Best Small Personal Loans

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Updated on Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Many people default to charging to a credit card if they need to borrow a small amount. But while credit cards offer convenience, you’ll also pay high APRs and interest charges.A wise alternative to credit cards is using small personal loans to make a minor purchase or consolidate small-balance debt. These unsecured personal loans charge rates than can handily beat what you’re paying on a credit card, and can keep you on track to paying off debt.

If you need to borrow a bit of cash, it can be a simple matter of finding a small personal loan that matches your needs. To help you out, we’ve rounded up the best small personal loans that allow you to borrow as little as $1,000.

LendingTree

If you’re in the market for a small personal loan, one of the best places to start your search is with LendingTree. LendingTree can match you with up to five personal loan offers from lenders tailored to your needs in just minutes. You’ll just need to provide a few details about the personal loan you’re seeking, including your desired loan amount.

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

LendingClub

LendingClub is an online peer-to-peer lender headquartered in San Francisco that has operated since 2007. To date, LendingClub has served 2.5 million members, with personal loans among its offerings.
It’s also a smart option for small personal loans. You can borrow as little as $1,000 with LendingClub personal loans. That is among the lowest minimum loan amounts available.

APR

10.68%
To
35.89%

Credit Req.

Not specified

Terms

36 or 60

months

Origination Fee

2.00% - 6.00%

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

LendingClub is a great tool for borrowers that can offer competitive interest rates.... Read More

The fine print
LendingClub has a few basic requirements for its personal loans:

  • You must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or live in the U.S. on a long-term visa.
  • You must be 18 or older and hold a bank account
  • LendingClub’s minimum credit scores are not specified, but the average credit score among its loan applicants is 700
  • You’ll need a debt-to-income ratio of 40% or lower

LendingClub has APRs that start fairly low but have a wide range, from 10.68% to 35.89%. It also levies an origination fee of 2.00% - 6.00%, reflected in APRs and deducted from your loan funds at disbursement. You can request a personalized rate quote for a LendingClub personal loan, which it generates with a soft credit inquiry that won’t affect your score.

If you’d like to improve your chances of getting a lower APR, LendingClub allows you to apply for a joint loan by adding a well-qualified co-borrower. You can choose a loan term of 36 or 60 months.

Pros

  • Small personal loans of $1,000 (up to $40,000)
  • Low minimum credit score
  • Get a custom rate quote with a Soft Pull
  • Joint loan option to apply with a co-borrower
  • Apply in just minutes and get funding in a matter of days
  • No prepayment penalty

Cons

  • Origination fees of 2.00% - 6.00% can add to loan costs
  • APRs can range up to 35.89%
  • LendingClub loans aren’t available in Iowa

If you want to borrow a small personal loan, LendingClub is worth checking out. Some borrowers could face higher costs with this lender, but well-qualified applicants will still get a good deal. And with soft credit rate checks that give you a preview of LendingClub’s personal loan offers, you’ll know upfront what you’re likely to pay.

Upgrade

Upgrade personal loans also set minimums at a low $1,000. Launched in 2016 and based in San Francisco, Upgrade is an online lending platform that offers personal loans, personal lines of credit and a free credit monitoring tool.

Upgrade
APR

7.99%
To
35.97%

Credit Req.

620

Minimum Credit Score

Terms

36 or 60

months

Origination Fee

2.90% - 8.00%

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

Advertiser Disclosure

Upgrade is an online lender that offers fairly priced personal loans for a term of either 36 or 60 months.... Read More


Personal loans made through Upgrade feature APRs of 7.99%-35.97%. All personal loans have a 2.9% to 8% origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Lowest rates require Autopay and paying off a portion of existing debt directly. For example, if you receive a $10,000 loan with a 36-month term and a 17.98% APR (which includes a 14.32% yearly interest rate and a 5% one-time origination fee), you would receive $9,500 in your account and would have a required monthly payment of $343.33. Over the life of the loan, your payments would total $12,359.97. The APR on your loan may be higher or lower and your loan offers may not have multiple term lengths available. Actual rate depends on credit score, credit usage history, loan term, and other factors. Late payments or subsequent charges and fees may increase the cost of your fixed rate loan. There is no fee or penalty for repaying a loan early. Accept your loan offer and your funds will be sent to your bank or designated account within one (1) business day of clearing necessary verifications. Availability of the funds is dependent on how quickly your bank processes the transaction. From the time of approval, funds should be available within four (4) business days. Funds sent directly to pay off your creditors may take up to 2 weeks to clear, depending on the creditor. Personal loans issued by Upgrade's lending partners. Information on Upgrade's lending partners can be found at https://www.upgrade.com/lending-partners/.

The fine print
Upgrade’s minimum credit score for personal loans is 620. To apply, you’ll also need to meet these eligibility requirements:

  • Be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or visa holder
  • Be 18 or older (19 or older in Alabama)
  • Have a valid email address and bank account

Generally, Upgrade offers personal loans from $1,000 up to $35,000. But the loan minimum in Georgia is $3,005, and $6,005 in Massachusetts. Additionally, Upgrade loans are unavailable to residents of Colorado, Iowa, Maryland, and West Virginia.
Upgrade personal loan APRs range from 7.99% to 35.97%, which reflect a one-time origination fee of 2.90% - 8.00%. It provides an option to check your rate through a soft inquiry that won’t affect your credit score. You can choose a loan term of 36 or 60 months, and set your preferred payment due date.

Pros

  • Borrow as little as $1,000 (up to $35,000)
  • Get a personalized rate offer through a soft credit check
  • Set your own due date for personal loan payments
  • Upon approval, loans are funded within four business days
  • No prepayment penalty

Cons

  • Origination fee of 2.90% - 8.00%
  • APRs up to 35.97%
  • Loans aren’t offered in six states, and minimum loan amounts can vary

With the ability to borrow as little as $1,000 and APRs that can beat or compete with credit cards, Upgrade can be a smart way to finance minor expenses or consolidate small-balance debts. Just make sure you don’t live in one of the eight states in which Upgrade either doesn’t offer personal loans or has higher loan minimums.

Upstart

Another place to look for small personal loans is online lender Upstart, which provides loans between $1,000 and $50,000. Upstart also stands out for its financial tech, which it uses to go beyond credit score and history to evaluate applications, considering an applicant’s education and job history, too.

APR

8.69%
To
35.99%

Credit Req.

600

Minimum Credit Score

Terms

36 or 60

months

Origination Fee

Up to 8.00%

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

Upstart is an online lender created by ex-Googlers.... Read More

The fine print
Upstart has a minimum credit score requirement of 600, but it doesn’t just look at credit scores. It also looks at other credit, debt and income details. Plus, it relies on a borrower’s education and employment background to evaluate their ability to repay a loan, sometimes helping them secure a better personal loan rate.

You will also have to meet some basic requirements to be considered for an Upstart loan:

  • Have a valid email address and a U.S. address (not in West Virginia or Iowa)
  • Be 18 or older
  • Have valid identifying information including date of birth and Social Security number
  • Have regular employment with steady income
  • Have a bank account from a U.S. bank

Note that Upstart doesn’t offer loans in West Virginia or Iowa. And while its standard loan minimum is $1,000, it has higher loan minimums in Georgia, Massachusetts, New Mexico and Ohio.

Upstart offers loan terms of 36 or 60 months. Its APRs start at 8.69% and run up to 35.99%, which may include an origination fee of Up to 8.00%. You can request a rate quote and Upstart will use a soft credit inquiry to generate your personalized offer without affecting your credit.
Pros

  • Loan amounts as low as $1,000 (up to $50,000)
  • Flexible underwriting that can mean lower rates for some borrowers
  • Rate quotes offered with soft credit check
  • No prepayment penalty

Cons

  • Higher loan minimums in Georgia, Massachusetts, New Mexico and Ohio
  • Loans not offered in Iowa and West Virginia
  • APRs range up to 35.99%
  • Origination fee may be between Up to 8.00%

The terms and borrowing costs offered by Upstart can get relatively high. But for certain borrowers whose ability to repay a loan is better reflected by their education and employment history than their credit score, Upstart might offer a better deal.

Tower Federal Credit Union

Up next is Tower Federal Credit Union, which is a nonprofit, cooperative financial institution based in Maryland. You’ll need to be eligible to join or be a member of this credit union to get a loan, which can be as easy as making a donation. Then it’s a simple matter to apply for a personal loan.

Tower Federal Credit Union
APR

8.74%
To
11.74%

Credit Req.

580

Minimum Credit Score

Terms

12 to 72

months

Origination Fee

No origination fee

APPLY NOW Secured

on Tower Federal Credit Union’s secure website

Tower Federal Credit Union offers both personal lines of credit and more common signature loans that feature a fixed term. ... Read More

The fine print
As a credit union, Tower Federal Credit Union offers a range of financial products, including personal loans. Its personal loans have no stated minimum amount, so it’s a smart choice for small personal loans. Tower Federal Credit Union also offers savings secured personal loans and lines of credit.

The credit union states few specific eligibility requirements for its personal loans, but it accepts applicants with credit scores as low as 580. It also offers a wider range of loan terms than other lenders, from 12 to 72 months.

The APRs for Tower Federal Credit Union personal loans are based on your creditworthiness and the loan term you choose (shorter terms get you lower rates). These start at 8.74% APR with no stated maximum.

Perhaps best of all is that Tower Federal Credit Union personal loans carry no origination fee or prepayment penalties.

But you’ll have to complete a full personal loan application with the credit union to see what rates it can offer you, which will include a hard pull.
Pros

  • No origination fee or prepayment penalties
  • Wide range of loan terms: 12 to 72 months
  • Low minimum credit score of 580

Cons

  • You must join Tower Federal Credit Union to get a personal loan
  • Full application and Hard Pull required to see rates

If you’re interested in a small personal loan and want more flexibility through loan terms, Tower Federal Credit Union can help. It provides a range of loan terms to meet your needs and keep monthly payments affordable. Just make sure you’re willing and eligible to join the credit union before you apply.

Apple Federal Credit Union

Apple Federal Credit Union is another nonprofit financial cooperative that’s based in Virginia. Before applying, you’ll want to check the credit union’s membership eligibility requirements to be sure you can join and get a personal loan.

Apple Federal Credit Union
APR

9.24%
To
17.24%

Credit Req.

580

Minimum Credit Score

Terms

12 to 60

months

Origination Fee

No origination fee

APPLY NOW Secured

on Apple Federal Credit Union’s secure website

Apple Federal Credit Union offers a variety of benefits that are included with their personal loans, including no early payoff penalties, lump-sum funding, fixed rate payments and maximum loans amounts of $50,000.... Read More

The fine print
Apple Federal Credit Union offers unsecured personal loans as well as lines of credit and savings secured personal loans. It even offers a 0% loan to help new teachers just starting their careers.

This credit union has a low minimum credit score of just 580. You’ll need a government-issued ID to apply, along with proof of income such as a recent pay stub or tax forms. A full application (including a hard credit pull) will be necessary to see if you’ll qualify and what rate you’ll get, as Apple Federal Credit Union doesn’t provide rate quotes.

The credit union’s personal loans have no stated loan minimum, and you can borrow up to $50,000. It charges personal loan APRs starting at 9.24%, with no origination fee or prepayment penalties. Apple Federal Credit Union also offers loan terms of up to 60 months.

Pros

  • No stated minimum loan amount
  • No origination fee or prepayment penalties
  • Several personal loan options, including unsecured and secured loans
  • Low minimum credit score requirement

Cons

  • Must join Apple Federal Credit Union to get a loan
  • No rate quotes provided, and application incurs hard credit check

You’ll need to be eligible for membership with Apple Federal Credit Union to get a loan, and not everyone can qualify. If you can, however, this credit union has accessible personal loans that make it easy and affordable to borrow.

Methodology

Lenders were selected from MagnifyMoney’s personal loans comparisons page when sorted by borrowers looking for $1,000 with good credit who hold a college degree. They were narrowed to the top five picks based on 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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