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Loans

The best personal loans for excellent credit

Having an excellent credit score can mean qualifying for personal loans with lower interest rates.

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Personal loans have quickly become the fastest-growing debt category in the U.S. And because they can be used to cover the cost of a variety of expenses — weddings, vacations, home repairs and even emergencies — it's not a surprising development.

Personal loans also typically carry lower interest rates compared to credit cards, though you're more likely to be approved for some of the lowest interest rates if you have a higher credit score. Plus, you may receive other more favorable terms, like a longer repayment period and a bigger loan.

If your credit score falls into the "excellent" range (800 and above), you'll likely be able to take advantage of the best personal loans if you decide you need one. Below, CNBC Select rounded up some options to consider. (See our methodology to see how we choose the best personal loans for excellent credit)

Best personal loans for excellent credit

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Best overall

LightStream Personal Loans

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

    7.49% - 25.99%* APR with AutoPay

  • Loan purpose

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

  • Loan amounts

    $5,000 to $100,000

  • Terms

    24 to 144 months* dependent on loan purpose

  • Credit needed

    Good

  • Origination fee

    None

  • Early payoff penalty

    None

  • Late fee

    None

Terms apply. *AutoPay discount is only available prior to loan funding. Rates without AutoPay are 0.50% points higher. Excellent credit required for lowest rate. Rates vary by loan purpose.

Pros

  • Same-day funding available through ACH or wire transfer (conditions apply)
  • Loan amounts up to $100,000
  • No origination fees, no early payoff fees, no late fees
  • LightStream plants a tree for every loan

Cons

  • Requires several years of credit history
  • No option to pay your creditors directly
  • Not available for student loans or business loans
  • No option for pre-approval on website (but pre-qualification is available on some third-party lending platforms)

Who's this for? LightStream offers low-interest loans with flexible terms for people with good credit or higher, but if you have excellent credit, you'll be able to take advantage of some of the lowest interest rates.

LightStream is known for providing loans for nearly every purpose except for higher education and small business. You can get a LightStream personal loan to buy a new car, remodel the bathroom, consolidate debt, cover medical expenses or pay for a wedding, according to the company's website. Interest rate ranges depend on the type of loan you're taking out.

You can generally receive your funds on the same day, if you apply on a banking business day, your application is approved and you electronically sign your loan agreement and verify your direct deposit banking account information by 2:30 p.m. ET.

LightStream does not charge any origination fees, administration fees or early payoff fees, and repayment terms range from 24 to 144 months.

Best for debt consolidation

Happy Money

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

    11.72% - 17.99%

  • Loan purpose

    Debt consolidation/refinancing

  • Loan amounts

    $5,000 to $40,000

  • Terms

    24 to 60 months

  • Credit needed

    Fair/average, good

  • Origination fee

    0% to 5% (based on credit score and application)

  • Early payoff penalty

    None

  • Late fee

    5% of monthly payment amount or $15, whichever is greater (with 15-day grace period)

Terms apply.

Pros

  • Peer-to-peer lending platform makes it easy to check multiple offers
  • Loan approval comes with Happy Money membership and customer support
  • No early payoff fees
  • No late fees
  • Fast and easy application
  • U.S.-based customer service

Cons

  • Higher loan minimums ($5,000)
  • Must submit soft inquiry to see origination fees and other details

How Payoff is designed to help you stay motivated:

  • Offers borrowers a dedicated "Empowerment Science" team that is available to take questions and provide encouragement
  • Free personality tests, stress assessments and cash flow trackers to help borrowers understand their money management style and nail down better habits
  • Free FICO tools help members track their progress*

*Based on a study of Happy Money Members between February 2020 to August 2020, members who use a Happy Money Loan to eliminate at least $5,000 of credit card balances reportedly see an average FICO Score boost of 40 points. (Results may vary and are not guaranteed.)

Who's this for? Happy Money offers a quick, easy application process for qualified borrowers looking to consolidate their credit card debt and pay it down over time at a much lower interest rate. Eligible borrowers can typically get rates between 11.72% - 17.99% APR, but those with an excellent credit score may be more likely to be approved for an interest rate that's on the lower end of this range.

Happy Money's mission is to help consumers get out of credit card debt once and for all, which is why its loans are geared specifically toward debt consolidation. You can't use a Happy Money loan for home renovations, major purchases, education, etc.

There's one drawback to Happy Money loans: There's an origination fee that ranges from 0% to 5% based on your credit score and application. The higher your score, the lower your origination fee and interest rates are likely to be.

Happy Money doesn't charge late payment fees, or early payoff penalties if you decide to pay off your debt faster than you initially intended.

Borrowers can take out loan amounts between $5,000 and $40,000, and the loan terms range from 24 to 60 months.

Best for borrowing higher amounts

SoFi Personal Loans

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

    8.99% - 29.49% when you sign up for autopay

  • Loan purpose

    Debt consolidation/refinancing, home improvement, relocation assistance or medical expenses

  • Loan amounts

    $5,000 to $100,000

  • Terms

    24 to 84 months

  • Credit needed

    Good to excellent

  • Origination fee

    No fees required

  • Early payoff penalty

    None

  • Late fee

    None

Terms apply.

Pros

  • No origination fees required, no early payoff fees, no late fees
  • Unemployment protection if you lose your job
  • DACA recipients can apply with a creditworthy co-borrower who is a U.S. citizen/permanent resident by calling 877-936-2269
  • Can have more than one SoFi loan at a time (state-permitting) 
  • May accept offer of employment (to start within the next 90 days) as proof of income
  • Co-applicants may apply

Cons

  • Applicants who are U.S. visa holders must have more than two years remaining on visa to be eligible
  • No co-signers allowed (co-applicants only)

Fixed rates from 8.99% APR to 29.49% APR reflect the 0.25% autopay interest rate discount and a 0.25% direct deposit interest rate discount. SoFi rate ranges are current as of 02/06/2024 and are subject to change without notice. The average of SoFi Personal Loans funded in 2022 was around $30K. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed and will depend on the term you select, evaluation of your creditworthiness, income, and a variety of other factors.

Who's this for? SoFi Personal Loans are fee-free — you'll only pay interest in addition to repaying the principal amount. Applicants can borrow as little as $5,000 and as much as $100,000, which makes SoFi personal loans a great option for those who need more money to cover bigger expenses.

The interest rates on these loans can range from 8.99% to 29.99% APR when you sign up for autopay, and the lender will give you a 0.25% interest rate reduction for doing so.

There's also some more flexibility when it comes to choosing the type of interest rate you receive. Loan applicants can chose between variable and fixed APR. Fixed APRs give you one rate that you pay for the entirety of your loan, and variable inerest rates fluctuate, but SoFi caps them at 29.99%.

After your loan is approved, you can expect to receive the funds in your bank account within a few days. Applicants can choose from a term lengths from between 24 to 84 months.

Best for smaller loans

PenFed Personal Loans

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

    7.99% to 17.99% APR

  • Loan purpose

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

  • Loan amounts

    $600 to $50,000

  • Terms

    1 to 5 years

  • Credit needed

    Good/Excellent

  • Origination fee

    None

  • Early payoff penalty

    None

  • Late fee

    $29

Terms apply.

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 $50,000
  • Late fee of $29

Who's this for? PenFed is a federal credit union that offers membership to the general public and provides a number of personal loan options for debt consolidation, home improvement, medical expenses, auto financing and more.

While most lenders have a $1,000 minimum for loans, 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.

While PenFed loans are a good option for smaller amounts, one drawback is that funds come in the form of a paper check. If there is a PenFed location near you, you can pick up your check directly from the bank. However, if you don't live close to a branch, you have to pay for expedited shipping to get your check the next day.

APRs for personal loans range from 4.99% to 17.99%. Not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate, but you're more likely to receive it if you have excellent credit.

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Why trust CNBC Select?

At CNBC Select, our mission is to provide our readers with high-quality service journalism and comprehensive consumer advice so they can make informed decisions with their money. Every personal loan review is based on rigorous reporting by our team of expert writers and editors with extensive knowledge of loan products. While CNBC Select earns a commission from affiliate partners on many offers and links, we create all our content without input from our commercial team or any outside third parties, and we pride ourselves on our journalistic standards and ethics. See our methodology for more information on how we choose the best personal loans for excellent credit.

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 for excellent credit, we focused on the following features:

  • No origination or signup fee: Most of the lenders on this 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. 

Catch up on CNBC Select's in-depth coverage of credit cardsbanking and money, and follow us on TikTokFacebookInstagram and Twitter to stay up to date.

*Your LightStream loan terms, including APR, may differ based on loan purpose, amount, term length, and your credit profile. Excellent credit is required to qualify for lowest rates. Rate is quoted with AutoPay discount. AutoPay discount is only available prior to loan funding. Rates without AutoPay are 0.50% points higher. Subject to credit approval. Conditions and limitations apply. Advertised rates and terms are subject to change without notice. Payment example: Monthly payments for a $10,000 loan at 7.99% APR with a term of three years would result in 36 monthly payments of $313.32.

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.
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