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Best Personal Loans of 2022

Personal loans

Personal loans allow you to borrow money for almost any purpose. This type of loan usually offers flexibility, but borrowing costs can vary depending on your credit history and the lender you choose. Most personal loans do not require any form of security or deposit. However, late and missed payments appear on your credit report and can lower your credit score.

The best personal loans offer simple and straightforward application processes. It also features low interest rates and low fees for qualified borrowers. Plus, they usually don't charge any prepayment penalties if you want to pay off your balance early.

Best Personal Loans of 2022

Best Place to Get a Personal Loan If you’re looking for a personal loan, some of the best places to get one are banks, credit unions, and online lenders. If you need funds quickly, choose a lender that offers a simple online application and fast funding. Many banks and credit unions allow you to apply online and get funding quickly, but you’ll generally need to have good credit to get approved. If you don’t have good credit, an online lender is usually a better option.  

Should You Apply for a Personal Loan?

If you need funds to cover a large expense or want to consolidate existing debt, then you might consider applying for a personal loan. Personal loans are commonly used by people who need funding for a big expenditure, like paying for a wedding, covering emergency expenses, or making home improvements or repairs. Loan funds can also be used to consolidate higher-rate debt into a lower-cost fixed-rate loan.

Personal loans can be a good option for those who need immediate funding and can afford the monthly payments. However, you’ll pay interest on the loan, so it’s more costly to use loan funds than to cover the same expenses using cash. Even so, the APRs on personal loans are usually lower than the rates you’ll pay on credit card debt. So, if you need to choose between using credit cards or personal loans, the latter is often the better choice.

One of the other benefits of an unsecured personal loan is that you don’t have to pledge any collateral, like your home or car, to get the loan. This can save you money because you don’t have to pay for costs associated with the collateral, such as appraisal fees. Plus, you may be able to get the funds more quickly because there’s no collateral involved. So, if you need funds to make home improvements, like repairing your roof, building a new office, or adding solar, a personal loan can be the way to go.

Comparing Personal Loan Lenders

The most important things to consider when selecting a personal loan lender include the costs and terms of the loan, what it takes to apply, and how quickly you can get approved and funded. As you’re comparing personal loan lenders, pay close attention to these factors:

  • APR and Fees: Personal loan rates and fees are the primary factors to consider before choosing a lender. Rates and fees are factored into the loan’s APR, which measures the annual cost of the loan. The better your credit, the lower the rate you’ll get.
  • Repayment Terms: Shorter repayment terms result in higher payments and usually carry lower interest rates. This means you may reduce your overall borrowing costs by choosing the shortest possible repayment term. However, just make sure you can afford the monthly payments before applying.
  • Application Process: It’s also important to consider the lender’s application process. You might want to get a loan at your local bank or credit union, which can be a great option. However, keep in mind that certain small lenders may not offer automated systems or online applications, making the application process more time-consuming. If you’d prefer to avoid applying in person, choose a lender that offers an online application. 
  • Approval and Funding Speed: The loan’s funding speed is often closely linked to the application process. Lenders that have online applications and automated processes are often able to get you funded more quickly. However, many of these lenders only approve borrowers with good credit.
  • If you have blemishes on your credit, choose a lender with less stringent credit score requirements, like an online lender or a local bank or credit union that can make individual decisions based on your unique circumstances.

How to Get a Personal Loan

Once you’ve decided to get a personal loan, it’s time to get your paperwork in order and ensure your credit is in the best possible shape. Many lenders will start with a pre-qualification process, which involves pulling a soft credit check on you. To pre-qualify, you’ll need to provide some personally identifiable information (such as your Social Security Number and date of birth), income details, the reason you need the funds, the amount you want to borrow, and how long you need to repay the loan.

While pre-qualifying doesn’t guarantee you’ll be approved for a loan, it does let you see the rate you may receive. If you’re quoted for a high rate, you can work on repairing your credit before submitting a full application. Generally, the better your credit, the better the rate you’ll get. 

If the rate is acceptable and you decide to move forward, you’ll then complete a full application. This will involve providing the lender with additional information, such as proof of income and details on your monthly debts. You’ll also undergo a hard credit check as part of the application process.

If you’re approved for the loan, the lender will provide you with details about the loan terms, including the rates, fees, and repayment terms. Pay close attention to this information to understand the details before accepting the loan. If you don’t understand the loan details, speak with a representative to get clarification before proceeding.

As soon as you’ve accepted the loan, the lender will send you the loan funds in the way you specified in your application. This can include directly depositing the funds into your bank account, sending the money to your creditors to pay off existing debt, or even writing you a check. 

You’ll also learn how to manage your loan, such as by logging into an online portal or using a mobile app. This can be helpful, as you’ll understand how to make your monthly payments and where to go if you need help in the future.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is a Personal Loan?
A personal loan is a predetermined amount of money given to an individual by a bank or private lender. It is usually unsecured and carries a fixed interest rate. The borrower must agree to the loan rate and terms and make on-time monthly payments until it is fully repaid. A personal loan can be used for several things, including paying off or consolidating debt, covering medical expenses, or making a large purchase.

How Do Personal Loans Work?

Personal loans work by lending a borrower money if they meet certain qualifications set by the lender. The money is paid back over time with interest. The borrower usually makes monthly payments of principal and interest to repay the loan. A personal loan is often a more affordable option than a credit card because the interest rate is usually lower.

How Much Do Personal Loans Cost?

Some of the fees associated with personal loans are origination fees, prepayment penalties, late fees, and administrative fees. However, not all lenders charge the same fees. It’s important to check with the lender before getting a personal loan. Despite what fees the lender charges, the largest cost is going to be what you’re paying in interest. The average interest rate for a personal loan is 9.09%.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Getting a Personal Loan?
If you're considering a personal loan, it's important to look at the pros and cons.

  • Personal loans usually have lower APRs than credit cards.
  • Your personal loan will be fully repaid over a short period, versus credit cards, which might never be repaid if you just make the minimum monthly payments.
  • Interest rates are fixed on personal loans, meaning your rate will never change.
  • Unsecured personal loans don’t require collateral, making them quicker and easier to get than secured loans such as home equity loans.
  • You’ll have to pay interest and fees with a loan, costs you wouldn’t incur if you used cash.
  • Short repayment terms translate into higher monthly payments, so it’s essential to ensure you can afford the monthly payment before getting the loan.
  • If loan interest rates decrease in the future, you’ll be stuck with a higher interest rate until you pay off the loan or refinance it.
  • Since unsecured personal loans don’t require collateral, they may have higher APRs than secured loans, loan amounts can be smaller, and you’ll likely need better credit to qualify.

How We Chose the Best Personal Loans

Our team evaluated 38 lenders and collected 1,520 data points before selecting our top choices. We weighed more than 20 criteria and gave a higher weight to those with a more significant impact on potential borrowers. 

The top picks were selected based on factors like membership requirements (weighted 15%), average fixed APR (weighted 15%), and average origination fees (weighted 10%). 

We also took into account the flexibility of repayment terms, helpful features like pre-qualification, and whether a co-signer or joint applications are permitted to ensure borrowers get the best possible experience. For further information about our selection criteria and process, our complete methodology is available.