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Small Personal Loans in 2020: Compare Your Options

For small personal loans, look first to credit unions or online lenders for affordable loans. Compare small loans and learn about alternatives.

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

A small personal loan can be a quick, convenient option to pay an immediate expense, like a medical bill or car repair, if you don’t have emergency savings or alternative ways to cover the expense. The nonprofit Pew Charitable Trusts says affordable small-dollar loans should have:

  • Monthly payments that are not more than 5% of your monthly income.

  • Fixed monthly payments and no balloon payments.

  • Loan terms between 3 and 12 months.

Some online lenders offer personal loans for as little as $1,000. Always compare multiple personal loans to find one that best fits your budget.

Summary of Small Personal Loans in 2020: Compare Your Options

Our picks for

Small loans starting at $1,000

Upgrade

on Upgrade's website

Upgrade

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Upgrade

Min. Credit Score

580

Est. APR

7.99 - 35.97%

Loan Amount

$1,000 - $50,000

on Upgrade's website


Min. Credit Score

580

Key facts

Offers personal loans plus credit-building tools; you'll need strong cash flow to qualify.

Pros

  • Allows secured, co-signed and joint loans.

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

  • Rate discount for autopay.

Cons

  • Charges origination fee.

  • Charges late fee.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: 580.

  • Minimum annual income: None; average borrower income is $87,000.

  • Minimum credit history: 3 years.

  • Minimum number of accounts on credit history: 2.

  • Minimum monthly free cash flow: $800.

  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: Varies between 55% and 65% including the loan you’re applying for and mortgage payments. To see your post-loan DTI, calculate your monthly payments on a personal loan, and then add them to your debt-to-income calculation.

  • Average loan amount is $10,000.

  • Average repayment term is 40 months.

Available Term Lengths

3 to 5 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: 2.9% to 8%.

Disclaimer

Personal loans made through Upgrade feature APRs of 7.99%-35.97%. All personal loans have a 2.9% 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 17.98% APR (which includes a 14.32% 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 $343.33. Over the life of the loan, your payments would total $12,359.97. 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 lending partners. Information on Upgrade's lending partners can be found at https://www.upgrade.com/lending-partners/. Accept your loan offer and your funds will be sent to your bank or designated account within one (1) business day of clearing necessary verifications. Availability of the funds is dependent on how quickly your bank processes the transaction. From the time of approval, funds should be available within four (4) business days. Funds sent directly to pay off your creditors may take up to 2 weeks to clear, depending on the creditor.
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Lending Club
See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website

LendingClub

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
Lending Club

Min. Credit Score

600

Est. APR

10.68 - 35.89%

Loan Amount

$1,000 - $40,000

See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website


Min. Credit Score

600

Key facts

The pioneer of peer-to-peer lending and an option for good-credit borrowers who want a small loan.

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

All loans made by WebBank, Member FDIC. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, and credit usage and history. The APR ranges from 10.68% to 35.89%. For example, you could receive a loan of $6,000 with an interest rate of 9.56% and a 5.00% origination fee of $300 for an APR of 13.11%. In this example, you will receive $5,700 and will make 36 monthly payments of $192.37. The total amount repayable will be $6,925.32. Your APR will be determined based on your credit at time of application. The origination fee ranges from 2% to 6% (average is 4.86% as of 7/1/2019 – 9/30/2019). In Georgia, the minimum loan amount is $3,025. In Massachusetts, the minimum loan amount is $6,001 if your APR is greater than 12%. There is no down payment and there is never a prepayment penalty. Closing of your loan is contingent upon your agreement of all the required agreements and disclosures on the www.lendingclub.com website. All loans via LendingClub have a minimum repayment term of 36 months or longer. Loans require sufficient investor commitment before they can be funded or issued.
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Upstart

on Upstart's website

Upstart

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Upstart

Min. Credit Score

580

Est. APR

6.16 - 35.99%

Loan Amount

$1,000 - $50,000

on Upstart's website


Min. Credit Score

580

Key facts

Upstart offers personal loans starting at $1,000 and says it can fund most loans one business day after a borrower signs a loan agreement.

Pros

  • Accepts borrowers new to credit.

  • Able to fund loans within one business day.

  • Offers direct payment to creditors with some debt consolidation loans.

Cons

  • Borrowers can choose from only two repayment term options.

  • Charges origination fee.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: 580.

  • Minimum credit history: none, this lender 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

1)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 received 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 www.upstart.com website. 2) § 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. The minimum loan amount in MA is $7,000. The minimum loan amount in Ohio is $6,000. The minimum loan amount in NM is $5,100. The minimum loan amount in GA is $3,100. 3) ‡ 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 15% and 36 monthly payments of $33 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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Our pick for

Small loans starting at $1,500

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

OneMain 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.

  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: 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: Florida: $8,000. Iowa: $8,500. Maine: $7,000. Mississippi: $7,500. North Carolina: $7,500. New York: $20,000. Texas: $8,000. 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

Small loans starting at $2,000

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 a peer-to-peer 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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Avant

on Avant's website

Avant

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Avant

Min. Credit Score

580

Est. APR

9.95 - 35.99%

Loan Amount

$2,000 - $35,000

on Avant's website


Min. Credit Score

580

Key facts

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

Pros

  • Able to fund loans within one business day.

  • Soft credit check with pre-qualification.

  • Option to change your payment date.

Cons

  • Charges origination fee.

  • No option to include co-signer.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score of 580.

  • At least $20,000 in gross annual income.

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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BestEgg

on Best Egg's website

Best Egg

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
BestEgg

Min. Credit Score

640

Est. APR

5.99 - 29.99%

Loan Amount

$2,000 - $35,000

on Best Egg's website


Min. Credit Score

640

Key facts

Best Egg offers personal loans for borrowers who want a small loan and need cash fast.

Pros

  • Competitive rates among fair-credit lenders.

  • Able to fund loans within one business day.

  • Secured loan option for homeowners.

Cons

  • Charges origination fee.

  • Charges $15 late fee.

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

  • Borrowers can choose from only two repayment term options.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: 640; borrower average is 700.

  • Minimum credit history: 3 years and 3 accounts.

  • Minimum income: No minimum income requirement; borrower average is $80,000. Borrower must have enough cash flow to cover current financial obligations.

  • Minimum debt-to-income ratio: 40% or 65% including a mortgage; borrower average is 40%.

  • Employment: Must provide proof of income.

  • Must provide valid U.S. address and Social Security number.

Available Term Lengths

3 to 5 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: 0.99% - 5.99%.

  • Late fee: $15.

  • Return fee: $15 if payments are not processed.

Disclaimer

*Trustpilot TrustScore as of June 2020. Best Egg loans are unsecured personal loans made by Cross River Bank, a New Jersey State Chartered Commercial Bank, Member FDIC. “Best Egg” is a trademark of Marlette Funding, LLC. All uses of “Best Egg” refer to “the Best Egg personal loan” and/or “Best Egg on behalf of Cross River Bank, as originator of the Best Egg personal loan,” as applicable. The term, amount and APR of any loan we offer to you will depend on your credit sc-ore, income, debt payment obligations, loan amount, credit history and other factors. Your loan agreement will contain specific terms and conditions. The timing of available funds upon loan approval may vary depending upon your bank’s policies. Loan amounts range from $2,000–$35,000. Residents of Massachusetts have a minimum loan amount of $6,500 ; New Mexico and Ohio, $5,000; and Georgia, $3,000. For a second Best Egg loan, your total existing Best Egg loan balances cannot exceed $50,000. Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) range from 5.99%–29.99%. The APR is the cost of credit as a yearly rate and reflects both your interest rate and an origination fee of 0.99%–6.99% of your loan amount, which will be deducted from any loan proceeds you receive. The origination fee on a loan term 4-years or longer will be at least 4.99%. Your loan term will impact your APR, which may be higher than our lowest advertised rate. You need a minimum 700 FICO® score and a minimum individual annual income of $100,000 to qualify for our lowest APR. To help the government fight the funding of terrorism and money laundering activities, Federal law requires all financial institutions to obtain, verify, and record information that identifies each person who opens an account. What this means for you: When you open an account, we will ask for your name, address, date of birth, and other information that will allow us to identify you. We may also ask to see your driver’s license or other identifying documents.
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RocketLoans
See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website

Rocket Loans

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
RocketLoans

Min. Credit Score

580

Est. APR

7.16 - 29.99%

Loan Amount

$2,000 - $45,000

See my rates

on NerdWallet's secure website


Min. Credit Score

580

Key facts

Rocket Loans funds loans as fast as the next day. Its loans have low rates for borrowers with good credit.

Pros

  • Able to fund some loans the same day as approval.

  • Soft credit check with pre-qualification.

  • Rate discount for autopay.

Cons

  • Charges origination fee.

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

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

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: 580; borrowers’ average is 710. Rocket Loans uses the FICO 9 credit scoring model.

  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: 40%; borrowers’ average is 14%. This lender doesn’t include a mortgage in its debt-to-income calculation.

  • Minimum annual income: $24,000; borrowers’ average is $85,000.

  • Minimum credit history: Two years; borrowers’ average is 18 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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Small loans from credit unions

For some borrowers, a local credit union is the best place to get a small-dollar loan. Credit unions are not-for-profit institutions built to serve their members, and many look at more than your credit score when they assess you for a loan.

Many federal credit unions offer payday alternative loans, typically between $200 and $1,000, to borrowers with low credit scores. By law, federal credit unions can charge maximum annual percentage rates of 18% for personal loans and 28% for payday alternative loans.

Borrowers can get a loan from PenFed for as little as $500, depending on the chosen repayment term.

Small loans from banks

Not all major banks offer personal loans, and many that do offer larger loans. Citibank and PNC are two banks that offer small personal loans in addition to competitive interest rates and rate discounts for existing customers.

Citibank loans start at $2,000, and customers with Citibank checking accounts can get rate discounts for making automatic loan payments. PNC’s loans start at $1,000, and existing customers receive a 0.25% rate discount if they set up payments from their checking accounts.

The U.S. Bank Simple Loan lets bank customers borrow between $100 and $1,000 and repay the loan in three monthly installments. The loan carries a fee of $12 to $15, or an APR of 77% - 81%. It's an expensive option, but still cheaper and safer than payday loans.

Small online loans for bad credit

Borrowers with bad credit (629 or lower FICO) may qualify for a small loan from a reputable online lender. Rates on these loans don't exceed 36%, but bad-credit borrowers may qualify for a rate on the high end of a lender's APR range.

Your credit score doesn't usually affect the minimum amount you're able to borrow, so a lender wouldn't require you to borrow more than you need because of a low credit score.

Compare bad credit loans from online lenders to find the lowest rate. Some of these lenders can offer fast funding and they typically have repayment terms of six months or more.

Alternatives to small personal loans

You have options other than taking a small loan with interest and potentially fees. NerdWallet recommends exhausting cheaper alternatives first, even if you need the money for an emergency.

Avoid predatory small loans

Payday lenders typically offer loans with high rates, short terms and late fees. A $500 payday loan due in two weeks with the typical fee of $15 for every $100 dollars you borrow would be an APR of 391%, a rate that's considered unaffordable by consumer finance advocates.

Other predatory lenders offer loans for under $1,000 with excessive terms that allow them to earn more interest.

You can spot a predatory lender a few different ways. If a lender doesn’t check your credit before approving you for a loan, requires access to your bank account or doesn’t state the loan’s APR before closing it, then it's likely it isn’t engaging in consumer-friendly lending.

If you can only qualify for a high-interest loan, understand how your rate translates to payments and find a lender that checks your credit.

Learn how to take a high-interest loan without slipping into a cycle of debt before you apply.

How to pre-qualify for a 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.

Last updated on August 20, 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 Small Personal Loans in 2020: Compare Your Options

  • Upgrade: Best for Small loans starting at $1,000
  • LendingClub: Best for Small loans starting at $1,000
  • Upstart: Best for Small loans starting at $1,000
  • OneMain Financial : Best for Small loans starting at $1,500
  • Prosper: Best for Small loans starting at $2,000
  • Avant: Best for Small loans starting at $2,000
  • Best Egg: Best for Small loans starting at $2,000
  • Rocket Loans: Best for Small loans starting at $2,000

Frequently asked questions