Best personal loan rates for December 2021

As of December 06, 2021
Our guide to personal loans compares to the top lenders and compiles what you need to know to find the best loan for your situation.
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Answer a few questions to see which personal loans you pre-qualify for. The process is quick and easy, and it will not impact your credit score.

4.6

Bankrate Score
APR from

4.98%*

with AutoPay
Loan Amount

$5k- $100k*

Term: 2-7 yr*
Min. Credit

700

4.8

Bankrate Score
APR from

5.94- 35.97%

with AutoPay
Loan Amount

$1k- $50k

Term: 3-5 yr
Min. Credit

560

4.7

Bankrate Score
APR from

5.99%

3 or 5 year term
Loan Amount

$2k- $50k

Term: 3-5 yr
Min. Credit

660

4.6

Bankrate Score
APR from

4.99- 19.53%

with AutoPay
Loan Amount

$5k- $100k

Term: 2-7 yr
Min. Credit

680

4.5

Bankrate Score
APR from

5.99- 17.99%

Loan Amount

$500- $50k

Term: 1-5 yr
Min. Credit

700

4.6

Bankrate Score
APR from

5.99%

Loan Amount

$5k- $35k

Term: 2-5 yr
Min. Credit

600

4.8

Bankrate Score
APR from

6.99- 19.99%

Loan Amount

$4k- $40k

Term: 3-6 yr
Min. Credit

660

4.5

Bankrate Score
APR from

7.04- 35.89%

Loan Amount

$1k- $40k

Term: 3-5 yr
Min. Credit

600

4.6

Bankrate Score
APR from

7.95- 35.99%

Loan Amount

$2k- $40k

Term: 3-5 yr
Min. Credit

560

4.5

Bankrate Score
APR from

9.95- 35.99%

Loan Amount

$2k- $35k

Term: 2-5 yr
Min. Credit

550

4.6

Bankrate Score
APR from

5.75- 15.75%

with AutoPay
Loan Amount

$5k- $50k

Term: 3-5 yr
Min. Credit

680

APR from

7.99- 35.99%

Loan Amount

$1k- $35k

Term: 1-3 yr
Min. Credit

None

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The Bankrate guide to choosing the best personal loan

Why trust Bankrate?
 

At Bankrate, our mission is to empower you to make smarter financial decisions. We’ve been comparing and surveying financial institutions for more than 40 years to help you find the right products for your situation. Our award-winning editorial team follows strict guidelines to ensure the content is not influenced by advertisers. Additionally, our content is thoroughly reported and vigorously edited to ensure accuracy.

When shopping for a personal loan, compare APRs across multiple lenders to make sure you’re getting a competitive rate. Look for lenders that keep fees to a minimum and offer repayment terms that fit your needs. Loan details presented here are current as of the publication date. Check the lenders’ websites for more current information. The personal loan lenders listed here are selected based on factors such as APR, loan amounts, fees and credit requirements.

 

What is a personal loan?

Personal loans are short-term loans that consumers can receive from banks, credit unions or private lenders like online marketplace lenders and peer-to-peer lenders. The loan funds can be used for just about any purpose, such as paying off other debt, financing a home renovation or paying for family needs, like a wedding or adoption. 

A personal loan is repaid in monthly installments, similar to a car loan or home mortgage, with loan terms ranging from 24 months to 60 months or even longer. Personal loans are typically unsecured, meaning they are not backed by collateral such as a car, house or other assets. If you need cash fast, these loans are a good choice because the approval and funding process is often faster than that of a home equity line of credit, which lets you borrow funds as you need them rather than in a lump sum.

 
 

How to choose the best personal loan lender

It's always best to get quotes from a few lenders before applying for a personal loan so you can determine which has the best overall offerings for your situation. When comparing lenders, keep an eye on the following factors.

  1. Approval requirements. Every lender has its own threshold for approving potential borrowers, considering things like your income, credit score and debt-to-income ratio. If you have below-average credit, look for lenders that utilize other approval criteria; some will take into account things like your area of study or job history.

  2. Loan amounts. If you need a loan for something small, like a minor car repair, you'll look at different lenders than you would if you need to pay for tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills.

  3. Repayment options. A good personal loan lender usually offers multiple repayment terms so you can choose the one that makes the most sense for your situation. If you're borrowing a lot of money, you may want to look for a lender with long repayment terms to decrease your monthly payment. If you have a smaller loan, a shorter repayment term will cut back on the amount of interest you pay overall.

  4. Unique features. Keep an eye out for lenders with any unique perks (or restrictions). Be sure to check that any lender you're considering will allow you to use your loan for the purpose you're intending. Some, like Payoff, restrict their personal loans to specific uses, like debt consolidation.

  5. Customer service. It's also wise to investigate a company's customer service options, particularly if you prefer in-person service to online. If you need more information, you can always look up reviews about the company or check out its Better Business Bureau profile.

 

Best personal loan rates in December 2021

LENDER CURRENT APR RANGE LOAN TERM LOAN AMOUNT BEST FOR
SoFi 4.99%–19.53% (with autopay) 2 to 7 years $5,000–$100,000 Overall personal loan
LightStream 2.49%–19.99% (with autopay) 2 to 12 years $5,000–$100,000 Generous repayment terms
Avant 9.95%–35.99% 2 to 5 years $2,000–$35,000 People with bad credit
Marcus by Goldman Sachs 6.99%–19.99% (with autopay) 3 to 6 years $3,500–$40,000 Debt consolidation
Best Egg 5.99%–35.99% 3 to 5 years $2,000–$50,000 Low APRs
Upgrade 5.94%–35.97% (with autopay) 2 to 7 years $1,000–$50,000 Fast funding
Payoff 5.99%–24.99% 2 to 5 years $5,000–$40,000 Paying credit card debt
Upstart 5.31%–35.99% 3 or 5 years $1,000–$50,000 Little credit history
LendingClub 7.04%–35.89% 3 or 5 years $1,000–$40,000 Using a co-borrower
PenFed Starting at 5.99% 1 to 5 years $600–$50,000 Small loan amounts
TD Bank 6.99%–18.99% 3 to 5 years $2,000–$50,000 Few fees
PNC Bank Starting at 5.99% (with autopay) 6 months to 5 years $1,000–$35,000 In-person banking
 
 

Details: Best personal loan lenders in 2021

  • SoFi: Best overall personal loan
  • LightStream: Best personal loan for generous repayment terms
  • Avant: Best personal loan for people with bad credit
  • Marcus by Goldman Sachs: Best personal loan for debt consolidation
  • Best Egg: Best personal loan for low APRs
  • Upgrade: Best personal loan for fast funding
  • Payoff: Best personal loan for paying credit card debt
  • Upstart: Best personal loan for little credit history
  • LendingClub: Best personal loan for using a co-borrower
  • PenFed: Best personal loan for credit union members
  • TD Bank: Best personal loan for few fees
  • PNC Bank: Best personal loan for in-person banking

SoFi: Best overall personal loan

Why SoFi is the best overall for personal loans: SoFi has all the features you would expect in a top-quality lender, including a variety of loan amounts and repayment terms and zero fees. It also adds perks to help borrowers improve their financial stability and career.

Who this lender is best for: Qualified lenders or borrowers who plan to use a cosigner.

Impact on financial wellness: SoFi offers a wide range of benefits that go beyond just funding your personal loan, including an autopay discount and unemployment protection in case you lose your job and need to pause payments on your loan.

Special features: SoFi has customer support channels seven days a week. It also offers benefits to members such as financial education, estate planning and career coaches.

LENDER:
SoFi
BANKRATE RATING:
4.6 / 5.0
MIN. CREDIT SCORE:
680
EST. APR:
4.99%–19.53% (with autopay)
LOAN AMOUNT:
$5,000–$100,000
TERM LENGTHS:
2 to 7 years
MIN. ANNUAL INCOME:
$45,000
FEES:
None
ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS:
Not specified

LightStream: Best loans for generous repayment terms

Why LightStream is the best personal loan for generous repayment terms: Its loan terms range from two to seven years for most loans (and up to 12 years for loans for home improvement, swimming pools and solar energy systems), which means you can take longer to pay off your loan and benefit from lower monthly payments.

Who this lender is best for: People who have a strong demonstrated financial history and want a longer loan period for bigger projects. 

Impact on financial wellness: The longer repayment terms with set payments make it easier to manage a loan over time. 

Special features: LightStream lets borrowers choose when to receive the money, which can help you plan payments or align the loan with the start of the expense the loan is covering.
 
LENDER:
LightStream
BANKRATE RATING:
4.6 / 5.0
MIN. CREDIT SCORE:
Not specified
EST. APR:
2.49%–19.99% (with autopay)
LOAN AMOUNT:
$5,000–$100,000
TERM LENGTHS:
2 to 12 years
MIN. ANNUAL INCOME:
Not specified
FEES:
None
ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS:
Several years of credit history with multiple types of credit; Payment history with few delinquencies; Retirement savings, investments or other savings showing the ability to save money

Avant: Best loan for people with bad credit

Why Avant is the best personal loan for people with bad credit: Avant specializes in lending to people with fair or poor credit. Most of its customers have credit scores between 600 and 700.

Who this lender is best for: Anyone with poor credit, including people who need loans but haven’t had time to establish a strong credit history.

Impact on financial wellness: Avant has interest rates that are comparable with other lenders that offer services for lower credit scores, meaning people can qualify who might not find a loan elsewhere.

Special features: Avant claims it can deposit funds the day after the loan is approved.
 
LENDER:
Avant
BANKRATE RATING :
4.5 / 5.0
MIN. CREDIT SCORE:
580 FICO and 550 Vantage
EST. APR:
9.95%–35.99%
LOAN AMOUNT:
$2,000–$35,000
TERM LENGTHS:
2 to 5 years
MIN. ANNUAL INCOME:
Not specified
FEES:
Administration fee: up to 4.75%; Late fee: $25; Dishonored payment fee: $15
ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS:
70% debt-to-income ratio

Marcus by Goldman Sachs: Best loan for debt consolidation

Why Marcus by Goldman Sachs is the best personal loan for debt consolidation: Marcus specializes in debt consolidation loans with broad loan amounts and a relatively low APR cap of 19.99 percent. With a debt consolidation loan, you borrow money with one loan to pay off many smaller loans or credit cards that were charging much higher interest rates.

Who this lender is best for: People needing a debt consolidation loan or looking for customizable terms.

Impact on financial wellness: Marcus doesn’t have fees for people with good credit, and the ability to defer payment without interest helps if borrowers have an unexpected situation that makes a payment late.

Special features: Borrowers can choose from nine repayment plans to make the loan work for them.

LENDER:
Marcus by Goldman Sachs
BANKRATE RATING:
4.8 / 5.0
MIN. CREDIT SCORE:
660
EST. APR:
6.99%–19.99% (with autopay)
LOAN AMOUNT:
$3,500–$40,000
TERM LENGTHS:
3 to 6 years
MIN. ANNUAL INCOME:
Not specified
FEES:
None
ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS:
May require proof of income

Best Egg: Best for low APRs

Why Best Egg is the best personal loan for low APRs: Best Egg’s interest rates start as low as 4.99 percent APR for those with the best credit. At 35.99 percent, its rate cap is roughly 6 percentage points lower than that of some lenders profiled on this page.

Who this lender is best for: People who want to consolidate debt who have good credit or homeowners who want to use their home for a secured loan. 

Impact on financial wellness: Best Egg’s low APRs can make loans less expensive in the long run.

Special features: If you get a debt consolidation loan, Best Egg can do direct payment to your creditors to make debt consolidation easier.
 
LENDER:
Best Egg
BANKRATE RATING:
4.6 / 5.0
MIN. CREDIT SCORE:
640
EST. APR:
5.99%–35.99%
LOAN AMOUNT:
$2,000–$50,000
TERM LENGTHS:
3 to 5 years
MIN. ANNUAL INCOME:
$5,000
FEES:
Origination fee: 0.99% to 5.99%; Late fee: $15; Returned payment fee: $15
ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS:
40-65% minimum debt-to-income ratio

Upgrade: Best for fast funding

Why Upgrade is the best personal loan for fast funding: You can get your funds within one business day after approval with an Upgrade loan.

Who this lender is best for: People with fair or bad credit who need help improving credit or want to use a co-borrower for their loan.

Impact on financial wellness: Upgrade has co-borrower and secured options so people can get a loan that may help improve their credit. 

Special features: Upgrade can send funds directly to creditors with debt consolidation loans.

LENDER:
Upgrade
BANKRATE RATING:
4.8 / 5.0
MIN. CREDIT SCORE:
Not specified
EST. APR:
5.94%–35.97% (with autopay)
LOAN AMOUNT:
$1,000–$50,000
TERM LENGTHS:
2 to 7 years
MIN. ANNUAL INCOME:
Not specified
FEES:
Origination fee: 2.9% to 8%; Late fee: Up to $10; Returned check fee: $10
ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS:
At least two credit accounts; debt-to-income-ratio less than 75%

Payoff: Best loan for paying credit card debt

Why Payoff is the best personal loan for paying credit card debt: While the average rate for credit cards currently hovers around 16 percent, Payoff loans start at 5.99 percent, which could save borrowers money on interest and help them get out of debt faster.

Who this lender is best for: People who want to consolidate credit card debt.

Impact on financial wellness: Payoff’s low rates are likely to be lower than credit card rates, which means people may be able to pay off their debt faster and for less.

Special features: Payoff offers free monthly FICO updates and reports payments to the major credit bureaus to help people build credit.

LENDER:
Payoff
BANKRATE RATING:
4.5 / 5.0
MIN. CREDIT SCORE:
640
EST. APR:
5.99%–24.99%
LOAN AMOUNT:
$5,000–$40,000
TERM LENGTHS:
2 to 5 years
MIN. ANNUAL INCOME:
Not specified
FEES:
Origination fee: 0% to 5%
ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS:
Minimum three years of credit history; at least two open credit accounts; no bankruptcies within last two years; zero credit delinquencies

Upstart: Best loan for little credit history

Why Upstart is the best personal loan for little credit history: While Upstart has minimum credit score requirements, it evaluates more than just your credit score when you apply. The lender looks at your education, your job history and some credit score factors when determining your eligibility.

Who this lender is best for: Borrowers who don’t have credit history or good credit.

Impact on financial wellness: Because Upstart considers more than credit score when determining who to lend to, younger applicants and others with a short credit history can access loans when they need them.

Special features: Upstart lets borrowers change their payment date in some situations.

LENDER:
Upstart
BANKRATE RATING:
4.5 / 5.0
MIN. CREDIT SCORE:
No minimum credit score requirement
EST. APR:
5.31%–35.99%
LOAN AMOUNT:
$1,000–$50,000
TERM LENGTHS:
3 to 5 years
MIN. ANNUAL INCOME:
$12,000
FEES:
Late fee: greater of 5% of monthly amount past due or $15; Origination fee: up to 8%; Returned check fee: $15; One-time paper copies fee: $10
ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS:
None specified

LendingClub: Best loan for using a co-borrower

Why LendingClub is the best personal loan for using a co-borrower: If you’re struggling to find a lender that will let you borrow, you might need to enlist the help of a co-borrower. Not every lender offers the option to do this, but LendingClub lets you submit a joint application to help you qualify for a loan or get a better interest rate.

Who this lender is best for: People wanting to use a co-borrower or who want help building credit and managing their finances.

Impact on financial wellness: Being able to get help from a co-borrower can be a big advantage for people with low credit scores to improve their credit while likely paying lower interest rates.

Special features: This lender offers the ability to pay creditors directly with debt consolidation loans. Borrowers also have the option to change their payment date.

LENDER:
LendingClub
BANKRATE RATING:
4.3 / 5.0
MIN. CREDIT SCORE:
600
EST. APR:
7.04%–35.89%
LOAN AMOUNT:
$1,000–$40,000
TERM LENGTHS:
3 or 5 years
MIN. ANNUAL INCOME:
Not specified
FEES:
Origination fee: 3% to 6%; Late fee: 5% or $15
ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS:
None specified

PenFed: Best loan for small loan amounts

Why PenFed is the best personal loan for small loan amounts: You can get a PenFed personal loan for as little as $600, which is ideal if you don’t need a lot of cash and don’t want to incur much debt.

Who this lender is best for: People who only need a small loan or people who prioritize the customer experience. It may also be ideal for existing PenFed members who may be able to get more favorable rates with lower credit scores by maintaining a good relationship with the financial institution.

Impact on financial wellness: Being able to take out a smaller loan in only the amount you need can prevent excess interest fees while allowing you to cover needed finances.

Special features: Because PenFed is a credit union, it has opportunities for its members’ overall financial wellness. It also has seven-day customer service and a well-functioning mobile app to help customers keep track of their loans.

LENDER:
PenFed
MIN. CREDIT SCORE:
Not specified by the lender, but individuals report at least 600
EST. APR:
Starting at 5.99%
LOAN AMOUNT:
$600–$20,000
TERM LENGTHS:
1 to 5 years
MIN. ANNUAL INCOME:
Not specified
FEES:
Late fee: $29; Returned payment fee: $30
ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS:
Not specified

TD Bank: Best loan for few fees

Why TD Bank is the best personal loan for few fees: TD Bank charges only one fee: a late payment fee of 5 percent of the minimum payment due or $10, whichever is less. It doesn't have any origination fees, monthly fees, annual fees, prepayment fees or insufficient funds fees.

Who this lender is best for: People who live in the 15 states TD Bank serves who want fast loan payments and no fees as long as they pay on time.

Impact on financial wellness: No fees from the lender other than late fees means that people may find the overall loan costs to be less expensive, and the funds being paid the next business day means that urgent financial needs can be covered by a loan with a more favorable interest rate than other options.

Special features: TD Bank offers fast payment to you and the ability to change your payment date.
 
LENDER:
TD Bank
BANKRATE RATING:
4.9 / 5.0
MIN. CREDIT SCORE:
None
EST. APR:
6.99%–18.99%
LOAN AMOUNT:
$2,000–$50,000
TERM LENGTHS:
3 to 5 years
MIN. ANNUAL INCOME:
Not specified
FEES:
Late fee: 5% of minimum payment due or $10, whichever is less
ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS:
Not specified

PNC Bank: Best loan for in-person banking

Why PNC Bank is the best personal loan for in-person banking: Sometimes you just need to see someone face-to-face. PNC Bank has nearly 2,300 locations across 23 states and Washington, D.C., making it a good choice for people who prefer in-person banking.

Who this lender is best for: People who want in-person banks and people who have an existing relationship with PNC Bank, who can get a small percentage rate discount with autopay.

Impact on financial wellness: Talking to someone in-person can help people explore their options and have someone address their unique financial situation. In-person interaction can also provide opportunities for help with financial questions.

Special features: PNC Bank offers a small discount to existing customers and joint applications.

LENDER:
PNC Bank
BANKRATE RATING:
4.5 / 5.0
MIN. CREDIT SCORE:
Not specified
EST. APR:
Starting at 5.99% (with autopay)
LOAN AMOUNT:
$1,000–$35,000
TERM LENGTHS:
6 months to 5 years
MIN. ANNUAL INCOME:
Not specified
FEES:
Late fees vary
ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS:
Not specified
 

What are current personal loan interest rates?

Personal loan interest rates currently range from about 3 percent to 36 percent, depending on your credit score. As of September 8, 2021, the average personal loan interest rate is 10.46 percent. The better your credit score, the more likely you are to qualify for a personal loan with the lowest interest rate available. Compare personal loan offers to see what you are eligible for before applying for a personal loan.
 

Average personal loan interest rates by credit rating

Average personal loan interest rates range from 10.3 percent to 12.5 percent for “excellent” credit scores of 720 to 850, 13.5 percent to 15.5 percent for "good" credit scores of 690 to 719, 17.8 percent to 19.9 percent for "average" credit scores of 630 to 689 and 28.5 percent to 32.0 percent for “poor” credit scores of 300 to 629.
 
CREDIT BAND CREDIT SCORE RANGE AVERAGE PERSONAL LOAN INTEREST RATE
Excellent Credit 720–850 10.3%–12.5%
Good Credit 690–719 13.5%–15.5%
Average Credit 630–689 17.8%–19.9%
Bad Credit 300–629 28.5%–32.0%

Excellent-credit loans

Excellent-credit loans are loans that are geared toward borrowers with excellent credit, typically with credit scores between 720 and 850. Having such a high credit score can come with many benefits, including average APRs as low as 10.3 percent — though some lenders go even lower. If your credit score falls into this range, look for excellent-credit lenders with low advertised rates and few fees.
 

Good-credit loans

Good-credit loans offer competitive interest rates and generally low fees. You're considered to have good credit if you have a credit score between 690 and 719, and with such a high score, you may qualify for average APRs as low as 13.5 percent. However, if you have good credit and are interested in a personal loan, shop around; you may be able to qualify for an even lower interest rate.
 

Fair-credit loans

If you have a fair or average credit score, it can be hard to find a personal loan that offers reasonable rates and fees. If your credit score falls between 630 and 689, your credit score is average. While this is considered a less-than-stellar score, you still may be able to qualify for a personal loan with an average APR as low as 17.8 percent. This list of the best personal loans for fair credit features lenders that cater to people with scores in the mid-600s.
 

Bad-credit loans

You can get approved for a loan even with bad credit, although you won't qualify for the best APRs. If your credit score is between 300 and 629, the best interest rate available could be around 28.5 percent. However, a bad-credit loan, even one with a rate close to 30 percent, is a better financial option than a payday loan; to see what rates are available, compare offers from a few bad-credit lenders.
 

 

Pros and cons of personal loans

Pros:

  • One lump sum, usually with a fixed interest rate, which helps keep monthly payments on track.
  • Get money quickly, sometimes within as little as a day, depending on the lender you choose.
  • Many are unsecured loans, which means your home or car isn’t used to borrow money.
  • Interest rates are much lower than those of payday loans, which charge upward of 400 percent.
  • Unlike highly risky payday loans, personal loans give you a reasonable amount of time to repay the loan.

Cons:

  • APRs are generally higher than those of some secured loans.
  • If you have a low credit score, you might not qualify.
  • Some lenders charge fees, like origination, late and prepayment fees. The lower your credit score, the more likely you are to have a lender that charges more fees.
  • Some lenders don’t allow co-signers, which means you can only use your credit score and history to qualify.
  • You’re adding another bill to your monthly payments, which might stretch or even break your budget.
 
 

Types of personal loans and their uses

With the exception of loans from a few niche lenders, like Payoff, most personal loans can be used for any purpose. Personal loans come in a few common categories.

Debt consolidation

Debt consolidation is when you pay off several debts with a new personal loan, then pay off the personal loan through monthly payments. 

Who it’s best for: Personal loans for debt consolidation are best for people who have several high-interest debts, generally through credit cards. 

What to watch out for: Look carefully to make sure the debt will cost less in the long run. Don’t consolidate debt unless you can get a better interest rate, and check to make sure any fees don’t add costs to the loan.

When to get started: If you have several high-interest debts, generally through credit cards, and can qualify for a lower interest rate with a personal loan, you may want to consider it.

How to get started: Evaluate what debts to consolidate and how much money you could save on interest rates, then get quotes from debt consolidation lenders.

Emergency expenses

Unexpected expenses like a car repair or hospital bill can throw off your monthly budget, and a small personal loan can alleviate the immediate cost.

Who it’s best for: Anyone dealing with a large emergency expense who doesn’t have the option of rainy day savings or a payment plan to pay for it without putting it on a high-interest credit card.

What to watch out for: A loan will cost more because of interest rates, so it’s best to avoid getting a loan unless it is absolutely necessary. Look for the lowest APR you can qualify for, and don’t take out a large loan than you need. If possible, see if there are other options before getting a loan.

When to get started: If there’s an emergency and you need a significant amount of funds in a short time, get started as soon as you know that a personal loan is the best option for you. 

How to get started: Apply for loans with lenders that you qualify for, especially considering lenders with quick payments after you are approved so you can handle the emergency as soon as possible.

Home renovations

A personal loan may be a great way to pay for a large home renovation project and boost the equity in your home.

Who it’s best for: People who can make home renovations that will increase the home’s value and can make the payments on the loan without financial hardship.

What to watch out for: The goal is to increase your financial stability, so don’t get a loan with high APRs or fees that will outweigh possible benefits.

When to get started: Apply for a loan once you determine how much you need by getting estimates from contractors. You don’t want to apply for more or less than you need, so you should have a good idea of what to expect first.

How to get started: After you have project estimates, look for lenders that will offer you low APRs. 

Major purchases or events

Personal loans are often used to cover major expenses, such as a wedding or vacation.

Who it’s best for: Anyone who needs to make a large purchase.

What to watch out for: It’s not generally a good idea to take on a lot of debt, especially for something that only lasts for a short period of time. It’s better to save up or cut expenses than to be paying for something with added interest for years afterward.

When to get started: If you have determined that a personal loan is the best way to go, apply for the loan by the deadlines you would need for the major event or when you plan to make the large purchase.

How to get started: Shop around with different lenders to find the best option for what you have in mind for your purchase or event.
 
 
 

FAQs about personal loans

Next steps

If you decide that a personal loan is right for your situation, you would follow these steps:

  • Determine how much you need. Calculate how much money you need, and actor in any origination fees that may be deducted from your loan proceeds.

  • Check your credit score. The higher your credit score, the better APR you'll receive. Consider a co-signer if you have fair or bad credit for more favorable rates.

  • Get prequalified. This lets you check your rates with multiple lenders without hurting your credit score.

  • Compare rates and loan terms. Look at a variety of lenders, including banks, credit unions and online lenders to see which offers you the best deal.

  • Complete the application process. You’ll need to submit documents such as pay stubs, tax returns and personal identification.

By considering your loan options carefully, you can use personal loans to your advantage and avoid some of the potential financial pitfalls of taking on additional debt.