Best Personal Loans for Excellent Credit

Borrowers with excellent credit may qualify for the best personal loan rates

If you've got excellent credit, you’ve got plenty of loan options at your disposal. Though other factors can influence whether a lender will actually approve you, a stellar credit score and history at least proves to them that you’re someone who handles debt responsibly and pays bills on time. As a result, you’re seen as a less risky borrower—which means you’re more likely to qualify for the best terms and rates.

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LightStream: Best Overall

LightStream

LightStream, the online lending arm of Trust bank, offers some of the lowest fixed rates around: as low as 4.29% and no higher than 16.79%—with automatic payments (it's .5% higher without). Minimum rates do vary, depending on the purpose of the loan—LIghtStream is big on categorizing loans, offering financing for everything from autos to weddings. There are also no fees and borrowers may take out up to a maximum of $100,000. 

Pros
  • Extremely low APRs (with autopay)

  • Wide range of loans

  • Guarantees to better competitors' rate (restrictions apply)

Cons
  • Hard inquiries only (which can dampen credit score temporarily)

  • Longer credit history required, usually several years

  • Inability to change due date once repayments start

Other important information:

  • Minimum/maximum amount you can borrow: $5,000 to $100,000
  • APR range:  4.99%–16.79% with autopay (6.59% and up for loans over $50,000)
  • Fees: None (Florida residents pay Documentary Stamp Tax of .35%)
  • Minimum credit requirement: Not disclosed
  • Other qualification requirements: LightStream looks for borrowers with a decent credit mix, few delinquencies, a decent debt-to-income ratio and several years of credit history
  • Repayment terms: 24 to 144 months
  • Restrictions: LightStream won’t count income from the cannabis industry. Plus, you can’t refinance an existing LightStream loan and use the funds for educational or business expenses
  • Time to receive funds: Could be as soon as the same business day

Earnest: Best for Debt Consolidation

Earnest

Online lender Earnest built its rep on student loans, but it's branched out into more general personal loans. Its loans are particularly geared towards debt consolidation, making a great contender if you’re looking to combine a bunch of high-interest outstanding balances and pay them off in one gulp. Plus, there are no fees, which can save you money throughout the lifetime of your loan. 

Pros
  • No hidden charges (origination fees, prepayment penalties)

  • Soft credit inquiry (so no affect on credit score)

  • Free tools, educational materials

Cons
  • Not available in several states

  • Long approval times, anywhere within 5 to 10 business days

  • No joint applications

Other important information:

  • Minimum/maximum amount you can borrow: $5,000 to $75,000
  • APR range: 5.99%-17.24%
  • Fees: None (Florida residents pay Documentary Stamp Tax of .35%)
  • Minimum credit requirement: 650 score
  • Other qualification requirements: Applicants need to have a history of on-time payments, have enough savings to cover two months of expenses and don't have open collection accounts
  • Repayment terms: 3, 4 or 5 years
  • Restrictions: Delaware, Kentucky, and Nevada residents ineligible
  • Time to receive funds: As soon as 1 to 2 business days after approval

SoFi: Best Customer Experience

SoFi

In addition to some of the lowest rates around and a high maximum loan limit, online lender SoFi offers benefits for its members, as it calls clients—and you become a member once you take out a loan. These benefits include no origination, prepayment, or late fees, plus access to credentialed financial advisors to offering personalized money advice.

Pros
  • No fees or late or prepayment penalties

  • Exclusive member benefits

  • Highly competitive APRs

Cons
  • Slower funding times

  • Higher minimum loan amount

  • High income a factor in getting best rates

Other important information:

  • Minimum/maximum amount you can borrow: $5,000 to $100,000
  • APR range: 5.99%-20.89% (with autopay)
  • Fees: No prepayment penalties, late and origination fees
  • Minimum credit requirement: Not disclosed
  • Other qualification requirements: Need to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and the age of majority in your state. Applicants will also need to have a regular income source (such as full-time employment).
  • Repayment terms: 2 to 7 years
  • Restrictions: Personal loans aren’t available for Mississippi residents.
  • Time to receive funds: As soon as a few days after approval

Discover Personal Loans: Best Minimum Loan Amount

Discover

Discover Bank is the online banking arm of the credit card company, famed for its cashback rewards and 100% U.S.-based customer service. One of Discover's strong points is that its loans come in relatively small amounts, excellent if the minimums set by other lenders exceed the amount of financing you really need. Yet its interest rates are competitive (many lenders reserve the better rates for larger loans).

Pros
  • Variety of loan terms offered, up to 84 months

  • Direct payment of creditors on debt consolidation loans

  • Soft credit inquiry (so no affect on credit score)

Cons
  • Lower maximum loan amount (only $35,000)

  • Restrictions on use of funds, particularly debt consolidation loans

  • Late payment fee of $39

Other important information:

  • Minimum/maximum amount you can borrow: $2,500 to $35,000
  • APR range: 6.99%-24.99%
  • Fees: $39 late fee but no origination fees or prepayment penalties
  • Minimum credit requirement: Not specified
  • Other qualification requirements: Applicants need to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, at least 18 years old and have a $25,000 minimum household income
  • Repayment terms: 36,48,60,72 or 84 months
  • Restrictions: If loan is for debt consolidation, at least 70% of loan proceeds need to go to your creditors. Otherwise, your APR and final approval could change
  • Time to receive funds: As early as the next business day or up to 7 days

Marcus by Goldman Sachs: Best for Transparency

Marcus

Marcus by Goldman Sachs, the online banking arm of the brokerage firm, offers a comprehensive FAQ section that may be able to address all your questions before applying for a loan. The lender also offers remarkable transparency in the form of the fees it charges (which are none, by the way) along with various rewards borrowers may receive, such as for on-time payment.

Pros
  • Borrowers have the ability to defer one payment after making 12 consecutive monthly payments on time in and in full

  • No fees, including late and origination fees or prepayment penalties

  • Direct payment of creditors on debt consolidation loans

Cons
  • No joint applications

  • Rates generally higher than competitors'

  • Lower maximum loan amount (only $40,000)

Other important information:

  • Minimum/maximum amount you can borrow: $3,500 to $40,000
  • APR range: 6.99% - 28.99%
  • Fees: No late, origination or prepayment fees
  • Minimum credit requirement: Specific score not disclosed on website 
  • Other qualification requirements: Applicants need to be the age of majority in their state with a Social Security or Individual Tax I.D. Number, plus a valid U.S. Bank account.
  • Repayment terms: 36 to 72 months
  • Restrictions: Applicants can’t apply with a co-borrower
  • Time to receive funds: as few as 1 to 4 business days after approval 

What is Considered an Excellent Credit Score?

When we're talking credit, we're mainly talking credit score—a statistical measure, not unlike an academic grade, that summarizes your creditworthiness in three digits. The credit scores most lenders use range between 300-850—which sounds a lot wider than it is, in terms of lender approval. Most credit scores fall between 600 and 750, according to Experian, one of the "Big Three" credit reporting bureaus. A score of 740 and above is considered “very good” and scores of 800 and above are considered “excellent.”

Credit Score Ranges:

  • Excellent Credit: 800 - 850
  • Very Good Credit: 740 - 799
  • Good Credit: 670 - 739
  • Fair Credit: 580 - 669
  • Poor Credit: under 580

Understanding where you stand in terms of your credit score is important. It can mean the difference between a loan with an interest rate in the double digits (if you have a less-than-good score, under 660 or so) or one just a few percentage points above prime (if you are in the excellent-score category). Other benefits to having a higher credit score include the ability to borrow higher loan amounts and longer repayment terms.

What Are Average Personal Loan Rates For Excellent Credit?

According to Experian’s data from Q2 of 2019, the average rate for personal loans is 9.41%. Of course, it depends on the lender and what factors when determining the borrower's rate, which includes your financial history and credit score. 

Most likely, the higher your income and credit score, the more likely you’ll be approved for the lowest rates. There may also be other factors such as your debt to income ratio (DTI), which shows the percentage of debt you’re paying in comparison to your gross monthly income. Lenders look at this number to determine whether you can handle taking on more debt.

What Should You Consider Before Choosing a Personal Loan?

Some factors to look for include:

  • APR: Generally speaking, the lower, the better. The annual percentage rate (APR) is different than the interest rate because it’ll include any fees rolled into your loan.
  • Fees: Look at any origination fees, plus late fees or any prepayment penalties in case you want to pay off your loan early.
  • Repayment terms: Understanding how long you have to pay off your loan can show you how much interest you’ll pay throughout the lifetime of the loan.

In addition, consider factors such as restrictions on how the loan must be used, minimum payment amounts, and how soon you’ll receive funds. 

Will Taking Out a Personal Loan Hurt Your Credit Score?

There are two types to credit checks: a soft pull (or soft inquiry) and a hard pull (hard inquiry). A soft pull is like a preview: Lenders allow you to see what you qualify for with them (approximately), based on the basic financial data you give them, and it doesn’t affect your credit score. When you submit a full application, that’s when the lender will do a hard pull, which will show up on your credit report and possibly affect your credit score—especially if there are several of them.

Keep in mind that if you have excellent credit, it may not affect your score that much or for that long. Plus, if you apply for multiple personal loans within a short time frame, the credit bureaus may view them as one inquiry, especially if they're for the same purpose (home improvement, auto, etc.). They’re aware that borrowers like to compare offers before making a decision, and so won't ding you unduly for due diligence.

Where Can I Get a Personal Loan?

As someone with excellent credit, you’ll be able to find a personal loan in many places. Many borrowers tend to think the only places are through banks and credit unions, but many alternative lenders offer fairly competitive rates–especially if they're online. In fact, such lenders have some of the lowest rates since they’re not subject to the overhead costs that brick and mortar institutions are.

The Bottom Line

Getting a personal loan with excellent credit means you’ll be able to get loans with the best rates and terms. But you should still shop around: After all, as the ideal applicant, you deserve the ideal lender. When comparing offers, it's not only the APR that matters; consider repayment terms, how much you want to borrow, how soon you'll receive funds, and any restrictions on loan proceeds before signing on the dotted line. And if you do submit applications to multiple lenders, make sure to do so within a short period of time so that your credit score won't be affected as much—and your excellent status stays secure.

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.