BEST OF

5 Best Medical Loans in 2021

Medical loans can be used to pay for emergency or planned procedures. Here’s where to find medical loans plus other ways to finance medical expenses.

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A medical loan is an unsecured personal loan that covers health care costs. They can be used to consolidate existing medical debt, cover emergency or planned medical procedures like dental work or plastic surgery, or pay for high deductibles and out-of-network charges.

Medical loans are likely the most expensive way to cover your medical costs, and you must have excellent credit to qualify for the lowest rates offered by lenders.

For this reason, medical loans should be considered only after you’ve exhausted other options, including payment plans and medical credit cards.

Here's a list of the best lenders offering medical loans:

  • SoFi: Best for medical loans for low rates.

  • LightStream: Best for overall medical loans.

  • Upstart: Best for medical loans for thin credit.

  • LendingClub: Best for medical loans for co-signers.

  • Universal Credit: Best for medical loans for bad credit.

Summary of 5 Best Medical Loans in 2021

Our pick for

Medical loans for low rates

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

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

Overall medical 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

LightStream targets strong-credit borrowers with no fees and low rates that vary based on loan purpose. It offers high borrowing amounts for financing costly medical procedures or consolidating medical debts.

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

Medical loans for thin credit

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 may be a good fit for borrowers who are new to credit, since the lender considers other factors, including education and employment, in the application process.

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

Medical loans for co-signers

Lending Club
Check rate

on LendingClub's website

LendingClub

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
Lending Club

Est. APR

7.04 - 35.89%

Loan Amount

$1,000 - $40,000

Min. Credit Score

600
Check rate

on LendingClub's website


Min. Credit Score

600

Key facts

LendingClub is a pioneer of peer-to-peer lending and an option for fair- to good-credit borrowers.

Pros

  • Offers co-signed and joint loan options.

  • Offers direct payment to creditors with debt consolidation loans.

  • Soft credit check with pre-qualification.

Cons

  • Borrowers can only choose from two repayment term options.

  • Rates are high compared to other fair-credit lenders.

  • Charges an origination fee.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score of 600. LendingClub uses FICO 8 credit scoring model.

  • Minimum credit history of three years.

  • Debt-to-income ratio of less than 40% for single applications, 35% combined for joint applicants.

Available Term Lengths

3 to 5 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: 1% to 6%.

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

Disclaimer

A representative example of loan payment terms is as follows: you receive a loan of $13,411 for a term of 36 months, with an interest rate of 12.16% and a 5.30% origination fee of $711, for an APR of 15.99%. In this example, you will receive $12,700 and will make 36 monthly payments of $446.46. Loan amounts range from $1,000 to $40,000 and loan term lengths are 36 months or 60 months. Some amounts and term lengths may be unavailable in certain states. APR ranges from 7.04% to 35.89% and is determined at the time of application. Origination fee ranges from 3% to 6% of the loan amount. Lowest APR is available to borrowers with excellent credit. Advertised rates and fees are valid as of 7/1/21 and are subject to change without notice. Loans are made by LendingClub Bank, N.A., Member FDIC (“LendingClub Bank”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of LendingClub Corporation, NMLS ID 167439. Loans are subject to credit approval and sufficient investor commitment before they can be funded or issued. Certain information that we subsequently obtain 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 from us. 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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Our pick for

Medical loans for bad credit

Universal Credit
Check rate

on Universal Credit's website

Universal Credit

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Universal Credit

Est. APR

8.93 - 35.43%

Loan Amount

$1,000 - $50,000

Min. Credit Score

560
Check rate

on Universal Credit's website


Min. Credit Score

560

Key facts

Universal credit is a potential option for bad-credit borrowers, offering rate discounts for automatic payments. However, loans come with limited repayment options and fees.

Pros

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

  • Option to change your payment date.

  • Offers free credit score access.

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

Cons

  • Charges origination fee.

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

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: 560.

  • Minimum number of accounts on credit history: 2 accounts.

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

Available Term Lengths

3 to 5 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: 4.25% to 8%.

  • Late fee: Up to $10.

Disclaimer

Personal loans made through Universal Credit feature APRs of 8.93%-35.93%. All personal loans have a 4.25% 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 27.65% APR (which includes a 22.99% yearly interest rate and a 6% one-time origination fee), you would receive $9,400 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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How to compare medical loans

Below are key factors to consider when selecting the best medical loan.

Annual percentage rate. A loan’s APR represents the true annual cost of borrowing, including interest and fees, helping you make an apples-to-apples cost comparison between loans. APRs on personal loans range from about 6% to 36%. You need strong credit to get the lowest rates.

Fixed or variable rates. Most personal loans have fixed rates (interest and payments stay the same), rather than variable (interest and payments can rise or fall, depending on market rates). A fixed-rate loan comes with peace of mind that your payments won’t rise over the loan term.

Origination fee. Some lenders charge one-time origination fees to cover the cost of processing the loan. The fee typically ranges from 1% to 10% of the loan amount and is included in the APR calculation.

Most lenders subtract the origination fee from the loan proceeds. A $5,000 loan with an origination fee of 3% would cost $150, leaving you with $4,850.

Loan term. The length of the repayment period affects your monthly payments. Most lenders offer loan terms in the range of two to five years. A longer repayment term results in lower monthly payments, but higher total interest paid over the life of the loan. Aim for a loan term with payments that fit within your budget. Use our personal loan calculator to see estimated payments at different loan terms.

Speed. If you need fast funding to cover health care costs, consider a lender with a quick application to funding process. Some online lenders can provide funding within a day or two, while others can provide funding within a week.

Is a medical loan right for you?

Before deciding on a medical loan, it’s important to determine if getting a loan for medical bills is the best decision for your financial situation.

A medical loan may be a good idea if:

  • You’re consolidating existing medical debt. If you have high-interest medical debt, a medical loan could help you consolidate debt at a lower rate. This makes it easier to manage monthly payments and pay your debt off faster.

  • You can afford the monthly payments. You should take a medical loan only if the installments fit comfortably in your monthly budget. Factors like the loan amount, loan terms and what APR you qualify for will determine your monthly payment.

A medical loan may not be a good idea if:

  • The APR is high. If you have fair or bad credit (689 FICO or lower), you may receive a high APR from a medical loan lender, which means you’ll pay more interest over the loan term. Let’s look at an example. A five-year, $5,000 loan with a 35.99% interest rate would result in you paying $5,837 in interest. This rate leads to a total cost of $10,837, which is over twice the loan amount. Financial experts generally advise that APRs should not exceed 36%.

  • You qualify for assistance. If you are experiencing economic hardship, you may qualify for a hardship plan from your health care provider or financial assistance from a charity organization or government programs. Look to these options first before taking out a loan.

Alternatives to medical loans

There may be better ways to finance a medical procedure or pay medical debt than through a personal loan.

Payment plans. Your best option may be to establish a payment plan with the medical provider and avoid paying interest on the debt if it’s repaid within the term, says Kari Jean Glosser, a financial advisor and partner at Abacus Wealth Partners in Santa Monica, California.

Some health care providers require a deposit followed by monthly payments; others may accept just monthly payments until the debt is repaid in full, says Glosser, who used a payment plan for her own dental surgery.

Ask your medical provider about any fees or charges associated with the payment plan so you know the full cost of this option.

Medical credit cards. These are specialty credit cards available through many medical providers.

CareCredit is a specialty credit card that offers a short-term financing option at 0% interest if paid in full by the end of the term (6, 12, 18 or 24 months). For longer terms, the APR depends on the purchase amount and term length.

The card, issued through Synchrony bank, is accepted by over 225,000 health care providers. CareCredit can be used to cover medical events related to LASIK surgery, veterinary expenses, dentistry, cosmetic surgery and general health care. CareCredit’s approval and terms are based on your credit, and not all medical providers offer promotional financing options for health care costs.

0% credit card. A 0% interest credit card is another option that can include a sign-up bonus and rewards. You’ll need strong credit to qualify, and you must pay off the debt in full before the promotional period expires or you'll pay high interest charges.

It’s best to dedicate a regular credit card for medical expenses only. Mixing medical debt with other purchases makes it harder to keep records for tax deductions or a health savings account, Glosser says.

Other options. If you’re facing hospital bills, a medical bill advocate can help spot potential errors and negotiate on your behalf to have your total bill reduced. You can also work with services like CoPatient that can locate mistakes on your medical bills and negotiate lower rates.

How to pre-qualify for a medical loan

Pre-qualifying for a medical loan with an online lender lets you see potential loan terms, including the loan’s interest rate, loan amount and payments. Take the steps to pre-qualify and compare offers to find the loan that gives you an amount you need and a payment you can afford.

Last updated on May 6, 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 5 Best Medical Loans in 2021

Frequently asked questions