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Installment loans are a great financial tool for people who want to make a large purchase and don’t have the cash to do it. Unlike credit cards, which you might use to borrow revolving amounts and pay them back as you go, installment loans involve borrowing one single sum and repaying it over time in scheduled payments. Installment loans can be advantageous over credit cards because they’re more predictable and usually offer lower interest rates.
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The best personal installment loans can finance the major purchases in your life, from home renovations to that really expensive vet bill after your dog ate a sock. We rated the best installment loan providers using our proprietary SimpleScore methodology to compare interest rates, loan amounts, customer satisfaction, support, and fees.
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LendingClub is an online installment loan provider that eases the process of borrowing and paying back installment loans. You’ll be able to borrow up to $40,000 with a low, fixed interest rate. And, best of all, you can make fixed payments on the loan directly from your bank account without worrying about checks or other payment portals. You also won’t face prepayment penalties if you choose to pay your loan off early. However, like other lenders, you’ll have to keep in mind that LendingClub charges an origination fee of 2% to 6% on top of its interest rates. LendingClub also has fairly strict credit requirements and won’t let you apply if your credit score is under 600. If you have a credit score on the higher end, you might be able to get a very competitive rate.
In The News
LendingClub was recently given the green light to acquire Radius Bank by the Office of the Comptroller of Currency (OCC) after leaving the peer-to-peer lending space. LendingClub’s CEO, Scott Sanborn spoke about the deal in a recent press release. “This is a transformative acquisition for the company and a watershed moment for the industry as we become the only full-spectrum fintech marketplace bank in the U.S.” The deal is expected to close by the beginning of February 2021.
All loans made by WebBank, Member FDIC. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, and credit usage and history. The APR ranges from 8.05% to 35.89%. For example, you could receive a loan of $5,700 with an interest rate of 7.99% and a 5.00% origination fee of $300 for an APR of 11.51%. In this example, you will receive $5,700 and will make 36 monthly payments of $187.99. The total amount repayable will be $6,767.64. Your APR will be determined based on your credit at time of application. *The origination fee ranges from 1% to 6%; the average origination fee is 5.2% (as of 12/5/18 YTD).* There is no down payment and there is never a prepayment penalty. Closing of your loan is contingent upon your agreement of all the required agreements and disclosures on the www.lendingclub.com website. All loans via LendingClub have a minimum repayment term of 36 months or longer.
Best installment loan lending marketplace – PersonalLoans.com
If you’ve ever gotten advice on any type of loan, you’ve probably heard the same thing over and over again: shop around for the best rates. PersonalLoans.com makes the comparison process easy by providing an online installment loan marketplace where you can compare rates and terms from different lenders. Rates vary widely from 5.99%–35.99% depending on your credit, and it’s important to remember that PersonalLoans.com doesn’t set these rates but receives them from each lender. Borrowers with credit scores as low as 580 can apply through PersonalLoans.com, although some lenders may set higher minimum requirements.
You won’t be disqualified from applying for a loan through Avant solely based on your credit score. While this is good news for those with past financial struggles, borrowers with excellent credit can probably find a better rate elsewhere.
Avant is an online installment loan provider that services loans originated by WebBank, an FDIC-insured lender. The biggest draw to Avant is that there’s no official minimum credit requirement to apply, although those with poor credit will pay significantly higher interest rates. APRs start at 9.95% and go as high as 35.99%, and the platform charges an additional 4.75% origination fee. The minimum loan amount is $2,000, so borrowers who only need a small loan will need to look elsewhere.
In The News
Avant is looking to enter the auto loan space soon. CEO James Paris shared the news in a recent podcast while discussing Avant’s new financial product offerings. Paris would like to focus on refinancing existing auto loans to help customers have better savings. Avant also plans to continue to expand its focus in the credit card industry and consider deposit products.
The actual loan amount, term, and APR amount of loan that a customer qualifies for may vary based on credit determination and state law. Minimum loan amounts vary by state. Avant branded credit products are issued by WebBank, member FDIC.
Prosper is a peer-to-peer loan provider that lets you create a diverse portfolio with returns at 5.3%. Three and five year notes are also available to quickly build a bigger income from investing. Prosper’s peer-to-peer lending also gives a more frequent cash flow than other lenders with borrowers making scheduled payments that automatically deposit into your bank account. Prosper also offers loan amounts between $2,000 and $40,000. With a minimum credit score of 640, the application process is much stricter than with other peer-to-peer installment loan providers. However, Prosper is unique in that it offers joint loans, which allows you to apply with a friend or family member. Joint applications could increase the chance of approval for borrowers with lower credit scores and even get you a better interest rate.
Best installment loan for emergencies – OneMain Financial
Sometimes emergencies come up that you simply can’t predict. If you need to pay for unforeseen expenses and can’t wait several days to get approved and receive your loan, OneMain is a great option. Applicants that are approved before noon can visit a OneMain branch and get their funds on the same business day. There’s no minimum credit score to apply, so even those with poor credit can get emergency cash in a pinch. However, you’ll pay for the convenience with extremely high APRs that range from 18.00%–35.99%, so those who can afford to wait a few days may want to look at other lenders.
In The News
OneMain Financial has been focused on broadening its community initiatives. The bank recently donated $200,000 to the National Urban League and Policing Equity. OneMain also launched the Time to Vote initiative as a nonpartisan effort to increase voter registration and participation.
Not all applicants will qualify for larger loan amounts or most favorable loan terms. Loan approval and actual loan terms depend on your ability to meet our credit standards (including a responsible credit history, sufficient income after monthly expenses, and availability of collateral). Larger loan amounts require a first lien on a motor vehicle no more than ten years old, that meets our value requirements, titled in your name with valid insurance. Maximum APR is 35.99%, subject to state restrictions. APRs are generally higher on loans not secured by a vehicle. The lowest APR shown represents the 10% of loans with the most favorable APR. Active duty military, their spouse or dependents covered under the Military Lending Act may not pledge any vehicle as collateral for a loan. OneMain loan proceeds cannot be used for postsecondary educational expenses as defined by the CFPB’s Regulation Z, such as college, university or vocational expenses; for any business or commercial purpose; to purchase securities; or for gambling or illegal purposes.
Borrowers in these states are subject to these minimum loan sizes: Alabama: $2,100. California: $3,000. Georgia: Unless you are a present customer, $3,100 minimum loan amount. Ohio: $2,000. Virginia: $2,600.
Borrowers (other than present customers) in these states are subject to these maximum unsecured loan sizes: Florida: $8,000. Iowa: $8,500. Maine: $7,000. Mississippi: $7,500. North Carolina: $7,500. New York: $20,000. Texas: $8,000. West Virginia: $7,500. An unsecured loan is a loan which does not require you to provide collateral (such as a motor vehicle) to the lender.
Best debt consolidation installment loan – Best Egg
A common use of personal installment loans is consolidating debt with higher interest rates into a single monthly payment at a better rate. Best Egg offers debt consolidation loans for individuals with a credit score of at least 700 whose debt-to-income ratio is under 36%. Interest rates can be fairly low based on your creditworthiness with an APR range of 5.99%–29.99%. You’ll also have to pay an origination fee between 0.99% and 6.99%.
Best Egg loans are unsecured personal loans made by Cross River Bank, a New Jersey State Chartered Commercial Bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender. “Best Egg” is a trademark of Marlette Funding LLC. All uses of “Best Egg” on this site mean and shall refer to “the Best Egg personal loan” and/or “Best Egg on behalf of Cross River Bank, as originator of the Best Egg personal loan,” as applicable. Loan amounts generally range from $2,000-$35,000. Offers up to $50,000 may be available for qualified customers who receive offer codes in the mail. The minimum individual annual income needed to qualify for a loan of $50,000 is $130,000. Borrowers may hold no more than two open Best Egg loans at any given time. In order to be eligible for a second Best Egg loan, your existing Best Egg loan must have been open for at least six months. Total existing Best Egg loan balances must not exceed $50,000. All loans in MA must exceed $6,500; in NM and OH must exceed $5,000; in GA must exceed $3,000.
Best installment loan for good credit – LightStream
Nearly all lenders offer convenient web-based loan applications in today’s digital world, but LightStream offers the best installment loans online according to our analysis. You can borrow up to $100,000 with repayment terms as long as seven years, neither of which can be matched by most other online lenders. Interest rates are competitively low at 2.49%–19.99% (with Autopay), which you can reduce further by 0.50% if you sign up for automatic payments. There are no origination fees, late fees or any type of fees at all.
In The News
LightStream has recently received several awards for its personal loans and customer service. The lender recently ranked No. 1 for customer satisfaction by the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Consumer Lending Satisfaction Study. The award was given based on Lightstream’s loan offerings, terms and management.
Disclaimer: Your loan terms, including APR, may differ based on loan purpose, amount, term length, and your credit profile. Excellent credit is required to qualify for lowest rates. Rate is quoted with AutoPay discount. AutoPay discount is only available prior to loan funding. Rates without AutoPay may be higher. Subject to credit approval. Conditions and limitations apply. Advertised rates and terms are subject to change without notice.
Payment example: Monthly payments for a $10,000 loan at 4.99% APR with a term of 3 years would result in 36 monthly payments of $299.66
An installment loan is a broad type of personal loan that involves borrowing a lump sum and paying it back in regular payments — aka, installments — over a predetermined period of time, usually several years. Personal loans are a common and versatile type of installment loan, although mortgages, student loans and car loans are all types of installment loans.
Installment loans typically have a fixed interest rate that is determined at the time of application so you’ll always know exactly how much you need to pay back. Common uses of personal installment loans including debt consolidation, home remodeling and medical bills.
When you take out an installment loan, you’ll tell the lender exactly how much you want to borrow and how much time you’d like to pay it back. Based on this information and your personal creditworthiness, the lender will issue you a loan with clearly laid out terms for repayment. You’ll be expected to make set monthly payments for the full duration of the agreed-upon time period until the loan is repaid in full. If you miss payments, you’ll be charged late fees and your credit score may be affected.
Installment loan terms work similarly to terms on other types of loans. Loan repayment terms specify the amount of time a borrower has to pay back the amount they borrowed plus interest; with personal installment loans, this can be anywhere from a few months to several years. Your loan terms will specify the APR, or the interest rate you’re charged based on your credit score. Late fees and any other types of fees are also considered terms of a loan.
Although you’ll be given a set period of time to repay an installment loan in the loan’s terms, that doesn’t mean you can just make payments whenever you feel like it. Installment loan providers expect that borrowers will make monthly payments on time and in full every time. This monthly payment will go partially towards the principal balance, or the amount you initially borrowed, and will also cover some of the interest you owe.
Types of installment loans
There are different types of installment loans based on your needs. Keep in mind that each type of loan comes with its own terms and rates. You may also have a few restrictions and requirements from your lender including what the loan cannot be used for and what’s up for grabs if you don’t repay.
Unsecured personal loans
Unsecured personal loans are generally easier to get with a good or excellent credit score. Usually, collateral isn’t required by your lender. Rates vary based on your debt-to-income ratio and other credit factors, but you’ll want a rate lower than the current national average of 9.46%. Unsecured personal loans can be used for almost anything except to launch a business, education costs or investments. However, you can use them to consolidate or pay off debt.
Secured personal loans
Secured loans offer the same spending flexibility as unsecured loans, but lenders will often require you to list assets or equity that can be used as collateral. This could be your home, car or other valuable assets. Secured personal loans often have lower interest rates than unsecured loans, and you may get to borrow more. But the lender will have some of your possessions as collateral to retrieve if you don’t pay back the loan.
Mortgages are the most common type of installment loan used to finance a home, business or property. However, if you don’t repay your mortgage, the lender has the right to take your home. The average interest rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage in 2020 was 3.11%. Before you get a mortgage, lenders usually require you to pay a percentage of the property’s value. The more you can put down, the better. But usually, lenders require at least 3%–5%.
Auto loans are used to purchase cars. Dealerships often work with a number of preferred lenders to get you the best rates based on your credit and other personal finance factors. You can also apply with your preferred lender or bank. Keep in mind that if you don’t pay back your auto loan, the lender has the right to repossess your car. Auto loan rates vary depending on if your car is new or used. By the second quarter of 2020 the average interest rate for a new car was 5.15%, while the rate for a used car was 9.69%.
Alternatives to installment loans
There are a few other low-risk options to get money instead of applying for an installment loan.
Get a side gig: A second job can help make extra cash and boost your skill set. See what best fits your schedule and experience to determine what works for you.
Help from friends or family: Borrowing from a trusted friend or family member doesn’t have any impact on your credit score. Make sure you work out the details to pay them back— including how much you’re borrowing and when you plan to pay them back in full.
Ask about a payment plan: If you need an installment loan for a purchase or to cover another bill it’s best to ask about a payment plan. Most payment plan options offer 0% interest and won’t hurt your credit. The payments can also automatically be drafted from your account for convenience.
Use your credit card: If you already have a credit card that can cover your purchase, it may be best to use it instead of applying for a loan. Remember not to exceed your card’s limit and try to keep usage below 30% to prevent it from hurting your score.
When you have a low credit score, you might wonder whether you’ll be able to qualify for an installment loan. Some lenders consider applications with bad credit, but there are a few considerations.
First, the interest rates on installment loans can vary significantly. And in general, you’ll pay a higher rate with a low credit score. You can end up paying more than 100% in interest, so it’s important to figure out ahead of time how much the loan is going to cost you.
Installment loans often come with other costs as well. Depending on the type of loan, you can expect to pay an origination fee, as well as late fees if you fail to miss a payment.
Decide how much you need to borrow and for what purpose. Since installment loans are a one-time loan, you don’t want to underestimate the amount you need, but borrowing too much means you’ll have to pay more in interest. Try to get as accurate as you can.
Check your credit. It’s always a good idea to look at your credit report before applying for any type of loan to make sure there aren’t any errors. Incorrect information could bring your credit score down and cause you to end up with less favorable loan terms.
Shop around for loans. Different lenders will offer you varying rates depending on your creditworthiness. For installment loans, make sure you compare rates with a few different types of lenders, such as peer-to-peer networks and lender marketplaces.
Choose a lender. You’ll have to submit a formal application to be approved for a loan, and this process can take anywhere from a couple seconds to several days. Once you’ve been approved, you should have your funds within a few business days.
Check Your Personal Loan Rates
Answer a few questions to see which personal loans you pre-qualify for. It’s quick and easy, and it will not impact your credit score.
Installment loans are highly versatile and can be used for many purposes. People often use installment loans to buy cars, pay medical bills, consolidate other types of debt or cover unexpected major expenses. Some lenders may ask you what you intend to use your installment loan for.
Your credit score tells lenders how likely you are to pay back your loan. Borrowers with a higher credit score will get better terms, but those with poor credit will have to pay more in interest. This is because lenders expected to get compensated for the amount of risk they take on in issuing you a loan.
There’s no limit to the number of installment loans you can have, although some lenders may discourage this practice by limiting you to a certain number of loans from their particular institution. Keep in mind that every time you apply for a new installment loan, the hard inquiry will show up on your credit report and bring your score down. It’s best to limit the number of loans you have at once.
A no-credit-check loan is a product wherein the lender doesn’t take your credit into account for the application and doesn’t result in a hard inquiry on your credit report. While they might seem like a good idea for someone with poor credit, they can be problematic in many cases. These loans often come in the form of payday loans and have interest rates of nearly 400%.
Installment loans can be an effective tool to help you make a large purchase that you can’t afford out of pocket — often a home or a car. If you’re considering an installment loan, make sure you fully understand the terms of the loan and that the monthly payment easily fits within your budget.
Too long, didn’t read?
Installment loans are ideal for financing large purchases you don’t have the cash to cover. They offer steady, predictable repayment terms and lower interest rates than other types of loans, like credit cards and payday loans. As with any type of loan, make sure you shop around with several lenders to get the best rate.
Last editorial update – January 22, 2021 – updated lender information and installment loans buying guide.
We welcome your feedback on this article and would love to hear about your experience with the installment loans we recommend. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with comments or questions.
The SimpleScore is a proprietary scoring metric we use to objectively compare products and services at The Simple Dollar.
For every review, our editorial team:
Identifies five measurable aspects to compare across each brand
Determines the rating criteria for each aspect score
Averages the five aspect scores to produce a single SimpleScore
Here’s a breakdown of the five aspect scores and their rating criteria for our review of the best personal loans of 2020.
Why do some brands have different SimpleScores on different pages?
To ensure the SimpleScore is as helpful and accurate as possible, we developed unique criteria for every category we compare at The Simple Dollar. Since most brands offer a variety of financial solutions, their products and services will score differently depending on what we’re scoring on a given page.
However, it’s also possible for the same product from the same brand to have multiple SimpleScores. For instance, if we compare NetCredit’s personal loans according to our criteria for the best personal loans, it scores a 2.3 out of 5. But when we compare NetCredit according to the criteria for the best bad credit personal loans, it scores considerably higher, since the criteria for the latter review are more lenient (lenders who serve borrowers with bad credit will always offer higher rates, so we needed to adjust our category methodology to account for different industry standards).
We looked at the maximum APR for each lender — the lower their maximum rate, the higher their score.
We awarded higher scores to lenders with more generous loan sizes.
We leveraged the J.D. Power 2019 Personal Loan Satisfaction Study℠ to see how customers rated their experience with each lender. (If a lender wasn’t included in J.D. Power’s study, we skipped this aspect and averaged the four remaining aspect scores.)
We awarded higher scores to lenders with the most channels for customer support.
We looked at the three most common fees — origination, late payment, and pre-payment — and penalized lenders for each fee charged.
Lisa Melillo is a freelance writer and entrepreneur with a background in personal finance, insurance, and international business. In addition to contributing to Bankrate, she has appeared in Money and Reviews.com and frequently ghostwrites for other entrepreneurs.
Lisa’s career has taken her around the globe; she has lived in four countries, speaks three languages, and holds two international degrees, including a Master’s in International Business from Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona. She currently spends most of her time in Connecticut, where she lives with her husband and two dogs.
Courtney Mihocik is an editor at The Simple Dollar who specializes in personal loans, student loans, auto loans, and debt consolidation loans. She is a former writer and contributing editor to Interest.com, PersonalLoans.org, and elsewhere.