Select’s editorial team works independently to review financial products and write articles we think our readers will find useful. We earn a commission from affiliate partners on many offers, but not all offers on Select are from affiliate partners.
Personal loans have become a popular option for covering a variety of large expenses, like a home renovation, a wedding, a surprise expense, a funeral and more. In some cases, it can actually be more affordable to use a personal loan compared to using a credit card since personal loans typically carry lower interest rates.
It’s even better when a personal loan, like American Express® Personal Loans, don’t charge application fees or origination fees. American Express is also one of few large household names in the big banking industry to offer personal loan products to everyday customers.
Of course, though, you should always do your research before applying for any financial product and make sure you’re comfortable with the terms of that product before you sign on the dotted line.
To help you out, Select looked at Amex’s APR, perks, fees, loan amounts and term lengths. (Learn more about our methodology below.) Read on to find out if American Express is the right lender for you.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR)
Debt consolidation, home improvement, moving costs, wedding or vacation
Early payoff penalty
APRs range from 6.91% to 19.97% for American Express Personal Loans. Unlike most other personal loan lenders, American Express doesn’t offer an interest rate discount for making payments using Autopay (typically, a 0.25% discount is applied for signing up to have your payments automatically applied to your balance).
The APR range for these personal loans is a bit higher compared to that of some other lenders, but Amex personal loans carry fixed interest rates that won’t fluctuate through the duration of your loan term. Also keep in mind that, generally, the higher your credit score the lower your interest rate is likely to be; American Express doesn’t disclose the exact minimum credit score required to qualify for its personal loan products.
While you need to be an existing American Express Card Member in order to apply for a personal loan, you are not eligible for any Membership Rewards® points or insurance benefits (or other perks) that are typically available with Amex cards.
There is some flexibility when it comes to methods for making your monthly payments, though. You can make payments online, through Autopay, or by mailing a check to the appropriate address. Again, though, keep in mind that while Autopay is an option for repaying your loan, there’s no discount for using the service.
American Express doesn’t charge an application fee or origination fee, and there are no prepayment penalties for making extra payments to pay off your loan sooner.
There is, however, a $39 late fee that will be charged to your account if a payment is made after the due date disclosed on your account or invoice, or if you don’t have sufficient funds in your bank account to make the payment for the month in full.
Much like with any other loan or credit product, failure to make an on-time payment in full can result in the lender informing a credit reporting agency, which can impact your credit score.
Loan amounts vary from $3,500 to $40,000, making this lender an appealing option for those who need mid-sized loans (personal loan lenders can offer as much as $100,000). Keep in mind, though, that not every applicant will qualify for the maximum loan amount. Qualification may typically depend on factors such as your creditworthiness.
Most application decisions can be made within seconds, which can be a plus if you’re hoping for a quicker turnaround. However, if additional information is needed or if incomplete information and documentation was submitted, this could cause a delay in your decision.
Once you’re approved, you can expect the funds to be disbursed into your bank account within three to five business days. You also have the option to have the funds sent directly to up to four creditors (you’ll just need to provide American Express with the credit card numbers and the amount that should be paid to each).
And while American Express Personal Loans can be used for anything from debt consolidation to funding a home repair, there are a few things you cannot use an American Express personal loan for, including, post-secondary education expenses, real estate, business expenses, vehicle purchases other than a downpayment, to pay down balances on American Express credit cards, or any illegal purposes.
Applicants can choose from term lengths that range from 12 to 36 months.
American Express® Personal Loans are a great bare-bones option for those who are already American Express card members and are already familiar with the company’s products.
Some lenders charge a penalty for paying off your personal loan early since this means they would miss out on those interest charges, but American Express lets you avoid this fee.
If you are looking for slightly lower interest rates and the ability to land an Autopay discount, check out LightStream Personal Loans, which offers that 0.25% APR deduction for automatically paying your bill each month.
And if you require a smaller personal loan amount that’s under $3,500, there are other options like PenFed Personal Loans, which start at just $600.
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.