Personal loans can be used for any number of reasons from debt consolidation to a home renovation.
Unlike secured loans like a mortgage or car loan, you can access funds without putting up your property or savings as collateral. There are all kinds of lenders offering unsecured loans these days.
Our Top Picks for Unsecured Loans
Some are traditional banks with brick and mortar branches, while others are solely located online. Lenders also sometimes differentiate their services based on credit type or what purpose borrowers plan to use the money for.
Regardless of whether you have excellent credit, average credit, or you’re looking for a bad credit loan, it’s entirely possible to find a lender to work with. Here are our top picks across a broad range of service types so you can find the best match for your needs.
Rather than serving as a direct lender, PersonalLoans.com pairs your loan application with a network of lenders who can look at your request and decide whether or not to send you an offer.
You can then choose which one you like best. When you sign the loan agreement, you’re actually signing it with the lender, not with PersonalLoans.com.
Since there are many different lenders in the network, interest rates can range greatly. You can borrow up to $35,000 and repayment terms last anywhere between 6 and 72 months. One benefit is that the minimum loan amount is just $500 so if you need a small, short-term loan, you may find the right fit here.
Read our full review of PersonalLoans.com
Prosper is an online lender that focuses on personal loans for borrowers with good credit. Unlike a traditional direct lender, it’s a peer-to-peer marketplace which may give their rates a competitive edge.
The process entails submitting your application information online and receiving loan rates and terms. Investors must then commit their funds to your specific loan request before you can receive any funds.
Eligible loan amounts range between $2,000 and $40,000 and you never need collateral for any of Prosper’s personal loans. You won’t be charged any fees until you receive your funds, at which point an origination fee will be deducted. This typically costs between 2.4% and 5% of your loan amount and depends on your credit rating.
Read our full review of Prosper
For a personal loan aimed specifically at consolidating high interest debt, consider using Payoff. It also simplifies the payment process by allowing you to make just one payment each month.
Loan amounts vary between $5,000 and $35,000, giving you quite a bit of flexibility.
What kind of eligibility requirements come with a Payoff loan?
You’ll need a minimum FICO credit score of 640 with at least three years of good credit. Your debt to income ratio should also be no more than 50%.
Payoff works with lenders who offer a range of fixed interest rates.
Read our full review of Payoff
With a focus on debt consolidation loans, you can also use Best Egg to fund major purchases. The loan minimum is quite lower than other online lenders, starting at just $2,000. At a maximum, you may qualify for funding up to $35,000.
An origination fee comes out of your loan funds and the exact amount depends on your credit score. On the low end, you could pay 0.99% of the loan amount and 5.99% on the high end.
You’ll need a minimum credit score of 640 and an extensive credit history. In fact, most of their borrowers have at least 10 years of credit. If you’re unsure of whether or not you meet these standards, you can submit the application with only having a soft pull performed on your credit report.
Read our full review of Best Egg
Another peer-to-peer lender, LendingClub has helped over 3 million customers borrow over $56 billion in loans.
You can use a personal loan to consolidate credit card debt, improve your home, or cover other major expenses. You may borrow as much as $40,000 and you can receive funds as soon as seven days from the time you complete your application.
A major bonus is that you can check your rate without having a hard check performed on your credit report. Borrowers who took out a loan to pay off credit cards or consolidate other debt on average reduced their interest rate by 24%.
Read our full review of LendingClub
Marcus by Goldman Sachs
Marcus by Goldman Sachs is an excellent option for borrowers with good credit who want low rates and flexible repayment terms. The bank’s personal loans can be used for any purpose, but they’re typically used for debt consolidation or home improvements.
One of the biggest benefits of taking out a loan through Marcus is that the bank doesn’t charge any hidden fees. There are no origination fees, prepayments fees, and the bank doesn’t even charge fees for missed payments.
Once you’re approved for a personal loan, Marcus lets you choose your monthly payment amount and loan term. This allows you to choose a repayment schedule that will fit within your budget. And Marcus even gives borrowers the option to change their due date up to three times over the life of the loan.
You will need to have excellent credit to qualify, and there’s no option to apply with a co-signer. But if you meet the lending requirements, Marcus by Goldman Sachs is one of the best personal loan options out there.
Read our full review of Marcus by Goldman Sachs
If your credit is less than perfect, consider Avant for your unsecured loan. You’ll notice higher interest rates, ranging between 9.95% and 35.99% APR but their approval guidelines are less strict.
Loan terms can last anywhere from 24 months to 60 months so you can get a shorter repayment plan compared to some other lenders. You can borrow anywhere between $2,000 and $35,000.
Like many other online platforms, they offer a quick and easy application process. Once you sign your contract, you can get your funds on the very next business day. Personal loans can be used for a variety of purposes, including debt consolidation, home improvement, and unexpected expenses.
Read our full review of Avant
SoFi is unique in that it doesn’t charge an origination fee, whereas most other online lenders charge anywhere between 1% and 6% of the total loan amount.It’s also a good option if you have excellent credit and need a higher amount of money because personal loans can range anywhere from $5,000 to $100,000.
A loan from SoFi could help you save thousands. With low interest rates and a fixed monthly payment, you can pay off high-interest credit card debt. You also get a 0.25% discount on your interest rate if you sign up for monthly autopay. It only takes minutes to apply.
Read our full review of SoFi
For a loan with a lower credit threshold, consider applying with OneMain.
You’ll need a credit score of just 550, although you can expect above-average APRs between 25.10% and 36%. The minimum loan amount is just $1,500 but you can borrow all the way up to $30,000 with a OneMain loan.
Unlike many lenders that operate solely online, they have a physical branch locations across the country. If you prefer in-person support for your financial decisions, you’ll appreciate their hands-on lending approach. In fact, you’ll need to complete a face to face meeting before finalizing your personal loan.
Additionally, you may be required to use collateral in order to qualify for a secured loan. Examples include vehicles, boats, campers, or RVs. You’ll need to have an appraisal completed in order to ensure the value is sufficient to cover the loan.
Read our full review of OneMain
Upstart offers personal loans for any number of purposes but boasts major savings if you want to consolidate debt or pay off your credit cards.
In fact, they say that their borrowers save 26% on interest rates compared to their credit cards. That can equal major savings over time. Upstart is an online lender that uses data beyond your credit score to evaluate your application.
They also look at your education, area of study, and your job history. You can see what interest rate you qualify for in under two minutes and get funded the next business day. Loan amounts are between $1,000 and $50,000.
Read our full review of Upstart
Should you get an unsecured loan for debt consolidation?
You probably noticed that many of the lenders we talked about debt consolidation loans to pay off credit cards or other debts.
When thinking about following the same path, there are a few major points to consider. First, make sure you’re actually going to save money when you consolidate your debt.
Interest Rates and Fees
The annual percentage rate (APR), which includes origination fees, should be less than what you currently pay. Also, compare the length of your repayment period. Credit cards are open-ended, but other loans have a term length.
Even if you get a better interest rate, how does the new repayment term stack up to the old one? Will you actually save money if you’re paying on the new loan for several years? The answer to that last question should be yes.
Affordable Monthly Payments
It’s also important to make sure you can afford your new monthly payments, especially if you’re switching from lower minimum payments on your credit card to a new loan.
The last thing you want to do is rack up heavy late fees and hurt your credit because the loan was too tight on your budget. Setting aside an emergency fund can help prevent this from happening.
If you’re short on cash one month because of something unexpected, you have a buffer to keep up with all of your financial obligations. Still, switching from credit card payments to a personal loan can be helpful.
It looks better on your credit report because it’s considered an installment loan rather than revolving credit that is open-ended. You might even see a slight rise in your credit score if you pay off credit card debt with a personal loan.
What do you need to apply for a personal loan?
Each lender has its own specific requirements when it comes time to apply for a personal loan. But you should be ready with some of the basics.
If you’re applying in person at a bank branch, you can simply make copies of everything. When applying for a personal loan online, you’ll need to scan your documents and upload them to the application platform.
Start by gathering your ID (like your driver’s license), social security number, one or two months of bank statements, last year’s tax returns, and proof of income (like a recent pay stub).
There might be other requirements; for example, most lenders have a minimum age of either 18 or 21. You’ll probably need to have had a steady income for the last two years, though some lenders may be more flexible on this requirement.
Email, Bank Account, and Credit Pull
Additionally, you’ll probably need a valid email address, especially when applying online. You’re also likely to need a bank account so that the lender can wire funds to you once you’ve been approved. Finally, just about every lender will pull your credit score.
If you have poor credit or no credit at all, it’s in your best interest to work on building your credit history before applying.
That way you’ll save money on interest and be able to borrow a larger amount of funds if you need to. If you’re in a time-sensitive situation for getting a personal loan, there are still lenders available willing to work with below-average credit scores.
Next Steps to Get Your Personal Loan
Once you’ve found a few lenders that seem like good matches, fill out their forms for their pre-approval process.
Remember, this only results in a soft pull on your credit history, so you don’t have to worry about multiple inquiries affecting your credit scores. After getting three or four offers, compare loan options, including fees, APR, and term length.
Use an online calculator to determine how much each loan will cost you over time. Also, consider how the new loan payment will affect your monthly budget and whether or not you can actually receive the funds by the time you need them.
These few steps should help you realize which option is the best one. At that point, you can complete the full application for the best fit and hopefully get your new funds soon!