Personal Loans: Everything You Need To Know
Almost every loan you take out is personal and is called so because you can spend the money for nearly every purpose. Typically, the lender will give you between $1,000 and $100,000 for several years with fixed monthly payments and a fairly low APR. Anyone whose FICO score exceeds 550 points can get money on such terms.
The main advantage of this type of borrowing is its simplicity. If you agree to a fixed APR, you know exactly what day and how much you must pay in advance. In addition, you do not have to provide collateral to get the money, and if you pay back the borrowed funds on time, you can improve your FICO score.
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Personal Loans: Best Offers
Not all lenders have loyal terms for their borrowers, so we’ve gathered 11 of the most popular and reliable financial institutions where you can borrow money in this article. First, pay attention to the APR, repayment period, and the amount you can get from each company, as these are the main criteria for choosing personal loans.
If you have a low FICO score above 560 and want to borrow money on acceptable terms, you can choose Universal Credit among all personal loan lenders. Universal Credit is available for loans between $1,000 and $50,000 at interest rates of 11.69 percent and 35.93 percent for three to five years.
The good news is that Universal Credit is great for debt consolidation loans and will deposit money into your account within one day of approving your application. On the downside, you should know that the origination fee of 5.25% to 8% is relatively high.
To receive money from Universal Credit, you must meet the following criteria:
- Be a U.S. citizen at least 18 years old or have a valid visa.
- Have a bank account and a valid email address.
- Have a credit history of at least two years and a DTI ratio of 75%.
It’s also important to note that Universal Credit offers discounts on APR for those who connect automatic payments or 1% to 5% for those who take out a consolidation loan. This company is also great for people who want to improve their FICO score because their website has a credit score simulator, credit monitoring, and educational videos and articles.
Overall, this is one of the best personal loans for bad credit options on the US market, with no minimum income requirements.
Do you want to be able to compare offers from dozens of lenders at the same time and choose the best one? Then Best Egg’s online platform is perfect for you.
Here you can get $2,000 and $50,000 and use it for everything from starting a business to debt consolidation. However, you must have a minimum of 640 FICO points and a DTI under 30% for a lender to approve your application.
This company has a few drawbacks:
- A relatively high APR of 8% to 36%.
- An origination fee of 0.99% to 5.99%.
- Unable to get personal loans for Iowa, Vermont, and West Virginia residents.
Best Egg’s main features are flexible due dates and no prepayment fees. In addition, this platform will give you dozens of offers from which you can choose the one that suits your needs in terms of maturity, rate, and other conditions.
Overall, it’s an excellent choice for those who want to compare many options, but not the best for people with low FICO scores.
This platform is suitable for those who want a big enough loan of $5,000 to $40,000 to pay off their credit card debts. With its help, you can turn several different loans with high interest rates into one on more favorable terms.
Happy Money has a lower APR than many competitors, between 6% and 25%. However, you can only get money for 2 or 5 years; there are no other options.
You must have a minimum of 640 FICO points to get your application accepted, and your credit history must be over two years old, which is an advantage of the platform. Also, Happy Money doesn’t charge application or late (early) payment fees and has many free credit-building tools.
The only downsides of this option we can note are the origination fees between 0% and 5% and the ability to use credit only to pay off existing credit card debts. But if that’s what you need money for, it’s your best bet.
This option is best for those who need a small loan of up to $20,000 for non-business purposes. In addition, OneMain Financial allows people with a low FICO score and low income to get money at 18% to 36% for 2 to 5 years.
Also, if you applied but the company rejected your application, you can try again and use a co-applicant to have a better chance. However, if you want a personal loan on better terms, you might want to consider other options.
Do you need money to start a business or make a big purchase? You can apply to this company and get $2,000 to $45,000 at 6.72% to 29.99% if your FICO score exceeds 580.
If you apply this morning and meet all their requirements, there’s an 80% chance the money will be in your account by this evening. You can also sign up for autopay and get a discount on your APR.
Unfortunately, the company only works with individual applications, so you can’t apply with a co-signer. Also, it charges an origination fee of 1% to 6% and a $15 late fee.
To get money from this organization, you must have a credit history of over two years and a minimum income of $24,000. In addition, your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio must be 40% or higher.
It is an excellent option for those with low APR and a dire need of money for business or personal purchases.
One of the most popular lending platforms, SoFi, lets you borrow money all over the United States except Mississippi. You can get anywhere from $5,000 to $100,000 for 2 to 7 years if your FICO score exceeds 650.
This is an excellent option for those who want to receive funds for business purposes because the APR of these loans is less than 23.43%. Besides, SoFi does not charge any late or origination fees, which is a huge advantage. To be eligible for a personal loan from this company, you must earn at least $45,000 yearly and have $1,000 or more in free cash flow each month.
SoFi is an excellent option if you have a good FICO score.
This platform brings together lenders and borrowers who need to borrow between $2,000 and $40,000. Almost everyone can get a personal loan here, but because there are no strict requirements, the APR can be as high as 36%, and the origination fee is 5%.
If your FICO score is above 600, you can apply and get an answer within minutes. The platform will immediately show you all the lenders who could lend you money and their terms and conditions. Your job in this situation is to choose the option that suits you best.
Through this platform, you can only borrow money for 3 or 5 years, and the funds will arrive in your account within three days after the application is approved. Overall, this is an excellent option for those who need a small loan for a few years.
LightStream is considered one of the best lenders for those with a good FICO score because it does not charge origination, late, or prepayment fees. You can get up to $100,000 for 2-12 years for almost anything except starting or growing a business or covering tuition costs. As a result, we can say that LightStream is best suited for those who need a large sum of money for a significant purchase, such as a plot of land.
The requirements for borrowers at this lender are simple – you must be an American or have a U.S. visa, have a stable income, be over 18 years old, and have a credit score of 660 or higher. In addition, you can live in any of the 50 states, as the company operates nationwide.
The pros of this option are obvious:
- Low APR of between 5.24% to 19.99%.
- Autopay discount of 0.5%.
- Ability to lend both small and large amounts.
- Absence of any fees.
However, it has one major disadvantage – each borrower must pass a hard check to see if they qualify, which hurts one’s FICO score. But, overall, it is an excellent option with a low APR.
This lender will help people with a low credit score of 580 to get $2,000 to $35,000 for 24 to 60 months. Its personal loan interest rates are between 9.95% and 35.99%, and it has an administrative fee of 4.75%.
Since Avant works with the riskiest group of borrowers, it charges all kinds of fees, which is its significant disadvantage. In addition, it does not offer discounts for setting up automatic payments and does not have any special offers for consolidation loans.
The main advantage of Avant, which many borrowers point out, is the ability to apply based on a household income, which must be over $40,000. However, to summarize all of the above, it can be concluded that this option is only suitable for those with a meager chance of getting a personal loan from other companies.
This financial institution has the same terms and conditions as Avant but allows you to use borrowed money for business purposes. Its personal loan interest rates range from 7.99% to 35.99%, and the amount of borrowing can be from $2,000 to $36,500. This is an excellent option if your FICO score is less than 670.
LendingPoint doesn’t allow co-signers or co-applicants and charges an origination fee of up to 7%. But it does have some significant advantages:
- LendingPoint does not charge late fees.
- It lets you pre-qualify online with a soft credit check.
- You can change the repayment date in the app.
- You will receive your money the day after your application is approved.
- Your annual income must be only $20,000, regardless of source.
If you need money urgently and can’t get it from a lender with better terms, LendingPoint may be an excellent option for you.
Upstart is a unique lending platform that is AI-powered, so most people who want a loan get one quickly and without any problems. To decide whether to lend you money, the platform checks more than 1,500 criteria, so even if your FICO score is 600, you can get the financial help you need.
You can get loans from $1,000 to $50,000 for 36 or 60 months. Upstart’s personal loan interest rates are 5.60% to 35.99%, and origination fees may be up to 8%, which is extremely high. Upstart charges late and insufficient funds fees, so if you have the option, get the money from a lender with more favorable terms. The required minimum annual income for Upstart’s borrowers is $12,000.
What Is a Personal Loan?
Most of the loans you have ever received can be considered personal – they are so called because they are issued for almost any purpose. Banks and financial institutions have few restrictions on using borrowed funds: for illegal purposes, paying for education, or creating/developing a business.
However, it is essential to note that some lenders, such as SoFi, Upgrade, or Best Egg, do not prohibit spending personal loans to cover business expenses.
Usually, such credits do not require collateral, meaning they are unsecured. You are typically given a fixed amount at a fixed APR, so you know strictly what payment on what day you will need to make and when you will pay off the loan in full. Personal loan interest rates can be pretty high, up to 36%, but on average, borrowers get money for two years at an APR of 9.39%, which is half the average APR for credit cards.
How to Apply for a Personal Loan
There are two application options, which vary from lender to lender. Some offer you online prequalification, which does not affect your FICO score and allows you to figure out in a few minutes what terms you can get based on your information.
Other lenders do not allow online prequalification. Instead, you have to submit all of your documents on their website, they will conduct a hard credit check (usually takes 5 to 15 FICO points) and only then show what lending terms are available to you.
These companies typically have the most favorable terms, so if you have a good FICO score, it makes sense to try applying to them. Using the personal loan calculator on the lender’s website, you can also find out roughly what your APR and monthly payments will be.
Either way, you can always use this application plan:
- Check your FICO score.
You need this information to understand if you qualify for lenders.
- Find an online platform that aggregates offers from dozens of lenders to see where the best personal loan rates are for you.
Fill out a pre-qualification form so the platform can show you the options available to you. That way, you can shorten your search and find the terms that work for you.
- Choose the offer that suits you best.
Look at the various fees, APR, and monthly payments. Then, calculate the loan cost to ensure you are not overpaying. If all the terms fit you, apply for the loan and provide all the necessary documents.
- If the lender approves your application, sign an agreement with them.
Read the contract carefully and ensure that all the terms therein are acceptable. Be sure to read what happens if you fall behind on your payments to know what to do if something unexpected happens.
- Accept the loan and start making payments.
Be sure to put a reminder on your phone two days before your monthly due date, so you don’t miss payments, pay late fees, and have negative marks on your credit report.
Personal Loan Documents Your Lender May Require
By law, the lender must keep records of all loans it issues, stating the borrower’s details. This is why you must provide several documents to receive money:
- Loan Application.
Before you begin the lending process, you must fill out a form that provides basic information about yourself, how much you want to borrow, and your purpose. Most of the time, you can do this online, but some lenders will call you and ask all these questions over the phone or ask you to come into their office.
- Proof of Identity.
This is a mandatory item at all banks and financial institutions and requires you to provide at least two forms of government-issued identification. Under the law, credits cannot be delivered to anyone under 18, and many lenders do not want to work with people without U.S. citizenship, so they need proof of your identity. You can provide your birth certificate, driver’s license, passport, or citizenship certificate as proof of your identity.
- Status of Employment and Income Verification.
Your lender wants to know if you can pay back the borrowed money, so they want to see where you work and how much you earn. You can show paystubs or W-2s and 1099s forms, bank statements, or employer’s contacts to prove you can pay.
- Proof of Address.
The lender needs this information to make sure you have a stable living situation. You can verify your address with a recent utility bill, rental agreement, or document of home ownership.
Personal Loan Pros and Cons
Among the most significant advantages of this type of borrowing, we can note:
The process of obtaining and repaying a loan is straightforward, as it is often done online and involves fixed amounts. For example, if you get a $10,000 loan for three years at an APR of 15%, you can already know on what day what amount you will have to repay and on what date you will close the loan.
- Opportunity to buy something big.
Get up to $100,000 in one payment if your FICO score allows you and you meet lender requirements.
- Fast funding.
Lenders try to do everything possible to have borrowed funds in your account within 1-3 business days of approving your application. However, it is essential to note that this process can take weeks if you apply with a co-signer.
- No collateral.
Most loans are granted without collateral, even if you have a fair FICO score. This is much safer than any secured loan because you will not lose your property if you cannot repay on time.
- Lower interest rates.
Of course, these loans cost much less than payday ones. But what’s more, they come out even cheaper than credit cards! Of course, not all offers will have a low APR, especially if you have a low FICO score, but personal loans are often more advantageous than other types.
- Possibility to use the money for different purposes.
Even if you want to spend the money to create or grow a business, you can still find a lender willing to lend it to you. Whatever you want to buy, as long as it’s a legal purchase, you can get a personal loan just like you can for consolidating debt or paying medical bills.
At the same time, these types of loans have a few disadvantages:
- People with no credit history won’t be able to get them in most cases.
- Your APR may be higher than the alternative if you have a low FICO score.
- Lenders often charge extra fees and penalties.
- You have a fixed deadline when paying the total amount, and the monthly payments may be higher than on credit cards.
If you are not sure this is the type of borrowing you want, it makes sense to look at alternatives.
Alternatives to personal loans
If you want money for business purposes and you’re not comfortable with the terms and conditions that standard personal lenders have, you may want to consider these alternatives:
- SBA loans small loans guaranteed by the U.S. Small Business Administration with low APRs and flexible terms. The only downside to this option is the high requirements for borrowers, but you can read the details on the SBA website and see if you qualify.
- Payday loans, usually issued for 10-31 days, are not the best alternative for business purposes but can be used if you have broken equipment and need money within a few hours. They have a very high APR and low borrower requirements.
- Business lines of credit, like credit cards, can be a good option for those who do not want to take out a large loan right away but would rather have a specific limit that can be spent and paid back.
- A business credit card designed for business owners usually has a higher limit, allows you to earn rewards, and comes with a handy app where you can control all expenses. The downsides of this option are the high annual fee and high requirements for borrowers.
- Crowdfunding platforms, which allow you to raise money from strangers who like your idea, can be an excellent option for promising startups. You just describe your goal and concept, put up a collection on particular websites, and then you just need to engage in promotion so that it is seen and supported by as many people as possible.
How many personal loans can I have at once?
You can have several of these loans simultaneously if your debt-to-income ratio allows it. Generally speaking, there are no legal restrictions, so each lender will decide whether to lend you money or not.
Should I get a personal loan with a fixed or variable interest rate?
The difference is that a fixed rate does not change over time, so you can see how much you have to pay back and when. On the other hand, a variable rate can go up or down, so these loans have higher risks and can lead to a debt trap.
What are the requirements for a personal loan?
Most lenders have specific requirements regarding income and level (minimum of $20,000 per year) of your FICO score (usually 580 points or higher). You must also be 18 years old or older to qualify for a loan from a financial institution. In addition, you must usually be legally employed and have proof of a stable living situation.
What documents do I need to apply for a personal loan?
You must provide the lender with proof of your identity, where you live, and income. This could be your passport, driver’s license, employer contacts, bank statements, a recent utility bill, or rental agreement.