Best Small Personal Loans of June 2024

Compare small personal loan options and borrowing alternatives.

Annie Millerbernd
Written by
Last updated on June 3, 2024
Edited by
✅ Fact checked and reviewed
Kim Lowe
Edited by
✅ Fact checked and reviewed

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Best Small Personal Loans of June 2024

Lender
NerdWallet Rating
Est. APR
Loan amount
Min. credit score
Learn more
Navy Federal Credit Union Personal Loan

Navy Federal Credit Union Personal Loan

Check Rate
on NerdWallet
on NerdWallet
View details
Best for Small loans starting at $250

7.49-18.00%

$250-$50,000

None

First Tech Credit Union Personal Loan

First Tech Credit Union Personal Loan

5.0
/5
Best for Small loans starting at $500

8.99-18.00%

$500-$50,000

660

Upgrade

Upgrade

Visit Lender
on Upgrade's website
on Upgrade's website
Check Rate
on NerdWallet
on NerdWallet
5.0
/5
Best for Small loans starting at $1,000

8.49-35.99%

$1,000-$50,000

560

Lending Club

LendingClub

4.5
/5
Best for Small loans starting at $1,000

8.98-35.99%

$1,000-$40,000

600

🏆 Top 3 most visited
4.5
/5
Best for Small loans starting at $1,000
Fast funding
Flexible payments

7.80-35.99%

$1,000-$50,000

None

4.5
/5
Best for Small loans starting at $2,000

8.99-35.99%

$2,000-$50,000

600

4.5
/5
Best for Small loans starting at $2,000

8.99-35.99%

$2,000-$50,000

560

LendingPoint

LendingPoint

4.5
/5
Best for Small loans starting at $2,000

7.99-35.99%

$2,000-$36,500

660

Universal Credit

Universal Credit

4.0
/5
Best for Small loans starting at $1,000

11.69-35.99%

$1,000-$50,000

560

3.5
/5
Best for Small loans starting at $300

29.00-35.95%

$300-$10,000

None

OneMain

OneMain Financial

3.5
/5
Best for Small loans starting at $1,500

18.00-35.99%

$1,500-$20,000

None

Our pick for

Small loans starting at $250

Navy Federal Credit Union Personal Loan
Check Rate
on NerdWallet
on NerdWallet
Navy Federal Credit Union Personal Loan

Navy Federal Credit Union Personal Loan

5.0
Est. APR

7.49-18.00%

Loan amount

$250-$50,000

Min. credit score

None

Our pick for

Small loans starting at $300

Oportun

Oportun

3.5
Est. APR

29.00-35.95%

Loan amount

$300-$10,000

Min. credit score

None

Our pick for

Small loans starting at $500

First Tech Credit Union Personal Loan

First Tech Credit Union Personal Loan

Est. APR

8.99-18.00%

Loan amount

$500-$50,000

Min. credit score

660

Our pick for

Small loans starting at $1,000

Lending Club

LendingClub

Est. APR

8.98-35.99%

Loan amount

$1,000-$40,000

Min. credit score

600

Upstart

Upstart

Est. APR

7.80-35.99%

Loan amount

$1,000-$50,000

Min. credit score

None

Universal Credit

Universal Credit

Est. APR

11.69-35.99%

Loan amount

$1,000-$50,000

Min. credit score

560

Our pick for

Small loans starting at $1,500

OneMain

OneMain Financial

Est. APR

18.00-35.99%

Loan amount

$1,500-$20,000

Min. credit score

None

Our pick for

Small loans starting at $2,000

BestEgg

Best Egg

Est. APR

8.99-35.99%

Loan amount

$2,000-$50,000

Min. credit score

600

Prosper

Prosper

Est. APR

8.99-35.99%

Loan amount

$2,000-$50,000

Min. credit score

560

LendingPoint

LendingPoint

Est. APR

7.99-35.99%

Loan amount

$2,000-$36,500

Min. credit score

660

» COMPARE: See your bad-credit loan options

What is a small loan?

A small loan is generally a personal loan for less than $2,500. Repayment terms vary widely, but reputable lenders give you at least a few months to repay a small loan.

Annual percentage rates on small personal loans range from about 6% to 36%, with the lowest rates offered to borrowers with strong credit.

Pros and cons of small personal loans

Pros

  • Fast funding. Many lenders can fund a small personal loan the day you’re approved or the next day.

  • Lump sum. You get the funds from a personal loan all at once after approval. There’s no credit limit or draw period to remember.

  • Fixed payments. Personal loans have fixed interest rates that keep your monthly payment the same for the life of the loan.

  • No collateral. Most personal loans are unsecured, so collateral (like a house or car) isn’t required to borrow. If you don’t repay the loan, the lender can’t take your possessions, but your credit score will drop.

Cons

  • Approval based on credit and income. Approval depends on your creditworthiness and finances. Borrowers with thin credit histories, low scores or low incomes are usually offered higher rates, and some may not qualify.

  • High rates. Personal loan rates can be high compared to other borrowing options, especially for those with low credit scores and incomes.

  • Possible origination fees. Some lenders charge an origination fee of 1% to 10% of the loan amount, which is either taken from the loan before you receive the funds or added to the monthly payment. If a lender charges this fee, make sure the final loan amount is enough to cover your expense.

Where to get a small loan

Credit unions

Credit union personal loan amounts can start below $1,000, and federally-chartered credit unions cap APRs at 18%. Many credit unions look beyond your credit score on a personal loan application and review information like your membership history.

Some federal credit unions also offer payday alternative loans. These are small loans of $200 to $2,000 with rates capped at 28%.

Online lenders

Online lenders can provide personal loans for as little as $1,000 or $2,000. Many online lenders let you pre-qualify to preview potential small loan offers, including the APR, repayment term and loan amount, without affecting your credit score.

Capital Good Fund is one of few online lenders with low rates and loans that can be less than $1,000. These loans are available in only a handful of states, though, and loan amounts vary by state.

Banks

Some large banks like U.S. Bank and Citibank offer personal loans with starting amounts of $1,000 or $2,000. Others, including Discover and Wells Fargo, have starting amounts of $2,500 or above. Banks typically prefer borrowers with good or excellent credit.

Some of the nation’s largest banks offer small-dollar loans. Here are examples:

  • The U.S. Bank Simple Loan is offered in amounts from $100 to $1,000 and is repaid over three months. The loan’s fee is $6 for every $100 borrowed.

  • Bank of America’s Balance Assist provides loans up to $500 and is repaid over three months. The loan carries a flat $5 fee.

  • The Wells Fargo Flex Loan is a short-term small loan that’s repaid in four monthly installments, according to the bank. Loans can be $250 with a $12 fee or $500 with a $20 fee.

Most banks require customers to have a bank account open for a few months before they can apply for a small loan.

How to compare small loans

Here are the most important features to compare between small loans.

APR: Annual percentage rate provides an apples-to-apples cost comparison for all loan types. The least expensive loan has the lowest APR.

Payments: Review your budget to see how much room you have to repay a loan. A personal loan calculator can show you what rate and repayment term you’d need to get an affordable monthly payment.

Terms: Some small loans have a repayment term of a few weeks or months, while others can be repaid over a year or more. A long repayment term means you’ll pay more in interest, so find a term that keeps payments low but helps you clear the debt quickly.

Requirements: Some lenders prefer borrowers with strong credit and income, while others accept lower credit scores. Review a lender’s borrowing requirements to determine your likelihood of qualifying.

Funding time: Loan approval and funding can take a couple of days or up to a week, depending on the lender and how smoothly the application process goes. If you need the funds fast, look for a lender that offers fast loans.

How to get a small personal loan

  1. Review your credit report and debts. Before applying, check your credit report for opportunities to address any negative marks or unpaid debts. Also, calculate your debt-to-income ratio, which lenders use to see how much of a borrower’s income goes to other debts. 

  2. Pre-qualify. Since pre-qualifying usually takes a few minutes and doesn’t affect your credit score, it’s a quick way to compare small loans.

  3. Collect necessary documents. A loan application may require information like your Social Security number, W-2s and pay stubs. Gathering this information before you apply can speed up the loan application process.

  4. Submit the application. This part may be done in person with local banks and credit unions, but many lenders have online applications. If you’re approved, expect funding within a day to a week. Applying will temporarily shave a few points off your credit score.

How to qualify for a small loan with bad credit

If you have bad credit (a score of 629 or lower), you may still qualify for a small loan from a credit union or reputable online lender, but your rate could be on the high end of the lender’s range.

  • Add a co-signer whose credit score or income is higher than yours. A co-signer won't have access to loan funds or information about your payments, but they will be on the hook if you fail to repay.

  • Get a joint personal loan with someone whose credit score or income is higher than yours. Co-borrowers share the responsibility for repayment and have equal access to the loan funds and payment information.

  • Choose a lender that offers secured personal loans. Most lenders let you use a savings account or vehicle as collateral.

How to spot a predatory small loan

A small loan from a predatory lender can damage your finances and trap you in a cycle of debt. Watch for these red flags when shopping for a small personal loan.

High interest rates: Reputable lenders cap APRs at 36%, the highest rate most consumer advocates say an affordable loan can have. Some high-interest lenders can charge triple-digit interest rates or high fees that make the loan difficult to repay.

Extra short repayment terms: Payday loans are so named because you repay them on your next payday — usually in two weeks or less. These loans require a balloon payment (all or most of the loan repaid at once) and may not give you enough time to pull the funds together.

Extra long repayment terms: Installment loans with long repayment terms are appealing because they have low monthly or bi-weekly payments, but some lenders draw out the repayment term for longer than you need in order to make more money on interest. An extra long repayment term, even on a small loan, could have you paying more than 50% of what you borrowed in interest.

Expensive refinancing options: Some high-interest installment lenders offer refinancing options that may lower your monthly payment, but because of high rates and extended terms, this option could keep you in debt for longer and cost you much more in interest.

No credit checks: A lender that approves you without checking your credit isn't trying to ensure that you can repay the loan and may even be betting that you can’t, which could lead you to borrow more money to pay off the first loan.

Alternatives to small personal loans

NerdWallet recommends exhausting cheaper alternatives before getting a small loan, even if you need the money for an emergency. Consider these options first:

Last updated on June 3, 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 Small Personal Loans of June 2024

  • Navy Federal Credit Union Personal Loan: Best for Small loans starting at $250
  • Oportun: Best for Small loans starting at $300
  • First Tech Credit Union Personal Loan: Best for Small loans starting at $500
  • LendingClub: Best for Small loans starting at $1,000
  • Upgrade: Best for Small loans starting at $1,000
  • Upstart: Best for Small loans starting at $1,000
  • Universal Credit: Best for Small loans starting at $1,000
  • OneMain Financial: Best for Small loans starting at $1,500
  • Best Egg: Best for Small loans starting at $2,000
  • Prosper: Best for Small loans starting at $2,000
  • LendingPoint: Best for Small loans starting at $2,000

Frequently asked questions

  • Some lenders have minimum credit score requirements as low as 560. If you're not sure whether you'd qualify, you can pre-qualify for a personal loan. Pre-qualifying won't hurt your credit score, and it allows you to see the rate and terms a lender may offer you.

  • Few major banks offer personal loans below $1,000. These two large banks offer small-dollar loans to existing customers:

  • You can find small personal loans at banks, credit unions or online lenders. Some large banks provide small loans to existing customers. Credit union personal loans may have low starting amounts. Federal credit unions can also offer a specific type of small loan called a payday alternative loan. Online personal loans usually start at $1,000, but some lenders may offer smaller loans.

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