Loans > Best Low Interest Personal Loans

Best Low Interest Personal Loans

Finding the right lender for a low interest personal loan can save you thousands in the long run.

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By the middle of 2019, there were 38.4 million personal loans in the United States. In the past, personal loans were primarily a last resort for borrowers. In the last few years, they have become one of the most popular forms of consumer debt in the country. 

With a personal loan, you borrow money for a short amount of time. In most cases, the loan term is between two and five years in length.

Depending on the amount you need and your credit score, you can generally borrow between $1,000 and $100,000. Different banks have specific requirements for loan terms and borrowing limits. 

Because this type of loan is unsecured, banks generally charge higher interest rates than they do for secured loans. When a loan is unsecured, it means that you do not have to use collateral like your house to back up the loan. If you default on the loan, the bank cannot access your collateral to recuperate their losses. 

The average borrower has $8,402 in outstanding debt on their personal loan. Depending on the lending institution, loan term and credit history involved, the monthly cost of personal loans can vary significantly.

Personal loans are typically available for amounts between 10% and 28%. Someone with a high credit score may be able to get an interest rate of just 7.25%. 

Top Low Interest Personal Loans

The following lenders are the best you can find for a low interest personal loan:

1. LightStream
Best Overall
2. Upgrade
Easiest Application Process
3. SoFi
Best for Borrowers with High Income
4. Payoff
Best for Paying Off Credit Cards
5. LendingClub
Best Peer-to-Peer Lender
6. Best Egg
Best for Borrowers with Poor Credit
7. Prosper
Best Non-Traditional Lender

The Best Low Interest Personal Loans

There are many reasons why you may want a personal loan. Whether you want to renovate a vacation home or plan a wedding, personal loans can help you accomplish your goals.

When you search for a lending institution, look for a loan that offers a low interest rate. By selecting the best lender, you can end up saving hundreds or thousands of dollars over the next few years. 

1. LightStream: Best Loans for Any Purpose

Lightstream Logo
LightStream offers overall best loans for a big variety of purposes.

Pros

  • Low APR (see website for current rate).
  • LightStream lets you use loans for a wide range of purchases.
  • Funds can be available on the same day you apply (under certain conditions).

Cons

  • LightStream works best for people with strong credit histories.
  • Quoted rates are only for autopay customers.
  • You pay 0.5% more in interest if you do not use autopay.
Visit LightStream on LightStream’s website

LightStream specializes in providing unsecured personal loans. Created as a division of SunTrust Bank, LightStream’s services are almost entirely online. It offers competitive rates for applicants.

If you have a good credit history, then LightStream will probably give you one of the best rates you can find on the marketplace today. 

Unlike other lenders, LightStream makes it possible to get personal loans for a variety of purchases. You can use your personal loan to finance an adoption or in vitro fertilization. LightStream even lets people apply for personal loans if they want to use the money to buy a horse. 

You can apply for a loan worth $5,000 to $100,000. Then, you can select loan terms generally range between 2 and 12 years, but often vary.

Depending on your credit history, you could qualify for an industry-low interest rate with LightStream. If you do not use autopay, you will have to pay an interest rate that is slightly higher (0.5%) than if you had opted for the automatic feature. 

One of the nice things about LightStream is how easy the application process is. You can use your mobile device or computer to read and sign loan agreements. The process is almost entirely online, and you can get your funds on the same day you send in your application. 

One of the downsides of using LightStream is that the lender might not be available to those who have a troubled credit history. Borrowers typically need to have several years of credit history in order to qualify for one of their loans. 

LightStream makes up for this by featuring a joint application option. If you want a lower rate or cannot qualify on your own, getting a co-applicant could be a useful alternative.


2. Upgrade: Best Lender for Online Applications

Upgrade Logo
Upgrade is focused on facilitating the online application process.

Pros

  • Loans offer interest rates of just 6.98 percent.
  • Funds are available within one day of finishing the verification process.
  • You can get a loan decision in minutes.

Cons

  • Upgrade has origination fees of 1 to 6 percent.
  • This is not a good lender for people with poor credit.
Visit Upgrade on Upgrade’s website

If you want a fast, easy application process, Upgrade is a good lender to work with. The online application is just one page in length. Once you send in your application, you can get a loan decision in just a few minutes.

This loan is intended for people who have fair credit or better. If you have poor credit or no credit, it is probably not the best option. Once you finish the verification process, you can get the funds you need within just a day. 

Depending on your financial history and the loan terms you want, you can get an interest rate between 6.98 percent and 35.89 percent. Upgrade offers loan terms between three to five years in length. You can ask for a loan amount between $1,000 and $50,000.

With this money, you can refinance your credit cards, pay for home improvements, make a major purchase or consolidate your debt. 

There is one important caveat about Upgrade that borrowers need to remember. When you get an Upgrade personal loan, it comes with an origination fee.

This fee is generally between 1.5 and 6 percent. It gets deducted from your loan funds, so your overall funds will be less than the actual loan amount. 

While some loans prefer applicants who have excellent credit histories, Upgrade focuses on the big picture. In order to get this loan, you will need to have a good cash flow.

If you have a good debt-to-income ratio and cash flow, you can have fair credit and still get approved for this loan. Once you qualify for the loan, you can use some of Upgrade’s tools for building credit as well. 


3. SoFi: Best Lender for Wealth Management

sofi loans logo
In case you need a loan for wealth management purposes, SoFi comes with the best offers.

Pros

  • Loans are available for up to $100,000.
  • SoFi offers extremely low interest rates.
  • You can enjoy an entirely online loan process.
  • SoFi does not have prepayment penalties or late fees.

Cons

  • There is not an offline application option available.
  • The maximum loan term is just seven years.
Visit SoFi on SoFi’s website

With SoFi, you can find interest rates ranging between 5.99 and 18.82 percent. SoFi also offers loan terms between two to seven years. Depending on your income and credit history, you may qualify for a loan between $5,000 and $10,000.

SoFi has an entirely online lending process. While this means the entire process is extremely convenient and fast, it could be an issue for people who are not comfortable with filling out online forms. Because the loan process is online, SoFi is able to pass on the extra savings to its customers. 

Unlike some companies, SoFi does not charge prepayment penalties or late fees. They look at more than just your credit score, income and debt-to-income ratio. Instead, SoFi considers your education and career. They also look at your estimated cash flow to determine your loan amount. 

Because SoFi focuses on factors like your career and education, they strive to offer perks that help you reach your career goals. SoFi members can get help through financial advisors and career coaches. If you lose your job, SoFi will help you find a new job and will even give you unemployment protection. 

Because of its membership perks, SoFi tends to attract borrowers who have a high income. SoFi offers advantageous features like flexible payment plans and variable rates. You can even change your payment date after you sign up for the loan.

Unlike some lenders, SoFi does not offer refinancing options. This lender also lacks a direct repayment option. If you are using it to consolidate your debt, you will have to issue the payment yourself instead of letting SoFi do the work. 

If you’re an investor of any level, you’re likely to enjoy SoFi’s investment-related services as well. The platform has climbed its way to our top robo advisors report, due to its emphasis on investor education and world-class investment planning tools.


4. Payoff: Best Loan for Consolidating Credit Card Debt

payoff logo
Payoff provides best loans for credit card debt consolidation purposes.

Pros

  • Loans are exclusively designed for paying off your credit cards.
  • There are no late fees or prepayment penalties.
  • Payoff does not charge any application fees.

Cons

  • You are unable to use the loan for anything other than paying off your credit card.
  • The loan limit is just $35,000.
  • Payoff has fairly high origination fees.
Visit Payoff on PayOff’s website

If you want to consolidate your credit card, Payoff is a great choice. This lender offers loans with interest rates between 5.99 percent and 24.99 percent. You can find loan terms that last between two to five years. In addition, you can get a personal loan worth $5,000 to $35,000. 

Payoff is designed for people who are paying off their credit card debt, so you can only get a loan for this purpose. If you want to make a major purchase or pay off medical expenses, you have to go to a different lender. When you use Payoff, you never have to pay early payment fees, late fees or application fees. 

While you may not have to pay late fees, you will have to pay an origination fee. This fee is up to 5 percent, so it is a significant cost for most borrowers. The origination fee you pay will include maintenance fees and closing costs. 

If you want help getting your finances in order, Payoff features educational guides and support. It uses quizzes to assess your financial personality and goals. Then, the platform makes customized recommendations to help you succeed. 

This loan may be better for people who have good or excellent credit. Since Payoff does not allow co-signers, you will have to qualify for the loan on your own. Unlike some lenders, this institution does not let its customers get secured loans. Check our in-detail Payoff review for more info on the Payoff loan features.


5. LendingClub: Best for Peer-to-Peer Lending

LendingClub Logo
Lending Club is a superior platform when it comes to the peer-to-peer lending.

Pros

  • Loans start at just 6.95 percent.
  • You can use your loan for many different purposes.
  • There are no prepayment fees.

Cons

  • The maximum loan term is just five years.
  • LendingClub charges origination fees.
  • You must have good to excellent credit to get a loan.
Visit LendingClub on LendingClub’s website

When you use LendingClub, you will get an interest rate of 6.95 to 35.89 percent. You can pay off your loan over three to five years. Depending on your financial situation and needs, you can qualify for a loan worth $1,000 to $40,000. 

Founded in 2006, LendingClub is based out of San Francisco, California. In 2014, it became the first peer-to-peer lending platform to offer securities through the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Since it was founded, this peer-to-peer lending platform has served as a broker between borrowers and investors. 

When you get a personal loan through LendingClub, you can use it for purposes like buying a car, consolidating debt or making home improvements.

With LendingClub, you do not have to pay prepayment penalties. Plus, the entire loan application takes just a few minutes to complete. After you apply, you can end up with funds in your account within just four days. 

In order to get a loan, you must have good to excellent credit. If you have a bad credit score, then this is probably not the best loan for you.

If you do qualify for a loan, you should watch out for the origination fees. Depending on your credit score, you may end up paying an origination fee that is between 1 and 6 percent of your total loan amount. 

LendingClub works best for borrowers who have good and fair credit. When you apply, LendingClub will look at the length of your credit history and your income. While LendingClub prefers people who have high incomes and long credit histories, the lender allows joint loan applications as well. 

While LendingClub does not offer a mobile app, it makes up for this issue with other features. If you are using the loan to consolidate debt, LendingClub will make direct payments to your other lenders. Unlike some companies, LendingClub will only run a soft credit check when you apply for your personal loan. 


6. Best Egg: Best for Those With Poor Credit

Best Egg Logo
In case you have a poor credit score, Best Egg offers the best loans.

Pros

  • You can get an APR of just 5.95 percent.
  • The online application process is simple.
  • You can receive funds within just a day.

Cons

  • The origination fees are fairly high.
  • Loan terms are only available for three to five years.
Visit Best Egg on Best Egg’s website

Created by Marlette Funding, Best Egg was established in 2013. With Best Egg, borrowers can enjoy having a streamless application process. From the moment you submit your application, it can take a day or less to get the funds into your bank account. 

Best Egg offers loans worth $2,000 to $35,000. If you are a qualified borrower, you can sometimes get a loan for up to $50,000. Borrowers can also get a loan term that lasts for three to five years. 

While Best Egg does not charge any prepayment penalties, it does charge origination fees. These origination fees range between 0.99 and 5.99 percent. Since this quickly adds up to hundreds of dollars, it is important to see what your origination fees are before you get a loan from Best Egg.

In general, Best Egg has fewer features than other lenders. Rather than offer a list of features and benefits, Best Egg focuses on providing borrowers with the loans they need as quickly as possible.

Because of this, it takes just a few minutes to apply. After you submit your application, you can have funding in your account within less than a day. 


7. Prosper: Best Non-Traditional Lender

Prosper Logo
Prosper is the leader among the non-traditional lenders.

Pros

  • This lender works for people with fair to excellent credit.
  • Prosper’s online application is fast and easy to complete.

Cons

  • Prosper is not made for people who have bad credit.
  • It can take several weeks to get funding for your loan.
Visit Prosper on Prosper’s website

Designed for people with fair to excellent credit, Prosper was founded in 2005. This peer-to-peer lending company serves as a middleman that connects investors to borrowers.

Because of this, borrowers have to wait for investors to invest in their loans. If there are not enough investors interested in someone’s loan, the loan process will not get completed.

Once you submit your loan, it can take several weeks for it to get funded. Investors have to choose to fund your loan. If your loan does not get funding for 70% of your requested amount within two weeks, it will be denied. Once the loan is denied, you have to resubmit your application. 

In general, you can expect to pay an interest rate of 6.95% to 35.99%. Most Prosper loans are for $2,000 to $40,000.

Unlike other companies, Prosper offers fairly short loan terms of just three to five years. Since Prosper is designed for people with fair to excellent credit, it may be difficult to get funding if you have bad credit or no credit. 

While there are benefits to getting a loan with Prosper, you should watch out for the lender’s late fees. Prosper charges a $15 late fee or 5% of your remaining loan balance if you make your payment late.

If you need help qualifying for your loan, Prosper does provide its customers with a joint loan option. You can also change your payment date if you need to. Our Prosper review comes with more info that may help you decide if Prosper is the right choice for you.


Which Bank Has the Lowest Interest Rates on Personal Loans?

LightStream, SoFi and Payoff currently have the lowest rates. Like any loan, these interest rates can always change in the future based on the prevailing market conditions.

At the moment, you can get a loan for 5.95% with LightStream if you use automatic payments. SoFi and Payoff have personal loans available for 5.99%. 

Once you find loans with low interest rates, the next step is comparing the various loan terms.

For example, LightStream generally offers personal loans for two-year to seven-year terms. The maximum loan amount is $100,000. While SoFi also allows borrowers to get a maximum of $100,000, Payoff has a loan limit of just $35,000. 

While a low-interest rate generally means that you will pay less money over time, there are more factors to consider. Depending on your situation, you may want a short or long loan term.

In addition, you need to find a lending institution that is willing to give you the total loan amount you need. Because of this, it is a good idea to spend time researching different loan options before you choose a specific one. 

How Can I Get the Lowest Interest Rate Possible on a Personal Loan?

Your interest rate is determined by your income and your credit history. Other than improving your financial situation, there are a few other ways you can get a better interest rate on your personal loan.

By shopping around at different financial institutions, you may be able to get a better rate. There are certain lenders that offer the best loans for those with good credit, while others will offer more advantageous loans to borrowers with lower credit scores.

Improve Your Credit History and Income

Before you start looking for a personal loan, you should work on improving your credit history, income and repayment history. Lenders give better interest rates to people who are more likely to repay their loans.

If you’re worried about your credit score, it is recommended to leverage a credit repair company to fix your credit. Such services will reach out to credit bureaus on your behalf

If you seem like a risky investment, they may give you a high rate or deny the loan completely. Lenders use risk-based pricing to create a range of interest rates, so you can get a better rate if your loan creates less risk for the lender.

Perhaps the most overlooked method of improving one’s credit score is by first ensuring it doesn’t drop. While this is resource-intensive to do on your own, there are a number of credit monitor services with excellent reputations that can help. Such services monitor credit automatically, and can alert you of indications related to identity theft and cyber attacks before they take a negative toll.

Start Shopping Around

You do not have to pick the first company that accepts your loan application. When you apply with multiple lenders, you can compare the fees, terms and interest rates they offer.

Many lenders do a soft credit pull when they give you a rate check, so it will not affect your credit score. If you want to get the best score, you should compare three to five different lenders. 

Another aspect to consider — especially with the world’s current climate stirred by COVID-19 — is how, or if, a lender can help during times of hardship. Some have strict criteria for aid, leaving borrowers to choose between making payments and buying food.

Avoid Paying Fees

Your interest rate is not the only cost you will have to pay to get your loan. Many lenders also charge an origination fee of 1% to 8%.

When you compare lenders, you need to look at their origination fees as well as the interest rate to see the total amount you will end up paying. Some lenders do not charge any origination fees, so shop around before you choose a specific company. 

Get Autopay

Many financial institutions will reduce rates by about 0.25 to 0.5 percent if you use automatic payments. While this does not sound like a lot, it can add up to significant savings during the course of your loan term. Your payments will be automatically withdrawn from your bank each month, so make sure you have enough money in your checking account to cover the monthly payment. 

Improve Your Debt-to-Income Ratio

Other than your income and credit history, lenders want to know your debt-to-income level. This ratio basically shows the total amount of your monthly debt payments divided by the gross income you bring in each month.

If you have a low debt-to-income ratio, you can get a lower interest rate. To reduce your debt-to-income ratio, you have to increase the amount of money you make each month or reduce the amount you have to pay in debt each month. 

One way you can better manage your debt is by consolidating it. A debt consolidation loan from a top lender will save you money by lowering your interest in the long run. It’ll also enable you to better manage your debt by combining several payments into one — making it less likely for you to miss a payment by mistake.

Do Personal Loans Hurt Your Credit?

Like any kind of debt, a personal loan can impact your credit score. If you use your loan properly, it can actually improve your credit.

A personal loan helps you achieve a better credit mix, which basically means you have different kinds of credit listed in your credit record. If you primarily have credit cards and revolving credit, a personal loan will help you get a monthly installment loan in your credit mix. 

A personal loan can also help your credit history by lowering your credit utilization ratio. Normally, banks look at how much of your credit card limit is used up. If you transfer debt from a credit card to your personal loan, your credit utilization rate will drop. 

Finally, a personal loan can help you create a payment history. To do this, you have to make your payments on time each month. Over time, this will improve your credit score. 

There are some potential drawbacks to having a personal loan as well. Obviously, getting a personal loan can put you deeper into debt.

If you used the personal loan to pay off a credit card, you will need to change the habits that originally got you into debt. Origination costs, late fees and other loan fees can quickly add up if you are not careful. If you end up missing payments, it will harm your credit score.

Personal loans can also hurt your credit score because they add another inquiry to your credit report. When you apply for a loan or credit card, the financial institution runs a credit check. This adds a hard inquiry to your credit score.

For the next few months, your credit score will be slightly lower. If you have too many hard inquiries, the damage can quickly add up. 

What is the Average Personal Loan Rate?

As of 2020, the average interest rate is 9.41% for personal loans. This rate will vary significantly based on your credit score, loan terms and lender. In general, personal loans have rates between 5% – 36%. 

Someone who has an excellent credit score can generally get a personal loan for 10.3% to 12.5%. If you have good credit, you will typically be offered an interest rate between 13.5% to 15.5%. Meanwhile, someone with average credit will get an average rate of 17.8% to 19.9%. 

Lenders are hesitant to lend to people with poor credit. Because of this, it may be difficult to get approved for a personal loan if your credit score is between 300 and 629. While there are some options — including guaranteed approval for those with bad credit — you may end up paying an interest rate above 30%. 

What is a Good Reason to Ask for a Personal Loan?

There are a variety of reasons why people end up getting personal loans. In most cases, people get a personal loan to make a large purchase. This could be the purchase of a tractor, land or a similar purchase. According to an Experian study, people generally got a personal loan for the following reasons. 

  • 28% of people wanted a personal loan to make a large purchase.
  • 26% of borrowers received a personal loan to help consolidate their debt.
  • 17% of loan recipients used their personal loan to make home improvements.
  • 9% of people planned on using their loans to refinance their existing debt.
  • 30% of borrowers used their loans for a different reason.

Debt consolidation and credit card refinancing are the most popular reasons why people apply for a personal loan. People also ask for personal loans so that they can pay for a wedding, medical expenses, a car, a home purchase or a vacation. In some cases, people also get a personal loan to help them cover the cost of moving or relocating to a new home. 

Technically, you can get a personal loan for any purpose. This unsecured loan does not carry restrictions on how you spend it once the money arrives in your account. Ultimately, the main limitations you face are whether a lender will approve your loan and your loan terms. 

What is the Largest Personal Loan I Can Get?

The majority of lenders offer personal loans for a maximum of $50,000 or less. There are a few lenders that give borrowers up to $100,000, but the borrower must have a high income and an excellent credit score.

In general, the individual needs to earn at least $150,000 per year to qualify for the largest personal loans. So in essence, the largest personal loan you can get is directly correlated to your income and of course, your credit score.

Does it Hurt Your Credit Score to Pay off a Loan Early?

Thankfully, paying off an installment early will not hurt your credit score. At the same time, paying it off early might not help your credit.

When the loan is open for its full term, the payments are viewed positively by credit scoring models. Each time you make a payment on time, it adds a small boost to your credit score. 

An installment loan affects your credit differently than a credit card. With an installment loan, you make a set number of scheduled payments over the course of your loan term.

When you pay off your personal loan, your account is closed. Paying off your installment loan early affects your credit score because you have one less account with a balance. In general, having one less account with a balance will boost your score slightly. 

Can You Spend a Personal Loan on Anything?

When you get a loan to buy a car or a house, there are restrictions on how you can use the loan.

With a personal loan, you generally do not have any limitations. Since this type of loan is unsecured, the lender does not require any collateral either. Once the money is in your account, you can use it however you want. 

All reviews, research, news and assessments of any kind on The Tokenist are compiled using a strict editorial review process by our editorial team. Neither our writers nor our editors receive direct compensation of any kind to publish information on TheTokenist.io. Our company, Tokenist Media LLC, is community supported and may receive a small commission when you purchase products or services through links on our website. Click here for a full list of our partners and an in-depth explanation on how we get paid.

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