16 of the best personal loans in 2021

These are some of the best personal loan lenders in 2021. (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.

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.

  1. Avant
  2. Axos Bank
  3. Best Egg
  4. Discover
  5. FreedomPlus
  6. LendingClub
  7. LendingPoint
  8. Lightstream
  9. Marcus
  10. OneMain Financial
  11. Payoff
  12. PenFed Credit Union
  13. Prosper
  14. SoFi
  15. Upgrade
  16. Upstart

1. 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 of 580, 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, Nevada, New York, Vermont, or West Virginia.

Avant’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 (years): 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

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

TOP REASONS TO GET A PERSONAL LOAN

2. 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 as soon as the next business day 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: Next business day

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

THE BIGGEST MISTAKE TO AVOID WHEN TAKING OUT A PERSONAL LOAN

3. Best Egg

Those looking for personal loans for fair credit should look no further than Best Egg. The company advertises a minimum credit score of just 600, which is far lower than some of their competitors. In addition, the company does not have any minimum income requirements, which means that it's also a good match for those who have less disposable income.

Best Egg is currently available in 47 states across the nation. They do not currently operate in the District of Columbia, Iowa, Vermont, and West Virginia. Their personal loans can be used for a variety of loan purposes, including refinancing credit card debt, debt consolidation, and home improvement.

However, be aware that you might pay a little more when borrowing from Best Egg than you might with another lender. They’re currently advertising personal loan interest rates that range from 5.99% to 29.99%, which may get costly depending on your credit history. Plus, their loans do come with an origination fee.

  • Loan amount: $5,000 - $50,000
  • Loan terms (years): 3, 5
  • Discounts: None 
  • Time to get funds: 1-3 business days after successful verification 

Visit Credible to use their personal loan calculator and to find the best personal loan rates.

HOW TO FIND THE BEST PERSONAL LOAN FOR YOUR NEEDS

4. Discover

If you’re in the market for a smaller personal loan, Discover might be your match. Though this loan company doesn’t offer as big of balances as some of the other lenders on this list, their loan terms are pretty favorable. For one thing, their loans are available in all 50 states and they come without any fees as long as you continue to make your monthly payments on time.

To qualify for a Discover loan, you must have a minimum credit score of 660 and submit to a soft credit check. However, once you’ve received your loan approval, you can use the funds for just about any loan purpose. In addition to offering debt consolidation loans and home improvement loans, Discover also offers loans for things like tax payments, weddings, and medical expenses.

  • Loan amount: $2,500 - $35,000
  • Loan terms (years): 3, 4, 5, 6, 7
  • Discounts: None 
  • Time to get funds: Loan funds can be distributed as soon as the next business day after acceptance 

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

DO THESE 5 THINGS BEFORE CHOOSING A PERSONAL LOAN LENDER

5. FreedomPlus

Though they have chosen not to make their minimum credit score requirements public, FreedomPlus is known as being one of the best lenders available for those with poor credit. Unlike some other lenders, they only require a soft credit inquiry, which means that you have the potential to borrow money without affecting your credit score any further.

Unfortunately, FreedomPlus has a more limited service area. They are not currently available in Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kansas, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin, or Wyoming.

  • Loan amount: $7,500 - $40,000
  • Loan terms (years): 2, 3, 4, 5
  • Discounts: Does not disclose
  • Time to get funds: As soon as 2 business days

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

HOW TO BOOST YOUR CHANCE OF GETTING PERSONAL LOAN APPROVAL

6. LendingClub

Available in every state except Iowa, LendingClub is the place to go to get loans to consolidate debt. Though their personal loans do come with an origination fee, there is no minimum income requirement and their minimum credit score requirement is only 600, which makes it a good fit for those with fair credit scores.

That said, be aware that borrowing from LendingClub does come with rates and fees. In particular, if you take out a loan with this lender, you will be faced with an origination fee, which will add to the total cost.

  • Loan amount: $1,000 - $40,000
  • Loan terms (years): 3, 5
  • Discounts: None
  • Time to get funds: About 3 days 

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

HOW PERSONAL LOANS AFFECT CREDIT SCORES

7. LendingPoint

If you’re in the market for loans for bad credit, turn to LendingPoint. At just 580, their minimum credit score requirement is one of the lowest on the list. Additionally, you can use their personal loans for just about any expense, including home improvement, consolidating debt, relocating, or making a big purchase.

The downside of LendingPoint is that they do have a minimum income requirement of $20,000 and they’re not available everywhere. LendingPoint does not currently operate in Colorado, Massachusetts, Maryland, Nevada, New York, Vermont, West Virginia, or Wyoming.

  • Loan amount: $2,000 - $25,000
  • Loan terms (years): 2, 3, 4, 5
  • Discounts: Autopay
  • Time to get funds: As soon as the next business day

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

YOU CAN GET A LOAN WITH BAD CREDIT — BUT BEWARE OF THESE RISKS

8. 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: 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

9. 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 660, borrowers with good 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. But, they do offer an autopay discount and are available in all 50 states.

Marcus offers personal loans for credit card refinancing, debt consolidation, and home improvement purposes.

  • Loan amount: $3,500 - $40,000
  • Loan terms (years): 3, 4, 5, 6
  • Discounts: Autopay
  • Time to get funds: Many Marcus customers receive funds in as little as 5 days

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

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

10. OneMain Financial

Those who need a loan without a minimum credit score requirement should turn to OneMain Financial. Notably, however, the company does still do a soft credit inquiry and the loan company does not disclose whether there is a minimum income requirement.

Potential borrowers should also be aware that OneMain Financial does not offer the lowest rates around. With an advertised APR range falling between 18.00% and 35.99%, it will likely be possible to find a lower interest rate elsewhere. In addition, in order to be considered eligible for a personal loan, you must be able to present a government-issued ID.

  • Loan amount: $1,500 - $20,000
  • Loan terms (years): 2, 3, 4, 5
  • Discounts: None
  • Time to get funds: The same day, as long as you visit a branch office

Visit an online marketplace like Credible to explore OneMain Financial and other personal loan options.

UNSECURED LOANS: EVERYTHING TO KNOW

11. Payoff

Those looking to use a personal loan for credit card debt or debt consolidation may want to consider Payoff. They offer loans up to $40,000 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. Payoff is not available in Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada or Ohio.

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

12. PenFed Credit Union

Those looking for loans for good credit should check out PenFed Credit Union. Though they do have a minimum credit score requirement of 670, if you qualify, you have a chance to score a relatively low interest rate. Their advertised annual percentage rate falls in a range between  6.49% - 17.99%. Plus, their loans do not come with any additional fees.

Unfortunately, PenFed does not disclose information about their minimum income requirements or eligibility requirements online. If you’re thinking about going this route, your best bet is to go to a local branch and talk to a lender, who can help you determine if you qualify for an unsecured loan.

  • Loan amount: $6,000 - $20,000, depending on the repayment term
  • Loan terms (years): 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
  • Discounts: None 
  • Time to get funds: 2-4 business days after verification

Visit Credible to explore PenFed Credit Union and find the best personal loan rates.

SHOULD YOU GET A PERSONAL LOAN FOR MOVING EXPENSES?

13. Prosper

Prosper offers personal loans for a variety of purposes, including 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

14. 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?

15. Upgrade

With a minimum credit score of just 580, 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 an autopay discount.

Upgrade does not disclose its minimum income requirement and their loans are currently unavailable in Iowa or West Virginia.

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.

DEBUNKING 3 POPULAR MYTHS ABOUT PERSONAL LOANS

16. Upstart

With a minimum income requirement of just $12,000 and a minimum credit score of 580, 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. 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

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

Other personal loan lenders to consider

With all that said, it's important to note that even though we've called out some of the best lenders in the business right now, they are only a few of your options. When you're shopping around for personal loans, it's important to look at multiple lenders and to compare rates and fees before making your final decision. If you need more financial institutions to choose from, consider the following:

  • Citizens Bank
  • Earnest
  • HSBC
  • Laurel Road
  • PNC
  • Rocket Loans

Explore your personal loan options by visiting Credible to compare rates and lenders.

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.

FAQ about personal loans

1. Can you get a personal loan with bad credit?

Yes, it is absolutely possible to get a loan with bad credit. As you can see above, most lenders publicize their minimum credit requirements. To that end, it's important to do your research on any potential lenders before applying for a loan. You'll want to make sure that you meet, if not exceed, any minimum requirements. In addition, if credit is a concern, you want to stay away from lenders who require a hard credit inquiry because that can ding your score further.

However, you should be aware that in exchange for the loser qualifying requirements, you'll often be given a higher interest rate. with that in mind, if you can wait, it makes sense to try and improve your credit score as much as possible before applying for an unsecured loan like a personal loan.

If you have bad credit, you can check out your personal loan options by visiting Credible to compare rates and lenders.

2. Can I use a personal loan for a home improvement project?

Luckily, it is possible to get a home improvement loan. Again, most lenders will publicize if you need to specify a loan purpose when applying. If that's the case, you will need to make sure that Home Improvement is included on the list of acceptable uses. As long as it is, you are good to go.

Visit Credible to be put in touch with experienced loan officers and to get your personal loan questions answered.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.