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Best Personal Loans of 2018

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If you’re shopping for the best personal loans, you have plenty of options. There are a number of lenders offering competitive APRs, low fees, high loan limits and flexible loan terms.

In fact, all of the lenders on our list of the best personal loans offer those features in addition to other big perks.

Naturally, it can be difficult to narrow down your options with so many lenders to choose from. So we put together the list below to help you navigate the process.
 

What are personal loans?

Unlike mortgages or auto repair loans, personal loans are typically unsecured, meaning they require no collateral to back up the loan.

So instead of using an asset — like your car — to secure the loan, lenders rely on models to determine your creditworthiness. When deciding whether to lend to you, lenders will look at your credit score, credit history and what you’re using the loan for, among other things.

One big benefit of personal loans is that they can be used for a wide range of purposes. Depending on the lender, you may be able to use a personal loan to pay down credit debt, finance home improvements or even bankroll a vacation.
 

Here are the best personal loans of 2018

Company Best for APR Range Loan Terms Loan Limit
Upgrade Improving credit 5.96% — 35.97% 36 and 60 month $1,000 — $50,000
Best Egg Fast approval 5.99% – 29.99% 36 and 60 month $2,000 – $50,000
SoFi Perks and low rates 5.49% – 14.24% 36, 60 and 84 month $5,000 – $100,000
Prosper Multi-purpose loans 5.99% – 35.99% 36 and 60 month $2,000 – $35,000
Lending Club Peer-to-peer lending 5.99% – 35.89% 36 and 60 month $1,000 – $40,000
UpStart Young borrowers 5.99% – 35.89% 36 and 60 month $1,000 – $50,000
Marcus Good Credit 5.99% – 35.89% 36 – 72 month $3,500 – $40,000
PayOff Credit card debt 8% — 25% 24, 36, 48 and 60 month $5,000 — $35,000
LendingPoint Poor/Fair credit 15.49% — 34.99% 24 to 48-months $2,000 — $25,000

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1. Upgrade: Best for improving credit

Upgrade is a relatively new lender on the block. It was founded in 2016 by a team that includes the co-founders of Lending Club, and it started lending in 2017. The goal of the company is to provide affordable personal loans while also helping consumers improve their credit standing with credit health and educational tools, like free credit monitoring — think a Credit Karma that offers loans. Upgrade has an “A” standing from the Better Business Bureau.

APRs from the company are competitive, ranging from 5.96% to 35.97%, depending on creditworthiness. Its unsecured personal loans come with 36- or 60-month repayment terms and loan amounts ranging from $1,000 to $50,000.

Example payment schedule: Monthly payments for a $10,000 loan over five years at 5.96% would be $193.14.

The takeaway

As somewhat of a hybrid in the lending space, Upgrade is ideal for the individual who needs a personal loan but also wants to improve their credit. Indeed, offering personal loans in addition to free credit monitoring, alerts and educational tools puts Upgrade in a slightly different category then other lenders. It’s a company that can help you build a better credit profile, ultimately getting you ready to qualify for a personal loan through its platform.

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2. Best Egg

Marlette Funding developed and now powers Best Egg, which is an unsecured personal loan product issued by Cross River Bank in New Jersey. With an “A+” rating from the Better Business Bureau, Best Egg offers personal loans for debt consolidation, home improvement, major purchases, unexpected expenses and even vacation.

APRs on loans from Best Egg run from 5.99% up to 29.99%, depending on creditworthiness and other factors. You’ll need excellent credit to qualify for the lowest rates.

You can choose from a three or five-year fixed loan term, with loan amounts ranging from $2,000 to $35,000. Best Egg will occasionally approve loans of up to $50,000, but you need an annual income of $150,000 or more to qualify.

Example payment schedule: A $10,000 loan at 5.99% over five years would result in a monthly payment of $193.28.

The takeaway

One of the biggest benefits of Best Egg is its fast approval process. You can get a decision within a matter of a few minutes and, if approved, get cash into your bank account within a single business day. If you’re in the market for fast cash, Best Egg might be your best bet.

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3. SoFi

SoFi, or Social Finance, was founded in 2011 and quickly gained recognition in the loan business. The company’s 2017 Super Bowl commercial only helped to solidify it as a household name.

In addition to personal loans, SoFi offers mortgages, student loan refinancing, wealth management and life insurance. It gets an “A+” rating from the Better Business Bureau.

SoFi has grown in popularity on the personal loan scene for its extremely competitive interest rates, offering an APR range of 5.49% to 14.24%. But you’ll need excellent credit to qualify for the lowest rates. And those APRs are contingent on using AutoPay, or automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account.

You’ll find fixed loan terms of three, five and seven years, with loan amounts ranging from $5,000 up to $100,000.

Notably, SoFi is one of the few lenders that offers unemployment protection, allowing you to suspend loan payments if you lose your job through no fault of your own.

Example payment schedule: Monthly payments for a $10,000 loan over five years at 5.49% would be $190.97.

The takeaway

SoFi tends to have more competitive rates and higher loan amounts available than other lenders in this space. In addition, it offers unemployment protection, something that’s difficult to find elsewhere. If you’re in the market for competitive rates, a long term or high loan amounts, SoFi personal loans are worth a look.

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4. Prosper

Prosper is an online peer-to-peer marketplace lending platform offering unsecured loans. Like the other lenders on our list, it gets an “A+” rating from the Better Business Bureau. You can use personal loans from Prosper for a variety of purposes, including debt consolidation, home improvements, business growth, auto purchases, bridge loans, green loans and more.

Prosper offers APRs ranging from 5.99% to 35.99%. The rate you’ll qualify for depends on your credit history.

Offering fixed loan terms of three or five years, Prosper offers loan amounts from $2,000 to $35,000. Like other peer-to-peer lenders, it may take a week or so to get your loan funded. But once it gets funded, money is sent directly to your bank account via direct deposit.

Example payment schedule: Monthly payments for a $10,000 loan over five years at 5.99% would be $193.28.

The takeaway

Prosper, one of the biggest names in peer-to-peer lending, makes applying for a personal loan easy — and it’s done 100% online. Plus, their website allows you to see what you might qualify for without committing. With personal loans you can use for nearly any purpose, low rates and fairly high loan limits, you may want to add Prosper to your list for comparison shopping.

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5. Lending Club

Lending Club is another peer-to-peer marketplace. In business since 2007, the company has served more than 1.5 million customers and gets an “A+” rating from the Better Business Bureau. Lending Club offers personal loans for things like debt consolidation, credit card refinance, home improvement and major unexpected expenses.

The APRs from Lending Club are in line with its competitors — 5.99% to 35.89%, depending on creditworthiness. And Lending Club’s fixed loans come in either three or five-year terms, with amounts ranging from $1,000 up to $40,000.

Example payment schedule: Monthly payments for a $10,000 loan over five years at 5.99% would be $193.28.

The takeaway

As one of the biggest peer-to-peer lenders, Lending Club is a major player in the space, offering competitive rates and flexible uses for loans. It also offers a slightly higher top loan limit — $40,000 — than its big competitor, Prosper. If you’re looking for a big-name peer-to-peer lending company, and comparison shopping for loans, consider submitting an application at Lending Club.

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6. UpStart

UpStart was Founded in 2012 by former Google employees. So it’s no surprise that it was the first lender to use machine learning and artificial intelligence in order to automate the borrowing process. Its focus is on making personal loans to young borrowers with limited credit histories but bright futures. UpStart has an “A+” rating from the Better Business Bureau.

APRs at the company range from 7.37% to 29.99%. It offers three and five-year fixed terms with loan amounts ranging from $1,000 to $50,000. The average three-year loan at UpStart has an average APR of 16%.

Example payment schedule: Monthly payments for a $10,000 loan over five years at 7.37% would be $199.76.

The takeaway

UpStart offers an alternative underwriting model that caters to young applicants with high earning potential. To determine creditworthiness, UpStart factors in things like education, area of study and job history. That’s in addition to standard evaluation items like FICO score and years of credit. If you’re younger with limited credit history, but have an area of study that generally brings in big bucks, UpStart might be a solid option for a personal loan. But make sure to compare UpStart’s offers with lenders like SoFi, which also takes into consideration academics and job history.

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7. Marcus by Goldman Sachs

Marcus by Goldman Sachs officially launched in October 2016 as an online lending platform. But it recently started offering consumer banking services as well. For its personal loans, Marcus primarily markets to those with solid credit scores seeking a loan for debt consolidation. Its Better Business Bureau rating is lower than the other lenders on our list — it gets a “B-” — but it makes the cut for its no-fee personal loan policy, loan flexibility and the ability to skip a payment.

Marcus by Goldman Sachs offers loan terms from three to six years with APRs ranging from 6.99% to 23.99%. Loan limits range from $3,500 up to $40,000.

Example payment schedule: Monthly payments for a $10,000 loan over five years at 6.99% would be $197.96.

The takeaway

Marcus may focus on debt consolidation loans, but it also offers loans for things like major purchases, home improvement and special occasions. And it certainly offers some features that make it stand out from the crowd, including the fact that it doesn’t charge any fees. There are no sign-up fees, prepayment fees or late fees. That makes this a good loan option for those with excellent credit who want to keep costs low and benefit from flexible loan terms.

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8. Payoff: Best for paying off credit card debt

PayOff was founded on the principle that the first step to financial wellness is being able to get a handle on credit card debt. Personal loans from PayOff have the sole purpose of consolidating high-interest credit card debt into one low monthly payment. If you’re looking to take control of your credit card debt, this company has a solid reputation — it gets an “A+” rating from the Better Business Bureau.

APRs at the company range from 8% to 25%. It offers two, three, four and five-year fixed terms with loan amounts ranging from $5,000 to $35,000.

Example payment schedule: Monthly payments for a $10,000 loan over five years at 8% would be $202.76.

The takeaway

If you’re in the market for a way to consolidate your credit card debt, PayOff may be a good fit for you. Not only does it provide personal loans specifically for consolidating high-interest debt, but its “member advocates” provide ongoing support and financial guidance to help keep you on track. It also serves up tools and resources to help you stick to your goal.

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9. LendingPoint: Best for fair credit

Have an average to poor credit score? LendingPoint is worth a look. This Atlanta-based direct lender offers personal loans to those with fair credit seeking to repair or rebuild their credit history. It doesn’t rely on standard credit score models to evaluating a loan candidate — instead, it considers things like job history, income, financial history and credit behavior. LendingPoint also has a solid reputation, getting an “A+” rating from the BBB.

Lending Point offers APRs ranging from 15.49% to 34.99%.

Offering fixed loan terms of two to four years, LendingPoint offers loan amounts from $2,000 — $25,000.

Example payment schedule: Monthly payments for a $10,000 loan over five years at 15.49% would be $240.48.

The takeaway

LendingPoint stands out in our roundup as one of the best lenders for those with average to poor credit. That’s largely because it looks at more than just your credit score to evaluate whether or not to extend a loan offer, giving you a better chance of picking up a personal loan. If you’re interested in building credit through a personal loan, LendingPoint can help.

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Tips to shop for the best personal loans

  • Comparison shop: Undeniably, one of the most important things you can do when in the market for a personal loan is comparison shop. It’s the best way to ensure you’ll get the lowest rate possible. Every lender has a slightly different model for how they evaluate your creditworthiness, which means your interest rate could vary greatly from one lender to the next.
  • Watch out for fees: Some lenders will offer lower rates but then tack on origination fees, which effectively increase your interest rate. Make sure to ask about origination fees before you sign on the dotted line with any lender.
  • Read the fine print: When vetting a personal loan from a lender, ask for a full disclosure of loan terms. Read through everything carefully. You don’t want to get caught with unexpected repayment terms or fees for late payments.
  • Pick a term that fits your needs: Your repayment term affects how much you’ll pay in interest over the life of the loan. Longer terms will keep your monthly payments lower, but it means that you’ll pay more in interest in the long-run. Evaluate your options with each lender and find a loan term that’s right for your financial situation.

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How we chose these lenders:

There are several things that can make an unsecured personal loan a great financial fit. Competitive rates, low fees, flexible terms and a reputable lender all fit into that bucket.

Here’s how we chose the lenders on this list:

  • Reputation: The lender has a solid standing with the Better Business Bureau.
  • Area served: The lender serves most of the country.
  • Competitive APRs: The lender advertises interest rates that are better than or in line with its competitors.
  • High loan limits: The lenders offers loan limits that are higher than or in line with its competitors.
  • Low fees: The lender offers low or no fees on things like sign up, prepayment and late payment.
  • Term selection: The lender offers at least two different loan terms.
  • Website: The lender has a user-friendly website with clear information.

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