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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 offered by banks, credit unions, peer-to-peer lenders and online lenders — and can be used for a variety of purposes. In fact, the lenders are as varied as the ways you can use a personal loan.

To evaluate lenders, our editorial team uses a 13-point scale known as the Bankrate Score. This scoring model takes into account three key factors: availability, affordability and customer experience. Once the evaluation process concludes, lenders are then rated with a score from 1 to 5 — the latter being the highest.

Although Bankrate does receive compensation from some of the lenders we review, partnerships do not influence our opinion. Lenders’ 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 13 data points our team of experts research as part of the process.


  • States serviced.
  • Minimum and maximum loan amounts.
  • Funding times.
  • Prequalification tools.
  • Eligibility 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 application and origination fees.
  • Prepayment penalty.
  • 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.