Your Guide to Getting the Best Personal Loan Rates

personal loan rates

Need a more flexible stream of cash for home improvements, car repairs, or life’s other emergencies?

When it comes to borrowing money for larger expenses, a personal loan can be a great choice. That’s because personal loan rates are (typically) lower than traditional credit options.

However, It’s important to make sure you’re getting the best personal loan interest rates possible. Lower personal loan rates mean less cash out of your pocket each month thanks to less interest.

Here’s how you should begin your search for the best personal loan rates.

What are today’s personal loan rates?

Personal loan interest rates tend to be lower than other options like credit cards, personal lines of credit, or even student loans.

This makes unsecured personal loans viable options for financing new and necessary purchases, as well as refinancing past debts that have higher interest rates.

What’s more, personal loan rates have actually steadily decreased over the past five years.

Personal loan rates today are approximately 1.4 percentage points lower than they were in 2011, according to rates data from the National Credit Union Association (NCUA) compiled from March 2011 through September 2016.

personal-loan-rates-over-time

And here are personal loan rate averages for a 36-month unsecured fixed rate loan, according to NCUA data released in September 2016:

  • Banks: 10.12%
  • Credit unions: 9.22%

What’s more, the downward trend of personal loan interest rates is good news for borrowers. Today, personal loans are the most affordable they’ve been in years.

Personal loan rates by credit score

Yet, at the end of the day, the costs of your personal loan will depend on your ability to meet a lender’s credit requirements.

The main determinant of the personal loan rates you’re offered will be your creditworthiness. The lender usually determines this based on your credit score and history, as well as personal income and other financial information.

The better your credit score and the higher your income, the greater your chances of getting the best personal loan rates.

Here are typical unsecured personal loan rates by credit score:

  • Excellent (720 or more): around 4.00% to 11.00%
  • Good (680 to 719): around 4.00% to 15.00%
  • Average (630 to 679): around 10.00% to 20.00%
  • Poor (630 and below): around 25.00% to 30.00% or higher

In addition to a higher credit score, a higher income can also help you qualify for competitive personal loan rates.

Where can I find the best personal loan rates?

No matter your credit score, shopping around and comparing lenders’ advertised rates can help you save. Certain types of personal loan providers offer better rates and loan terms than others.

Here are the starting personal loan rates for different types of lenders:

  • Banks: 6.49% APR
  • Credit unions: 5.99% APR
  • Online lenders: 2.13% APR
  • Peer-to-peer lenders: 5.32% APR

Note that these are starting APRs, which usually require excellent credit to qualify for.

When comparing personal loan interest rates, check out our online marketplace to compare and contrast what various lenders have to offer. Lenders listed include:

Banks

The first place many people look for personal loans is through their bank.

Since you already have an established relationship with this bank, chances are they may be more willing to approve your personal loan and offer competitive rates.

Additionally, banks usually offer a wide range of financial products. So they might have more loan terms and options available for you.

Credit unions

Credit unions provide some of the most competitive personal loan rates around.

As not-for-profit financial institutions, credit unions are more focused on offering favorable products to members than making money. That’s why a credit union’s personal loan rate offer is usually lower than one offered by a bank.

In fact, over the past few years, credit unions’ average personal loan rates have been approximately 1.24 percentage points less than those offered by banks. That’s according to the compiled rates data from the NCUA from March 2011 through September 2016.

Online lenders

Online personal loan providers can also be a great option to find the best personal loan rates.

These institutions usually have less overhead than their brick-and-mortar counterparts thanks to operating solely online. And, will often have some of the most competitive interest rates around.

Additionally, some online lenders have credit requirements that are less strict, allowing them to service borrowers with less-than-perfect credit.

Peer-to-peer lenders

Another option similar to online lenders is peer-to-peer (P2P) lenders.

Like online personal loans, P2P loans are also available to a wider range of borrowers than more traditional options.

P2P marketplaces allow individuals to loan money directly to borrowers. Peer-to-peer personal loans often have lower interest rates. However, be on the lookout for potentially higher origination fees.

How to lower your personal loan interest rate

Choosing the right lender and maintaining positive credit are central to getting the best personal loan rates.

But once you find a lender and are ready to borrow, there are additional steps you can take to lower your personal loan rate.

Look for loan rate discounts

Financiers will often offer a personal loan rate discount to lenders who enroll in automatic payments or meet other requirements.

A typical interest rate discount for automatic withdrawals is 0.25%. However, some lenders might offer more.

Wells Fargo, for instance, offers a personal loan rate discount of 0.50% for borrowers with a qualifying Wells Fargo consumer checking account and enrollment in automatic payments.

Opt for a shorter loan term

When setting the terms of your personal loan, you might notice that lenders offer lower rates on loans with shorter terms.

With a shorter loan, the lender will get its money back faster and take on less risk. And this lower risk for the lender can mean lower interest for you too.

So if you can afford higher monthly payments, consider signing up for a shorter loan length, It may be a smart way to lower your personal loan interest rate and save money on interest as well.

Consider secured personal loans

Some of the best personal loan rates can be found on secured loans.

A secured loan is guaranteed by assets owned by the borrower. This can either be property such as a car, or cash like with a certificate-secured loan.

Credit unions, such as America First, often offer these secured loans with low interest rates.

Additionally, borrowers with bad credit can more easily get approved for secured personal loans. This can make them a smart option for consumers looking to improve their credit.

Do your homework

Ultimately, you are your best advocate in your search for the lowest personal loan rates.

Make sure you have a rate in mind when you begin your search, then see if lenders can match it. Don’t hesitate to compare products before submitting a full application.

And don’t forget, once an application is turned in, hard credit inquiry will follow.

Also, if a lender knows you’re shopping around, chances are they will try to lower their rate to get you to choose them. Remember, even when it comes to personal loans, knowledge is power.

Interested in a personal loan?

Here are the top personal loan lenders of 2017!
LenderRates (APR)Loan Amount 
* = includes AutoPay discount
4.77% - 14.24%*$5,000 - $100,000Visit SoFi
5.75% - 16.24%1$5,000 - $50,000Visit Citizens
5.67% - 29.99%$1,000 - $50,000Visit Upstart
8.00% - 25.00%$5,000 - $35,000Visit Payoff
5.25% - 12.00%$2,000 - $50,000Visit Earnest
9.95% - 36.00%$1,000 - $35,000Visit Avant
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.

Published in Credit, Personal Loans