Unlike credit cards that can charge exorbitant interest rates that change with market conditions, personal loans come with fixed interest rates, fixed repayment periods, and fixed monthly payments that will never change.
Since your monthly payment on a personal loan will also never change, these loans are also easier to plan for than credit cards that can continue boosting your payment as you rack up debt.
This combination of factors makes personal loans a good option if you want to borrow a set amount of money for a specific length of time and pay it back without having to wonder how much interest you’ll pay in the end.
Because the best personal loans can offer fixed interest rates as low as 3.99% APR, they’re suitable for a wide range of purposes, from home remodeling projects to debt consolidation. However, it’s important to make sure you get the right personal loan for your needs — and the one with the lowest long-term costs.
Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to compare personal loans online and apply with the few clicks of a button.
8 Best Personal Loan Lenders & Rates for 2020
Before you sign up for a personal loan, however, it helps to know which reputable lenders offer the lowest rates and fees. We compared some of the top personal loans available today to come up with this list of best personal loans for 2020:
1. Marcus by Goldman Sachs
Marcus by Goldman Sachs offers some of the best personal loans available today based on the simple fact their loans don’t come with an application fee or an origination fee. You could score an APR as low as 6.99% with excellent credit, and there are no penalties charged if you decide to pay your loan off early.
This online lender makes the online loan application process easy, and you can borrow up to $40,000 without any collateral. Loan terms are available from 36 to 72 months, so you can tailor your loan payment and desired payoff timeline to your needs as well. Better yet, Marcus by Goldman Sachs lets you enter some basic information and see your loan options without a hard inquiry on your credit report.
While SoFi is extremely popular for their student loans and student loan refinancing products, they also offer high-quality personal loans. Because they’re geared to consumers with good or excellent credit, SoFi personal loans come with fixed interest rates from 5.99% to 17.67% with autopay.
If you’re looking for a loan with minimal fees, SoFi loans are definitely worth considering. Their personal loans come with no late fees, no origination fees, and no prepayment fees if you decide to pay your loan off early. You can borrow up to $100,000 if you qualify, and you can even apply to have your payments temporarily paused if you lose your job.
LightStream is also very popular for their versatile personal loans thanks to their low interest rates and large loan amounts. This online lender offers rates from 3.99% to 16.79%, and loan amounts from $5,000 up to $100,000. You can even choose to repay your loan over 24 to 144 months, which is one of the widest spans of options among all other personal lenders.
The best part about LightStream is the fact that you can complete the entire loan process online. You can even receive your loan funds by direct deposit as soon as the same business day, depending on when you apply.
4. Best Egg
Another personal lender that receives good ratings from customers is Best Egg. This lender offers loans with rates as low as 5.99% for consumers with excellent credit, and you can even get preapproved for a loan online without a hard inquiry on your credit report.
Depending on your income and other factors, Best Egg lets you borrow between $2,000 and $35,000. Keep in mind, however, that best egg personal loans come with an origination fee that could be as high as 5.99% of your loan amount.
While online banks are popular in the personal loan space, don’t forget about LendingClub — a peer-to-peer lender that lets individual investors make loans instead of banks. On the borrowing side of the equation, LendingClub lets consumers with all credit ratings apply for personal loans in amounts up to $40,000.
Interest rates range from 6.95% to 35.89%, with the lowest rates going to consumers with great or excellent credit. There are no prepayment penalties required if you decide to pay your loan off early, although you will pay an origination fee between 1% to 6% of your loan amount.
To qualify for one of their loans, LendingClub says you need to be at least 18 years old, have a verifiable bank account, earn enough money to repay your loan, and have a high credit score.
Payoff is a personal lender that offers loans specifically to consumers who need to pay off high-interest credit card debt. Payoff personal loans are available in amounts between $5,000 and $35,000, and you can get preapproved and see your rate online without a hard inquiry on your credit report. To qualify for a loan, however, you typically need a FICO score of 640 or above, a debt-to-income ratio of 50% or less, at least three years of credit history, and no delinquencies on your credit report.
Interest rates on Payoff personal loans can be as low as 5.65% APR, which is considerably lower than the average interest rates that credit cards charge. As a result, Payoff says their customers typically pay down debt faster and save a lot of interest along the way. Since they report all your credit movements to the three credit reporting agencies — Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion — you can also use this loan to help boost your credit score.
Upstart is another online lender that makes it easy to get preapproved and see what rate you’ll qualify for without a hard inquiry on your credit report. This company is also a loan aggregator, meaning they don’t offer the loans themselves. Instead, they let you fill out one loan application form and see offers from several competitive lenders in one place.
Make sure to apply for a personal loan with Upstart to see how much you could save by consolidating debt or borrowing at a low-interest rate.
Finally, you may want to check out loan options on LendingTree no matter what. LendingTree is a loan aggregator that lets you apply for a personal loan once and receive multiple competing offers on the same day. That way, you can compare all their loan terms, monthly payments, and fees before you decide.
There’s a reason this company uses the tagline, “When banks compete, you win.” LendingTree makes it easy to have banks competing for your business with minimal effort on your part. LendingTree also offers useful tools like payment and debt payoff calculators that can help you craft a plan to use your personal loan to improve your life and your finances over time.
How To Qualify For The Best Personal Loan Rates
As you continue your search for the right personal loan for your needs, it’s crucial to find ways to become the ideal loan candidate. Meanwhile, you need to know what to look for in loans you’re considering and how to set yourself up to find the best loan rates.
The following tips can help you find the best personal loan for debt consolidation, home repairs, a big remodeling project, or another financial goal.
Improve Your Credit Score
Most personal loan companies put a lot of weight into your credit score — the three-digit number that represents your credit health. While very good credit is typically considered any FICO score of 740 or higher, you can qualify for a personal loan with a FICO score at a lower rate. Just remember that the best rates and loan terms always go to those with an excellent credit score and a lengthy credit history.
Because your payment history is the most significant factor that makes up your FICO score, the biggest step you can take to keep your credit in good shape is paying all your bills early or on time. If you pay bills late, you’ll send a signal to lenders that you struggle to keep up with monthly payments — a red flag that will leave you paying a higher interest rate on your personal loan.
Pay Down Some of Your Debt
Also, keep the second most important factor that makes up your FICO score in mind — how much debt you owe in relation to your credit limits. High debt levels in relation to your credit limits tell banks and lenders that you’re desperate for credit, whereas having plenty of open credit tells lenders you’re handling your cash flow just fine.
If you have lines of credit that are maxed out already, paying down debt can make a big difference in your credit score in a hurry. Most experts suggest keeping your credit utilization rate below 30% for the best results to your credit score, so that’s a good range to aim for.
Fix Any Mistakes on Your Credit Report
If you haven’t checked your credit report in a while, you may want to do that now. Incorrect reporting can wreak havoc on your credit score — especially if the false information is negative. However, it’s likely you’ll never know you have bad information on your credit report unless you take time to check it.
Fortunately, you can get a free copy of your credit report from all three credit bureaus once per year with the website AnnualCreditReport.com. If you find wrong information that needs to be fixed, this guide to correcting credit report errors from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) can help.
Build Up Stable Sources of Income
Once you start shopping around for personal loans and comparing eligibility requirements, you’ll notice that most want a stable source of income. This means you may have trouble qualifying if you’ve only been in your job for a few weeks or months, but that you’ll be in a better position for approval if you’ve kept a steady job for several years.
If your employment history is making it difficult to qualify for a personal loan, it may be worth waiting to apply until you can show at least 12 months of steady work history. This will help show lenders you won’t have trouble repaying your loan, which hopefully means you’ll score a lower interest rate.
Find a Cosigner
Also, remember that some banks and lenders let consumers apply for a personal loan with a cosigner. Not all lenders offer this option, however, so make sure to compare several options and see who allows cosigners before you apply.
If you have someone with excellent credit willing to cosign on your loan, it’s possible you can lean on their solid credit rating to get approved and secure a much lower interest rate. Remember, however, that your cosigner will be jointly responsible for repaying the loan just as you are.
Sign Up for a Bank Account
Most banks also require you to have a verifiable bank account in order to apply for a personal loan, and this is especially true among online lenders who will process your application and deposit your loan funds electronically.
If you don’t have a traditional bank account, you should open one before you apply for a personal loan. Make sure to compare checking account offers and keep in mind that some offer banking bonuses that will reward you for signing up and meeting their initial deposit requirements.
Shop Around and Compare Lenders
Finally, don’t forget that the best way to save money with a personal loan involves comparing lenders and offers. As you continue your search for the right loan, you’ll find that lenders have different lending criteria and requirements that could mean paying a lower interest rate depending on who you apply with.
We always suggest comparing rates and fees from at least 3-4 lenders before you apply. That way, you’ll know how much your loan will cost depending on how much you borrow, your loan repayment timeline, and other factors.
Spend time making an apples-to-apples comparison, and you’re sure to find the best personal loan at a price you can afford. How will you use your loan funds? That’s up to you.