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Best Personal Loans of May 2022

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that pay us a commission. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.

You're looking for a personal loan, and you want one that has it all: low interest rate, low fees, and terms that fit your budget, all from a company with great customer service. If you're not sure where to begin, don't worry. We have taken the mystery out of loan shopping by scouring the marketplace to find which lenders offer the best overall personal loans.

Prequalify without impacting your credit score

You’re clicks away from finding a custom loan fit to your needs. Answer a few questions and start comparing real offers from multiple lenders within minutes. This won’t impact your credit.

Ratings Methodology

As of Mar. 01, 2022

Lending Partner Min. Credit Score Loan Amounts APR Range Next Steps
Upstart
Rating image, 4.0 out of 5 stars.
Min. Credit Score: 580 Loan Amounts: $1,000 - $50,000 APR Range: 4.81% - 35.99%
Marcus
Rating image, 5.0 out of 5 stars.
Min. Credit Score: 660 FICO score Loan Amounts: $3,500 - $40,000 APR Range: 6.99% - 19.99%
SoFi
Rating image, 5.0 out of 5 stars.
Min. Credit Score: 680 Loan Amounts: $5,000 - $100,000 APR Range: Fixed: 6.99-21.78% APR (with all discounts)
Award Icon BEST OF 2022
LightStream
Rating image, 4.0 out of 5 stars.
Min. Credit Score: 660 Loan Amounts: $5,000 - $100,000 APR Range: 2.49% - 19.99% (w/AutoPay*)
Payoff
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Min. Credit Score: 640 Loan Amounts: $5,000 - $40,000 APR Range: 5.99% - 24.99%
Avant
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Min. Credit Score: 580 Loan Amounts: $2,000 - $35,000 APR Range: 9.95% - 35.99%
FreedomPlus
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Min. Credit Score: 640 Loan Amounts: $7,500 - $50,000 APR Range: 7.99% - 29.99%
Best Egg
Rating image, 4.0 out of 5 stars.
Min. Credit Score: 640 Loan Amounts: $2,000 - $50,000 APR Range: 5.99%–35.99%
Discover Personal Loan
Rating image, 5.0 out of 5 stars.
Min. Credit Score: 660 Loan Amounts: $2,500 - $35,000 APR Range: 5.99%-24.99%
Disclaimers

*SoFi Personal Loan Disclaimer

Fixed rates from 6.99 -21.78% APR APR reflect the 0.25% autopay discount and a 0.25% direct deposit discount. SoFi rate ranges are current as of 4/12/22 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, income, and other factors. See APR examples and terms. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.

To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull. If SoFi is unable to offer you a loan but matches you for a loan with a participating bank then your rate may be outside the range of rates listed above.

*Upstart Loan Disclaimer

The full range of available rates varies by state. The average 3-year loan offered across all lenders using the Upstart platform will have an APR of 21.97% and 36 monthly payments of $35 per $1,000 borrowed. For example, the total cost of a $10,000 loan would be $12,646 including a $626 origination fee. APR is calculated based on 3-year rates offered in the last 1 month. There is no down payment and no prepayment penalty. Your APR will be determined based on your credit, income, and certain other information provided in your loan application.

*Marcus by Goldman Sachs Disclaimer

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. The availability of a loan offer and the terms of your actual offer will vary due to a number of factors, including your loan purpose, our evaluation of your creditworthiness, your credit history, if we have recently declined your loan application and the number of loans you already have with us. 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. You may be required to have some of your funds sent directly to creditors to pay down certain types of unsecured debt. Receive a 0.25% APR reduction when you enroll in AutoPay. This reduction will not be applied if AutoPay is not in effect. When enrolled, a larger portion of your monthly payment will be applied to your principal loan amount and less interest will accrue on your loan, which may result in a smaller final payment. See loan agreement for details.

Logo for Upstart
Rating image, 4.0 out of 5 stars.
4.0/5

Minimum Credit Score

580

Loan Amounts

$1,000 - $50,000

APR Range

4.81% - 35.99%

Term Length

36 or 60 months
  • Upstart has flexible credit requirements and offers loans as small as $1,000. Well qualified borrowers can get a very low rate. On the downside, Upstart charges fees, including an origination fee and a late fee.

    • Accepts borrowers with low credit scores
    • Wide range of loan amounts
    • No prepayment penalty
    • High upper-range interest rate
    • High origination fees
Logo for Marcus
Rating image, 5.0 out of 5 stars.
5.0/5

Minimum Credit Score

660 FICO score

Loan Amounts

$3,500 - $40,000

APR Range

6.99% - 19.99%

Term Length

36 to 72 months
  • Marcus is one of the most consumer-friendly personal loan lenders. Besides charging no fees at all, Marcus offers special perks like an interest rate reduction for auto-payments, and an optional interest-free one-month payment deferral. Loan terms are as long as six years.

    • No fees
    • Opportunity to defer a payment
    • Long repayment term
    • Simplifies debt consolidation
    • No joint applications
Logo for SoFi
Rating image, 5.0 out of 5 stars.
5.0/5

Minimum Credit Score

680

Loan Amounts

$5,000 - $100,000

APR Range

Fixed: 6.99-21.78% APR (with all discounts)

Term Length

24 to 84 months
  • SoFi offers rock-bottom interest rates and higher loan limits than most lenders. Its loans are designed for well qualified applicants. SoFi doesn't charge an origination fee, late fees, or a prepayment penalty.

    • Competitive interest rates
    • No fees
    • Paused payments for unemployment
    • High minimum loan amount
Award Icon BEST OF 2022

LightStream

Logo for LightStream
Rating image, 4.0 out of 5 stars.
4.0/5

Minimum Credit Score

660

Loan Amounts

$5,000 - $100,000

APR Range

2.49% - 19.99% (w/AutoPay*)

Term Length

36 to 84 months
  • LightStream offers the lowest rates on personal loans, hands down, and high loan limits. Also, LightStream doesn't charge fees. All in all, this is one of the most competitive personal loan lenders you'll come across. The catch is that LightStream has stricter borrowing requirements than some other lenders.

    • One of the lowest APRs in the industry
    • Low-rate guarantee
    • Super fast funding
    • High maximum loan amounts
    • Strict qualification requirements
Logo for Payoff
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5/5

Minimum Credit Score

640

Loan Amounts

$5,000 - $40,000

APR Range

5.99% - 24.99%

Term Length

24 to 60 months
  • Payoff makes loans to -- you guessed it -- pay off other, more expensive debt. Qualified borrowers get rates that are hard to beat and a loan term up to five years.

    • Low APRs for qualified borrowers
    • Relatively long repayment term
    • Expensive origination fees
    • High minimum loan amount
Logo for Avant
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5/5

Minimum Credit Score

580

Loan Amounts

$2,000 - $35,000

APR Range

9.95% - 35.99%

Term Length

24 to 60 months
  • Avant has flexible credit requirements. The minimum loan amount is $2,000 (lower than many other lenders). Avant doesn't offer the lowest interest rates we've seen, but you can apply with a credit score of just 580.

    • Lower credit score requirements
    • Relatively low minimum loan amounts
    • Fast funding
    • No prepayment penalties
    • Higher APRs

FreedomPlus

Logo for FreedomPlus
Rating image, 4.5 out of 5 stars.
4.5/5

Minimum Credit Score

640

Loan Amounts

$7,500 - $50,000

APR Range

7.99% - 29.99%

Term Length

24 to 60 months
  • At FreedomPlus, use 85% of the loan funds to pay off other debt to qualify for a lower rate. The same is true if you have sufficient retirement savings or you add a co-borrower. These are great strategies to lower the cost of your loan even if you don't have excellent credit.

    • Cosigners accepted
    • Special discounts for borrowers who want to pay down existing debt
    • No prepayment penalty
    • Difficult to qualify for lowest interest rate
    • Costly origination fees

Best Egg

Logo for Best Egg
Rating image, 4.0 out of 5 stars.
4.0/5

Minimum Credit Score

640

Loan Amounts

$2,000 - $50,000

APR Range

5.99%–35.99%

Term Length

36 to 60 months
  • Best Egg offers personal loans at competitive rates to applicants with good or excellent credit. Borrowers pay an origination fee of up to 5.99%. The lowest rates and fees go to borrowers with excellent credit scores, a loan term under 4 years, and a household income of at least $100,000.

    • Low minimum loan amount (in most states)
    • Easy application process
    • Funds disbursed in as little as one day
    • Origination fees
    • No joint applications accepted
    • The best loans reserved for those with high incomes and credit scores

Discover Personal Loan

Logo for Discover Personal Loan
Rating image, 5.0 out of 5 stars.
5.0/5

Minimum Credit Score

660

Loan Amounts

$2,500 - $35,000

APR Range

5.99%-24.99%

Term Length

36 to 84 months
  • Discover is a consumer-friendly lender that offers competitive rates to qualified applicants. There's no origination fee, and loan terms are as long as 84 months. Discover knows that financial decisions are complex. If you change your mind and return your loan within 30 days, it won't cost you a thing.

    • Competitive APRs
    • No origination or prepayment fees
    • Debt consolidation support
    • Long repayment term

    No cosigners accepted

What is a personal loan?

When you take out a loan from a bank, credit union, or online lender, it's a personal loan. Typically, personal loans are distributed in a lump sum and paid off in monthly installments.

Some loan types are used to pay for specific purchases like a home or vehicle. But the best unsecured personal loans can be used for almost any reason. For example, you can take out a personal loan to take care of emergency home repairs, finance home renovations, pay for a wedding, or cover medical expenses. With an unsecured personal loan, the lender requires nothing more than your good credit and your written promise to repay the loan as agreed.

In return for using the lender's money, you repay the loan with interest. The higher your credit score, the lower you can expect the lender's interest rate to be. Even if your credit score is not as high as you would like, you may still qualify for a personal loan with bad credit. However, you'll likely pay a higher interest rate than other borrowers.

When is a personal loan a good option?

Let's say your kitchen was designed sometime during the Truman administration, or you would like to consolidate debt. A personal loan can provide you with the funds to get things done. Most lenders don't care how you spend the money, as long as you pay it back as promised. If you know how you're going to spend the money and have a plan to repay it, a personal loan can be a good tool for accomplishing your goals.

If you need the money from your personal loan quickly, look for a loan with "streamlined approval." This means you won't wait long to receive the loan funds. Because some loans are funded same day, if you run into a financial roadblock, a personal loan can help you overcome it -- even when you need the cash fast.

What should I look for in a personal loan?

You may be surprised to learn how many loan options are out there. Whether you have excellent credit or are working to boost your credit score, the very best loans have these three things in common:

Low interest rate

A great loan is one carrying a low interest rate. The interest on a loan is calculated as a percent of the total you borrow. The lower the interest rate, the more money you save in paying back the loan.

Let's say you need to borrow $20,000 to replace the roof of your house, and you plan to get a loan with a five-year term. You're considering two options: Lender A and Lender B. Below, we've summarized these two imaginary lenders and how their interest rates would impact the cost of your loan. Even a small percentage change can result in significant savings. It's clear that the lender offering the lower interest rate can save you money over the life of the loan. These are funds you can use in some other way, like investing for your future.

Lender A

  • Interest rate: 5.5%
  • Monthly payment: $382
  • Total interest paid over the life of the loan: $2,921

Lender B

  • Interest rate: 6.9%
  • Monthly payment: $395
  • Total interest paid over the life of the loan: $3,705

You may only pay an extra $13 per month for a loan from Lender B, but that small difference costs you $780 more over the life of the loan. For help finding the best loans with low interest, check out our guide to good interest rates for personal loans.

Do you have bad credit? You will likely pay a higher interest rate for a personal loan. If this is your situation, you have two options. You can take steps to raise your score and wait until it's in better shape before applying for a loan. The second option is to get a loan now, then refinance your personal loan later (when your credit score is higher and you can get a better rate).

Loan terms that work for you

The "loan term" is the period of time you have to repay a loan in full. Some people opt for a longer loan term because it keeps their monthly payments low. However, the longer you carry a loan, the more interest you pay in total. Look for your personal loan term sweet spot, the shortest term with the most affordable payment. The best loans fit your budget and timeline.

Low fees

Another key trait of a great personal loan is that it has no fees or very low fees. Fees can be sneaky. Say a lender offers you a low interest rate, but piles on fees. That loan may end up costing more than a loan with a slightly higher interest rate but no fees. The best personal loan lenders don't charge an origination fee and keep other expenses -- like prepayment and late fees -- to a minimum.

For example, many lenders charge origination fees to cover the cost of processing and distributing your loan. Origination fees range from 1% to 8% of the amount you borrow. Using the scenario above, if you borrow $20,000 to replace a roof, you could pay between $200 and $1,600 in origination fees alone.

How to get a personal loan

No matter where you apply for a personal loan -- a bank, credit union, or personal loan online lender -- the application process is the same.

Here are the steps to take:

Gather documents

No matter where you apply, the lender is likely to ask for the same documents. Getting them together before you apply can streamline the process and save you a great deal of stress. Here's what you need:

  • Proof of identification
  • Proof of address
  • List of monthly expenses
  • Evidence of how much your collateral is worth (if you're applying for a secured personal loan)

Whether it's a secured personal loan or an unsecured personal loan, the lender may ask about the purpose for the funds -- some personal loans are designated for specific purposes, like those to help consolidate existing debt, but those loan types are relatively uncommon.

Shop lenders

Take the time to shop for the best lender. Lenders make loan decisions based on a "soft" credit check, which has no impact on your credit score. This soft credit check gives the personal loan lender a sense of your credit history, including credit card debt and other debt (like an outstanding installment loan). If your credit score is not quite perfect, look for lenders that specialize in personal loans for fair credit or personal loans for bad credit.

Don't leave any gaps -- fill out the entire loan application, and provide the lender with all documents requested. If you do this, it should not take long to hear whether your loan has been approved.Some of the best lenders let you know within minutes if your application has been approved.

Prequalifying for a personal loan

Personal loan prequalification or pre-approval allows you to get a sense of what loan terms are available. Most prequalification processes use a soft credit check, which doesn't impact your credit score. If you qualify, lenders will let you know how much you can borrow, the interest rate you will be charged, and how long you'll have to repay the loan. You can use this information to compare personal loans. If you do not qualify, you can learn what you need to do to improve your odds of getting a personal loan.

Compare loan offers

Compare loans of the same type side by side. If you have applied for unsecured loans, compare them only to other unsecured loan offers. And if you've applied for secured loans, compare them only to other secured loan offers.

Here's what to look for:

  • The lowest annual percentage rate
  • A repayment term that fits your budget
  • Loan amounts that match your borrowing needs
  • Lowest loan fees (ideally, you'll find a loan with no origination fee or prepayment penalty)
  • Perks like loan deferment when you're unemployed

Commit to a lender

A lender does not run a "hard" credit check until you let them know you want to proceed with a loan. So if you applied with five banks, only the bank you choose to work with runs a hard credit check.

A hard credit check is a deeper dive into your credit history, and helps the personal loan provider make sure a borrower meets their minimum credit score requirement and has paid bills on time. Although the hard credit check may decrease your credit score, it's typically by less than five points. After a few months of regular payments, your score should rebound to its pre-loan level.

Note: If a low credit score means you don't receive a loan offer that works for you, consider taking time to improve your credit score. Boosting your score can only help you in the long run. Small changes like reducing your credit utilization, paying bills on time, and only applying for credit when needed can help raise your FICO® Score.

Sign loan documents

Whether you're working with an online lender or a brick-and-mortar financial institution, most lenders allow you to sign documents electronically. Read through the documents thoroughly before signing. Once you've signed, you're legally committed to whatever is written inside the four corners of the contract.

Wait for loan funding

Funds usually hit your bank account one to 14 days from the time of loan approval. If you need the money quickly, ask lenders about their fund distribution times as you shop for the loan. If you can't wait, make sure to work only with a lender that promises a quick distribution of funds.

What are the alternatives to personal loans?

Personal loans are not for everyone. Depending on your circumstances -- for example, if you need money to fund a project or pay an unexpected expense -- you may want to look at other options.

Here are two alternatives to personal loans:

Credit cards

A credit card can provide fast cash in an urgent situation. If you qualify for a 0% APR credit card, you have months (typically 12 to 18) to pay off the debt with no interest. Only use a credit card with a 0% transfer offer if you're confident you can pay it off in full before the promotional rate expires. At the end of the promotional period, the interest rate shoots up to its standard rate, and you could get stuck trying to pay down debt as high interest piles on top.

Secured line of credit

A secured line of credit can help you snag the best rates for personal loans. When you take out a secured line of credit or secured personal loan, you typically pay a lower interest rate because you put up something of value as collateral. This may be anything of value, such as your car, home, boat, or jewelry. A line of credit offers greater flexibility. You can borrow up to your credit limit, depending on what you need, and you only pay interest on the amount you borrow.

Online personal loan companies rarely offer secured lines of credit, so if that's the route you choose, plan on working with a brick-and-mortar bank or credit union.

Other personal loans to compare

If you look through our loan suggestions but don't find a loan that fits your needs, don't worry. No loan fits every borrower or every set of circumstances. Here are a few others to consider:

Taking out a personal loan is a big deal. You're committing to years of working with a specific financial institution and taking on new debt. Take your time to decide if you can comfortably afford a personal loan. If you decide you can, take time to find the loan that's just right for you.

To recap, here are the best personal loans of May 2022

Lending Partner Min. Credit Score Loan Amounts APR Range Best For
Upstart 580 $1,000 - $50,000 4.81% - 35.99% Reducing high interest debt
Marcus 660 FICO score $3,500 - $40,000 6.99% - 19.99% Low overall APR
SoFi 680 $5,000 - $100,000 Fixed: 6.99-21.78% APR (with all discounts) Low APR for borrowers with high income
LightStream 660 $5,000 - $100,000 2.49% - 19.99% (w/AutoPay*) Borrowers with good credit
Payoff 640 $5,000 - $40,000 5.99% - 24.99% Reducing high-interest credit card debt
Avant 580 $2,000 - $35,000 9.95% - 35.99% Borrowers with poor credit scores
FreedomPlus 640 $7,500 - $50,000 7.99% - 29.99% Diverse offerings
Best Egg 640 $2,000 - $50,000 5.99%–35.99% Debt consolidation
Discover Personal Loan 660 $2,500 - $35,000 5.99%-24.99% Debt consolidation

FAQs

  • A personal loan is money you borrow in a lump sum and pay back in regular installments. Unlike an auto loan or a mortgage, a personal loan can be used to pay for a variety of things, such as an engagement ring, home improvements, or a vacation.

  • The ideal personal loan combines a low interest personal loan rate, reasonable repayment terms, and low fees.

  • The best rates are offered to the most qualified borrowers. Lenders will take your credit score, income, and existing debt into account when determining whether you qualify for a personal loan. Be prepared to provide supporting documentation like your ID and proof of income. Know how much you need to borrow and where you want the funds deposited.

  • Yes, depending on your situation. If you're struggling to make ends meet because of the pandemic, you might qualify for a coronavirus hardship loan.

  • Most personal loans can be used for any purpose. The lender’s primary concern is that the borrower repay as promised.

  • While the loan term may run anywhere from one to 10 years, a term of three to five years is more common. That said, if you opt for a personal loan with no prepayment penalty, you can pay it off before the term ends. Doing so minimizes the amount you pay in interest.

  • Personal loans normally carry a lower interest rate than credit cards, and in that way, personal loans are a better option. Personal loans and credit cards both represent debt, and the best financial move is to pay either off as quickly as possible.

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