Best Personal Loans

Discover offers competitive APRs and no origination fees

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Personal loans allow you to borrow money for just about any purpose. This type of loan usually offers flexibility, but borrowing costs can vary based on your credit history and the lender you choose. Most personal loans don’t require any form of collateral or security deposit. However, late and missed payments show up on your credit report and can lower your credit score.

The best personal loans offer simple, straightforward application processes. They also feature low interest rates and low fees for qualifying borrowers. Plus, they usually carry no prepayment penalties if you want to pay your balance off early.

Best Personal Loans of 2022

Below are Investopedia's top-rated lenders, loan amount and availability may vary by state.

Best Overall : Discover

Investopedia's Rating
4.6

Discover Bank
  • APR: 5.99% - 24.99%
  • Days To Receive Loan: 1 Days
  • Loan Amount: $2,500 - $35,000
Why We Chose It

Not only does Discover offer personal loans with competitive terms, quick funding, and no membership requirements, but it also has an excellent reputation and there are no restrictions or limitations on loan usage.

Pros and Cons
Pros
  • No origination fees

  • Excellent customer satisfaction ratings

  • Same-day decision for most applicants

Cons
  • Late penalty applies

  • Credit score requirements not disclosed

  • Must have $25,000 or more annual income

Overview

We chose Discover as the best overall personal loan lender since it offers competitive rates and terms and funding as soon as one business day. Plus, it has an excellent reputation with its customers and is a top-ranked lender on the 2021 J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Consumer Lending Satisfaction Study. Discover offers loans of $2,500 to $35,000 with APRs from 5.99% to 24.99% and repayment terms of 36 to 84 months. Plus, it doesn’t charge origination fees, although borrowers will pay a $39 fee for late payments. 

Personal loans from Discover are available in all 50 states, and there are no restrictions or limitations on loan usage which means you can use it for pretty much anything you'd like. It offers a simple online application process, with approval often granted the day you apply. To be eligible for a personal loan, you must be a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident who's at least 18 years old (or the age of legal majority in your state). Plus, you need to have at least $25,000 in annual income. While Discover doesn’t share its credit score requirements, you’ll likely need good credit to qualify. 

Read our full Discover personal loans review.

Best for Medical Expenses : Ally

Investopedia's Rating
4.8

Ally Bank logo
  • APR: 0.00% - 26.99%
  • Days To Receive Loan: 2 Days
  • Loan Amount: $250 - $65,000
Why We Chose It

You may be able to get a personal loan to cover your medical expenses with an APR as low as 0%, the lowest rate offered by all the providers we reviewed. 

Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Rates as low as 0%

  • Repayment terms up to 180 months

  • Low credit score requirements

Cons
  • Can’t apply directly with Ally

  • Terms vary by provider

  • Only available for medical expenses and home repairs or renovations

Overview

Ally partners with certain service providers to offer financing for customers. Unfortunately, you can’t apply for a loan directly through this lender. If you need help paying for medical expenses, you may be able to get a rate as low as 0% if your healthcare provider offers an Ally personal loan. You also won’t pay an origination fee with an Ally personal loan, and you can see if you qualify with no impact on your credit score.

Unlike the other personal loans we reviewed, each provider sets the terms and requirements (e.g., rate, repayment term, credit score, etc.) for the Ally personal loans it offers. So, you’ll need to check with your provider to see which rates and terms are available. Not only can you get Ally personal loans for medical expenses, but some construction contractors also offer Ally loans for home repairs and renovations. 

Depending on the terms available, you might be able to get an Ally personal loan of $250 to $65,000 with repayment terms ranging from 3 months to 180 months. You won’t pay any origination fees, and APRs typically range from 0% to 26.99%. Plus, you may be able to qualify with a credit score as low as 580.

Read our full Ally personal loans review.

Best for Low APR : LightStream

Investopedia's Rating
4.6

LightStream
  • APR: 2.49% - 20.49%
  • Days To Receive Loan: 0 Days
  • Loan Amount: $5,000 - $100,000
Why We Chose It

Not only does LightStream have an APR range that’s lower than much of the competition, but it also offers autopay discounts of 0.50% and you won’t pay any fees.

Pros and Cons
Pros
  • No fees

  • Autopay discounts offered

  • Same day funding is sometimes available

Cons
  • Must borrow at least $5,000

  • Good credit needed to qualify

  • Rates vary based on loan purpose

Overview

LightStream offers a very low minimum APR, charges no origination fees, and provides an autopay discount, setting it apart from the competition. While you can get a rate as low as 2.49% (including a 0.50% autopay discount), the exact rate you’ll get will depend on your credit and the purpose of the personal loan. For instance, you’ll pay more for a debt consolidation loan than a solar loan). Even so, its maximum APR is relatively low at 20.49%. 

Personal loans of $5,000 to $100,000 with terms of 24 to 144 months are available. To qualify, you’ll need a credit score of at least 680 and no major issues in your credit history, such as recent late payments. If approved, you may get funded as soon as the day you apply. Plus, LightStream offers its personal loans in all 50 states.

Read our full LightStream personal loans review.

Best for Quick Funding : Rocket Loans

Investopedia's Rating
4.5

Rocket Loans
  • APR: 5.97% - 29.99%
  • Days To Receive Loan: 0 Days
  • Loan Amount: $2,000 - $45,000
Why We Chose It

If you need money quickly, Rocket Loans is a great option as it offers same-day funding and may even approve borrowers with less-than-perfect credit.

Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Same day funding available

  • Starting APRs (with autopay discount) are low

  • Credit score requirements are low

Cons
  • Has origination fees

  • Only two repayment term options (36 or 60 months)

  • Unavailable in Iowa, Nevada, and West Virginia

Overview

Not only does Rocket Loans offer personal loans of $2,000 to $45,000 to applicants with good and bad credit alike, but you might also be able to get funded on the day you apply. Many lenders disburse loan funds in one to three days, making same-day funding an excellent feature. Rocket Loans offers repayment terms of 36 or 60 months, and even though you’ll pay origination fees of 1% to 6%, its APR range of 5.97% (including an autopay discount) to 29.99% is competitive. 

To qualify for a personal loan from Rocket Loans, you need to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, live in one of the states where it offers loans (Iowa, Nevada, and West Virginia are excluded), and be at least 18 years old (or 19 years old in Alabama and Nebraska). Once you apply, Rocket Loans will evaluate several factors to determine if you’re approved for a loan, including your credit score, income, and existing debt. You’ll likely need a credit score of at least 600-700, but might be approved with a credit score as low as 580.    

Read our full Rocket Loans personal loans review.

Best for Small Loans : Avant

Investopedia's Rating
4.4

Avant
  • APR: 9.95% - 35.99%
  • Days To Receive Loan: 1 Days
  • Loan Amount: $2,000 - $35,000
Why We Chose It

Avant offers small personal loans from $2,000 to $35,000 that are even available to borrowers without good credit.

Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Low credit score requirements

  • Loans as small as $2,000 are available

  • Next business day funding is offered

Cons
  • APRs are relatively high

  • Only available in 42 states

  • Has origination fees

Overview

While Avant’s loan amounts of $2,000 to $35,000 are smaller than some competitors offer, even borrowers with less-than-perfect credit may be able to qualify. Most of Avant’s customers have fair-to-good credit scores ranging from 600 to 700, but you may be approved with a credit score as low as 580. Many lenders require good credit scores of at least 670 to qualify, making Avant’s typical range exceptionally competitive.

Avant’s loans are only available in 42 states, and its APR range of 9.95% to 35.99% is relatively high. Plus, this lender charges origination fees of up to 4.75%. However, the price may be worth it for individuals who can’t qualify for a lower-cost personal loan. Terms range from 24 to 60 months, and funds can be deposited as soon as the next business day after loan approval.

Read our full Avant personal loans review.

Best for Service Members : Navy Federal Credit Union

Investopedia's Rating
4.4

Navy Federal Credit Union logo
  • APR: 7.49% - 18.00%
  • Days To Receive Loan: 0 Days
  • Loan Amount: $250 - $50,000
Why We Chose It

Navy Federal Credit Union offers a competitive personal loan to service members of all military branches, along with qualifying family members. Plus, there’s no minimum credit score requirement, and you can get long repayment terms of up to 180 months.

Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Same-day funding available

  • Long repayment terms up to 180 months

  • No minimum credit score

Cons
  • Must be a credit union member

  • Has late payment fees

  • Starting APR is slightly high

Overview

Navy Federal Credit Union offers personal loans for qualifying applicants, its online application can be completed in minutes, and borrowers may also get same-day funding. Plus, its APR range of 7.49% to 18% is competitive, it offers flexible repayment terms ranging from 36 to 180 months, and its loan amounts range from a low of $250 up to $50,000. While Navy Federal doesn’t charge origination fees, you’ll be required to pay a $29 fee if you make a late payment.

You need to be a Navy Federal Credit Union member to apply for a personal loan. Even so, it's easy to apply for membership, which is broadly available to current and retired members of the U.S. armed forces and their qualifying family members, members of their household, employees of the Department of Defense, and more. 

There is no minimum credit score to qualify for a personal loan from Navy Federal Credit Union. Rather, this lender will consider your financial condition in its entirety when evaluating your creditworthiness

Read our full Navy Federal Credit Union personal loans review.

Best for No Credit History : LendingClub

Investopedia's Rating
4.3

LendingClub
  • APR: 7.04% - 35.89%
  • Days To Receive Loan: 2 Days
  • Loan Amount: $1,000 - $40,000
Why We Chose It

If you have no credit history, you can apply for a personal loan from LendingClub with a co-borrower, a value-added feature that many lenders don’t offer.

Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Co-borrowers allowed

  • Starting APRs are competitive

  • Multiple personal loans are allowed

Cons
  • Has origination fee

  • Funding can take up to 48 hours after approval

  • Loan amounts are relatively low

Overview

LendingClub was chosen as the best personal loan for people with no credit history because you can apply with a co-borrower. This means you may qualify for the loan based on your co-borrower’s credit history instead of your own, an option many lenders don’t offer. To apply, you need to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident at least 18 years old and have a valid bank account. Unlike some competitors, LendingClub accepts applicants from all 50 U.S. states. 

While LendingClub may approve you with a credit score as low as 620, you’ll likely get better rates if you have a good credit score of at least 670. Loan amounts range from $1,000 to $40,000, with APRs of 7.04% to 35.89% (includes an origination fee of 3% to 6%) and repayment terms of 36 or 60 months. What’s more, LendingClub allows borrowers to take more than one personal loan in increments of as little as $1,000. Generally, it disburses loan funds within 48 hours of approval, which often takes 24 hours. 

Read our full LendingClub personal loans review.

Best for Low or No Fees : SoFi

Investopedia's Rating
3.7

SoFi
  • APR: 5.74% - 20.28%
  • Days To Receive Loan: 2 Days
  • Loan Amount: $5,000 - $100,000
Why We Chose It

Unlike many of its competitors, SoFi doesn’t charge any fees for its personal loans, not even late fees. 

Pros and Cons
Pros
  • No fees

  • Flexible repayment terms

  • Same day funding available

Cons
  • Loans less than $5,000 aren’t offered

  • Unavailable to residents of Mississippi

  • Need relatively good credit to qualify

Overview

You won’t pay any fees if you get a personal loan from SoFi. This lender doesn’t charge origination fees, prepayment penalties, or late fees. Plus, SoFi offers competitive APRs ranging from 5.74% to 20.28% (including a 0.25% autopay discount.) Furthermore, you can get loans ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 with repayment terms of 24 to 84 months and same-day funding, all of which compare favorably to the competition. 

To qualify for a personal loan from SoFi, you’ll need to be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or eligible visa holder who's at least 18 years old (or the age of majority in your state). You’ll also need to live in a state where SoFi is eligible to lend—its loans aren’t available to residents of Mississippi. Plus, you need to have a job, income from other sources sufficient to repay your loan, or a job offer that will start in the next 90 days. You’ll also need a credit score of 660 or better.  

Read our full SoFi personal loans review.

Best for Debt Consolidation : Marcus

Investopedia's Rating
3.3

Marcus by Goldman Sachs logo
  • APR: 6.99% - 19.99%
  • Days To Receive Loan: 1 Days
  • Loan Amount: $3,500 - $40,000
Why We Chose It

If you plan to use a personal loan to consolidate debt, Marcus can send the loan proceeds directly to up to 10 existing creditors, simplifying the debt consolidation process.

Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Proceeds can be sent to existing creditors

  • No fees

  • Autopay discount available

Cons
  • Maximum loan amount is relatively low

  • Credit score requirements are high

  • Funding can take up to four business days

Overview

Marcus makes it easy for borrowers to use its personal loan for debt consolidation, as it can send loan proceeds directly to up to 10 creditors. Plus, Marcus doesn’t charge any loan fees, offers competitive APRs of 6.99% to 19.99%, and provides a 0.25% autopay discount. You can borrow from $3,500 to $40,000, with terms of 36 to 72 months.

To apply for a personal loan with Marcus, you’ll need to be 18 years old (or the legal age of majority in your state), and have a U.S. Social Security Number or individual tax ID number and a valid U.S. bank account. You’ll also likely need a credit score of 720 or better to qualify. It only takes minutes to apply online, and once approved, borrowers generally receive funding in one to four business days.

Read our full Marcus personal loans review.

Compare the Best Personal Loans of 2022

Overall Rating Best For APR* Origination Fee Late Payment Fee Time to Receive Loan Loan Amount Latest Repayment Joint Application Allows Cosigner
Reset All
Discover
4.6
Best Overall 5.99% - 24.99% 0.00% - 0.00% $39.00 - $39.00 1 Days $2,500 - $35,000 84 Months - - Learn More
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Ally
4.8
Best for Medical Expenses 0.00% - 26.99% 0.00% - 0.00% $35.00 - $35.00 2 Days $250 - $65,000 180 Months - - Learn More
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LightStream
4.6
Best for Low APR 2.49% - 20.49% 0.00% - 0.00% $0.00 - $0.00 0 Days $5,000 - $100,000 144 Months - - Learn More
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Rocket Loans
4.5
Best for Quick Funding 5.97% - 29.99% 1.00% - 6.00% $15.00 - $15.00 0 Days $2,000 - $45,000 60 Months - - Learn More
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Avant
4.4
Best for Small Loans 9.95% - 35.99% 0.00% - 4.75% $25.00 - $25.00 1 Days $2,000 - $35,000 60 Months - - Learn More
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Navy Federal Credit Union
4.4
Best for Service Members 7.49% - 18.00% 0.00% - 0.00% $0.00 - $0.00 0 Days $250 - $50,000 180 Months Yes Yes Learn More
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LendingClub
4.3
Best for No Credit History 7.04% - 35.89% 3.00% - 6.00% $15.00 - 5.00% 2 Days $1,000 - $40,000 60 Months Yes Yes Learn More
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SoFi
3.7
Best for Low or No Fees 5.74% - 20.28% 0.00% - 0.00% $0.00 - $0.00 2 Days $5,000 - $100,000 84 Months Yes Yes Learn More
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Marcus
3.3
Best for Debt Consolidation 6.99% - 19.99% 0.00% - 0.00% $0.00 - $0.00 1 Days $3,500 - $40,000 72 Months - - Learn More
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*APR ranges for some companies include a discount for automatic payments or existing bank customers.

Final Verdict

Discover is our top choice for personal loans due to its competitive rates and terms, easy online application process, and excellent reputation with its customers. However, if you don’t have good credit, you may get better rates by shopping around elsewhere. 

Since nobody’s financial situation is the same, a single lender will not perfectly fit everyone’s needs. Given this, it’s essential to shop around to find the best lender for you. Check out this personal loan calculator to learn more about expected costs with Discover or other lenders on our list. 

Guide for Choosing the Best Personal Loans

Best Place to Get a Personal Loan

If you’re looking for a personal loan, some of the best places to get one are banks, credit unions, and online lenders. If you need funds quickly, choose a lender that offers a simple online application and fast funding. Many banks and credit unions allow you to apply online and get funding quickly, but you’ll generally need to have good credit to get approved. If you don’t have good credit, an online lender is usually a better option.  

Should You Apply for a Personal Loan?

If you need funds to cover a large expense or want to consolidate existing debt, then you might consider applying for a personal loan. Personal loans are commonly used by people who need funding for a big expenditure, like paying for a wedding, covering emergency expenses, or making home improvements or repairs. Loan funds can also be used to consolidate higher-rate debt into a lower-cost fixed-rate loan. 

Personal loans can be a good option for those who need immediate funding and can afford the monthly payments. However, you’ll pay interest on the loan, so it’s more costly to use loan funds than to cover the same expenses using cash. Even so, the APRs on personal loans are usually lower than the rates you’ll pay on credit card debt. So, if you need to choose between using credit cards or personal loans, the latter is often the better choice.

One of the other benefits of an unsecured personal loan is that you don’t have to pledge any collateral, like your home or car, to get the loan. This can save you money because you don’t have to pay for costs associated with the collateral, such as appraisal fees. Plus, you may be able to get the funds more quickly because there’s no collateral involved. So, if you need funds to make home improvements, like repairing your roof, building a new office, or adding solar, a personal loan can be the way to go.

Comparing Personal Loan Lenders

The most important things to consider when selecting a personal loan lender include the costs and terms of the loan, what it takes to apply, and how quickly you can get approved and funded. As you’re comparing personal loan lenders, pay close attention to these factors:

  • APR and Fees: Personal loan rates and fees are the primary factors to consider before choosing a lender. Rates and fees are factored into the loan’s APR, which measures the annual cost of the loan. The better your credit, the lower the rate you’ll get. To get the best rates, ensure your credit is in the best possible shape before applying. 
  • Repayment Terms: Shorter repayment terms result in higher payments and usually carry lower interest rates. This means you may reduce your overall borrowing costs by choosing the shortest possible repayment term. However, just make sure you can afford the monthly payments before applying. 
  • Application Process: It’s also important to consider the lender’s application process. You might want to get a loan at your local bank or credit union, which can be a great option. However, keep in mind that certain small lenders may not offer automated systems or online applications, making the application process more time-consuming. If you’d prefer to avoid applying in person, choose a lender that offers an online application. 
  • Approval and Funding Speed: The loan’s funding speed is often closely linked to the application process. Lenders that have online applications and automated processes are often able to get you funded more quickly. However, many of these lenders only approve borrowers with good credit. If you have blemishes on your credit, choose a lender with less stringent credit score requirements, like an online lender or a local bank or credit union that can make individual decisions based on your unique circumstances.

How to Get a Personal Loan

Once you’ve decided to get a personal loan, it’s time to get your paperwork in order and ensure your credit is in the best possible shape. Many lenders will start with a pre-qualification process, which involves pulling a soft credit check on you. To pre-qualify, you’ll likely need to provide some personally identifiable information (such as your Social Security Number and date of birth), income details, the reason you need the funds, the amount you want to borrow, and how long you need to repay the loan.

While pre-qualifying doesn’t guarantee you’ll be approved for a loan, it does let you see the rate you might receive. If you’re quoted for a high rate, you can work on repairing your credit before submitting a full application. Generally, the better your credit, the better the rate you’ll get. 

If the rate is acceptable and you decide to move forward, you’ll then complete a full online application. This will involve providing the lender with additional information, such as proof of income and details on your monthly debts. You’ll also undergo a hard credit check as part of the application process.

If you’re approved for the loan, the lender will provide you with details about the loan terms, including the rates, fees, and repayment terms. Pay close attention to this information to understand the details before accepting the loan. If you don’t understand the loan details, speak with a representative to get clarification before proceeding.

As soon as you’ve accepted the loan, the lender will send you the loan funds in the way you specified in your loan application. This can include directly depositing the funds into your bank account, sending the money to your creditors to pay off existing debt, or even writing you a check. 

You’ll also learn how to manage your loan, such as by logging into an online portal or using a mobile app. This can be helpful, as you’ll understand how to make your monthly payments and where to go if you need help in the future. 

What Is a Personal Loan?

A personal loan is a predetermined amount of money given to an individual by a bank or private lender. It is usually unsecured and carries a fixed interest rate. The borrower must agree to the loan rate and terms and make on-time monthly payments until it is fully repaid. A personal loan can be used for several things, including paying off or consolidating debt, covering medical expenses, or making a large purchase.

How Do Personal Loans Work?

Personal loans work by lending a borrower money if they meet certain qualifications set by the lender. The money is paid back over time with interest. The borrower usually makes monthly payments of principal and interest to repay the loan. A personal loan is often a more affordable option than a credit card because the interest rate is usually lower. 

How Much Do Personal Loans Cost?

Some of the fees associated with personal loans are origination fees, prepayment penalties, late fees, and administrative fees. However, not all lenders charge the same fees. It’s important to check with the lender before getting a personal loan. Despite what fees the lender charges, the largest cost is going to be what you’re paying in interest. The average interest rate for a personal loan is 9.58%.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Getting a Personal Loan?

Some of the pros and cons of getting a personal loan are:

Pros
  • Personal loans usually have lower APRs than credit cards.

  • Your personal loan will be fully repaid over a short period, versus credit cards, which might never be repaid if you just make the minimum monthly payments.

  • Interest rates are fixed on personal loans, meaning your rate will never change.

  • Unsecured personal loans don’t require collateral, making them quicker and easier to get than secured loans such as home equity loans.

Cons
  • You’ll have to pay interest and fees with a loan, costs you wouldn’t incur if you used cash.

  • Short repayment terms translate into higher monthly payments, so it’s essential to ensure you can afford the monthly payment before getting the loan.

  • If loan interest rates decrease in the future, you’ll be stuck with a higher interest rate until you pay off the loan or refinance it.

  • Since unsecured personal loans don’t require collateral, they may have higher APRs than secured loans, loan amounts can be smaller, and you’ll likely need better credit to qualify.

Methodology

Our team evaluated 38 lenders and collected 1,520 data points –– 40 data points per company –– before selecting our top choices. We weighed more than 20 criteria and gave a higher weight to those with a more significant impact to potential borrowers. 

The top picks were selected based on factors like membership requirements (weighted 20%), average fixed APR (weighted 15%), and average origination fees (weighted 10%). 

We also realize borrowers consider less-quantifiable factors when choosing a lender. To address that, we took into account the flexibility of repayment terms, helpful features like prequalification, and whether a co-signer or joint applications are permitted to ensure borrowers get the best possible experience.

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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