best personal loans

Not too long ago there was one option for those needing a personal loan–the local bank. The application process was long and tedious. It was difficult and time-consuming to compare rates. And fees were often extremely high.

Other online financial institutions have changed the way we shop for the best personal loans. These sites allow you to build a custom loan without having to go through the often grueling underwriting process for which banks have become infamous. Furthermore, you can usually complete the entire process online. It eliminates uncomfortable and inconvenient face-to-face meetings with loan officers.

We’ve picked out the six best places to find a personal loan + added a bonus if you need a business loan. For each will look at their interest rates, loan terms, fees, and credit score requirements which should help you decide the right place to complete an application.

Our Favorite Personal Loan Offer

1. SoFi

sofi personal loans

SoFi is an online lending platform that specializes in refinancing and consolidation loans. While it is best known for refinancing student loans, it also offers unsecured personal loans. The loans are funded by both institutional investors and alumni investors. SoFi represents one of the few lending sources dedicated to providing refinancing for both federal and private student loans.

The minimum loan amount is $5,000, and SoFi offers loans up to $100,000.They can be fixed rate or variable, with terms of two to seven years. SoFi does not charge an application fee, loan origination fee, or prepayment penalty fee.

The loan process takes place online. You can scan and send any needed supporting documents through the web platform. You can also send documents through your smartphone.

SoFi also provides Unemployment Protection. SoFi will suspend your loan payments for up to 12 months in the event that you lose your job through no fault of your own. You must have applied for unemployment insurance, and SoFi will provide you with job placement assistance to help you find a new job.

SoFi Personal Loans Summary:

  • Interest Rates (Fixed): 8.99% – 25.81% (with auto-pay)
  • Loan Amount: $5,000 to $100,000
  • Loan Terms: 2 to 7 years
  • Origination Fees: None
  • Prepayment Penalty: No
  • Credit Needed: Minimum credit score of 680

The Rest of the Best Personal Loans and Offers of 2023

Personal Loan ProviderBest Feature
SoFiNo Fees
DiscoverLowest Rate
LightStreamLong Payment Terms
UpstartEmployment Promise
Best EggFast Application Process
Universal CreditMost Accessible

2. Discover

discover personal loans

Discover may be a brand you know for their credit cards but over the last few years, they’ve done a great job of building out a bank that offers savings accounts, checking accounts, CDs, and personal loans. Having taken out a personal loan myself from Discover, I can attest to the high-quality application process and lightning-fast funding.

Discover personal loans require a minimum credit score of 660 and a personal annual income of at least $25,000. If you don’t meet these requirements it’s best to consider other brands on our list of the best personal loans. If you have a good credit score, then Discover offers its loans without an origination fee or closing costs. The interest rates are extremely competitive and Discover allows you to pay the loan back in terms of 3 years to 7 years.

After completing an application, a decision is usually reached the same day and funding can take place as soon as the next business day. You’ll receive 100% US-based customer service whenever you have a question and you can check your rate with Discover before anything affects your credit score.

Discover Personal Loans Summary:

  • Interest Rates (Fixed): 7.99% – 24.99%
  • Loan Amount: $2,500 to $40,000
  • Loan Terms: 36 to 84 months
  • Origination Fees: None
  • Prepayment Penalty: None
  • Credit Needed: Minimum credit score of 660

3. LightStream

lightstream personal loans

LightStream is another high-quality lender that caters to individuals with good to excellent credit. A division of Sun-Trust Bank, LightStream offers low fixed interest rates that can be deducted by 50 basis points with auto-pay and no origination fees, closing costs, or maintenance fees during the term of the loan.

One of the biggest reasons LighStream is able to separate itself from others is that it can offer up to a 12-year term. 144 payments can bring the monthly payment down to an amount lower than anyone else. The bad news of course is that an extended term means more interest paid, so if you’re looking for flexibility, this is your best lender.

Another terrific feature is the speed at which you can receive your funds. The application process, decision process, and payment can all happen on the same day.

LightStream Personal Loans Summary:

  • Interest Rates (Fixed): 7.99% – 25.49% (with auto-pay)
  • Loan Amount: $600 to $100,000
  • Loan Terms: 3 to 12 years
  • Origination Fees: None
  • Prepayment Penalty: No
  • Credit Needed: Minimum credit score of 660

4. Upstart

upstart personal loans

Like SoFi, Upstart is a lender that focuses largely on refinancing for recent college graduates. For that reason, the platform emphasizes the borrower’s education as the criterion for their loan. This includes consideration of your college major, academic performance, the school you attended, and your recent work history. Speaking of work history, Upstart will qualify you on a promise of employment as long as you’re scheduled to start work within six months.

But recent college grads aren’t the only borrowers who can benefit from a loan through Upstart. Since the platform requires verification of only a few months’ worth of income history (six months if you’re self-employed) it can be an excellent loan source for the self-employed, particularly those with a short business history. Best of all, you can take a loan for any purpose.

Upstart makes loans between $1,000 and $50,000. All loans are offered at a fixed rate and for a term of 36 or 60 months, and there are no prepayment penalties. It applies an origination fee of up to 12% depending on the quality of your credit. The application process is entirely online, and Upstart can approve your loan in just minutes with funding as soon as the next business day.

Upstart Personal Loans Summary:

  • Interest Rates (Fixed): 5.2% – 35.99%
  • Loan Amount: $1,000 to $50,000
  • Loan Terms: 3 & 5 years
  • Origination Fees: Up to 12%
  • Prepayment Penalty: No
  • Credit Needed: No minimum score requirements

Read our Upstart Review

5. Best Egg

best egg personal loans

Best Egg offers the opportunity for funding inside of a 48-hour window. The minimum individual annual income needed to qualify for a loan of $50,000 (their highest amount) is $150,000. If you have a current Best Egg loan, the total amount of money you can borrow at one time cannot exceed the $50,000 mark.

To qualify for the lowest rate of 8.99%, you must have a minimum FICO credit score of 700 and a minimum income of six figures. Having shopped around for a personal loan in the past, I can tell you Best Egg is very aggressive in its mail advertising. At least once a week, I would receive a mailer with a different offer code suggesting I was pre-qualified for a high-dollar loan. If you utilize their application form, expect to receive the same.

Applying for a personal loan through Best Egg is easy. After a short form, Best Egg will provide you with options on the loan that best suits your needs, assuming you qualify. The longer the term, the higher the interest rate. So make sure before deciding which loan you want that you’ve done an apples-to-apples comparison with others on this list.

Best Egg Personal Loans Summary:

  • Interest Rates (Fixed): 8.99% – 35.99%
  • Loan Amount: $2,000 to $50,000
  • Loan Terms: 36 to 60 months
  • Origination Fees: 0.99% to 8.99%
  • Prepayment Penalty: No
  • Credit Needed: Minimum credit score of 640

6. Universal Credit

universal credit personal loans

Universal Credit rounds out our list of the best personal loans because it caters to the most applicants. The minimum credit score to be approved for a loan is just 560, which would classify as “bad credit”. If you find yourself with a poor credit score and in need of a personal loan, Universal Credit is your best bet.

Fixed rates begin at 11.69% and loan amounts begin at $3,500. There are no prepayment penalties or fees when paying your loan back early but you will incur an origination fee of between 5.25% and 9.99%. Loan terms extend to as long as 60 months and the application process can take as little as two business days (from start to funding).

Universal Credit won’t blow you away with the best rates or lowest fees but they will provide you with an unsecured loan that can help you if you’re struggling. It’s just going to be a little bit more expensive.

Universal Credit Personal Loans Summary:

  • Interest Rates (Fixed): 11.69% – 35.99%
  • Loan Amount: $3,500 to $40,000
  • Loan Terms: 36 to 60 months
  • Origination Fees: 5.25% – 9.99%
  • Prepayment Penalty: None
  • Credit Needed: Minimum credit score of 560

A Business Loan Option

Funding Circle

funding circle personal loans

Funding Circle is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a business loan. They offer business loans for amounts up to $500,000 (the minimum loan amount is $25,000). Funding Circle specifically serves the business loan niche since it is one that is left largely uncovered by traditional banks. The platform has provided loans totaling more than $20 billion to more than 135,000 businesses worldwide since the platform was founded in 2010.

They’ll accept a credit score as low as 660. In addition, you must have a minimum of $50,000 in annual sales the previous year and be in business for at least two years. Since it is a business loan site, the application process is more involved than it is for other lenders. Plus, it can take up to 14 days but can also be as quick as two business days.

All loans are secured with a lien on your business assets and a personal guaranty.

Loan proceeds can be used to expand your business, invest in new equipment, or increase staff for marketing campaigns. Because Funding Circle provides large business loans the documentation requirements are more substantial than they are for other lenders, and typically include three years of business income taxes, your most recent personal income tax return, six months’ business bank statements, and other documents as needed.

Funding Circle Personal Loans Summary:

  • Interest Rates (Fixed): No specified rate structure
  • Loan Amount: $25,000 to $500,000
  • Loan Terms: 1 to 7 years
  • Origination Fees: 4.49% – 10.49%
  • Prepayment Penalty: No
  • Credit Needed: Minimum credit score of 660 for your business

Why Get a Personal Loan

The number one reason consumers get personal loans is to refinance existing debt. Lowering your interest rates is a smart way to reduce your monthly payment and shorten the time it takes to become debt-free. For those looking to transfer high-interest credit card debt to a 0% card, you’ll find several options here. For those looking to refinance other types of debts, the options below are your best bet.

Beyond refinancing, many seek unsecured loans to consolidate several debts into one convenient loan. This too can be a smart move, although you need to always keep the interest rates and fees in mind. You don’t want to opt for the convenience of a loan consolidation if it’s going to increase your cost of borrowing.

How to Choose the Best Option

As you read through the options below, you can use this guide on how to choose the best option for you:

  • Excellent Credit (FICO score 750+): For those with excellent credit and a good income you’ll want to take advantage of the lenders with the best rates. You can choose just about any of them and the best option is the one that is the least expensive over the life of the loan. Options, options, options.
  • Good Credit (FICO score 660-749): Good credit means you’ll likely be approved by all personal loan lenders but your interest rate won’t be as strong as if you had excellent credit. It’s important here to try to pay your loan back as quickly as possible to avoid the interest cost.
  • Fair Credit (FICO score 580-659): Fair credit means you can’t be as selective. Find a lender that offers you a fair rate and low loan cost and understand you get one shot after the hard credit pull. If this loan isn’t paid back on time, your credit will likely drop to the bad credit category, where interest becomes massive.
  • Bad Credit (FICO score under 580): Getting a personal loan with bad credit isn’t easy and if a lender is willing to provide you an unsecured loan, you’re going to pay very high origination fees and high interest. Before taking the loan, see if there’s any other way to borrow the funds (or if you can do a better job with your budget so you don’t need a loan at all). Personal loans for bad credit should really only be taken out to cover necessities.

Final Thoughts

A personal loan can help refinance debt to a lower rate, consolidate existing loans, or start a business. But you must take care not to assume more debt than you need or can handle. Further, your credit score is an important factor in the underwriting process. It will determine in large part the interest rate you can get. So if you don’t know your score you can get your official myFICO score.

Finally, keep in mind that rates and terms do change frequently. We have worked hard to verify the rates, fees, and other terms contained in this article. But please confirm all terms of any loan directly with the lender before applying for a personal loan.


  • Kevin Mercadante

    Since 2009, Kevin Mercadante has been sharing his journey from a mortgage loan officer emerging from the Financial Meltdown as a contract/self-employed slash worker accountant/blogger/freelance blog writer. He offers career strategies, from dealing with under-employment to transitioning into self-employment, and provides Alt-retirement strategies for the vast majority who won't retire to the beach as millionaires. Kevin holds a Bachelor’s degree in Finance, and worked in accounting and the mortgage industry before becoming a writer.