College students who have taken out student loans to cover tuition might need another type of financing to help cover miscellaneous expenses – or any emergencies that might come up. Instead of maxing out their credit cards, students might consider personal loans for non-college-related costs.

Personal loans usually have lower interest rates than credit cards, and that’s not the only positive they offer. Read on to learn more.


4.74% to 20.28% APR
$100,000 Max. Loan Amount
Not disclosed Min. Credit Score


2.49% to 19.99% APR
$100,000 Max. Loan Amount
670 Min. Credit Score


5.99 to 24.99% APR
$35,000 Max. Loan Amount
660 Min. Credit Score

Happy Money

5.99% to 24.99% APR
$40,000 Max. Loan Amount
550 Min. Credit Score


Not disclosed APR
$50,000 Max. Loan Amount
300 (or insufficient history) Min. Credit Score

Wells Fargo

5.74% to 19.99% APR
$100,000 Max. Loan Amount
Not disclosed Min. Credit Score

U.S. Bank

5.99% to 19.49% APR
$50,000 Max. Loan Amount
660 Min. Credit Score


Learn More


Max. Loan Amount

Min. Credit Score

4.99% to 17.99% $50,000 650

6.24% to 10.24% $50,000 Not disclosed

4.74% to 20.28% $100,000 Not disclosed

2.49% to 19.99% $100,000 670

5.99 to 24.99% $35,000 660

5.99% to 24.99% $40,000 550

Not disclosed $50,000 300 (or insufficient history)

5.74% to 19.99% $100,000 Not disclosed

6.99% to 19.99% $40,000 670

5.99% to 19.49% $50,000 660

U.S. News selects the Best Loan Companies by evaluating affordability, borrower eligibility criteria and customer service. Those with the highest overall scores are considered the best lenders.

To calculate each score, we use data about the lender and its loan offerings, giving greater weight to factors that matter most to borrowers. Personal loan companies are evaluated based on customer service ratings, interest rates, maximum loan term, minimum and maximum loan amounts, minimum FICO score, online features, and origination fees.
The weight each scoring factor receives is based on a nationwide survey on what borrowers look for in a lender.

To receive a rating, lenders must offer qualifying loans nationwide and have a good reputation within the industry. Read more about our methodology.

Although PenFed Credit Union – officially Pentagon Federal Credit Union – serves members of the armed forces, military associations, veterans and retirees, and their families, a military connection is not required to become a member. The credit union offers personal loans for eligible members and eligible co-borrowers in all 50 states, as well as in Guam, Puerto Rico and Okinawa, Japan.

If you need money fast, Alliant Credit Union typically makes same-day online personal loans between $1,000 and $50,000. The $14 billion Chicago-based credit union, founded in 1935, is one of the biggest in the nation, with 600,000 members.

In addition to personal loans, Alliant offers home and auto loans, credit cards, checking and savings accounts, individual retirement accounts, trust accounts, and insurance policies.

SoFi, short for Social Finance, offers personal loans of up to $100,000 to borrowers with very good to excellent credit. The nationwide lender was founded in 2011 and is known for offering loans with no fees. In addition to personal loans, SoFi offers student loans, auto and student loan refinancing, home loans, and small-business financing.

LightStream is the online consumer lending division of Truist, which formed in 2019 from the merger of BB&T and SunTrust. SunTrust acquired the assets of online lender FirstAgain in 2012 and relaunched the business as LightStream.

LightStream’s online personal loans range from $5,000 to $100,000 and can be used for nearly any reason. Personal loans are available to borrowers nationwide with good to excellent credit.

Discover is a digital bank and payment services company known for its credit cards. But Discover also offers other products, including fixed-rate personal loans of up to $35,000 to borrowers nationwide. The lender charges no fees as long as you pay on time.

Payoff offers personal loans designed to consolidate credit card debt. It operates in all but two states and provides loans of up to $40,000.

Payoff is not a bank and instead works with lending partners that originate the loans. The California-based financial wellness company falls under a parent company called Happy Money, which takes a psychological approach to money matters.

Upstart is a lending platform that uses artificial intelligence to improve access to affordable credit. Based in California and founded by former Google employees in 2012, Upstart also applies AI to reduce lending risks and costs for its bank partners. The lending intermediary provides unsecured personal loans from $1,000 to $50,000 to borrowers anywhere in the U.S. except West Virginia or Iowa.

Established in 1852, Wells Fargo is one of the largest banks in the country, serving one in three U.S. households. It provides a wide variety of services, including banking, investing and home lending. It also offers personal loans.

Marcus is the consumer bank and lending arm of investment bank Goldman Sachs. Established in 2016, the lender offers personal loans of up to $40,000.

U.S. Bank has physical locations in more than 25 states and offers both short- and long-term personal loans with fixed annual percentage rates starting at 5.99%. Current customers may qualify to borrow up to $50,000 with a credit score of 660 or above, and options are available for noncustomers willing to open a checking or savings account.

When you shop around for the best personal loan interest rate, you can save. Compare your personal loan offers with national average trends for personal loans to know whether you’ve found a good deal.

The average personal loan rate is 9.54%. Last week’s average rate was 9.54%.*

*Rate as of Mar. 16, 2022

Select your desired loan amount and loan purpose, your credit score range, and your state to see estimated annual percentage rates and loan terms.

When you obtain a personal loan – whether from a bank, credit union or online lender – you usually get the money upfront and pay in monthly installments for as long as seven years. Personal loans can total as much as $100,000, but the amount allowed depends on your debt-to-income ratio and overall creditworthiness.

Personal loans can be used for a variety of reasons, ranging from home repairs to a vacation. A college student might use it to cover an emergency expense, like a car repair. A personal loan might be ideal because approval happens quickly and you’ll receive the money within a day or two.

Since the loan payments will need to start right away and the payment period is likely to last a few years, “be diligent about paying that off as scheduled,” says Justin Nichols, co-founder and managing principal for advisor services of Garrett Investment Advisors in Manhattan, Kansas. “Ideally, if you have to get a personal loan, next semester try to position your schedule so you can get a part-time job and aggressively pay off the personal loan ahead of schedule.”

Personal loans are not usually used to pay for direct college expenses like tuition because many lenders will not allow them to go toward postsecondary education. Most students also realize that student loans – whether federal or private – are likely to have more advantageous terms than a personal loan.

There are two primary types of personal loans – secured and unsecured. To get approved for a personal loan, you’ll need to rely on your creditworthiness to get an unsecured loan, or collateral – such as a vehicle or securities – to obtain a secured loan. Secured loans usually have a lower interest rate because the collateral decreases the risk for the lender in case you can’t pay off the loan. Personal loans typically have fixed interest rates for the life of the loan.

Unsecured Personal Loans

As a full-time student, it might be difficult to get approved for an unsecured personal loan on your own because you likely don’t have enough income or a strong credit score. Fortunately, there are loans designed for people with bad credit.

If you apply for a loan, a lender will want to know how you will pay it back. “Where is this magical money going to come from if you don’t have a job and you’re in school?” says Tiffany Aliche, founder of The Budgetnista and author of “Get Good With Money.”

When you apply for a personal loan, pay attention to the interest rate you’re offered. It could be in the single digits if you have a strong credit score, or be as high as 35%, which would likely be significantly higher than your credit card’s rate.

Secured Personal Loans

You might not have a lot of assets that would be valuable enough to serve as collateral on a personal loan, but a vehicle – especially if it’s fairly new – could be one.

“The bank naturally should be more comfortable because there is a tangible asset that is acting as security for that loan,” Nichols says.

But if you can’t pay back the loan, you could lose your car.

That’s why an unsecured loan is “a more desirable loan for a borrower because if you can’t pay, the assets you have aren’t at risk of being taken right away,” Aliche says.

Find the Personal Loan That’s Right for You

The minimum credit score necessary to get a loan varies by lender – it can be anywhere between 550 and 720. You’ll also need proof of consistent income. Remember that the higher your credit score, the better the interest rate you’ll get. To improve your chances of getting approved on your own, you could look for ways to quickly improve your credit score.

You could also apply with a co-signer, such as a family member or friend, who could make your application more appealing to the lender. If the co-signer has a consistent income, low debt-to-income ratio and a strong credit record, it should dramatically increase your chances for approval.

You’ll need to let the prospective co-signer know that you’re “putting them in a position that if you don’t pay, they are equally as responsible,” Aliche says. Your co-signer’s credit report will also reflect this new debt and possibly affect the person’s ability to buy a home or car.

Just bringing up the idea of a loan co-signer with a friend or family member could start a conversation that leads to that person lending you the money directly, Nichols says.

  • Better interest rate than credit cards: There’s no guarantee your interest rate will be in the single digits or low double digits – which would likely be lower than your credit card rates – but if it is, you could save hundreds of dollars over the life of the loan. “The interest rate on a personal loan should be more reasonable than racking up any credit card debt,” Nichols says.
  • Immediate solution to a crisis: If you need money right away to deal with an expense that could dramatically affect your daily life and safety – such as urgent home or auto repairs or a medical emergency – a personal loan can quickly provide the funds you need.
  • Expected payoff with future earnings: If you expect to start a full-time position within several months that will provide you with adequate income, the personal loan might come at the right time for your financial situation.
  • Head start to financial responsibility: If you get approved with a co-signer, it could improve your credit history and score and be a first step toward learning to pay for your expenses as you get the income to pay for them.

  • Immediate payments: Unlike student loans, which let you defer your payments until after you graduate, payments for personal loans start within a month of loan approval.
  • Higher interest rates: If you’re used to the low interest rates on student loans – especially federal loans – the rates for personal loans will likely be a shock. If your creditworthiness is not strong, you could end up paying rates that are similar to ones for credit cards.
  • Losing assets: If you obtain a secured personal loan and can’t pay back the loan, you could lose the item – such as a vehicle – you used to secure the loan.
  • Building debt: Student loans are already a huge debt burden for many people. If you add a personal loan, it will make starting out on your own even harder. “You literally start your adult life in a hole,” Aliche says. “The closer you can start your adult life at the start line, the better.” Instead, try to find other ways to address your debt, such as grants or scholarships through your school. “Go to the financial aid office regularly and make yourself known,” Aliche says. You could also decide to take fewer classes and find a job that offers more hours to pay down your debts.

You’ll want to consider a number of factors when comparing the best lenders for personal loans for students.

  • What loan amounts does the lender offer? Many lenders offer minimum and maximum loan amounts, so it’s worth noting before applying. After all, if a lender’s minimum amount is $5,000 and you only need $4,000, you don’t want to waste your time.
  • What terms can you expect? Not only will you need to secure the best interest rate, but you’ll also want to make sure to get the loan repayment length you need. Make sure you can afford the loan by using these and other factors to calculate your monthly payment.
  • What fees does the lender charge? Many lenders charge an origination fee that can vary from 1% to 10% of the loan amount. Because this can greatly affect the payout you actually receive, be sure to note this and any other fees the lender may charge.
  • How is the lender’s customer service? Check online reviews, such as the Better Business Bureau, Trustpilot or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. If the lender is a financial institution, you might reach out to family and friends about their experience.

  • Federal student loans: The best loan options for most students are federal student loans, which have fixed interest rates that are usually lower than private student loans. They also might be subsidized, which means the student does not pay interest while in school, and offer forbearance and deferment options.
  • Private student loans: Although terms for these loans aren’t usually as advantageous as federal loans and you’ll likely need a co-signer, private student loans are a good second-choice option. The opportunity for payment deferment during school is an advantage over personal loans.
  • Family loans: If you can reach an arrangement that works for both you and your relative, a family loan might save money in interest rates and provide a safety net if you run into trouble making payments.

Best Egg is a national online lender founded in 2014 with backing from Marlette Funding, a financial services company with banking and technology experience. Best Egg offers personal loans starting at $2,000 that can be used to cover medical bills, home remodeling and a variety of other expenses. Cross River Bank in New Jersey issues Best Egg loans, which can be funded in as little as one business day.

RocketLoans offers personal loans to qualified borrowers in all 50 states. These loans are designed for people with fair to excellent credit who need to borrow up to $45,000 for debt consolidation, home improvements, medical expenses and business or other expenses.

Axos Bank launched in 2000 and is owned by San Diego-based Axos Financial. You won’t find any brick-and-mortar branches, but the bank has offices throughout the country. Aside from personal loans, Axos Bank offers CDs, plus checking, savings, money market and retirement accounts.

LendingUSA was founded in 2015 to be a lending solution for merchants. LendingUSA provides point-of-sale customer financing through more than 10,000 merchant partners in various sectors including medical services, pet services, funeral services and consumer services.

Upgrade offers access to personal loans, the Upgrade card with a personal line of credit, rewards checking, and credit monitoring and educational tools. Founded in 2017 in San Francisco, the firm also has operations offices in Chicago, Phoenix and Montreal.

PNC Bank can trace its history back to 1852 and the Pittsburgh Trust and Savings Co. Today, PNC Bank is the seventh-largest bank in the U.S., and it features a wide range of consumer and business banking services. Among its suite of products, PNC offers personal, unsecured installment loans up to $35,000. Applicants are considered based on satisfactory credit history, ability to repay and income.

Founded in 2005 and based in San Carlos, California, Oportun originates unsecured personal loans of up to $10,000 in 12 states. Loans are available in 26 additional states through Oportun’s partnership with MetaBank.

The lender has no credit history requirement, making the loans an option for consumers with no credit or limited credit. In addition to unsecured personal loans, the lender offers secured personal loans to borrowers in California, Florida and Texas.

Chicago-based Avant has lent more than $6.5 billion to borrowers since its 2012 founding. In partnership with WebBank, Avant offers secured and unsecured personal loans and a credit card. The online lender helps borrowers with fair to excellent credit, or average scores from 600 to 800.

LendingPoint is an online lender specializing in unsecured personal loans from $2,000 to $36,500 for borrowers with fair credit. The Georgia-based lender issues loans with annual percentage rates of 9.99% to 35.99% and repayment terms of two to five years to people in every state but Nevada or West Virginia. Funds may be available as soon as the next business day after the lender approves the loan and receives all documents.

FreedomPlus is an online lender offering personal loans from $7,500 to $40,000 to meet a range of needs and promising quick approval and disbursal. A prospective borrower begins by applying online and then talks with a loan consultant.

Fair credit scores of at least 620 can qualify for FreedomPlus personal loans, but excellent credit is needed for the best terms. A FICO score in this range, a loan of less than $12,000 and a repayment term of 24 months could get a borrower the lowest available APR of 7.99%. The lender also offers several interest rate discounts to qualified applicants.

Annual percentage rates are 7.99% to 29.99%, and repayment terms are two to five years. FreedomPlus charges an origination fee of 1.99% to 4.99% of the loan amount but no prepayment penalties.

The lender will verify the borrower’s income and bank account and ask for a signature and a valid ID to approve and fund the loan. FreedomPlus aims to get borrowers their money within 48 hours, as long as they have provided complete applications and supporting documents.

Borrowers can reach loan consultants from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Pacific time Monday through Friday and from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Pacific time Saturday and Sunday. All loans available through FreedomPlus are made by New Jersey-based Cross River Bank.

Advertising Disclosure: Some of the loan offers on this site are from companies
who are advertising clients of U.S. News. Advertising considerations may impact
where offers appear on the site but do not affect any editorial decisions,
such as which loan products we write about and how we evaluate them. This site
does not include all loan companies or all loan offers available in the marketplace.

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By Richard

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