Personal Loans

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How to Apply for a Personal Loan

Millions of Americans use personal loans every year to consolidate debt, pay for unexpected expenses, renovate their homes, and more. People find personal loans attractive as they have lower interest rates and smaller loan amounts than other types of loans, making them appealing to consumers with fair to excellent credit.

Applying for a personal loan is fast and easy:

Fill out a simple and fast online application in just minutes

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Borrow up to $100,000 as fast as next business day

Absolutely no negative impact on your credit score, ever.

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Best Personal Loans

Lightstream Personal Loans

LightStream

Funding: Borrow $5,000 - $100,000
Minimum Credit Score: 660
APR: 2.49% - 19.99%
Funding turnaround: as soon as same business day

LightStream offers up to $100K on personal loans as soon as same business day (the most out of most lenders!)
Avant

Avant

Funding: Borrow $2,000 - $35,000
Minimum Credit Score: 550
APR: 9.95% - 35.99% APR
Funding turnaround: Within 24 hours

Avant offers super fast funding and is a great personal loan option for individuals with fair to good credit scores.
Best Egg Personal Loan

Best Egg

Funding: Borrow $2,000 - $50,000
Minimum Credit Score: 600
APR: 4.99% - 35.99%
Funding turnaround: 1-3 business days

Borrowers with fair to good credit can obtain personal loans at competitive APR rates with Best Egg.
Discover Personal Loans Review

Discover

Funding: Borrow $2,500 - $35,000
Minimum Credit Score: 660
APR: 5.99% - 24.99%
Funding turnaround: within 24 hours

Borrowers can get funded as fast as next business day with Discover personal loans.
Axos Bank Loan Review

AXOS Bank

Funding: Borrow $10,000 - $50,000
Minimum Credit Score: 700
APR: 6.79% - 17.99%
Funding turnaround: within 24 hours

Individuals with good to excellent credit can get funds as fast as next business day with AXOS Bank personal loans.

Need help finding the right loan?

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How it Works
Apply in minutes

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Choose your offer

Compare and choose an offer that works best for you based on your timeline and budget needs.

Get funded

After your loan is approved with the lender of your choice, receive your funds as fast as 1-2 business days.

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What is a personal loan?

Unlike a credit card or a line of credit, a personal loan is a lump sum that you can borrow from a bank, a credit union, or an online lender and repay over a certain period. Borrowers repay loans of up to $100,000 in fixed installments over a two- to five-year period.

Two types of personal loans are available, namely secured and unsecured loans:

  • Secured personal loans are backed by collateral such as a certificate of deposit (CD) or a savings account. Your lender can seize your property as payment if you default on your payments.
  • Personal loans that are not secured by collateral are known as unsecured loans. Based on your financial history, the lender determines if you qualify. Some lenders provide secured loans if you don't qualify for an unsecured loan or want a lower interest rate.

Personal loans are available from various providers, including traditional banks and online lenders. They work with borrowers who have a variety of credit scores, income levels, and other criteria.

How does a personal loan work?

Personal loans are a kind of installment loan. This means you take out a loan for a specific amount of money and pay it back in monthly installments with interest during the loan's term, which is typically 12 to 84 months. Once you have paid off your loan in full, your account will be canceled. You must apply for a new loan if you require additional funds.

The loan amounts differ depending on the lender, but they often range from $1,500 to $100,000. Your credit score determines the amount you are eligible for or how confident creditors are in your capacity to repay them if you borrow money.

A personal loan's approval process can be quick. In some cases, it can get completed in as little as a week. Soon after getting your funds, you'll begin paying monthly loan payments.

It's critical to consider why you require funds and select the most appropriate loan type based on your current financial condition.

What are personal loans used for?

Personal loans, also known as signature loans, debt consolidation loans, or unsecured loans, allow you to use them in various ways.

Most lenders give you a lot of flexibility in how you spend your personal loan funds. Examples include:

  • Debt consolidation
  • Home renovations and repairs
  • Medical emergencies or bills
  • Repaying family or friends
  • Divorce costs
  • Wedding expenses
  • Vacations
  • Funeral costs
  • Moving expenses
  • Holiday shopping
  • Appliance or furniture purchases
  • Auto loans
  • Recreation
  • Education
  • Student debt
  • Unexpected costs
  • You don't have any credit history and want to build your credit score.
  • You have a bad credit score and want to improve your score

Keep in mind that some lenders may enforce limitations on how you might use your funds. Some states, for example, may make it illegal to spend money on education. Ensure you can use a personal loan for your intended purpose by checking with the lender ahead of time.

Lenders that offer personal loans

To recap, below is a summary of top personal lenders reviewed by Pasha Funding.

Best lenders for borrowers with good to excellent credit scores

Best lenders for borrowers with fair to bad credit scores

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Apply online and find your best rate without affecting your credit score.

Pros & cons of personal loans

Pros:

Under the right circumstances, personal loans can be highly beneficial.

  • Monthly payments and fixed rates: Personal loans include fixed interest rates and monthly payments for a specified period, so you always know how much you owe and for how long. Other financing options, such as home equity lines of credit, have variable rates, which might cause monthly payments to fluctuate.
  • Loan amounts are flexible: You may be eligible for personal loans ranging from $1,000 to $100,000, depending on your creditworthiness and the lender. This range covers several expenses, from minor mishaps to major house improvements.
  • APRs start out lower than credit cards: Personal loans typically have lower annual percentage rates (APRs) than credit cards for consumers with good credit. While some credit cards offer 0% interest for a limited time, the rates are usually higher once the promotional period ends.
  • No collateral: Unlike home equity loans, which require you to put your house up as security, unsecured personal loans do not. If you can't pay back the loan, you risk harming your credit, but you won't lose any assets.
  • Helps you build credit: You must make monthly payments toward the outstanding sum when you take out a personal loan. Making regular on-time payments will help you improve your credit score. This also implies that if you make late payments or default on a loan, your credit score will suffer, making it harder to obtain credit in the future.

Cons

Personal loans can be a terrific method to pay expenses, but they also have some risks and disadvantages.

  • Fees: Borrowers may be required to pay fees in addition to their loan payments, such as origination or late fees.
  • Increases your debt: Taking out a personal loan increases your debt, so make sure you account for it and are confident in your ability to repay it.
  • Maximum APRs can be high: Personal loan APRs can be higher than credit card APRs if you have a bad credit score.
  • Lowers your credit score: Borrowers who fail to make timely payments or default on the loan entirely will likely have their credit score lowered.
  • Requires collateral: If your credit score isn't high enough to qualify for a secured loan, you might need to put up assets as collateral. If you default on a secured personal loan, the lender has the right to keep the collateral. A borrower's home, boat, car, or certificate of deposit (CD) are examples of common collateral.

How do I qualify for a personal loan?

It's not necessarily the case that just because you fulfill a lender's minimum credit score requirements, you'll be approved for a loan.

Lenders evaluate an application based on several factors. Alternative data, such as where you went to college and what industry you work in, is used by some. Others are primarily interested in your credit report and history, as well as your income and debts.

On a personal loan application, most lenders look for the following:

  • Your credit score
  • Your incomes
  • Your payment history
  • Your collateral if you apply for a secured loan
  • Your debt-to-income ratio
  • Your free cash flow (how much you are left with after paying for your expenses)

If your credit and income status aren't where you'd like them to be for a personal loan, work on improving them before applying.

Start by reviewing your credit report to see whether there are issues, and then concentrate on paying off debt to lower your debt-to-income ratio. This can be a lengthy process, but it can help you qualify for a reduced interest rate and help you save a lot of money.

What credit score do I need to apply for a personal loan?

A credit score is a number that gets calculated from the information in your credit reports. The majority of credit scores fall between 300 and 850, and where your score falls within this range indicates your potential credit risk. Simply put, it tells potential lenders how likely you are to repay a loan.

Your credit scores may influence whether or not you are approved for any form of credit. Your credit scores can also influence the terms and loan rate you're provided if you're approved.

Personal loan credit score requirements differ depending on the lender. Many lenders prefer applicants with good or excellent credit (690 FICO or higher). However, some will accept borrowers with terrible credit (below 630). A credit score of 610 to 640 is usually required to qualify for a personal loan.

The FICO score ranges are as follows:

<580 Poor Your score is significantly lower than the national average, indicating that you are a high-risk borrower to lenders.
580-669 Fair Your score is lower than the national average, but many lenders will approve loans with this score.
670-739 Good Your score is close to or somewhat higher than the national average, and most lenders consider this to be a good score.
740-799 Very Good Your score is higher than the national average, indicating to lenders that you are a trustworthy borrower.
800+ Exceptional Your score is significantly higher than the national average, indicating that you are an exceptional borrower to lenders.

As part of your application process, the lender will check your credit. This is referred to as a hard inquiry, and it lowers your credit scores by a few points, remaining on your credit reports for around two years.

When you're looking for the best rates, some lenders with whom you already have an account will do a credit check on you. This is known as a soft inquiry, and it has no bearing on your credit scores. Check your rates with lenders who offer soft pulls, which don't affect your credit ratings.

You may get a free annual credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies at AnnualCreditReport.com. Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion are among these agencies.

Are there alternatives to personal loans?

Personal loans can help you get the money you need in various circumstances, but they aren't always the greatest option. There are alternatives to personal loans, so do your research before making a decision.

  • Credit cards: Personal loans can assist you in obtaining funds in various situations, but they are not always the best solution.
  • Personal line of credit: A credit line that allows you to borrow up to a set amount on a rolling basis. Credit limits may be higher than with a credit card.
  • 401(k) loan: Instead of borrowing money from a lender, you could take out a loan from your retirement account.
  • Peer-to-peer loan: A loan that is not funded by a financial institution but rather by a group of investors.
  • Salary advance: A contract with your employer allowing you to get part or all of your following paycheck in advance.
  • Home equity loan (HEL) or home equity line of credit (HELOC): A home equity loan or line of credit allows you to borrow money against the value of your property.
  • Small business loan: A type of financing that assists businesses in covering their day-to-day expenses.
  • Overdraft: An overdraft allows you to go into debt with your bank, pay interest during that duration, then repay it at a later date.
  • Title loan: Your car title is used as collateral for title loans. If you don't pay your loan back (usually within two to four weeks), the lender has the right to repossess your vehicle.
  • Cash advance app: These apps allow you to borrow money instantly against your next paycheck, don't perform credit checks, and they don't charge interest. Loan amounts are smaller, ranging between $50 and $250.

How to choose the best personal loan

Because each lender's terms and conditions are different, you'll need to know what you're looking for in a personal loan before you start shopping around.

Checking that a lender is licensed in your state is an excellent place to start. Check to see if each lender can provide personal loans in your area. Then you may evaluate these other important aspects to assist you in selecting the best lender.

  • Interest rates: Fixed and variable interest rates are available for personal loans. Most personal loans have a fixed interest rate that stays the same throughout the term of the loan. Depending on current interest rates, a variable rate changes over the loan period. Some borrowers prefer a fixed-rate loan over a variable-rate loan because they don't want the volatility of a variable-rate loan.
  • Approval requirements: Lenders regularly establish minimum credit score requirements and other qualifying variables that borrowers must achieve to qualify for a personal loan. These include your employment status, your income, and your debt-to-income ratio.
  • Loan terms: Each lender establishes its own terms, including loan amounts, term lengths, and loan use restrictions.
  • Fees and penalties: The fees charged by each lender are one of the most significant things to compare before picking the ideal personal loan. Fees can significantly increase a personal loan's cost. Fees that you should compare include origination fees, late payment fees, returned payment fees, and prepayment penalties (which is when you pay off the loan before the term ends)
  • Disbursement times: Lenders have their own timelines for when you might expect to get your personal loan funds. Some lenders provide quick funding options, such as a transfer the same day you're authorized. Others may send payments the next business day after receiving approval.
  • Repayment options: Most lenders provide various payment choices, including autopay, mail-in checks, and the ability to adjust your payment date. Some lenders offer an autopay discount, which might lower your interest rate if you sign up.
  • Customer service: Research what others say about the lender by checking online reviews. Look for negative remarks and complaints, so you know what to expect.
  • Additional features: Some lenders offer additional features to make them attractive to borrowers. An example of an additional feature is unemployment protection plans.

Consider adding up all of the fees involved with the loan, not just the interest rate, to estimate the entire amount you'll be accountable for repaying before signing any contract.

Is a personal loan the best option for you?

A personal loan is right for you if:

  • Your credit score is good, which can help you qualify for a lower interest rate.
  • You have enough money in your budget to make a new monthly payment.
  • You have a low debt-to-income (DTI) ratio.

How to apply for a personal loan

Once you're ready to apply for a personal loan, follow these steps:

  1. Find the best rate: Before submitting a formal application, double-check your credentials to avoid hard inquiries. Submit your information to the lenders who interest you, or browse for the best offer via a lender marketplace tool.
  2. Choose the best offer: Once you've made a decision, apply for a personal loan. You will need your SSN and any supporting documentation, such as proof of income and bank statements.
  3. Wait for the final approval: The waiting time for final approval ranges between an hour to about a week, depending on when you applied and if you submitted the requirements quickly.
  4. Get your money: After your loan is approved, you will need to submit your bank details for the cash to get deposited. Some lenders will deposit the money on the same day the personal loan has been approved.

Compare Personal Loans in Minutes

Apply online and find your best rate without affecting your credit score.