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Published 15 May 2024
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Best Personal Loans May 2024

If you’re considering a personal loan, it can be difficult to work out which one is right for your situation. Here at NerdWallet, we have put some of the top UK lenders through their paces to reveal the pros and cons of each.

Many or all of the products and brands we promote and feature including our ‘Partner Spotlights’ are from our partners who compensate us. However, this does not influence our editorial opinion found in articles, reviews and our ‘Best’ tables. Our opinion is our own. Read more on our methodology here.

A personal loan, also known as an unsecured loan, allows you to borrow a sum of money over an agreed period. You will then repay this amount, plus interest, usually in monthly instalments until the debt is paid off.

To help you compare deals, lenders are required to display the total cost of a loan as a percentage, known as the annual percentage rate (APR). This tells you how much a loan will cost you over one year, taking into account the interest rate and any standard fees. Consider this alongside other features of a loan, to decide if it is right for you.

We’ve scoured the personal loans market and carried out loan customer surveys to discover which lenders offer the features considered the best. We base our star ratings on 20 of the features customers told us are most important, from payment flexibility and the ease of the application process to the customer support available. 

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Editor’s picks

Personal Loans

Editor’s Pick

Available amounts

Available Terms

 

Tesco Bank Personal Loan
Overall
£3,000 to £35,000
1 to 10 years

Halifax Personal Loan
Same-day payout
£1,000 to £50,000
1 to 7 years

Zopa Personal Loan
Customer support availability
£1,000 to £35,000
1 to 7 years

TSB Personal Loan
Flexible payment options
£300 to £50,000
1 to 7 years

Important information about Editor’s Picks

The Editor’s Picks listed above are based on NerdWallet’s editorial team’s analysis of products reviewed by us and is not a whole of market view. The team evaluates which brands offer standout features that may be important to you.

Editor’s Picks exclude any assessment of a providers’ rates, fees or product suitability, which must always be a priority when considering any financial product. Always consider others in the market and obtain professional advice.

Editor’s Picks are our own opinions and don’t constitute advice, recommendation or suitability of your financial circumstances. They are editorially independent of any partnerships with NerdWallet.

NerdWallet’s Best Personal Loans May 2024

This selection of brands has been reviewed and evaluated by Nerdwallet, but others are available in the UK market. Find out what we mean when we say ‘best’, why we are comfortable using it, and an in-depth explanation of Nerdwallet UK’s review methodology.

Provider

NerdWallet’s Rating

Min.Loan Amount

Max.Loan Amount

Min.Loan Term

Max.Loan Term

 
5.0 / 5
£3,000
£35,000
12 months
120 months

TSB
5.0 / 5
£300
£50,000
12 months
84 months
4.5 / 5
£1,000
£50,000
12 months
84 months
4.5 / 5
£1,000
£25,000
12 months
60 months
4.0 / 5
£1,000
£35,000
12 months
84 months
4.0 / 5
£1,000
£40,000
12 months
84 months
3.5 / 5
£1,000
£25,000
12 months
96 months
3.5 / 5
£1,000
£25,000
12 months
84 months
3.5 / 5
£1,000
£50,000
12 months
84 months

Important information: Our Reviews and Star Ratings do not consider the product provider’s lending rates and therefore do not reflect how much it costs to borrow from the reviewed brand. Always compare rates from other providers when considering any type of borrowing. Loans for consumers with bad credit can have very high interest rates. Loan rates offered can be dependent on your personal circumstances and specific loan requirements. If you have poor credit, only borrow what is essential and if you can comfortably afford repayments.

What are the best loan rates?

Best loan rates this week

The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) shows you how much it would cost to borrow money over one year, combining interest and fees that the lender charges.

When you search for credit, providers need to give a representative APR to allow you to compare different products on a like-for-like basis.

The table below shows the lowest loan interest rates by APR over different amounts and terms. The lowest overall representative APR available is 5.9%, according to the independent financial product research firm Defaqto on 21 May 2024.

However, the best rates will only be available to some customers. The rate you’re offered when applying for a loan will depend on multiple factors, such as your credit history, income and pre-existing level of debt. 

While APR is important, other considerations may be specific to your circumstances. For example, the availability of different loan terms and repayment options, the application process and the ongoing availability of customer support may also factor into your decision.

Loan size and termBest interest rate (as at 21 May 2024)
£3,000 (over 36 months)9.9%
£5,000 (over 36 months)7.2%
£10,000 (over 60 months)5.9%
£25,000 (over 60 months)5.9%

Source: Defaqto. The rates above are the lowest available for the listed example loan sizes and terms as at 21 May 2024, based on 44 lenders. This table is checked and updated weekly.

What is the average loan interest rate?

The Bank of England works out average quoted interest rates using rates advertised to borrowers, expressed in terms of APR. When working out average quoted interest rates, the Bank of England takes the whole market of UK financial institutions into account.

Loan sizeAverage quoted monthly interest rate (April 2024)
£3,00019.42%
£5,00011.82%
£10,0006.58%
£25,0006.96%

Source: Bank of England’s quoted household interest rates for personal loans.

The latest effective interest rate on new personal loans

According to the Bank of England’s latest Money and Credit report for March 2024, the effective interest rate on new unsecured personal loans to individuals in March sat at 8.39%, a 0.37 percentage point decrease from February. 

The effective interest rate is worked out based on the interest received by lenders in the month and average daily balances. This means that the Bank of England calculates the effective interest rate based on the actual interest lenders earn, not the advertised interest rates.

The Bank of England works out effective interest rates based on a survey it sends out to 26 of the UK’s largest financial institutions, including banks and building societies. 

Best Personal Loan Providers 

We’ve assessed more than 16 of the biggest loan providers in the UK and this is our roundup of the best of those. There are other loans available on the market not included in our roundup, and it does not include loans that are only available to existing customers. Find out how we use the term ‘best’ and our guide to star ratings.

The Representative APR is provided as additional information and not factored in the star rating methodology.

Tesco Bank Personal Loan

5 NerdWallet's ratings

1 to 10 years

£3,000 to £35,000

6.5%

Yes

Representative APR 6.5%. Based on a loan of £10,000 over 60 months at an interest rate of 6.5% p.a. (fixed). Monthly repayments of £194.79. Total amount payable £11,687.40. Maximum APR: 34.5%.

  • Must be a UK resident
  • Must be aged 18 or over

Always check terms & conditions for suitability before applying.

NERDWALLET's REVIEW SUMMARY

A Tesco Bank loan scores well for its application process and the flexibility it offers around repayments. For more details, read NerdWallet’s Tesco Bank Loan Review.

Tesco Bank personal loan key features:

  • Longer repayment periods are available when compared with other lenders we’ve reviewed. While paying back over a longer period lowers your monthly repayments, you’ll pay more interest overall.
  • You can choose your payment date when applying.
  • It’s possible to defer your first payment by two months, but choosing this option means the loan will cost more.
Amount borrowable£3,000 to £35,000
Term lengthOne to 10 years
Time to get a decisionInstant
Time to receive funds once approvedTwo to 24 hours
Need to have an account with the provider?No
Customer supportPhone, mobile app, social media
Nerdwallet Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Joint loans are available.
  • There are multiple ways to contact Tesco Bank for help and support.
  • Tesco Clubcard holders could get preferential rates.

Cons:

  • There are interest charges if you pay your loan back early.

TSB Personal Loan

5 NerdWallet's ratings

1 to 7 years

£300 to £50,000

5.9%

Yes

Representative APR 5.9%. Based on a loan of £7,500 over 60 months at an interest rate of 5.75% p.a. (fixed). Monthly repayments of £144.11. Total amount payable £8,646.60. Maximum APR 39.9%.

  • Must be aged 18 or over.
  • Must be a UK resident.
  • Must have a TSB current account (for more than 3 months) to apply for loans of £300 to £50,000, if not, the amounts available are £1,000 to £25,000.

Always check terms & conditions for suitability before applying.

NERDWALLET's REVIEW SUMMARY

TSB’s loan scores well for its application process, with eligibility criteria clearly displayed on its website, and it offers a good level of flexibility. For more details, read NerdWallet’s TSB Loans Review.

TSB personal loan key features: 

  • You can access customer support in-branch and over the phone, and TSB is responsive on social media.
  • It’s possible to choose your payment date when applying.
  • If you want to apply for a loan with someone else, TSB offers joint applications.
Amount borrowable£1,000 to £25,000 (£300-£50,000 if have TSB current account)
Term lengthOne to five years (three months to seven years if have TSB current account)
Time to get a decisionInstant
Time to receive funds once approvedOne working day (same day if have TSB current account)
Need to have an account with the provider?No
Customer supportPhone, branch, social media, app, chat (in-app only)
Nerdwallet Pros and cons

Pros:

  • You can ask to change your payment date.
  • TSB current account holders can apply for smaller and larger loans.
  • You can get a joint loan.

Cons:

  • If you’re not already a TSB customer, you may not get the money in your account until the next working day.
  • TSB charges interest if you want to pay off your loan more than 90 days before its end date.

Halifax Personal Loan

4.5 NerdWallet's ratings

1 to 7 years

£1,000 to £50,000

6.6%

Yes

Representative APR 6.6%. Based on a loan of £10,000 over 48 months at an interest of 6.41% p.a. (fixed). Monthly repayments of £236.73. Total amount payable £11,363.04. Maximum APR 29.9%.

  • Must be aged 18 or over.
  • Must live in the UK (excluding the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man).
  • Must be in paid employment or have a regular income.
  • Must not have a history of bad credit, such as bankruptcy or CCJs.
  • Must have a Halifax current account to apply for up to £50,000, if not, the maximum amount is £25,000.

Always check terms & conditions for suitability before applying.

NERDWALLET's REVIEW SUMMARY

Halifax scores well for its application process – you could get an instant decision and have the money in your account within two hours. For more details, read NerdWallet’s Halifax Loan Review.

Halifax loan key features:

  • Halifax says that you should have the money in your account within two hours.
  • Existing Halifax customers can make a joint application, and could apply for a higher loan amount.
  • It’s possible to choose your payment date when applying for a loan.
Amount borrowable£1,000-£25,000 (up to £50,000 for Halifax customers)
Term lengthOne to seven years
Time to get a decisionInstant
Time to receive fundsWithin two hours
Need to have an account with the provider?No
Customer supportPhone, branch, app, social media
Nerdwallet Pros and cons

Pros:

  • You could get the money in your account within two hours.
  • Halifax current account holders are eligible to borrow more.

Cons:

  • Halifax applies interest charges to settle your loan early.
  • Only Halifax customers can apply for a joint loan.

Santander Personal Loan

4.5 NerdWallet's ratings

1 to 5 years

£1,000 to £25,000

6.2%

Yes

Representative APR 6.2%. Based on a loan of £10,000 over 60 months at an interest rate of 6.2% p.a. (fixed). Monthly repayments of £193.47. Total amount payable £11,608.20. Maximum APR 26.9%

  • Must be 21 or over and live in the UK permanently.
  • You must have a regular yearly income of £10,500+ for loans up to £19,999, or £20,000+ for loans between £20,000 and £25,000
  • You must be on the electoral roll and live permanently in the UK
  • Must not have been declared bankrupt, or had a CCJ or an IVA within the last 6 years

Nerdwallet has partnered with Monevo. Check your eligibility with this lender and from a range of loan providers without affecting your credit score.

NERDWALLET's REVIEW SUMMARY

Eligibility criteria for Santader’s loan are clearly displayed on its website, and you can apply for a joint loan. However, Santander’s application process can be lengthy compared to other lenders we’ve reviewed. For more details, read NerdWallet’s Santander Loan Review.

Santander loan key features:

  • You can choose your payment date when applying.
  • It’s possible to get a joint loan, if you’d like to apply with someone else.
  • Santander has a dedicated X (formerly Twitter) account to help with queries, which is actively monitored by customer service agents.
Amount borrowable£1,000 to £25,000
Term lengthOne to five years
Time to get a decisionInstant (five minutes)
Time to receive fundsTwo working days after you enter a code online, sent by first-class post
Need to have an account with the provider?No
Customer supportPhone, live chat, branch, app, social media
Nerdwallet Pros and cons

Pros:

  • You can apply for a joint loan.
  • You could get a decision on your application within minutes.

Cons:

  • It could take up to two working days to get the funds in your account.
  • Santander can apply interest charges if you pay off your loan early.

Zopa Personal Loan

4 NerdWallet's ratings

1 to 7 years

£1,000 to £35,000

22.9%

No

Representative APR 22.9%. Based on a loan of £10,000 over 60 months at an interest of 22.9% p.a. (fixed). Monthly repayments of £269.40. Total amount payable £16,164.

  • Must be aged 20 or over
  • Must be a current UK resident with 1 year of address history in the UK
  • Must be employed, self-employed or retired with a pension
  • Must have an income of at least £12,000 per year (before tax)

Nerdwallet has partnered with Monevo. Check your eligibility with this lender and from a range of loan providers without affecting your credit score.

NERDWALLET's REVIEW SUMMARY

Zopa could give you an instant decision and fast payout, and there are lots of options for customer support. For more details, read NerdWallet’s Zopa Loan Review.

Zopa loan key features:

  • You can get in touch with Zopa in lots of ways, but keep in mind it’s an online bank and doesn’t offer in-branch support.
  • Zopa offers a mobile app that allows you to manage your loan.
  • You could get the money quickly once approved.
Amount borrowable£1,000 to £35,000
Term lengthOne to seven years
Time to get a decisionInstant
Time to receive funds once approvedWithin two hours
Need to have an account with the provider?No
Customer supportPhone, live chat, email, mobile app, social media
Nerdwallet Pros and cons

Pros:

  • You can access your loan quickly once your application is approved.
  • Multiple channels of customer support are available, including a mobile app.

Cons:

  • Early repayment charges may apply on new loans.
  • Zopa doesn’t offer joint loans.
  • As Zopa is an online-only bank, there is no face-to-face customer support.

Sainsbury’s Bank Personal Loan

4 NerdWallet's ratings

1 to 7 years

£1,000 to £40,000

6.4%

Yes

Representative Example: Representative 6.4% APR fixed. Based on a loan of £10,000 for 60 months at 6.4% p.a. Total £11,661 repayable at £194.35 per month. Maximum APR: 29.9%.

  • You can borrow between £1,000 – £40,000 if you’re a Nectar member, non-Nectar members can borrow up to £25,000
  • Must be at least 18 years old and less than 80 when you apply. You should also be under 83 when the loan is due to be repaid
  • Must have a UK-based bank or building society account that can accept Direct Debits. If you’re applying for a joint loan, the first named applicant must be named on this bank account
  • Must have a permanent UK address
  • Must be in permanent paid employment or retired with a pension
  • Must have a gross annual income of over £7,500
  • Must not have a history of County Court Judgments or bankruptcy

Always check terms & conditions for suitability before applying.

NERDWALLET's REVIEW SUMMARY

Sainsbury’s Bank has a fast loan application process, meaning you may get an instant decision and have the money in your account within two hours. For more details, read NerdWallet’s Sainsbury’s Bank Loan Review.

Sainsbury’s Bank loan key features: 

  • If you’re a Nectar member, you could receive better rates, higher loan amounts and more flexible payment terms.
  • It’s possible to apply for a joint loan.
  • You can access customer support over the phone and Sainsbury’s Bank is responsive on social media. However other customer support options are more limited compared to some lenders we’ve reviewed.
Amount borrowable£1,000 to £40,000 for Nectar members, or £25,000 for non-members
Term lengthOne to seven years, or one to five years for non-members
Time to get a decisionInstant
Time to receive funds once approvedTwo hours – next working day (if agreement signed online) 
Need to have an account with the provider?No
Customer supportPhone, social media
Nerdwallet Pros and cons

Pros:

  • You could get instant approval and fast turnaround on funds if you sign the loan agreement online.
  • You can apply for a joint loan.
  • Nectar members can borrow more and could get preferential rates.

Cons:

  • You can’t choose your payment start date.
  • Smaller loan amounts for non-Nectar members.

HSBC Personal Loan

3.5 NerdWallet's ratings

1 to 8 years

£1,000 to £25,000

6.9%

Yes

Representative APR 6.9%. Based on a loan of £7,000 over 60 months at an interest rate of 6.9% p.a. (fixed). Monthly repayments of £137.59. Total amount payable £8,225.40. Maximum APR 22.9%.

  • Must be over 18 and a resident of the UK.
  • Must have an annual income/pension before tax of £10,000 or more.
  • Must have a bank or building society account with a Direct Debit facility.

Always check terms & conditions for suitability before applying.

NERDWALLET's REVIEW SUMMARY

HSBC offers loan terms of up to eight years, which is longer than some other lenders we’ve reviewed. Longer loan terms may mean lower monthly repayments but you’ll pay more in interest overall. For more details, read NerdWallet’s HSBC Loan Review.

HSBC loan key features:

  • If you’re an HSBC current account holder, the application process should be a lot quicker.
  • You can apply for a loan with someone else as part of a joint application.
  • There’s a range of customer support options available.
Amount borrowable£1,000 to £25,000 (up to £50,000 for HSBC Premier customers)
Term lengthOne to eight years
Time to get a decisionTwo to five working days (instant for existing HSBC current account customers)
Time to receive funds once approvedThree working days (instant for HSBC current account customers)
Need to have an account with the provider?No
Customer supportPhone, branch, live chat (if using the app or online banking), social media
Nerdwallet Pros and cons

Pros:

  • You can apply for a joint loan.
  • HSBC current account holders could get their money quicker (and Premier account holders could borrow more).
  • You can change your repayment date after you’ve made your first monthly repayment.

Cons:

  • HSBC applies interest charges of up to two months to pay off your loan in full.
  • It could take several days to get a decision on your application and receive your loan if you’re not a HSBC customer.

M&S Bank Personal Loans

3.5 NerdWallet's ratings

1 to 7 years

£1,000 to £25,000

6.2%

No

Representative APR 6.2%. Based on a loan of £10,000 over 60 months at an interest of 6.2% p.a. (fixed). Monthly repayments of £193.47. Total amount payable £11,608.20. Maximum APR 22.9%

  • Must be over 18
  • Must be a UK resident
  • Must have an annual income of at least £10,000

Always check terms & conditions for suitability before applying.

NERDWALLET's REVIEW SUMMARY

You could get an instant decision when you apply for an M&S Bank loan, but you may have to wait for up to five working days to get the funds. For more details, read NerdWallet’s M&S Bank Loan Review.

M&S Bank loan key features:

  • You can defer your first repayment for up to three months with an M&S Bank loan, but this means the loan will cost more overall.
  • You can apply for a loan with a term of up to seven years, but keep in mind that longer terms mean that you’ll pay more interest.
  • It’s possible to get an instant decision, although it could take three to five working days for you to get your money.
Amount borrowable£1,000 to £25,000
Term lengthOne to seven years
Time to get a decisionInstant
Time to receive funds once approvedThree to five working days
Need to have an account with the provider?No
Customer supportPhone, online, social media
Nerdwallet Pros and cons

Pros:

  • You can defer the repayment start date by up to three months.
  • You can change the monthly repayment date (but only twice per year).
  • There are multiple ways you can contact M&S Bank – by phone, email, live chat and online banking.

Cons:

  • You may need to pay interest charges to pay off your loan early.
  • It can take between three and five working days to get the loan in your account.
  • Joint loans are not available.

Shawbrook Bank Personal Loan

3.5 NerdWallet's ratings

1 to 7 years

£1,000 to £50,000

16.9%

Yes

Representative APR 16.9%. Based on a loan of £10,000 over 60 months at an interest of 16.9% p.a. (fixed). Monthly repayments of £241.68. Total amount payable £14,500.74. Maximum APR: 34.9%.

  • Must be aged 21 to 75
  • Must have been a permanent resident of the UK for at least 3 years
  • Must have an annual income of at least £15,000
  • Must have a personal UK bank account

Nerdwallet has partnered with Monevo. Check your eligibility with this lender and from a range of loan providers without affecting your credit score.

NERDWALLET's REVIEW SUMMARY

A Shawbrook loan is let down by its application process, with slower payouts compared with other lenders we’ve reviewed. For more details, read NerdWallet’s Shawbrook Loan Review.

Shawbrook loan key features:

  • It’s possible to take out a joint loan.
  • You can get in touch with Shawbrook by email, an option that isn’t offered by many lenders we’ve reviewed.
  • You could borrow up to £50,000, which is higher than other lenders we’ve reviewed, but it’s sensible to borrow only the amount you need.
Amount borrowable£1,000 to £50,000
Term lengthOne seven to five years
Time to get a decisionInstant
Time to receive funds once approvedWithin three working days
Need to have an account with the provider?No
Customer supportPhone, email, social media
Nerdwallet Pros and cons

Pros:

  • It’s possible to apply for a joint loan with Shawbrook.
  • You could get an instant decision.
  • You can manage your loan via the Shawbrook Bank online portal.

Cons:

  • Shawbrook says it can take up to three working days for you to get your money.
  • You can face interest charges if you want to settle your loan early.

The pros and cons featured with each brand are chosen by us based on a combination of our expert opinions from research of the product market and an exclusive survey of UK consumers conducted on behalf of NerdWallet UK to identify the features that people feel are most important. There are other pros and cons that should be taken into account before considering a financial product. Information was correct at the time of publication but may have changed since.

Nerdwallet Survey: February 2023

How personal loans work

When you take out a personal loan, you receive the money as a lump sum from your chosen lender. You then need to repay this amount, plus the interest charged by the lender, usually in monthly instalments over the agreed period.

Loans of between £1,000 and £25,000 over terms of one to seven years are fairly typical, but some lenders can offer larger loans and longer repayment terms.

You can use a loan for many purposes, including to pay for a holiday, a wedding, a new car, home improvements, or an emergency expense. You can also use it for debt consolidation, although it’s important to be aware of the costs this may involve.

The interest rate you receive depends on several factors, including the amount you want to borrow and your credit score. Smaller loans often come with a higher interest rate than larger loans.

Lenders typically charge a higher rate of interest if you have a lower credit score because you’re seen as a higher risk than someone with a better credit history.

The APR tells you the cost of your loan, including interest and standard fees. Bear in mind that the personal APR you receive may be different to the advertised representative APR. 

The representative APR is designed to help you see the typical cost of a loan, but you’re not guaranteed to receive this rate. Only 51% of applicants who are approved for a loan will receive the advertised representative APR (or lower), so you could be charged more or less than this.

Pros and cons of personal loans

As with any time you take out credit, there are pros and cons to getting a personal loan.

Advantages

Disadvantages

How much can I borrow with a personal loan?

You can typically borrow between £1,000 and £25,000 with an unsecured personal loan, but some lenders may offer larger loans. For example, you may be able to borrow up to £50,000, although these larger loans may only be available to existing customers.

Your credit score and financial situation will also determine how much you can borrow. If you have an excellent credit score and a good income, you are likely to be able to borrow more than someone with a poorer credit history and a lower income.

Even if you are eligible for a larger loan, you should only borrow the amount you need and that you can afford to repay.You can use our personal loan calculator to get a rough estimate of how much you could afford to borrow.

How to choose the best personal loan

Before applying for a personal loan, it’s worth taking time to research different lenders and compare deals.

Comparing loans from a range of lenders can improve your chances of finding the best loan for your requirements. If you apply for the first loan you see, you could end up paying a higher interest rate than you need to or taking out a loan that doesn’t offer the flexibility or support you want.

Some important points to consider when you compare loans are:

You should also check the eligibility criteria of each lender to make sure you meet their basic income and credit history requirements, for example.

It’s sensible to only borrow what you need and pay it back as quickly as possible, based on what you can comfortably afford to repay each month. 

Nerdy tip: If you have a less-than-perfect credit score, there are specialist loans for bad credit that may be an option to consider. But it may be worth seeing if you can improve your credit score before applying, as this could help you get accepted for a loan and access lower rates of interest.

How to get a personal loan

With many lenders, you can apply for a personal loan online. Before submitting a formal application, you can often check your eligibility for a loan first.

Checking your eligibility involves a soft credit check, which won’t affect your score. You will also need to provide information such as your name, address, income, and employment status.

Seeing if you qualify for a loan, before formally applying can minimise the chances of applying for an unsuitable loan and getting rejected which can have a negative effect on your credit profile.

When you apply for a loan, you will need to provide the lender with details including your:

You will also need to say how much you want to borrow and what you plan to use the loan for.

Lenders will use this information, as well as the results of a hard credit check, to decide on your application.

A hard credit check leaves a mark on your credit history and could affect your score. One loan application and hard credit check is unlikely to have a significant impact on your score, as long as you repay the loan on time. 

However, multiple loan applications and hard credit checks within a short space of time could affect your score. This is why it’s important to only apply for a loan if you are confident you will be approved.

You can also use a loans eligibility service to do a soft search across multiple lenders to find how likely it is you’ll be offered several different loans, without affecting your credit score. 

» MORE: How to get a personal loan

Alternatives to a personal loan

A personal loan isn’t the only option if you need to borrow money. Depending on your situation and your individual requirements, there are alternatives you could consider.

Best personal loans methodology

NerdWallet has evaluated and reviewed more than 16 personal loan lenders.

We considered 20 data points for each loan, based on the criteria that matter most to customers, scoring them on loan features, flexibility, application process and availability of customer support, among other factors. This information was gathered from each lender’s website, company representatives and independent financial product analyst Defaqto. In addition, we regularly add new brands and our editorial team review them against the same criteria for consistency and accuracy. 

Using the same data across all products and features we were able to create star ratings, presented on a scale of one to five stars, where a one-star score represents ‘poor’ and a five-star score represents ‘excellent’.

Important information: Neither the review or the star ratings considered the lender’s lending rates or representative APR, and therefore does not reflect how much they charge to borrow with them. The rates on this page have been provided as additional information. Always check and compare a lender’s rates against others on the market when considering a loan. The rate you are offered will be dependent on your personal circumstances, loan amount and term and may differ from the representative APR.

Frequently asked questions about personal loans in the UK

What can I use a personal loan for?

You can use a personal loan to pay for a variety of different purposes, including:

  • a new car
  • home improvements
  • holidays
  • weddings or other special occasions
  • large purchases, such as a new household appliance
  • paying off and consolidating existing debt

Before taking out a personal loan to consolidate your debts, make sure you consider the costs involved. Using a personal loan with a low interest rate to pay off debt with a higher interest rate could save you money, but make sure you consider any early repayment fees and how much you would end up paying overall. Also consider when consolidating debts borrowers often extend the term of the loan. This can mean the loan costs you more overall. 

You typically can’t use a personal loan for any business purposes, share dealing, gambling, or buying property, for example.

Does comparing loans affect your credit score?

In most cases, comparing and checking your eligibility for loans won’t affect your credit score. Providers will typically run a soft credit check during this process, which doesn’t leave a mark on your credit history. But, before submitting any application, make sure you know exactly what checks the provider will do, as a hard credit check will be recorded on your credit file.

What is the easiest loan to get?

If your credit score is good and you have a stable income, getting a personal loan can be fairly straightforward. But if your score is less than perfect and you’re struggling to get a standard loan, there are specialist bad credit lenders that may consider your application. However, they are likely to charge a higher interest rate.

Alternatively, you could consider a guarantor loan or a secured loan. They may be easier to get approved for as the lender has the extra reassurance of the guarantor or the property or asset used as security. However, if you don’t repay these loans, the guarantor would need to step in or, if you have a secured loan, the lender could repossess your property. You should evaluate the full range of products available to figure out which one best meets your requirements.

What credit score do I need for a personal loan?

There isn’t a specific credit score that you need to get for a personal loan. Lenders will have their own requirements and will base their decision on your income and overall financial situation, not your score alone. Some lenders will require you to have a good credit score to qualify for a loan, but other lenders may accept applications from people with less-than-perfect credit scores.

What is a good interest rate on a personal loan?

The best advertised personal loan rates are usually available to those with the best credit ratings. Lenders advertise rates as a representative APR, so your actual rate could be higher than this.

The interest rate you are charged on a loan will depend on your credit score, as well as the amount you borrow. Larger loans often come with a lower rate of interest, but this shouldn’t be a reason to borrow more than you need as the total cost of borrowing could be more.

Review methodology

At NerdWallet UK, we base our reviews and our ‘Best’ pages on the results of surveys we undertook about what was important to people who use these products. This allows us to look at products impartially of any commercial arrangements we have and fairly rate the products on the same set of criteria.

Best means our ‘Best’ and is based only on what products we have aligned to our surveys, which form the basis of our reviews and ratings. This means that there will be other products on the market that we have not included in our ‘Best’ pages. Best does not mean it’s best for you, nor does it mean the ‘cheapest’.

Our reviews may display lenders’ rates. This additional information has not been included in our evaluations but is still very important when choosing a product. Rates offered can depend on circumstances, amount and term. Always check details before proceeding with any financial product.

Product details reflect the information that was available at that time but may have changed since. We strive to give you a review on as many products as possible, but there will be products not included on the market. The review is our opinion, but it does not constitute advice, recommendation or suitability for your financial circumstances.

You can view our full review methodology here.

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