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The personal loan industry has changed drastically in the past few years. Now, you can apply for a personal loan from the comfort of your home and get approved in minutes. Even better, your loan can be disbursed to you in just a few days.

How to get a personal loan in four simple steps:

  1. Review your credit report
  2. Meet the minimum requirements to qualify
  3. Compare multiple personal loan lenders
  4. Choose your loan

1. Review your credit report

Personal loans and debt consolidation loans are unsecured, meaning you don’t have to put up any property as collateral. Because no collateral is needed, lenders will look at your credit score and income to decide whether or not to offer you a loan. This will also help them decide which interest rate you qualify for.

It’s a good idea to review your credit report ahead of time and look for any errors or inaccuracies on it that may be damaging your credit. You can view your credit report from each of the three credit bureaus once a year for free at AnnualCreditReport.com.

Tip: If your credit report or credit score has issues, focus on improving your credit before moving forward with the loan process.

2. Meet minimum requirements to qualify

Next, review common requirements from personal loan lenders to ensure you meet their minimum qualifications. In general, you’ll need to have a credit score of at least 620 to qualify for a loan. However, the lowest interest rates on an unsecured loan are reserved for borrowers with good credit or excellent credit.

Lenders will also look at your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) to see if you can comfortably afford your payments. Although each lender has their own eligibility criteria they take into consideration when deciding whether to approve your loan application, in general, they look for borrowers to have a DTI ratio under 40%.

To calculate your DTI, add up all of your monthly debt payments, including credit card minimums, student loan payments, and rent, and divide the total by your monthly income. The total you’ll get is a decimal, so multiply it by 100 to get your DTI percentage.

3. Compare multiple personal loan lenders

If you intend to take out a personal loan, it’s a good idea to compare offers from multiple personal loan lenders.

When comparing lenders, consider the following:

  • Pay attention to loan amounts: Some lenders offer loans as low as $1,000 and as large as $100,000, while others are more limited.
  • Keep an eye on fees: Some common fees to keep in mind are origination fees, application fees, late payment fees, and prepayment penalties. Not all lenders charge these fees, so read the fine print and look for a no-fee or low-fee lender to save money.
  • Know which terms you need: Some personal loan lenders offer loan terms as long as seven years, giving you a more affordable monthly payment. You’ll pay more in interest with a longer repayment term, but that drawback may be worth it to get a lower payment.
  • Compare interest rates: Interest rates vary from lender to lender, and you may be able to qualify for a much lower rate by choosing one lender over another. Get quotes from multiple lenders to ensure you get the lowest rate, and see if they offer autopay discounts to get an even lower interest rate.
  • Consider a cosigner: If you have bad credit or don’t have an established credit history, adding a cosigner to your application can help you qualify for a loan. However, not all lenders allow you to do so, so check with each lender.
  • Decide how soon you need your money: Some lenders can take days to process your application and disburse your loans, while others will issue you the money the next business day after you apply.
Use the personal loan calculator to estimate how much you’ll repay over the length of your loan.
LenderRatesLoan Amounts 
avant

View details
Fixed: 9.95% - 35.99% APR$2,000 up to $35,000**Get Rates

Loan terms
• 2 - 5 years*

Loan amount
• $2,000 to $35,000**

Loan uses
• Debt consolidation, emergency expense, life event, home improvement, and other purposes

Residency
• Must be a resident in the U.S. with a valid Social Security number

Time to get funds
As soon as the next business day (if approved by 4:30 p.m. CT on a weekday)

Key benefits
• Fast online process, with e-signed contract
• Receive funds as soon as next business day (if approved by 4:30pm CT, Monday through Friday)
• Options for borrowers with less than perfect credit (most of Avant’s customers have credit scores in the 600 to 700 range)

Avant personal loans review

*If approved, the actual loan terms that a customer qualifies for may vary based on credit determination, state law, and other factors. Minimum loan amounts vary by state.

**Example: A $5,700 loan with an administration fee of 4.75% and an amount financed of $5,429.25, repayable in 36 monthly installments, would have an APR of 29.95% and monthly payments of $230.33.

best egg

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Fixed: 5.99% - 29.99% APR$2,000 up to $35,000Get Rates

Loan terms
• 3 or 5 years

Loan amount
• $2,000 to $35,000

Loan uses
• Credit card refinancing, debt consolidation, home improvement, and other purposes

Residency
• Must be a U.S. Citizen or a Permanent Resident Alien
• Can't be a resident of IA, VT, or WV

Time to get funds
As soon as 1 - 3 business days after successful verification

Key benefits
• Choose your payment date
• You can have up to two Best Egg loans at the same time

Best Egg personal loans review

freedomplus

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Fixed: 5.99% - 29.99% APR$10,000 up to $35,000Get Rates

Loan terms
• 2 - 5 years

Loan uses
• Debt consolidation, home improvement, wedding, travel, medical expenses, and other purposes

Residency
• Must be a resident in the U.S. with a valid Social Security number

Time to get funds
As soon as 2 business days

Key benefits
• No fees

FreedomPlus personal loans review

lendingclub

View details
Fixed: 6.95% - 35.89% APR$1,000 up to $40,000Get Rates

Loan terms
• 3 - 5 years

Loan amount
• $1,000 to $40,000

Loan uses
• Debt consolidation, paying off credit cards, home improvement, pool loans, vacations, and other purposes

Residency
• Must be a U.S. Citizen or Resident Alien with a valid Social Security number and physical address, currently residing in the U.S.

Time to get funds
Usually takes about 7 days

Key benefits
• The amount you pay will never increase

LendingClub personal loans review

lendingpoint

View details
Fixed: 15.49% - 34.99% APR$2,000 up to $25,000Get Rates

Loan terms
• 2 - 4 years

Loan amount
• $2,000 to $25,000

Loan uses
• Home improvement, consolidate debt, credit card refinancing, relocate, make a large purchase, and other purposes

Residency
• Must be a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident with a verifiable Social Security number

Time to get funds
As soon as the next business day

Key benefits
• Available to "near prime" borrowers with credit scores as low as 585
• Streamlined approval and application process
• No prepayment penalty

LendingPoint personal loans review

lightstream

View details
Fixed: 4.99% - 16.79% APR $5,000 up to $100,000Get Rates

Loan terms
• 2 - 7 years

Loan uses
• Credit card refinancing, debt consolidation, home improvement, and other purposes

Residency
• Borrower must reside in the U.S.

Time to get funds
As soon as the same business day

Key benefits
• 0.50% autopay discount (only available prior to loan funding)
• $100 rebate if you’re not completely satisfied with the LightStream experience and if you fill out a questionnaire telling LightStream how they can improve their services

LightStream personal loans review

marcus

View details
Fixed: 6.99% - 28.99% APR1
(For NY residents: 6.99% - 24.99% APR)
$3,500 up to $40,000Get Rates

Loan terms
• 3 - 6 years

Loan uses
• Credit card refinancing, debt consolidation, home improvement, and other purposes

Residency
• Must be a U.S. Citizen or Resident Alien with a valid Social Security number and physical address, currently residing in the U.S.

Time to get funds
Many Marcus customers receive funds in as little as five days

Key benefits
• Tailored monthly payment options designed to fit your budget
• After making 12 or more consecutive monthly payments, you can defer one payment as long as you have made all your prior payments in full and on time1

Marcus personal loans review

1APR discounts may be available for direct payment of outstanding credit card debt and autopay.

2 After making 12 or more consecutive monthly payments, you can defer one payment as long as you have made all your prior payments in full and on time. Marcus will waive any interest incurred during the deferral and extend your loan by one month (you will pay interest during this extra month). Your payments resume as usual after your deferral. Advance notice is required. See loan agreement for details.

payoff

View details
Fixed: 5.99% - 24.99% APR$5,000 up to $35,000Get Rates

Loan terms
• 2 - 5 years

Loan uses
• Debt consolidation and credit card consolidation only

Residency
• Borrower can't reside in DC, DE, IA, LA, MA, MD, MI, MN, MS, NC, NE, NV, OH, OK, VA, VT, WA, WI, or WV

Time to get funds
As soon as 2 - 5 business days after verification

Key benefits
• Free FICO score updates
• If you lose your job, they’ll work with you on payments
• Offers scientific personality, stress, and cash flow assessments to help you get a better understanding of your personal finances

Payoff personal loans review

prosper

View details
Fixed: 6.95% - 35.99% APR$2,000 up to $40,000Get Rates

Loan terms
• 3 - 5 years

Loan amount
• $2,000 to $40,000

Loan uses
• Debt consolidation, home improvement, vehicles, small business, new baby expenses, and other purposes

Residency
• Must be a U.S. resident with a bank account and Social Security number

Time to get funds
On average, within 5 days of accepting your offer

Key benefits
• All loans through prosper are unsecured (no collateral required)
• Loan review process usually completed in 7 business days or less

Prosper personal loans review

upstart

View details
Fixed: 6.98% - 35.89% APR$1,000 up to $50,000Get Rates

Loan terms
• 3 - 5 years

Loan amount
• $1,000 to $50,000

Loan uses
• Debt consolidation, credit card refinancing, home improvement, and other purposes

Residency
• Borrower can't be a resident of CO, IA, MA, MD, VT, or WV

Time to get funds
Within a day of clearing necessary verifications

Key benefits
• Free credit monitoring
• Free educational resources that can help borrowers

Upgrade personal loans review

upstart

View details
Fixed: 8.09% - 35.99% APR$1,000 up to $50,000Get Rates

Loan terms
• 3 - 5 years

Loan amount
• $1,000 to $50,000

Loan uses
• Payoff credit cards, consolidate debt, take a course or bootcamp, relocate, make a large purchase, and other purposes

Residency
• Must be a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident with a verifiable Social Security number

Time to get funds
As soon as 1 - 3 business days

Key benefits
• Can apply for a second loan after making six on-time monthly payments ($50,000 maximum principal on all loans)

Upstart personal loans review

Compare rates from these lenders without affecting your credit score. 100% free!

Get Rates Now

All APRs reflect autopay and loyalty discounts where available | LightStream payment example | Read more about Rates and Terms

4. Choose your loan

Once you’ve found a lender that works for you, you can move forward with the loan application process. In most cases, you can apply for online personal loans in just a few minutes.

Generally, you’ll have to provide the following information:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone Number
  • Email Address
  • Social Security number
  • Employer name
  • Income
  • Monthly rent or mortgage payment

Some lenders will ask you for documentation of your income, such as a W-2 or recent paystub. And, you will usually have to submit a copy of your driver’s license (or passport) and enter your account number and routing number for your bank account, as well.

Most online lenders will give you a decision right away. If approved, you can have the funds deposited into your account within a few business days.

Applying for a personal loan

If you need to take out an unsecured personal loan for consolidating credit card debt or to finance a major purchase, the application process is typically quick and easy. If you need help finding a lender, Credible allows you to compare offers from multiple lenders at once, so you can find the best personal loans with interest rates and repayment terms that work for you.

About the author
Kat Tretina
Kat Tretina

Kat Tretina is an authority on student loans and a contributor to Credible. Her work has appeared in publications like the Huffington Post, Money Magazine, MarketWatch, Business Insider, and more.

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