BEST OF

8 Best Personal Loans for Veterans, Plus Other Financial Help

Compare unsecured personal loans from online lenders and credit unions that cater to military veterans, including those with good and bad credit.

Steve NicastroFebruary 25, 2020
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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.

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 large unexpected expenses or consolidate high-interest credit card debt.

“Part of the transition challenge is there are things that go away; maybe it’s a tax-free housing allowance, tax advantages or health care that comes with little or no cost on the military side,” says J.J. Montanaro, an Army veteran and financial planner with USAA.

NerdWallet always recommends you know your credit score and compare personal loans from multiple lenders before making a choice.

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

Our picks for

Loans for veterans with bad credit

Options include online lenders and credit unions, some of which cater to veterans and may offer lower rates and more flexible terms for bad-credit borrowers.

LendingPoint

on LendingPoint's website

LendingPoint

3.5

NerdWallet rating 
LendingPoint

Min. Credit Score

580

Est. APR

15.49 - 35.49%

Loan Amount

$2,000 - $25,000

on LendingPoint's website


Min. Credit Score

580

Key facts

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

Pros

  • Soft credit check with pre-qualification.

  • Option to change your payment date.

  • Can fund a loan the business day after approval.

Cons

  • No co-signed or joint loan option.

  • Rates are high compared to other bad-credit and online lenders.

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

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score of 580; borrowers’ average is 670. LendingPoint uses the FICO 9 credit scoring model.

  • At least $20,000 in annual income; average customer earns $85,000.

  • Debt-to-income ratio of less than 40%; average customer is 15%.

Available Term Lengths

2 to 4 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: 0% - 6%.

  • Late fee: $30 after 15-day grace period.

Disclaimer

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 6% may apply depending upon your state of residence. Upon LendingPoint's final underwriting approval to fund a loan, said funds are often sent via ACH the next non-holiday business day. LendingPoint makes loan offers from $2,000 to $25,000, at rates ranging from a low of 15.49% APR to a high of 34.99% APR, with terms from 24 to 48 months.
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Avant

on Avant's website

Avant

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
Avant

Min. Credit Score

550

Est. APR

9.95 - 35.99%

Loan Amount

$2,000 - $35,000

on Avant's website


Min. Credit Score

550

Key facts

Avant's low starting rates make it a good option for veterans with low credit scores and income.

Pros

  • Able to fund loans the next business day.

  • Option to change your payment date.

  • Soft credit check with pre-qualification.

  • Offers secured loan option.

Cons

  • Charge an origination fee.

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

  • No co-sign or joint loan option.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score of 550.

Available Term Lengths

2 to 5 years

Fees

  • Administrative fee: Up to 4.75%.

  • Late fee: $25 (most states).

  • Unsuccessful payment fee: $15 (most states).

Disclaimer

A $5,700 loan with an administration fee of 4.75% and an amount financed of $5,429.25, repayable in 36 monthly installments, would have an APR of 29.95% and monthly payments of $230.33. Minimum loan amounts may vary by state. If approved, the actual rate and loan amount that a customer qualifies for may vary based on credit determination and other factors. An administration fee of up to 4.75% will be deducted from the loan proceeds. Avant branded credit products are issued by Webbank, member FDIC
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OneMain

on OneMain Financial's website

OneMain Financial

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
OneMain

Min. Credit Score

None

Est. APR

18.00 - 35.99%

Loan Amount

$1,500 - $20,000

on OneMain Financial's website


Min. Credit Score

None

Key facts

A OneMain loan is an option for bad-credit borrowers, but it comes with high starting rates and an origination fee.

Pros

  • Option to choose your payment date.

  • Offers joint and secured loans.

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

  • Offers online educational resources.

Cons

  • Rates are high compared to other online lenders.

  • Charges origination fee.

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

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: None.

  • Minimum income: Not disclosed; 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 $400. 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: Iowa: $8,500. Maine: $7,000. Mississippi: $7,500. North Carolina: $7,500. New York: $20,000. West Virginia: $14,000. 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

Lenders that cater to veterans

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

Min. Credit Score

None

Est. APR

7.49 - 18.00%

Loan Amount

$250 - $50,000

See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website


Min. Credit Score

None

Key facts

Navy Federal Credit Union is the world’s largest credit union. You can become a member if you are active-duty military, a veteran, a Department of Defense civilian employee, or a family member of any current member.

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
USAA Personal Loan
See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website

USAA Personal Loan

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
USAA Personal Loan

Min. Credit Score

None

Est. APR

6.99 - 17.65%

Loan Amount

$2,500 - $20,000

See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website


Min. Credit Score

None

Key facts

USAA offers small loans, flexible terms and minimal fees to active and retired military members and their families.

Pros

  • Competitive rates among good-credit lenders.

  • No origination or prepayment fee.

  • Rate discount for 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.

Read Full Review
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

Min. Credit Score

700

Est. APR

6.49 - 17.99%

Loan Amount

$500 - $20,000

See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website


Min. Credit Score

700

Key facts

While PenFed membership is open to the public, the credit union has exclusive military benefits, including a financial hardship center, advice center and a deployment guide.

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

Read Full Review

Our picks for

Loans for veterans with good credit

Borrowers with good credit (a score of 690 or higher) can consider online lenders, most of which don't specifically cater to veterans, but may offer the best option.

Lending Club

on LendingClub's website

LendingClub

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
Lending Club

Min. Credit Score

600

Est. APR

8.05 - 35.89%

Loan Amount

$1,000 - $40,000

on LendingClub's website


Min. Credit Score

600

Key facts

LendingClub is a peer-to-peer lender and a good option if you want to consolidate your debt.

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 online 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 8.05% 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 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.
Read Full Review
Prosper

on Prosper's website

Prosper

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Prosper

Min. Credit Score

640

Est. APR

7.95 - 35.99%

Loan Amount

$2,000 - $40,000

on Prosper's website


Min. Credit Score

640

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.
Read Full Review

How to pre-qualify for an online personal loan

Pre-qualifying for an online loan can get you access to 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.

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. Here’s a list of some potential resources.

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE AND 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.

veteran service officer at the National Veterans Foundation can help you write and submit benefits claims to the VA.

The Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes: This nonprofit helps veterans cover expenses such as utility bills, car and mortgage payments, and medical bills for wounded veterans and families of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn. Applicants must meet eligibility requirements to be considered for financial aid and other services.

JOB TRAINING AND PLACEMENT

Blue Star Families: This nonprofit organization provides free resources and services to more than 1.5 million military families, such as training and job placement, career networking events and mentoring.

Hiring Our Heroes: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched this nationwide initiative to help veterans, transitioning service members and military spouses find employment opportunities. Hiring Our Heroes hosts free job fairs throughout the country, and also offers a corporate fellowship program, resources for creating a resume, and access to thousands of volunteer mentors.

GRANTS

Rebuild Hope: This volunteer-driven nonprofit provides financial counseling to disabled Iraq and Afghanistan veterans and their families. Qualified applicants may receive emergency financial assistance grants between $1,500 and $2,000.

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.

Modest Needs Homecoming Heroes Grant: This nonprofit corporation offers a financial assistance grant to eligible military veterans who have recently returned from overseas deployment. The grant helps with one-time emergency expenses or a temporary loss of income.

The American Legion: This nonprofit veterans organization offers a Temporary Financial Assistance program, which awards cash grants of up to $1,500 to children of current active-duty or American Legion members.

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 February 25, 2020

Methodology

NerdWallet's ratings for personal loans award points to lenders that offer consumer-friendly features, including soft credit checks, no fees, transparency of loan rates and terms, flexible payment options, accessible customer service, reporting of payments to credit bureaus and financial education. We also consider the number of complaints filed with agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This methodology applies only to lenders that cap interest rates at 36%, the maximum rate financial experts and consumer advocates agree is the acceptable limit for a loan to be affordable. NerdWallet does not receive compensation of any sort for our reviews.

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Best Personal Loans for Veterans, Plus Other Financial Help

Further reading

Should I Get a Personal Loan?

By Narottam Medhora & Jackie Veling