Loans > Best Personal Loans

Best Personal Loans

Interest rates can vary widely when it comes to personal loans. Learn about the best rates here.

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Reviewed by
Updated November 12, 2020

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 tokenist.com. 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. This may influence how and where offers are located on this site. The Tokenist does not include all lenders or available loan offers in the marketplace. Click here for a full list of our partners and an in-depth explanation on how we get paid.

Are you looking for a personal loan?

If you just started searching, you might be overwhelmed by the sheer number of lenders out there promising a quick, easy loan application and fast funding.

Unfortunately, this is an area of banking that sometimes attracts shady operators. How do you know which lenders are legitimate? How do you know which ones best suit your personal circumstances, whether it’s a short work history, bruised credit or a need to consolidate your high-interest credit cards?

We compiled this list to answer all those questions. Our guide will help you pick the lender you can apply to with total confidence.

The coronavirus pandemic has added another reason you might be looking at a personal loan. As unemployment rises and the economy shows no sign of a quick resurgence, mortgage lenders have tightened their requirements for mortgages and refinancing.

If you were counting on getting a home equity loan (HELOC), you might find that avenue closed to you. The pandemic’s effects on the mortgage market are likely to continue for some time. In the meantime, personal loans are still available.

How’s Your Credit?

Since you’re not putting up any property, your credit history is of key interest to these lenders.

If you have good credit and a solid credit history, you’ll get the best terms and rates. The loans offered by SoFi or LightStream are probably right for you.

If your credit and income are good but you don’t have extensive work or credit history, you may qualify for an Upstart or Marcus loan.

If you’re new to credit or have damaged credit, you can still qualify for a personal loan. Getting a personal loan and making regular payments on time will help improve your credit score. You should look into Avant or LendingPoint.

Don’t let an abbreviated work history or credit that’s less than stellar stop you from applying for a loan. Without a doubt, there is a lender on our list who can help you get the money you need.

Top Personal Loans

After examining over 25 data points, we say the best personal loans are:

  1. SoFi
     Best for High-Income Borrowers with Good Credit
  2. Marcus by Goldman Sachs
    Best for Low Interest Rates and No Fees
  3. Lightstream
    Best for Flexible Terms
  4. Upstart
    Best for Borrowers with a Short Credit History
  5. Avant
    Best for Borrowers with Imperfect Credit
  6. LendingPoint
    Best for Borrowers with Bad Credit
  7. Payoff
    Best to Consolidate Credit Card Debt

Best Personal Loans

1. SoFi – Best for High-Income Borrowers with Good Credit

Sofi Logo
In case you have a high monthly income, SoFi offers fee-free personal loans.

Pros

  • With loans that go up to $100,00, SoFi offers bigger loans than any lender on our list.
  • SoFi charges no fees and has low interest rates.
  • You can suspend your payments for three months at a time if you lose your job. You can getup to 12 suspensions during the life of your loan.

Cons

  • Doesn’t offer small loans of under $5000.
  • You must have an excellent credit score, solid work history and high income.
  • Even borrowers with high income and good credit may not qualify without the right education and work backgrounds.
  • It can take several days to get your money.
Visit SoFi on SoFi’s website

SoFi offers the largest loans of anyone on our list, with loans from $5000 to more than $100,000.

SoFi has emerged as a leader in direct loans aimed at borrowers with high incomes, good credit scores and solid work history. It’s also the best option if you’re looking for a loan over $50,000, which is higher than the amounts offered by the other lenders on our list.

SoFi’s interest rates range from 5.99% to 19.95% depending on your credit history and other factors. You’ll get a discounted rate if you sign up for automatic payments.

With SoFi, you’ll enjoy a personal loan that has no fees, including no origination or application fees, no prepayment penalties, and low-interest rates.

Do You Qualify for a SoFi Loan?

Naturally, this type of premium lender is aimed at a premium borrower. In order to qualify, SoFi requests a minimum credit score of 690. In reality, the average SoFi borrower has a score of730.

SoFi doesn’t list income minimums, but it’s clearly a loan aimed at high earners. The average borrower has an income of at least $100,000.

SoFi includes not just credit score and income but work history to determine whether you qualify. The company believes a solid work history and educational background are just as important as credit history in determining your ability to pay back a loan.

If you fit this criteria, SoFi is an excellent option, especially if you’re looking for a larger loan amount. In addition to its lending platform, SoFi offers investment products as well.

How to Apply for a SoFi Loan

It’s easy to apply for a loan with this lender. Before you do, check whether you qualify with the free prequalifying tool on SoFi’s website. The prequalification pulls only a soft credit report and will let you know if you’re likely to land that loan.


2. Marcus by Goldman Sachs – Best for Low Interest Rates and No Fees

Marcus by Goldman Sachs logo
Marcus by Goldman Sachs is the best creditor if you seek low interest rates.

Pros

  • Get long repayment terms up to 72 months.
  • You’ll pay no fees of any kind.
  • You can choose your repayment date.
  • Once you’ve made 12 consecutive payments in full and on time, you can defer one monthly payment.

Cons

  • You need a good credit history and high credit score.
  • You can’t use a cosigner.
  • Marcus doesn’t accept joint applications.
Visit Marcus by Goldman Sachs on Marcus’ website

This Goldman Sachs-owned lender also offers loans that come with no fees of any kind. A Marcus loan involves no origination fee, no application fee, no late payment fee and no prepayment penalty.

If you’re a borrower with solid credit who doesn’t quite meet the criteria for a SoFi loan, you may be in luck with a Marcus loan. Here’s what you need to know about this lender.

Offers Highly Flexible Terms

One of the biggest benefits of Marcus is the long repayment terms on some loans. Stretching your payments out can be an excellent way to reduce your monthly payments.

Marcus also allows you to choose a monthly payment day that works for your schedule and budget. These factors make it one of the most flexible lenders on our list.

For instance, most of the other lenders offer $25,000 loans with four- and five-year repayment plans. At Marcus, you can borrow up to $40,000 and pay it back over six years. Marcus is an excellent choice if you need a larger loan but want to keep your monthly payments reasonably small.

Interest rates range from 6.99 to 19.99%. The lower rates are excellent for a personal loan, but the higher rate is on the upper end.

Do You Qualify for a Marcus Loan?

Qualification is simple and straightforward. Marcus asks that you be at least 18 (19 in Alabama, 21 in Mississippi and Puerto Rico), have a US bank account, a FICO credit score of at least 680 and a Social Security or tax ID number.

While Marcus offers a number of significant benefits, they won’t be available to everyone. The minimum FICO credit score that Marcus will consider is 680.

Marcus offers an excellent benefit for lenders who take out a debt consolidation loan. If you use the loan for debt consolidation, Marcus sends funds directly to creditors. This is a great way to ensure you’re actually using the loan for a debt payoff.

How to Apply for a Marcus Loan

Applying for a Marcus loan is easy. Start with a prequalification tool to get a sense of what your rates will be. This is a soft pull that won’t hurt your credit.

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


3. LightStream – Best for Flexible Terms

Lightstream Logo Banner
LightStream offers the most flexible terms for providing personal loans.

Pros

  • Fast funding allows some borrowers to receive their funds the same day they apply.
  • If you can provide proof of a loan offer that gives you a lower rate and the same terms, LightStream will beat it.
  • Flexible repayment terms.

Cons

  • LightStream doesn’t fund loans under $5000. If you want a smaller loan, we recommend Avant or Upstart.
  • This lender has tough qualification requirements.
Visit LightStream on LightStream’s website

LightStream is a division of SunTrust Bank. This lender is another good choice for borrowers who want flexibility, low rates and fast funding.

LightStream, like Marcus and SoFi, offers large loans. Buyers who qualify can get up to $100,000.

LightStream’s loans come with no fees, no prepayment penalties and interest rates that are competitive across the industry.

The company offers outstanding customer service backed by a guarantee that it will pay you $100 if you’re unhappy with any aspect of the lending process. You can also work with them to create flexible payment plans.

Do You Qualify for a LightStream Loan?

All of that must come with a catch, and it does. As detailed in our comprehensive LightStream review, the platform has one of the toughest qualification criteria of any lender on our list. Though the exact criteria varies, you are more likely to see approval if you have the following:

  • Good credit profile.
  • Substantial work history.
  • Good mix of credit types.
  • High income.
  • Low income-to-debt ratio.
  • Assets such as bonds, stocks or retirement accounts.

How to Apply for a LightStream Loan

Unlike the other lenders on our list, LightStream doesn’t have a prequalification. The platform does however have a number of tools available where you can calculate monthly payments and interest rates based on input you provide.

If you think you meet the company’s requirements, it’s worth applying. You will get a hard inquiry on your credit report.


4. Upstart – Best if You’re New to Credit

Upstart logo banner
Upstart gives large loans even if you have a fair credit score.

Pros

  • It’s an excellent choice for borrowers who want large loans but don’t qualify for LightStream or SoFi.
  • You may qualify with a score of only 600.
  • You can choose a three or five year repayment plan.

Cons

  • Borrowers with low credit scores could end up with the highest interest rates, which top out at 35.99%.
  • Payment plans are not as flexible as those of other lenders.
  • Potential for high origination fees, which could reach 8%.
Visit Upstart on Upstart’s website

Founded by Google employees, Upstart is an online lender that specializes in loans to people who have good income and good credit but don’t have an extensive credit history. Its use of alternative criteria has made Upstart a popular lender among people starting out in their careers.

Despite their use of alternative criteria, these are large loans with excellent interest rates. Rates start at 6.72% and borrowers can get up to 30,000.

With Upstart, you can select a payment plan of three or five years.

The flexible criteria and decent interest rates come with a catch. Upstart does charge origination fees. In fact, its maximum loan origination fee of 8% is the highest among lenders on our list. Though, this fee could be anywhere from 0% – 8%.

There are no application or prepayment penalties.

Do You Qualify for an Upstart Loan?

Although the lender lists 580 as its required credit score, most of its borrowers have scores over 600.

If you have a solid work history and education credentials that prove you can continue earning a good salary, you can qualify for an Upstart loan even with imperfect credit and a limited credit history. It’s an excellent “starter” loan for high earners who have difficulty getting loans from traditional lenders.

Keep in mind that legal requirements vary by state. If you live in Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Nebraska, New York, Nevada, Massachusetts, Maryland, Vermont, or West Virginia, you must have a minimum score of 620 to qualify for an Upstart loan.

How to Apply for an Upstart Loan

There is a simple, straightforward application on the Upstart website.


5. Avant – Best for Borrowers with Imperfect Credit

Avant.com Logo
Avant offers best personal loans for clients with a credit score that is fair or bad.

Pros

  • You can qualify with a credit score of 580.
  • Interest rates are lower than those offered by other lenders who specialize in poor or fair credit.
  • Avant offers small loans starting at $2000.

Cons

  • You’ll pay an origination fee of 4.75%.
  • Avant charges late fees and returned payment fees.

The top interest rate is 35.99%.

Visit Avant on Avant’s website

Avant is ideal for borrowers with less than stellar credit who don’t want to get ripped off by loan sharks. The average Avant borrower has a credit score of 580 to 600.

If you’re dealing with a dinged or damaged credit rating, you can still get a loan at a competitive interest rate through Avant. The lender specializes in alternative credit scoring and offers loans up to $35,000.

It’s also a good choice if you want a smaller loan. Avant’s loans start at $2000.

You know you’re going to get zapped on interest rates if your credit isn’t good, but Avant’s rates start at a surprisingly low 9.90%.

Avant offers fast funding. Borrowers who qualify can get their funds the next business day.

Do You Qualify for an Avant Loan?

You may qualify if you have a credit score of 580 or more. There are no income minimums, but you must have a debt-to-income ratio of no more than 40%. This is lower than the rate required by other lenders.

You’ll pay an origination fee of 4.75%. This comes out of your total funding, so if you need the full amount you’re asking for, take that into consideration when calculating how much money you want to borrow.

How to Apply for an Avant Loan

The application is slightly different for Avant. It’s a two-step process that lets you choose your options before you get a formal loan.

First, you fill out the prequalification form that asks basic questions about your income and credit. This results in a soft inquiry on your credit rating. The automated form then creates two or more loan options that match your criteria.

Once you select the loan and repayment plan you want, you must create an online Avant account before you can apply. This only takes a few minutes. You then fill out a full application. This final application will result in a hard credit inquiry.

Once your paperwork is done, you can get funding the next business day.


6. LendingPoint – Best for Borrowers with Bad Credit

LendingPoint Logo
In case you need a small loan but you have a bad credit score, Lending Point has you covered.

Pros

  • You can get a small loan of $2000.
  • You can apply with a 585 credit score and income of $35,000.
  • LendingPoint offers monthly or biweekly repayment options.
  • You can get funding the next business day.

Cons

  • LendingPoint does not accept cosigners or joint applications.
  • You’ll pay an origination fee.
  • Approval may not be instant.
Visit LendingPoint on LendingPoint’s website

This is an excellent choice for borrowers on the lower end of the income scale. You only need to prove income of $35,000 annually from any source.

It’s also a good choice for borrowers with fair or even bad credit who don’t want to pay usurious interest rates. LendingPoint’s rates range from 9.99% to 35.99%.

You may qualify for a loan up to $25,000 even with a credit score below 600. The company says it has even made loans to customers with scores as low as 300 who meet other criteria.

LendingPoint prides itself on a personal touch with customers. The company says, “We are casting a new light on credit and saying ‘yes’ more. You’re more than a credit score.”

LendingPoint has flexible payment options. Many low-income people find it easier to set up biweekly loan payments that coincide with their paychecks. LendingPoint gives you the choice to do that.

Do You Qualify for a LendingPoint Loan?

Since it’s flexible on credit ratings, how does LendingPoint makes its loan decisions? It checks a number of factors including:

  • Amount of credit card debt.
  • Work history.
  • Verifiable income.
  • Open bankruptcies.
  • Charge-offs, delinquencies or late payments in the past 12 months.
  • Debt-to-income ratio.

The downside to this assessment is that it can take time. Depending on your personal situation, LendingPoint may not give you an instant decision. Once you are approved, however, funding is fast. Borrowers typically get their money the next business day.

How to Apply for a Lending Point Loan

The process is similar to the two-step process Avant uses.

You begin with an initial prequalification assessment. This does not affect your credit score. If you have the minimum criteria necessary, you’ll get two or more loan and repayment options.

You then choose the one that appeals to you, fill out the application and wait for your loan to come through. The full application requires a hard inquiry.


7. Payoff – Best if You’re Trying to Consolidate Credit Card Debt

payoff logo
Payoff provides the best loans if you want to consolidate credit card debt.

Pros

  • You don’t need perfect credit to apply.
  • Payoff doesn’t charge late fees.
  • If you miss a payment, your representative will work with you to get back on track.
  • You might enjoy the Happy Money extras.

Cons

  • You can’t use the loan for anything besides debt consolidation.
  • Payoff does not accept cosigners or joint applications.
  • Payoff loans have a 5% origination fee.
Visit Payoff on Payoff’s website

As the name implies, this lender specializes in loans for consolidating and paying off high-interest credit card debt. In fact, you can’t use the money for anything else.

The company has some of the lowest interest rates of all the lenders on our list. Loans from Payoff have interest rates from 5.99 to 25.99.

Payoff stands out for its low fees. Although it charges an origination loan that can be up to 5% depending on your circumstances, it has eliminated fees for late payments and returned amounts. There is no prepayment penalty.

You can borrow from $5000 to $35,000.

Happy Money

Payoff is a division of Happy Money, which bills itself as a company dedicated to helping “borrowers turn into savers and leave the world of sad money behind.”

The company takes a psychology-based approach to money management. As part of the Happy Money philosophy, Payoff will send you personalized messages, information and tips to help you stay financially healthy.

Do You Qualify for a Payoff Loan?

Payoff lists pretty strict criteria for its loans, but you don’t need high income or perfect credit. You must have:

  • A credit score of 640 or higher.
  • Debt-to-income ratio under 50%.
  • Three years verifiable credit use.
  • Only one outstanding loan.
  • No delinquencies or charge-offs in the past 12 months.

How to Apply for a Payoff Loan

Like other lenders on this list, Payoff gives you the option to run a soft inquiry prequalification before you complete a full application.

The prequalification will show you what your payment options, loan amount and interest rate are likely to be. You can then decide if you want to apply. In case you seek more details on Payoff’s features, our in-depth Payoff review might provide you with useful insights.


What Exactly is a Personal Loan?

Also known as a signature loan, unsecured loan or installment loan, a personal loan doesn’t require you to put up any collateral. To get a secured loan, you must pledge your property, and the lender can take it if you fail to make payments. To get a personal loan, you need to show you have the income and credit history to be a good risk for the lender.

Why You Might Want a Personal Loan

These loans have some key benefits over secured loans. They’re typically straightforward, with fixed interest rates, fixed monthly payments and no hidden fees. You can use them for almost any purpose.

They’re also extremely easy to apply for. All the loans on our list have quick, low-documentation applications that you can complete entirely online. Only one of these lenders requires a phone call or in-person visit for certain borrowers.

Easy Application and Fast Funding

The application process doesn’t require complicated paperwork, and same-day decisions are the norm. In most cases, you can get funding the next business day.

Although these loans are sometimes advertised as wedding loans, vacation loans or home improvement loans, those are just marketing terms. You can actually use these loans for any purpose.

Choose the Right Personal Loan

Are you ready to apply for a personal loan? You will need your employment information, checking account information and other basic documentation. Once you select the right lender from our list, the process is simple.

Will a Personal Loan Help or Hurt My Credit?

A personal loan will have the same effect on your credit as any other type of loan. You will get a hard inquiry on the new credit category of your credit report. New credit accounts for 10% of your credit score. It will also go into your debt-to-income ratio, which makes up 30% of your score.

If you make consistent, on-time payments on your loan, you’ll see your credit score go up. Getting any type of loan and making regular payments on it is a good way to build or repair your credit.

What Are Some Alternatives to a Personal Loan?

Get a zero-interest credit card: If you can transfer all your credit card debt to a zero-interest card, that’s another option. Not everyone qualifies for this type of card, however, and you need to be sure the zero-interest time period is long enough for you.

Use your home: If you have a lot of equity in your home, a home equity line of credit (HELOC) is usually a lower-interest way to get the money you need. Note that the coronavirus pandemic has led to tight restrictions on mortgages and HELOCs. A mortgage lender is the best source of information on these loans.

Get a loan from friends or family members: This is usually the easiest way to get funds when you’re strapped. If you don’t want your money problems to ruin your relationship, make sure you set up a fully documented repayment plan.

Should I Get a Personal Loan to Pay Off My Credit Cards?

Many people use personal loans to pay off credit cards and other debts. It can be an excellent solution, with the following advantages:

  • Get a lower interest rate: If your credit cards have high interest rates, you can probably get a lower rate with a personal loan.
  • Have only one payment every month. Many people like having just one payment every month.
  • Get a set repayment schedule. It’s easier to manage one payment than to juggle many payment deadlines each month.

The bottom line is to be sure the personal loan isn’t saddling you with more unmanageable debt.

Can I Get a Personal Loan With Bad Credit?

You can get a personal loan with imperfect credit.

Your options will be more limited, but a bad credit score doesn’t mean you deserve a horrible loan. It doesn’t mean you should put yourself at the mercy of impossibly high interest rates and payments that never touch the principal. Our options for poor credit borrowers allow you to get the money you need with reasonable repayment terms.

Personal Loans FAQs

Here are some common questions about personal loans you might have. For specifics, contact the lenders directly.

Can Borrowers Get Loan Relief During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

Most of the lenders on this list acknowledge the temporary financial difficulty their customers might be experiencing because of COVID-19. If you have a loan with one of these lenders, you may qualify for temporary assistance.

Avant: The lender doesn’t specify what type of help it’s offering, but asks you to call 1-800-712-5407 if you’re having financial trouble related to COVID-19.

LendingPoint: Although LendingPoint does not have a specific coronavirus assistance plan, the lender encourages borrowers to call or email if they’re having trouble making payments.

LightStream: You can get one deferred payment during the life of your loan. You should contact the lender by phone or email.

Marcus: The lender offers assistance to borrowers affected by COVID-19. You must log onto your account to request a modification.

Payoff: This lender doesn’t have a specific plan for borrowers with coronavirus-related financial difficulties. If you are having difficulty, you should contact the lender online or by email.

SoFi: SoFi offers modifications to some borrowers who have outstanding loans. You must email or use the online chat feature to set up the payment modification.

Upstart: Upstart is letting qualified borrowers get up to two months of deferred payments. You must fill out a hardship assistance request on the lender’s website.

What Is a Good APR for a Personal Loan?

Because they’re unsecured, personal loans carry a higher risk for the lender. That’s why they tend to have slightly higher interest rates than secured loans.

According to Experian, the average personal loan carries an interest rate of 9.41%. The lenders in our list offer loans that range from 4% to 35% in interest rates.

What Is the Typical Repayment Plan for a Personal Loan?

Most installment loans have a repayment period of 24 to 60 months.

Many people will tell you to take out a loan for a shorter term in order to save on the interest payments. While it’s true that a faster payoff will save you money in the long term, it’s also true that only you know what you can afford to pay out each month.

Don’t agree to repayment terms that will put you in a financial hole each month. The most important thing is to protect your credit by making every payment in full and on time.

What Fees Will I Typically Pay When Getting a Personal Loan?

Some personal loans include a fee called an origination or administrative fee. This usually ranges from 1% to 8% of the amount you borrow. In addition, most lenders charge late payment fees and returned payment fees.

Is a Personal Loan Worth Getting?

Yes, it’s worth it to get a personal loan. A personal loan gives you the money you need on terms that are usually reasonable. The process is simple and straightforward, and you can typically get funding the next business day.

You might be facing months or years of monthly payments, but that’s probably better than the alternative. It’s better than missing out on a great opportunity, the perfect wedding or a needed home repair.

The right personal loan can give you cash when you most need it. The process is fast, simple and straightforward, and you can apply securely from your own computer. In the right circumstances, it can be an excellent option.

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 tokenist.com. 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. This may influence how and where offers are located on this site. The Tokenist does not include all lenders or available loan offers in the marketplace. Click here for a full list of our partners and an in-depth explanation on how we get paid.

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