The 10 best personal loans for April 2023
Whether you’re looking to finance a large purchase, consolidate your debt, or cover an emergency expense, personal loans can give you the capital you need to cover your expense.
Of course, these loans come with their own set of terms and conditions. Personal loans are a form of installment debt, meaning that you can expect to have a monthly payment, plus interest, for the duration of your term. In many cases, that can range anywhere from 12 months to 84 months, or even longer in some cases.
If you’re on the hunt for a personal loan, we’ll help make the decision a little easier. The Fortune RecommendsTM editorial team reviewed 17 financial institutions that offer personal loans. We weighed loan amounts, terms, associated fees, time to fund your account, and customer service options. (Read our full methodology here.)
- PenFed Credit Union
- Wells Fargo
- TD Bank
- Universal Credit
- U.S. Bank
- PNC Bank
The 10 best personal loans of April 2023
There are several routes you can take to finance your personal goals. The personal loan you choose can make a huge difference in what your repayment timeline looks like, how much capital you have to work with, and how quickly you’re able to pay off your loan. (Note: Rates, fees, and loan amounts are up to date as of April 11, 2023, but are subject to change.)
About: LightStream is an online lender that offers personal loans, auto loans, home improvement loans, and more. LightStream also offers a high-yield savings account.
Loan amount: $5,000–$100,000
Loan terms: 24–144 months
LightStream representatives are available via email, Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., and Saturday, noon to 4:00 p.m. ET.
Good for those who want the longest possible repayment term. LightStream’s personal loan offers a lower APR than many of our other picks, as well as a wide range of loan terms up to 144 months. LightStream does not charge any origination fees or late fees, and may fund your loan as soon as the same day you’re approved. Bonus: Signing up for auto-pay will score you a 0.50% discount on your APR. And if you’re approved for a personal loan through a different lender, LightStream will offer a rate .10 percentage points lower than the rate offered on any competing lender’s unsecured loan provided that you were approved for that lower rate (with the same loan terms offered by LightStream).
About: SoFi is an online bank headquartered in San Francisco that offers checking, savings, investing products, and more.
Loan amount: $5,000–$100,000
Loan terms: 2–7 years
Customers can request assistance 24/7 by reaching out to SoFi via phone, chat, email, or even sending general questions to the Twitter account at @SoFiSupport.
Good for those who want a backup plan in case repayment becomes a challenge. SoFi’s personal loan took the second spot on our list for having low rates and zero late fees, and because borrowers can get their money the very same day they’re approved. What’s more, SoFi takes into account all of the “what ifs” that could happen during your repayment period. If you lose your job through no fault of your own, you may apply for unemployment protection. Upon approval,SoFi may modify your monthly loan payments and provide job placement assistance during your forbearance period.
3. PenFed Credit Union
About: Pentagon Federal Credit Union (PenFed) is a credit union based in Virginia that offers online banking options in addition to a few brick-and-mortar locations across the U.S.
Loan amount: $0–$50,000
Loan terms: Up to 60 months
Customers can contact PenFed by email, chat, or phone Monday to Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. ET; 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. ET on Saturday; and 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.
Good for those who prefer to work with a credit union. PenFed was the only credit union that made our list. Its personal loan rates are lower than the national average, standing at 11.24% on the higher end of the range—that’s compared to the national average of 11.48%. Borrowers have up to 60 months to repay their loan and can borrow up to $50,000. PenFed does not charge any origination fees or early payoff penalties and you can expect to receive your money one to two business days after verification.
4. Wells Fargo
About: Wells Fargo is the third-largest bank in the U.S. and offers personal banking products and services, including checking and savings accounts, CDs, credit cards, home loans, personal loans, and more. It also offers small business and commercial banking products, as well as corporate and investment banking services.
Loan amount: $3,000–$100,000
- 12–36 months for personal loans ranging from $3,000 to $4,999
- 12–84 months for personal loans ranging from $5,000 to $100,000
Wells Fargo representatives are available via telephone Monday through Friday between 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. CT.
Good for those who want a lower APR. Wells Fargo’s APR range for its personal loan started lower than any other lender on our list. At 7.49% on the lower end, borrowers who meet the qualifications for this rate would benefit from an APR that’s almost 4% lower than the national average. Wells Fargo does not charge any origination fee, prepayment fee, or closing fee, although if you make a late payment, you’ll be responsible for a $39 late fee after the 10-day grace period. Borrowers typically receive their funds in one to three business days.
5. TD Bank
About: TD Bank is one of the 10 largest banks in the United States and serves over 9.8 million customers. TD offers a number of personal, small business, and commercial banking products, as well as investing and wealth management services.
Loan amount: $2,000–$50,000
Loan terms: 36–60 months
Customer support specialists can be reached 24/7 via telephone. You can also contact a representative using Facebook Messenger and Twitter direct messages.
Good for those who hate fees. The TD Fit loan is the perfect loan for borrowers looking for quick financing without any extra fees and penalties. This personal loan doesn’t charge any origination or application fees, although you will be charged a late fee of 5% of the minimum payment due, or $10—whichever is less. Terms range from 36 months to 60 months, giving borrowers the flexibility to pay down their balance over time. And there’s no penalty for paying off your balance early. If you’re approved, you’ll get your funds in as little as one business day.
6. Universal Credit
About: Universal Credit is an online lender powered by Upgrade, Inc., a financial technology company. It offers personal loans and debt consolidation loans.
Loan amount: $1,000–$50,000
Loan terms: 36–60 months
Universal Credit representatives are available via email and telephone Monday through Friday from 5:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. PT, as well as Saturday and Sunday from 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. PT.
Good for those who don’t mind a higher APR in exchange for fast funding and low fees. Universal Credit’s personal loan made our list for its quick funding for approved borrowers and zero prepayment fees. Borrowers can expect to receive their money within a day of clearing necessary verifications. And, should you decide to pay off your balance early, you won’t have to pay a hefty fee. Universal Credit does, however, charge a $10 fee for late payments.
About: Citibank was founded in 1812 as the City Bank of New York and is headquartered in New York City. Citi currently offers credit cards, checking and savings accounts, lending services, wealth management services, and more.
Loan amount: $2,000–$30,000
Loan terms: You can repay your loan over 12, 24, 36, 48, or 60 months.
Citibank representatives are available via telephone, Monday through Sunday, from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. ET.
Good for those who love a good discount. Citi’s personal loan made our list for offering users discounts on their loan APR. Citi offers a 0.5% APR discount if you enroll in automatic payments at the time you submit your loan application. And a 0.25% discount will be applied to the interest rate for existing Citigold and Citi Priority customers. Once approved, borrowers can expect to receive the money that same day if they have a Citi account, and up to two business days later for non-Citi accounts, upon approval and when using direct deposit. This can take up to five business days for customers who have requested a check.
8. U.S. Bank
About: U.S. Bank’s parent company—U.S. Bancorp is headquartered in Minneapolis and has physical branches in 26 states. The bank offers checking and savings accounts, CDs, loans, and more.
Loan amount: $1,000–$50,000 (up to $25,000 for non-customers)
Loan terms: 12–84 months (maximum 60 months for non-customers)
U.S. Bank representatives are available 24/7 via telephone.
Good for those with fair to excellent credit. U.S. Bank’s personal loan scored a spot on our list for its relatively low APR range compared to other picks on our list and 24/7 customer support. U.S. Bank offers quick funding for loan applicants, but the catch is: You must have a FICO score of 660. If you aren’t a U.S. Bank customer already, you’ll need to have an even higher credit score. U.S. Bank does not charge any origination fees or prepayment penalties, although you could incur a fee of up to $40 for a late payment.
About: Upgrade is a younger fintech company that was founded in the late 2010s and offers consumer credit cards, checking and savings options, personal loans, credit monitoring and education tools, and more.
Loan amount: $1,000–$50,000
Loan terms: 24–84 months
Upgrade customer support representatives are available via email and telephone Monday through Friday, 5:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. PT and weekends from 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. PT.
Good for those who don’t mind a higher fee upfront for a wide range of repayment terms. Upgrade’s personal loan does have the highest origination fee on our list. The platform charges 1.85% to 9.99% of your loan amount. You may also be responsible for a $10 fee if you make a late payment. However, if you can overlook these charges, you’ll benefit from Upgrade’s wide range of repayment terms, which allow you to choose a term from 24 months all the way up to 84 months. Plus, once you’re approved and accept your loan terms, you’ll receive your funds within one business day.
10. Axos Bank
About: California-based Axos Bank is an entirely online bank offering numerous account options for individual and business customers. In addition to multiple types of checking accounts, the bank provides money market, high-yield savings, lending, and investment account services.
Loan amount: $5,000–$50,000
Loan terms: 36–72 months
For questions about personal loans, customers can call the bank between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. PT Monday through Friday.
Good for those who want to keep upfront fees to a minimum. Axos took the final spot on our list for its personal loan which boasts one of the lower APR ranges on our list and allows borrowers to apply for up to $50,000. Although, this loan does require that borrowers meet certain eligibility requirements, including a 700+ credit score and verifiable income. The origination fee is capped at 1%–2% of your loan amount, which is significantly lower than some of our other picks, however, Axos does charge a $25 fee for late payments.
What to know about personal loans
Personal loans can be a convenient option for funding a purchase in a pinch, but they should not be taken lightly. Applying for a personal loan means that upon approval, you’re agreeing to repay your loan amount, plus any interest, within the term given. And payments start as soon as the full amount is disbursed into your bank account, which often takes just a few business days.
Personal loans may be secured or unsecured, meaning that you may or may not have to provide collateral in the form of a security deposit to be approved. The good news: These loans typically have fixed interest rates. Once your loan application is approved and your rate is locked in, your interest rate will not change. This differs from other kinds of debt like credit cards, which have variable interest rates that may fluctuate in response to larger economic changes.
Before applying for a personal loan, you should be aware that your lender will pull your credit report—resulting in a hard inquiry. Hard inquiries only take place when you apply for new credit, and can temporarily ding your credit score.
- Unsecured personal loan: A loan that does not require any collateral.
- Secured personal loan: A loan that is backed by a physical asset and may offer lower interest rates as a result.
- Cosigner loan: A loan that is backed by another individual with a positive credit history who agrees to be responsible for repaying the loan if the borrower stops making payments.
- Credit-builder loan: A type of secured loan where the collateral is usually a cash down payment or a savings account. This loan is typically a better option for borrowers who are taking out a loan for the purpose of rebuilding their credit.
How to choose a personal loan
If you’re thinking about applying for a personal loan, you may want to consider the following to help you narrow down your options:
- Loan amounts: Banking institutions set their own amounts for how much they feel comfortable lending to customers. Often the amount you’re approved for will depend on your credit profile, income, and various other factors. Still, it’s worth asking your bank how much you can apply to borrow so that you know your limits.
- Loan terms and APRs: Some banks offer loan terms as long as 84 months or even 144 months. However, this is not a universal truth. Depending on what you’re borrowing money for, you’ll want to make sure that the personal loan you’re offered comes with a repayment timeline that fits your budget and larger financial plan. You’ll also want to consider the interest rates offered by your financial institution. Higher APRs mean that you can expect to pay more in interest over the life of your loan.
- Loan fees: You may be charged origination fees or administrative fees for processing your loan, prepayment fees for paying off your loan ahead of time, or late fees for missing or making a late payment. Read your bank’s loan disclosures to determine what kinds of fees you may be responsible for.
- Time to fund: Many personal loans are disbursed within a matter of days, although some will fund your account the very same day you’re approved. Think about how quickly you’ll need access to that money and double-check that the institution you’re considering doing business with will be able to give you the funds you need in that time frame.
Alternatives to personal loans
Personal loans often offer the most favorable interest rates across financing options. However, depending on your unique situation, credit profile, and financial goal, other types of debt may be more favorable. Some alternatives to personal loans include:
- Credit cards: Credit cards are a type of payment card that allow you to borrow against a line of credit to make purchases, transfer balances from one credit card to another—or even pull out cash from an ATM using what’s called a cash advance. Average APRs for credit cards stand at just over 20%, according to the most recent figures from the Fed. Average rates for personal loans stand at 11.48%.
- Personal line of credit: A personal line of credit is a predetermined amount of money that you can borrow from (up to the limit) for a given period of time, referred to as your draw period.
- A loan from a friend or family member: If you have a friend or family member who is willing to lend you the money interest-free or at a lower rate, with flexible terms, this may be the most cost-effective option. Of course, it’s important to set clear terms from the start and adhere to those terms to avoid any potential fallout.
- A home equity loan: A home equity loan allows you to borrow against the market value of your house and receive a lump-sum payment in return. Even if this option comes with a slightly lower interest rate, it involves significantly more risk than a personal loan if you fail to repay your loan.
Frequently asked questions
Can a personal loan hurt my credit score?
A personal loan will have an immediate impact on your credit score, as would any new application for credit. However, this impact is temporary. As long as you continue to make on-time payments and repay your loan within the term offered to you, a personal loan will not hurt your credit score. In fact, maintaining positive financial habits throughout repayment may help improve it.
Where can you get a personal loan?
Personal loans are offered by most banks and credit unions. The easiest way to find one may be to ask your primary banking institution about its product offerings. Many institutions also offer special relationship rates or terms for existing customers.
What information do I need to apply for a personal loan?
To apply for a personal loan, you’ll need your completed loan application, proof of identity, proof of income and verification of employment, and proof of address. These are most commonly used to process your loan application, although your bank may have its own unique requirements outside of these documents.
The Fortune RecommendsTM team compared 17 different financial institutions that offer personal loans. Our top picks are available across the U.S., so you can apply for a loan no matter where you’re located, although terms and conditions may vary from state to state.
We ranked the personal loans on the following categories:
- Minimum loan amount (12%): Many financial institutions set a minimum for the loan amount you can apply to borrow. We favored personal loans with lower minimum loan requirements.
- Maximum loan amount (16%): Your bank or credit union may set a limit for how much you can borrow. We favored banks with higher maximum loan amounts.
- Minimum APR (12%): We defined the minimum APR based on the lower end of the range stated by the financial institutions we included in our methodology. The APR you qualify for will depend on your unique financial profile.
- Maximum APR (16%): We defined the maximum APR based on the higher end of the range stated by the financial institutions we included in our methodology. The APR you qualify for will depend on your unique financial profile.
- Maximum loan term (14%): When you apply for a personal loan, your financial institution will allow you to select a term length for your repayment. We rewarded lenders that offered longer repayment terms.
- Maximum late fee (10%): Certain institutions may charge a flat late fee if you miss a payment or make a payment after your due date. Other institutions charge a percentage of your monthly payment. In order to weigh banks that did not charge a flat fee, we calculated a monthly payment based on a $10,000 loan at the average national APR for personal loans, which currently stands at 11.48%. We also selected the maximum loan term offered by each bank to arrive at the maximum late payment fee. We penalized banks that charged higher late fees.
- Origination or administrative fees (10%): An origination fee is a one-time fee charged by your lender to cover processing and administrative costs associated with your loan. This fee is usually expressed as a percentage of your loan amount.
- Time to fund (5%): The time it takes for your personal loan to be disbursed will depend on your lender and the bank that holds your account. We rewarded lenders that funded borrowers more quickly. We awarded points based on the number of business days each lender takes to fund borrowers.
- Same business day: 5
- Next business day: 4
- 2 business days: 3
- 3 business days: 2
- 4-5 business days: 1
- 6+ business days: 0
- Customer support (5%): Top picks offer customers various ways to get in contact: chat support, by phone, or even email; phone support was most highly rated by our team.
EDITORIAL DISCLOSURE: The advice, opinions, or rankings contained in this article are solely those of the Fortune Recommends™ editorial team. This content has not been reviewed or endorsed by any of our affiliate partners or other third parties.