Best Online Personal Loans

LightStream is the best online personal loan lender

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Online personal loans are term loans that prospective borrowers can apply for online, without visiting a local branch. As with other personal loans, the best online personal loans can be used for various purposes, including medical bills, travel and relocation, weddings, and emergency expenses. 

The best online personal loans feature competitive interest rates, a range of loan amounts, minimal fees, and flexible repayment terms. Top lenders also offer accessible eligibility requirements, streamlined application and underwriting processes, and fast funding times.

Best Online Personal Loans of February 2022

Best Overall : LightStream

Investopedia's Rating
4.6

LightStream
  • APR Range: 2.49% to 19.99%
  • Minimum Credit Score: 680
  • Loan Amounts: $5,000 to $100,000
Why We Chose It

LightStream offers high borrowing limits, competitive APRs, minimal fees, and flexible loan terms, making it our top pick for the best online personal loan. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • No origination fees or prepayment penalties

  • APRs are low and competitive

  • Funding may be received as early as the same day

Cons
  • No pre-qualification process

  • Limitations on loan uses

  • Does not offer due date flexibility

Overview

Our top pick for online personal loans, LightStream, is a consumer lending division of SunTrust—now Truist. Lightstream offers personal loans from $5,000 to $100,000 in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, making it a good fit for a range of borrowing needs. 

Lightstream’s loan terms are flexible (24 to 144 months) and its APRs are competitive and top out at 20.49%. This lender doesn’t charge any origination fees or late fees, and borrowers can pay off their loans early without a prepayment penalty. 

To qualify for a Lightstream personal loan, you’ll likely need a minimum FICO score of around 680 (The specific number is unlisted), which is a slightly higher credit score than some other lenders require. LightStream also does not offer pre-qualification based on a soft credit inquiry, though it does allow joint applications and offers same-day funding in certain cases.  

Reviews for LightStream are generally positive, with satisfied borrowers reporting that the application process is easy and approval fast. Still, some customers share that it’s difficult to qualify for the lowest APRs, and that customer support is difficult to work with.

Read our full LightStream personal loans review.

Best for Good Credit : SoFi

Investopedia's Rating
3.7

SoFi

SoFi

  • APR Range: 5.74% to 20.28%
  • Minimum Credit Score: 660
  • Loan Amounts: $5,000 to $100,000
Why We Chose It

SoFi offers the option to pre-qualify with a soft credit check, plus flexible loan amounts and terms, making it an excellent choice for borrowers with good credit.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Offers pre-qualification with a soft credit check

  • High borrowing limits and flexible loan terms

  • Co-applicants are permitted

Cons
  • Applicants may struggle to qualify

  • Large loans take longer to process

  • Approval can take longer with a co-borrower

Overview

SoFi is an online lender that offers personal loans in every state except Mississippi. Loans are available from $5,000 to $100,000, and APRs are competitive (starting at 5.74% with all discounts). This lender’s repayment terms are also flexible, with options available from 24 to 84 months. Loan eligibility is based on several factors, including credit score, income vs expenses, and financial history. 

To qualify for a personal loan from SoFi, you’ll likely need a credit score of 660 or above. This makes it a good option for borrowers with good credit who are likely to qualify for the lender’s most competitive rates. Prospective borrowers can check the rate they’re likely to qualify for without impacting their credit score, and the application process is reportedly easy. SoFi also does not charge origination, prepayment, or late fees. 

Borrowers report that SoFi’s customer service is helpful, and appreciate this lender’s competitive APRs and fast funding times. Reviews are somewhat mixed, however, and unhappy customers share difficulties qualifying for loans and slow response times from the SoFi support team.  

Read our full SoFi personal loans review.

Best for Bad Credit : Avant

Investopedia's Rating
4.4

Avant

Avant

  • APR Range: 9.95% to 35.99%
  • Minimum Credit Score: 580
  • Loan Amounts: $2,000 to $35,000
Why We Chose It

Borrowers with bad credit will benefit from Avant’s low credit score requirements. This lender also offers pre-qualification with a soft credit check and fast funding.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Low credit score requirements

  • Next-day funding available

  • Simplifies repayment with autopay and a mobile app

Cons
  • APRs range up to 35.99%

  • Lower loan amounts than competitors offer

  • Has origination fees up to 4.75%

Overview

Founded in 2012, Avant is a Chicago-based fintech company offering personal loans, credit cards, and mobile banking. While Avant’s borrowing limits of $2,000-$35,000 are lower than many competitors, and repayment terms are just 24-60 months, it’s a reliable lender that’s accessible to borrowers with bad credit. Still, Avant’s APR range of 9.95% to 35.99% combined with origination fees up to 4.75% make it more expensive than some options. 

Like many competitors in the online lending space, Avant lets prospective borrowers see what rate they’ll qualify for with just a soft credit check. This is a helpful way for borrowers with less-than-stellar credit to see if they’re likely to qualify for a loan without impacting their credit score. And, while Avant does not allow joint applications, the lender only imposes a minimum credit score of around 580, lower than many other online lenders. Loan funds can be used for various purposes, and funds are typically available as soon as the next business day.

Avant borrowers appreciate the lender’s customer support team, as well as the fast and streamlined application process. Some customers report that Avant’s interest rates are high, but that they value the accessibility of financing through the lender.

Read our full Avant personal loans review.

Best for Debt Consolidation : Upgrade

Investopedia's Rating
4.5

Upgrade

Upgrade

  • APR Range: 5.94% to 35.97%
  • Minimum Credit Score: 550
  • Loan Amounts: $1,000 to $50,000
Why We Chose It

By offering flexible loan amounts and direct payment to third-party creditors, Upgrade personal loans stand out for debt consolidation. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Flexible loan amounts

  • Offers direct payment to third-party creditors

  • Does not charge prepayment penalties

Cons
  • Origination fees range from 2.9% to 8%

  • Higher APRs than available through competitors

Overview

Upgrade is a neobank that offers eligible borrowers personal loans between $1,000 and $50,000 for a range of purposes. Personal loan terms extend from 24 months to 84 months, and APRs range from 5.94% to 35.97%. Upgrade also simplifies debt consolidation with direct payment to third-party creditors. 

In addition to choosing from Upgrade’s flexible loan options, prospective borrowers can check their rate without a hard credit inquiry. This makes it easier to shop for the most competitive debt consolidation rates without undergoing numerous hard credit inquiries. However, keep in mind that this lender charges origination fees between 2.9% and 8%, which increases the overall cost of borrowing. 

Like many of the best online personal loans, Upgrade has excellent customer reviews based on its simple application process and fast funding times. What’s more, the lender provides borrowers with responsive customer support. However, some borrowers complain that it can be difficult to qualify for a personal loan and that service is unhelpful. 

Read our full Upgrade personal loans review.

Best for Small Loans : LendingClub

Investopedia's Rating
4.3

LendingClub

LendingClub

  • APR Range: 7.04% to 35.89%
  • Minimum Credit Score: 620
  • Loan Amounts: $1,000 to $40,000
Why We Chose It

LendingClub lets members borrow as little as $1,000 while still offering competitive rates and a pre-qualification process without a hard credit inquiry. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Borrowers can take out more than one personal loan

  • Loan amounts start at just $1,000

  • Offers a pre-qualification process

Cons
  • Charges origination fees between 3% and 6%

  • Less flexible loan terms than through competitors

  • Funding within 48 hours, rather than next-day

Overview

Based in San Francisco, LendingClub is a P2P lender that was founded in 2006. It offers personal loans from $1,000 up to $40,000, making it an excellent option for consumers who want to borrow a small amount. Its repayment terms of 36 or 60 months are less flexible than terms other lenders offer, but APRs start at just over 7% and borrowers can take out more than one personal loan. 

LendingClub loans can be used for numerous personal purposes, including debt consolidation and emergency expenses. Qualification requirements are relatively flexible, with a typical minimum credit score of 600 and a pre-qualification process that does not involve a hard credit inquiry. Still, the lender charges origination fees between 3% and 6%, which can increase the overall cost of borrowing, and funds may take longer to disburse than with other top lenders.

LendingClub borrowers are generally are satisfied with the lender’s customer support team and personal loan offerings. As with many top lenders, the application and approval processes are reportedly fast, and funds are deposited quickly. Still, some borrowers complain about high-interest rates and delayed loan disbursement.

Read our full LendingClub personal loans review.

Best for Fast Funding : Best Egg

Investopedia's Rating
3.3

Best Egg

Best Egg

  • APR Range: 5.99% to 35.99%
  • Minimum Credit Score: 550
  • Loan Amounts: $2,000 to $50,000
Why We Chose It

Around half of Best Egg’s borrowers reportedly receive their funds the next day, making it an excellent option for those who need cash fast.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Can be used for a wide range of purposes

  • About half of borrowers receive funds the next day

  • Offers direct payment to third-party creditors

Cons
  • Origination fees range from 0.99% to 5.99%

  • Does not permit co-applicants

  • No mobile app for personal loan customers

Overview

Best Egg is a lending platform that offers online personal loans through Cross River Bank and Blue Ridge Bank as part of Marlette Funding. Borrowers can access funds up to $50,000 for loan terms of 36 or 60 months. In addition to flexible loan options, Best Egg reports that about half of its customers receive funds as soon as the next day. This makes it an excellent option for borrowers who need funds fast.

As is the case with many lending platforms, prospective borrowers can check the rate they’re likely to qualify for through Best Egg without a hard credit inquiry. However, applicants likely need a credit score of at least 550 and a debt-to-income ratio below 36% to qualify. 

Best Egg personal loan borrowers give the lender high ratings based on its simple application process and fast funding. Customer support also receives positive feedback. Still, some current and former customers report slow funding times and confusion during the application process.

Read our full Best Egg personal loans review.

Best for No Credit Check : OppLoans

Investopedia's Rating
3.3

OppLoans
  • APR Range: 59% to 160%
  • Minimum Credit Score: None
  • Loan Amounts: $500 to $4,000
Why We Chose It

OppLoans lets prospective borrowers qualify for a personal loan based on alternative financial data—and without a traditional credit check.

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • No minimum credit score requirement

  • Reviews applicants based on more than credit score

  • Fast funding available

Cons
  • Very high annual percentage rates

  • Low available loan amounts

  • Limited loan terms

Overview

OppLoans is the consumer lending arm of the Chicago-based fintech Company OppFi. The lender extends personal loans between $500 and $4,000 without a traditional credit check, making it an option for borrowers who won’t qualify for other loan products. Installment loans are available directly from OppLoans in Alabama, Georgia, Nevada, and Wisconsin—and it has lending partners in 32 states across the South and Midwest. Terms are available between six and 18 months.

OppLoans bases lending decisions on alternative financial data from Clarity Services and Experian, making it easier for some borrowers to qualify. However, this approach to lending comes with much higher APRs than other online personal loans—between 59% to 160%. Funds are available as soon as the next business day after application verification and approval.

While OppLoans doesn’t require a traditional credit check, its APR range is very high. Before applying for a loan through OppLoans, be sure to compare other loan options to find the best available rate. Upstart may be an alternative to consider, as it offers lower APRs and you don’t necessarily need a credit score to get approved for a loan.

Satisfied OppLoans borrowers are generally positive, with reviews focusing on the lender’s easy application process and quick funding times. The customer support team is also well-reviewed and borrowers appreciate the ability to access cash when they need it most. On the other hand, negative reviews center around high-interest rates and monthly payments, as well as difficulty qualifying for a loan.

Read our full OppLoans personal loans review.

Final Verdict

Choosing the right personal loan can be intimidating—especially with so many popular lenders to choose from. While some online lenders, like Upgrade, are useful for debt consolidation, others, like Avant, offer loan options for eligible borrowers with poor credit. The best online personal loans, however, are offered through LightStream. 

As part of SunTrust—now Truist—LightStream offers personal loans up to $100,000 with flexible repayment terms from 24 to 144 months. APRs are competitive and start at just 2.49%, and there are no origination, late payment, or prepayment fees. While LightStream’s qualification requirements are more stringent than for some providers, the lender offers flexible and competitive loans to meet a range of borrowing needs.

Compare the Best Online Personal Loans

Company APR Range Minimum Credit Score Term Loan Amounts
LightStream Best Overall 2.49% to 19.99% 680 24 to 144 months $5,000 to $100,000
SoFi Best for Good Credit 5.74% to 20.28% 660 24 to 84 months $5,000 to $100,000
Avant Best for Bad Credit 9.95% to 35.99% 580 24 to 60 months $2,000 to $35,000
Upgrade Best for Debt Consolidation 5.94% to 35.97% 550 24 to 84 months $1,000 to $50,000
LendingClub Best for Small Loans 7.04% to 35.89% 620 36 or 60 months $1,000 to $40,000
Best Egg Best for Fast Funding 5.99% to 29.99% 550 36 or 60 months $2,000 to $50,000
OppLoans Best for No Credit Check 79% to 199% None 6 to 18 months $500 to $4,000
Loan amounts, APR, and repayment period may vary by loan purpose or type.

Guide for Choosing the Best Online Personal Loans

Why Should You Apply for an Online Personal Loan? 

Online personal loans can be used for a broad range of purposes, and are often more accessible than traditional loans. For that reason, many borrowers opt for an online loan over financing from a traditional bank or credit union. Here are some common circumstances where an online personal loan may be appropriate:

  • You’re facing emergency expenses for things like auto repair costs, medical bills, or funeral expenses
  • You need same- or next-day access to funds
  • You have credit card debt and want to streamline payments through debt consolidation
  • You want access to more competitive rates than those available through local banks and credit unions
  • It’s difficult or impossible to visit a bank in person
  • You don’t qualify for a personal loan through a traditional lender

Comparing Online Personal Loan Lenders

With so many online lending platforms to choose from, it can be difficult to identify the provider that best fits your borrowing needs. Consider these factors when comparing online personal loan lenders:

  • APR range. Personal loan APRs generally range from 2% to around 35% or higher, with the most competitive rates reserved for the most qualified applicants. Where possible, pre-qualify with lenders to see what rate you’re likely to qualify for before applying and undergoing a hard credit inquiry. 
  • Loan amounts. Depending on the lender, online personal loan amounts start as low as $500 and extend up to $100,000. Consider how much you need to borrow and choose a lender that’s willing to extend as much—or as little—as you can comfortably afford to repay. Many lenders offer online payment calculators to help determine the monthly cost of various loan amounts. 
  • Repayment terms. Loan terms are generally between 12 and 60 months. However, some lenders offer lengthier terms or more flexible terms than others. Keep in mind that shorter repayment terms result in larger monthly payments, and choose a lender with terms that fit your budget. 
  • Ease of application. Most online lenders have convenient application processes that don’t require visiting a branch in person. Still, some lenders have more rigorous online applications than others. What’s more, minimum qualification requirements vary by lender, so it's important to choose a provider that’s likely to approve your application. 
  • Funding speed. If you need funds quickly, compare loan options based on each lender’s standard funding speed. While some offer same-day funding, next-day disbursements are more common and others take several days to process. Also, keep in mind that the time it takes to receive funds can depend on your own financial institution. 
  • Lender reputation. Before committing to a lender, read online reviews and, where possible, talk to friends and family who’ve already worked with the financial institution. Reviews can offer valuable insight into how long the approval process takes, the quality of the lender’s customer support team, and whether average borrowers actually qualify for competitive rates. 

How to Apply for a Personal Loan Online

The application process for an online personal loan is lender-specific. However, most lenders follow the same general application and underwriting process. Follow these general steps to apply for a personal loan online:


1. Complete an online application. Navigate to the lender’s website and start an application by providing necessary information such as employment and income details, Social Security number, loan purpose, and how much you intend to borrow. Depending on the lender, this may involve pre-qualifying to see what rate you might receive, which may not require a hard credit check. 

2. Review and accept the loan offer. Some online lenders provide multiple loan offers based on the information provided as part of pre-qualification. After pre-qualifying, select an appropriate loan offer to continue your application and verification process. 

3. Await verification and approval. Once you choose a loan offer, the lender will conduct a deeper review of your application and begin the verification process. This is generally the point at which a lender performs a hard credit inquiry that will appear on your credit report. This stage of the application process may also require submitting additional documentation to further verify your income and employment.

4. Receive funds. After verifying your loan application, the lender will disburse loan funds to the account you specified in your application or directly to your third-party creditors. Depending on the lender, funds may be available as soon as the same day, while other providers may take several days to disburse funds. From there, most lenders let customers manage their accounts through an online portal or mobile app.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is a Personal Loan?

A personal loan is a type of term loan that can be used to cover costs like medical bills, auto repair, travel and vacations, weddings, and emergencies. Personal loans are typically available through traditional banks, credit unions, and online lenders.

Funds are dispersed as a lump sum, and interest begins to accrue on the entire loan amount from day one—typically at an annual percentage rate between 2% and 35%. Borrowers make equal monthly payments over a set loan term or may choose to pay the loan off early.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Personal Loans?

Using a personal loan to try to get out of debt faster or to increase the value of your home can be a smart financial move. A personal loan can also be a lifeline when you have unexpected expenses and don’t have an emergency fund to cover costs

However, sometimes a personal loan may hurt you financially instead of improving your situation. Before you apply for a new loan, consider both the benefits and drawbacks you could face. 

Pros

  • Interest rates on personal loans can be lower than the rates lenders charge for other types of debt. For example, the Federal Reserve reveals that the average rate on credit cards that assessed interest as of Q3 of 2021 was 17.13%. Meanwhile, the average rate on a 24-month personal loan was 9.39%. Borrowers with excellent credit may be able to qualify for personal loan interest rates as low as 5% or 6%.
  • Using a personal loan to consolidate revolving credit card debt might improve your credit score. Credit scoring models place significant emphasis on your credit utilization ratio—the percentage of your credit card limits in use according to your credit reports. If you consolidate credit card debt with a personal installment loan, your credit utilization ratio may drop, potentially boosting your credit score. 
  • Your monthly payments are fixed. Most personal loans are fixed-rate installment loans, so your interest rate and the size of your monthly payment remain constant over the life of your loan. Fixed payments can make your monthly budget more predictable. 

Cons

  • You’re not guaranteed approval or a low APR. If you have credit challenges, a high debt-to-income ratio, or any other red flags that lenders look for, you could have trouble qualifying for a loan. Even if you qualify for a personal loan with bad credit or another factor that increases your risk in the eyes of a lender, the APR you are offered may be high. APRs on some personal loans can commonly climb as high as 35.99%. 
  • You could face financial problems if you don’t manage your debt carefully. For example, some people use personal loans to consolidate credit card debt but then turn around and charge up new balances on those same credit cards afterward. It’s usually not a good idea to close your credit cards after debt consolidation, because doing so could lower your credit score. However, it is important to avoid charging more on your credit cards than you can afford to pay off each month.
  • Fees can be high. If your credit is excellent, you may be able to qualify for a personal loan with no fees. Yet some lenders charge origination fees—sometimes as high as 8% or more—that come directly from your loan proceeds. Be sure to factor in the cost of lender fees when you’re shopping for the best personal loan.

What Are the Benefits of Getting an Online Personal Loan?

As with a traditional loan, online personal loans can provide cash when it’s needed most. However, online loans provide a number of other advantages over borrowing from a brick-and-mortar lender. The main benefits of getting an online personal loan include:

  • Ability to pre-qualify for a rate without a hard credit inquiry
  • Convenient online application process
  • Less strict qualification requirements
  • Competitive rates and fees
  • Accelerated approval and funding times

How Can I Get a Personal Loan Online?

If you want to borrow money and are confident that you can afford the new debt, it’s time to start searching for the right loan. Thankfully, comparing online loans tends to be a quicker, easier process than comparing loans from traditional financial institutions. 

Before you apply for any type of loan, it’s important to review your credit reports and scores with all three credit bureaus. Next, search for lenders that offer loans to people with your credit rating (excellent, good, fair, bad). You should make sure the lenders you’re considering offer the type of online loan you need (consolidation loan, home improvement loan, medical loan, etc.). Finally, compare available rates and fees and choose your top 3 lenders as you prepare to begin the application process. 

What Are the Steps to Apply for an Online Personal Loan?

  1. Submit a pre-qualification request (if available) to at least 3 lenders. 
  2. Choose the lender that offers you the best overall deal and fill out your official loan application. 
  3. Promptly send any additional documentation the lender requests and e-sign your loan agreement. 
  4. Wait to receive your funds.

Is It Safe to Get a Personal Loan Online?

Getting a personal loan online is as safe as getting financing from a traditional bank, as long as the lender has a secure website and is otherwise reputable. Before submitting personal information online, prospective borrowers should confirm that the lender has an up-to-date SSL certificate, and all data is adequately protected via encryption. Applicants can also read reviews and look up any complaints lenders have received with various agencies, such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Can You Get an Online Personal Loan With No Credit Check?

Finding an online loan (or any type of financing) with bad credit can be difficult. If you’re searching for bad credit loans, you may find lenders that advertise “no credit check loans” or “guaranteed approval.” Any such promises should be a red flag. According to the Federal Trade Commission, a lender that isn’t interested in your credit score or history might be running an advance-fee loan scam. 

Can I Get an Online Personal Loan With a Cosigner?

In a recent interview with Linda M. Hooks, head of the Department of Economics at Washington and Lee University, she said "Having a cosigner can help someone with a limited credit history to obtain a loan. However, the cosigner should be aware that they are liable for the loan in the same way that they would be if it were their own loan. It may also affect the cosigner’s credit history and score."

Though whether or not you can apply for a joint loan with a cosigner is up to each individual lender, there are plenty that do allow joint loan applications. Keep in mind, however, that just because you’re allowed to apply for a loan with a cosigner doesn’t mean you should do so. Cosigning involves significant risk for your friend or loved one. As a cosigner, that person will be equally liable for the debt, just as much as the primary borrower. 

Should anything go wrong, late payments or default could cause severe damage to both your finances and credit reports, not to mention your relationship. Consider these risks carefully before you ask someone to cosign. 

Can I Get a Personal Loan Online Instantly?

Many online lenders offer instant approval (if you can qualify) when you apply for financing. However, instant loan approval isn’t the same as instant access to your loan proceeds.

Once you qualify for a loan, the lender may require you to complete some additional steps. For example, you may need to send documentation verifying your identity and income. You may also need to e-sign your loan agreement before funds will be disbursed. 

What Is the Difference Between an Online Personal Loan and a Payday Loan?

In contrast to personal loans, payday loans are often small loans under $500 with short repayment terms—usually about two weeks. Interest rates on payday loans are also much higher than for online personal loans, with APRs around 400%. This makes payday loans extremely expensive and increases the risk of repeated refinancing, exorbitant interest payments, and eventual default.

The Bottom Line

The beauty of online loans is that it’s simple to shop around for the best deal. You can compare multiple lenders and fill out pre-qualification applications in the space of a single afternoon. By taking the time to search for the loan that best fits your situation, you might also be able to save hundreds of dollars (sometimes thousands) in interest and fees over the course of your loan.  

Methodology

Investopedia is dedicated to providing consumers with unbiased, comprehensive reviews of personal loan lenders. We collected over 25 data points across more than 50 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. 

Article Sources

Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy.
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