Advertiser Disclosure

Best of, Personal Loans

Best Home Improvement Loans to Finance Renovations and Repairs

Written By

Reviewed By

Home improvements can boost the value of your home and make it a better place to live, but coming up with the money for costly home remodels can be challenging. There are a number of ways to fund your renovation or repair project, including home improvement loans.

Learn all about home improvement loans, compare lenders and consider your alternatives to determine the best approach for your financial situation.

What is a home improvement loan?

A home improvement loan is simply a personal loan that’s used to pay for a home improvement project. Personal loans are lump-sum loans that are repaid in fixed monthly payments over a set period of time, typically lasting from 12 to 60 months.

How do home improvement loans work?

Unlike a home equity loan or home equity line of credit (HELOC), home improvement loans are unsecured, meaning that your home will not be used as collateral for the loan. So when you choose a personal loan for home improvement instead of home equity, you don’t risk losing your home. However, failure to pay a personal loan would result in a drop in your credit score and possibly court-ordered wage garnishment.

Because they’re unsecured and seen as a riskier investment by the lender, home improvement loan interest rates tend to be higher than home equity loan interest rates and HELOC interest rates. Plus, it may be difficult for consumers with little to no credit to qualify for a personal loan at all.

13 personal loans for home improvement

When determining which home improvement loans to showcase for this article, we analyzed lending platforms based on APR (annual percentage rate), loan length and loan amount, but we also weighed factors like no-fee loans and fast funding methods.

13 home improvement loans
APRLoan lengthLoan amount
Avant9.95% to 35.99% APR24 to 60 months$2,000 to $35,000
Best Egg5.99% to 29.99% APR36 or 60 months$2,000 to $35,000
Discover Bank 6.99% to 24.99% APR36 to 84 months$2,500 to $35,000
LendingClub 10.68% to 35.89% APR36 or 60 months$1,000 to $40,000
LightStream 4.99% to 19.99% APR with AutoPay discount24 to 144 months$5,000 to $100,000
Marcus by Goldman Sachs® 6.99% to 19.99% APR36 to 72 months$3,500 to $40,000
OneMain Financial 18.00% to 35.99% APR24 to 60 months$1,500 to $20,000
PenFed Credit Union 6.49% to 17.99%60 months$500 to $20,000
SoFi 5.99% to 18.53% APR with 0.25% AutoPay discount24 to 84 months$5,000 to $100,000
SunTrust Bank 4.99% to 16.49% APR with 0.5% AutoPay discount24 to 144 months$5,000 to $100,000
Upstart 8.69% to 35.99% APR36 or 60 months$1,000 to $50,000
USAA Bank Varies12 to 48 months$2,500 to $50,000
Wells Fargo Bank 5.74% to 24.49% with 0.25% relationship discount12 to 84 months$3,000 to $100,000

Best overall: SoFi

With consistently low APRs, no fees and fixed repayment terms, SoFi offers some of the best personal loan products available on the market. To qualify for the lowest APR, borrowers should have excellent credit. Borrowers with credit scores around 800 are more likely to get their best available terms.

SoFi stands apart from other lenders by offering a wide array of member benefits, such as the Unemployment Protection Program, which allows borrowers who lost their job to suspend monthly payments in three-month increments for up to 12 months. (Unpaid interest will continue to accrue during this period.) Other benefits include free financial advice, estate planning and career coaching.

Highlights:

  • No fees
  • High funding limit ($100,000)
  • Funding is slower; available in 7 days, on average
  • Low APRs, starting at 5.99% with 0.25% AutoPay discount
  • Unique member benefits like Unemployment Protection Program, no-cost financial planning and estate planning

Lowest APR: LightStream

LightStream is a completely online personal loan lender brought to you by Truist. In order to offer competitive rates and terms, LightStream is strict with approvals, making it an option for excellent-credit borrowers.

LightStream also offers a high max loan amount of $100,000, with terms from 24 to 144 months. This makes LightStream an ideal option for borrowers who want to tackle large-scale home renovation projects and need a significant amount of funding to meet their needs.

Highlights:

  • No fees
  • High funding limit ($100,000)
  • Long-term loans, 24 to 144 months
  • Fast funding, same-day funding available
  • Low APRs, starting at 4.99% with 0.5% AutoPay discount
  • Typically reserved for borrowers with good to excellent credit

Best bank loan: Wells Fargo

Current Wells Fargo banking customers could consider seeking home improvement funding through the bank to take advantage of a 0.25% APR customer relationship discount. To qualify, you must have a Wells Fargo consumer checking account and make automatic payments from a Wells Fargo deposit account.

Like any other lender, Wells Fargo reserves the lowest APRs for excellent-credit borrowers.

Highlights:

  • High funding limit ($100,000)
  • No origination fee or prepayment penalty
  • Fast funding, as quickly as the next business day
  • Low APRs, starting at 5.74% with 0.25% customer relationship discount
  • APR discount is limited to Wells Fargo banking customer with direct deposit

Best for low-credit borrowers: Upstart

Nobody was born with good credit. Upstart recognizes that your credit score isn’t the only factor that goes into your eligibility as a borrower, which is why the lender also analyses things like level of education, field of study and employment history.

That doesn’t mean that low-credit borrowers will get favorable terms on a personal loan for home improvement. Borrowers with low to no credit will end up paying higher APRs, which will increase the cost of borrowing.

Highlights:

  • APR can be as high as 35.99%
  • Fees can include an origination fee and late payment fee, among others
  • Fast funding, with 99% of approved applicants receiving money within one business day
  • Upstart looks at more than just your credit score, including education and job field

Best small loans: PenFed Credit Union

DIY renovators who just need a few hundred dollars to help fund their project could consider PenFed Credit Union, which offers personal loans with smaller minimum amounts. PenFed also offers low APRs for borrowers with excellent credit, and rates are capped at 17.99%.

Potential PenFed personal loan borrowers will need to join the credit union in order to borrow. Click here to learn more.

Highlights:

  • Low APRs, starting at 6.49%
  • Fast funding, as quickly as the next day
  • No origination fee or prepayment penalty
  • Loans as small as $500 to tackle small home improvement projects
  • Must join PenFed Credit Union in order to open a home improvement loan

Choosing the best home improvement lender for you

It seems like there’s a virtually endless array of online lenders out there, and choosing one may feel like a daunting prospect. But this increase in choice means that you can compare offers from multiple lenders to get the best possible personal loan for your home improvement needs and unique financial situation.

Online loan marketplaces, such as the one from our parent company, LendingTree, let borrowers compare personal loan offers from lenders in minutes (depending on eligibility). Once you have a few offers in-hand, here are three things you should look for to choose the right personal loan lender for you:

When comparing personal loan offers, you’ll generally want to choose the lender that offers you an affordable APR for your credit profile. The APR represents the total annual cost of a loan, including interest rates and fees. The lower the APR, the lower the loan will cost you in borrowing fees.

Some personal loan lenders charge a number of fees throughout the borrowing process, including:

  • Loan origination fee: A fee charged when you take out the loan, typically ranging from 1% to 8% of the total cost of the loan.
  • Prepayment penalty: A fee charged when you pay off your loan before the term reaches maturity.
  • Late payment fee: A fee charged when you miss a personal loan payment.

However, there are a few lenders out there to choose from, such as SoFi and LightStream that have little-to-no fees. Always check fee structures when comparing home improvement loans.

Before working with a lender, search for lender reviews to get feedback from current and past borrowers. Reviews can shine a light on things that may not be apparent on the lender website, such as customer service quality and the application process.

Is a home improvement loan right for you?

For some borrowers, a home improvement loan may be their best way to finance a home remodel. Before you commit to one financing tool, though, you should get to know it inside and out. Weigh the pros and cons of personal loans to determine if this is your best way to fund your renovations.

Alternatives to a home improvement personal loan

Home improvement loan benefits and drawbacks

Pros

Cons

Unsecured financing. This means you won’t have to put up your home as collateral and risk losing it if you default on the loan.High interest rates. Personal loans are backed only by your promise to repay the lender, making them riskier (and more expensive) for lenders.
Fast funding. Some online personal loan lenders can deposit funds into your account on the same day, while others may take just a few days.Potential fees and penalties. Some personal loan lenders charge origination fees, prepayment penalties and late fees.
Fixed APR and monthly payments. When you take out a personal loan, you’ll always know how much you owe every month.No tax benefits. When you borrow a home equity loan for home improvements, the interest you pay may be tax-deductible.

A personal loan may not be the best way to pay for home improvements, depending on your financial situation. Check out these alternative ways to finance your home renovation project to determine the best option for your needs.

Budgeting and paying in cash

When possible, it’s ideal to pay for home renovations without borrowing money. That may mean putting together a budget and that you don’t get to complete your home renovations on a fast timeline. But it also means that you don’t have to pay interest or other borrowing fees.

However, it may not be practical to wait around while your home improvement piggy bank fills up over months or years. If you need money for urgent home repairs, or if you’re moving soon and want to add to the value of your home, then budgeting in paying in cash may not be an option.

Home equity loans and HELOCs

If you’ve owned your home for some time and have been paying a significant amount of money into your mortgage, then you may be able to borrow from your own home equity.

Home equity loans and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) are similar lending products that use your home as collateral. Using your home as collateral may grant you lower interest rates than your typical personal loan, but it also means that you risk losing your home if you can’t repay the loan.

Learn some of the key differences between home equity loans and HELOCs in the table below.

Quick comparison: Home equity loans vs. HELOCs

Home equity loans

HELOCs

  • Issued in a lump sum amount
  • Interest rates are typically fixed, but can be variable
  • Fixed monthly payments over the life of the loan

  • Borrower withdraws funds as needed
  • Interest rates are variable
  • Monthly payments depend on how much you borrow

You can use a home equity calculator to estimate how much equity you have in your home and how much you may be eligible to borrow.

FHA Title 1 loan

Borrowers who may not qualify for a traditional home equity loan or a personal loan for home improvement may seek out loans that are insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA).

These loans can only be used to make your home livable; they cannot be used for cosmetic upgrades or luxury purchases, such as a swimming pool. Common uses for an FHA Title 1 loan include installing new flooring or roof, plumbing jobs or to make the home accessible.

FHA Title 1 loans are offered through private lenders and backed by the federal government to help low- to moderate-income homeowners finance home improvements. They’re also an option for homeowners who don’t yet have equity in their home.

Here are a few quick facts about FHA Title 1 loans:

  • Interest rates: Fixed rate, based on the common market rate in the area
  • Collateral: Loans over $7,500 must be secured by a mortgage or deed
  • Prepayment penalty: No prepayment penalty for FHA Title 1 loans

You can search for FHA Title 1 loans on the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s website.

Introductory 0% APR credit card offer

Borrowers with good to excellent credit who need fast funding for their home renovation project might consider taking advantage of a credit card with an introductory 0% APR offer, typically lasting up to 21 months. This gives homeowners the freedom to purchase the materials they want on an as-needed basis without paying interest, as long as the amount is paid in full by the time the promotional period ends. Interest will be charged on the remaining balance once the introductory offer expires.

Another drawback to consider: Consumers with poor or fair credit will not likely qualify for a credit card that has a 0% APR introductory offer. Plus, the limit on a credit card may be far lower than what’s needed to finance a large-scale home improvement project.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Advertiser Disclosure

Personal Loans

Women Still Do More Housework Than Men, Contributing $10K+ in Value Annually

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Written By

When you finally get home after work, the last thing you want to do is clean last night’s dirty dishes. But the reality is that many Americans spend their evenings, and even weekends, doing chores. While you may consider hiring a professional to help around the house, doing your own chores may save you thousands of dollars every year.

Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) on occupational earnings and how much time Americans spend on different chores, we were able to estimate how much it would cost to pay a professional to do those chores instead. We also found that, compared with men, women contribute over $3,000 more in value each year when it comes to unpaid labor at home.

Key findings

  • The average American saves about $9,022 annually by doing their housework themselves instead of choosing to pay a professional to do the same tasks.
  • There is an enormous difference in annual savings between men and women. The average woman’s time spent on chores is worth $10,755, compared to $7,420 for men.
  • Americans spend an average of 107 minutes per day on household activities, including cleaning, food preparation and minor home repairs. When broken down by gender, men spend roughly 82 minutes per day on household activities, and women spend 130 minutes per day on average.
  • We can then multiply these numbers across every woman and man over the age of 15 to calculate the replacement value of household chores in the United States: $1.5 trillion for women and $964.4 billion for men.
  • The largest chunk (and value) of Americans’ time is spent cooking. If we assumed your time spent on cooking was replaced with that of a professional chef, the average American’s time spent cooking is worth $2,856 per year.
    • Again, there is a large disparity between annual savings for men versus women. For women, the average savings on cooking is $3,872, while for men, it’s $1,791.
  • The second-biggest time sink of household chores is general cleaning, such as laundry and tidying up. The average woman spends 50 minutes per day cleaning, while men spend just 14 minutes daily. Replacing that labor with professional cleaners costs about $13.26 per hour.
    • Over a year, the replacement value of that labor is just over $1,037 for men but $3,746 for women.

Women contribute much more value, time to housework than men

Each year, women contribute $10,755 worth of housework. Men contribute $7,420 annually, a difference of more than $3,000. This is an interesting component of the gender wage gap, because unpaid housework can affect a woman’s earning power, as noted in a recent study published by the Luxembourg Institute of Socio-Economic Research. Put simply, women doing more of the free labor at home means that they have less time for paid labor outside the home (or at least less downtime).

Most activities aren’t daily, but the minutes add up

BLS data indicates that women spend an average of more than two hours each day doing housework — men spend just under an hour and a half doing these types of chores. See how many minutes per day men and women spend doing typical household chores:

Men add value through contributing labor to high-value tasks

Although men spend much less time than women doing housework on average, they handle many of the highest-paying tasks, such as car repairs and handyman work.

The three highest-paying chores — car repairs, interior and exterior maintenance and home appliance repairs — are in male-dominated verticals. Were a professional to handle these tasks instead, they would make the following hourly rates:

  1. Automotive service technicians and mechanics: $21.02
  2. Painters, construction and maintenance: $20.70
  3. Home appliance repairers: $19.72

On the other hand, women commit more time to the three lowest-paying jobs, including interior cleaning, animal and pet care and food preparation and cleanup. Professionals in these industries earn the following hourly wages:

  1. Maids and housekeeping cleaners: $11.84
  2. Non-farm animal caretakers: $12.45
  3. Restaurant cooks: $13.26

Cooking accounts for the most time spent and value earned

Americans spend 35 minutes per day on average preparing meals. Women spend more time cooking than men, at 48 minutes and 22 minutes, respectively; this time includes food preparation, as well as cleanup. According to the BLS, restaurant cooks may order supplies, plan the menu and prepare the food, making this the most comparable occupation, with an average wage of $13.26 per hour.

This means that, on average, Americans save $2,856 annually by cooking their own food, rather than paying a professional for this task.

Americans as a whole save trillions by doing their own chores

Unpaid housework isn’t included in our country’s GDP, but that doesn’t mean it’s not valuable. Americans save thousands each year by taking housework into their own hands. Annually, the completion of household chores translates to trillions of dollars in value that’s not accounted for.

American women aged 15 and older save an estimated $1.5 trillion each year by doing housework themselves rather than outsourcing the same tasks. Comparatively, American men who are 15 and older save a total of $964.4 billion. That’s a total of $2.4 trillion in value between men and women.

When housework becomes too much, budget for a professional

While doing household work yourself can translate to serious savings, chores shouldn’t get in the way of your personal or professional development. If you’re one of many Americans spending hours each day toiling away on housework, it may be time to bring in professional help.

Here are some ways to make the cost of outsourcing household chores better fit into your budget:

  • Try the 50/30/20 budget: Under this budgeting rule, you’ll put 50% of your income toward “needs” (this includes mortgage, groceries, utilities), 30% toward “wants” (cellphone bill, gym membership, dining out) and 20% toward savings and debt repayment. If you can, allocate a housekeeper or landscaper into your wants budget.
  • Refinance your car or house: You may be able to secure a lower interest rate on your auto loan or mortgage by refinancing. Lower monthly payments would allow you to make room in your monthly budget to afford help at home. Borrowers with excellent credit may get some of the lowest interest rates, while subprime borrowers will see higher interest rates. Refinancing is generally a great option when you can secure a lower interest rate than what you’re already paying.
  • Consolidate your debt: If you’re making significant payments toward multiple debts, it can freeze up a lot of your income. You could consider consolidating debt at a lower interest rate with a personal loan so you can develop a set budget and free up cash each month.

Methodology

To estimate the value of American’s household chores we first looked at how much time they spent doing each activity. The BLS compiles this data through the American Time Use Survey.

We then estimated how much it would cost to replace this labor with that of a professional. For example, we replaced cleaning with occupation maids and housekeeping cleaners, food preparation with chefs and animal and pet care with nonfarm animal caretakers.

Next, we multiplied the daily hours spent on each activity by the hourly earnings for people who do that work professionally. That gave us the daily replacement value of household chores. We then multiplied that number by 365 to get the annual value. To find the total country value, we multiplied the annual value by the population over the age of 15.

Data for time spent on activities and hourly earnings of professionals comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The number of men and women over the age of 15 comes from the Census Bureau. All data is from 2018.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

Get Personal Loan Offers
Up to $50,000

$

Won’t impact your credit score

Advertiser Disclosure

News

Americans Racked Up $1,325 in Holiday Debt in 2019 — And Most Won’t Pay It Off on Time

Editorial Note: The content of this article is based on the author’s opinions and recommendations alone. It may not have been previewed, commissioned or otherwise endorsed by any of our network partners.

Written By

When the holiday season ends, you take down your festive decorations, ease back into work and resume life as normal. But for many Americans who rack up debt during the most wonderful time of the year, the holidays aren’t over until the bills are paid off.

Americans took on an average of $1,325 of holiday debt in 2019, according to a survey conducted by MagnifyMoney. The vast majority of respondents won’t be paying off their holiday debt by January.

Key findings

  • 44% of consumers took on debt this holiday season, and the majority (57%) didn’t plan on doing so. Fifty-two percent of Generation Xers and 50% of millennials added holiday debt, versus just 36% of baby boomers.
  • Gen Xers added the most debt — a whopping $2,076 on average. Millennials racked up $1,215, and baby boomers added $606.
  • 78% of those with holiday debt won’t be able to pay it off come January, including 15% who are only making minimum payments.
  • 58% of indebted consumers are stressed about their holiday debt. Millennials and Gen Xers report being the most stressed at 68% and 63%, respectively. Baby boomers are the least stressed, at 37%.
  • 70% of those with holiday debt owe money on their credit cards. Twenty-one percent used a store-branded credit card (respondents could select more than one option), while 20% used a personal loan and 12% borrowed money from friends or family to fund their holiday spending.
  • 40% plan to consolidate debt and/or shop around for a good balance transfer interest rate, but more than half won’t even try. Of those that won’t try, 20% think it’s not necessary, and 18% don’t want to deal with another bank.
  • Those who added holiday debt said the most expensive gift they purchased was either for their child (36%) or their spouse/significant other (32%).

Holiday debt is up 8% from last year

It should come as no surprise that consumers are taking on holiday debt again, considering our survey findings from years past. Holiday debt rose 8% this year, from $1,230 in 2018 to $1,325 in 2019. Since we first conducted this survey in 2015, holiday debt has risen 34%.

For the purposes of our survey, holiday debt includes any seasonal costs, such as Christmas gift-giving, plane tickets for traveling home or groceries for Hanukkah dinner. Gift-giving (and, by extension, retail spending) is a large component of holiday debt. The industry trends of rising retail sales may contribute to the increase in holiday debt represented in our survey, which was fielded from Dec. 20 to Dec. 23.

Holiday retail sales grew 3.4% this year, while online sales grew 18.8%, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse™, a market intelligence service. SpendingPulse monitored sales activity from Nov. 1 to Dec. 24 across Mastercard accounts to compile its data.

Gen Xers took on the most holiday debt at $2,000+

Debt amounts were clearly split among generational lines:

  • Baby boomers: $606
  • Gen Xers: $2,076
  • Millennials: $1,215

Keep in mind that just because baby boomers only took on $606 in holiday debt this year doesn’t mean that they spent less this holiday season. It just means that they assumed less debt in doing so. They could have saved throughout the year or dipped into cash or savings to pay for holiday-related expenses.

Besides taking on less debt, older generations are more likely to pay off their debts sooner than their younger counterparts. Baby boomers are most likely to pay off their debt within one month, while millennials are most likely to just pay the minimum balance on their accounts.

Across gender lines, men were heavier spenders. Men assumed $1,450 in holiday debt, about $250 more than women.

78% of holiday shoppers with debt won’t pay it off by January

A large majority of respondents (78%) said that they won’t pay off their holiday debt by January. This is a daunting prospect for credit card and store card users in particular, who will accrue interest unless they pay off their purchases when the statement balance is due.

Just 22% of respondents will pay off their debt within one month.

It could take years to pay off holiday debt

For the 15% of consumers who will only make the minimum payments on their holiday purchases, it could take months or years to pay off that debt. These borrowers will also pay the most interest on their purchases in the long run.

According to MagnifyMoney’s credit card payoff calculator, it would take more than five years to pay off $1,325 making minimum monthly payments of $30 with an interest rate of 15.1%. Plus, you’d be paying more than $600 in interest by the time you’re done paying down debt, years after the holiday has ended.

We used 15.1% because that is the average interest rate across all open accounts, according to the Federal Reserve. But holiday debt could take even longer to pay off (and cost more), since 36% of survey respondents said they’re paying an interest rate of 20% or more.

Credit cards were widely used again this holiday season

American families rely on credit cards to make Christmas miracles happen. Seventy percent of respondents funded their holiday spending with credit cards, about the same as last year. Plus, 21% of those surveyed used store cards.

1 in 5 financed holiday spending with a personal loan

More people are leaning on personal loans to cushion their holiday spending. Twenty percent of respondents used personal loans this holiday season, up from 14% in 2018 and 9% in 2017. So in the span of two seasons, consumers doubled their holiday usage of personal loans.

Consumers still favor store cards, despite high APRs

The use of store cards more than doubled from 10% in 2018 to 21% this year, despite the fact that these cards typically carry higher APRs.

The average store credit card APR is 25.41%, according to CompareCards, which, like MagnifyMoney, is owned by LendingTree. So consumers who don’t pay off their holiday debt by the time the statement is due risk paying much more than the value of the items they bought if they don’t pay off the store card on time.

Holiday debt is a source of stress for many

A LendingTree survey released in early December found that 61% of Americans were dreading the upcoming holidays due to spending. About the same amount of our survey’s respondents (58%) reported being stressed about their holiday debt.

Millennials and Gen Xers reported the most debt-related stress at 68% and 63%, respectively, compared with just 37% of baby boomers. It’s worth reiterating that baby boomers have the least amount of debt, at $606, perhaps contributing to lower stress levels.

Despite the fact that many spenders are stressed about their holiday debt, more than half of them won’t try to consolidate debt or shop around for a better interest rate. Many simply don’t want to bother with another bank.

Methodology

MagnifyMoney commissioned Qualtrics to conduct an online survey of 1,120 American consumers. The survey was fielded Dec. 20-23, 2019.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which MagnifyMoney receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). MagnifyMoney does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.