5 best personal installment loans

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In a Nutshell

Taking out a personal installment loan can give you access to cash upfront, which you then repay on a set schedule. Each of our picks for the best installment loans can be a good choice for different situations, such as building credit, consolidating credit card debt or getting money quickly for an emergency.
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If you’re planning a major purchase or looking to consolidate debt, you may want to shop for a personal installment loan.

These loans let you make fixed monthly payments on the amount you borrow for a set period, which can give you a predictable timetable for when you’ll pay off your debt. You may also see personal installment loans referred to as just personal loans.

These are our picks for the best installment loans, sorted by key categories.

Best for poor credit: OneMain Financial

Why OneMain Financial stands out: OneMain Financial is a potential loan option for people who need bad credit loans. The lender has about 1,400 branches, so you can ask questions or get help with an application in person.

  • Offers secured and unsecured loans Whether you have collateral can affect your chances of approval and the loan terms you may be offered. For instance, OneMain Financial requires a lien on a car for large loans.
  • Relatively high interest rates — While OneMain offers APRs that are better than what you’ll likely pay on a title loan or a payday loan, its rates are higher than what some other lenders offer.
  • Fees — Origination fees vary by state. You could be charged a flat fee between $25 and $500, or between 1% and 10% of your loan amount. You might also be charged late fees and nonsufficient funds fees, which vary depending on your state.
  • Accepts joint applications — You can apply with someone else, so if you have a co-applicant with better credit, that could boost your chances of getting approved.

Read reviews of OneMain Financial personal loans to learn more.

Best for debt consolidation: Happy Money Payoff loan

Why Happy Money’s Payoff loan stands out: Happy Money’s Payoff loan offers an option for people who want to consolidate credit card debt. You can apply to apply to prequalify by sharing information about your income, credit and savings, and Happy Money presents potential loan options with different rates, monthly payments and loan lengths.

  • Direct payments to creditors — Your funds can be sent directly to credit card issuers, which takes some of the hassle out of consolidating multiple debts.
  • Doesn’t require excellent credit — You could get approved with credit scores of 640 or higher, but Happy Money says you can’t have any open delinquencies on your credit report when you apply.
  • Online portal for managing your loan — You can keep an eye on your progress at paying off your debt and reach out to support online. Happy Money says you’ll get to talk to people, not chatbots.
  • Relatively slow approval Approval can take up to seven business days, and you’ll need to wait another three to six business days for funds to land in your account. (Depending on your bank, there may be a wait before you can access your cash.) If you arrange for direct payments to credit card issuers, disbursal could take even longer.

Read reviews of Happy Money’s Payoff personal loan to learn more.

Best online loan experience: LendingClub

Why LendingClub stands out: You can go through the entire application online — including on a mobile device. A to-do list feature allows you to keep track of the information you’ve submitted and to see if you need to add anything. A detailed help section offers guidance on each step of the application.

  • Co-applicants are allowed — You have the option to apply jointly with someone else. If that person has better credit, a joint application might get you a better rate or a larger loan amount than you’d be approved for on your own.
  • Loan terms — Loans are available in 24- to 60-month terms.

Read reviews of LendingClub personal loans to learn more.

Best for larger loans: SoFi

Why SoFi stands out: SoFi offers personal loans between $5,000 and $100,000. In comparison, other lenders often cap their loans at $40,000 to $50,000.

  • Funds may be disbursed quickly — Borrowers may get the money from their loan as soon as the same day their loan is approved. (Though the exact timing will depend on your bank.)
  • Discount for automatic payments You can get a discount on your APR of 0.25% if you set up autopay from a SoFi Checking and Savings account.
  • May be difficult to qualify — While SoFi’s advertised eligibility criteria aren’t very specific, the lender suggests that you’ll need strong credit and high monthly income.

Read reviews of SoFi personal loans to learn more.

Best for fast funding: LightStream

Why LightStream stands out: LightStream offers same-day loans on banking business days. You’ll need to sign your loan agreement, share your bank account information and finish the verification process by 2:30 p.m. Eastern time to potentially get the funds the day you’re approved. (The timing for access to your funds will depend on your bank.)

  • Promises to beat competitors’ rates If you’re approved for an unsecured loan from a competitor, LightStream will beat the rate by 0.1 percentage points, with some qualifications.
  • Discount for autopay — If you have excellent credit and you set up autopay before your loan is funded, you could get a 0.5 percentage point rate discount.
  • No option to prequalify — The lender doesn’t offer prequalification. To find out if you qualify for a loan, you’ll need to submit a full application and be subject to a hard credit inquiry.
  • Strong credit needed — You’ll need to meet income requirements. You should also have a credit history going back several years with a good mix of different account types, a history of on-time payments and a track record of building savings.

Read reviews of LightStream personal loans to learn more.

How we picked these loans

To compile this list of the best personal installment loans, we reviewed more than two dozen lenders. We picked lenders based on information such as fees, APRs, funding speed, transparency and application process.

About the author: Sarah Brodsky is a freelance writer covering personal finance and economics. She has a bachelor’s degree in economics from The University of Chicago. Sarah has written for companies such as Hcareers, Impactivate and K… Read more.