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Personal loans lender review methodology

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At Bankrate we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation for .

Personal loans are installment loans that can be used for almost any purpose. These are offered by banks, credit unions, peer-to-peer lenders and online lenders. Because lenders are as varied as the ways you can use a personal loan, choosing the right lender can sometimes feel like a tall order.

To help borrowers narrow down their choices, the Bankrate team has crafted a meticulous methodology that allows us to determine which lenders have the best loan offers in the market.

How does Bankrate evaluate personal loan lenders?

To evaluate lenders, our editorial team uses a 20-point scale known as the Bankrate Score. This scoring model takes into account four key factors: availability, affordability, customer experience and transparency. 

How does Bankrate assign lender stars?

Once our team of experts finishes collecting information regarding the four main factors in our scoring model, lenders are then rated with a score from one to five — the latter being the highest. For instance, the lower the APR range, the higher that lender will score, whereas, the higher the APR range, the lower it will rank.

Although Bankrate does receive compensation from some of the lenders we review, partnerships do not influence our opinion. Lender scores are solely based on hard data and expert analysis. Our goal is to provide transparent ratings so you can find the right lender for your needs.

Here’s a closer look at the Bankrate personal loan methodology and each of the data points our team evaluates as part of the process.


  • Minimum and maximum loan amounts.
  • Approval and funding times.
  • Number of repayment terms offered.
  • Flexibility to apply with a coborrower or cosigner.
  • Minimum income and credit score requirements.

Why we consider this

A lender's availability helps us to determine its ability to service borrowers with a wide range of different credit profiles and needs. These factors also allow us to identify who its products may be best suited for.


  • APR ranges.
  • Loan fees.
  • Prepayment penalties.
  • Flexible repayment dates or grace periods.
  • Exclusive rewards and discounts.

Why we consider this

Affordability factors help us determine how competitive a lender’s products are within the market. We consider more than just the interest rate to give a full picture of what borrowers can expect to pay overall.

Customer Experience

  • Application process.
  • Online account management and features.
  • Mobile app availability.
  • Customer support options and service hours.

Why we consider this

Customer experience factors help us determine the simplicity — or lack thereof — of the different stages of the lending process. This is in addition to the lender’s ability to service borrowers in a timely manner.


  • Advertised credit requirements, interest rates and fees.
  • Prequalification.

Why we consider this

Borrowers should have a clear understanding of whether or not they may qualify for the lender's advertised products, in addition to how much it's going to cost them, to make a smart and informed decision.