5 best unsecured personal loans

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In a Nutshell

Unsecured personal loans can provide the extra cash you need to pay for many different expenses. But loan amounts, interest rates, loan terms and fees can vary significantly between lenders, so do your homework before taking out this kind of loan. To help you decide, we’ve rounded up our top picks for the best unsecured personal loans with features such as competitive interest rates, fees and the ability to prequalify.
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Unlike some other types of loan products, such as mortgages and car loans, where your property may be used to secure the loan, unsecured personal loans don’t require collateral.

If you’re approved, you’ll get a lump sum of money you can use to pay for almost anything. And if the loan has a fixed interest rate, you must repay the amount you borrow, with interest, in fixed monthly installments over the life of the loan.

Unsecured personal loans typically have higher interest rates than secured loans, so it’s a good idea to shop around and compare loan offers. We’ve rounded up our top picks for the best unsecured personal loans to help you find one that might be right for you.

Best for large loan amounts: Wells Fargo

Why Wells Fargo stands out: Many personal loan lenders cap loan amounts at $50,000 or less, but loans from Wells Fargo are available in amounts of $3,000 to $100,000 with repayment terms of 12 to 84 months.

  • Competitive interest rates — Wells Fargo offers rates in line with what many banks charge, along with a 0.25% relationship discount for customers who have a qualifying Wells Fargo checking account.
  • Fees — The bank doesn’t charge an origination fee to set up the loan, and you can pay your loan off at any time without a prepayment penalty. But Wells Fargo may charge late and returned-payment fees. 
  • Ability to apply for prequalification — Before submitting a formal loan application with the bank, you can see your estimated rate and loan term without affecting your credit scores. But if you apply and receive a loan offer, your rate and term may be different from what you prequalified for.
  • Must be an existing customer — Only existing Wells Fargo customers can apply for personal loans. So if you’re not already a customer, you’ll need to become one to be considered for a personal loan.

Read reviews of Wells Fargo personal loans for more details.

Best for small loan amounts: U.S. Bank

Why U.S. Bank stands out: Some lenders have a minimum loan amount as high as $5,000, but at U.S. Bank, you can get a personal loan for as little as $1,000, so you don’t have to borrow more than you need. 

  • Competitive rates — U.S. Bank offers competitive rates on its personal loans.
  • Can’t apply for prequalification — There’s no way to check your estimated rate and loan term without submitting a formal loan application, which may affect your credit scores.
  • Good credit encouraged — U.S. Bank says their personal loans may be a good fit for those with a FICO® score of 660 or above. 

Read our full review of U.S. Bank personal loans to learn more.

Best for potentially fast funding: LightStream

Why Lightstream stands out: If you’re approved for a loan with LightStream, you may — depending on your bank — be able to get your loan proceeds the same day.

  • Low rates — Lightstream has some of the lowest rates available for eligible customers,  and the company says it’ll beat competitor rates if certain criteria are met. But you’ll likely need a strong credit profile to qualify for a personal loan from LightStream.
  • Fees — LightStream doesn’t charge origination or application fees on its loans. And you won’t be charged a prepayment penalty if you repay your loan early.
  • Borrow up to $100,000 — LightStream has a maximum loan amount of $100,000 with repayment terms of 24 to 144 months.

Check out reviews of LightStream personal loans for more. 

Best for perks: SoFi

Why SoFi stands out: When you get a personal loan with SoFi, you get access to a variety of extra perks to help improve your financial health, including financial planning services, referral rewards and a rate discount on your next loan and personalized career advice.

  • Competitive rates — SoFi offers competitive rates and a 0.25% rate discount when you sign up for autopay. If you’re approved for a loan, your rate will be determined based on information in your credit report, income and other factors.
  • Prequalification option — SoFi allows you to check your estimated rate and loan term before you submit an application without affecting your credit. If you decide to formally apply and are approved for a loan, your actual terms may differ from your prequalification.
  • Co-applicants accepted — At SoFi, you can apply for a loan with a co-applicant. Applying with someone who has good credit may improve your chances of qualifying and could help you secure a lower rate.
  • Fees — SoFi doesn’t charge late fees on its loans. And if you decide to repay your loan early, you won’t be charged a prepayment penalty.

Read reviews of SoFi personal loans for more.

Best for bad credit: OneMain Financial

Why OneMain stands out: While some lenders only work with people who have good credit, OneMain Financial is encouraging to those whose credit profiles aren’t as strong. OneMain Financial also offers mini online financial education classes to help people get their finances back on track and improve their credit health.

  • High interest rates — OneMain Financial’s rates are higher than the rates of some of the other lenders on this list.
  • Fees — OneMain Financial charges several fees, including an origination fee, a late fee, and in some states, an insufficient funds fee. But if you want to pay off your loan early, there’s no prepayment penalty.
  • Option to prequalify — You can check your estimated rate and loan term without affecting your credit scores. But if you apply and are approved, your final terms may be different.
  • Potentially same-day funding — You may be able to get your loan proceeds the same day you apply if your application is approved by noon, and you have a bank-issued debit card.

Read reviews of OneMain Financial personal loans for more details.

What you should know about unsecured personal loans

Many different types of financial institutions, including banks, credit unions, online lenders and peer-to-peer lenders offer unsecured personal loans. Make sure to shop around to find the best fit for your financial situation.

Here are a few more things to think about when it comes to unsecured personal loans.

  • No collateral — You don’t need to provide collateral to get an unsecured personal loan. 
  • Credit plays a role — Lenders will factor in your credit when making loan decisions, and people with higher credit scores typically qualify for lower interest rates.
  • Fixed interest rate and term — Many personal loans have a fixed rate and term, which means you make equal monthly payments over the life of the loan, so it’s easy to budget. But keep in mind that interest rates may be higher on unsecured personal loans than other loan types, such as auto or home equity loans, where your property is used to secure the loan. 
  • Loan amounts and repayment terms — You can choose from a variety of loan amounts and repayment terms, but some lenders charge an origination fee to cover the cost of processing the loan, which can eat into your loan proceeds.

How we picked these loans

We reviewed about two dozen unsecured personal loans from a variety of lenders. We made our top picks based on interest rates, fee structure, the ability to apply for prequalification, loan amounts and eligibility requirements.

About the author: Jennifer Brozic is a freelance financial services writer with a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland and a master’s degree in communication management from Towson University. She’s committed… Read more.