your interest rate, it’s worth noting that interest rates can also change on their own, fluctuating based on the bank’s cost of borrowing called the federal funds rate. While there are alternatives to borrow money, like 0% APR credit cards and home equity loans, they don’t always work for every person or situation.
Other Personal Loans We Considered
Discover Personal Loan – Product Name Only: Discover’s loans have a minimum 660 minimum credit score requirement and similar APRs to other lenders on our list. But borrowers with good credit could get lower interest rates elsewhere. Personal Loans: This online lending marketplace has an accessible 600 minimum credit score requirement. But, it charges LendingClub Personal Loan – Fees Display, which can make the cost of borrowing add up. Read Insider’s full review of LendingClub. Prosper Personal Loan: Fees keep Prosper from being a top choice. While it only requires a minimum credit score of 640, it also requires Prosper Personal Loan – Fees Display. Read Insider’s full review of Prosper.
Which Personal Loan Lender Is the Most Trustworthy?
The Better Business Bureau, a non-profit organization focused on consumer protection and trust, evaluates businesses using factors like their responsiveness to consumer complaints, honesty in advertising, and clarity about business practices. Here is each company’s score:
All of our top picks, minus Wells Fargo, are rated A or higher by the BBB. Keep in mind that a high BBB score does not ensure a positive relationship with a lender, and that you should keep doing research and talking to others who have used the company to get the most comprehensive information possible.
The BBB gives Wells Fargo an F rating because of the business’ failure to respond to 24 complaints and government actions against the business. Most recently, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in December 2022 ordered Wells Fargo to return $2 billion to customers and pay a $1.7 billion penalty for legal violations involving auto loans, mortgages, and deposit accounts. The bank illegally charged fees and interest penalties on auto and mortgage loans. Additionally, it misapplied payments to those loans for many customers.
If this history makes you uncomfortable, you may consider using one of the other personal loan lenders on our list.
Our Experts’ Advice for Choosing the Best Personal Loan
How does the interest rate on a personal loan affect how much I pay?
“The interest rate on a personal loan is the price you pay for borrowing the loan. This rate can make a massive difference in the total amount paid over time, so ensuring you have the lowest interest rate available saves you money!”
“Depending on the interest rate you’re charged, you could end up paying hundreds or thousands of dollars more than a borrower with better credit who takes out a similar amount of money.”
If someone wants to get a lower interest rate but doesn’t currently qualify for one, what should they do?
“The first step is to pull a copy of your credit report from TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian. All you have to do is go to http://www.annualcreditreport.com.
After you pull your credit reports, go through them to identify what could be holding you back from qualifying for a better rate. Some of the information on your credit report is used to generate your credit score, which is used when determining if you qualify for a loan and what your interest rate should be. The five sections used to calculate your credit score are your payment history, credit utilization, length of payment history, mix of accounts, and new accounts/inquiries.”
“The best way to get a lower rate is to improve your credit history. You can do so by making on time, reliable payments and managing the amount of debt you take out compared to your overall limit.”