You deserve the best in personal lending
Personal loans are among the most versatile credit products. You can use them for practically anything: financing a destination wedding, some much-needed home renovations and even to consolidate debt. But with so many lenders out there, finding the right one can be a real challenge.
When coming up with our list of the best personal loans, Bankrate’s team put over 30 lenders under the microscope. These included banks, credit unions, peer-to-peer lenders and more. We scored each one using a five-point scale that measures overall availability, affordability and customer experience. Our top picks not only had to rank highly across the board on each of these categories but also needed to offer bonus features to accommodate every budget and need. Here are the winners of the 2023 Bankrate Awards for best personal loans.
How we picked these lenders
- Bankrate gave the most weight to low APRs and best overall scores.
- We rated lenders on a five-point scale that considers credit requirements, fees, repayment terms, discounts, loan amounts, fast funding, fuss-free application and customer support.
- We chose lenders with a score of 4.5 and above that also featured additional tools and perks for different types of borrowers.
Best online lender
Upstart offers personal loans starting at $1,000. Instead of approving loans solely based on credit, the company takes into account other factors, such as your education and employment history. That means Upstart loans are ideal for just about anyone, regardless of their credit score.
Borrowers can get their funds within one business day and the application process is done entirely online. Upstart personal loans have a maximum cap of $50,000.
- Fast online application process and next-day funding
- Repayment terms of up to five years and low starting APR
- Flexible credit requirements means Upstart personal loans are great for a wide range of consumers
Best from a bank
PNC Bank offers borrowers the option to apply for a personal loan online or at one of the bank’s over 2,000 branches. Personal loans range from $1,000 to $35,000, with repayment terms between six months to five years. PNC Bank doesn’t require borrowers to have an account with them to apply for a personal loan, but those who do, get a 0.25 percent discount on their rate. Additionally, PNC doesn’t charge any application or origination fees and there isn’t a prepayment penalty.
- Both in-person and online support, something not all banks on this list offer
- Loyalty discounts and a wide range of repayment terms
- PNC Bank keeps fees to a minimum, only charging a late payment fee
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Best for debt consolidation
LightStream’s debt consolidation loans can be used to consolidate multiple types of debt, including credit card debt, auto loans, medical debt and personal loans from other lenders. What made LightStream our winner for best debt consolidation loan is its low APRs and Rate Beat Program. Under this program, LightStream will beat any competing offer by 0.1 percent. Besides that, LightStream has a zero fee policy and repayment terms up to 72 months for debt consolidation.
- Borrowers can consolidate different kinds of debt, not just credit card debt
- Low APRs, zero fee policy, autopay discount and Rate Beat Program all translate to bigger savings
- High loan caps and long repayment terms to fit any circumstance
Best for home improvement
LightStream’s home improvement loans start at $5,000, with a maximum cap of $100,000. This alone makes them a great option for all types of home improvement projects, from small bathroom upgrades to full kitchen remodels.
The lender also offers the widest range of repayment terms on this list, ranging from 24 months to 84 months. Aside from that, LightStream offers same-day funding, which can be a lifesaver in case of an emergency repair.
- Same-day approval and funding, ideal for emergency repairs
- Repayment terms of up to 12 years, allowing borrowers to comfortably take on larger projects
- No prepayment penalties, origination fees or late payment fees
Best for borrowers with excellent credit
LightStream’s personal loans range from $5,000 to $100,000, depending on the purpose. The lender has the lowest starting APR in our list, reserved for those with excellent credit. The application process is done completely online and borrowers can get approved on the spot.
Same-day funding is also available, in addition to a 0.5 percent rate discount for signing up for automatic payments. LightStream doesn’t charge any prepayment penalties, origination or late payment fees.
- Competitive APRs combined with a no-fee policy means loans are relatively low cost
- Speedy application process, with same-day approval and funding
- Flexible amounts and multiple repayment options means loans can be used for a variety of situations
Best for borrowers with good credit
SoFi’s personal loans feature low starting APRs, flexible amounts, fast funding and repayment terms of up to 72 months for those with credit scores of 680 and up. Borrowers can check their rate before they apply, without hurting their credit.
The company offers same-day funding to over 80 percent of its borrowers, a 0.25 percent rate discount for signing up for autopay and unemployment protection. Customer support is available seven days a week and there are no origination fees or prepayment penalties.
- Personal loans from $5,000 to $100,000, with competitive APRs and no origination fees or prepayment penalties
- Unique perks like unemployment protection, which temporarily modifies payments for those experiencing financial hardship
- The application process only takes a few minutes to complete, and borrowers can check their rate before applying, without hurting their credit
Best for borrowers with fair credit
Discover’s personal loans range from $2,500 to $35,000 and have repayment terms of up to seven years. Unlike other lenders, which may charge origination fees and prepayment penalties, Discover doesn’t charge any of these. That, combined with low starting interest rates, makes the company’s personal loans relatively affordable.
Discover also offers borrowers a 30-day money back guarantee. That means if a borrower gets a lower interest rate elsewhere or changes their mind about the loan, they have 30 days to cancel without getting charged. Eligibility requirements are pretty flexible, too. Borrowers just need to be U.S. citizens of at least 18 years of age, have a minimum credit score of 660 and an income of at least $25,000.
- Flexible repayment terms and credit requirements
- Minimal, low fees
- Next-day funding and 30-day money back guarantee
Best for borrowers with bad credit
PNC Bank’s low starting APR, wide range of repayment options and flexibility made it our top pick for those with credit scores below 600. The bank offers loan amounts ranging from $1,000 to $35,000 and terms ranging from six months to five years.
Although PNC does not disclose its minimum credit score requirement, it offers borrowers the option to add a co-applicant. This alone makes its personal loans more accessible and affordable to those with less-than-stellar credit.
- Offers a co-applicant option, which can improve loan eligibility and affordability to those with bad credit
- Borrowers with a PNC checking account can get a 0.25 rate discount for signing up for automatic payments
- Competitive APRs, no origination fees or prepayment penalties