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Personal Loans

The Ultimate Guide to Personal Loans

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

Disclosure : By clicking “See Offers” you’ll be directed to our parent company, LendingTree. You may or may not be matched with the specific lender you clicked on, but up to five different lenders based on your creditworthiness.

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Part I: Personal Loans 101

Personal loans are among the easiest financial tools to understand. When you take out a personal loan, a bank lends you money for a fixed interest rate and a fixed period of time.

This means you’ll be expected to make a fixed monthly payment for the life of the loan, but it also means you’ll face less uncertainty than with a credit card. With a personal loan, you’ll know exactly how much you borrowed, how much you’ll pay every month and when your debt will be paid in full.

This isn’t to suggest that personal loans are perfect. Like anything else in life, they come with risks and drawbacks. Most of the downsides depend on how responsible you are with credit and what interest rate you’ll pay.

Keep reading to learn more about how personal loans work, which pitfalls to avoid and how to get the most out of the loan you choose.

How personal loans work

As we mentioned, a personal loan is easy to grasp. You borrow money at a fixed interest rate, over a fixed amount of time, then you pay a fixed monthly payment until your loan is paid off.

While the terms of your personal loan can depend on an array of factors, these loans are typically offered in amounts up to $35,000. You may be able to borrow this amount for any length of time from 12 months to 20 years.

In addition to the interest rate you’ll pay, personal loans may also come with an origination fee which can range from 1 percent to as high as 8 percent at some lenders, according to a review of personal loan terms on MagnifyMoney.com. On the bright side, it’s a competitive business and many lenders charge no origination fee or any other fees upfront.The real costs to worry about with personal loans involve the APR. Interest rates charged through personal loans can vary quite a bit, and they are typically higher than you see with secured loans such as home equity or auto loans. That’s because personal loans are unsecured debts. Whereas a secured loan —think home or auto loan —is secured by an underlying investment (in these cases, a home or car), unsecured loans aren’t secured by an investment. The banks are taking on a greater risk lending without any collateral, so they charge higher fees and APRs as a result.

LendingTree
APR

5.99%
To
35.99%

Credit Req.

Minimum 500 FICO

Minimum Credit Score

Terms

24 to 60

months

Origination Fee

Varies

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

LendingTree is our parent company

LendingTree is our parent company. 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. LendingTree is not a lender.

How to qualify for one

If you’re considering a personal loan, here’s what you’ll need to qualify:

  • Good or excellent creditSome personal loan companies will approve you with a credit score as low as 580, according to MagnifyMoney’s parent company, LendingTree. But having very good credit (a FICO score over 740) will put you in a position to qualify for a personal loan with the best interest rate and terms.
  • Proof of ability to repay – You need to be able to show your ability to repay your loan, usually with pay stubs or other evidence of employment.
  • Low debt-to-income ratio – Lenders may be hesitant to lend you money if your debt-to-income ratio is high. This ratio is determined by taking your total monthly recurring debt and dividing it by your monthly income. Discover Personal Loans notes that borrowers with a debt-to-income ratio below 36 percent may qualify for the best terms and rates on loans and mortgages.
  • Co-signer – If your credit score is poor, you may need a co-signer with good credit to help you qualify for a personal loan.

How to pick the best personal loan

When it comes to personal loans, there is no one-size-fits-all option. The best loan for your needs depends on factors such as how much you need to borrow and whether you have good credit scores.

Here are some tips that can help you identify a loan that fits your goals:

  • Shop around with different lenders. Thanks to the internet, it’s easier than ever to shop around and compare rates and loan terms. Our parent company, LendingTree, is an excellent place to start because you can easily explore options from different lenders in one place. Start by filling out an online form.
  • Read the fine print. Make sure you understand each loan’s terms, conditions and interest rate, along with your monthly payment.
  • Look for a low-cost loan. Ideally, you should look for a personal loan with the lowest rate and fees (or no fees) you can find.
  • Read reviews. The internet is a treasure trove for reviews of various lenders. Reading product reviews can help you gauge the quality of each lender and what your experience might be like.

Part II: Common Uses for a Personal Loan

While borrowing money and paying it back slowly can be ideal no matter what your goals might be, you might be surprised to find out just how many uses personal loans can have.

“I’ve found that personal loans can be helpful when looking to consolidate higher interest debt, pay for a major expense or quickly get funds when needed for an emergency,” says Jeff Rose, founder of Good Financial Cents and partner of Discover Personal Loans.

Rose also pointed to a new survey from Discover Personal Loans, which showed that 26 percent of respondents cited a major medical expense as the most popular potential use for a personal loan, followed by 22 percent saying debt consolidation, and 13 percent using it to fund a small business.

Take note: That doesn’t mean personal loans are ideal for all uses. Here are some potential uses for personal loans, along with some pros and cons to consider:

Debt consolidation

If you have several types of debt and you’re struggling to keep up, debt consolidation can be a smart way to tackle the problem. When you consolidate debt, you take out a new loan, use it to pay off your existing debts and are left with just one loan to repay.

The real benefit of using a personal loan for debt consolidation is knowing exactly how much you pay each month and precisely how long you have until you’re debt-free.

“You don’t get that with a credit card,” says Gerri Detweiler, a writer, educator and authority on credit and loans.

You’ll have to decide when a personal loan makes sense as a debt consolidation tool over other options — such as a balance transfer credit card. It will likely come down to your credit score and which option will cost you the least over time. For example, a debt consolidation loan may have a higher interest rate than a balance transfer credit card, many of which come with a 0 percent APR for 12 to 21 months.

You can find 0% balance transfer offers at CompareCards.com, another LendingTree-owned site.

Medical expenses

Taking a personal loan to cover medical expenses “can be very helpful, especially if it keeps you out of collections,” Detweiler says.

Before you take this step, however, you should speak to your provider to see if it offers a payment plan. If so, you may be able to make payments on your outstanding medical debts without paying interest.

Car purchase

You can take out a personal loan to buy a car, but should you? Detweiler says it depends on the type of car you’re buying and how much it costs.

“You would probably get a better interest rate through a car dealership since personal loans are unsecured but car loans use the car as collateral,” she says.

On the flip side, a personal loan might work better if you’re buying an older used car from an individual instead of a dealership.

Home improvement

Detweiler notes that, while a lot of people use a home equity loan or HELOC, or home equity line of credit, to remodel their home, not everyone has enough equity to qualify. A personal loan could be ideal since you may qualify no matter how much equity you have in your home.

Not only that, but you won’t lose your home if you fall behind on payments with a personal loan. A home equity loan uses your home as collateral.

Moving expenses

Moving can be expensive, but you should try to save up the cash before your move, if you can. If you’re short on funds, a personal loan or a credit card can work well. The best option for your needs depends on the interest rate you qualify for and how long repayment might take you.

Starting a business

Detweiler says she’s a big fan of trying to separate personal and business credit, but there are still times when using a personal loan to finance a business could be beneficial.

If you’re a startup that’s not yet earning money, for example, you might not yet qualify for a business loan.

“In that case, a personal loan could help you get your business off the ground,” she says.

Boosting your credit

“A personal loan can help you improve your credit mix, and that can boost your score,” says Detweiler. “But you shouldn’t get into debt just to build credit.”

If you want to build credit without getting into debt, signing up for a secured credit card and using it regularly can also help. Read more about how secured cards work.

Emergencies

When it comes to the unexpected, personal loans can be a better option than some other types of borrowing, like payday loans. Not only are interest rates typically low, but you can figure out an exact payment plan to pay the debt off before you sign up.

But first, you should “really think about whether you need to borrow or whether you could come up with the money another way,” says Detweiler.

When to avoid using a personal loan

While a personal loan can be a valuable financial tool, there are plenty of times where you might be better off borrowing money a different way – or not borrowing at all.

Joseph Toms, president of the nonbank consumer lender Freedom Financial Asset Management, says these instances really depend on individuals and their situation, although there are many telltale signs a personal loan is not for you.s

One of the biggest signs, he says, is when you can’t afford to keep up with the monthly payments for the loan you plan to take out.

“Not being able to keep up with the monthly payments means you won’t pay your loan on time,” he says. “If you pay your bills late or not at all, your credit will take a hit. That can lead to higher interest rates and cause your debt to spiral out of control.”

Before you take out a personal loan, you should write out a budget and make sure you can truly afford the monthly payments, he says.

Another time you shouldn’t take out a personal loan is when you don’t truly need what you’re borrowing for – or if you should probably live without it.

“A personal loan can be like a candy store,” says Toms.

The temptation of being able to borrow money can be too much for some people. It can inspire crazy actions, like financing purchases that can leave the borrower in financial peril, Toms says.

Another instance where you may not want to get a personal loan? “If you’re going to buy a house in the near future, you should think twice about taking out a personal loan,” Detweiler says.

This is because the amount you owe can affect how much you can borrow for a home.

Lastly, you should probably avoid a personal loan if you’re on shaky financial ground, says Detweiler.

“If you aren’t in a very stable financial situation, a personal loan could make your problems worse,” she says. “It’s risky because if you don’t make the payments, you could wind up hurting your credit and could end up in default or collections.”

Using personal loans for a vacation might be tempting, but it’s not the wisest choice. However, the truth is, some people do this anyway. In a recent survey, we found that 16 percent of people who said they are going into debt for vacation are using personal loans.

“Don’t borrow money and go into debt for a vacation,” Detweiler urges. “You’ll come back from vacation in debt. Save the money instead, or have a staycation.”

Like vacations, a wedding financed with debt is rarely a good idea.

“Don’t start your marriage in debt,” says Detweiler. If you have to use a personal loan for your wedding, make sure you shop around for a loan with the lowest interest rate and best terms.

If you believe you could pay the balance off in a short amount of time, you may also be better off with a 0 percent APR credit card.

The risks of using a personal loan

Taking out a personal loan can help you borrow the money you need to achieve any goal, but that doesn’t mean these loans are without risk. Some of the perils you’ll face when taking out any loan include:

  • Overspending – A personal loan can be the answer to your prayers, but some experts say they’re almost too easy. “No one is going to question what you’re spending the money on, so you might use this loan to justify things you shouldn’t really buy,” says Detweiler. “If you go overboard, you can end up with debt that takes years to pay off and a lifetime of regret.”
  • Damage to your credit if you don’t repay the loan – Obviously, your personal loan may go off without a hitch if you don’t borrow too much and can always afford your payments. “But if you can’t afford your payments due to job loss or another issue, your credit will see damage,” Detweiler explains. That damage can ruin your credit, or even lead to collections or bankruptcy.
  • Bad financial habits – Getting into the habit of constantly borrowing money can make your life more difficult, she adds. While personal loans can be easy to get, relying on credit over and over can leave you short on cash to reach other financial goals.

And the benefits?

There are times to avoid a personal loan, without doubt, but these loans aren’t all bad. In the real world, there are plenty of instances where a personal loan can help you get what you want or even improve your financial life.

If you take out a personal loan – and do it in a financially responsible way – there are plenty of benefits to look forward to. These loans can:

  • Simplify your financial life – “A personal loan can be a great tool for people looking to simplify and save by consolidating higher interest debt into one fixed monthly payment,” says Rose, of Discover Personal Loans. “If you have multiple credit cards or store card bills, and are having difficulty keeping track of them all, a personal loan can be a smart tool to streamline your payments and potentially save thousands of dollars on interest.”
  • Help with emergencies – If you are hit with an unexpected expense you can’t cover, “personal loans can provide the funds fairly quickly to help manage through the situation,” says Rose. In that sense, a personal loan could actually save you from financial peril.
  • Offer you predictable payments and interest – Because of the way personal loans are set up, you’ll never wonder how much you’ll pay each month or how much interest you owe. “Compared to higher-interest financial tools, having a fixed interest rate and monthly payment could save you money in the long run,” Rose explains.

Part III: Personal Loan Traps and Scams to Avoid

While there are plenty of reputable lenders in the personal loan space, that doesn’t mean it’s scam-free. Like most other areas of personal finance, there are plenty of fraudsters who will use personal loans to extract money from you or perpetrate fraud in some other way.

As you explore the world of personal loans, here are some traps to be aware of:

Advance loan fees

Occasionally, a fraudulent loan company will offer outrageous loans and loan terms with a catch: You have to pay the first few months of payments to qualify.

“They usually ask for these funds via Western Union or Moneygram,” says Detweiler. “But it’s a complete scam.”

No reputable lender would ask you to pay money upfront. “Do not pay money upfront for a personal loan under any circumstances,” she says.

Loan insurance

Another one from Detweiler: the fraudulent lender who will offer you a personal loan, only to say you need to buy “insurance” to cover the loan in case you default.

This is also a scam because personal loans are unsecured – and because no reputable lender would require you to buy insurance to insure your own loan.

‘No credit check’ loans

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a lender who isn’t interested in checking your credit should set off alarms.

Ads that say: “Bad credit? No problem” or “We don’t care about your past” should be particularly worrisome, notes the CFPB. These slogans are usually suggestive of a scam.

Pre-compute interest

Some personal loans might come with the caveat of pre-compute interest, interest that is stacked so you pay the bulk of it near the beginning of your loan term.

This is a bad deal, since you’ll wind up paying extra interest – even if you pay your loan off early. Before you take out a personal loan, make sure you know how interest is accrued and how it will impact the total costs of your loan.

Prepayment penalties

Some personal loans will tack on a prepayment penalty if you pay your loan off early. Since this fee isn’t that common and is totally unnecessary, you should avoid loans that charge this fee altogether.

Make sure you read through your loans terms to check for a prepayment penalty. If you find one, look for another lender and loan.

Part IV: Alternatives to a Personal Loan

A personal loan might be ideal for helping you reach your financial goals, but it’s also possible a different financial product might work better. As you consider the prospect of a personal loan, don’t forget to explore your other options.

Here are some alternatives to consider, along with some instances where they may represent a better deal:

Personal loans versus credit cards

According to Paul Gentile, president of Cooperative Credit Union Association, there are definitely times where a credit card may be better than a personal loan.

“A credit card can be used to purchase something, so that can offer more flexibility,” he says. Credit cards can also be a great deal if you pay them off monthly, he notes, since you have the potential to earn rewards. Lastly, credit cards can be beneficial for certain short-term purchases since many offer 0 percent APR for 12 to 21 months.

On the flip side, “a personal loan may be better for someone who wants to make a large, intentional purchase that they planned for.”

Personal loans also offer the benefit of a fixed payment and payoff date, whereas credit cards can literally tether you to payments indefinitely if you keep using them for purchases.

Personal loans versus HELOCs

As Gentile notes, HELOCs come with the advantage of interest deductions (similar to how you deduct mortgage interest) if you itemize your taxes. In contrast, interest paid on your personal loan is not tax-deductible. Rates on HELOCs may also be lower than those on personal loans, he notes.

A possible downside with HELOCs is the fact that some only require you to pay interest for years. “This means you may not be paying anything toward the principal,” Gentile says.

Some HELOCs also come with balloon payments at the end, and those big payments may be hard to handle. On the other hand, personal loans come with predictable, fixed monthly payments and no surprises.

Personal loans versus peer-to-peer loans

Gentile notes that peer-to-peer lending is really similar to a personal loan. Both things allow you to borrow a fixed rate of cash and repay it over a predetermined length of time.

But since peer-to-peer lending isn’t regulated as heavily, this could be worrisome, says Gentile.

Before you choose among personal loans and peer-to-peer loans, make sure you compare all related fees, all total costs and interest rates.

Personal Loans versus cash-out refinancing

Gentile believes that opting for a cash-out refinance is the best option for people committed to their properties in the long term, whereas personal loans are better for short-term financial needs.

There are risks to getting cash out of your home as well, he notes. “If home prices drop, you could end up underwater.”

On the other hand, refinancing your home to get access to your home equity could help you qualify for a lower interest rate than a personal loan. “You also get to write off your mortgage interest, so you get a tax deduction,” notes Gentile.

Check out this cash-out refi calculator from MagnifyMoney’s parent company, LendingTree.

Frequently Asked Questions

According to the CFPB, lenders and loan brokers are required to be registered in all states where they conduct business. To check registration, they suggest calling your state attorney general’s office, or your state’s Department of Banking or Financial Regulation.

Yes, if you use it to consolidate high interest debts from credit cards or other loans. To get out of debt faster, make sure your new personal loan comes with a lower interest rate than you’re already paying, along with no or few fees. Paying more than your minimum payment is another great way to pay down debt faster.

Your interest rate will be determined based on the type of loan you apply for, how much you want to borrow and the quality of your credit. Getting the best loan terms and the best interest rate typically requires a credit score of 740 or more, or very good or exceptional credit.

If you were denied a personal loan due to poor credit, the best thing you can do is take a few simple steps to improve your credit rating over time. Pay all of your bills on time, pay off debt to reduce your credit utilization, and avoid opening or closing too many accounts.

Thanks to the internet, you can apply for a personal loan online and from the comfort of your own home. You can also compare lenders, fees, and interest rates by visiting this page.

Because personal loans are unsecured, you don’t need collateral. What you do need is the ability to illustrate how you’ll repay your loan, along with a good credit score.

You can absolutely pay your loan off early;very few loans will charge a prepayment penalty. Before you take out a personal loan, you should make sure you won’t be charged a prepayment penalty if you’re able to repay your loan early.

While applying for a personal loan will result in a hard inquiry being placed on your credit report, any negative hit your score takes will be short-lived. Borrowing too much in relation to your credit limits can hurt your utilization, however, and yes, that could hurt your credit score.

On the other hand, repaying your personal loan on time, and ultimately in full, can actually help your score in the long run.

Depending on your lender, you may receive funds from your new personal loan as early as the next business day. However, it could take up to seven business days (or longer) if you apply for a loan on a weekend, have errors in your application, or your loan takes longer to process for any reason.

The best part about personal loans is that you can use the funds however you want. You can use the cash to pay off high interest debt, remodel your kitchen or buy a newer car, for example.

Just keep in mind that borrowing is never free. In addition to the interest you pay on your loan, you may also incur additional costs, such as origination or application fees.

LendingTree
APR

5.99%
To
35.99%

Credit Req.

Minimum 500 FICO

Minimum Credit Score

Terms

24 to 60

months

Origination Fee

Varies

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

LendingTree is our parent company

LendingTree is our parent company. 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. LendingTree is not a lender.

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.

Holly Johnson
Holly Johnson |

Holly Johnson is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Holly here

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Personal Loans

Citibank Personal Loan Review

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

Disclosure : By clicking “See Offers” you’ll be directed to our parent company, LendingTree. You may or may not be matched with the specific lender you clicked on, but up to five different lenders based on your creditworthiness.

Citibank
APR

7.99%
To
17.99%

Credit Req.

Not specified

Minimum Credit Score

Terms

12 to 60

months

Origination Fee

Not specified

APPLY NOW Secured

on Citibank’s secure website

Citibank personal loan details
 

Fees and penalties

  • Term lengths: 12 to 60 months
  • APR range: 7.99%-17.99%
  • Loan amounts: $2,000-$50,000
  • Time to funding: Checks are sent within five business days of approval.
  • Credit check: Hard Pull
  • Origination fee: Not specified
  • Prepayment fee: No
  • Late payment fee: Not specified
  • Other fees: Not specified

Citibank product details

Perks offered to Citibank personal loan customers aren’t largely advertised online. However, linking a personal loan account to an eligible checking account enrolled in Citi ThankYou Rewards can help earn points on a monthly basis. Points never expire and can be redeemed for gift cards, travel rewards, cash and more. This can allow customers to save money while repaying their loan.

Eligibility requirements

  • Minimum credit score: Not specified
  • Minimum credit history: While a minimum credit score isn’t listed, Citibank does specify that the lowest quoted personal loan rate requires the borrower to have excellent credit.
  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: Not specified

Citibank personal loans are only available to borrowers with a maximum of one existing personal loan account with the financial institution. If consumers have another Citibank personal loan account, it cannot have been opened within the past six months. Qualified applicants are also required to have a minimum annual income of $10,500.

It’s also worth noting that anyone who wants to apply for a personal loan online must either be a current Citi checking or savings account customer registered for Citibank online or have received a Citi Personal Loan offer with an invitation number. Without an invitation, current customers who don’t have online account and non-customers must apply in person at a Citibank branch or call a

Applying for a personal loan from Citibank

Personal loans are available in increments from $2,000 to $50,000, but applications cannot be submitted online for amounts exceeding $30,000. Applicants who wish to borrow up to $50,000 must call 1-877-362-9100 or visit a Citibank branch location.

Depending on the requested loan amount, prospective borrowers with a current Citi checking or savings account who are registered for Citibank online and anyone who has received a Citi Personal Loan offer with an invitation number can submit a personal loan application online. Everyone else must apply in person at a Citi branch or call 1-877-362-9100.

To begin the online application process, current Citibank customers registered for online access will need to enter their user ID and password. Non-Citibank customers who have received a Citi Personal Loan offer with an invitation number will be directed to an application site and asked to enter the invitation code, their last name and zip code. Do note, credit scores are not impacted for viewing the personal loan offer. Upon approval, a check for the full amount of the loan will be mailed within five business days.

Pros and cons of a Citibank personal loan

Pros:

Cons:

  • Fixed rate: Citibank personal loans come at a fixed rate, allowing borrowers to enjoy fixed monthly payments. Do note, defaulting on the loan may come at the cost of a 2% APR increase.
  • No hidden fees or prepayment penalties: Borrowers don’t have to worry about being hit with added costs attached to the loan.
  • Competitive rates: Fixed rates range from 7.99% APR to 17.99% APR.
  • Flexible terms: Borrowers can choose from a variety of repayment terms, consisting of 12 to 60 months.
  • Fast cash: Checks for the full amount of the approved loan are mailed within five business days.
  • Limited online application access: To apply online, prospective borrowers must either be a current Citi checking or savings account customer registered for Citibank online or have received a Citi Personal Loan offer with an invitation number. Without an invitation, current customers who don’t have an online account and non-customers must apply in person or by phone.
  • Loan amount constraints: To receive the lowest quoted rate, borrowers must use Citibank Auto Deduct to repay the loan, have excellent credit, borrow at least $10,000, have a loan term of 36 months or less and sufficient relationship balances.

Who’s the best fit for a Citibank personal loan?

A Citibank personal loan can be a great option for consumers with a one-time need to borrow money. Specifically, Citibank customers willing to repay their loan with Citi Auto Deduct, who have excellent credit, need to borrow at least $10,000, can repay the loan within 36 months and have sufficient relationship balances are eligible for the most competitive rates.

Loan amounts range up to $50,000, so this product can also be a good fit for consumers who need a higher loan amount. The ability to lock in a fixed rate and face no hidden fees or prepayment penalties can make it good choice for those looking for peace of mind in a fixed monthly payment.

Alternative personal loan options

LightStream

APR

3.34%
To
16.99%

Credit Req.

660

Minimum Credit Score

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 APR may differ based on loan purpose, amount, term, and your credit profile. Rate is quoted with AutoPay discount, which is only available when you select AutoPay prior to loan funding. Rates under the invoicing option are 0.50% 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 3.34% APR with a term of 3 years would result in 36 monthly payments of $292.31.


LightStream, a division of SunTrust Bank, offers personal loans from $5,000 to $100,000. Rates are fixed and vary by loan purpose. There are no fees attached to the loan, including prepayment penalties, making it a good choice for consumers who might want to pay the loan off early. Loans can be funded as quickly as one day of approval, so this isn’t the best option for anyone who needs cash fast.

PenFed Credit Union

PenFed Credit Union
APR

Starting at 6.49%

Credit Req.

700

Minimum Credit Score

Terms

60

months

Origination Fee

No origination fee

APPLY NOW Secured

on PenFed Credit Union’s secure website

Pentagon Federal Credit Union (PenFed) offers personal loans with terms up to five years and maximum loan amounts of $25,000.... Read More


PenFed grants personal loans from $500 to $25,000. Along with no origination fee, there’s also no other hidden costs, making it a great choice for borrowers looking to avoid additional expenses. Funds are available immediately, which is advantageous for consumers who need cash now. Do note, personal loans are only available to PenFed members.

SoFi

SoFi
APR

6.79%
To
15.49%

Credit Req.

680

Minimum Credit Score

Terms

24 to 84

months

Origination Fee

No origination fee

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

Advertiser Disclosure

SoFi offers some of the best rates and terms on the market. ... Read More


Fixed rates from 6.79% APR to 15.49% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 6.54% APR to 14.60% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of January 4, 2019 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. . See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. See APR examples and terms. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 6.54% APR assumes current 1-month LIBOR rate of 2.51% plus 4.28% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.

To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull.

See Consumer Licenses.

SoFi Personal Loans are not available to residents of MS. Maximum interest rate on loans for residents of AK and WY is 9.99% APR, for residents of IL with loans over $40,000 is 8.99% APR, for residents of TX is 9.99% APR on terms greater than 5 years, for residents of CO, CT, HI, VA, SC is 11.99% APR, and for residents of ME is 12.24% APR. Personal loans not available to residents of MI who already have a student loan with SoFi. Personal Loans minimum loan amount is $5,000. Residents of AZ, MA, and NH have a minimum loan amount of $10,001. Residents of KY have a minimum loan amount of $15,001. Residents of PA have a minimum loan amount of $25,001. Variable rates not available to residents of AK, TX, VA, WY, or for residents of IL for loans greater than $40,000.

Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi's underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)


SoFi provides personal loans ranging in value from $5,000 to $50,000, making it a good choice for borrowers who need a significant amount of money. Rates are fixed and loans are completely free of fees. Funds are typically deposited in consumers’ accounts a few days after approval and the successful completion of required paperwork. An added bonus, SoFi’s unemployment protection benefit offers an additional layer of security by allowing borrowers to temporarily pause payments and helping them find a new job if they become unemployed.

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.

Laura Woods
Laura Woods |

Laura Woods is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Laura here

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Personal Loans

U.S. Bank Personal Loan Review

Editorial Note: The editorial content on this page is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews, statements or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities prior to publication.

Disclosure : By clicking “See Offers” you’ll be directed to our parent company, LendingTree. You may or may not be matched with the specific lender you clicked on, but up to five different lenders based on your creditworthiness.

U.S. Bank
APR

7.49%
To
17.99%

Credit Req.

Not specified

Minimum Credit Score

Terms

12 to 60

months

Origination Fee

No origination fees

APPLY NOW Secured

on U.S. Bank’s secure website

U.S. Bank Personal Loan Details
 

Fees and Penalties

  • Term lengths: 12 to 60 months
  • APR range: 7.49%-17.99%
  • Loan amounts: $3,000-$25,000
  • Time to funding: Not specified
  • Credit check: Hard

  • Origination fee: None
  • Prepayment fee: Not specified
  • Late payment fee: Not specified
  • Other fees: Not specified

U.S. Bank product details

The U.S. Bank Premier Loan is an unsecured personal loan that you can use for almost anything. U.S. Bank highlights debt consolidation, home remodeling and major purchases (such as a vacation, wedding or new vehicle) as potential options.

To qualify for the lowest advertised rate, you must have a credit score of 760 and take out between $5,000 and $25,000 loan with a 12- to 48-month term. You also have to sign up for automatic payments from an eligible U.S. Bank account.

But you can get approved with a lower credit score and without signing up for autopay. Additionally, you can choose to borrow as little as $3,000 and your loan’s term could be as long as 60 months.

There is a potential 1% interest rate discount if you use the money to make green home improvements or energy-efficient purchases, which could make this loan a good option if you want to finance a home improvement with an unsecured loans. (Alternatively, a home equity loan or home equity line of credit might offer a lower interest rate and tax benefits.)

If you’ve been a U.S. Bank checking account customer for six months and had direct deposits into the account for the previous consecutive three months, you may also qualify for the U.S. Bank Simple Loan. Although it’s also an unsecured personal loan, the Simple Loan has a $1,000 loan limit and expensive fees. It may be a good alternative to a payday loan if you need to cover an emergency expense, but it’s not a substitute for a large personal loan.

Eligibility requirements

  • Minimum credit score: Not specified, but at least 760 for the lowest advertised rate
  • Minimum credit history: Not specified
  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: Not specified

Besides meeting U.S. Bank’s financial and credit requirements, you’ll need to be at least 18 years old and may need to live within a certain radius of a U.S. Bank branch to qualify for a Premier Loan.

Applying for a personal loan from U.S. Bank

You can start an application for a U.S. Bank Premier Loan by visiting a bank branch, calling a bank representative or with the online application.

Open an account. If you’re not already a U.S. Bank customer, you’ll need to open a different account, such as a checking account, before continuing.

Apply online. When applying online, you can either log in to your U.S. Bank account or continue with an application and mark that you don’t bank online. Fill in your personal and financial information, including your name, address, contact information, income and employer.

Next, you’ll need to choose your desired loan amount (from $3,000 to $25,000) and loan term (from 12 to 60 months). You’ll also need to indicate if you’ll use the money outside the U.S. (and, if yes, in which country), and whether you plan to use the money for an auto purchase, debt consolidation, home improvement or “other.”

You will need to agree to a credit check before reviewing your application results, which could put a hard inquiry on your credit reports and may result in a small ding to your credit scores.

Complete the application in person. After submitting your application online, you’ll need to visit a U.S. Bank branch to finish the application.

Pros and Cons of a U.S. Bank Personal Loan

Pros:

Cons:

  • Fixed interest rate. You’ll know exactly how much you’ll pay each month and don’t need to worry about your rate or payments increasing.
  • $3,000 minimum loan. Only borrowing what you need could help you save money on interest. The $3,000 minimum loan amount is lower than some other lenders’ minimums.
  • 12-month loan term. Other lenders may require you choose a longer term. If you can afford to pay off your loan sooner, a shorter loan term might help you get a lower interest rate.
  • Lowest advertised APR isn’t available on all loans. To qualify for the lowest rate, you need to apply for a loan for $5,000 to $25,000 with a 12- to 48-month term and agree to automatic payments.
  • Limited to existing customers. You need to be a U.S. Bank customer before you can qualify.
  • You have to visit a branch. If you’re looking for a simple, time-saving process, you may want to opt for a lender that offers an entirely online application and funding process.
  • $25,000 limit. Other personal loan lenders might approve you for up to $100,000.

Who’s the best fit for a U.S. Bank personal loan?

If you’re already a U.S. Bank customer, the U.S. Bank Premier Loan could be a good option if you’re looking for an unsecured personal loan to consolidate debts or pay for a major expense. But its drawbacks outweigh the pros.

Think carefully about how long you’ll need to repay the loan because of the possibility of a prepayment penalty. A longer term could help lower your monthly payments, but it will also cost you more in interest. While U.S. Bank offers 60-month term loans, if you’re borrowing at least $5,000, you may want to see if you can get a lower interest rate and still afford your monthly payments with a 48-month (or shorter) term.

If you need a loan quickly and aren’t a U.S. Bank customer, you could look for a loan from a different lender. Additionally, if you’re a U.S. Bank customer but don’t live near a bank branch, you could apply for a personal loan from a different lender and have the money deposited in your U.S. Bank account to save yourself the hassle of having to visit a branch.

Alternative personal loan options

Want to do some comparison shopping on your own? Here are three personal loan lenders that are worth considering.

Earnest

Earnest
APR

6.99%
To
18.24%

Credit Req.

680

Minimum Credit Score

Terms

36 to 60

months

Origination Fee

No origination fee

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

Instead of offering credit-based loans, Earnest has taken a very nontraditional approach using a merit-based system.... Read More

Earnest is an online lender that distinguishes itself with an innovative underwriting process. While your credit history and scores are still important, Earnest also considers your history of making payments on time, if you’ve built enough savings to cover your monthly expenses for at least two months and how well you manage your checking account. Even if you don’t have an excellent credit score, being financially responsible could help you get a lower rate.

LightStream

APR

3.34%
To
16.99%

Credit Req.

660

Minimum Credit Score

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 APR may differ based on loan purpose, amount, term, and your credit profile. Rate is quoted with AutoPay discount, which is only available when you select AutoPay prior to loan funding. Rates under the invoicing option are 0.50% 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 3.34% APR with a term of 3 years would result in 36 monthly payments of $292.31.

Although it is an online-only lender, LightStream is a division of SunTrust Bank, a brick-and-mortar bank. LightStream doesn’t have an exceptionally high minimum credit score requirement, but don’t let that fool you. The lender focuses on creditworthy applicants. If you can qualify, LightStream offers some of the lowest rates and longest terms. Plus, there are no origination fee or prepayment fees.

SoFi

SoFi
APR

6.79%
To
15.49%

Credit Req.

680

Minimum Credit Score

Terms

24 to 84

months

Origination Fee

No origination fee

SEE OFFERS Secured

on LendingTree’s secure website

Advertiser Disclosure

SoFi offers some of the best rates and terms on the market. ... Read More


Fixed rates from 6.79% APR to 15.49% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 6.54% APR to 14.60% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of January 4, 2019 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. . See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. See APR examples and terms. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 6.54% APR assumes current 1-month LIBOR rate of 2.51% plus 4.28% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.

To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull.

See Consumer Licenses.

SoFi Personal Loans are not available to residents of MS. Maximum interest rate on loans for residents of AK and WY is 9.99% APR, for residents of IL with loans over $40,000 is 8.99% APR, for residents of TX is 9.99% APR on terms greater than 5 years, for residents of CO, CT, HI, VA, SC is 11.99% APR, and for residents of ME is 12.24% APR. Personal loans not available to residents of MI who already have a student loan with SoFi. Personal Loans minimum loan amount is $5,000. Residents of AZ, MA, and NH have a minimum loan amount of $10,001. Residents of KY have a minimum loan amount of $15,001. Residents of PA have a minimum loan amount of $25,001. Variable rates not available to residents of AK, TX, VA, WY, or for residents of IL for loans greater than $40,000.

Terms and Conditions Apply. SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi's underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

SoFi is an online-only lender that offers personal loans for $5,000 to $50,000 without any origination or prepayment fees. You can pre-qualify for a loan online with a soft pull, which won’t impact your credit scores. An official application still requires a hard pull, though. Once you accept a loan, you’ll be eligible for SoFi member benefits, such as discounts on other loans, career counseling and unemployment protection.

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.

Louis DeNicola
Louis DeNicola |

Louis DeNicola is a writer at MagnifyMoney. You can email Louis at louis@magnifymoney.com

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Get A Pre-Approved Personal Loan

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Won’t impact your credit score