What are personal loans?
A personal loan is a lump-sum lent out to borrowers for almost any purpose.
Where to get one: You can get a personal loan from several different types of financial institutions, including banks, credit unions and online lenders.
Interest rates: Personal loan interest rates will vary based on your credit score, but rates generally range from 4.99%-35.99%.
Repayment: The typical personal loan is repaid in monthly installments over an agreed-on period of time.
No collateral: Personal loans are typically unsecured, meaning they aren’t backed by collateral (homes, cars or other types of property).
Why do people take out personal loans?
Some of the most common reasons for considering a personal loan are:
- Debt consolidation (credit cards, retail cards, medical bills and more)
- Home improvement
- Moving expenses
- Funding major purchases, such as weddings or vacations
Even if these reasons don’t apply to you, you may still benefit from a personal loan. Bankrate’s personal loans marketplace can help you find the best loan and the best lender for your situation.
How to shop for a personal loan with Bankrate
- Go to the box at the top left of this page, which is marked Your info and Loan info.
- Enter your ZIP Code, the range of your credit score and your annual income.
- Enter the purpose of the loan and the amount you want to borrow.
- After you've compared potential lenders and APRs, click on Offer details to see more information about your offer, including repayment term and interest type.
- Click the APPLY NOW button to start your easy online application.
CHECK YOUR CREDIT SCORE FOR FREE: Sign up for Bankrate to get a free credit report, plus access to other helpful financial tools and resources.
Pros and cons of personal loans
Know the advantages and disadvantages of a personal loan, which include:
- The convenience of receiving the money upfront in a lump sum
- You can get the money quickly — in as little as one day, depending on the lender
- They’re easier to apply for than mortgages or personal lines of credit
- You’ll likely pay a higher APR with an unsecured loan
- A low credit score can make it more difficult to get the lowest available APR
- You may have to pay an origination fee to process the loan
Frequently asked questions about personal loans:
What is APR?
APR stands for Annual Percentage Rate. APR refers to the extra amount borrowers pay in interest and fees on an annual basis. Lenders calculate APR on a yearly basis, but borrowers are most often responsible for paying APR on a monthly basis.
For more detail on how APR can affect your monthly payments, check out our loan calculator.
What's the difference between a secured and unsecured loan?
A secured loan is backed by a piece of the borrower's property, (like your car, home, or stock investments) known as collateral. If the borrower defaults on the loan, they risk losing their collateral to the lender.
Unsecured loans do not require collateral. Lenders make offers based on a borrower's credit score and credit history.
What's a repayment term?
A repayment term refers to the length of time borrowers have to repay their loan. A personal loan's repayment term can vary between one and ten years, depending on the lender.
How does my credit score affect my offer?
Because personal loans are often unsecured, they may come with higher APRs. With unsecured loans, lenders tend to pay extra attention to a borrower's credit score.
The lower a borrower's credit score is, the more they'll have to pay in APR. Lower credit scores can lead to APRs in the double digits.
Loan rates differ by lender, but often opting for a secured loan can help lower APR, even for someone with bad credit. In some cases, secured loans can offer up to 8% less in APR than unsecured loans.
What’s the difference between fixed-rate and variable interest?
Depending on the loan and the lender, you may have a choice between fixed rate (which stays the same over the life of the loan) or variable (which can rise or fall depending on changes in the market).
The interest on a variable rate loan often starts low but may increase over time. The terms of the loan agreement will specify how often the lender is allowed to raise the interest rate, and some loans cap the maximum rate at a certain percentage. By contrast, the payments and interest charges on a fixed-rate loan will remain the same.
Base your decision on whether you prefer the stability of a fixed rate or the possibility of saving on interest with a variable rate.
COMPARE PERSONAL LOAN RATES: Enter your information in the Your info/Loan info box at the top of the page to see offers from Bankrate lending partners.