BEST OF

6 Green Loans to Finance Your Remodel

Green loans help pay for eco-friendly home improvements. Compare personal loans with other financing options.

Annie MillerberndApr 20, 2021

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Green loans are personal loans that you use to pay for eco-friendly home improvement projects like weatherization, solar panel installation or a kitchen renovation that uses sustainable materials and appliances.

Green personal loans are one financing option; others include government and credit unions loans and home equity. If you decide to get a green loan, compare lenders to find one that offers an interest rate, term and monthly payment that fits into your budget.

Here are six lenders that offer green personal loans.

Summary of Green Loans to Finance Your Remodel

Our pick for

Green loans with credit-building tools

Upgrade
Check rate

on Upgrade's website

Upgrade

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Upgrade

Est. APR

5.94 - 35.47%

Loan Amount

$1,000 - $50,000

Min. Credit Score

560
Check rate

on Upgrade's website


Min. Credit Score

560

Key facts

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

Pros

  • Allows secured and joint loans.

  • Offers a wide range of repayment terms.

  • Offers a 0.5% rate discount for setting up autopay.

  • Offers significant rate discount for checking account customers.

  • Offers rate discount with direct payment to creditors on debt consolidation loans.

Cons

  • Charges origination fee.

  • No co-signed loan option.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: 560; borrower average is 678.

  • Minimum annual income: None; borrower average is $78,000.

  • Minimum number of accounts on credit history: Two accounts.

  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: Less than or equal to 75%, including mortgage and calculating in your new personal loan.

Available Term Lengths

2 to 7 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: 2.9% to 8%.

Disclaimer

Personal loans made through Upgrade feature APRs of 5.94%-35.47%. 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

Green loans with limited credit history

Upstart
Check rate

on Upstart's website

Upstart

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Upstart

Est. APR

5.38 - 35.99%

Loan Amount

$1,000 - $50,000

Min. Credit Score

None
Check rate

on Upstart's website


Min. Credit Score

None

Key facts

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

Pros

  • Accepts borrowers new to credit.

  • Able to fund loans within one business day.

  • Offers direct payment to creditors with some debt consolidation loans.

  • Allows borrowers to choose and change payment date.

Cons

  • Borrowers can choose from only two repayment term options.

  • Charges origination fee.

  • No mobile app to manage the loan.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: None.

  • Minimum credit history: None, this lending platform accepts borrowers with credit history too limited to produce a FICO score.

  • Minimum gross income: $12,000.

  • Employment: Full-time job, full-time job offer starting in 6 months, a regular part-time job, or another source of regular income.

  • Must have U.S. residential street address where borrower resides (unless military personnel on active duty).

  • Must be at least 18 years old.

  • Valid email account required.

  • Personal bank account with U.S. routing number required.

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

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 21.97% and 36 monthly payments of $35 per $1,000 borrowed. For example, the total cost of a $10,000 loan would be $12,646 including a $626 origination fee. APR is calculated based on 3-year rates offered in the last 1 month. There is no down payment and no prepayment penalty. 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

Overall green loans

Lightstream
Check rate

on LightStream's website

LightStream

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Lightstream

Est. APR

4.49 - 20.49%

Loan Amount

$5,000 - $100,000

Min. Credit Score

660
Check rate

on LightStream's website


Min. Credit Score

660

Key facts

For every loan LightStream originates, it plants a tree through its partnership with American Forests. The lender says it has planted hundreds of thousands of trees through the initiative.

Pros

  • No fees.

  • Competitive rates among online lenders.

  • Offers .5% rate discount for setting up autopay.

  • Special features including rate beat program and satisfaction guarantee.

Cons

  • No option to pre-qualify on its website.

  • Requires several years of credit history.

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

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: 660.

  • Several years of credit history.

  • Multiple account types within your credit history, like credit cards, a car loan or other installment loan and a mortgage.

  • Strong payment history with few or no delinquencies.

  • Investments, retirement savings or other evidence of an ability to save money.

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

Available Term Lengths

2 to 7 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: None.

  • Late fee: None.

Disclaimer

Your loan terms, including APR, may differ based on loan purpose, amount, term length, and your credit profile. AutoPay discount of .50% points is only available when selected prior to loan funding. Rates without AutoPay will be .50% points higher. To obtain a loan, you must complete an application on LightStream.com which may affect your credit score. Subject to credit approval. Conditions and limitations apply. Advertised rates and terms are subject to change without notice. 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. Truist Bank is an Equal Housing Lender. ©2021 Truist Financial Corporation. SunTrust, Truist, LightStream, the LightStream logo, and the SunTrust logo are service marks of Truist Financial Corporation. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Lending services provided by Truist Bank.

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Our pick for

Green loans with low rates and large amounts

SoFi
Check rate

on SoFi's website

SoFi

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
SoFi

Est. APR

4.99 - 19.63%

Loan Amount

$5,000 - $100,000

Min. Credit Score

680
Check rate

on SoFi's website


Min. Credit Score

680

Key facts

SoFi offers online personal loans with consumer-friendly features for good- and excellent-credit borrowers.

Pros

  • No fees.

  • Offers co-sign and joint loan options.

  • Offers .25% rate discount for setting up autopay.

  • Offers unemployment protection.

  • Provides mobile app to manage your loan.

Cons

  • No secured loan option.

Qualifications

  • Must legally be an adult in your state.

  • Must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or visa holder.

  • Must be employed, have sufficient income or have an offer of employment to start within the next 90 days.

Available Term Lengths

2 to 7 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: None.

  • Late fee: None.

Disclaimer

Fixed rates from 4.99% APR to 19.63% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of August 11, 2021 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. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. 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

Green loans with low amounts and a co-borrower

Prosper
Check rate

on Prosper's website

Prosper

3.5

NerdWallet rating 
Prosper

Est. APR

7.95 - 35.99%

Loan Amount

$2,000 - $40,000

Min. Credit Score

600
Check rate

on Prosper's website


Min. Credit Score

600

Key facts

Peer-to-peer lender Prosper has rates and fees that compare to other lenders for good-credit borrowers.

Pros

  • Option to change your payment date.

  • Offers joint loan.

  • Offers wide range of loan amounts. 


Cons

  • No rate discount for autopay.

  • Charges origination and late fees.

  • Borrowers can choose from only two repayment term options.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: 640; borrower average is 726.

  • Minimum credit history: 2 years.

  • Minimum income: No minimum income requirement; borrower average is $113,000.

  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: 50% (excluding mortgage); borrower average is 18% with housing payment.

  • No bankruptcies filed within the past year.

  • At least three open accounts on credit report.

  • Fewer than five credit bureau inquiries in the last six months.

  • Must be at least 18 years old.

  • Must provide Social Security number and a U.S. bank account.


Available Term Lengths

3 to 5 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: 2.41 to 5%.

  • Late fee: $15 or 5% of unpaid amount (whichever is greater).

  • Insufficient funds fee: $15.

Disclaimer

For example, a three-year $10,000 personal loan would have an interest rate of 11.74% and a 5.00% origination fee for an annual percentage rate (APR) of 15.34% APR. You would receive $9,500 and make 36 scheduled monthly payments of $330.90. A five-year $10,000 personal loan would have an interest rate of 11.99% and a 5.00% origination fee with a 14.27% APR. You would receive $9,500 and make 60 scheduled monthly payments of $222.39. Origination fees vary between 2.41%-5%. Personal loan APRs through Prosper range from 7.95% to 35.99%, with the lowest rates for the most creditworthy borrowers. Eligibility for personal loans up to $40,000 depends on the information provided by the applicant in the application form. Eligibility for personal loans is not guaranteed, and requires that a sufficient number of investors commit funds to your account and that you meet credit and other conditions. Refer to Borrower Registration Agreement for details and all terms and conditions. All personal loans made by WebBank, Member FDIC.

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Our pick for

Green loans for excellent-credit borrowers

Discover
Check rate

on Discover's website

Discover® Personal Loans

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Discover

Est. APR

6.99 - 24.99%

Loan Amount

$2,500 - $35,000

Min. Credit Score

720
Check rate

on Discover's website


Min. Credit Score

720

Key facts

Discover personal loans can be a smart way to consolidate or refinance debt for borrowers with excellent credit.

Pros

  • No origination fee.

  • Offers direct payment to creditors with debt consolidation loans.

  • Offers mobile app to manage loan.

  • Able to fund loans within one business day.

  • Wide variety of repayment term options.

Cons

  • Charges late fee.

  • No co-signed, joint or secured loan options.

  • No rate discount for autopay.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: 720; borrower average is 750.


  • Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

  • Must be at least 18 years old.

  • Must have a minimum household income of $40,000.

Available Term Lengths

3 to 7 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: None.

  • Late fee: $39.

Disclaimer

This is not a commitment to lend from Discover Personal Loans. Your approval for a loan is determined once you apply and is based on your application information and credit history. Your APR will be between 6.99%-24.99% based upon creditworthiness at time of application for loan terms of 36-84 months. For example, if you get approved for a $15,000 loan at 6.99% APR for a term of 72 months, you’ll pay just $256 per month. Our lowest rates are available to consumers with the best credit. Many factors are used to determine your rate, such as your credit history, application information and the term you select. Not all applications will be approved.

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Green loans from online lenders

Some online lenders refer to loans you use toward energy- and water-saving home improvements as "green loans." These are unsecured personal loans you use to pay for large-scale projects that might include:

  • Weatherization.

  • Bath or kitchen remodels that incorporate sustainable materials.

  • Double- or triple-pane window installation.

  • Water-efficient plumbing.

  • Low-VOC floors, coverings with low volatile organic compounds.

Aside from how you use it, a green loan from an online lender resembles any personal loan: Annual percentage rates start around 6% up to 36%; loan amounts range from $1,000 to $100,000; and repayments are fixed monthly installments, typically over two to seven years. To qualify for the lowest rates, borrowers generally need good to excellent credit (above 690 FICO), low debt and enough income to cover existing expenses plus the new loan payment.

How to get a green loan

Getting a green loan from an online lender is the same process as for any personal loan. Here are the main six steps.

  1. Check your credit reports. Review your credit report to spot errors that could be keeping your credit score down. If you address them before you submit a loan application, you’ll improve your chance of qualifying. You can see your credit report for free at annualcreditreport.com.

  2. Estimate the project costs. Have a reliable estimate before you start looking into financing options. Personal loans come in lump sums, so if you don’t borrow enough, it’s difficult to reapply for more.

  3. Calculate monthly payments. Use a personal loan calculator to see how the new loan fits into your budget. A calculator shows what rate and repayment term you’ll need on the loan in order to afford the monthly payments.

  4. Compare lenders. A good rule of thumb is to choose the lender that offers the lowest APR. You can also compare things like how fast lenders can fund a loan, whether they allow joint or co-signed loans and what kinds of credit-building tools they offer borrowers.

  5. Pre-qualify. Many online lenders let you pre-qualify to see what rate, term and loan amount you could be offered without affecting your credit. You can pre-qualify with multiple online lenders on NerdWallet and compare offers from different lenders at the same time.

  6. Gather documents and apply. If you go with an offer you’ve pre-qualified for, you’ll move to the application process. A lender may ask for information like W-2s, pay stubs and your Social Security number, so have those documents on hand before you apply. Submitting an application will trigger a hard credit pull.

Other green loan options

Some credit unions partner with local governments or utilities to offer low rates on green loans. Consider these alternatives to green personal loans.

Credit union loans

You many receive a discounted interest rate on a green loan from your local credit union. Colorado-based Elevations Credit Union, for example, offers an energy loan that finances updates like solar panels and energy-efficient appliances. Velocity Credit Union in Austin, Texas, has financing for energy-efficient home improvements through a partnership with the local utility company. Both loans have starting rates in the single digits.

Government funding

Federal, state and local governments may offer assistance to make your home more energy- or water-efficient. The Department of Housing and Urban Development offers FHA Title 1 Loans and 203(k) loans. Some cities provide low- or no-cost energy audits for your home and assistance with weatherization financing. You can find more information about local options at your utility company or by using the Department of Energy’s weatherization database.

Home equity

If you have enough equity in your home, you may be able to borrow it to pay for a green home improvement project. Home equity loans come in lump sums and are repaid in fixed installments, typically over five to 15 years.

With a home equity line of credit, you use as much of the money as needed and repay only what you use. HELOCs have variable rates and repayments over a longer term — often 20 years. Using equity typically means securing the loan with your home, which the lender can take if you don’t repay.

Credit cards

Credit cards are best used for small, DIY projects. Contractors may charge a small fee — 2% or 3% of the cost — if you pay with a credit card. If you have a store card from a retailer you plan to use for the remodel, you may get cash back on your purchases. Just pay off the balance to avoid having interest costs outweigh the rewards.

Last updated on April 20, 2021

Methodology

NerdWallet’s review process evaluates and rates personal loan products from more than 30 lenders. We collect over 45 data points from each lender, interview company representatives and compare the lender with others that seek the same customer or offer a similar personal loan product. NerdWallet writers and editors conduct a full fact check and update annually, but also make updates throughout the year as necessary.

Our star ratings award points to lenders that offer consumer-friendly features, including: soft credit checks to pre-qualify, competitive interest rates and no fees, transparency of rates and terms, flexible payment options, fast funding times, accessible customer service, reporting of payments to credit bureaus and financial education. We also consider regulatory actions filed by agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. We weigh these factors based on our assessment of which are the most important to consumers and how meaningfully they impact consumers’ experiences. 

This methodology applies only to lenders that cap interest rates at 36%, the maximum rate most financial experts and consumer advocates agree is the acceptable limit for a loan to be affordable. NerdWallet does not receive compensation for our star ratings. Read our editorial guidelines.

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Green Loans to Finance Your Remodel

  • Upgrade: Best for Green loans with credit-building tools
  • Upstart: Best for Green loans with limited credit history
  • LightStream: Best for Overall green loans
  • SoFi: Best for Green loans with low rates and large amounts
  • Prosper: Best for Green loans with low amounts and a co-borrower
  • Discover® Personal Loans: Best for Green loans for excellent-credit borrowers

Frequently asked questions