Best Personal Loan Companies 2018

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Our Best Personal Loan Picks

Here's our selection of the top personal loan lenders organized according to what they do best, from which you can choose the right one for you:



What is a Personal Loan?

A personal loan is an amount of money loaned to a borrower by a lender and is usually unsecured, which means that you can take out a loan without offering collateral or a down payment. Personal loans are a good option if you have outstanding credit debt and offer more competitive interest rates and better terms than using credit cards. Though they used to be seen as a solution for people in dire financial straits, today the options and terms are better than ever and more and more everyday people are taking out personal loans and using them for a number of different purposes.


The Top 5 Personal Loan Companies

In order to get the best personal loan for your specific needs, it's important to compare the leading loan providers out there. Find out more about rates, terms and loan amounts to see which is the best choice for you:


LendingTree: Best Overall

  • Loan amount: $1,000-$50,000
  • APR: 4.79%-35.99%
  • Loan term: 3-180 months
  • Minimum credit score: none
  • Top feature: 15-year repayment period


LendingTree is a leading loans marketplace with a vast network of lenders and is a good option for people looking to cover large debts who want the option of comparing offers. The application process couldn’t be simpler, and within minutes you can start comparing a whole list of lenders offering some of the best terms in the industry. 

LendingTree is also a good option for people who don’t have great credit in that it doesn’t have an ironclad minimum credit score. It also has some of the most flexible loan terms, so you can even stretch your payments over up to 15 years if that makes it easier to keep up with your monthly expenses, especially when covering larger debts.

Now, it should be said that while LendingTree doesn’t have a credit score minimum, typically the higher your credit the better the terms you will receive. Nonetheless, sometimes all we need is a lender willing to take a chance, and with LendingTree you’ve got a reliable to get a loan to help you consolidate debt or cover some other expenses you were having trouble with. Not only that, it should only take a few days to receive your loan.


Read the full LendingTree review or visit LendingTree to take out a loan.



Credible: Best Online Lending Marketplace​

  • Loan amount: $1,000 to $100,000
  • APR: 4.99% - 35.99%
  • Loan term: 24-84 months
  • Minimum credit score: 680 
  • Top feature: Sends application to multiple lenders at once


Credible is an online loans marketplace that simplifies the process of searching for a loan at a good rate by allowing you to fill out just one application that is then sent to multiple lenders. You will then be sent as many as 6 preliminary loan offers allowing you to compare which one offers you the best rates and terms. You'll need a credit score of at least 680 to enjoy Credible's attractive loan terms, which include APRs as low as 4.99% and maximum loan amount of $100,000. 

Credible does not charge you fees for this service and it performs a soft credit pull, so that filling out the application does not negatively affect your credit score. The company offers a fast path for getting a loan at a competitive rate to help consolidate debt or cover other expenses. With Credible, you can get a number of loan offers from its network of lenders within a matter of minutes.


Read the full Credible review or visit Credible to take out a loan.



Lending Club: Best for Good Credit

  • Loan amount: $1,000-$40,000
  • APR: 6.16%-35.89%
  • Loan term: 36-60 months
  • Minimum credit score: 600
  • Top feature: “Hardship Plan” can help borrowers in tough times


LendingClub is a peer-to-peer lender that approves people with credit scores of 600, and will let you borrow for up to a 40% debt to income ratio, making it a solid choice if you have good credit. In addition, once your application is complete you should receive your funds within a few days. If you experience a difficult period and can't make your loan payments on time, LendingClub's "Hardship Plan" lets you to freeze your loan for up to 3 months.

When it comes to the actual terms of the loan, LendingClub offers loans of between 36 to 60 months. If you're looking for a small loan to cover a minor expense LendingClub is a good option because it offers small loans, from as little as $1,000, and goes up to $40,000 if necessary. 


Read the full LendingClub review or visit LendingClub to take out a loan.


Marcus by Goldman Sachs

Marcus: Best No-Fees Lender

  • Loan amount: $3,500 - $40,000
  • APR: 6.99%-24.99%
  • Loan term: 36-72 months
  • Minimum credit score: 660
  • Top feature: No fees whatsoever 


Marcus, which is backed by Goldman Sachs, is centered around helping all types of people get fixed rate personal loans with competitive APRs between 6.99%-24.99%. The company has made a name for its speed - once you qualify for a loan, you should receive the funds within 48 hours. Another huge benefit is that there are no fees whatsoever with Marcus, including origination fees, processing fees and prepayment fees.

Because it has a fairly high minimum credit score requirement of 660, Marcus is not the best option for people who are trying to repair a low credit score. That said, because of the slightly higher requirements, borrowers should be able to get very friendly, flexible loan terms and APR through Marcus, so it’s a very good option for people with good credit who want a relatively small loan no larger than $40,000. 


Read the full Marcus review or visit Marcus to take out a loan.



Upgrade: Best for Fair Credit

  • Loan amount: $1,000 - $50,000
  • APR: 6.99%-35.97%
  • Loan term: 36-60 months
  • Minimum credit score: 620
  • Best perk: Free credit monitoring and financial education resources


Upgrade is geared towards people who need funds for debt consolidation or one-off purchases. It is also a good option for people with fair credit who may have been turned down elsewhere for their credit score, and the company provides a credit-health tracker that can help you keep track of your score and help you increase it.

Once approved, you can enjoy easy interest and APRs as low as 6.99% that shouldn’t be too hard to keep up with and you should receive your funds within a matter of days. Upgrade places a focus on helping its customers and offers a host of additional features such as free credit monitoring and financial-education resources. 

One drawback though - the company does charge an origination fee on loans which can reach up to 6% and you have to show that you have free cash flow of at least $1,000 per month.


Read the full Upgrade review or visit Upgrade to take out a loan.


How to Choose a Lender

Shop around: Compare several top lenders

This may go without saying, but don’t settle on the first lender you find. Make sure to cast a wide net and really invest your time in reading online reviews and comparing the best personal loan companies so you can get the most competitive rates and save money in the long run. If the terms the company is offering you aren’t to your liking, feel free to look elsewhere and remember - you're the customer, they’re looking for your business, and are likely to try to meet you in the middle.

Make sure the lender is legitimate

Does the lender have a good reputation? Do you find a high number of complaints online? What about customer service, are they responsive? Make sure to take a long look at the company’s pedigree to see if they are legitimate, how long they’ve been in business and whether or not they’ve built a good reputation with their clients.

Check the fees and charges

The cost of your loan isn’t merely a matter of the interest or how much you took out - there are also often origination fees at the start of the loan, as well as late fees, processing fees, and the like. Make sure that the fees are not going to be too much of a burden, and add it to your list of considerations.


In order to choose the best personal loan provider for you, you must first determine what your needs are as a borrower, compare lenders and then see which one can fulfill those needs at the best rate possible.


Some of the key criteria that you should check when comparing loan providers are:


  • Maximum Loan Amount: Some online loan providers offer loans up to $20,000, while others will offer loans as high as $100,000.
  • APR: Different lenders will give you differing APRs so it’s important to find rates that you know you will be able to keep up with.
  • Loan Term: These vary from months to years, so it is advisable to check with your lender when your loan must be paid off.
  • Qualifications: Some lenders will require you to have an excellent credit score in order to get a loan, while others will be more forgiving. You may be required to provide proof of employment or income as well. It is advisable not to waste your time applying for a loan before you check the lender’s basic requirements.
  • Simplicity and Speed: A major advantage that online lenders have over banks is that they generally cut out a lot of the bureaucracy from the process. This means an easier and quicker process for the borrower. Some lenders can transfer funds to you in as a little as a few days.​


How to Apply for a Personal Loan

The best online lenders usually have an easier loan application process than banks:

  • Step 1: Complete an online questionnaire: This generally consists of an online questionnaire where you are asked to provide information including the amount of the loan, the purpose of the loan, and your personal information. You will also probably be asked to provide your income level and housing status.
  • Step 2: Get rates and terms: This involves a soft credit pull, which won’t affect your credit rating like a hard credit pull. Based on the credit score and other details you provided the lender, they will determine how much to loan you and under what terms and interest rate.
  • Step 3: Provide the relevant paperwork: Once your application has been pre-approved, most online lenders will then put you directly in touch with the lender, and you will finish applying directly with them. You should have all relevant paperwork on hand and ready to send, including your driver’s license or passport, proof of residence (utility bills, rent contract, etc), and pay stubs from your place of work.


What to Know Before Applying For a Personal Loan

What’s my credit score?

Your credit score is calculated based on your loan repayment history, credit card usage, and other financial markers that can give lenders a rough guide of how responsible you are with money and how much of a default risk you are. No matter what your credit score is, you will be able to find a lender that will offer you a loan.


Typically, the higher your credit score the more likely you will be to receive loans. Also, because with high credit you are considered less of a risk, your interest rates will tend to be lower.


That doesn’t mean that less than great credit is a deal-breaker, but it's good to know what the numbers mean:


Credit score ratingCredit score rangeAverage APR for market


720 - 85010.94%
Good690 - 71914.56%
Average630 - 68919.84%
Bad580 - 62928.64%
Poor579 and belowMost lenders will not lend

Having no debt history is not a good thing when it comes to your credit score. Most of the leading personal loan companies like to see that you’ve had debts in the past and that you’ve made your payments, and can be trusted to do so again.

What if I have bad credit?

Many lenders can provide loans even if you have bad credit, though you will face tougher interest rates and less leeway with the loan amount and repayment terms.


Typically anything under 630 is considered a bad credit rating, and even when people in this range do get loans, they tend to have a 28.64% APR on average. If you have collateral to put up, this can help you secure better terms despite a low credit rating.


In addition, many lenders allow cosigned loans. These are loans where someone with better credit co-signs the loan with you. While this is a way for you to get a loan that you’d be shut out from otherwise, there are some caveats. Mainly, the person who cosigned for the loan is on the hook too so if you default on the payment, it could wreck their credit as well as your own.

How do interest rates work?

The interest rate is how much the lender charges a borrower for a loan. It is expressed as a percentage of the amount borrowed. For example, if you take out a loan for $10,000 with an interest rate of 5%, you’ll end up paying $10,500 over time. If you get an interest rate of 10% though, you’ll be paying $11,000. If you’re consolidating debt and the interest rate is still lower than your earlier loan, then you’re in good shape. If not, you need to examine if the interest rate makes the loan worthwhile for you.


The interest rate is going to be one of the most important things to look at when considering a personal loan. It adds a significant amount to the overall repayment terms, and even just one percentage point here or there can make a big difference

What affects interest rates?

  • Variable vs fixed rate loan - With a variable rate loan, the interest rate can fluctuate as the market changes, and typically has lower interest rates than a fixed loan, which stays at the same rate throughout the repayment of the loan.  
  • The length of the repayment - The longer the repayment term the more interest you will pay over the lifetime of the loan. If you can keep up with a higher monthly payment over a   er period of time, then you can find loan terms that will save you money on interest. It's crucial though that you first look at your monthly budget and determine how big of a loan you can stay ahead of, so you don’t dip further into debt paying off the new loan.
  • Your credit score - The better your credit the better the interest rate. Lenders will also look at your past financial history to look for any delinquent loans, foreclosures, bankruptcies, and other red lights that could make you a high-risk borrower before they determine the interest to assign you. Your income - or lack thereof - will always be a central factor in determining your interest rate.

What is an APR?

APR is an acronym for annual percentage rate. It combines the charges, fees, and payments to tell you the grand total of what your loan will cost you per year. The lower the APR, the less you are going to pay in the long run.


The APR calculation on personal loans will vary depending on your lender, but it will typically be lower than what you would receive from a payday or short-term loan – usually starting at 10% and capping at 35.99%. It is not ideal to owe any money, but if you require a loan, then a personal loan could certainly be a viable option.


APR rates mentioned include associated fees.


Full repayment for the loans displayed range between 61 days to 180 months.


Representative example: assuming a loan of $10,000 over 60 months at a fixed rate of 3.1% per annum and fees of $60.00. This would result in a representative rate of 3.3% APR, with monthly repayments of $180.80, for a total amount paid of $10,848.00.

How much can I get approved for?

There isn’t a clear right or wrong answer to this question - it all depends on your needs, your income and your abilities. If you’re trying to consolidate debt, your loan should be the same or larger than the outstanding loans you’re covering, and if you need to cover an expense like medical bills or home renovations, then it should meet your needs, so you don’t have to go through the hassle or expense of securing another loan.


At the same time, you need to make sure that the payments aren’t too heavy for you to keep up with. After all, there’s no sense taking out a loan to cover another debt, only to find yourself unable to keep up with the payments on the new loan.

What loan term should I take?

This is a pretty simple calculation, but what works for you can be anything but simple. If you decide to go for a lender that offers short term loans you will have higher monthly payments but will pay less interest over the life of the loan. If you spread it out over a longer loan term, your monthly payments will be lower, but the overall interest you pay will be higher.


Paying more interest isn’t a bad idea if it means that you can lock down a monthly payment that you know you can make.


LightStream Terms and Conditions:

APR Disclosure: Your APR may differ based on loan purpose, amount, term, and your credit profile. Rate is quoted with AutoPay discount, which is only available when you select AutoPay prior to loan funding. Rates under the invoicing option are 0.50% higher. Subject to credit approval. Conditions and limitations apply. Advertised rates and terms are subject to change without notice.

Payment Example: Monthly payments for a $10,000 loan at 4.99% APR with a term of 3 years would result in 36 monthly payments of $299.66.


SunTrust and LightStream are trademarks of SunTrust Banks, Inc.

Lending services provided by SunTrust Bank, member FDIC.

**  Marcus By Goldman Sachs® Offer Terms and Conditions:

Your loan terms are not guaranteed and are subject to our verification of your identity and credit information. To obtain a loan, you must submit additional documentation including an application that may affect your credit score. Rates will vary based on many factors, such as your creditworthiness (for example, credit score and credit history) and the length of your loan (for example, rates for 36 month loans are generally lower than rates for 72 month loans). Your maximum loan amount may vary depending on your loan purpose, income and creditworthiness. Your verifiable income must support your ability to repay your loan. Marcus by Goldman Sachs is a brand of Goldman Sachs Bank USA and all loans are issued by Goldman Sachs Bank USA, Salt Lake City Branch. Applications are subject to additional terms and conditions.