5 Best Online Loan Companies of 2018

online loan companies

It can be overwhelming to search for a personal loan online. There are hundreds of lenders to choose from, both traditional lenders and online loan companies.

Online loan companies often offer better features, but they aren’t always easy to compare.

Here’s the good news: We’ve reviewed several online lenders and compiled a list of the top five. Find out which one is the best option for you.

Top 5 online loan companies

Lender Interest Rate Standout Feature Major Drawback
SoFi 4.98% - 14.24% Unemployment protection High income requirement
Earnest 5.25% - 14.24% Comprehensive underwriting Short repayment periods
Upstart 7.39% - 29.99% Low credit score requirement Charges an origination fee
LendingClub 5.99% - 35.89% Low credit score requirement Long approval and funding process
Payoff 8.00% - 25.00% Transparent underwriting process Not available in 19 states

1. SoFi

Not only does SoFi offer the lowest interest rate of the bunch, but it also has a program to help you get back on your feet if you lose your job — as long as it wasn’t your fault. The lender will suspend your payments for up to 12 months and provide job placement assistance.

However, it might be tough to get a SoFi personal loan. Although the lender doesn’t have a minimum required credit score, you need to earn at least $50,000 per year to qualify.

Here are some other terms you’ll want to know:

  • SoFi Unemployment Protection puts your personal loan into forbearance and helps you find a job.
  • No application fees, origination fees or prepayment penalties.
  • Borrow $5,000 or up to $100,000.
  • Terms of 3, 5, or 7 years.
  • SoFi personal loans offer both fixed and variable rates.
  • Capped variable rates.
  • Provides rate quotes with a soft credit check.
  • Interest rate discount with AutoPay.
  • SoFi members get a rate discount on new loans.
  • No stated minimum FICO score, but you’ll need good credit or better (around 680 and above).
  • Requires excellent payment history and debt-to-income ratio.
  • Easy online application.
  • eSign for your loan.
  • Funds deposited directly into your bank account.
Apply for a SoFi Personal Loan

2. Earnest

Earnest requires a 660 credit score, but your credit isn’t the only thing the lender cares about. It reviews your full financial picture, including your savings patterns, investments, and career trajectory.

So, if you’re rebuilding your credit but are generally on solid financial footing, you could qualify for a low interest rate.

The lender’s main drawback is its short repayment terms. You can choose between one, two, and three years. If you’re looking for an alternative to an online short-term loan, Earnest might be a good choice. But if you need more time to repay the loan, consider other lenders first.

Here are some more details about Earnest’s personal loans:

  • Borrow between $2,000 and $50,000.
  • Terms of 1, 2 or 3 years.
  • Earnest personal loans have no origination fee or application fee.
  • No prepayment penalties.
  • No stated minimum FICO score, but typically requires good to excellent credit.
  • Personal loan protection against hardships like unemployment, disability, and death.
  • Loan availability varies by state.
  • Easy online application with a response time of two business days.
  • Funds disbursed directly to your bank account.

Earnest’s flexible underwriting considers multiple factors:

  • Must be currently employed or have an offer letter.
  • Positive cash flow and a month or more of expenses in savings.
  • Low levels of consumer (non-educational and non-mortgage) debt.
  • Positive payment history, with few late payments and overdraft, NSF or late fees.
  • No recent bankruptcies or accounts in collections.
Apply for an Earnest Personal Loan

3. Upstart

If you’re working on rebuilding your credit, it can be hard to find a lender willing to take a chance on you. However, Upstart has a minimum credit score requirement of 620, giving borrowers with average credit a solid option.

With that in mind, the lender charges an origination fee of 1 to 8 percent of the amount of the loan. For example, if you borrow $5,000, that’s a $50 to $400 fee.

If your credit isn’t great, paying the fee is better than getting a payday loan. But if you have good or excellent credit, you’d be better off with a lender that doesn’t charge for originating the loan.

Here are some more facts to know:

  • Easier to qualify for Upstart personal loans, with a FICO score minimum of only 620.
  • Upstart’s flexible underwriting considers educational attainment and job history, along with your credit.
  • No application fees or prepayment penalties.
  • Origination fee between 0-8%.
  • Loan balances between $1,000 to $50,000.
  • Terms of 3 or 5 years.
  • Easy online application.
  • eSign for your loan.
  • Funds direct-deposited into your bank account.
Apply for an Upstart Personal Loan

Shop smarter with personalized loan rates from multiple banks

Compare custom personal loan rates the easy way, all without affecting your credit. COMPARE MY RATES

4. LendingClub

Like Upstart, LendingClub is a great option for borrowers with credit that’s less than stellar. Its 600 minimum credit score is the lowest of the bunch.

Avoid LendingClub, however, if you need the funds fast. According to its website, it can take seven days or more to process your loan application and transfer the funds to you. Also, LendingClub charges an origination fee of 1 to 6 percent of your loan amount.

Here’s some more information about LendingClub personal loans:

  • Borrow from $1,000 – $40,000.
  • Rates from 5.99% to 35.89%* APR. Best APR is available to borrowers with excellent credit.
  • Flexible Loan Terms.
  • Fixed Rates and Payments – Your payment will not change for the life of your loan.
  • No Prepayment Penalties – Pay off your loan at any time without fees.
  • Simple and Secure – Check your rate without hurting your credit score.
  • Fast – Apply in minutes and receive your money in as few as 5 days.
  • No Hidden Fees
  • No Collateral Required
  • Good Credit Required
Apply for a Lendingclub Personal Loan

5. Payoff

Both traditional and online loan companies are typically tight-lipped about how they determine whether you qualify for a loan. Payoff sets itself apart by being transparent about the process.

Here are the factors it considers:

  • Use Payoff personal loans to refinance credit card balances and consolidate debt.
  • Financial Wellness services support borrowers in improving money health and habits
  • Job loss support to adjust payments during unemployment.
  • Borrow $5,000 to $35,000.
  • Terms between 2 and 5 years.
  • No application fee or prepayment penalty.
  • No late fees or return check fees.
  • Origination fee of 2-5%.
  • Minimum FICO score requirement of 640.
  • Debt-to-income ratio of less than or equal to 50 percent.
  • At least three years of good credit history.
  • At least two open trade lines in good standing.
  • No current delinquencies.
  • Loan availability varies by state.
  • Easy online application.
  • eSign for your loan.
  • Funds direct deposited into your bank account.
Apply for a Payoff Personal Loan


Although that information might let you know upfront whether you’d qualify, there’s one problem: You might not qualify simply because of where you live. Payoff loans aren’t available in the following states:

  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin

Should you borrow from online loan companies?

If you’re searching for loan companies online, you’ll generally find more flexibility with rates and terms than you would with a traditional lender.

Also, online loan companies typically allow you to get a rate quote without a hard credit check. Many traditional lenders don’t offer this perk, so if you shop around, you’ll get a hard inquiry on your credit report each time you apply. A hard inquiry can have a negative impact on your credit score, especially if you apply with several lenders in a short period.

As you’re searching for a way to consolidate your debt or finance a large purchase, consider these and other online loan companies to find the best features for your situation.

Interested in a personal loan?

Here are the top personal loan lenders of 2018!
LenderRates (APR)Loan Amount 
1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Finance Lender Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)
  2. Personal LoansFixed rates from 5.49% APR to 14.24% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 4.98% APR to 11.44% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of December 21, 2017 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. 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, years of professional experience, income and other factors. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 4.98% APR assumes current 1-month LIBOR rate of 1.34% plus 3.89% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. 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.

2 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Personal Loan Rate Disclosure: Fixed interest rates range from 4.99% – 16.24% (4.99% – 16.24% APR) based on applicable terms. Lowest rates shown are for eligible applicants, require a 3-year repayment term, and include our Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty Discount and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change.
  2. Loyalty Discount: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower has submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, student loans or other personal loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI and VT. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) disclosed in the Truth-In-Lending Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan, and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  3. Automatic Payment Discount: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their Citizens Bank Personal Loan during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account two or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
7.39% - 29.99%$1,000 - $50,000
Check rate nowon SLH's secure site
4.98% - 14.24%1$5,000 - $100,000
Check rate nowon SLH's secure site
8.00% - 25.00%$5,000 - $35,000
Check rate nowon SLH's secure site
4.99% - 16.24%2$5,000 - $50,000Visit Citizens
5.99% - 35.89%$1,000 - $40,000Visit LendingClub
5.25% - 14.24%$2,000 - $50,000Visit Earnest
Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero Advertiser Disclosure

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print, understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.