Top Personal Loans of 2016

Whether you’re seeking a loan for home improvements, a long-anticipated vacation or simply to pay down credit card debt, these top personal loans represent your best options. While banks offer personal loans, the process tends to be lengthy and sometimes frustrating, especially for borrowers with less than perfect credit.

In such circumstances, a non-bank lender may be the best – or even only – option available. The online lenders listed below include peer-to-peer lenders and other non-bank lenders. One or more of them may be just the right lender for you!

Top Lender Overall

1. LendingClub


Approval Speed:7 days
Interest Rates:5.99% – 32.99%
Loan Amount:$1k – $35k
Max Loan Term:60 months
Credit Needed:Fair, Good, Excellent

Launched in 2007, LendingClub is presently the world’s largest marketplace lender. Rather than submitting an application, prospective borrowers create online profiles that include detailed financial and personal information. Lenders may inspect profiles and fund those that appeal to them. LendingClub interest rates range from 5.99 to 32.99 percent. However, applicants must have FICO scores above 600 and a debt-to-income ratio below 25 percent to qualify.

Ideal For: People who have a good credit rating and do not want to deal with a traditional bank or lender, and for people looking to consolidate large amounts of debt.

Not Recommended For: People with a credit score below 600 or with a debt-to-income ratio higher than 25%.

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What If I Have Bad Credit?

1. NetCredit

Approval Speed:1 day
Interest Rates:35%+
Loan Amount:$1k – $10k
Max Loan Term:48 months
Credit Needed:Deficient, Poor

NetCredit specializes in personal loans for borrowers with fair to poor credit. Its online application system is fast and convenient. Interest rates vary according to borrowers’ FICO scores and the laws of the state of residence but can range between 35 and 210 percent. NetCredit loans are only available for residents of Alabama, California, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Missouri, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Ideal For: People who have lower credit scores that don’t want to take a payday or title loan.

Not Recommended For: Higher credit scores or those who need larger loan amounts, or for those who live in states outside of the ones they operate in.

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2. LendUp


Approval Speed:Instant decision
Interest Rates:See LendUp’s profile for latest rates 
Loan Amount:$100 – $250
Max Loan Term:Up to 30 days
Credit Needed:Good credit not required

LendUp has branded itself as an alternative payday lender. Its single payment loan product is ideal for borrowers who don’t have perfect credit.
Although interest rates are relatively high, borrowers have a chance to
qualify for lower rates by managing their loans responsibly and moving up
the LendUp ladder in certain states.

Ideal For:  People looking for a short-term, small loan amount and use payday lenders on a regular basis.

Not Recommended For: People with better credit scores that could qualify for better terms elsewhere, or those looking for larger installment loans.

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What If I Have Amazing Credit?

1. SoFi


Approval Speed:2 days
Interest Rates:4.99% – 14.49%
Loan Amount:$5k – $100k
Max Loan Term:84 months
Credit Needed:Good, Excellent

SoFi is a marketplace lender that specializes in offering low-interest loans to people with high incomes and excellent credit. SoFi used to only offer loans to graduates who wanted to refinance their student loans but has more recently branched out into personal loans and mortgages. Although the San Francisco-based company is still a relatively new player in the business, SoFi has already funded over $3 Billion in loans.

Ideal For: People who are considered prime or super-prime borrowers and need a large loan amount.

Not Recommended For: Marginal or lower credit scores or for people who live in one of the states that they do not operate in.

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2. LightStream


Approval Speed:1 day
Interest Rates:1.99% – 14.49%
Loan Amount:$5k – $100k
Max Loan Term:84 months
Credit Needed:Good, Excellent

As the personal loan division of SunTrust Bank, LightStream features an online application system that can produce a response within 24 hours. There are no fees or prepayment penalties and interest rates range from 1.99 to 9.9 percent, depending on the purpose of the loan. However, borrowers must have excellent credit to qualify.

Ideal For: People who have good credit scores and are looking for an alternative to other loan types.

Not Recommended For: Those who do not have good credit scores or those who lack a specific purpose for requesting the loan.

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3. Upstart


Approval Speed:2 days
Interest Rates:4.66% – 29.99%
Loan Amount:$3k – $35k
Max Loan Term:36 months/60 months
Credit Needed:Good, Excellent, or none

Upstart is a peer-to-peer lender specializing in personal loans to recent college graduates with limited credit histories. Having a college degree is not a requirement but it does help, particularly if you have a think credit history. Upstart considers the educational background and job prospects of applicants in addition to FICO scores when making credit decisions. Interest rates vary from 5.7 to 30 percent.

Ideal For: Younger adults who have a good credit rating ( and have a shorter or nonexistent credit history) who not want to deal with a traditional bank or lender.

Not Recommended For: poor credit scores or for people who have not recently graduated college.

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payday loan help

If you’re in dire need of cash but payday is nowhere in sight and you’ve run out of options, a payday loan may seem like your only alternative. Such a loan against your future paycheck may get you out of hot water for now, but it’s important to enter the transaction with your eyes wide open to avoid finding yourself in boiling water later.

What Is a Payday Loan?

payday loanAlso known as a cash advance or a check loan, a payday loan is a short-term loan for a relatively small amount of money—often less than $500. It’s often referred to as a payday loan because the money you borrow is usually due on your next payday. Such loans generally feature an especially high interest rate.

How Payday Loans Work

payday loan helpTo obtain a payday loan or a cash advance against a future paycheck, you write a personal check to the lender for the amount you wish to borrow, plus an additional fee. You then receive the amount of your request as cash or as a check, prepaid debit card or electronic deposit. The lender holds your check until your next payday, and then deposits the check as payment for the loan.

Payday Loan Fees

payday loan feesFees on payday loans can either be a percentage of the face value of the check you’ve written, or charges incurred based on increments borrowed—for instance, a fee of 5 dollars for every 50 dollars you borrow. If you are unable to pay your loan off by the original due date, the loan can usually be rolled over, with additional fees and interest added.

Payday Loan Help: What You Need To Know

Payday-loanThough payday loan help may seem like the answer to your prayers when bills are due and your bank account is empty, there are several sobering facts to consider:

  • Payday loans are an expensive form of credit. According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, fees for a typical payday loan average 10 to 30 dollars per every 100 dollars borrowed. For an average two-week payday loan you can expect to pay an annual percentage rate of nearly 400 percent. This is a much higher APR than even the most expensive of credit cards charge, which generally top out at 30 percent.
  • Payday loan terms tend to be extremely short. Loans are generally set up to correspond with your next paycheck, which means the repayment period is usually one to two weeks in length. Chances are this period is too brief to allow you to solve your cash shortfall.
  • Because a week or two often isn’t enough time to resolve cash flow problems, most payday loans are rolled over. Rollovers involve fees that add significantly to the cost of your loan.
  • You must disclose sensitive account information. The payday loan lender generally requires your checking account information to deposit and withdraw funds. Providing this information leaves you vulnerable to even more financial problems should your information be compromised.
  • The Federal Truth in Lending Act, administered by the Federal Trade Commission, regulates payday loans just like any other type of loan. That means that lenders must disclose the true cost of the loan prior to issuing the loan. This includes disclosure — in writing, of the finance charge, annual percentage rate (APR) and the length of the loan.
  • Regulations for payday loans vary from state to state, which means fees also vary. Familiarize yourself with the rules in your state BEFORE taking out a loan.
  • If you fail to pay off your payday loan, your credit may be negatively affected.

If You MUST Take a Payday Loan

Payday loans should be an absolute last resort for dealing with financial emergencies. Oftentimes, a personal loan from a lender other than a payday lender is your best bet. If you find that a payday loan is truly your only option for raising cash quickly, protect yourself and your finances by keeping a few things in mind. Don’t sign on with the first loan company you find. Compare interest rates/fees and loan terms. Check for online reviews and any complaints regarding the company you are considering. Avoid getting stuck in an endless debt cycle by borrowing the least amount of money possible and paying the loan off on time.