September 25, 2021

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5 Best Personal Loans From Big Banks

10 min read

Select’s editorial team works independently to review financial products and write articles we think our readers will find useful. We may receive a commission when you click on links for products from our affiliate partners.

Personal loans can be used for a variety of expenses, including weddings, vacations, home repairs and even as a way to cover emergency costs. There’s a lot to learn about personal loans, but one draw is that they can sometimes be a more affordable alternative to credit cards since they typically carry a lower interest rate (though, the rate you receive will depend on how healthy your credit score is). Personal loan APRs average 9.58%, according to the Fed’s most recent data. Meanwhile, the average credit card interest rate is around 16.30%.

There are a few different ways you can go about applying for a personal loan from a lender. You can go through a peer-to-peer lending site, take a look at some smaller financial institutions, or, of course, apply for a loan through a big bank.

Select evaluated personal loans offered by a variety of big banks. We looked at key factors like interest rates, fees, loan amounts and term lengths offered, plus other features including how your funds are distributed, autopay discounts, customer service and how fast you can get your funds. (Read more about our methodology below.)

Select’s picks for the best personal loans from big banks

Compare offers to find the best loan

Editorial note: The tool is provided and powered by Even Financial, a search and comparison engine that matches you with third-party lenders. Any information you provide is given directly to Even Financial. Select does not have access to any data you provide. Select may receive an affiliate commission from partner offers in the Even Financial tool. The commission does not influence the selection in order of offers.

Best overall

Marcus by Goldman Sachs Personal Loans

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

    6.99% to 19.99% APR when you sign up for autopay

  • Loan purpose

    Debt consolidation, home improvement, wedding, moving and relocation or vacation

  • Loan amounts

  • Terms

  • Credit needed

  • Origination fee

  • Early payoff penalty

  • Late fee

Pros

  • No origination fees, no early payoff fees, no late fees
  • Will send direct payment to up to 10 creditors (for debt consolidation)
  • Monthly VantageScore updates
  • Earn a one-month payment vacation (interest-free) after making 12 on-time consecutive payments
  • Ability to choose your due date when you accept the loan (and again up to two more times after that)

Cons

  • Does not accept joint applications and/or co-signers
  • Not the fastest funding (can take a week or 10 business days)
  • Slightly tougher approval requirements (especially for larger loans/lower interest)

Who’s this for? Marcus by Goldman Sachs, a branch of Goldman Sachs Bank USA, offers fee-free loans that can be used to consolidate debt, finance renovations, or other large costs. There are no sign-up fees, prepayment fees or late payment fees. You can get approved for up to $40,000 and have the funds deposited into your bank account in up to four days.

The interest rate ranges from 6.99% to 19.99%, however, when you enroll in AutoPay to automatically make monthly repayments, you’ll receive a 0.25% reduction in the interest you’re charged. And even if you choose not to use AutoPay, Marcus still offers fixed rates for the entire life of the loan, so once your rate is locked in, you don’t have to worry about it increasing at any point.

The loan term ranges from 36 months to 72 months. And when you make 12 on-time, consecutive payments, you’ll be able to skip one payment without being penalized with more interest. This might come in handy for someone whose financial situation might change a year into the term of loan and needs a little flexibility with their payments.

Best for smaller loans

PenFed Personal Loans

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

  • Loan purpose

    Debt consolidation, home improvement, medical expenses, auto financing and more

  • Loan amounts

  • Terms

  • Credit needed

  • Origination fee

  • Early payoff penalty

  • Late fee

Pros

  • Credit union membership available to anyone
  • Loans as low as $600
  • Can pick up a physical at a branch
  • May apply with a co-borrower

Cons

  • Funds come as a physical check
  • Must be a member to get funds (no membership needed to apply)
  • Must pay for expedited shipping to get your funds next day
  • Maximum loan amount of $35,000
  • Late fee of $29

Who’s this for? PenFed is a federal credit union that anyone can become a member of. It provides a number of personal loan options for debt consolidation, home improvement, medical expenses and auto financing, to name a few.

Most lenders have a $1,000 minimum for loans, however, you can get a $600 loan from PenFed with terms ranging from one to five years. You don’t need to be a member to apply, but you will need to sign up for a PenFed membership and keep $5 in a qualifying savings account to receive your funds.

PenFed loans can be a good option for someone who just needs to borrow smaller amounts of money. But one thing to be aware of is that you’ll only receive your funds in the form of a paper check. If you can travel to a nearby PenFed location, you can pick up your check directly from the bank. However, if you don’t live close to a branch, you’ll have to pay for expedited shipping to get your check the next day.

Interest rates can range from 5.99% to 17.99% but not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. And unlike most other lenders, PenFed doesn’t offer a discount for using AutoPay to make monthly payments.

Best for good credit

PNC Bank Personal Loans

On the PNC Bank secure site

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

    5.99% to 28.74% APR (0.25% APR discount when you sign up for autopay)

  • Loan purpose

    Debt consolidation, home improvement, wedding, moving and relocation or vacation

  • Loan amounts

  • Terms

  • Credit needed

  • Origination fee

  • Early payoff penalty

  • Late fee

    10% of the payment or $40, whichever is greater

Pros

  • No origination fees, no early payoff fees
  • Fixed rate APR
  • Flexible repayment terms
  • Loan amounts start at $1,000
  • No collateral needed

Cons

  • Charges a late payment fee
  • Not the fastest funding (can take up to 10 business days)
  • Rates and terms can vary based on your ZIP code

Who’s this for? PNC Bank offers personal loans that don’t need to be secured by collateral. There are many ways you can use this loan, however, a personal loan from this lender cannot be used to cover the cost of college or to refinance student loan debt.

The interest rate range from PNC Bank is actually the lowest rate on the list, however, the rate and terms you receive will vary based on your location (you can enter your ZIP code on their website to get an idea of what the rates in your area are like). Also, you’ll want to make sure your credit score is in a healthy range in order to increase your chances of getting approved for the lowest possible rate.

Another benefit to applying for this loan with good credit is the potential for a longer repayment term. PNC Bank offers terms as long as 60 months. Generally, the higher your credit score, the more likely you are to have a longer repayment period. This can offer you some flexibility if you’d prefer to have smaller monthly payments (although you will pay more interest over time).

There are no origination fees or prepayment fees, however, you’ll be charged a $40 fee for any late payments.

Best for quick approval

American Express Personal Loans

Information about American Express Personal Loans has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the bank prior to publication. American Express is a Member FDIC.

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

  • Loan purpose

    Debt consolidation, home improvement, moving costs, wedding or vacation

  • Loan amounts

  • Terms

  • Credit needed

  • Origination fee

  • Early payoff penalty

  • Late fee

Pros

  • No origination fees, no early payoff fees
  • Same-day decision in seconds (in most cases)
  • Option to pay creditors directly
  • Funds can be disbursed via direct deposit

Cons

  • Late fee of $39
  • No autopay discount
  • No cosigners or joint applications
  • Only American Express cardholders can apply
  • Payment due date cannot be changed
  • Funds cannot be used to pay off American Express credit cards

Who’s this for? American Express Personal Loans can be a speedy option for those who need approval quickly (they’ll give you a decision in seconds as long as no additional information is needed). The one drawback to this, though, is that you’ll need to already be an American Express cardholder in order to apply for the loan. And while there are no origination fees or prepayment fees, you will be charged a $39 fee for late payments.

The interest rates offered are fixed and can range from 6.91% to 19.97%. Of course, the better your credit score, the more likely you’ll be to receive a lower interest rate and other more favorable loan terms.

The loan can be used for many things, including a wedding, moving costs, a home renovation, a vacation, or debt consolidation. Just be aware that you cannot use this loan to pay down debt on any American Express credit cards. You also cannot use the funds for post-secondary education expenses, real estate, business, securities, or vehicle payments (other than a down payment).

Funds are typically disbursed within three to five business days.

Best for next-day funding

Discover Personal Loans

Information about Discover Personal Loans has been collected independently by CNBC and has not been reviewed or provided by the bank prior to publication. Discover Bank USA is a Member FDIC.

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

  • Loan purpose

    Debt consolidation, home improvement, wedding or vacation

  • Loan amounts

  • Terms

  • Credit needed

  • Origination fee

  • Early payoff penalty

  • Late fee

Pros

  • No origination fees, no early payoff fees
  • Same-day decision (in most cases)
  • Option to pay creditors directly
  • 7 different payment options from mailing a check to pay by phone or app

Cons

  • Late fee of $39
  • No autopay discount
  • No cosigners or joint applications

Who’s this for? Discover Personal Loans can be used for consolidating debt, home improvement, weddings and vacations. While there are no origination fees, Discover does charge a $39 late fee if you don’t make an on-time payment each month.

You can lock in a fixed APR at 6.99% to 24.99%, depending on your credit report. Discover doesn’t charge a prepayment penalty, which means you can make extra payments in the same month to cut down on interest charges over the life of the loan.

If you’re approved for a debt consolidation loan, Discover can pay your creditors directly. You’ll just have to link the credit card accounts — and provide the amount you’d like paid and the payment address information — so Discover can send the money directly.

You can receive your money as early as the next business day as long as your application was submitted without any errors (and the loan was funded on a weekday). Otherwise, you’ll receive your funds no later than a week after approval.

Our methodology

To determine which personal loans are the best, Select analyzed dozens of U.S. personal loans offered by both online and brick-and-mortar banks, including large credit unions, that come with no origination or signup fees, fixed-rate APRs and flexible loan amounts and terms to suit an array of financing needs.

When narrowing down and ranking the best personal loans, we focused on the following features:

  • No origination or signup fee: None of the lenders on our best-of list charge borrowers an upfront fee for processing your loan.
  • Fixed-rate APR: Variable rates can go up and down over the lifetime of your loan. With a fixed rate APR, you lock in an interest rate for the duration of the loan’s term, which means your monthly payment won’t vary, making your budget easier to plan.
  • Flexible minimum and maximum loan amounts/terms: Each lender provides a variety of financing options that you can customize based on your monthly budget and how long you need to pay back your loan.
  • No early payoff penalties: The lenders on our list do not charge borrowers for paying off loans early.
  • Streamlined application process: We considered whether lenders offered same-day approval decisions and a fast online application process. 
  • Customer support: Every loan on our list provides customer service available via telephone, email or secure online messaging. We also opted for lenders with an online resource hub or advice center to help you educate yourself about the personal loan process and your finances.
  • Fund disbursement: The loans on our list deliver funds promptly through either electronic wire transfer to your checking account or in the form of a paper check. Some lenders (which we noted) offer the ability to pay your creditors directly.
  • Autopay discounts: We noted the lenders that reward you for enrolling in autopay by lowering your APR by 0.25% to 0.5%.
  • Creditor payment limits and loan sizes: The above lenders provide loans in an array of sizes, from $500 to $100,000. Each lender advertises its respective payment limits and loan sizes, and completing a preapproval process can give you an idea of what your interest rate and monthly payment would be for such an amount.

After reviewing the above features, we sorted our recommendations by best for overall financing needs, debt consolidation and refinancing, small loans and next-day funding.

Note that the rates and fee structures advertised for personal loans are subject to fluctuate in accordance with the Fed rate. However, once you accept your loan agreement, a fixed-rate APR will guarantee interest rate and monthly payment will remain consistent throughout the entire term of the loan. Your APR, monthly payment and loan amount depend on your credit history and creditworthiness. To take out a loan, lenders will conduct a hard credit inquiry and request a full application, which could require proof of income, identity verification, proof of address and more. 

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.