Best of

Best Personal Loans of October 2020

Steve NicastroOctober 5, 2020

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Compare personal loans for good and bad credit, debt consolidation and more.

Personal loans have fixed annual percentage rates, generally between 6% and 36%. The loan with the lowest rate is the least expensive — and usually the best choice. Other features, including no fees, soft credit checks and whether lenders directly pay creditors if you’re consolidating debt, set some loans apart.

We spent hours reviewing loans from over 30 personal loan companies to find the best online rates and loan features.

  • LightStream: Best for home improvement loans.

  • SoFi: Best for good to excellent credit.

  • Marcus by Goldman Sachs: Best for bank loans.

  • Upgrade: Best for fair credit.

  • Avant: Best for bad credit.

  • Upstart: Best for short credit history.

  • Payoff: Best for debt consolidation.

  • Rocket Loans: Best for fast funding.

We always recommend you know your credit score and compare loans from multiple lenders before making a choice.

Summary of Best Personal Loans of October 2020

Our pick for

Home improvement loans

Lightstream

on LightStream's website

LightStream

Lightstream

Min. Credit Score

660

Est. APR

3.99 - 16.99%

Loan Amount

$5,000 - $100,000

on LightStream's website


Min. Credit Score

660

Key facts

LightStream targets strong-credit borrowers with no fees and low rates that vary based on loan purpose.

Pros

  • No fees.

  • Rate discount for autopay.

  • Low starting rates.

Cons

  • Does not offer pre-qualification on its website.

  • Requires several years of credit history.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score of 660.

  • Enough income to pay existing debts and a new LightStream loan.

  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio varies depending on existing assets and the reason for the loan.

Available Term Lengths

2 to 7 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: None.

  • Late fee: None.

Disclaimer

Your loan terms are not guaranteed and may vary based on 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 $5,000 loan at 12.8% APR with a term of 3 years would result in 36 monthly payments of $168. 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.
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Our pick for

Personal loans for good to excellent credit

SoFi

on SoFi's website

SoFi

Min. Credit Score

680

Est. APR

5.99 - 18.53%

Loan Amount

$5,000 - $100,000

on SoFi's website


Min. Credit Score

680

Key facts

SoFi is a strong option for good-credit consumers, offering low rates, no fees and flexible payments.

Pros

  • Soft credit check with pre-qualify.

  • Flexible payment options.

  • Offers member perks.

Cons

  • Does not offer direct payment to creditors with debt consolidation loans.

  • Does not offer refinance options.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: 680, but typically 700 or higher.

  • Minimum annual income: None; borrowers' average is over $100,000.

Available Term Lengths

2 to 7 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: None.

  • Late fee: None.

Disclaimer

Fixed rates from 5.99% APR to 18.53% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of September 18, 2020 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, income, and other factors. See APR examples and terms. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.
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Our pick for

Bank loans

Marcus by Goldman Sachs

on Goldman Sachs's website

Marcus by Goldman Sachs

Marcus by Goldman Sachs

Min. Credit Score

680

Est. APR

6.99 - 19.99%

Loan Amount

$3,500 - $40,000

on Goldman Sachs's website


Min. Credit Score

680

Key facts

Among banks that offer personal loans, Marcus stands out for low rates, no fees, flexible payment options and a transparent online application process.

Pros

  • No fees.

  • Flexible payment options.

  • Directly pays creditors for debt consolidation loans.

  • Rate discount with autopay.

Cons

  • No option to include co-signer.

  • Reports payments to one of the three major credit bureaus.

Qualifications

  • At least 18 years old (19 in Alabama; 21 in Mississippi and Puerto Rico).

  • Valid U.S. bank account, Social Security number or tax ID.

  • 680+ credit score.

  • For debt consolidation loans, you may be required to send part of the loan directly to your creditors.

Available Term Lengths

3 to 6 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: None.

  • Late fee: None.

Disclaimer

Your loan terms are not guaranteed and are subject to our verification of your identity and credit information. To obtain a loan, you must submit additional documentation including an application that may affect your credit score. The availability of a loan offer and the terms of your actual offer will vary due to a number of factors, including your loan purpose and our evaluation of your creditworthiness. Rates will vary based on many factors, such as your creditworthiness (for example, credit score and credit history) and the length of your loan (for example, rates for 36 month loans are generally lower than rates for 72 month loans). Your maximum loan amount may vary depending on your loan purpose, income and creditworthiness. Your verifiable income must support your ability to repay your loan. Marcus by Goldman Sachs is a brand of Goldman Sachs Bank USA and all loans are issued by Goldman Sachs Bank USA, Salt Lake City Branch. Applications are subject to additional terms and conditions.
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Our pick for

Personal loans for fair credit

Upgrade

on Upgrade's website

Upgrade

Upgrade

Min. Credit Score

580

Est. APR

7.99 - 35.97%

Loan Amount

$1,000 - $35,000

on Upgrade's website


Min. Credit Score

580

Key facts

Upgrade offers personal loans plus credit-building tools; you'll need strong cash flow to qualify.

Pros

  • Allows co-signed and joint loans.

  • Offers hardship program.

  • Offers direct payment to creditors with debt consolidation loans.

Cons

  • Charges origination fee.

  • Charges late fee.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: 600.

  • Minimum annual income: None, but most applicants earn more than $30,000.

  • Minimum monthly free cash flow: $800.

  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: 60%.

  • Unavailable to borrowers in: Iowa, Vermont and West Virginia.

Available Term Lengths

3 to 5 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: 2.9% to 8%.

Disclaimer

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.
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Our pick for

Personal loans for bad credit

Avant

on Avant's website

Avant

Min. Credit Score

580

Est. APR

9.95 - 35.99%

Loan Amount

$2,000 - $35,000

on Avant's website


Min. Credit Score

580

Key facts

Low starting rates make Avant a good option for borrowers with low credit scores and income.

Pros

  • Able to fund loans within one business day.

  • Soft credit check with pre-qualification.

  • Option to change your payment date.

Cons

  • Charges origination fee.

  • No option to include co-signer.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score of 580.

  • At least $20,000 in gross annual income.

Available Term Lengths

2 to 5 years

Fees

  • Administrative fee: Up to 4.75%.

  • Late fee: $25 (most states).

  • Unsuccessful payment fee: $15 (most states).

Disclaimer

A $5,700 loan with an administration fee of 4.75% and an amount financed of $5,429.25, repayable in 36 monthly installments, would have an APR of 29.95% and monthly payments of $230.33. Minimum loan amounts may vary by state. If approved, the actual rate and loan amount that a customer qualifies for may vary based on credit determination and other factors. An administration fee of up to 4.75% will be deducted from the loan proceeds. Avant branded credit products are issued by Webbank, member FDIC
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Our pick for

Personal loans for short credit history

Upstart

on Upstart's website

Upstart

Upstart

Min. Credit Score

600

Est. APR

6.16 - 35.99%

Loan Amount

$1,000 - $50,000

on Upstart's website


Min. Credit Score

600

Key facts

Upstart is a good option for those who have short credit histories and promising financial futures.

Pros

  • Accepts borrowers new to credit.

  • Fast funding.

Cons

  • Origination and late fees.

  • No secured or co-sign option.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: 600.

  • Minimum credit history: None.

  • Minimum annual income: $12,000.

  • Max debt-to-income ratio: 45%.

Available Term Lengths

3 to 5 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: 0% - 8%.

  • Late fee: 5% of past due amount or $15, whichever is greater.

Disclaimer

1)This offer is conditioned on final approval based on our consideration and verification of financial and non-financial information. Rate and loan amount are subject to change based upon information received in your full application. This offer may be accepted only by the person identified in this offer, who is old enough to legally enter into contract for the extension of credit, a US citizen or permanent resident, and a current resident of the US. Duplicate offers received are void. Closing your loan is contingent on your meeting our eligibility requirements, our verification of your information, and your agreement to the terms and conditions on the www.upstart.com website. 2) § Your loan amount will be determined based on your credit, income, and certain other information provided in your loan application. Not all applicants will qualify for the full amount. The minimum loan amount in MA is $7,000. The minimum loan amount in Ohio is $6,000. The minimum loan amount in NM is $5,100. The minimum loan amount in GA is $3,100. 3) ‡ The full range of available rates varies by state. The average 3-year loan offered across all lenders using the Upstart platform will have an APR of 15% and 36 monthly payments of $33 per $1,000 borrowed. There is no down payment and no prepayment penalty. Average APR is calculated based on 3-year rates offered in the last 1 month. Your APR will be determined based on your credit, income, and certain other information provided in your loan application. Not all applicants will be approved.
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Our pick for

Personal loans for debt consolidation

Getting a personal loan is one way to consolidate credit card debt. Our list includes lenders whose starting rates are lower than typical credit card rates.

Payoff

on Payoff's website

Payoff

Min. Credit Score

640

Est. APR

5.99 - 24.99%

Loan Amount

$5,000 - $40,000

on Payoff's website


Min. Credit Score

640

Key facts

Payoff offers loans plus ongoing support to help good-credit borrowers consolidate credit card debt.

Pros

  • Competitive rates among similar lenders.

  • Offers online educational resources.

  • Offers direct payment to creditors with debt consolidation loans.

Cons

  • No co-sign or secured loan option.

  • Charges origination fee.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score of 640.

  • Minimum credit history: 3 years.

  • Minimum annual income: $40,000.

  • Debt-to-income ratio: less than 50%.

Available Term Lengths

2 to 5 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: 0% - 5%.

Disclaimer

This does not constitute an actual commitment to lend or an offer to extend credit. Upon submitting a loan application, you may be asked to provide additional documents to enable us to verify your income, assets, and financial condition. Your interest rate and terms for which you are approved will be shown to you as part of the online application process. Most applicants will receive a variety of loan offerings to choose from, with varying loan amounts and interest rates. Borrower subject to a loan origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Refer to full borrower agreement for all terms, conditions and requirements.
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Our pick for

Personal loans for fast funding

RocketLoans
See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website

Rocket Loans

RocketLoans

Min. Credit Score

580

Est. APR

7.16 - 29.99%

Loan Amount

$2,000 - $45,000

See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website


Min. Credit Score

580

Key facts

Rocket Loans requires you to complete your application and get approved before 1 p.m. ET.

Pros

  • Able to fund some loans the same day as approval.

  • Soft credit check with pre-qualification.

  • Rate discount for autopay.

Cons

  • Charges origination fee.

  • Does not offer direct payment to creditors for debt consolidation loans.

  • No co-sign, joint or secured loan option.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: 580; borrowers’ average is 710. Rocket Loans uses the FICO 9 credit scoring model.

  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: 40%; borrowers’ average is 14%. This lender doesn’t include a mortgage in its debt-to-income calculation.

  • Minimum annual income: $24,000; borrowers’ average is $85,000.

  • Minimum credit history: Two years; borrowers’ average is 18 years.

Available Term Lengths

3 to 5 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: 1% to 6%.

  • Late fee: $15 after 10-day grace period.

  • Unsuccessful payment fee: $15.

Disclaimer

All personal loans are made by Cross River Bank, a New Jersey state chartered commercial bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender. All loans are unsecured, fully amortizing personal loans. Eligibility for a loan is not guaranteed. Please refer to our Disclosures and Licenses page for state required disclosures, licenses, and lending restrictions. Borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent U.S. resident alien at least 18 years of age (in Nebraska and Alabama a borrower must be at least 19 years of age). All loan applications are subject to credit review and approval. Offered loan terms depend upon your credit profile, requested amount, requested loan term, credit usage, credit history and other factors. Not all borrowers receive the lowest interest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have excellent credit, meet certain conditions, and select autopay. Rates and Terms are subject to change at any time without notice. Please refer to RocketLoans.com and our Terms of Use for additional terms and conditions.
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When should I get a personal loan?

Taking a personal loan makes sense when it's the least expensive form of credit, when it's used toward something that has the potential to increase your financial standing, like debt consolidation or home improvements, and when you can manage the monthly payments without stressing your budget.

On the other hand, a personal loan used for discretionary expenses, like a vacation, can be expensive. NerdWallet recommends using savings for nonessentials, to avoid finance charges.

If you're borrowing for emergency or medical expenses, consider less-expensive alternatives first, such as community assistance or payment plans.

Loan interest rates and fees

Personal loan interest rates vary by lender, and the rate you receive will depend on factors such as your credit score, income and debt-to-income ratio.

Borrowers with high credit scores generally receive lower rates. The estimated APR for a borrower with excellent credit is 13.9%, 18% for good credit, 21.8% for fair credit, and 27.2% for bad credit, according to NerdWallet’s latest lender survey. Here are some of the best personal loan rates available:

Lender

Typical APR range

Loan amounts

5.49% - 20.49%

$5,000 - $100,000

5.99% - 18.83%

$5,000 - $100,000

5.99% - 24.99%

$5,000 - $40,000

6.99% - 19.99%

$3,500 - $40,000

Some lenders charge origination fees to cover the cost of processing the loan. Lenders deduct the fee from the loan proceeds or roll it into the balance. This one-time, upfront fee is included in the loan’s APR, so keep this in mind when comparing costs between lenders.

Other fees to watch out for include late fees, fees for paying off your loan early and insufficient funds fees.

Personal loans vs. credit cards

Average interest rates on personal loans can be lower for good-credit borrowers than average rates on credit cards. In some situations, the fixed interest and monthly payments associated with personal loans, which are installment loans, can be preferable to the revolving credit that credit cards have.

In general, personal loans work better for large expenses that you can repay over years, while credit cards are best for smaller expenses that you can pay off each month.

Before you take a personal loan

  • You don't need perfect credit to get a personal loan, but doing what you can to strengthen your credit before you apply can boost your chances of qualifying and get you a lower interest rate.

  • Use our personal loan calculator to see estimated rates and payments based on credit scores.

  • Shop around and compare loans, not just interest rates but also fees and features. The APR gives an apples-to-apples way to compare total costs between loans.

  • If you're getting a personal loan to consolidate debt, make a plan to pay off your creditors and avoid running up debt again. Building a budget that accounts for debt repayments is a good place to start.

Pre-qualify for a personal loan

Most online lenders will give you an estimated interest rate by performing a soft check of your credit. This won’t affect your credit score, so it pays to take the steps to pre-qualify for a loan with multiple lenders and compare rates and loan features. You can pre-qualify on NerdWallet and see rates from lenders that partner with us.

After you compare offers and select a loan with the lowest rate and payments that fit your budget, you'll formally apply for the loan.

The loan application may require additional personal information, including employment status and education history. You may also need to authorize the lender to pull your credit reports and verify your income.

Your first loan payment is usually due within 30 days of loan approval and funding.

Learn more about the loans and lenders in each of these categories:

Explore more uses for personal loans:

Last updated on October 5, 2020

Methodology

NerdWallet's ratings for personal loans award points to lenders that offer consumer-friendly features, including soft credit checks, no fees, transparency of loan rates and terms, flexible payment options, accessible customer service, reporting of payments to credit bureaus and financial education. We also consider the number of complaints filed with agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This methodology applies only to lenders that cap interest rates at 36%, the maximum rate financial experts and consumer advocates agree is the acceptable limit for a loan to be affordable. NerdWallet does not receive compensation of any sort for our reviews.

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Best Personal Loans of October 2020

  • LightStream: Best for Home improvement loans
  • SoFi: Best for Personal loans for good to excellent credit
  • Marcus by Goldman Sachs: Best for Bank loans
  • Upgrade: Best for Personal loans for fair credit
  • Avant: Best for Personal loans for bad credit
  • Upstart: Best for Personal loans for short credit history
  • Payoff: Best for Personal loans for debt consolidation
  • Rocket Loans: Best for Personal loans for fast funding

Frequently asked questions