Best Bank Loans

Which bank is best for personal loans?

There might be many reasons to take out a personal loan: You have a financial emergency, you want to cover a major expense, or you just want to build a good credit history. But not all personal loans—or personal loan lenders—are the same. The best will offer a low annual percentage rate, long repayment terms, and little to no fees. And of course, your personal needs and financial profile will impact the type of lender you'll find ideal, too.

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If you're in the market for a personal loan, you better shop around. To jump-start your search, we've done some extensive research on the options out there.

Wells Fargo: Best Big Bank

Wells Fargo

Wells Fargo is one of the nation’s biggest banks. If you don't want to visit one of their 5,400 branches across the U.S., you can access info on their easy-to-navigate website. Wells Fargo offers competitive rates, a big range of loans, and less stringent credit requirements than others.

Pros
  • Long repayment terms: up to 84 months

  • Minimal fees: No origination fee or prepayment penalties

  • Quick funding: Money available on the next business day

  • Discounts: Interest-rate breaks for auto payments, additional WF accounts

Cons
  • No prequalification: You have to actually apply for a loan, which triggers a score-dinging hard credit check

  • Application process: Online/phone applications for current bank clients only; newcomers must apply in person at a branch

Other Important Information

  • Loan ranges: $3,000 to $100,000
  • APR range: 5.24% to 24.49%
  • Credit requirements: Minimum 600 score (though of course, the higher the better)

LightStream: Best for Home Improvement Loans

LightStream

LightStream is the online lending division of SunTrust Bank, now known as Truist. LightStream prides itself on offering loans for nearly every need or occasion, from a new car to a wedding; however, one of their specialties is financing for home improvement projects. Some people prefer using personal loans for remodels or major repairs because they don't require putting up the residence as collateral, as home equity loans or lines of credit do.

Pros
  • Large loan ranges: As low as $5,000 or as much as $100,000

  • No fees: None. Really.

  • Long repayment terms: as high as 12 years

Cons
  • Stringent credit requirements: While LightStream doesn’t specify the credit score you need, they suggest having good to excellent credit to qualify

  • No prequalification: You have to actually apply for a loan, which triggers a score-dinging hard credit check

Other Important Information

  • Loan ranges: $5,000 to $100,000
  • APR range: 4.99% to 15.29% with autopay
  • Credit requirements: Good or excellent credit recommended

Marcus by Goldman Sachs: Best for Debt Consolidation Loans

Marcus

If you have a mountain of outstanding credit card balances or other high interest liabilities, you might consider using a personal loan to consolidate them into one big debt for better terms. Marcus by Goldman Sachs, the online consumer banking arm of the investment management firm, specializes in such debt consolidation loans to those with decent credit.

Pros
  • Fees-free: No charges for late payment, prepayment, or loan origination

  • Flexible repayments: Borrowers can choose and change repayment dates, and even skip a payment

  • Discounts: .25% reduction in interest with auto-pay

Cons
  • Stringent requirements: Good to excellent credit score required

  • No cosigners allowed: No helping hand if your own credit isn’t solid enough to qualify

Other Important Information

  • Loan ranges: $3,500 to $40,000
  • APR ranges: 6.99% to 28.99%
  • Credit requirements: At least 660 score

TD Bank: Best for Cosigners

TD Bank

Those with sketchy credit histories or low credit scores can still often qualify for a loan if the lender allows cosigning. A cosigner acts as an additional repayment source—responsible for the loan should the primary borrower default or fall behind—and their presence not only helps you qualify for the loan but can also improve its terms and size. TD Bank allows for cosigning, and offers competitive terms and features, too.

Pros
  • Low APR: Maximum APR is 18.99%, far lower than many lenders' upper limit

  • Fast process: Funds in 48 hours (with Express Loan)

  • No hidden costs: No origination or application fees

Cons
  • Limited availability: TD Bank operates in only a few states

  • Application process: While you can apply online, by phone, or in person, you might have to visit a branch to complete the process

Other Important Information

  • Loan range: $2,000 to $50,000
  • APR range: 6.99% to 18.99%
  • Credit requirements: At least 660 score

Do All Banks Offer Personal Loans?

No, not all banks offer personal loans. Bank of America, one of the biggest financial institutions in the country, doesn’t carry them, for example. Most personal loans are unsecured, meaning they are not backed up by an asset that the lender can take if you default, and some banks don't want the risk. Others just don't want to deal with the expense of lending and servicing relatively small, four- and five-figure amounts.

What Do I Need to Qualify for a Personal Bank Loan?

If you’re looking to get a bank personal loan, you need to get your paperwork in order first. Before applying, check your credit score and pull your credit report through AnnualCreditReport.com. This will give you an idea of whether or not you’ll qualify for a bank personal loan, as well as how low your interest payments will be.

Most banks require good to excellent credit from personal loan applicants. So you might need a higher credit score than you would for, say, a secured loan (one that does require collateral, like an auto loan or mortgage) or even a credit card. Still, if you have a solid repayment history, avoid maxing out your credit cards, and can prove your creditworthiness, there’s a strong chance you’ll qualify for a bank personal loan.

Do I Need to Be an Existing Bank Client to Get a Loan?

If you’re interested in a personal loan from a bank you don't have a relationship with, make sure that being a client isn’t a requirement before applying. Not all banks request personal loan borrowers be account holders, but some do—or they offer better terms to current clients. Also, you might need to open a checking or savings account there to take advantage of auto-pay discounts on the loan (the payments have to come from an in-house account).

What Are Alternatives to Bank Loans?

While many banks offer personal loans, there are some limitations. As noted above, many require you to have an account with the bank before taking advantage of a personal loan. Others might take longer to get you your loan. You might want to explore the below alternatives to banks for personal loans.

Credit Unions

If you have less-than-stellar credit, you may want to reach out to credit unions near you for personal loans. While many require an account with the credit union to be open first, many are competitive with APRs and low amounts to borrow. This is helpful if you don’t need to borrow too much to cover an emergency.

Online Lenders

Many online lenders, or non-brick-and-mortar banks, give you quick and easy access to personal loans. You can see if you prequalify before applying, which doesn’t hurt your credit. If you do decide to apply, you can do so within a few minutes online, rather than visiting a branch in-person. After approval, you can usually get funds fairly quickly—sometimes within a day. The best online lenders offer little to no fees, flexible repayment terms, and competitive APRs.

The best banks for personal loans vary in your needs, but many have competitive offers for a variety of different potential borrowers. Before you choose to take out a personal loan with a bank, make sure you review all your options, including alternatives, first. Depending on your needs and how quickly you need money, you may find some banks or lenders are more friendly than others. If it takes you days or weeks to apply for a loan and get your money, that won't help in a time-sensitive situation.

Methodology

Investopedia is dedicated to providing consumers with unbiased, comprehensive reviews of personal loan lenders for all borrowing needs. We collected over twenty five data points across more than fifty lenders including interest rates, fees, loan amounts and repayment terms to ensure that our content helps users make the right borrowing decision for their needs.