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4 best online loans

Personal loans with easy online applications

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Written by Jennifer Schurman
Edited by Cassidy McCants

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Online loans are growing in popularity, mostly due to the convenience and accessibility of their application processes. Some lenders are online-only institutions, but many also have both physical locations and websites. You can get an online personal loan for many reasons, including debt consolidation, medical payments and vacation expenses.

We looked at popular online lenders and found our top picks to help you decide which one is right for you.

Our picks for online personal loans

When it comes to online personal loans, you want a trusted company that offers competitive annual percentage rates (APRs) with low caps, an easy-to-use website and good reviews from borrowers. The best online personal loan options we found are from Prosper, Best Egg, Marcus by Goldman Sachs and LendingClub.

Methodology: To choose our top picks, we considered all companies on our site with 5-star reviews from the last two years (March 1, 2020, to March 1, 2022) that offer an online process for personal loans. We eliminated all companies with APRs above 35.99%, then looked at APRs, loan terms, lending amounts and fees from the remaining companies. We also looked at reviews to see what happy — and displeased — customers had to say about their online experiences.

Prosper
  • Loan amounts: $2,000 to $40,000
  • APR range: 7.95% to 35.99%
  • Term lengths: 36 or 60 months
  • Origination fee: 2.41% to 5%

Prosper is an online peer-to-peer lending marketplace that offers loans from both individuals and institutions. While Prosper doesn’t lend funds itself, it does service the loans on behalf of the borrowers and investors. Available loan amounts range from $2,000 to $40,000.

Some borrowers receive loan decisions in as little as five minutes; others may have to wait up to five business days, although this is rare. If you’re approved, you’ll receive the loan terms and sign the agreement. You could receive the funds in as little as one to three business days.

What we like: Prosper's personal loans are unsecured, which means there’s no collateral requirement. There’s also no prepayment penalty. You can pay off your loan early with no added fees or restrictions, and you can make additional payments to your principal each month to pay off the loan faster.

Prosper offers low interest rates compared to those from some other online lenders, too. If you have a good credit history, you might be able to get rates as low as 7.95%. Many of its customers seem satisfied, including one reviewer New York who said, “Prosper is my ‘Go To’ for a loan. They have been there for me (3 times) since 2016. The application is quite simple and their customer service is knowledgeable, friendly and reliable. I would highly recommend Prosper.”

Things to consider: Prosper’s origination fees range from 2.41% to 5% of your loan amount. Some lenders’ fees can run as high as 10%, but others don’t charge origination fees. Prosper’s fees are on the low end of the scale, but you should still be aware of the cost.

The verification process could take up to five days, so you may not have access to the funds as quickly as you would with other lenders. Prosper also offers just two repayment terms: three years or five years. If you need to borrow the maximum amount and don’t have the ability to repay it in five years, you may need to look for a loan elsewhere.

Best Egg AUTHORIZED PARTNER
  • Loan amounts: $2,000 to $50,000
  • APR range: 8.99% to 35.99%
  • Term lengths: 36 or 60 months
  • Origination fee: 0.99% to 8.99%

Best Egg is an online credit platform that provides personal loans. Best Egg’s personal loans can be used for any purpose, including vacations or home improvement projects. Approvals often take minutes, and funds are available in as little as three business day. You can borrow as little as $2,000 or as much as $50,000.

Best Egg lets you check available rates on its website without making a commitment, requiring only a soft credit inquiry that doesn’t impact your credit score.

What we like: Best Egg has a fast turnaround time, with some loans gaining approval and funding in one business day. Most borrowers, however, should expect at least a few business days before they see the funds deposited into their accounts.

We also like that Best Egg offers some of the lowest starting annual percentage rates (APRs) among competitors. Borrowers with excellent credit could pay as little as 8.99% for their personal loans.

Many borrowers report good experiences with Best Egg, including a reviewer from Georgia who wrote: “Excellent experience. I couldn’t have asked for a better one. [If you're] in the market for a personal loan, make sure you give Best Egg a shot at your business. In my 40 years of professional real estate experience, which includes real estate development, I have never had a lending experience better than Best Egg.”

Things to consider: Best Egg charges an origination fee between 0.99% and 8.99%; for loan terms of four years or longer, the origination fee is at least 4.99%. Your origination fee is deducted from the money you borrow.

Best Egg also has fairly high requirements to qualify for its best interest rates. To get Best Egg’s lowest APR, you’ll need a credit score of 700 or higher and at least $100,000 in annual income.

Marcus by Goldman Sachs
  • Loan amounts: $3,500 to $40,000
  • APR range: 6.99% to 19.99%
  • Term lengths: 36 to 72 months
  • Origination fee: None

Marcus by Goldman Sachs is an online platform from the established investment bank Goldman Sachs. Marcus offers personal loans at fixed interest rates with no loan origination fees. Borrowers can apply for unsecured personal loans in amounts ranging from $3,500 to $40,000.

If your application is approved, you’ll sign loan documents and connect your bank account to receive the funds. Funds should be deposited within one to four business days.

What we like: Marcus advertises loans with no fees ever, including late fees, sign-up fees and prepayment fees. You can also get a rate discount of 0.25% by signing up for automatic payments. You can apply for a personal loan online and receive your loan options in just a few minutes. After that, you could get a loan decision within 24 hours — if approved, you’ll have the funds in a few days.

Marcus also offers a reward — the opportunity to defer one monthly payment — for making twelve consecutive payments in full and on time. These deferred payments don’t accrue additional interest or fees.

Many customers appreciate the company’s representatives, with one customer from New York who left a review on ConsumerAffairs stating Marcus has “excellent client services."

What to consider: Marcus only accepts individual applications, so you won’t be able to apply for a loan with a spouse or another co-signer. This means your credit history and credit score alone have to satisfy the lender’s requirements.

LendingClub AUTHORIZED PARTNER
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to $40,000
  • APR range: 7.04% to 35.89%
  • Term lengths: 36 or 60 months
  • Origination fee: 3% to 6%
LendingClub Logo Compare Offers on Personal Loan Pro

LendingClub provides personal loans, small business loans and auto financing. It's an online marketplace that connects borrowers to a network of lenders to help them select the right loan for their individual needs. Loan amounts range from $1,000 to $40,000 with three- or five-year terms.

If your loan is approved, you could receive the funds in as little as 48 hours. If you choose a loan for debt consolidation, LendingClub can pay your creditors directly.

What we like: LendingClub allows co-applicants, or co-borrowers, on personal loans. Applying for a loan together with an individual who has excellent credit could not only increase your chances of approval but also lower your interest rate.

Borrowers have praised the company’s transparency and low rates. An Arizona customer who left a review on ConsumerAffairs said, “As an attorney, I read the fine print carefully and found that the actual APR was fully disclosed and in my case fairly reasonable (6.9% with 3% of that being pre-paid) for my credit score for an unsecured loan. Other companies were quoting up to 19%.”

However, it’s worth noting that LendingClub’s minimum rate is now 7.04%, slightly higher than what that reviewer was offered.

What to consider: Some lenders don’t impose origination fees, but LendingClub does charge between 3% and 6% of the loan amount. And, while you may receive approval within 24 hours, funding could take another two days. If you need same-day cash, you may need to look elsewhere.

The starting APR for a LendingClub personal loan is 7.04% as of the time of publication, which is roughly in the middle for our top picks. However, LendingClub states that its average APR is 15.95%. Other lenders may have similar averages, depending on their applicants’ creditworthiness, but it’s good to know what you can realistically expect.

Compare the best online lenders

Each lender has its upsides and downsides. Best Egg and Marcus offer some of the lowest starting APRs for those with excellent credit. For someone with average or good credit, Prosper and Best Egg have lower credit score requirements. If you need to borrow a large sum of money, most of these options offer high loan amounts, with Best Egg offering the highest maximum at $50,000.

Marcus is the only lender we featured that doesn’t charge origination fees. Our other picks could charge up to 6%, depending on the lender. You’ll want to consider the extra fees associated with your loan, especially if you’re borrowing a larger amount.

APR rangeMin. credit scoreMax. loan amountOrigination fees (part of APR)
prosper logo7.95% to 35.99%640$40,0002.41% to 5%
best egg logo8.99% to 35.99%600$50,0000.99% to 8.99%
marcus by goldman sachs logo6.99% to 19.99%660$40,000None
lendingclub logo7.04% to 35.89%Varies$40,0003% to 6%
prosper logo7.95% to 35.99%640$40,0002.41% to 5%
best egg logo8.99% to 35.99%600$50,0000.99% to 8.99%
marcus by goldman sachs logo6.99% to 19.99%660$40,000None
lendingclub logo7.04% to 35.89%Varies$40,0003% to 6%

How to get an online loan

Before you begin the application process, you should assess your loan needs and financial situation. For example, if your goal is debt consolidation, first add up all your credit card balances to find how much you need to borrow to pay those off. If you’re using the funds for a home improvement project, you may want to get quotes from various contractors so you have a good idea of the potential costs.

It’s a good idea to know your credit score and check your credit report for inaccuracies before applying for a personal loan.

It’s also a good idea to check your credit score ahead of time so you know which lenders will consider you. You can get three free credit reports a year (one from each of the credit bureaus).

Once you know how much you need to borrow and what your credit score is, you research the lending options available to you. Be sure to consider the fees associated with the loan (like origination fees), the average APR (annual percentage rate) for your credit score and any perks included with the loan. Prosper, Best Egg, LendingClub and Marcus all let you check your rate online before you commit.

When you’ve decided which loan best suits your needs, you can apply online and generally receive a decision within a day or so. If you’re approved, you’ll receive the loan terms and an agreement to sign. Once you sign, you should receive the funds within a few business days, depending on how fast your lender and bank can process the funds.

Frequently asked questions

How can I get a loan online instantly?

No loan process is truly instant, and good lenders aren’t always the fastest. If speed is a factor, look for lenders with lending and funding processes that match your timeline and shop accordingly. Make sure you’re prepared for the application and have all the documents you may need handy, too. There isn’t much else you can do now to speed up the process, though.

Building credit takes time, but having great credit can make things go faster. In general, borrowers with excellent credit receive quicker approval decisions — the results of their credit check alone may satisfy the lender’s requirements. That means they may not need additional documentation, like pay stubs and bank statements, to qualify. While the approval decision may be fast, the actual transfer of funds may still take time.

How can I borrow money with bad credit?

Finding a co-signer with excellent credit can up your chances of getting approval. You may also need to explore secured loan options, which are loans backed by collateral (assets of value like cars and homes).

What is a secured personal loan?

Secured loans are loans backed by collateral. Collateral is an asset that you agree to let the lender take ownership of and sell if you don’t pay back the loan. Vehicles and houses are often put forth as collateral, but a savings account balance or a retirement account can also be used. In general, secured personal loans tend to have lower interest rates than unsecured loans.

Bottom line: How to choose an online lender

Online lenders generally have fast and convenient applications, making them ideal for a lot of people. However, there are pros and cons to each of our top picks — for instance, Prosper and Best Egg cater to those with average credit, and Marcus and LendingClub may have higher credit requirements. Marcus boasts no fees, while others charge origination fees. Best Egg has some of the lowest rates and highest loan amounts compared with competitors.

Carefully weigh the risks of a personal loan against the benefits of the lenders you’re considering. Before you enter into a loan agreement, read the terms and pay close attention to the fees and costs.

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