Best Online Loans of May 2024

Ronita Choudhuri-WadeAnnie Millerbernd
Written by
and
Last updated on May 17, 2024
Edited by
✅ Fact checked and reviewed
Kim Lowe
Edited by
✅ Fact checked and reviewed

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Best Online Loans of May 2024

Lender
NerdWallet Rating
Est. APR
Loan amount
Min. credit score
Learn more
Discover

Discover® Personal Loans

Visit Lender
on Discover's website
on Discover's website
Check Rate
on NerdWallet
on NerdWallet
🏆 Top 3 most visited
Best for Online loans for excellent credit
Fast funding

7.99-24.99%

$2,500-$40,000

660

SoFi

SoFi Personal Loan

5.0
/5
Best for Online loans overall

8.99-29.99%

$5,000-$100,000

None

BestEgg

Best Egg

4.5
/5
Best for Online loans for good credit

8.99-35.99%

$2,000-$50,000

600

Upstart

Upstart

4.5
/5
Best for Online loans for fair credit

7.80-35.99%

$1,000-$50,000

None

Upgrade

Upgrade

5.0
/5
Best for Online loans for bad credit

8.49-35.99%

$1,000-$50,000

560

Happy Money

Happy Money

Check Rate
on NerdWallet
on NerdWallet
4.5
/5
Best for Online loans for credit card consolidation

11.72-17.99%

$5,000-$40,000

640

LendingPoint

LendingPoint

Visit Lender
on LendingPoint's website
on LendingPoint's website
4.5
/5
Best for Online loans for same-day funding

7.99-35.99%

$2,000-$36,500

660

Visit Lender
on LendingPoint's website
on LendingPoint's website
Lending Club

LendingClub

4.5
/5
Best for Online loans for joint loans

8.98-35.99%

$1,000-$40,000

600

Lightstream

LightStream

4.5
/5
Best for Online loans with no fees

6.99-25.49%

$5,000-$100,000

660

Our pick for

Online loans overall

SoFi
Visit Lender
on SoFi's website
on SoFi's website
SoFi

SoFi Personal Loan

5.0
Est. APR

8.99-29.99%

Loan amount

$5,000-$100,000

Min. credit score

None

Our pick for

Online loans for excellent credit

Discover
Discover

Discover® Personal Loans

Est. APR

7.99-24.99%

Loan amount

$2,500-$40,000

Min. credit score

660

Our pick for

Online loans for good credit

BestEgg
BestEgg

Best Egg

4.5
Est. APR

8.99-35.99%

Loan amount

$2,000-$50,000

Min. credit score

600

Our pick for

Online loans for credit card consolidation

Happy Money
Happy Money

Happy Money

Est. APR

11.72-17.99%

Loan amount

$5,000-$40,000

Min. credit score

640

Our pick for

Online loans for fair credit

Upstart
Upstart

Upstart

Est. APR

7.80-35.99%

Loan amount

$1,000-$50,000

Min. credit score

None

Our pick for

Online loans for bad credit

Upgrade
Upgrade

Upgrade

Est. APR

8.49-35.99%

Loan amount

$1,000-$50,000

Min. credit score

560

Our pick for

Online loans for same-day funding

LendingPoint
Visit Lender
on LendingPoint's website
on LendingPoint's website
LendingPoint

LendingPoint

Est. APR

7.99-35.99%

Loan amount

$2,000-$36,500

Min. credit score

660

Our pick for

Online loans for joint loans

Lending Club
Lending Club

LendingClub

Est. APR

8.98-35.99%

Loan amount

$1,000-$40,000

Min. credit score

600

Our pick for

Online loans with no fees

Lightstream
Lightstream

LightStream

Est. APR

6.99-25.49%

Loan amount

$5,000-$100,000

Min. credit score

660

Compare the top online loans

NerdWallet reviewed more than 35 financial institutions to find the best online personal loans. See why we chose these lenders, and keep reading to learn how to get an online loan.

Upgrade: Best online loan for bad credit

5.0
NerdWallet rating

Why it made this list: Upgrade’s online loan comes with multiple rate discounts, secured and joint loan options and direct payment to creditors, making the lender a strong fit for borrowers with bad credit.

Pros

  • Multiple rate discounts.
  • Secured and joint loans.
  • 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 initial payment date.

Upstart: Best online loan for fair credit

Why it made this list: Upstart is unique among lenders because it accepts borrowers who have low credit scores or thin credit histories, using nontraditional data — like college education, job history and residence — to qualify you for an online loan.

Pros

  • Accepts borrowers new to credit.
  • Fast funding.
  • Option to change your payment date.
  • Option to pre-qualify with a soft credit check.
  • Seven-day customer service availability.

Cons

  • May charge origination fee.
  • No joint or co-signed loans.
  • Only two repayment term options.

LightStream: Best online loan with no fees

Why it made this list: LightStream offers online loans with no fees for borrowers, including no origination fee, which is rare among online lenders, and no late fee even if you miss a payment.

Pros

  • No fees.
  • Rate discount for autopay.
  • Long repayment terms.
  • Rate Beat program and Experience Guarantee.

Cons

  • No option to pre-qualify on its website.
  • No direct payment to creditors with debt consolidation loans.
  • High minimum loan amount.

Happy Money: Best online loan for debt payoff

Why it made this list: Happy Money’s online loan can consolidate and help pay off credit cards, rolling multiple balances into one monthly payment at a fixed rate. It also will send the loan funds to your creditors for you.

Pros

  • Option to pre-qualify with a soft credit check.
  • Offers direct payment to creditors.
  • No late fee.
  • Hardship program for borrowers in need.

Cons

  • Origination fee.
  • No rate discount.
  • No co-sign or joint loan option.
  • No option to choose initial payment date.

LendingPoint: Best online loan for same-day funding

Why it made this list: LendingPoint offers online loans with fast funding. The lender says it can make an approval decision in seconds, and if you're approved before noon Eastern time, it can fund the loan the same day.

Pros

  • Soft credit check to pre-qualify.
  • Fast funding.
  • Offers mobile app to manage loan payments.
  • Option to change your payment date.
  • Free credit score access.

Cons

  • May charge an origination fee.
  • Reports payments to two of the three major credit bureaus.
  • No joint, co-signed or secured loans.
  • No large loans.

LendingClub: Best for online joint loan

Why it made this list: LendingClub offers joint online loans, meaning you can add a co-borrower to your application, which may help you qualify for a larger loan amount or a lower interest rate. Borrowers also have the option to pre-qualify with a soft credit check.

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.

SoFi: Best online loan overall

Why it made this list: SoFi’s online loans are a standout among competitors, thanks to a wide range of loan amounts and repayment terms. The lender also offers multiple rate discounts and same-day funding.

Pros

  • Joint loan option.
  • Multiple rate discounts.
  • Mobile app to manage loan.

Cons

  • No option to choose initial payment date.
  • High minimum loan amount.

Best Egg: Best online loan for good credit

Why it made this list: With a Best Egg online loan, good-credit borrowers can pre-qualify, choose from a wide range of loan amounts and skip the late fees. Best Egg also offers a secured loan option, meaning you can pledge collateral to help guarantee the loan, which can lead to a lower interest rate.

Pros

  • Option to pre-qualify with a soft credit check
  • Wide range of loan amounts.
  • Secured loan options.
  • Direct payment to creditors with debt consolidation loans.
  • No late fees.

Cons

  • Origination fee.
  • No rate discounts.
  • No option to choose initial payment date.
  • No mobile app to manage loan.

Discover: Best online loan for excellent credit

Why it made this list: Discover’s online loans have competitive rates and no origination fees, making them a smart pick for excellent-credit borrowers. Online loans from Discover also fund quickly — you can get the money deposited in your account in one business day.

Pros

  • No origination fee.
  • Option to pre-qualify with a soft credit check.
  • Fast funding.
  • Mobile app to manage loan.

Cons

  • May charge late fee.
  • No co-sign or joint loan option.
  • No rate discount.

What is an online loan?

An online loan is a personal loan where the entire process — from pre-qualification to signing — happens online. These loans are typically unsecured, and your credit score, income and debt determine whether you qualify. Approved borrowers receive the loan funds in a lump sum and pay back the loan in fixed monthly installments over the loan term, typically two to seven years.

Online loans can be used for almost any purpose, including emergencies, home repairs or debt consolidation. Loans are available to borrowers across the credit spectrum, but the annual percentage rate tends to be higher if you have bad credit (629 score or lower). Financial experts recommend a rate below 36% for a loan to be affordable.

Some online lenders offer features like flexible payment dates or the ability to add a co-borrower. Compare loan features when shopping for an online loan.

Online loans for bad credit

Borrowers with bad credit scores may qualify for a rate on the high end of a lender's range or be approved for a lower amount when compared to borrowers with good or excellent credit (scores above 689).

Some online lenders who offer loans to bad credit borrowers look beyond credit score when assessing a borrower’s application. They may consider factors like cash flow, employment and education history, which can help chances of approval.

There are ways bad-credit borrowers can strengthen an application for an online loan:

  • Joint loan. Add a co-signer or co-borrower to the loan application to boost your eligibility or get a lower rate or higher loan amount. This person is responsible for the loan amount and any fees if you fail to repay.

  • Secured loan. A secured loan requires putting up collateral, like your car or a savings account, to help guarantee the loan. However, you risk losing the collateral if you default on the loan.

  • Build your credit. If you don’t need the loan immediately, do what you can to build your credit before applying.

How to get a loan online

1. Check your credit score

Before applying for an online loan, you’ll want to check your credit report. You can get your free credit report on NerdWallet or at AnnualCreditReport.com. Look for errors, such as inaccurate accounts, wrongly reported payment history or outdated credit limits, and file any disputes directly with the credit reporting company.

2. Calculate your loan payments

Once you’ve checked your credit report, consider how much you want to borrow and how long you need to pay off the loan. Use a personal loan calculator to estimate monthly payments on personal loans with different rates and loan terms. A longer term will give you lower monthly payments, but also cost more in interest.

3. Pre-qualify and compare offers

Compare offers from multiple online lenders to find the lowest interest rate. This process, known as pre-qualification, involves a short application and soft credit check only, so it won’t hurt your credit score. You may need to supply basic personal information, including your Social Security number, and details about your desired loan.

4. Submit your application

After comparing offers from multiple lenders, pick the online loan that best fits your budget and financial needs. Apply with the lender by uploading the required documents, which may include a form of identification and proof of income such as a pay stub or W-2. Once you’ve read and understand the fine print of your loan, submit the application.

5. Get funded

Once approved, you’ll receive the loan documents to sign electronically. Funding time varies, but many online lenders can fund loans within a day or two. Once the money is in your account, make sure to add your monthly loan payment to your budget. Your first payment is typically due in 30 days, and any missed payments can hurt your credit and cause late fees.

Frequently asked questions

  • The safety of online loans depends on the type of lender. It’s always recommended to do your research and choose reputable lenders.

    If you’re looking for a small loan, online personal loans have lower rates and more manageable repayment terms, even if your credit is bad. Many can fund a loan for as little as $1,000 within one business day of applying for it.

  • The best online loan helps you reach a money goal, such as consolidating debt or covering a large expense, without creating financial stress. Interest rates and terms are typically based on your income and credit, and different lenders offer features that may be important to you, like payment flexibility or access to credit scores.

  • Yes, some online lenders offer co-sign loans that allow you to add someone who might have a higher credit score or income to your loan application — boosting your chances of approval.

Pros and cons of online loans

It’s a good idea to weigh the pros and cons when deciding whether to go with an online lender versus an in-person lender, like a bank or credit union. Certain features may vary, but here is generally what you can expect with online loans:

Pros

  • Fast and convenient application process.
  • Most online lenders let you pre-qualify to preview estimated rates.
  • Easy to comparison shop between lenders.
  • Manage your loan online.

Cons

  • Rates may be higher than rates from credit unions and some banks.
  • The smallest loans, below $500, may not be available.
  • No in-person customer service.
  • Can be hard to distinguish reputable lenders from predatory online lenders.

Pros of online loans

  • Convenience: You can complete the entire loan process from your computer or, in some cases, your phone. The best online lenders also have mobile apps you can use to manage your loan.

  • No-risk estimates: Most online lenders let you pre-qualify within a few minutes and preview estimated rates without impacting your credit score. (All lenders require a hard credit check before you finalize a loan.)

  • Quick and simple shopping: Though rates differ between lenders, comparison websites allow borrowers to fill out one application and see loan offers from multiple lenders. This is easier than banks or credit unions that may only service loans in person or require you to visit a branch during the application process.

  • Debt help: With some online lenders, borrowers can opt to have the loan money sent directly to creditors with a debt consolidation loan, removing the burden of paying off individual credit cards yourself.

Cons of online loans

  • More expensive than credit unions and some banks: On average, loans from online lenders are not as cheap as those from credit unions. And if you already have a relationship with a bank, it may offer you lower rates than online lenders. Compare rates from multiple lenders online and offline before you take out an online loan.

  • No face time: Most online lenders only service loans digitally. This can be a challenge if you ever want to speak to a representative face-to-face.

  • Smallest loans not available: Online loans under $500 may be hard to find at rates below 36%. Many online lenders have loan minimums from $1,000 to $2,000. Some credit unions may be able to provide smaller loans starting at $250.

  • Predators lurk: Reputable online lenders compete alongside predatory online lenders. Reputable lenders check your credit and ability to repay, and they usually have APRs that top out at 36%. Predatory lenders typically don’t check credit, but you pay for the added risk with APRs well above 100%.

No-credit-check and online payday loans

Payday loans and no-credit-check loans don’t require credit checks and can seem like easy options for short-term cash needs. However, these loans can be predatory and expensive, with rates in the triple digits.

Online payday loans are a fast way to get loans for amounts less than $1,000, especially if you don’t have good credit. Payday lenders typically withdraw repayments directly from your bank account on the due date. These loans have APRs close to 400%, which can quickly lead borrowers to owe more in interest than the original loan.

No-credit-check loans are usually for a few thousand dollars or less and are repaid in fixed amounts over a few weeks to several months. Since they don’t check your credit score as part of the application process, lenders tend to charge sky-high interest rates for these loans.

Both no-credit-check and payday loans should be considered only as a last resort after you’ve exhausted alternatives to high-cost loans.

Pre-qualify on NerdWallet

Last updated on May 17, 2024

Methodology

NerdWallet’s review process evaluates and rates personal loan products from more than 35 technology companies and financial institutions. We collect over 50 data points from each lender and cross-check company websites, earnings reports and other public documents to confirm product details. We may also go through a lender’s pre-qualification flow and follow up with company representatives. 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. Our ratings award fewer points to lenders with practices that may make a loan difficult to repay on time, such as charging high annual percentage rates (above 36%), underwriting that does not adequately assess consumers’ ability to repay and lack of credit-building help. 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.

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 Online Loans of May 2024

  • SoFi Personal Loan: Best for Online loans overall
  • Discover® Personal Loans: Best for Online loans for excellent credit
  • Best Egg: Best for Online loans for good credit
  • Happy Money: Best for Online loans for credit card consolidation
  • Upstart: Best for Online loans for fair credit
  • Upgrade: Best for Online loans for bad credit
  • LendingPoint: Best for Online loans for same-day funding
  • LendingClub: Best for Online loans for joint loans
  • LightStream: Best for Online loans with no fees
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