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Best Personal Loans

SoFi offers the best personal loans

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Personal loans let you borrow money to meet a variety of financial goals. Whether you’d like to consolidate high-interest credit debt, cover an unexpected car repair, or pay for a home improvement project, a personal loan can help. 

With the number of personal loan lenders available, it can be difficult to choose one. But the best lenders are known for competitive rates, flexible terms, and transparent fees. Plus they offer loans to borrowers with various credit situations so you can find one that is right for you.

Best Personal Loans of 2022

Best Overall : SoFi

The Balance's Rating

  • APR range: 7.99%-23.43% 
  • Minimum credit score: 650 
  • Loan terms (range): 24-84 months
Pros & Cons
  • Can borrow up to $100,000

  • Same-day funding available

  • May prequalify without any impact to your credit

  • Must borrow at least $5,000

  • No secured options

Why We Chose It

With a SoFi personal loan, you won’t have to worry about any fees, like origination fees or prepayment fees. You’ll get unemployment protection, which will allow you to temporarily change your payments and even get some help finding a new job, and other benefits. SoFi loans are also flexible, meaning you can use them on credit card consolidation, home improvements, family planning, weddings, and anything in between.

Other perks of a SoFi loan include same-day funding in some cases, a quick application process that allows you to pre-qualify with no impact on your credit score, and high loan limits for qualified borrowers. Repayment terms are also flexible, with some loans having up to 84 months. 

You do need a 650 credit score to qualify for a SoFi loan, and loans are available in all states except Mississippi. Loans are unsecured, which means you won’t need to put down any collateral, but remember that SoFi is exclusively an online lender, so there are no physical branches.

Best for Debt Consolidation : Discover

The Balance's Rating

Discover Personal Loans

Discover Personal Loans 

  • APR range: 6.99%-24.99%
  • Minimum credit score: Not disclosed 
  • Loan terms (range): 36-84 months
Pros & Cons
  • Chance to prequalify

  • No origination fees

  • Next-day funding available

  • Late fee of $39

  • Minimum income of  $25,000

  • Maximum loan amount of $35,000

Why We Chose It

If you’d like to consolidate your high-interest credit card debt or other debt, a Discover personal loan might be what you’re looking for. Loans come with repayment terms ranging from 36-84 months, fixed rates, and minimal fees (there is a $39 late payment fee). Loan limits range from $2,500 - $35,000 and Discover can also send the funds directly to your creditors if you choose. 

Discover loans are available in all 50 states, but you must be at least 18 years old and have an income of $25,000 or more to qualify. You can check your eligibility and rate with no impact to your credit score, and you can receive the funds in a little as one day in most cases. 

Discover also offers a mobile app you may download to manage your payments and free credit score monitoring.

Best for Poor Credit and Small Loan Amounts : Upgrade

The Balance's Rating

Upgrade logo

 Upgrade logo

  • APR range: 7.46%-35.97%
  • Minimum credit score: 550 
  • Loan terms (range): 24-84 months
Pros & Cons
  • Receive money within a day

  • Direct payments to creditors

  • No prepayment penalties

  • Origination fees deducted from loan amount

  • No autopay discount

  • Can’t use funds for college

Why We Chose It

Upgrade offers small loans of $1,000, making it ideal if you have a small expense you need to pay for. They’re also good for borrowers with less-than-stellar credit, only requiring a 550 credit score to qualify. 

Upgrade personal loans do come with a number of fees, including a late payment and origination fee which are taken out of the loan amount. However, loan repayment terms are flexible, ranging from 24-84 months, and the funds can be used for a variety of purposes such as medical expenses or debt consolidation. There is a 20% discount available if you open an Upgrade rewards checking account. 

Loans are available in all states (although not to those living in Washington D.C.), and borrowers may receive funds as quickly as one day.

Best for Fast Funding : Rocket Loans

The Balance's Rating

Rocket Loans
  • APR range: 8.42%-29.99%
  • Minimum credit score: 580 
  • Loan terms (range): 36 or 60 months
Pros & Cons
  • Rate discount for autopay

  • Can prequalify quickly

  • No prepayment penalties

  • Origination fee of up to 6%

  • Late fee of $15

  • Only two options for repayment terms

Why We Chose It

Rocket Loans offers same-day funding. If you submit your application and sign the loan documents before 1:00 p.m. EST during the business week, you can receive the money in your account via ACH transfer that same day. 

This is a huge plus if you have an emergency expense and can’t wait long for the funds. Rocket Loans also lets you borrow as little as $2,000, making it worth considering if you have a small expense. Loan repayment terms, however, are limited as you can only choose from 36 or 60 months. 

Rocket Loans personal loans do come with some fees, including a $15 late payment fee and an origination fee of up to 6%. Funds can be used for a variety of expenses, but should you choose to use them for debt consolidation, you will need to pay your creditors yourself; Rocket Loans will not send payments directly to creditors. 

Loans are available to borrowers in 47 states (excluding Nevada, West Virginia, and Iowa), but you only need a 580 credit score to qualify.

Best for Military Members : Navy Federal Credit Union

The Balance's Rating

Navy Federal Credit Union logo

Navy Federal Credit Union logo

  • APR range: 7.49%-18.00%
  • Minimum credit score: No minimum 
  • Loan terms (range): 36-60 months
Pros & Cons
  • Can borrow as little as $250

  • May receive funds the same day you apply

  • 24/7 customer service

  • Must become a NFCU member

  • Higher minimums for some loan uses

  • Late fee of $29

Why We Chose It

Navy Federal Credit Union (NFCU) offers personal loans to the military community, which includes active duty and retired members as well as their families.  If you join it, you can choose from several unsecured and secured products.

These include personal expense loans, home improvement loans, debt consolidation loans, and savings secured loans. NFCU accepts applications with co-applicants so you may get approved for the loan of your choice, even if you don’t have the best credit. 

NFCU has a late fee of $29, but there is no origination fee. Repayment terms range from 36-180 months, loan amounts range from $250 up to $50,000, and they are available to borrowers in all 50 states. An added feature is the 24/7 customer service line as well as the option for customers to contact the lender via the mobile app.

Final Verdict

Many lenders offer personal loans, but SoFi stands out because of its affordable rates, flexible terms, and fast funding. It also has perks that you might not be able to find elsewhere including unemployment protection and job-hunting assistance. However, depending on your needs or financial situation, any of the lenders on our list are a good choice.

Compare the Best Personal Loans

Company Starting Interest Rate  Minimum Credit Score  Loan terms (range)  Fees 
Best Overall
7.99% 650 24-84 months  None 
Best for Debt Consolidation 
6.99%  Not disclosed  36-84 months  Late fees 
Best for Poor Credit and Small Loan Amounts
7.46%  550  24-84 months  Origination fees, late fees 
Rocket Loans
Best for Fast Funding 
8.42%  580  36 or 60 months  Origination fees, late fees 
Navy Federal Credit Union
Best for Military Members 
7.49%  No minimum  36-60 months  Returned payment fees, late fees 

Guide for Choosing the Best Personal Loans 

Should You Consider a Personal Loan?

If you don’t have the cash on hand to cover an expense, you might want to consider getting a personal loan. It can be an effective way to pay for things like consolidating high-interest debt, an emergency expense, home improvements, or even something like a boat or vacation. 

Before you take one out, though, consider if there are other ways you might be able to pay for something and the potential implications to your credit score and your budget (since you will need to repay the loan). 

You’ll also want to carefully consider from which lender you get a personal loan. They’re typically offered by banks, credit unions, and online lenders. If you already have an account at a certain bank or credit union, you might want to explore their loan options, and you might be able to get better terms (even if it takes a little longer to get the funds). But if you prefer a fast application and approval process, an online lender is likely your best bet. 

How to Compare Personal Loan Lenders

When you shop around for a personal loan, it’s a good idea to compare these factors:

  • APR: Annual percentage rate or APR is the total cost you’ll pay each year to borrow money, expressed as a percentage. The lower your APR, the less you’ll spend on your personal loan. 
  • Loan Amounts: Loan amounts vary greatly by lender. The purpose of your loan will help you determine whether you’re searching for a small amount around $250 or a larger amount of up to $100,000.
  • Terms: Terms refer to how long you have to repay your loan. While a longer term may lower your monthly payments, it will increase your total interest costs. 
  • Funding Time: Fortunately, most lenders offer fast funding. This may be the same day you apply, within 24 hours, or in a few business days. If you have emergency expenses, fast funding should be a priority. 
  • Customer Service: There’s a good chance you’ll need support with your loan at some point in time. Look for lenders with high customer service ratings who can help you via phone, email, and online chat. 

How to Apply for a Personal Loan

Once you’ve made a decision, it’s time to apply for a personal loan. Most lenders will let you go through the process online. Typically, you’ll need to fill out a short form and provide the following information:

  • Full name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Email
  • Date of birth
  • Social Security number
  • Desired loan amount
  • Intended loan use
  • Employment status
  • Monthly income
  • Monthly housing cost

You might also be asked to submit certain documents to verify your identity, address, and income. These include a utility bill, government-issued ID, like a driver’s license or passport, and pay stubs or tax forms. Depending on the lender, you might also have a credit check and if you have a joint applicant, they will likely be asked to provide the same documentation. 

A decision about your application can be made the same day or it could take up to two (or more weeks, again depending on the lender). Once a decision is made, you should receive funds relatively quickly. 

What is a Personal Loan?

Offered by banks, credit unions, and online lenders, a personal loan is a form of credit you can use to pay for a variety of expenses. Usually, it’s unsecured and doesn’t require collateral or something valuable you own. While personal loans vary greatly, many of them offer easy applications, flexible terms, and fast funding. 

How Does a Personal Loan Impact Your Credit?

A personal loan can help or hurt your credit. As long as you make your payments on time, every time, your credit score will increase. A personal loan may also improve your credit mix and lower your credit utilization ratio, which can also benefit your credit. On the flip side, late payments may hurt your credit. 

What Can I Use a Personal Loan For?

In most cases, you can use a personal loan to cover any expense. The top reasons for personal loans include debt consolidation, home remodeling, moving, emergency expenses, and wedding costs. Keep in mind that some lenders impose restrictions and won’t let you use a personal loan on things like college or gambling. Make sure you verify with the lender before applying for the loan that you can use the funds for your intended purpose.

How We Chose the Best Personal Loans

Our team evaluated 38 lenders and collected 1,520 data points before selecting our top choices. We weighed more than 20 criteria and gave a higher weight to those with a more significant impact to potential borrowers. 

The top picks were selected based on factors like membership requirements (weighted 15%), average fixed APR (weighted 15%), and average origination fees (weighted 10%). 

We also considered the flexibility of repayment terms, helpful features like pre-qualification, and whether a co-signer or joint applications are permitted to ensure borrowers get the best possible experience. For further information about our selection criteria and process, our complete methodology is available.

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