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Best Personal Loans of February 2024

The average personal loan rate is 11.94% as of Feb. 7, according to a Bankrate survey. Personal loan interest rates are trending higher in 2024 so far, up nearly a full percentage point from July 2023:

Personal loan rates vary widely based on creditworthiness. Borrowers with very good or excellent credit scores will see much lower interest rates than those with fair or poor credit. Often, borrowers with bad credit will apply for a secured personal loan that uses an asset as collateral in order to achieve lower rates:

Bankrate Averages

A personal loan is a type of lump-sum loan that you repay in fixed monthly payments over a set period of months or years, unlike a credit card or revolving line of credit.

Personal loans are typically unsecured, which means they are supported by your creditworthiness rather than collateral. Collateral is an asset, such as a car or house, a lender may use to recoup its losses if you default on a secured loan. However, some lenders offer secured personal loans that are backed by collateral like a savings account or certificate of deposit.

You can get a personal loan from different types of lenders, including traditional brick-and-mortar banks, credit unions and online lenders. They serve borrowers with varying credit scores, income levels and other requirements.

  • Depending on the lender, borrowers can potentially receive funds for personal loans in as little as one business day.
  • Personal loans can help borrowers consolidate high-interest credit card debt and pay it off faster at a lower interest rate.
  • Personal loans are delivered as a lump sum that can be used as you see fit.
  • Personal loans are typically unsecured, so the borrower doesn’t have to use collateral.

  • Depending on the lender, borrowers may have to pay origination fees, or even prepayment penalties.
  • A personal loan may have a higher APR than other options, such as a 0% credit card or a home equity loan, depending on creditworthiness and other factors.
  • Personal loans may be difficult for consumers with fair credit or below to obtain.

Lenders often set minimum requirements and will likely look at your credit score, payment history, income and debt-to-income ratio.

If you’re furloughed or unemployed, the lender may ask you for documentation that indicates when you’ll return to work, such as your furlough letter or a job offer.

Age eligibility requirements can vary by lender or by state and territory laws. Generally, consumers must be 18 to apply, but some states may require borrowers to be 19 or 21.

If you’re applying for a secured loan, the lender will also consider your collateral.

Find the Personal Loan That’s Right for You

You’ll want to consider a number of factors when choosing the best personal loan lender.

  • What interest rate can I qualify for? The lower your personal loan rate, the less you’ll pay in financing charges over time. You’ll want to shop around to find the lowest possible APR for your financial situation.
  • What loan amounts does the lender offer? Many lenders offer minimum and maximum loan amounts, so it’s worth noting before applying for a personal loan. After all, if a lender’s maximum amount is $40,000, you don’t want to waste your time if you need to borrow more.
  • What terms can I expect? Not only will you want to secure the best interest rate, but you’ll also need to make sure to get the loan repayment length you need. Use these factors to calculate your monthly payment to make certain you can afford it.
  • What fees does the lender charge? Many lenders charge an origination fee that can vary from 1% to 10% of the loan amount. Because this can greatly affect the payout you actually receive, be sure to note this and any other fees the lender may charge.
  • How is the lender’s customer service? Check online reviews, such as the Better Business Bureau, Trustpilot or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. If the lender is a financial institution, you might reach out to family and friends about their experience.

Follow these steps to apply for a personal loan:

1. Get prequalified. Most – but not all – personal loan companies let you see your estimated interest rate with a soft credit inquiry, which won’t impact your credit score. When you request a rate quote, you’ll provide your personal information, such as your address, income and Social Security number, on the lender’s secure website. You’ll indicate the amount you want to borrow, the reason for borrowing and the repayment term length you prefer.

Once you give these details, you’ll be informed of rates and how to formally apply for a loan. However, prequalification doesn’t necessarily guarantee your loan application will be approved.

2. Compare offers. Research different lenders to find the best personal loan interest rate. You should also consider factors like loan origination fees, the monthly payment, repayment terms and customer service.

3. Formally apply through the lender of your choice. You’ll complete your loan application, which will trigger a hard credit inquiry on your credit report. Keep in mind that even with good credit, you won’t be guaranteed approval or a particular interest rate.

There may be other ways to get the funds you need, so consider these alternatives before you commit to a personal loan.

  • Make a payment arrangement. Costs such as unpaid medical expenses can significantly impact your credit score, but always attempt a payment arrangement with the medical provider before taking out a personal loan. The same goes for utility providers like electricity or water companies.
  • Look at other types of loans. A home equity loan or line of credit could be your option for home repairs, and an auto loan for a new or used car purchase. Compare other types of loans and their terms to see if they offer a better rate.
  • Consider using a low-interest credit card. If your expense or purchase can be paid with a credit card that has a zero-interest promotional period, consider that first. But be sure that you can repay the balance on a reasonable time frame to avoid accruing high-interest, revolving debt.
  • Borrow from a family member. Asking for help may be difficult, but if someone is in a position to loan you money, then it may be better than a personal loan. It’s up to you to weigh the pros and cons of borrowing from friends or family.

Personal loans are available from:

Brick-and-mortar banks.
Credit unions.
Online lenders.
P2P lenders.

A bank or credit union could offer personal service, especially if a location is nearby. But online lenders sometimes offer more convenience, especially for consumers who prefer to apply, manage and close personal loans online. Online peer-to-peer lending platforms allow users to borrow funds from an investor, rather than from a traditional bank. These platforms may have more flexible credit requirements than traditional banks and could be a good option if you might not otherwise qualify for a personal loan.

You can prequalify for loan offers by providing some basic information so the lender can run a soft credit check. After you’ve compared loan terms, amounts, fees, personal loan interest rates and other factors from multiple lenders, you can formally apply for a loan, which requires a hard credit check. If you’re approved, you may receive your personal loan quickly from an online lender – in some cases, as soon as the following business day after approval.

Strive to obtain preapprovals from a variety of lenders so you can compare rates, terms and other factors for different types of personal loans.

Although they won’t work for everyone, personal loan might make sense in certain situations. You may consider applying for a personal loan if you have an emergency expense, need to make a large purchase or want to consolidate some of your high-interest debts.
There are times when a personal loan might not be the best option, though. While personal loans can be used as home improvement loans, for example, you may want to consider a home equity loan instead if you don’t mind using your home as collateral. And for some types of special purchases, such as a wedding or a vacation, it’s best to plan and save so you can pay cash rather than take out a personal loan.

Personal loan interest rates ranges are typically from about 6% to 36%, depending on creditworthiness and other factors. Generally, the higher your credit score, the better your personal loan interest rate.

Also, the higher your credit score, the greater choice of personal loans you’ll have with favorable terms. Companies want to work with people who have good or excellent credit scores and are more likely to offer personal loans with better terms to these consumers.

“Realistically, you probably need a credit score of 680 to 700 or higher” to qualify for a personal loan, says Joseph A. Carbone Jr., certified financial planner and founder of financial planning firm Focus Planning Group. “If you are in a range of 620 to 680, you might need a co-signer to secure the line.”

U.S. News selects the Best Loan Companies by evaluating affordability, borrower eligibility criteria and customer service. Those with the highest overall scores are considered the best lenders.

To calculate each score, we use data about the lender and its loan offerings, giving greater weight to factors that matter most to borrowers. Personal loan companies are evaluated based on customer service ratings, interest rates, maximum loan term, minimum and maximum loan amounts, minimum FICO score, online features, and origination fees.
The weight each scoring factor receives is based on a nationwide survey on what borrowers look for in a lender.

To receive a rating, lenders must offer qualifying loans nationwide and have a good reputation within the industry. Read more about our methodology.

To recap, here are the picks:

Best Personal Loans of February 2024

Sarah Goldberg
Sarah Goldberg

Sarah is a seasoned financial market expert with a decade of experience. She's known for her analytical skills, attention to detail, and ability to communicate complex financial concepts. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Finance, is a licensed financial advisor, and enjoys reading and traveling in her free time.

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