7 best low-interest personal loans of 2023

Young man thinking about a low interest personal loan over a cup of coffeeImage: Young man thinking about a low interest personal loan over a cup of coffee

In a Nutshell

Getting a low interest personal loan typically requires excellent credit. But with so many loan options to choose from, it’s important to not only compare interest rates but to also look things like fees, loan amounts and repayment term length. We’ve rounded up our top picks for the best low interest personal loans.
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Low-interest personal loans can be a useful financial tool.

Personal loans are a type of installment loan that let people borrow a lump sum of money, then pay it back with fixed monthly payments over a period time with interest. These loans can offer interest rates that are potentially much lower than for a credit card, and you can often apply for a loan and receive the money the same day.

You can use a personal loan to help consolidate debt, cover an unexpected expense or even finance a dream vacation or pay for a wedding.

Let’s take a closer look at our picks for top low interest personal loans.

Best for large loan amounts: SoFi

Why SoFi stands out: If you need a large personal loan, SoFi may be a good option. You can borrow as much as $100,000 if you have excellent credit and qualify. And you may be able to get loan terms as long as seven years. This could help you keep your monthly payment affordable since you’ll be able to stretch your payments out over time. Other key features of a SoFi personal loan include:

  • No origination fees or prepayment penalties.
  • If eligible, same-day funding possible, once approved.
  • If you lose your job, SoFi’s “unemployment protection” can help you temporarily modify your loan.
  • Loans range from $5,000 to $100,000. 

Read more about SoFi personal loans.

Best for rate shoppers: LightStream

Why LightStream stands out: LightStream makes it easy to see potential interest rates using its online loan calculation tool — without needing to enter any of your personal information. You can see how the APRs and monthly payments of a LightStream loan can vary for different term lengths (24 to 144 months), based on loan amount and purpose. Just note that the rates LightStream shows are based on a borrower with excellent credit.

  • No fees or prepayment penalties.
  • If eligible, same-day funding possible, once approved.
  • Loan amounts from $5,000 to $100,000.
  • Note that most applicants don’t qualify for the lowest rate.

Read more about LightStream personal loans.

Best for some repayment flexibility: Marcus by Goldman Sachs

Why Marcus stands out: Once you’ve made 12 payments in a row on time, you can defer a payment — which could give you some extra wiggle room in your budget that month. Just note that while you won’t accrue interest the month you defer, that month will be added to the end of your loan, with interest applying.

And if you want to take advantage of this option, you’ll need to give the lender 16 days’ notice before your regular loan payment is due.

  • No fees or prepayment penalties.
  • Loans from $3,500 to $40,000.
  • Loan terms range from three to six years.

Read more about Marcus by Goldman Sachs personal loans.

Best for small loan amounts: PenFed Federal Credit Union

Why PenFed stands out: You can borrow as little as $600 using a PenFed personal loan — a small amount compared to many other lender minimums. But you’ll need to become a member of the credit union to apply.

  • No origination fees or prepayment penalties.
  • Loans capped at $50,000.
  • Loans funded within 1 to 2 business days of finalizing.

Read more about PenFed personal loans.

Best for Wells Fargo checking account holders: Wells Fargo

Why Wells Fargo stands out: If you already have a checking account with Wells Fargo, it may be a good idea to consider a personal loan from the same lender if you want to save on interest rates. If you qualify, Wells Fargo offers a “relationship discount” of 0.25% off your interest rate.

  • No origination fees or prepayment penalties
  • Loans from $3,000 to $100,000
  • Repayment terms range from one to seven years
  • Note: The majority of applicants don’t qualify for the lowest rate

Read more about Wells Fargo personal loans.

Best for debt consolidation: Happy Money

Why Happy Money stands out: Happy Money markets its Payoff Loan personal loans as a tool to help you out of credit card debt. Once you’re approved for a personal loan, the company can use your loan proceeds to pay off your current debts directly — so you won’t have to manage it all yourself.

  • You may be charged an origination fee of up to 5%
  • Loan amounts range from $5,000 to $40,000
  • Funding can take three to six business days
  • Credit scores of at least 640 required for approval
  • You can’t be approved with delinquent accounts on your credit reports

Read more about Happy Money personal loans.

Best for returning loan funds: Discover

Why Discover stands out: If you’re not sure you need to borrow money but want to have access to funds just in case, a Discover personal loan could be a good option. With this loan, you’ll have 30 days to decide if want to return your loan money — with no interest charged.

  • No origination fees or prepayment penalties
  • Loan amounts range from $2,500 to $35,000
  • Discover can pay off your creditors directly if you’re using the loan for debt consolidation

Read more about Discover personal loans.

What is a good APR on a personal loan?

The average interest rate on a two-year personal loan was 10.16% in August 2022, according to the Federal Reserve’s most recent data. But people with excellent credit can often find rates lower than that. Many lenders that target consumers with strong credit offer interest rates that start around 5% to 8% for those with the best credit; rates top out around 20% to 25% for borrowers whose credit isn’t quite as solid.

However, interest rates can change rapidly depending on the state of financial markets. When the Federal Reserve raises interest rates, the APRs on personal loans are likely to increase as well.

How can I get a low rate on a personal loan?

Typically, only borrowers with really good credit scores will be offered the lowest interest rates. For some lenders, this amounts to a fraction of people who apply. You’ll likely need good-to-excellent credit scores of at least 750 to be eligible for the best rates.

If your credit isn’t perfect, lenders may quote you higher interest rates and be more restrictive about the amount you can borrow — or you may not get approved. If this happens, applying for loans with no credit check might be an option. Or you could look into a 0% interest credit card. If your credit is in particularly rough shape and you’re shopping for a loan, you may want to check into personal loans for bad credit.

Saving up cash or focusing on building your credit before applying for a loan is the ideal way to go if you can take the time you need to set yourself up.

How we picked these loans

To help pick the best low interest personal loans, we compared more than two dozen lenders. We made our top picks based on interest rates and a range of loan features, including eligibility requirements, fees, loan amounts and loan terms.

When selecting a personal loan, it’s a good idea to shop around for an option that best fits your financial situation. If you’re not sure how much you can afford to borrow, try using our personal loan calculator to help determine your estimated payments for different loan amounts, interest rates and terms.

About the author: Andrew Dunn is a veteran journalist with more than a decade of experience as a reporter and editor at North Carolina news organizations, including the Charlotte Observer and the StarNews in Wilmington. In those roles,… Read more.