Personal Loans: Estimated offers for $5,000
Learn more about personal loans
When you need money, whether to cover a large expense or to consolidate your debt, a personal loan can be a viable option. An unsecured personal loan is a fixed-rate loan that is not backed by collateral and repaid in monthly installments over a specific term, usually two to five years.
Interest rates on personal loans vary based on the type of lender and your creditworthiness. Lenders look at factors including your credit score, credit report and debt-to-income ratio. You can get a personal loan from some major banks, credit unions and online lenders.
Borrowers with excellent credit typically get the lowest rates and the largest loan amounts. They also have the widest options when it comes to shopping for a loan.
Those with average to poor credit may have to look a little harder and pay a higher rate for a personal loan. Some online lenders target low-credit borrowers, offering loans with rates from 18% to 36% APR. Having steady income, low debt and a long credit history of on-time payments will improve your chances of being approved.
What rate should I expect?
Rates vary from lender to lender and depend heavily on your credit history and ability to repay, but here’s what interest rates on personal loans look like, on average:
|How's your credit?||Score range||Estimated APR|
|Source: NerdWallet lender survey|
|Excellent||720 - 850||13.9%|
|Good||690 - 719||18.0%|
|Average||630 - 689||21.8%|
|Bad||300 - 629||27.2%; lowest scores unlikely to qualify|
» MORE: Get your free credit score
Before you shop for a personal loan
- Compare your options. Interest rates on personal loans for good credit start below 5% APR, but if you can qualify for 0% interest credit card — and pay off the balance within the promotional period — then you’re better off with the credit card.
- Calculate loan payments at a range of interest rates and amounts so you’ll have an idea of what to expect as you shop.
- If you have bad credit, find a co-signer. Having a co-signer with good credit allows you to piggyback on his or her creditworthiness and potentially get a better rate.
- Consider a secured loan. Using a car, savings account or other asset as collateral may get you a lower rate.
- If you have time, do what you can to build your credit. The higher your credit score, the better your chances of qualifying for a personal loan and getting a more affordable rate.
- Assess your overall financial well-being. Personal loans work best as part of balanced financial plan. Borrow money to consolidate debt if it means you’ll get out of debt more quickly. But don’t borrow if it only adds financial strain. If your current debt is overwhelming, investigate your debt-relief options.
Compare loan offers from multiple lenders
If you decide a personal loan is right for you, always compare rates from multiple lenders. The loan with the lowest APR is the least expensive — and therefore, usually the best choice. Most lenders allow you to see estimated rates without affecting your credit score, so it pays to shop around.
If you have good credit and an existing banking relationship, it’s worth checking out loan options from your current bank or credit union. Here are some top banks that offer personal loans.
To compare rates from online lenders, use NerdWallet’s lender marketplace above to easily compare several offers at once. If you qualify, you could receive your money as soon as the next day.