Good credit makes borrowing easier. Great credit makes borrowing downright cheap.
Borrowers with good credit — generally considered a credit score of 690 to 720 — typically find favorable interest rates on most unsecured personal loans, which don’t require collateral and can be used to consolidate credit card debt, make home improvements, or pay for a vacation.
Those with excellent credit scores, above 720, have it even better. They are likely to find offers for credit cards with 0% introductory interest rates, a better option than personal loans if the debt can be paid quickly. But they also have options from lenders that cater to them with ultra-low rates, low or no fees, and loan amounts as high as $100,000.
As someone with good credit, you should shop around at many online lenders to get the best combination of low rates, fees and payment flexibility. Most lenders will let you check the rates you could get without affecting your credit (using what’s called a soft check), so it’s worth taking the time to compare offers.
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Personal loans for excellent credit
You can usually qualify for a personal loan from a bank, credit union or online lender with excellent credit. You will typically receive a hard credit check at your bank or credit union, while online lenders often let you see the rates they’d offer you with only a soft check.
Some online lenders have better features than others. LightStream, Earnest and SoFi are geared toward those who have stellar credit, offering low fees and high loan amounts.
LightStream tailors interest rates to suit your loan purpose, and it offers low rates normally reserved for secured loans. It also doesn’t charge an origination fee. If you have several years of good credit history, spread across different types of debt, then a LightStream loan is a good choice.
SoFi lends to people with good credit and high incomes. The company doesn’t charge any origination fees and it offers loans in a wide range, from $5,000 to $100,000. SoFi builds a community around its borrowers, setting up networking events and happy hours. It also pauses loan payments and provides career counseling if a borrower becomes unemployed.
Earnest borrowers typically have credit scores above 700 and a high income, and are responsible with their finances. The lender also lets you adjust due dates and loan terms whenever you like.
Personal loans for those with good credit
Prosper and Lending Club are the largest peer-to-peer lenders in the online lending space. Peer-to-peer or marketplace lenders connect borrowers with investors who fund their loans. Both lenders offer favorable interest rates for borrowers with good credit.
Lending Club’s APR starts at 5.99%, but it also has a special lower rate of 4.99% for those with excellent credit. The lender has more flexible loan terms, a slightly wider loan amount window (loans start at just $1,000) and a lower minimum credit score requirement than Prosper.
Prosper is also a solid choice for those with good credit. The lender gives borrowers access to their credit scores and a personal finance management app to keep track of their spending habits.
•APR: 5.99%-35.89% (4.99% with excellent credit).
•Loan amount: $1,000-$40,000.
•Loan terms: Three or five years.
•Minimum credit score: 600, but borrowers average 699.
•Time to funding: Usually seven days.
•Fees: Origination fee 1% to 6% of loan amount; fees for late payment, unsuccessful payment and personal check use.
Personal loans for credit card consolidation
All online lenders will let you borrow money to consolidate debt.
Payoff has made credit card consolidations its bread and butter, so if that’s your need, the lender should be high on your list of options. It should be noted, however, that a good credit score may qualify you for 0% balance transfer offers, which can be a less expensive way to pay down debt if you can do so in the time allotted.
Borrowing to consolidate any kind of debt should only be done as part of a bigger plan to get out of debt. There’s little point in taking out a personal loan to pay off credit cards unless you stop using the cards.
If your credit score is affected by high utilization of your revolving credit limit, a credit card consolidation loan may help your credit score by moving debt into the installment category, which is considered separately.
Personal loans for borrowers with ‘thin’ credit
Many factors go into determining your credit score, and one of them is the length of your credit history. It’s entirely possible to have a good credit score but a short history, also known as a “thin” file, particularly for millennial borrowers who haven’t yet established themselves financially.
Many new online lenders target borrowers who are new to credit or have unestablished credit. These lenders often consider nontraditional factors such as your college major, profession and school in addition to your credit score.
Upstart, Earnest and SoFi cater to college-educated borrowers.
Upstart has no minimum credit history requirement and it also lends to those who don’t have enough of a credit history to generate a FICO score, provided their educational and financial histories are strong. Upstart is a tech-focused company, so it offers some perks to those who borrow money to learn code.
Earnest is for borrowers with excellent credit scores. The lender says it has no minimum years of credit history requirement, but borrowers typically have high incomes and are responsible with their finances.
SoFi, also for excellent credit borrowers, lends to those who have thin credit files but high incomes.
Loans presented on this page have a minimum loan length of 1 year, maximum loan length of 7 years, and a maximum APR 36.00%.
Amrita Jayakumar is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ajbombay
Updated Sept. 20, 2016.