BEST OF

Best Installment Loans of December 2022

Installment loans are borrowed funds you repay in equal parts over a period of time. If you have bad credit, an installment loan can be less risky and more affordable than payday loans.

Dec 1, 2022

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Installment loans can help you cover a large expense, consolidate high-interest debt or get through an emergency. Compare lenders and learn how to choose the best installment loan for your expense.

Best Installment Loans

Our pick for

Installment loans

Upgrade
Get rate

on Upgrade's website

Upgrade

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Upgrade

Est. APR

7.96-35.97%

Loan amount

$1,000-$50,000

Min. credit score

560
Get 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

  • Secured and joint loans.

  • Multiple rate discounts.

  • Mobile app to manage loan payments.

  • Direct payment to creditors with debt consolidation loans.

  • Long repayment terms on home improvement loans.

Cons

  • Origination fee.

  • No option to choose your payment date.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: 560.

  • Minimum number of accounts on credit history: 1 account.

  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: 75%, including the loan you're applying for.

  • Minimum length of credit history: 2 years.

  • Minimum income requirement: None. Lender accepts income from alimony, retirement, child support, Social Security and other sources.

Available Term Lengths

2 to 7 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: 1.85% to 8.99%.

  • Late Fee: $10.

  • Failed payment fee: $10.

Disclaimer

Personal loans made through Upgrade feature Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) of 7.96%-35.97%. All personal loans have a 1.85% to 8.99% origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Lowest rates require Autopay and paying off a portion of existing debt directly. Loans feature repayment terms of 24 to 84 months. For example, if you receive a $10,000 loan with a 36-month term and a 17.59% APR (which includes a 13.94% 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 $341.48. Over the life of the loan, your payments would total $12,293.46. 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 bank partners. Information on Upgrade's bank partners can be found at https://www.upgrade.com/bank-partners/.

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Lightstream
Get rate

on LightStream's website

LightStream

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Lightstream

Est. APR

6.99-22.49%

Loan amount

$5,000-$100,000

Min. credit score

660
Get rate

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.

  • Long repayment terms on home improvement loans.

  • Rate Beat program and Experience Guarantee.

Cons

  • No option to pre-qualify on its website.

  • Requires several years of credit history.

  • No 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

Rates quoted are with AutoPay. 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). AutoPay discount is only available when selected prior to loan funding. Rates without AutoPay are 0.50% points higher. 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 $25,000 loan at 4.98% APR with a term of 20 years would result in 240 monthly payments of $164.71. Some additional conditions and limitations apply. Advertised rates and terms are subject to change without notice. Truist Bank is an Equal Housing Lender. © 2022 Truist Financial Corporation. Truist, LightStream, and the LightStream 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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Marcus by Goldman Sachs
Get rate

on Goldman Sachs' website

Marcus by Goldman Sachs

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Marcus by Goldman Sachs

Est. APR

6.99-24.99%

Loan amount

$3,500-$40,000

Min. credit score

740
Get rate

on Goldman Sachs' website


Min. credit score

740

Key facts

With zero fees and customizable repayment terms, Marcus offers one of the best personal loans for borrowers with good credit.

Pros

  • No fees.

  • Rate discount for autopay.

  • Option to pre-qualify with a soft credit check.

  • Direct payment to creditors with debt consolidation loans.

Cons

  • No co-sign or joint loan option.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: 740 FICO.

  • Must have U.S. bank account.

  • Must provide Social Security number or Individual Tax ID number.

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. Rates range from 6.99% to 24.99% APR, and loan terms range from 36 to 72 months. For NY residents, rates range from 6.99%-24.74%. Only the most creditworthy applicants qualify for the lowest rates and longest loan terms. Rates will generally be higher for longer-term loans. 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. Receive a 0.25% APR reduction when you enroll in AutoPay. This reduction will not be applied if AutoPay is not in effect. When enrolled, a larger portion of your monthly payment will be applied to your principal loan amount and less interest will accrue on your loan, which may result in a smaller final payment. See loan agreement for details.

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Lending Club
Get rate

on LendingClub's website

LendingClub

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Lending Club

Est. APR

8.30-36.00%

Loan amount

$1,000-$40,000

Min. credit score

600
Get rate

on LendingClub's website


Min. credit score

600

Key facts

LendingClub offers personal loans for fair- and good-credit borrowers, with a potential rate discount for consolidating debt.

Pros

  • Joint loan option.

  • Direct payment to creditors with debt consolidation loans.

  • Option to pre-qualify with a soft credit check.

  • Option to change your payment date.

Cons

  • Origination fee.

  • Late fee.

  • No mobile app to manage loan.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: 600.

  • Maximum DTI: 60%; 40% for joint applicants.

  • Minimum credit history: 37 months and 2 accounts.

Available Term Lengths

3 to 5 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: 3% to 6%.

  • Late fee: 5% of payment or $15 after 15-day grace period.

Disclaimer

Between April 2022 and June 2022, Personal Loans issued by LendingClub Bank were funded within 44 hours after loan approval, on average. The time it takes for a loan to be funded is not guaranteed and individual results vary based on multiple factors, including but not limited to investor demand. A representative example of payment terms for a Personal Loan is as follows: a borrower receives a loan of $16,980 for a term of 36 months, with an interest rate of 13.49% and a 6.00% origination fee of $1,019, for an APR of 17.89%. In this example, the borrower will receive $15,961 and will make 36 monthly payments of $576. Loan amounts range from $1,000 to $40,000 and loan term lengths range from 24 months to 60 months. Some amounts, rates, and term lengths may be unavailable in certain states. For Personal Loans, APR ranges from 8.30% to 36.00% and origination fee ranges from 3.00% to 6.00% of the loan amount. APRs and origination fees are determined at the time of application. Lowest APR is available to borrowers with excellent credit. Advertised rates and fees are valid as of July 11, 2022 and are subject to change without notice. Loans are made by LendingClub Bank, N.A., Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender (“LendingClub Bank”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of LendingClub Corporation, NMLS ID 167439. LendingClub Bank is not an affiliate of NerdWallet Compare, Inc. which is an unrelated third party (“third party”). LendingClub Bank is not responsible for any products and services provided by this third party and may receive compensation if you visit the third party’s websites or use any of its products or services. Credit eligibility is not guaranteed. Loans are subject to credit approval and may be subject to sufficient investor commitment before they can be funded or issued. Certain information that LendingClub Bank subsequently obtains as part of the application process (including but not limited to information in your consumer report, your income, the loan amount that your request, the purpose of your loan, and qualifying debt) will be considered and could affect your ability to obtain a loan. Loan closing is contingent on accepting all required agreements and disclosures at Lendingclub.com. “LendingClub” is a trademark of LendingClub Bank.

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RocketLoans
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on NerdWallet's secure website

Rocket Loans

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
RocketLoans

Est. APR

7.73-29.99%

Loan amount

$2,000-$45,000

Min. credit score

580
See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website


Min. credit score

580

Key facts

Rocket Loans offers online personal loans to borrowers with fair credit and over two years of credit history.

Pros

  • Option to pre-qualify with a soft credit check.

  • Rate discount for autopay.

  • Fast funding.

  • Wide range of loan amounts.

Cons

  • Origination fee.

  • No direct payment to creditors with debt consolidation loans.

  • No option to choose initial payment date.

  • Only two repayment term options.

  • No co-sign or joint loan option.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: 580; borrower average is 750.

  • Minimum credit history: Over two years.

  • Minimum annual income: $24,000; borrower average is $110,000.

  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: 70%; borrower average is 18%.

  • No bankruptcies in the last two 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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Our pick for

Installment loans for bad credit

Upstart
Get rate

on Upstart's website

Upstart

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Upstart

Est. APR

5.42-35.99%

Loan amount

$1,000-$50,000

Min. credit score

None
Get rate

on Upstart's website


Min. credit score

None

Key facts

Upstart personal loans offer fast funding and may be an option for borrowers with low credit scores or thin credit histories. Upstart is a solid financing choice for large purchases.

Pros

  • Accepts borrowers new to credit.

  • Fast funding.

  • Option to change your payment date.

  • Option to pre-qualify with a soft credit check.

  • Offers free financial education

Cons

  • May charge origination fee.

  • No joint, co-signed or secured loans.

  • No mobile app to manage loan.

  • Only two repayment term options.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: None.

  • Minimum annual income: $12,000; this lender accepts income from employment, alimony, retirement, child support, Social Security, rentals, trusts, pensions, disability and scholarships.

  • Must have a full-time job or be starting a full-time job in six months.

Available Term Lengths

3 to 5 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: 0% - 10%

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

  • Returned check fee: $15.

Disclaimer

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. Minimum loan amounts vary by state: GA ($3,100), HI ($2,100), MA ($7,000), NM ($5,100), OH ($6,000). The full range of available rates varies by state. The average 5-year loan offered across all lenders using the Upstart platform will have an APR of 25.05% and 60 monthly payments of $25.80 per $1,000 borrowed. For example, the total cost of a $10,000 loan would be $15,478 including a $804 origination fee. APR is calculated based on 5-year rates offered in June 2022. 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. 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 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 Upstart.com website.

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Universal Credit
Get rate

on Universal Credit's website

Universal Credit

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Universal Credit

Est. APR

11.69-35.93%

Loan amount

$1,000-$50,000

Min. credit score

560
Get rate

on Universal Credit's website


Min. credit score

560

Key facts

A Universal Credit loan is an option for bad-credit borrowers with high debt-to-income ratios, but rates are high compared to similar lenders.

Pros

  • Offers direct payment to creditors with debt consolidation loans.

  • Fast funding.

  • Offers multiple rate discounts.

  • Offers free credit score access.

Cons

  • Charges origination fee.

  • Borrowers can choose from only two repayment term options.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: 560.

  • Minimum number of accounts on credit history: 1 account.

  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: 75%, including mortgage and the loan you’re applying for.

  • Minimum length of credit history: 2 years.

  • Minimum income requirement: None. Lender accepts income from alimony, retirement, child support, Social Security and other sources.

Available Term Lengths

3 to 5 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: 5.25% to 8.99%.

  • Late fee: Up to $10.

Disclaimer

Personal loans made through Universal Credit feature Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) of 11.69%-35.93%. All personal loans have a 5.25% to 8.99% origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Lowest rates require Autopay and paying off a portion of existing debt directly. Loans feature repayment terms of 36 to 60 months. For example, if you receive a $10,000 loan with a 36-month term and a 28.47% APR (which includes a 22.99% yearly interest rate and a 7% one-time origination fee), you would receive $9,300 in your account and would have a required monthly payment of $387.05. Over the life of the loan, your payments would total $13,933.62. 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.

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Oportun
See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website

Oportun

3.5

NerdWallet rating 
Oportun

Est. APR

20.05-35.99%

Loan amount

$300-$12,000

Min. credit score

None
See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website


Min. credit score

None

Key facts

Oportun offers small loans at rates that are lower than payday loans, but still high. Fixed payments help you establish credit.

Pros

  • Pre-qualify with soft credit check.

  • Co-signed and limited secured loan options.

  • Accepts borrowers new to credit.

  • Small loans starting at $300.

  • Community Development Financial Institution.

  • Free financial coaching.

Cons

  • May charge an origination fee.

  • High rates.

  • No mobile app to manage loan payments.

  • No option to change your payment date.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: None.

  • At least $500 in monthly income.

  • Must have valid identification.

  • Must provide proof of income and address.

  • May require references.

  • Must be 18 years or older.

Available Term Lengths

1 to 5 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: 0% - 7%.

  • Late fee: $5 - $15.

  • Insufficient fund fee: $0 - $30.

Disclaimer

This is an advertisement for a consumer loan, subject to credit eligibility. Not available in CO, CT, IA, MA, ME, MD, NY, WV and Washington, D.C. Loans in AZ, CA, FL, ID, IL, MO, NJ, NM, TX, UT, and WI are originated by Oportun Inc. California loans made pursuant to a California Financing Law license. NV loans originated by Oportun, LLC. In all other states, loans are originated by MetaBank, N.A., member FDIC. Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. See oportun.com for details.

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LendingPoint
Get rate

on LendingPoint's website

LendingPoint

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
LendingPoint

Est. APR

7.99-35.99%

Loan amount

$2,000-$36,500

Min. credit score

600
Get rate

on LendingPoint's website


Min. credit score

600

Key facts

LendingPoint accepts low credit scores and has flexible payments. Rates are high but comparable to competitors.

Pros

  • Soft credit check to pre-qualify.

  • Fast funding.

  • Offers mobile app to manage loan payments.

  • Option to change your payment date.

Cons

  • Reports payments to only two of the three major credit bureaus.

  • No joint, co-signed or secured loans.

  • No large loan amounts.

  • Does not directly pay creditors with debt consolidation loans.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: 600. LendingPoint uses FICO score version 9 and VantageScore version 3.

  • Minimum credit history: 6 months.

  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: 50%, not including mortgage.

Available Term Lengths

2 to 5 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: 0% to 8%.

Disclaimer

Applications submitted on this website may be funded by one of several lenders, including: FinWise Bank, a Utah-chartered bank, Member FDIC; Coastal Community Bank, Member FDIC; Midland States Bank, Member FDIC; and LendingPoint, a licensed lender in certain states. Loan approval is not guaranteed. Actual loan offers and loan amounts, terms and annual percentage rates ("APR") may vary based upon LendingPoint's proprietary scoring and underwriting system's review of your credit, financial condition, other factors, and supporting documents or information you provide. Origination or other fees from 0% to 8% may apply depending upon your state of residence. Upon final underwriting approval to fund a loan, said funds are often sent via ACH the next non-holiday business day. Loans are offered from $2,000 to $36,500, at rates ranging from 7.99% to 35.99% APR, with terms from 24 to 72 months. Minimum loan amounts apply in Georgia, $3,500; Colorado, $3,001; and Hawaii, $2,000. For a well-qualified customer, a $10,000 loan for a period of 48 months with an APR of 24.90% and origination fee of 8% will have a payment of $331.01 per month. (Actual terms and rate depend on credit history, income, and other factors.) Customers may have the option to deduct the origination fee from the disbursed loan amount if desired. If the origination fee is added to the financed amount, interest is charged on the full principal amount. The total amount due is the total amount of the loan you will have paid after you have made all payments as scheduled.

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OneMain
Get rate

on OneMain Financial's website

OneMain Financial

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
OneMain

Est. APR

18.00-35.99%

Loan amount

$1,500-$20,000

Min. credit score

None
Get rate

on OneMain Financial's website


Min. credit score

None

Key facts

OneMain prioritizes a borrower’s ability to repay on a loan application. Rates are high, but this lender provides fast funding to borrowers with low credit scores.

Pros

  • Option to choose and change your payment date.

  • Joint and secured loans.

  • Fast funding.

  • Direct payment to creditors on debt consolidation loans.

Cons

  • Rates are high compared to other lenders.

  • Charges origination fee.

  • No rate discounts.

  • Pre-qualification does not allow borrowers to preview potential rates.

Qualifications

  • Must have a Social Security number or taxpayer identification number.

  • Must be 18 or older in most states.

  • Minimum credit score: None.

  • Minimum number of accounts on credit report: None, but applicants with no credit history may not qualify.

  • Minimum income: None; this lender accepts income from employment, alimony, retirement, child support, Social Security payments, investments and public assistance.

Available Term Lengths

2 to 5 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: $25 to $500 or 1% to 10% of the loan amount.

  • Late fee: $5 to $30 or 1.5% to 15% of your monthly payment.

  • Non-sufficient funds fee: $15.

Disclaimer

Not all applicants will qualify for larger loan amounts or most favorable loan terms. Loan approval and actual loan terms depend on your ability to meet our credit standards (including a responsible credit history, sufficient income after monthly expenses, and availability of collateral). Larger loan amounts require a first lien on a motor vehicle no more than ten years old, that meets our value requirements, titled in your name with valid insurance. Maximum annual percentage rate (APR) is 35.99%, subject to state restrictions. APRs are generally higher on loans not secured by a vehicle. Depending on the state where you open your loan, the origination fee may be either a flat amount or a percentage of your loan amount. Flat fee amounts vary by state, ranging from $25 to $300. Percentage-based fees vary by state ranging from 1% to 10% of your loan amount subject to certain state limits on the fee amount. Active duty military, their spouse or dependents covered under the Military Lending Act may not pledge any vehicle as collateral for a loan. OneMain loan proceeds cannot be used for postsecondary educational expenses as defined by the CFPB’s Regulation Z, such as college, university or vocational expenses; for any business or commercial purpose; to purchase securities; or for gambling or illegal purposes. Borrowers in these states are subject to these minimum loan sizes: Alabama: $2,100. California: $3,000. Georgia: Unless you are a present customer, $3,100 minimum loan amount. Ohio: $2,000. Virginia: $2,600. Borrowers (other than present customers) in these states are subject to these maximum unsecured loan sizes: North Carolina: $7,500. New York: $20,000. An unsecured loan is a loan which does not require you to provide collateral (such as a motor vehicle) to the lender.

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NerdWallet’s guide to installment loans

Installment loans are loans you repay in equal payments over months or years. Lenders that offer installment loans have varying interest rates, repayment plans, qualification requirements and funding times.

This guide will help you decide if an installment loan is right for your plans and outline the steps to get one.

Why trust NerdWallet? NerdWallet has rated and reviewed personal loans from more than 35 financial institutions. We collect over 45 data points from each lender, interview company representatives, go through lenders’ pre-qualification processes, and compare lenders with each other as well as other financial products. We do not receive compensation for our ratings. Read more about our personal loan star ratings methodology and our editorial guidelines.

Table of contents

Best installment loans of 2022

Lender

Best for

Min. credit score

Est. APR

Funding time

Installment loans for debt consolidation.

560.

7.96% - 35.97%.

Next day.

Installment loans for bad credit.

560.

11.69% - 35.93%.

Next day.

Installment loans for fair credit.

None.

5.42% - 35.99%.

Next day.

Installment loans with no credit.

None.

20.05% - 35.99%.

1 to 3 days.

Midsize expenses and home improvement projects.

600.

7.99% - 35.99%.

Same or next day.

Online installment loans.

600.

8.30% - 36.00%.

Next day.

Installment loans for good credit.

None.

18.00% - 35.99%.

1 to 2 days.

Installment loans for excellent credit.

660.

6.99% - 22.49%.

Same day or next day.

Online installment loans from a bank.

660.

6.99% - 24.99%.

1 to 4 days.

Fast installment loans.

580.

7.73% - 29.99%

Same-day.

What are installment loans?

Installment loans are so named because you receive the loan funds all at once and repay them in fixed monthly payments, or installments. Unlike credit cards with revolving credit — which you use, repay and repeat for long periods — you use an installment loan once, usually to finance a large purchase.

With a personal installment loan, you can borrow up to $100,000 and repay the loan over a term of two to seven years. Annual percentage rates are from 6% to 36%.

How do installment loans work?

After you’re approved for an installment loan, the lender deposits the funds into your bank account. You then repay the loan amount, plus interest, over the period stated in your loan agreement.

For example, if you get a $20,000 loan with a four-year repayment term and 12% APR, you’d make 48 installments of $527. An installment loan calculator can show how the loan’s interest rate and repayment term affect monthly payments.

On-time loan payments help build your credit, while missed payments can hurt it.

Examples of installment loans

Many loan types share the installment structure — you might even have one now. Here are a few examples of installment loans:

  • Personal loans are fixed-rate unsecured loans that you repay in equal biweekly or monthly payments.

  • Auto loans are secured loans, usually with fixed rates, that you repay in regular installments.

  • Federal student loans have fixed rates and are repaid in equal installments.

  • Buy now, pay later” loans usually let you split an online or in-store purchase into four equal, interest-free payments.

Where can I get an installment loan?

Banks, credit unions and online lenders all offer personal installment loans. Compare lenders to find one that offers the best rates, terms and loan features.

Banks

Some national banks offer unsecured installment loans. If yours does, it's likely a good place to start comparison shopping because banks sometimes offer lower rates or softer borrower requirements for existing customers.

  • Small-dollar bank loans: Some major national banks have introduced new small, short-term loans in recent years. Customers of U.S. Bank and Bank of America may qualify for a loan of a few hundred dollars that is repaid in three equal monthly installments.

Credit unions

Credit union members may have access to low-rate installment loans, because federal credit unions cap APRs at 18%. Credit unions may review your membership standing in addition to your credit profile on a loan application, which may improve your chance of qualifying.

  • Small-dollar credit union loans: Some credit unions offer a type of small personal loan called a payday alternative loan. These loans are $2,000 or less, repaid monthly over a year or two, have an APR of 28% or lower, and may not require good credit to qualify.

Online lenders

Online lenders serve a wide range of customers. Some cater to borrowers with stellar credit, while others offer loans for bad-credit borrowers. Most online lenders let you pre-qualify to see what rate, term and monthly payment you qualify for. Pre-qualifying doesn’t affect your credit score, so you can check offers from multiple lenders.

  • Small-dollar online loans: Small-dollar loans from online lenders can be tricky to navigate. Some lenders offer small loans with APRs below 36% — the maximum rate that consumer advocates say is affordable — but others charge rates well above that and may put borrowers at risk of defaulting.

When is an installment loan a good idea?

Here are three purposes for which a personal installment loan can be a good idea:

  • Debt consolidation: An installment loan can roll other unsecured debts, including high-interest loans and credit cards with revolving credit, into a single, fixed monthly payment. A debt consolidation loan is a good idea if the new interest rate is lower than the combined rate on the debts you’re consolidating.

  • Home repairs: There are many financing options for home improvements, but if you know how much money you need and can qualify for a low rate, an installment loan may be a good way to pay for fixes around the house.

  • Emergencies: Because they can be expensive, an installment loan shouldn’t be your first choice in an emergency. Instead, consider alternatives that cost little or no interest. But, if you have a plan to make your payments and need the funds fast, an installment loan can help you get through an emergency.

How to compare installment loans

  • Review qualification requirements. Try to find the lender’s qualification criteria, including minimum income and maximum debt-to-income ratio. Some installment lenders display this information on their website. If not, a website like NerdWallet may include it in a review.

  • Compare APRs. The best installment loan is usually the one with the lowest APR and affordable monthly payments. Compare lenders’ APR ranges and pre-qualify with multiple lenders to see which one makes you the best offer.

  • Look for fast funding. Some lenders can provide funds the same or next day after you apply, while others may take up to a week to deposit the loan into your account. Find a lender that offers fast funding if you need it.

  • Weigh other features. If you have two competitive offers, compare other loan features, like credit-building tools, budgeting help and the ability to change your payment date.

How to get an installment loan

  1. Review your credit report. Check your credit report to see what a lender will see when it evaluates your application. You can get a free copy of your report at AnnualCreditReport.com. If you spot any errors, correct them before you apply.

  2. Check in with your budget. Look at your income and expenses to see how much you can afford to pay toward the loan each month. Then, use an installment loan calculator to determine what APR and repayment term you’d need to get affordable monthly payments.

  3. Pre-qualify. Most online lenders let you preview potential loan offers through pre-qualification. You’ll enter some information about your credit and income — as well as the loan you want — and the lender will show you possible loan amounts, rates and repayment terms. Pre-qualifying doesn’t affect your credit score, so you can review offers from multiple lenders to find the best one.

  4. Accept a loan offer and apply. Once you’ve chosen a lender, you’ll formally apply for a personal loan. Gather documents like W-2s, paystubs and bank statements to make the application process go smoothly. At this time, the lender will do a hard credit pull and your credit score will temporarily dip.

How installment loans affect your credit

Loans can help or hurt your credit, depending on how you use them. Since many lenders report to the three major credit bureaus, an installment loan gives you the chance to build credit and show financial responsibility by making on-time payments.

However, if you miss a payment or fail to repay the loan, your credit score could suffer.

One way to make sure your payments are on time is to set up autopay. Many lenders offer a small APR discount — usually a fraction of a percentage point — for borrowers who use autopay.

Bad-credit installment loans

If you have a bad credit score (629 or lower), you may still be able to get an installment loan on your own, but there are things you can do to boost your chances of qualifying.

  • Get a co-joint or co-signed personal loan. Adding someone with a higher credit score or income to the application can improve your chance of qualifying or getting a lower rate. A co-borrower on a joint personal loan shares access to the funds and information about the loan. A co-signer cannot access the loan funds. In both cases, your co-applicant must repay the loan if you don’t.

  • Get a secured personal loan. Putting up collateral for the loan — like a car or savings account — gives the lender something valuable to take if you stop making payments, meaning a secured loan may be easier to qualify for. Weigh the benefit of using the collateral to get a loan against the risk of losing it.

  • Ask for less money. Lenders try not to provide loans that are too large for the borrower to repay. A lender may decide you qualify for a smaller installment loan than you requested. If you can combine a smaller loan with borrowing alternatives to cover your expense, you may have a better chance of approval.

High-interest installment loans for bad credit

Though you’ll ideally find an installment loan with a rate below 36%, some lenders offer high-interest loans with APRs above 36% that are more affordable than payday loans.

These lenders may not check your credit, which means they’re taking on more risk. For you, that means a higher APR — sometimes up to 150% or 200%.

While these loans may be repaid in installments, they are still unaffordable for most borrowers. Think of them as a last resort when your main alternative is a payday loan.

Alternatives to bad-credit installment loans

If you have bad credit and need money quickly, explore other low-cost options first.

If you're comfortable with it, ask family and friends for a loan through a lending circle or family loan agreement.

Installment loans vs. payday loans

While you repay an installment loan in regular installments, you typically repay a payday loan in full on your next payday.

You may have an easier time planning for and repaying a loan that’s broken into multiple payments over several pay periods.

Here are some of the differences between installment and payday loans.

Installment personal loans

Payday loans

Repaid over the course of months or years.

Repaid in full within a week or two — usually on your next payday.

APR of 36% or below, ideally.

APR can be as high as 400%.

Usually paid back online, over the phone or by check.

Lenders withdraw the money from your bank account, using either a check you wrote ahead of time or your account information.

Usually require a credit check to assess your ability to repay the loan.

Do not require a credit check.

Report on-time payments to credit bureaus to help build your credit.

Do not report on-time payments to credit bureaus to help you build credit.

Last updated on December 1, 2022

Methodology

NerdWallet’s review process evaluates and rates personal loan products from more than 35 financial institutions. 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 more about our ratings methodologies for personal loans and our editorial guidelines.

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Best Installment Loans of December 2022

Frequently asked questions