The Best Long Term Personal Loan Options

If you need extra cash to renovate your home, purchase a new car or pay off debt, a long-term loan can be a good solution. While some borrowers only need 12 to 24 months to pay off a personal loan, some people may need longer terms to fully take advantage of personal loan. This is where long-term personal loan options come in for borrowers who take out large amounts and thus, need longer to pay it back. 

However, it’s not enough to search for any personal loan — you want to find the best long-term personal loans.  To find the best long-term loans, we reviewed loan providers using the SimpleScore method. Each lender was evaluated based on fees, loan amount, customer support, APR, and customer service. 

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In this article

    The 5 best long-term personal loans of 2020 

    Refreshing data.
    We found results in California.

      Best long-term personal loans at a glance

      BrandAPRTermsLoan AmountSimpleScore
      Lightstream3.99%–19.99% w/Autopay24-84 months$5,000–$100,0004.8/5
      SoFi5.99%–19.63%2–7 years$5,000–$100,0004.5/5
      Discover6.99%–24.99%3–7 years$2,500–$35,0004.1/5
      PersonalLoans.com5.99%–35.99%3 months–6 years$1,000–$35,0003.7/5
      Citizens OneVaries3–7 years$5,000–$15,0003.8/5

      *Rates accurate as of October 2021

      Best for Customer Satisfaction – LightStream

      We don’t usually play favorites, but Lightstream is one of the best long-term loan companies, especially in terms of customer service.

      APR Range
      3.99% – 19.99% w/Autopay
      Loan Amount
      $5K–$100K
      Term
      24–84 months
      SimpleScore
      4.8 / 5.0
      close
      SimpleScore LightStream 4.8
      Rates 5
      Loan Size 5
      Customer Satisfaction 4
      Support 5
      Fees 5

      Lightstream is our top pick for customer satisfaction in personal loans, and it checked all the boxes during our long-term loans review. Lightstream was ranked No. 1 in J.D. Power’s 2020 U.S. Consumer Lending Satisfaction Study, and real customers rave about the service. If you’re looking for the best of the best in long term loans, check out Lightstream.

      In addition to great customer service and ratings, Lightstream also has a user-friendly website that makes it easy to calculate your rate. You can apply online, sign a contract digitally and get your money within days. It doesn’t get much better than that.

      LightStream Disclosure

      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

      © 2020 Truist Financial Corporation. SunTrust, Truist, LightStream, the LightStream logo, and the SunTrust logo are service marks of Truist Financial Corporation. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Lending services provided by Truist Bank.

      Best for No Fees – SoFi

      Hearing the words “no fees” isn’t too good to be true, after all. SoFi’s loans are affordable and totally fee-free.

      APR Range
      4.99% to 19.63% w/AutoPay
      Loan Amount
      $5K–$100K
      Term
      24–84 months
      SimpleScore
      4.6 / 5.0
      close
      SimpleScore SoFi 4.6
      Rates 5
      Loan Size 5
      Customer Satisfaction 3
      Support 5
      Fees 5

      SoFi gets high marks from customers and rating organizations, like J.D. Power and AM Best. Whether you need a loan for home repairs, a medical procedure or to consolidate debt, SoFi has what you’re looking for.

      We like SoFi because it doesn’t charge any fees. That means no origination fees, no prepayment fees and even no late fees. And if you lose your job during your loan term, SoFi will temporarily pause your payments and help you with your job search.

      SoFi Disclosure

      Fixed rates from 5.99% APR to 19.63% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of July 30, 2021 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, income, and other factors. See APR examples and terms. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.

      Best for Fast Approval – Discover, Member FDIC

      Get a long-term loan from Discover for same-day approval and next-day funds. Talk about instant gratification.

      APR Range
      6.99%–24.99%
      Loan Amount
      $2,500–$35K
      Term
      36–84 months
      SimpleScore
      4.4 / 5.0
      close
      SimpleScore Discover, Member FDIC 4.4
      Rates 5
      Loan Size 5
      Customer Satisfaction 3
      Support 5
      Fees 4

      If you need personal loan money quickly, Discover has you covered.

      With Discover, there’s no need to wait around for your money to arrive. Whether you apply online or over the phone, you can usually get same-day approval. Your loan funds can be sent as early as the next business day after accepting the terms and signing final documents. Discover agents work seven days a week to expedite the approval process and answer your questions.

      Best Marketplace Lender – PersonalLoans.com

      Sometimes we all just need some extra cash. Use PersonalLoans.com to find a short- or long-term loan that can help you get over the hump.

      APR Range
      5.99%–35.99%
      Loan Amount
      $500–$35K
      Term
      90 days–72 months
      SimpleScore
      3.8 / 5.0
      close
      SimpleScore PersonalLoans.com 3.8
      Rates 2
      Loan Size 5
      Customer Satisfaction N/A
      Support 3
      Fees 5

      Sometimes you need a long term loan that’s not so long term. PersonalLoans.com offers loans with a minimum term length of just 90 days, and a minimum loan amount of $1,000. There are options for more traditional long-term loans, but we appreciate PersonalLoans.com’s flexible lending terms.

      One thing to know about PersonalLoans.com is that it works like a loan exchange platform. You apply with your personal information, the amount of money you need and your desired term length, then it will match you with a reputable lender. Once you select a loan provider, the money gets deposited into your bank account and can be used however you want.

      Best for Rate Discounts – Citizens One

      Citizens One’s personal loans are like the pumpkin spice lattes of the loan world — basic. But we do appreciate the steep autopay savings.

      APR Range
      Varies
      Loan Amount
      $5K–$15K
      Term
      3–7 years
      SimpleScore
      4.3 / 5.0
      close
      SimpleScore Citizens One 4.3
      Rates 5
      Loan Size 2
      Customer Satisfaction N/A
      Support 5
      Fees 5

      Citizens One is the personal loan branch of Citizens Bank. Overall, it’s a pretty standard long-term loan option. You can choose a term limit between three and seven years and borrow up to $15,000. All things considered, Citizen One’s long-term loans are very basic, if not slightly less enticing than some of its competitors.

      However, Citizens One stands out for offering one of the best autopay deals. You can save 0.25% with the loyalty discount and another 0.25% with the automatic payment benefit. That’s a combined 0.50% savings on your rate, which isn’t all that common. Depending on your loan needs, Citizens One could be your most affordable option.

      What is a long-term personal loan?

      A long-term personal loan is borrowed money that you repay over a certain period of time. Most long term loans are repaid over three to six years, but there’s no official time length. It’s usually difficult to find a long-term loan that offers term limits longer than seven years. However, Lightstream offers a maximum term length of 12 years, which is very impressive.

      [ Read: How Personal Loans Work ]

      One of the benefits of a personal loan is that you can use the money for almost anything. If you want to buy a new car, fund a home improvement project, consolidate debt, pay off a credit card, or get extra money for a medical procedure, it’s fair game. Keep in mind that student loans and mortgages are separate from long-term personal loans.

      How long-term personal loans work

      To get a long-term personal loan, you submit an application with your loan amount and desired term length. The lender reviews your application, checks your credit score, verifies your income and calculates your monthly payment. If you look like a low-risk applicant, your loan is approved and you receive the money within a few days after signing final documents. As soon as the money hits your bank account, you can use it for what you need.

      Interest over term length

      When you get a personal loan, you pay it off in equal monthly payments on a schedule. Every month, you’re charged a certain percentage of the amount owed until you pay it off. This interest is essentially the cost of borrowing the money. If your loan term is several years or longer, you could potentially accrue a significant amount of interest, which is something to keep in mind. For example, a personal loan of $10,000 at 8% APR over three years garners $1,281.09 in interest during that time but $2,165.84 in interest over five years. That’s almost double the amount of interest for a personal loan over a long-term repayment.

      [ More: Should You Use a Personal Loan to Pay Off Student Debt? ]

      Lower monthly payments

      One of the perks of a long-term personal loan is getting lower monthly payments. The longer your term length is, the less you’ll owe each month. That $10,000 loan at 8% APR will be approximately $300 a month over three years, but only about $200 over five years. If you’re borrowing money because you’re deep in debt or are short on cash, having a lower monthly rate can be a huge relief. However, remember that you pay interest on your loan over time. So even if you’re getting cheaper monthly payments, you’ll end up paying more money with a long-term loan.

      What to consider when getting a long-term personal loan

      1. How much money you need: Long-term loans are used to fund big expenses or pay off large amounts of debt. If you need $20,000 or more, a long term loan could be a good solution. But keep in mind that the more money you need to borrow, the more you’ll pay over time in the form of interest. If you only need a few hundred dollars to hold you over, you’re better off looking into an alternative option.
      2. How much you can afford each month: Getting a loan can offer much-needed financial relief, but that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. Your monthly payments could be expensive based on your term details. Use an online calculator to see how much you can expect to pay each month based on your term limit, loan amount and APR. If you can’t afford the monthly rate, there are cheaper alternatives.
      3. How quickly you need the money: Most lending companies will deposit your loan funds within a few days, and sometimes sooner. If you need money right away — no more than five business days — go for a long-term loan. But if you need money to pay for something in several months, start by building up your personal savings before you look into a loan.

      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.

      Get Started

      with our trusted partners at Bankrate.com

      Pros and cons of long-term personal loans

      Pros

      • Lower monthly payments
      • Can fund large expenses
      • Eventually lengthens credit history

      Cons

      • Need a fair to excellent credit score
      • Pay more in interest
      • Increases debt-to-income ratio

      Reasons to avoid long-term personal loans

      A long-term loan can be a great solution for many people. However, it does have downsides. First, you need to have a relatively good credit score in order to get approved. Most long-term personal loan providers require applicants to have at least a 670 credit score to borrow large amounts that warrant long repayment terms. You might also need to meet a minimum income requirement. There’s no guarantee that you’ll be approved for a loan just because you apply.

      [ Next: Is a Personal Loan My Best Option? ]

      Another thing to consider is the interest on a long-term loan. You could end up paying thousands of dollars more than you borrowed based on the length of your loan term. For instance, if you take out a $20,000 loan over six years with a 9.5% interest rate, you would pay about $6,315 in interest. And because you’re repaying the long-term personal loan over five years, your financial situation could change significantly during that time.

      Alternatives to long-term personal loans

      If you need to borrow money quickly but aren’t sold on a long-term personal loan, there are some alternatives to consider. Before you make a decision, spend time weighing the pros and cons to ensure you’re making the best financial decision for you.

      • Credit cards: If you don’t have the money to cover a big expense, consider putting the balance on a credit card. Find a credit card with a low interest rate and additional perks you can take advantage of.
      • Short-term loans: You could also look at a short-term loan, which is available from some lenders. As the name suggests, it takes less time to repay a short-term loan, so you pay less interest overall.
      • Payday alternative loans: Many credit unions offer payday alternative loans (PALs), which allow you to borrow a small amount of money — usually up to $1,000. It’s a cheaper alternative to traditional payday loans with slightly longer repayment periods.

      [ See: Here Are the Documents Required to Get a Personal Loan]

      Long-term loans for bad credit

      There aren’t many requirements for getting a long-term loan, but having a decent credit score is one of them. Anyone with a credit score below 600 will probably have a hard time looking for viable long-term personal loan options. Having poor credit makes you a risky borrower in the eyes of the lender. There’s a chance you won’t be able to repay the entire loan, which would mean the lender loses money on you.

      If you are able to get approved for a personal loan with bad credit, you could be limited to a short-term limit. Usually, lenders want to be paid back quicker with bad credit borrowers. That also means your monthly payments could be high. If you have bad credit, a PAL or a credit card might be better options.

      [ Read: How to Get a Loan With Bad Credit ]

      Personal loan FAQs

      The longest term for a personal loan is typically 12 years, which you can get from Lightstream. That’s significantly higher than what most lenders offer. However, there may be other lenders on the market that have longer terms.

      Probably not. Most long term loans don’t exceed seven years, although some have slightly longer terms. For comparison, student loans and mortgages are typically the only long-term loans that have term lengths above 10 years.

      A long term loan is any loan with a term length of three years or more. There isn’t an official definition and term limits can vary by lender. For example, Lightstream offers long-term personal loans with term limits between two and 12 years.

      We welcome your feedback on this article and would love to hear about your experience with the long-term personal loan options we recommend. Contact us at inquiries@thesimpledollar.com with comments or questions.

      Methodology

      SimpleScore

      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).

      Questions about our methodology?

      Email Hayley Armstrong at hayley@thesimpledollar.com.

      Rates

      We looked at the maximum APR for each lender — the lower their maximum rate, the higher their score.

      Loan Size

      We awarded higher scores to lenders with more generous loan sizes.

      Customer Satisfaction

      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.)

      Support

      We awarded higher scores to lenders with the most channels for customer support.

      Fees

      We looked at the three most common fees — origination, late payment, and pre-payment — and penalized lenders for each fee charged.

      Elizabeth Rivelli

      Contributing Writer

      Elizabeth is a contributor to The Simple Dollar, where she reviews insurance providers and policies. She has more than three years of experience writing for top online insurance and finance publications, including Bankrate, Coverage.com and Reviews.com.

      Reviewed by

      • Courtney Mihocik
        Courtney Mihocik
        Loans Editor

        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.