9 of the best personal loans in 2020

These are some of the best personal loan lenders in 2020. (iStock)

If you're running behind on your monthly payments and you need money fast, taking out a personal loan can often give you access to the fast funding you need. Fortunately, there are plenty of personal loan lenders you can choose from, each with their own term lengths and eligibility requirements.

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Don't worry about having to navigate personal loan options on your own. Credible can help compare personal loan companies (and hopefully land you some of the lowest rates for what you're looking for). Below is a list of some of the best personal loan companies that are likely to ensure customer satisfaction, according to Credible’s financial experts.

Axos Bank

Axos Bank offers personal loan options for debt consolidation, home improvement, and other purposes. Borrowers in all 50 states can gain access to up to $35,000 in little as two days after accepting the bank’s final loan offer and pay it back with no pre-payment penalty.

The biggest downside to Axos is that their qualifying requirements may be tough for potential borrowers to meet. Their minimum credit score requirement is relatively high at 740 and they have chosen not to make their minimum income requirements public.

During the application process, a soft credit pull is required. For those who do qualify, Axos offers loan terms of up to five years.

  • Loan amount: $5,000 -$35,000
  • Loan terms (years): 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
  • Discounts: None 
  • Time to get funds: Within 2 days of accepting their final loan offer

Compare loans provided by Axos Bank and other online lenders through Credible today.

THE BIGGEST MISTAKE TO AVOID WHEN TAKING OUT A PERSONAL LOAN

LightStream

Available in all states except for Rhode Island and Vermont, Light Stream offers personal loans for credit card refinancing, debt consolidation, and home improvement. Its biggest benefits are that they offer the potential for fast access to funds with no hidden fees. They offer some of the lowest interest rates on the list.

The only real disadvantage to Lightstream is they have not made their minimum income requirement public, which makes it hard to know for sure if you’re a good candidate.

Applying for a loan with LightStream does not require a soft credit pull. However, since the company does have a minimum credit score requirement of 660, these loans may not be an option for everyone.

  • Loan amount: $5,000 - $100,000
  • Loan terms (years): 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 (up to 12 for home improvements)
  • Discounts: Available for those who set up autopay
  • Time to get funds: As soon as the same business day

Compare loans provided by LightStream and other online lenders through Credible today.

5 DIFFERENT TYPES OF PERSONAL LOANS YOU SHOULD CONSIDER

Marcus

One of the best things about Marcus personal loans is that they make their qualifying requirements crystal clear. With a minimum income requirement of $30,000 and a minimum credit score requirement of 680, borrowers with excellent credit are the best fit for these loans. Additionally, there is no origination fee for those who qualify.

However, with a processing time of at least five days, getting your money may take a little bit longer than with some other providers on the list. Potential borrowers also need to know that Marcus does not offer opportunities for discounts.

Marcus offers personal loans for credit card refinancing, debt consolidation, and home improvement purposes. They’re available in every state besides Maryland.

  • Loan amount: $3,500 - $40,000
  • Loan terms (years): 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
  • Discounts: None
  • Time to get funds: Many Marcus customers receive funds in as little as five days

Compare loans provided by Marcus and other online lenders through Credible today.

DO'S AND DON'TS OF REPAYING YOUR PERSONAL LOAN EARLY

Payoff

Those looking to use a personal loan for credit card or debt consolidation may want to consider Payoff. They offer loans up to $35,000 with no minimum income requirement and have a minimum credit score of only 640, making them a decent option for those with bad credit.

Unfortunately, Payoff is only available in certain states. As of the time of publishing, Payoff is not available in Massachusetts, Maryland, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, or West Virginia.

If you do live in an eligible state, keep in mind that applying for one of these loans will require a soft credit pull and you will have to pay an origination fee to close on the loan.

  • Loan amount: $5,000 - $35,000  
  • Loan terms (years): 2, 3, 4, 5 
  • Discounts: None
  • Time to get funds: As soon as 2 - 5 business days after verification

Compare loans provided by Payoff and other online lenders through Credible today.

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT A PERSONAL LOAN

Prosper

Prosper offers personal loans for a variety of purposes, including auto loans, small business expenses, debt consolidation, and home improvement. The company’s biggest advantages are that they don’t have a minimum income requirement and their minimum credit requirement is only 640.

The downside to Prosper is that taking out one of their loans does come with an origination fee and they don’t offer any potential for discounts.

Loans from Prosper currently aren’t available in Iowa, North Dakota, or West Virginia. Applying does require a soft credit check and closing on the loan does include paying an origination fee.

  • Loan amount: $2,000 - $40,000
  • Loan terms (years): 3, 5
  • Discounts: None
  • Time to get funds: On average, within 5 days of accepting your offer

Compare loans provided by Prosper and other online lenders through Credible today.

HOW TO FIND THE BEST PERSONAL LOAN FOR YOUR NEEDS

SoFi

Available to cover your personal, family, and household needs, a SoFi personal loan comes with the potential for affordable interest rates. The company also offers a discount if you set up autopay. They’re currently available in every state, except for Mississippi.

Be aware that since SoFi has chosen not to disclose their minimum income or credit requirements, it’s nearly impossible to know whether you’re a good candidate before you apply. Your best bet is probably to get in touch with their customer service team, which you can do by phone or email.

Applying for a SoFi personal loan does require a soft credit check, but on the plus side, you won’t have to pay an origination fee if you’re approved.

  • Loan amount: $5,000 - $100,000 
  • Loan terms (years): 2, 3, 4. 5, 6, 7
  • Discounts: Available for autopay
  • Time to get funds: 3 business days

Compare loans provided by SoFi and other online lenders through Credible today.

CAN YOU GET A PERSONAL LOAN WITHOUT A CREDIT CHECK?

Upgrade

With a minimum credit score of just 600, Upgrade is a solid option for those with less-than-perfect credit who are in need of credit card refinancing, debt consolidation, or home improvement help. Though their rates are a bit higher, they do offer a discount for setting up autopay,

Upgrade does not disclose its minimum income requirement and their loans are not currently available in Connecticut, Colorado, Iowa, Maryland, Vermont, or West Virginia.

HOW PERSONAL LOANS AFFECT CREDIT SCORES

Closing on a personal loan with Upgrade does come with an origination fee.

  • Loan amount: $1,000 - $35,000 ($3,005 minimum in Georgia, $6,005 minimum in Massachusetts) 
  • Loan terms (years): 3, 5  
  • Discounts: Available for autopay
  • Time to get funds: Within a day of clearing necessary verifications

Compare loans provided by Upgrade and other online lenders through Credible today.

Avant

Avant is also a good choice for those who want to know the qualifying requirements before they apply for a loan. With a minimum income requirement of $24,000 and a minimum credit score that ranges from 580 - 680, Avant makes sure to put all their cards on the table. Besides transparency, one of the best things about this company is that they have a quick turnaround time, allowing you to access the money as soon as the next business day.

That said, Advant does charge an origination fee when you take out a loan with them and, as of right now, their financing is only available in certain states. Currently, you cannot get a loan from Avant if you live in Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Louisiana, Nevada, New York, South Carolina, Vermont, or West Virginia.

Advant’s interest rates are higher than some of their competitors, However, they do offer the opportunity to access a discounted rate if you set up autopay.

  • Loan amount: $2,000 - $35,000
  • Loan terms: 2, 3, 4, 5
  • Discounts: Autopay
  • Time to get funds: As soon as the next business day, if approved by 4:30 PM CT on a weekday

Upstart

With a minimum income requirement of just $12,000 and a minimum credit score of 600 (in most states), Upstart is likely going to be a solid option for lower-income borrowers. They also offer more flexibility of use since their loans can be used for educational or relocation purposes in addition to debt consolidation and large purchases.

Unfortunately, Upstart does not offer their borrowers any opportunity for discounts and their loans are currently available in Iowa or West Virginia. Notably, Upstart also charges an origination fee.

  • Loan amount: $1,000 - $50,000
  • Loan terms: 3, 4, 5
  • Discounts: None 
  • Time to get funds: 1-3 business days

The bottom line

If you’re in the market for a personal loan, remember that it’s important to compare your loan options from multiple lenders. Generally, you’ll want to choose the loan with the lowest loan interest rate, but you’ll also need to make sure that the fee structure and available loan terms work for you. Fortunately, Credible’s personal loan marketplace makes it easy to shop around for a loan from the comfort of your own home.

While you’re weighing your options, it may be helpful to use a personal loan calculator to get a better idea of the costs of taking out a loan. If you still need more options to consider, Credible also compared loans provided by Discover, Earnest, HSBC, Laurel Road, One Main Financial, Pen Fed Credit Union, PNC, and Rocket Loans.

FAQ about personal loans

What should you use a personal loan for?

Personal loans are the fastest-growing type of consumer debt. The most popular reason to get a personal loan is debt consolidation, but it can be used for everything from unexpected expenses to college tuition or home improvement.

Here are some different types of personal loans you should consider — like debt consolidation loans or secured loans.

Where is the best place to get a personal loan?

Banks and credit unions are popular places for acquiring a loan, but you can also find fast funding from online lenders. Credible can find you the lowest rates, term lengths, and estimated monthly payments within just minutes.

How do you apply for a personal loan?

The first step is to check your credit history to get an idea of the credit score you’re working with (you want to aim for a FICO score of at least 670). You can still get approved for a personal loan with bad credit, but the higher the better.

The second step is to shop around for the best interest rate. Credible can help you compare loan rates across many financial institutions within a few minutes.

Here are seven steps you need to take as you apply for a personal loan.

What are the terms of a personal loan?

Loan amounts, rates, lengths, and fees vary, depending on the lender as well as your personal credit score. Most loans range from $1,000 to $50,000, although some lenders will give as much as $100,000 to consumers with excellent credit.

Lender annual interest rates can range from 5 percent to 36 percent. Borrowers with higher credit scores generally receive lower interest rates. Some lenders will charge an origination fee to process the loan. This can range from one to eight percent of the amount of the loan. And most personal loans can be taken for a term of 12 to 60 months.

Be sure to consider all of the costs and terms before committing to a loan and how they fit with your budget. If you want to pay off the loan before the end of the term, make sure the lender doesn’t charge a prepayment penalty. If you need further guidance, contact a financial advisor to discuss your options when it comes to borrowing money.

What interest rates should you expect?

Personal loan interest rates can vary greatly depending on the type of personal loan you're looking for — as well as your credit score and the repayment term you're considering.

The personal loan lenders highlighted by Credible offer rates ranging from 3.99 percent to 35.99 percent APR.

How do you find the best personal loan rates?

Opting for a low-interest personal loan will give you access to the money you need at the lowest cost to you. Here are five things you can do to get the best personal loan rates.

  1. Shop and compare offers
  2. Get a secured loan
  3. Select a short-term loan
  4. Check your credit score
  5. Get a co-signer with a good credit score

How does a personal loan affect your credit score?

Here are the positive impacts a personal loan can have on your credit score:

  • Building your credit card payment history
  • Contributing to a better credit mix
  • Lowering your credit utilization ratio

Here are the negative impacts a personal loan can have on your credit score:

    • It creates a hard inquiry on your credit report
    • It can create more debt
    • There are additional fees

    There are other steps you can take when it comes to improving your credit or FICO scores, however. Becoming an authorized user, getting a secured card, making your monthly payments on time, and asking for a higher credit limit are just a few options you have.

    Stephanie Vozza and Lauren Bowling contributed to this report.