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Compare Personal Loans Providers 2021
Compare personal loans providers for good & bad credit, debt consolidation and more. Choose the right loan for your needs.
Products that appear on this page are from companies from which this website receives compensation. This may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). We do not compare all providers in the market. Any information provided can be updated and may include additional terms.
How Do Personal Loans Work?
Personal loans are a very popular way for people to pay for certain types of expenses in their lives. They may want to buy a new car or fund some renovation work on your home. Whatever the case may be, there is plenty you will first need to consider before going headfirst into getting a personal loan.
A personal loan is normally going to be unsecured, so you will not be putting up any collateral in order to get the funds from the lender. It will almost always be a loan that has a fixed term and you will repay the funds every single month for a certain period of time.
The length of time that a personal loan will be active will depend on your specific situation. Most commonly a personal loan will be active for between two and seven years, but sometimes it can be extended even longer.
Naturally, you will need to prove to the lender that you are going to be able to repay the loan before you are given the funds. There are a few different ways that this will be assessed, including an assessment of your credit score, existing debt, and current income. Most major banks will offer people personal loans, as well as the likes of credit unions. In recent years, online lenders have been increasingly popular.
It is vital that you complete your due diligence before you commit to a given lender. The last thing you want to happen is to be faced with high-interest rate payments or other types of hidden fees. This guide will walk you through all of the key aspects of the process.
How to Get a Personal Loan?
If you are looking to get a personal loan for a certain reason, you will want to know what the process entails. It can be a confusing process if you have not gone through it before so this guide will walk you through exactly what should be considered.
Step 1: Assess Your Current Situation
First of all, it is important that you conduct a stocktake of your current financial situation. The key to getting a personal loan at a decent repayment rate will be being able to showcase clearly to the lender that you will be able to fully pay back what you owe without causing any issues.
Therefore, before applying you should undergo your own assessment to make sure that you can afford the repayments.
Look at exactly how much cash you will need from the personal loan and then use a personal loan calculator in order to see what your expected monthly repayments will likely be. Make sure that you are going to have enough income available to meet these repayments. You should also check your credit score and take steps to improve it if it needs work. This is because the lender will base much of their decision on your current credit score.
Step 2: Look at The Different Options
Once you have self-assessed your finances and figured out what size of a loan you need and that you can afford to meet the repayments, you can then start looking for a lender.
If you have a poor credit score, certain reputable lenders will ask you to have a co-signer in order to get a personal loan. Otherwise, you might have to offer some sort of collateral if they have concerns about your credit score, such as putting your home or vehicle up as collateral.
However, most people who have a decent credit score will not need a co-signer or provide collateral. Traditional banks will place a big emphasis on credit score, while there are some companies that specialize in dealing with borrowers who have bad credit.
Credit unions often have the most cost-effective repayment plans, but the total sum you can get might not be as big as you find elsewhere. Make sure hotter you look at the fine print and you are aware of the exact fees, repayment terms that are in place.
Step 3: Submit an Application
After you have picked a suitable lender, you can then submit an application. These days, this can usually be done online and the necessary information will be pretty self-explanatory.
You will get to see the terms and conditions of the personal loan so you know what you are getting yourself into. You may have to provide certain documents, such as a payment stub, proof of address, and photo ID.
Step 4: Accept the Loan
If you have been successful, the lender will notify you of the approval. You can then finalize the terms and then accept the offer. Traditional lenders will often have the funds processed to you in about a week, while some online lenders might be able to give you your funds within a couple of working days.
It is a good idea to set up an automatic system whereby the money will leave your bank account for the monthly payments. This means that you won’t forget to make the payments each month.
How to Compare Personal Loans?
There are many different lenders out there that will be offering personal loans to people. These lenders will come in many different forms and each will take its own individualized approach.
The terms and conditions will usually be different, as well as the rate of interest you need to repay on your borrowings and the timeline for repayments. Here are a few key steps to keep in mind when you are looking to compare personal loans.
Adjust Your Expectations
When you are looking to compare different types of personal loans, you should first be aware of what sort of terms you should be looking for. The most secure options and the best rates will normally be reserved for those people who have good credit scores and thick other boxes.
If you have a poor credit score, then there is no point comparing the options that only cater to those with good credit scores.
A good to excellent credit score (690 or greater FICO) will be able to usually get the best interest rates and have the ability to borrow bigger sums. If your credit rating is only fair to poor, you will likely have to settle for higher rates of interest.
Only Deal With Reputable Lenders
When you are comparing different lenders, you should only consider those options that have a good reputation. The last thing you want to do is take out a loan with a company that is untrustworthy.
This can cause all sorts of different issues, including hidden charges, issues with your credit scores, and overall hassle.
You should check to see what sort of protections and certifications the lender holds. Naturally, big banks will have a reputation for being reliable and well-regulated. Make sure that you do your due diligence on each potential lender you are considering.
Look at Interest Rates
One of the biggest determining factors in what lender you go for will be the amount of interest will be paying on the borrowed sum. You will want to look at the APR of the different personal loans.
This gives you an objective standard that you can easily compare the different options without being confused by wording and terminology.
Consider Payment Terms
After looking at the interest rates offered by different lenders and having a shortlist of potential options, you will then want to dig a bit deeper to look at the other terms of the personal loans. You want to be sure that you are not going to get blindsided by any hidden fees or charges.
Look to see what the repayment terms are and what penalties are in place if you miss a repayment. You might also want to see if you have the option to pay back the debt earlier than the timeline through a lump sum. All of the different terms should be considered when comparing the different options.
How to Choose a Personal Loan Company?
If you are looking for a personal loan company, then there are a few different things that you should be considered. This in addition to the standard information about rates and payment terms.
First of all, you want to be dealing with a lender that will value its borrowers. This means that they will have a good customer support system in place, allowing you to get into contact with the support team whenever you need to.
This could be to ask them a question or to make changes to your current plan. Check to see if there is a variety of ways to contact the customer service team.
It is also a good idea to do some research into the type of reputation that a given lender holds. This can be done through word of mouth by asking friends and family about their experience with a given lender.
It is very easy to search online to get a good idea of an objective review of the lender’s offering. The likes of the Better Business Bureau will hold legit reviews from borrowers, assigning the lender a rating. This can be a useful way to quickly see if there are any red flags.
Finally, you will normally want to deal with a lender that has at least a few years of experience supporting borrowers. This means that they know the ins and outs of lending out money and that they are going to be around for many years to come.
Pros and Cons of Personal Loans
If you are deciding on whether or not you should get a personal loan, then there are some different pros and cons attached to this decision.
This will allow you to weigh up your options and to see what ultimately is going to be best for you and your situation.
- A good option for unsecured borrowing
If you’re looking to fund a purchase without having to put up any form of collateral, a personal loan will be a good option. The lender will assess your credit history and income to make sure that you are going to be able to repay the funds and you should be then good to go without posting any sort of insurance or collateral.
While some lenders might ask for a co-signer if your credit is not the best, this is usually not going to be necessary.
As opposed to the likes of a mortgage loan, student loan, or car loan, there is a lot more flexibility attached to getting a personal loan. This is because you do not have to use the funds for a specific purpose.
Instead, you are able to decide how you are going to spend the money. Therefore, you can split the funds into a few different purposes.
Better interest rates than credit cards
While credit cards can be very useful for certain types of purchases, they can have significant interest rates if you miss payments or you are only paying off the minimum each month.
Therefore, personal loans can be a lot more cost-effective in the long run to get some funds without having to pay as much interest. The interest rates for a personal loan on average will be around the 12% mark, with the equivalent rate being more like 16% for a credit card. Therefore, there is a significant difference between the two.
Plenty of choices
Unlike certain financial products, you will have plenty of different lenders to consider for a personal loan. This goes for big banks, credit unions, online lenders, and so on.
Therefore, you will be able to shop around in a competitive environment for the best rates and terms possible without much hassle.
Personal loans have many drawbacks you should understand before taking a loan:
Not suitable for every person
The flexibility that a personal loan provides is not going to suit everyone. Some people might end up spending the funds in meaningless ways just because they have access to the money.
A lot of people also might not be used to having the significant additional expense to repay each month and this could put a strain on their monthly pay-check, perhaps more than they initially realized.
How Does the Coronavirus Affect Personal Loans?
Naturally, the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively impacted millions of people across the US. People have lost their jobs, had their hours reduced, or their salaries cut. Whatever the case might be, the pandemic has had an effect on most things.
Some people will be worried about being able to meet their monthly personal loan repayments as a result of their changing income situation. However, a lot of lenders are willing to work with people who have been thrust into difficult situations as a result of the pandemic.
In certain cases, you might be able to secure a payment holiday for your personal loans or to renegotiate your monthly repayments for a certain period until things hopefully get back to normal.
For those people who are looking at getting a personal loan, many lenders have tightened up their eligibility requirements for the moment. This means that they will only hand out loans to a select group of people. However, other lenders are providing low-cost personal loans at smaller sums to help people keep going during the pandemic.
Tips to Improve Personal Loan Eligibility
If you are looking to boost your eligibility for a personal loan, there a number of changes you can make.
Some of these will be easier than others, but it is good to be aware of some of the important ways in which your application will be judged.
1. Boost Your Credit Rating
One of the most important aspects of getting any sort of borrowings will be your credit rating. The amount that you can borrow and the interest rate you have to pay will often be significantly dependent on your credit rating.
Make an effort to boost your credit score in any way possible. A lender does not want to deal with someone who could be deemed as being at high risk of not paying back their obligations.
2. Minimize Existing Debt
If you already have existing debt before you apply for a personal loan, you will want to minimize this as much as possible before applying to a lender.
The goal is to maximize the loan-to-income ratio to showcase that you will have enough income each month to easily be able to meet the repayments of your personal loan.
If you have a number of different forms of existing debt, this could be a warning sign for the lender as they will question your ability to meet your repayments on time due to all of these other obligations.
3. Don’t apply for numerous loans at the same time
If you submit an application for a personal loan, the lender will then be raising an inquiry in the credit bureau in order to gauge your risk level. These types of hard inquiries are going to become a part of your credit report.
As a result, if you submit numerous applications at the time time to different lenders, this does not give a good impression as you could be seen as being desperate for getting credit. Therefore, the chance of you not getting accepted will be greater as they might deem you to be a higher risk.
4. Showcase all of Your Income
It is important that you showcase all forms of income when submitting an application, not just the direct income from your main employment.
A lot of people these days have side businesses or money-making pursuits that are significant but will not be a part of your main salary.
Therefore, this income can help with you meeting repayments. As a result, you want the lender to be aware of this income so that they can factor it into their overall assessment of your application.
5. Don’t Try to Get Too Much
If you are looking for a personal loan, it is important that you only see a sum that is needed. Some people will try to max out the funds they can get from a personal loan, even if they do not need them all.
You should only submit an application for a sum that you need. Also, avoid overly extending the payback period if you know you can definitely meet the repayments in a shorter period of time. Lenders will naturally be more likely to give you a smaller amount of funds if requested.
When You Should get a Personal Loan?
There are a few different scenarios in which it is a good idea to get a personal loan. If you have to fund a significant purchase, but you do not have cash on hand, it can be the ideal way to do so.
This could be when you are buying a car or doing some house renovations. Credit card rates are usually higher than personal loan rates, so the latter will be more cost-effective.
Some people will use personal loans to consolidate credit card debt, allowing them to reduce the level of interest you are paying on this debt. Finally, some people will want to get a personal loan in an attempt to improve their credit score.
They might have little to no credit history built up and they want to do so before making a big request for borrowings, such as a mortgage. If you show that you meet all of your payments on time, this will increase your credit score.
When You Shouldn’t Get a Personal Loan
First of all, if you do not need the funds for a good reason, it is usually not advisable to get a personal loan.
It is usually not a good idea to get a personal loan to pay for a vacation or a luxury purchase. It should only be used for important reasons like paying medical expenses or buying a car.
If you do not have good credit it can often be a bad idea to get a personal loan. This is because you already don’t have a good record of dealing with credit and you may end up worsening your score even more.
Personal loans offer a flexible form of finance, as they can be used for practically any purpose. In this chart compiled from LendingTree consumer data, you can see that debt consolidation is the most common reason for taking out a personal loan. The least common reason is for home improvement. This is likely due to more advantageous products that can be used for home improvements such as home equity lines of credit.
You will also be paying much higher interest on your borrowed use when you have a poorer credit history. Therefore, it may make more sense to use a different form of credit than a personal loan if this is the case.
What Fees Should I Look Out For When Choosing a Personal Loan?
Naturally, you will want to look at the APR for a personal loan so you know how much interest you have to pay back on your borrowed sum.
However, there can be other charges that also need to be considered. A loan origination fee will be a part of a lot of personal loans. This is the fee that is paid to the lender as soon as you have gotten the borrowed funds. This covers the likes of processing the application.
The loan origination fee varies from lender to lender. It can be as low as 1% of the total borrowed sum and even up to 8% of this total. Some lenders might just charge a flat fee. A lot of the time, this fee will automatically be deducted from your borrowed sum.
Therefore, make sure to factor this fee into the equation when you are stating how much you want to borrow. You should also look to see what the penalties are when you miss payments or if there are any charges to consider if you want to pay off the loan at an earlier date.
Secured Loan Vs Unsecured Loan
A secured loan is when the borrower has to provide some sort of collateral in order to receive the funds from the lender. This means that it will be secured debt. Common forms of collateral for a loan include real estate and vehicles.
In contrast, an unsecured loan is when the borrower does not have to put up any collateral in order to get the funds from the lender. Most personal loans will be unsecured.
The lender will have deemed that your credit history and income are sufficient enough that they trust that you will meet the repayment obligations and not have any issues.
Personal Loans vs. Credit Cards
A personal loan is usually going to be anywhere from about $1,000 to $100,000 in size. Most personal loans though will be under $20,000. This will be an ideal way to pay for some medical expenses or a new car for example. You will have to submit an application in order to get these funds and then make a monthly repayment, with interest on top.
Whether you need a personal loan to restructure your finance or make a purchase, your state may influence the amount you can qualify for. In this chart using Experian data, you can see the highest average personal loan balance is in Washington state. However, the highest average states are separated by only a couple of hundred dollars. The exception to this is Montana, which is over $3,000 lower for average personal loan balances.
A credit card is usually not going to be funding as many significant purchases and will be ideal for smaller transactions. It allows you to pay for something now and pay for it in the near future.
A credit card will have a limit on what you can borrow and you have to pay back at least a minimum amount each month or else significant charges can come into effect. The interest rates on credit card debt are usually higher than what you get with a personal loan.
How are APRs Determined For Personal Loans?
The annual percentage rate (APR) of a product is a very useful way to objectively compare different types of loans with each other. The APR figure will include both the interest rate on the borrowings, as well as any additional finance charges. The rate will be based on an annual total and it will be a percentage.
For a personal loan, the interest rate on the borrowings from a given lender will be added in with the origination fee that is charged to come up with the APR.
There are a number of reasons for taking out a loan, but this can also influence the average loan amount. In this chart with LendingTree customer data, you can see that credit card refinancing has the highest average loan amount followed by debt consolidation.
This shows that debt restructuring is one of the more costly reasons to take out a loan. On the other end of the scale, the average loan amount for vacations is the least costly reason. This may suggest that consumers may use other finance methods to cover the cost of vacations.
Therefore, when you know the APRs of personal loans from different lenders, you can quickly see which one is going to be most cost-effective in terms of APR. To save you from having to manually calculate the APR of a lender, there are many useful online calculators that can do this for you.
Pre-Qualify For a Personal Loan – How It Works?
The pre-qualification stage of a personal loan is when the lender will give you a quick oversight of what your creditworthiness looks like and what sort of loan you can expect to get.
There is not going to be a guarantee that you will get the exact loan that you are previewing. Instead, it is supposed to be a guiding reference for you before you submit your final application.
The process sees you submit a pre-qualification form that requires info such as your job, income, and any current debt. A soft credit check is conducted by the lender to see your credit history and score. You will then either be approved or denied the pre-qualification.
You will get info about this loan if you get approved. You then can decide if you want to accept this pre-qualified offer or not. If you want to proceed, you then complete the final application for a personal loan.
Does Taking Out a Loan Affect My Credit?
Like all forms of credit, taking out a personal loan is going to have an impact on your credit. In the beginning, your score may drop slightly after you have first gotten the loan.
The process of a lender conducting a hard check on your credit history can slightly hurt your credit score in the short term also.
However, as you pay back the loan on time, your credit score will often increase your score. This is because you are able to demonstrate your ability to borrow funds and then repay them in a responsible manner.
Therefore, if you are diligent and do not mess up and miss any payments during the lifetime of the loan, you should have no negative issues regarding your credit score resulting from the personal loan.
How Long Does it Take to Get a Personal Loan?
The length of time in which you can get a personal loan will often depend on different factors. Some lenders will approve and issue borrowings quicker than others. The application process does not take long at all for you to complete.
Usually, it will take 3-7 days for your application to be approved or denied. Following acceptance of the loan, online lenders will often be able to deliver your funds slightly quicker than traditional banks. In most cases, you should receive the borrowed funds within seven business days.
Can I Negotiate a Personal Loan?
A lot of people like to negotiate when they are buying a good or service. There are certain types of lenders that might allow you to negotiate the final rate a bit more than others.
The bigger banks usually do not do so. However, the likes of a local community bank or credit union might have a bit of leeway when it comes to negotiating a lower rate.
If you have a track record with the bank or the credit union that you are getting the loan from, you can try to leverage your good relationship over the years with the institution.
You can also point towards other forms of financial ability and explain your justified need for a personal loan.
How Hard is it to Qualify For a Personal Loan?
If you have a good or excellent credit score, then you will likely have no problems in securing a personal loan. This is because the lender can be confident that you have a track record of handling different forms of debt in a responsible manner.
If your credit score is average or poor, you may run into some issues. As these types of people will be seen as riskier borrowers than those with good scores, additional checks may be needed.
To compensate for the higher level of risk, these people will usually pay a higher rate of interest. The total sum that they can get will also often be limited.
However, there are some lenders that have special offerings for people with poor credit scores. Therefore, people with all types of history should have a decent chance to qualify for some sort of a personal loan.
How Much Can You Borrow With a Personal Loan?
The scope of a personal loan can vary widely. In some cases, the loan will be as small as $1,000 or as high as $100,000. The amount that you can borrow will depend on the lender and your level of risk. For low-risk people, you will be likelier to get a higher sum.
However, if your credit history is only average there can be tight restrictions on how much you can borrow.
There are numerous online calculators that can give you an idea of how much you can expect to get. These will take factors into consideration such as your current credit score and income.