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9 Best Personal Loans for Veterans, Plus Other Financial Help

Veterans can use a personal loan to cover a large unexpected expense or to consolidate debt. Other financial resources may be available to eligible veterans.

Steve NicastroAug 6, 2021

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Veterans transitioning to civilian life often face financial challenges, such as loss of military benefits or difficulty finding a job. They may need to rely on grants or other financial assistance, or perhaps take out a personal loan.

A personal loan — money borrowed from a bank, credit union or online lender that’s paid back in fixed monthly installments — may be an option for veterans looking to cover a large unexpected expense or consolidate high-interest credit card debt.

NerdWallet recommends comparing personal loans from multiple lenders before choosing.

Summary of Best Personal Loans for Veterans, Plus Other Financial Help

Our picks for

Loans for veterans with bad credit

These lenders may offer lower rates and more flexible terms for bad-credit borrowers.

Upstart
Check rate

on Upstart's website

Upstart

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Upstart

Est. APR

6.76 - 35.99%

Loan Amount

$1,000 - $50,000

Min. Credit Score

580
Check rate

on Upstart's website


Min. Credit Score

580

Key facts

Upstart is a good option for borrowers with low credit scores and strong earning potential.

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: 580.

  • 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 24.4% and 36 monthly payments of $36 per $1,000 borrowed. There is no down payment and no prepayment penalty. Average APR is calculated based on 3-year rates offered in the last 1 month. Your APR will be determined based on your credit, income, and certain other information provided in your loan application. Not all applicants will be approved.

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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 tailors its loan to borrowers with bad credit and a high debt-to-income ratio.

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: 580.

  • 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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OneMain
Check 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
Check 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 accepts low credit scores.

Pros

  • Option to choose your payment date.

  • Offers joint and secured loans.

  • Able to fund a loan the same or next business day.

  • Offers direct payment to creditors on debt consolidation loans.

Cons

  • Rates are high compared to other online lenders.

  • Charges origination fee.

  • No rate discount for autopay.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: None.

  • Minimum income: None; average is $45,000.

Available Term Lengths

2 to 5 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: $25 to $400 or 1 - 10%.

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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Our picks for

Loans for veterans with good credit

Borrowers with good credit can consider these online lenders, which don't specifically cater to veterans, but may offer the best option.

Marcus by Goldman Sachs
Check rate

on Goldman Sachs's website

Marcus by Goldman Sachs

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Marcus by Goldman Sachs

Est. APR

6.74 - 19.74%

Loan Amount

$3,500 - $40,000

Min. Credit Score

660
Check rate

on Goldman Sachs's website


Min. Credit Score

660

Key facts

With low rates, zero fees and a wide range of repayment terms, Marcus offers one of the best personal loans for borrowers with good or excellent credit.

Pros

  • No fees.

  • Wide variety of repayment term options.

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

  • Offers direct payment to creditors for debt consolidation loans.


Cons

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

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: 660 FICO.

  • May need to provide proof of income, including recent pay stubs or bank statements.

  • May need to provide Social Security number, Individual Tax ID number or a photo ID.

Available Term Lengths

3 to 6 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: None.

  • Late fee: None.

Disclaimer

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

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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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

Prosper is an online lender with 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 picks for

Lenders that cater to veterans

These lenders either serve military members only or offer exclusive perks.

PenFed Credit Union Personal Loan
See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website

PenFed Credit Union Personal Loan

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
PenFed Credit Union Personal Loan

Est. APR

5.99 - 17.99%

Loan Amount

$500 - $20,000

Min. Credit Score

700
See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website


Min. Credit Score

700

Key facts

PenFed’s personal loans are ideal for good-credit borrowers looking for a small loan with a low rate.

Pros

  • Soft credit check with pre-qualification.

  • Joint loan option.

  • Offers mobile app to manage your loan.

  • Offers small loans of $500.

Cons

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

  • No co-sign or secured loan option.

  • No option to change your payment date.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: 700.

  • Minimum credit history: Three years.

  • Low debt-to-income ratio — many lenders require a DTI of 40% or lower.

  • Minimum income: None.

Available Term Lengths

1 to 5 years

Fees

  • Late fee: $29

  • Returned payment fee: $30

  • Membership fee: $5

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USAA Personal Loan
See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website

USAA Personal Loan

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
USAA Personal Loan

Est. APR

6.49 - 17.15%

Loan Amount

$2,500 - $20,000

Min. Credit Score

None
See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website


Min. Credit Score

None

Key facts

If you’re a USAA member with good credit, you may be able to get a personal loan at a competitive rate that can be funded in one business day.

Pros

  • Competitive rates among good-credit lenders.

  • No origination or prepayment fee.

  • Existing customers can get a .25% rate discount for setting up autopay.

  • Option to include a co-signer.

Cons

  • Must be a USAA member.

  • No option to pre-qualify.

  • Offers a small range of loan amounts.

  • Charges late fee.

Qualifications

  • USAA does not publicly disclose many of its borrower requirements. Borrowers with good and excellent credit scores will likely qualify for the lowest rates.

Available Term Lengths

1 to 7 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: None.

  • Late fee: 5% of payment amount.

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Navy Federal Credit Union Personal Loan
See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website

Navy Federal Credit Union Personal Loan

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
Navy Federal Credit Union Personal Loan

Est. APR

7.49 - 18.00%

Loan Amount

$250 - $50,000

Min. Credit Score

None
See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website


Min. Credit Score

None

Key facts

Navy Federal’s personal loans are an especially good fit for members with fair credit who want to fund a home improvement project.

Pros

  • No origination fee.

  • Offers wide range of loan amounts and repayment terms.

  • Able to fund loans same-day.

  • Offers co-sign, joint and secure loan options.

Cons

  • Exclusive to credit union members.

  • No option to pre-qualify.

  • No rate discount for autopay.

  • No option to change your payment date.

Qualifications

  • No minimum qualification requirements.

  • Must meet membership requirements.

Available Term Lengths

1 to 5 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: None.

Read Full Review

How to choose the best personal loan

There are a few things to consider as you compare loan products.

Annual percentage rate: Annual percentage rate includes the loan’s interest rate and any fees, and it’s one of the best ways to measure affordability. For example, a two-year $5,000 loan with a 15% APR would cost $818 in interest. The same loan with a 10% APR would cost $537 in interest. The lower the APR, the cheaper it is to borrow the money.

Monthly payments: You should not take a loan if you cannot afford the payments. Missing loan payments can lead to costly fees and lower your credit score, so make sure there is ample room in your budget. Use our personal loan calculator to estimate your monthly payment.

Repayment term: Repayment terms on personal loans usually range from one to seven years, though longer terms are available from some lenders. If you choose a longer repayment term, you’ll have lower monthly payments, but you’ll also pay more in interest.

Funding time: Online lenders tend to fund loans faster than banks or credit unions, which can take up to one week to deposit the money in your account after you’re approved. Online lenders can usually fund loans within a few days, and some promise next- or same-day funding.

Special perks: Lenders will offer other benefits that may appeal to you. For example, if you’re using a loan to consolidate debt, some lenders offer direct payment to creditors, meaning they’ll send the money to the different credit card companies for you, so you don’t have to. Other lenders may offer free financial education or a free monthly credit report.

How to pre-qualify for an online personal loan

Pre-qualifying for an online loan gives you access to potential loan terms, including the loan’s interest rate, loan amount and monthly payments. This includes a soft credit check, which will not hurt your credit score.

By taking the steps to pre-qualify, you have the advantage of comparing multiple loan products to select the most affordable option.

Financial assistance, grants and resources for veterans

Veterans seeking personal loans or short-term emergency cash may have other resources available, such as grants, which provide free money with no repayment required, and financial assistance.

A complete list of Veteran Support Organizations can be found through the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Federal benefits

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs: The VA’s annual guide to federal benefits for veterans, dependents and survivors offers information on disability compensation, housing grants for disabled veterans and educational assistance.

Job training and placement

Blue Star Families: This nonprofit organization provides free resources and services to more than 1.5 million military families. This includes virtual webinars, career placement advice and technical training.

Hiring Our Heroes: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation launched this nationwide initiative to help veterans, transitioning service members and military spouses find employment opportunities. Hiring Our Heroes hosts job fairs and resume workshops, offers a corporate fellowship program and hosts networking groups for military spouses.

Grants

VFW Unmet Needs Program: The Veterans of Foreign Wars offers this program for military families who have financial difficulties stemming from deployment or other military-related activity or injury. It provides grants up to $1,500 and can be used for eligible expenses, which include household expenses, car repairs, utilities, food and clothing, and medical bills.

American Legion Temporary Financial Assistance Program: This nonprofit veterans organization awards cash grants of up to $1,500 to children of current active duty military or American Legion members to help meet an urgent need like shelter, food or healthcare costs.

Business grants and resources: Veterans looking to start a business or existing business owners can seek financial assistance through small-business grants, as well as education and training programs aimed at helping veteran entrepreneurs.

Last updated on August 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 Best Personal Loans for Veterans, Plus Other Financial Help