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Fact Checked: Leslie Kennedy


Updated: September 06, 2023

We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity to help you make decisions with confidence. Please be aware that some (or all) products and services linked in this article are from our sponsors.

Best personal loans of September 2023

We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity to help you make decisions with confidence. Please be aware that some (or all) products and services linked in this article are from our sponsors.

Fact Checked: Leslie Kennedy


Updated: September 06, 2023

We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity to help you make decisions with confidence. Please be aware that some (or all) products and services linked in this article are from our sponsors.

Welcome to our guide to the best personal loans

Whether you're looking to consolidate high-interest debt, or cover unexpected expenses, a personal loan can simplify your debt by allowing you to combine it all into one source with fixed monthly payments.

They are typically used to consolidate high-interest debt, fund home renovations or cover other unexpected costs. In this guide, we take a closer look at some of the best personal loan options available.

We also review their interest rates, loan amounts, and other key features to help you make an informed decision.


Best overall personal loan: Lending Club

Quick Facts

Minimum Credit Score: None

APR range: 9.57% to 35.99%

Loan amounts: $1,000 to $40,000

Why we like Lending Club

Lending Club is a peer-to-peer lending platform that offers personal, business, and auto loans, along with funding for medical or dental services. The company offers loans ranging from $1,000 to $40,000, with APR ranging from  9.57% to a more steep 35.99%. Depending on the loan amount and borrower income, a loan with a high APR may not be worth it, as it can make it harder to pay down the principal.

A big advantage of getting a loan with Lending Club is that they will allow you repay the loan ahead of schedule without any prepayment charges. This gives you the option of paying your loan off early and avoiding more interest. One of Lending Club's main strengths is the range of loans it offers, which includes small loans for business development, auto refinancing and medical loans.

Applying for a loan on Lending Club

When you apply for a loan, Lending Club reviews your credit score, credit history and income. The combination of these factors will determine if you are eligible, and there is no specific minimum credit score.

The maximum loan term is five years, and borrowers pay interest on a monthly basis. While Lending Club offers a fairly high loan amount, users must also be aware of the origination fees.

These are one-time charges for processing a transaction; the charge comes after you’ve received your loan funds. In the case of Lending Club, the origination fee will be between 3% and 6% of the loan amount. After the borrower sends a request for a loan, the company offers an APR inline with your credit score, credit history and income. Borrowers then typically receive funds within 42 hours via direct deposit.


Best personal loan for low interest rates: LightStream

Quick Facts

Minimum credit score: 650

APR range: 7.99% to 25.49%

Loan amounts: $5,000 to $100,000

Why we like LightStream

LightStream is a consumer lender offering personal loans for a variety of purposes. Loans range from $5,000 to $100,000 and can have terms between two and 12 years, depending on the loan's purpose. Lightstream only approves users with “good to excellent” FICO score. 

Although there isn’t a specific credit score required, "good to excellent" translates to 650 and up. A credit score in this range will increase your chances of getting approved for a loan and allow you to get more favorable interest rates.

However, LightStream says t they don’t focus only on FICO scores. They also examine debt-to-income ratio, payment history and credit history. This can give potential borrowers some wiggle room, especially if they may have a high debt load but have been able to make consistent payments as they attempt to pay it back. If approved, you can get an APR ranging from 7.99% to 25.49%.

Prospective borrowers who require a large loan with some flexibility will find LightStream to be a great option.

Applying for a loan on LightStream

LightStream does not offer a pre-qualification process, so prospective borrowers must submit a formal application and undergo a hard credit check to determine if they qualify and at what rate. A hard credit check will affect your credit score, but the hit is typically minimal and could be worth it if you're approved and are then able to pay off your debt.

LightStream does not allow co-signers, but prospective borrowers can submit a joint application. Co-applicants do not need to live at the same address as the primary applicant, which distinguishes LightStream from some other lenders. The co-applicant option gives potential borrowers more flexibility, allowing them to apply with someone who has a stronger credit profile and possibly get a higher loan amount and better interest rate.


Best for bad credit: Upgrade

Quick Facts

Minimum credit score: 620

APR range: 8.49% to 35.97%

Loan amounts: $1,000 to $50,000

Why we like Upgrade

Upgrade is ideal for borrowers with fair or poor credit who need access to smaller loans. Upgrade offers personal loans ranging from $1,000 to $50,000, with origination fees between 1.85% and 9.99%. Upgrade offers an APR of 8.49% and 35.97%. The company provides direct payment to third-party creditors, as well as joint applications. There are also no prepayment penalty fees, which means you'll save on interest if you can pay off your loan quickly.

Upgrade's mobile app makes it easy for users to manage their loan. It also provides benefits such as an autopay discount and a credit monitoring program called Credit Health.

Applying for a loan on Upgrade

To qualify for an Upgrade personal loan, applicants must meet a minimum credit score of 620, have at least $1,000 in free cash flow each month, and have a debt-to-income ratio of around 40%.

While Upgrade personal loans are generally unsecured — meaning users don’t need to offer an asset as collateral in case they can’t pay — the company may offer eligible applicants a secured loan to make it easier to qualify or access a lower rate. Upgrade does not offer loans in Washington, D.C.

Co-applicants who meet the minimum credit score requirements are allowed, but co-signers are not accepted.


Best for no interest if repaid within 30 days: SoFi

Quick Facts

Minimum credit score: None

APR range: 8.99% to 24.18%

Loan amounts: $5,000 to $100,000

Why we like SoFi

SoFi offers personal loans ranging from $5,000 to $100,000, with repayment terms ranging from two to seven years. SoFi stands when it comes to fees. It doesn't charge origination fees, late fees, or prepayment fees, and loans are available in all states.

Borrowers can lower interest costs by qualify for multiple discounts, including 0.25% off for setting up autopay and 0.25% off for having a monthly direct deposit of at least $1,000 to a SoFi checking account. SoFi also provides some helpful services to help improve your financial health, including unemployment protection, one-on-one career coaching, financial advising, estate planning discounts and a handy mobile app. 

Applying for a loan on SoFi

SoFi does not have specific credit score or income requirements for applicants, which allows for more flexibility for potential applicants. For loans applicants, SoFi assesses factors such as overall cash flow, financial history and credit history. To qualify, the borrower must be of the age of majority in their state and have a verifiable source of income. While you still pay interest — with a fixed rate as low as 8.99% APR — SoFi doesn’t charge any other fees.

To apply for a SoFi personal loan, applicants must be at least 18 years old, a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or non-permanent resident. Non-permanent resident status includes DACA recipients and asylum seekers. Applicants must also be employed and or have sufficient income from another source. Alternatively, an applicant also provide proof of an offer of employment starting within the next 90 days. 

SoFi also allows users to apply with a co-applicant. However, keep in mind that an application with a co-applicant will take one to two weeks longer to review.


Best for loans as low as $1,000: PenFed Credit Union

Quick Facts

Minimum credit score: None

APR range: 7.74% to 17.99%

Loan amounts: $600 to $50,000

Why we like PenFed

PenFed Credit Union offers unsecured personal loans ranging from as low as $600 to $50,000. The maximum length for a loan is 60 months and the APR ranges from 7.74% to 17.99%. Users really like that you don't have to become a member of the credit union in order to apply for a loan, and that funds are deposited within one to two business days. However, if a loan is approved, you will need to become a member in order to access the funds.

Applying for a loan on PenFed

To qualify, the borrower must be of the age of majority in their state, have a verifiable source of income, and have good to excellent credit or a creditworthy co-borrower.

Borrowers should be aware that they will need to submit a minimum payment of at least $50 a month. The company encourages applicants to have a co-borrower to improve their chances of getting a loan. PenFed Credit Union does not offer refinancing options for existing personal loans. 

Compare personal loan rates

What is a personal loan?

A personal loan is a type of loan that is typically unsecured, meaning that it does not require collateral. Instead, the lender evaluates your creditworthiness to determine if you qualify for the loan and what interest rate you'll pay. If you have a good credit score, you may be able to qualify for a lower interest rate, which can save you money on interest charges over the life of the loan. The loan is then paid back over a set period of time, with interest.

How do personal loans work?

When you take out a personal loan, you receive a lump sum of money upfront that you can use for almost anything. You then pay back the loan in fixed monthly payments over a set period of time. The interest rate on a personal loan is usually fixed, meaning it stays the same throughout the life of the loan.

Personal loans can be a good option if you need to borrow a large sum of money and want a fixed monthly payment that fits into your budget.

It's important to note that personal loans come with fees, such as origination fees and prepayment penalties, so be sure to read the terms and conditions carefully before accepting any loan offer. Overall, personal loans can be a useful tool to help you achieve your financial goals, but it's important to use them responsibly and make sure you can afford the monthly payments.

What are the easiest loans to get approved for?

Based on our research, some of the easiest types of personal loans to get approved for are payday loans and secured personal loans. There are also personal loans from online lenders that specialize in working with borrowers with poor credit. However, it's important to note that these loans often come with high interest rates and fees, so be sure to carefully consider the terms before accepting any loan offer.

Tips for comparing personal loans

  • Look at the APR: The annual percentage rate (APR) is the total cost of the loan, including interest and fees, expressed as a percentage. Look for a low APR, but also consider any additional fees that may be charged.
  • Check the loan term: The loan term is the length of time you have to repay the loan. A longer loan term can mean lower monthly payments, but you'll pay more in interest over time.
  • Consider the loan amount: Make sure the loan amount is sufficient to cover your needs, but don't borrow more than you need.
  • Look at the repayment schedule: Determine if the repayment schedule is feasible for your budget and if there are any penalties for prepayment.
  • Check for any additional features: Some lenders may offer additional features, such as the ability to defer payments or skip a payment, which can be helpful in times of financial hardship.

Common types of personal loans

Secured loans

A secured loan is one where you must provide collateral in order to get the funds. A mortgage is a common secured loan, where you can lose your house if you don’t make the monthly payments. 

Unsecured loans

Personal loans are typically unsecured. If you miss payments you may get charged more interest or lose access to remaining funding, but you won’t lose other assets. Credit card debt is another type of debt that is typically unsecured. 

Payday loans

Payday loans are a specific type of unsecured, short-term loan that is infamous for its high fees and interest rate. Sixteen states, including New Jersey and Massachusetts no longer allow payday loans.

In order to qualify for one, you will typically need to provide proof of income. The institution can then lend you a portion of the money you will be paid, and give you around 30 days or less to pay it back. Most loans have a limit of around $500.

Since payday loans don’t typically require a look at your credit history, the lenders take on more risk when they give you money. The high fees are the lender’s way of offsetting that risk. The average APR range is around 400%, with some charging as high as 780%.

Personal line of credit

This type of loan is offered by banks or credit unions, typically to members who have a credit score of around 700 or more. The line of credit's limit will also be dependent on the borrower’s credit score, along with other factors like their credit history and income.

The line of credit gives borrowers access to credit, similar to a credit card. The funds are tied to the borrower's bank account and can be accessed only when needed. You also only get charged interest on the amount that you use.

A personal line of credit can be a good debt consolidation option. Many banks will allow you to transfer a credit card balance to a credit line, which may have lower interest. If your line of credit doesn’t have a high annual fee, transferring your credit card debt over can allow you to pay less interest while you pay it off. If your line of credit limit is high enough, it can be an alternative to a loan from a third party.

Alternatives to a personal loan

  • Credit card balance transfer: If you have high-interest credit card debt, you may be able to transfer your balance to a card with a lower interest rate. This can help you save money on interest charges and pay off your debt more quickly.
  • Home equity loan or line of credit: If you own a home, you may be able to take out a home equity loan or line of credit to borrow money. These loans typically have lower interest rates than personal loans, but your home serves as collateral.
  • Borrowing from friends or family: If you have a good relationship with someone who is willing to lend you money, this can be a good option. However, it's important to treat this type of loan like any other loan and make sure you can repay the money on time.
  • Retirement account loan: If you have a retirement account, such as a 401(k) or IRA, you may be able to borrow money from it. However, this can be risky, as you may have to pay taxes and penalties if you don't repay the loan on time.
  • Payday alternative loans: Some credit unions offer payday alternative loans, which are small, short-term loans designed to help people avoid payday loans. These loans typically have lower interest rates and fees than payday loans.

Personal loan FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions about personal loans:

  • What is a good interest rate on a personal loan?


    A good interest rate on a personal loan depends on the borrower's credit score and other factors, but generally, a lower interest rate is better. As of 2023, the average interest rate for a personal loan is around 10% to 28%, depending on the borrower's creditworthiness.

  • How are APRs determined for personal loans?


    APRs for personal loans are typically determined based on the borrower's credit score, credit history, income, and other factors that the lender considers relevant. The lender will also take into account the loan amount, loan term, and any fees associated with the loan when calculating the APR.

  • What fees should I look out for when choosing a personal loan?


    Be sure to look out for any additional fees that may be charged, such as origination fees and prepayment penalties. These fees can add to the total cost of the loan, so it's important to factor them into your decision-making process.

  • How many personal loans can you have at once?


    There is no set limit to how many personal loans you can have at once, but it is generally not recommended to take on more debt than you can handle. Lenders will also consider your debt-to-income ratio when deciding whether to approve you for a loan.

  • Can you refinance a personal loan?


    Yes, you can refinance a personal loan. Refinancing a personal loan involves taking out a new loan to pay off the existing loan, often with better terms and interest rates.

  • Should I apply for a personal loan or a balance transfer card to consolidate my credit card debt?


    It's important to consider the interest rates and fees associated with each option. A personal loan may offer a lower interest rate and fixed monthly payments, while a balance transfer card may offer a 0% introductory APR for a limited time, but may also come with balance transfer fees and a variable interest rate after the introductory period.

  • What is an unsecured personal loan?


    An unsecured personal loan is a type of loan that does not require collateral or any other type of security. Because there is no collateral, unsecured personal loans typically come with higher interest rates than secured loans.

  • Can I get a personal loan while unemployed?


    It may be difficult to get a personal loan while unemployed, as lenders often require proof of income and employment. However, some lenders may offer personal loans for those who have other sources of income, such as disability benefits or a pension.

  • Do personal loans hurt my credit?


    Taking out a personal loan can affect your credit score. Applying for a loan may result in a hard inquiry on your credit report, which can temporarily lower your credit score. Additionally, if you miss payments or default on the loan, it can have a negative impact on your credit score.

  • Are personal loans taxable?


    Personal loans are generally not taxable, since they are not income. Since you get the funds with the intention of paying them back, they are exempt from being taxed. However, there are exceptions to the rule. If you fail to pay back your loan, or cancel it, then you may be liable for paying taxes.

  • Can you pay a personal loan off early?


    Paying your loan off early can help to avoid more interest charges. However, some lenders will charge prepayment penalties for doing so. It’s important to check the lender’s policy before committing. None of the loans offered here charge prepayment penalties.


Product rankings are determined by the Moneywise editorial team and are based on factors and features that everyday users care about most. We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity to help you make decisions with confidence. The products and companies featured in this article were independently selected, but please be aware that some products and services linked in this article are from our sponsors.

Moneywise rates products and services on a sale of 1 to 5 stars, where 5 stars is the best rating possible. Ratings are rounded up to the nearest 0.5 of a star.

Our rating system is based on the factors that mean the most to the everyday user. These factors include:

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We collect data from providers' websites, by using the services and watching demonstrations as required. The data is analyzed and the result is a star rating. Each factor is weighted depending on the category in which the product is being evaluated, in order to ensure it meets the needs of different users.

Our goal is to provide an independent review, and give you the information you need to make a decision on which service is best for you.

About our author

Kyle Trattner
Kyle Trattner, Chief Executive Officer

Kyle Trattner, our CEO, is a finance aficionado and a serial entrepreneur with a rich experience of over a decade in the digital publishing industry. A graduate of McMaster University (B.A.) and The University of Nottingham (LL.B.), Kyle's academic prowess is matched by his entrepreneurial spirit and leadership skills. Since the inception of Moneywise in 2017, he has been the guiding force behind its growth and success, combining his passion for finance with his knowledge of digital publishing. As a self-proclaimed "finance nerd," Kyle's vision is to empower individuals with financial literacy, making Moneywise a trusted partner in their financial journey.


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