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Best Personal Loan Companies

Profile picture of Barbara Friedberg
by Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance Contributing Editor

Personal Loan companies provide individuals with credit to buy now and pay back the amount borrowed over time. Many types of companies offer personal loans, including banks, credit unions, peer-lending companies and private lenders.

Personal loans offer customers financing with predictable monthly payments. They're often used to consolidate high interest debt, fund a new business or finance a big purchase such as a home remodel. Consumers may borrow money for a personal loan online or in person.

Compare Reviews for Top Personal Loan Companies

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Best Egg
Read 958 Reviews

Best Egg's online application process makes it easier than ever to obtain a personal loan. With their quick and simple 3 step process, you can have the money you need in your account in 1 business day.

NetCredit
Read 404 Reviews

NetCredit prides itself on providing a "more personal, personal loan" and offers a 100% commitment to customer satisfaction with a process that is simple, transparent and reliable.

FreedomPlus
Read 332 Reviews

FreedomPlus in an online lender that underwrites consumer loans under the brand Freedom Financial Network, LLC. Its underwriting process gives low-cost loans to borrowers ranging from $10,000 to $35,000.

Liberty Lending Group
Read 42 Reviews

This company gives consumers the opportunity to choose from several different in an online marketplace. With no hidden fees, no prepayment fees and fast approval, you’ll be able to find a fixed-rate personal loan in no time.

CountryWide Debt Consolidation Loans
Read 16 Reviews

CountryWide Debt Relief has several options for debt relief, including debt settlement, debt consolidation and consumer credit counseling services. They help people facing financial hardships, including people facing bankruptcy.

LoanMe
Read 505 Reviews

LoanMe provides personal loans in as little as four hours. We strive to make the process quick and easy to yield needed funds for one-time purchases or debt consolidation.

CashCall
Read 511 Reviews

Cashcall offers consumers personal loans, small business loans and mortgage loans online via a quick and streamlined application process. Cashcall's corporate headquarters are located in Orange, California.

Credit Direct
Read 59 Reviews

Credit Direct offers unsecured loans up to $40,000 and an online application. They are licensed in California, Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, North Carolina, Virginia and Arkansas.

OneMain Financial
Read 2953 Reviews

OneMain Financial offers personal loans to customers in 44 states. The company has roots going back over 100 years and previously operated as SpringLeaf Financial. It has made loans to over 10 million customers.

AmOne
Read 240 Reviews

Since 1999, AmOne has matched consumers and business owners with lenders to provide immediate access to loans. Our Loan Matching Specialists provide personalized guidance in finding and securing reliable funds.

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What should I consider before getting a loan?

Interest rates

Lenders make money on loans by charging customers interest and fees. Interest is calculated as a percent of the amount borrowed. There are many ways to calculate interest payments. Companies vary based on the amount of interest and fees they charge.

  • High interest loans: Some personal loan companies charge high-interest rates, which encourage customers to repay loans quickly. Certain ‘pay day’ loans offer money with very high interest rates to tide you over until your next paycheck.
  • Low interest loans: Many personal loan companies offer customers low-interest rate loans, which are often used to refinance debt with higher-interest rates. For example, if you have 3 credit cards which charge an average of 20% interest, you may want to pay off the balance due on those cards with a personal loan that has a lower interest rate of 12%. In general, to qualify for a lower interest rate, the borrower needs a credit score above a specific level.
  • Varied interest rates: Many personal loan companies charge a wide variety of interest rates, which differ based on who is borrowing the money and how long it will take them to repay the loan. In general, borrowers with higher credit scores are charged lower interest rates. Additionally, smaller loans usually have higher interest charges.

Types of loans offered

Personal loan companies differ from one another by the types of loans that they offer.

  • Secured loan: This type of loan requires an asset to secure the loan. If the borrower defaults on the loan, the lender has a right to take the collateral. Secured loans are commonly used when buying a vehicle.
  • Unsecured loan: There is no collateral required on an unsecured loan, thus the interest rates are normally higher than for an unsecured loan due to the higher risk to the lender.
  • Single payment loans: Single payment loans allow borrowers to borrow an amount of money, then agree to repay that amount in full at some point within a fixed amount of time.
  • Monthly payment loans: These types of loans require the borrower to repay the loan principal and interest with a fixed amount each month. The repayment dates are scheduled at the start of the loan.
  • Salary advance loans: People who borrow cash for a short time period, usually between paychecks, may use personal loan companies that offer salary advance loans; these are often short-term, low amount loans with high interest rates and fees.

Application process

Another way that personal loan companies differ is in their borrower application process. The application process gives the lender basic information about the client’s current expenses and income as well as their credit history. This allows the lender to find out whether the borrower is likely to repay the loan in a timely manner. Before applying for a personal loan it’s useful for a borrower to check his or her credit score. Also, gather all of the necessary paperwork in advance and to make certain to complete the application in full.

  • Online application: Some personal loan companies allow customers to apply for loans by entering all the necessary information online, which the loan company then assesses to determine the borrower’s creditworthiness.
  • Phone application: Loan companies that have a phone-based application require borrowers to apply for a loan over the phone. Before making the call, prospective borrowers should compile all of their related documents.
  • Mixed process: Many personal loan companies require customers to fill out application forms with their personal information, and then follow up with phone calls to verify information and discuss loan options and terms.

Loan amounts

Personal loan companies differ from one another based on the amounts of the loans that they offer. In general, the loan amounts vary from company to company. Personal loans may be for an amount as low as a few hundred dollars on up to $70,000 for a small business or home remodel loan.

  • Maximum limits: Some personal loan companies put a cap on the maximum amount a customer can borrow.
  • Minimum limits: Some personal loan companies require borrowers to take out at least a certain amount in order to borrow.

Fees

Personal loan companies vary based on the types of fees they charge with their loans.

  • Fee-free: Fee-free personal loan companies do not charge any fees for their loans and simply make money from the loan's interest payments.
  • Loan fees: Other personal loan companies charge standard fees such as an origination fee and a closing fee. These may be a set fee or calculated as a percent of the amount borrowed.
  • Late and failure-to-pay fees: Most personal loan companies charge customers fees for late or missed payments.

Funders

There are a variety of ways a personal loan is funded.

  • Bank funded: Historically, banks and credit unions use depositors’ money to fund borrowers’ loans. Banks and related financial institutions also fund payday lenders and other types of personal loan providers.
  • Peer funded (individual): Individual peer support is a new type of funding alternative for both borrowers and lenders. Peer funded loans are provided by regular individuals or peers and not financial institutions.
  • Peer funded (group): Similar to individually funded peer loans, many hedge funds, bank endowment funds and other large investors fund personal loans through the peer-to-peer or social lending platforms. The difference between individual and group peer funded loans is typically the amount of money lent-groups typically lend greater amounts than individuals.

Types of personal loan companies

Peer-to-peer lenders

Sometimes called social lending, peer-to-peer lending anonymously matches you with lenders using a complex algorithm on an online platform. Personal loans usually range from $1,000-$40,000, and the loan terms are around one to five years. As the borrower, you’ll make monthly payments that are drafted out of your verified bank account.

Since there are no physical branches, costs are usually lower for borrowers, and lenders see increasing returns. Lending platforms make their money by charging origination fees and taking fees from the loan repayments made to investors.

Private lending companies

Private personal loan companies may offer borrowers loans from their own funds, and they collect interest on the loans to make money. Other private lending companies receive funding for the loans they offer through the traditional financial system.

Getting money from a private lender means the money is quickly accessible, making private lending a popular choice for people purchasing real estate. This is because private money comes from things like mutual funds, stocks and other investments which can quickly be converted to cash. Paying with cash also strengthens real estate offers.

Banks and credit unions

Banks and credit unions are official financial institutions that make personal loans. Credit unions are non-profit companies with the goal of passing their profits on to members. They offer great customer service and low interest rates on loans and fees. They also have fewer strings attached, like minimum balance requirements.

On the downside, when compared with banks, credit unions have limited eligibility requirements and offer fewer rewards and bells and whistles. For example, larger banks have more resources, letting them make investments in an emerging market sooner. National banks also have more branches across the country when compared with credit unions.

Borrower-specific lending companies

Borrower-specific loan companies only give loans to specific types of borrowers, such as those in the military or in a particular affinity group such as a church or alumni association. These types of groups usually get important benefits associated with their loans. For example, Veterans can take advantage of a VA home loan, which includes rules like no down payment, no private mortgage insurance, looser credit requirements and lower closing costs.

Who can benefit from a personal loan?

People looking to refinance debt

People who are in debt but looking to pay lower interest rates might take out a loan to refinance their debt. When looking for a debt consolidation loan, it’s important to make certain that the future interest rate and fees are lower than the rates on the existing debt.

People starting a business

People starting a business might use a personal loan company to borrow money to fund their business' startup costs.

People facing financial hardship

People who are facing financial hardship might take out a personal loan in order to afford the costs of living or pay off medical bills until they are in a better financial spot.

People experiencing a big life event

Some individuals use personal loan companies to fund an expensive life event, such as a wedding or important family vacation.

People looking to finance a home remodel

A homeowner might take out a personal loan when adding a room on to their home or remodeling a kitchen.

Personal loan company expert reviews

LoanMe

LoanMe offers unsecured installment loans to consumers and businesses. The company's primary focus is to provide personal or small business lending solutions. The company offers loans from $2,600 to $100,000 for purposes such as debt consolidation or costs associated with starting a new business. LoanMe streamlines the loan application process, making it easier for consumers.

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FreedomPlus

FreedomPlus is an online lender that offers personal loans in the range of $10,000 to $35,000. Interested consumers can visit their website and fill out an application online. FreedomPlus goes beyond your credit report to help you qualify for a loan.

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Credit Direct

Credit Direct Loans offers unsecured loans up to $40,000. You can complete the application, receive a loan proposal and contract and sign the contract electronically. The money is deposited into your checking account. Credit Direct Loans is licensed to provide loans in Arizona, California, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia.

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NetCredit

NetCredit is a personal loan company offering loans up to $10,000. The company is a subsidiary of Enova International, Inc. Net Credit has a creative My RightFit ToolTM to help consumers customize their loan amount and repayment terms.

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AmOne

AmOne takes a unique approach to helping individuals and business access the financial services they need. Instead of providing direct services, AmOne matches borrowers with suitable lenders. AmOne specializes in personal, unsecured, debt consolidation, small business and start up business loans. After completing a simple application, users are given a list of loan options. The borrower can pick the lender on their own or use one of AmOne’s consultants. The AmOne service helps the consumer narrow his or her borrowing options and make an informed credit decision.

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Prosper

Prosper is the country's first peer-to-peer lending marketplace. The company has provided more than $2,000,000,000 in loans. Loan interest rates range from 5.99% for the most credit worthy borrowers to 36.00% APR for consumers with lower credit ratings.  Borrowers can obtain loans from $2,000 up to $35,000.

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OneMain Financial

OneMain Financial has been in business since 1912. In 1998, their parent company, Travelers Group, merged with Citicorp and created Citigroup, a global financial services company.  In 2011, after many acquisitions, the company became OneMain Financial with 2,000 branches across 48 states.  This personal lender combines a variety of lending solutions with a comprehensive website complete with financial education articles, calculators and tools.

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Lending Club

Lending club is the biggest peer lending marketplace. The company was launched in 2007, and it was originally one of Facebook's applications. Lending Club makes loans up to $35,000.

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Peerform

Peerform is a peer lending company founded in 2010 that offers loans from $1,000 up to $25,000. The company was started by a group of Wall Street executives with backgrounds in both finance and technology. Loan interest rates start at 7.12% APR.

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Avant

Avant, formerly AvantCredit is a personal loan company that’s helped 350,000 customers. Borrowers can access between $2,000 and $35,000 for debt consolidation, home improvement and/or emergencies. The company has a 96% satisfaction rating.

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Pioneer Lending Services

Pioneer Services is a personal loan company dedicated to lending to active or retired members of the military. The company has been in business for more than 25 years, and it has awarded loans to more than 1.4 million military families. Pioneer Services is the military division of MidCountry Bank, a company that makes VA home loans to eligible active-duty and retired veterans. The website provides an extensive learning center with specialized money topics to help the military population.

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Lendmark Financial

Founded in 1996, Lendmark Financial Services offers individuals personal loans across the U.S. The company is headquartered in Covington, GA.

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Compare Reviews for Top Personal Loan Companies

Lending Club
Read 96 Reviews

Founded in 2006, Lending Club is a peer-to-peer lending company that is based in San Francisco, California. Lending Club's platform is Internet-based, and the company is extending its reach into car loans and mortgages.

Avant
Read 96 Reviews

Founded in 2012, Avant is a personal loans company with headquarters in Chicago, Illinois. The company offers personal loans ranging from $2,000 to $35,000, and has facilitated loans totaling over $1 billion to date.

Lendmark Financial
Read 76 Reviews

Lendmark Financial Services is a consumer finance company that provides a variety of personal loans, automobile loans and retail merchant financial services. It was founded in 1996 and has over 130 branches in 11 states.


Republic Finance
Read 64 Reviews

Republic Finance has been offering consumers a variety of loan products and services since 1955. Today, the company has offices in Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Louisiana.

New Credit America
Read 16 Reviews

New Credit America partners with debt settlement companies & offers discounted loans in order to help consumers accelerate their debt settlement process. Their loans are offered at a fixed rate and term.

1st Franklin Financial
Read 19 Reviews

1st Franklin Financial, founded in 1941, is a loan and investment company. The company offers consumers the cash they need, for any event or expense, through their short-term personal loans. Consumers can apply online.

Prosper
Read 10 Reviews

Founded in 2005, Prosper is a personal loan company based in San Francisco, California. The company was America's first peer-to-peer lending marketplace, and it offers borrowers anywhere from $2,000 to $35,000 per loan.

Pioneer Lending Services
Read 16 Reviews

Pioneer Services is a financial services company dedicated to serving members of the military and their families. The company is the military division of MidCountry Bank, and it is headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri.

Peerform

Peerform is a startup that was founded by Wall Street investors in 2010. It offers an online marketplace where students can more easily get private loans than they might be able to do through a traditional bank or credit union.

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Profile picture of Barbara Friedberg
Barbara Friedberg Personal Finance Contributing Editor

Barbara Friedberg, MBA, MS is a former investment portfolio manager with decades of financial experience. Friedberg taught Finance and Investments at several universities. Her work has been featured in U.S. News & World Report, Investopedia, Yahoo!Finance and many more publications.