Best Personal Loans: 5 Top Options to Consider

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Updated on Monday, February 4, 2019

If your goal is to pay off a credit card or consolidate debt, a personal loan that offers you a fixed amount of money for a fixed period can be a great option. In many cases, the interest rate is also fixed so you know exactly how much money you’ll be paying back and when you’ll be debt-free. Since your debts will be combined into one loan and a single monthly payment, a personal loan also makes it easier to manage your finances.

Unlike most traditional banks, which are required to do a hard credit inquiry when checking your interest rate (and each inquiry hurting your credit score by 10 points or more), many online lenders can perform a soft credit pull during pre-approvals, allowing you to shop around for loan terms and rates before deciding on a lender. After just a couple of minutes, these lenders present personalized loan offers which can include the loan amount, monthly payment, length of loan, interest rate and APR.

With so many available personal loan options, the likelihood of finding a lender that works for you may be good depending on your financial situation. Below, we’ve highlighted the top personal loans for people with excellent, good, average and bad credit. The lenders selected were sorted by college graduated borrowers looking for $10,000 and narrowed based on lowest APR.

LendingTree

With so many lenders out there, where should you start? You may explore lenders using LendingTree’s personal loan tool. After filling out one short form, LendingTree will perform a soft pull and match you with up to five loan offers from lenders based on your creditworthiness.

Using the personal loan tool is an easy way to get multiple offers at one time. For borrowers with excellent credit, you could aim for an APR below 6%, and for people with less than perfect credit, LendingTree may match you with lenders with more liberal acceptance criteria.

LendingTree
APR

As low as 3.49%

Credit Req.

Minimum 500 FICO®

Terms

24 to 60

months

Origination Fee

Varies

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

LendingTree is our parent company

Advertiser Disclosure

LendingTree is not a lender. LendingTree is unique in that you may be able to compare up to five personal loan offers within minutes. Everything is done online and you may be pre-qualified by lenders without impacting your credit score. Terms Apply. NMLS #1136.



As of 17-May-19, LendingTree Personal Loan consumers were seeing match rates as low as 3.49% (3.49% APR) on a $10,000 loan amount for a term of three (3) years. Rates and APRs were based on a self-identified credit score of 700 or higher, zero down payment, origination fees of $0 to $100 (depending on loan amount and term selected). Terms Apply. NMLS #1136

Best personal loans for excellent credit: LightStream

LightStream is the online lending division of SunTrust Bank that offers competitive rates and terms for personal loan products. LightStream’s products are for prime borrowers with good to excellent credit. One big downside is that LightStream does not do soft pulls for pre-approvals.

APR

3.49%
To
19.99%*

with AutoPay

Credit Req.

Not specified

Terms

24 to 144*

months

Origination Fee

No origination fee

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

Advertiser Disclosure

LightStream is the online lending division of SunTrust Bank.... Read More


*Your loan terms, including APR, may differ based on loan purpose, amount, term length, and your credit profile. Excellent credit is required to qualify for lowest rates. Rate is quoted with AutoPay discount. AutoPay discount is only available prior to loan funding. Rates without AutoPay may be higher. Subject to credit approval. Conditions and limitations apply. Advertised rates and terms are subject to change without notice. Payment example: Monthly payments for a $10,000 loan at 4.99% APR with a term of 3 years would result in 36 monthly payments of $299.66.

The fine print

If you have excellent credit, LightStream is a good option to choose for a personal loan. It offers competitive rates, starting at 3.49% and going up to 19.99%, with a pay period from 24 to 144 months. It also offers a 0.50% rate discount for using autopay (included in the lowest rate of 3.49%).

Although a minimum credit score isn’t listed, LightStream is candid about its personal loans being for borrowers with good credit, which is generally defined as a credit score of 700 or above. LightStream does outline some key characteristics that it thinks people with good credit share, including:

  • Having many years of credit history
  • A credit history with a variety of accounts such as credit cards, installment loans and mortgages
  • Evidence of a good payment history and being able to save

Once approved, borrowers can receive their funds in as little as one day. If you meet LightStream’s strict excellent credit requirements, you get some perks: its Rate Beat program promises to beat the APR by any other lender by 0.10% (albeit the other lender must be offering the same loan amount, loan term, loan purpose and payment method. The borrower must be able to provide sufficient evidence that they are already approved for the other lender’s APR), and its Loan Experience Guarantee program rewards borrowers with cash if they’re unsatisfied with the application process.

While you can use the loan for almost anything — adoption fees, debt consolidation, dental work, home improvements, IVF/fertility treatments, weddings — LightStream’s personal loan cannot be used to finance a post-secondary education, commercial vehicles or other business needs.

Pros

  • Competitive rates on fixed loan (as low as 3.49%)
  • No origination fee or prepayment penalties.
  • Rate Beat Program
  • A 0.50% rate discount for autopay
  • Same day funding possible

Cons

  • Hard Pull when checking rates
  • Strict approval process for only borrowers with excellent credit
  • Cannot change payment date on loan
  • Loans cannot be used for refinancing student loans or college education

While its criteria for approvals are strict, borrowers could get their best deal with the Rate Beat program and customer experience with the Loan Experience Guarantee program.

Best personal loans for good credit: RocketLoans

RocketLoans is the personal loan business unit under the Quicken Loans family of companies. As the largest mortgage lender in the U.S., Quicken Loans expanded into personal loans in 2015. RocketLoans is an online lender promising short approval times and a user-friendly lending platform.

APR

7.16%
To
29.99%

Credit Req.

640

Minimum Credit Score

Terms

36 or 60

months

Origination Fee

1.00% - 6.00%

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

Rocketloans is a digital finance business that is part of the Quicken Loans family. ... Read More

The fine print

Borrower must be at least 18 years old (19 in Alabama and Nebraska), reside in the U.S., have a minimum FICO credit score of 640, and credit history of two years. The maximum debt-to-income ratio is 40% (excluding mortgage) and 70% (including mortgage) and the minimum income you have to make is $24,000 annually.

RocketLoans offers loans from $2,000 to $45,000 for 36 or 60 months with an APR starting at 7.16% (with autopay discount) and up to 29.99%. Borrowers can use their loan for anything. If you’re qualified, borrowers may receive up to $25,000 within the same business day.

Unfortunately, RocketLoans does charge fees: a one-time, non-refundable origination fee (1.00% - 6.00% of loan amount), a late fee of $15 once the payment is 10 days past due, and a fee of $15 if payment does not go through.

Pros

  • Same-day lending (up to $25,000)
  • Completely online
  • Soft pull pre-approval rate available
  • Can use the loan for anything

Cons

  • Origination fee: 1.00% - 6.00%
  • Late payment fee: $15 per occurrence
  • Payment return fee: $15 per occurrence

With its emphasis on digitization, RocketLoans is easy-to-use and can provide pre-approval loan term and rate within one to two minutes.

Best personal loans for average credit: Peerform

Founded in 2010 by Wall Street executives and acquired in 2016 by New York-based Versara Lending, Peerform is a peer-to-peer lending model that matches borrowers seeking loans with potential investors — individuals and corporations. Peerform consider borrowers who have difficulty qualifying for a personal loan through other lenders with a credit score as low as 600.

The fine print

Applicants with poor credit (as low as 600) will need to show that their debt-to-income ratio is below 40% and that they have at least one revolving account such as a credit card. Borrowers cannot have any current delinquencies or a recent bankruptcy, court judgments, tax liens or non-medical-based collections from the past year.

Peerform offers fixed rate loans from $4,000 to $25,000 for three or five years. Loans come with APRs as low 5.99% and as high as 29.99%. It can take up to two weeks for loans to be fully funded and even so, Peerform cannot guarantee that it will be completely. If the fund is not funded by at least $4,000 and more than 60% of the requested amount within two weeks, the loan is considered incomplete and borrowers have a right to decline it.

There are certain restrictions on loans provided by Peerform, such as it cannot be used to refinance student loans. There are also fees: $15 for payments past 15 days from the due date, $15 on returned payments and an origination fee ranging from 1.00% - 5.00% that is subtracted from the loan amount.

Peerform does not lend to borrowers living in Connecticut, North Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia or Wyoming. Applicants must be at least 18 years old and a resident in the U.S. (or 19 for those living in Nebraska or Alabama).

Pros

  • Loans for borrowers with less-than-stellar credit
  • Can make a late payment up to 14 days past due date without paying a fee
  • Can accept or decline a partially-funded loan
  • No prepayment penalty

Cons

  • Soft Pull available for pre-approvals
  • Fees: origination, late payment, returned payment
  • May take up to 14 days to receive funding
  • Does not guarantee complete funding

While there are some cons, like the fact that Peerform does not guarantee complete funding within 14 days, it is still considered a viable option for those with average to poor credit.

Best personal loans for bad credit: Marcus by Goldman Sachs

Marcus by Goldman Sachs®

Marcus by Goldman Sachs is a digitized line of services that include personal loans, savings accounts and certificates of deposit.

Marcus by Goldman Sachs®
APR

6.99%
To
19.99%

Credit Req.

Not specified

Terms

36 to 72

months

Origination Fee

No origination fee

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

Advertiser Disclosure

Marcus by Goldman Sachs® offers personal loans for up to $40,000 for debt consolidation and credit consolidation. ... Read More


Your loan terms are not guaranteed and are subject to our verification of your identity and credit information. To obtain a loan, you must submit additional documentation including an application that may affect your credit score. The availability of a loan offer and the terms of your actual offer will vary due to a number of factors, including your loan purpose and our evaluation of your creditworthiness. Rates will vary based on many factors, such as your creditworthiness (for example, credit score and credit history) and the length of your loan (for example, rates for 36 month loans are generally lower than rates for 72 month loans Your maximum loan amount may vary depending on your loan purpose, income and creditworthiness. Your verifiable income must support your ability to repay your loan. Marcus by Goldman Sachs is a brand of Goldman Sachs Bank USA and all loans are issued by Goldman Sachs Bank USA, Salt Lake City Branch. Applications are subject to additional terms and conditions.

The fine print

While there is no minimum credit score, a FICO Score higher than 660 is preferred. Marcus by Goldman Sachs performs a soft pull during the pre-approval stage.

Borrowers can qualify for up to $40,000 in debt consolidation and credit consolidation for 36 to 72 months and APRs start as low as 6.99%.

To get a loan, you must be a resident in the U.S. and at least 18 years old (19 in Alabama and Nebraska and 21 in Mississippi and Puerto Rico) and have a U.S. bank account and a Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.

There is no origination fee or late fees, so if you miss a payment, your loan will be extended and interest is added to the amount owed. Borrowers also have the option to defer a payment after making on-time payments for one year.

Pros

  • No origination fee
  • No late fees
  • Ability to defer a payment after a year of on-time payments
  • Wide range of repayment terms available between 36 to 72 months
  • Can see rates with a soft pull

Cons

  • Currently not available in Maryland
  • No joint applications
  • Late payments will accumulate more interest, resulting in a larger final payment

For borrowers who prefer to work with a personal lender, Marcus by Goldman Sachs is great option.

Methodology

Lenders were selected from MagnifyMoney’s personal loans comparisons page when sorted by borrowers looking for $10,000 with excellent, good, average and bad credit who hold a college degree. They were narrowed based on lowest APR. If a lender with the lowest APR was already highlighted in a previous category, we chose the lender with the next lowest APR.

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.

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