Loans SimpleScore Methodology


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.


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

Aspect Score 1 2 3 4 5
Max APR More than 40% 35%-39% 30%-34% 25%-29% Less than 25%

Loan Size

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

Aspect Score 1 2 3 4 5
Max Loan Less than $10K $10K-$19K $20K-$29K $30K-$34K $35K+

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.)

Aspect Score 1 2 3 4 5
J.D. Power Rating 1 circle 2 circles 3 circles 4 circles 5 circles


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

Aspect Score 1 2 3 4 5
Support channels Branch-only support 1 + phone support 2 + web-based support 3 + mobile app support 4 + tools


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

Aspect Score 1 2 3 4 5
Fees charged 3 fees + extra ones all 3 fees 2 of the 3 fees 1 of the 3 fees none of the 3

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