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Loans

If you need help covering large wedding expenses, consider these 4 personal loan lenders

Personal loans are extremely versatile and can be used for many large expenses, including weddings.

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With the average cost of a wedding at $30,000 according to The Knot, you may be exploring alternative ways to finance your special day.

Personal loans have become a popular way to fund a variety of large expenses, including weddings. This is because they're a more affordable alternative to credit cards since they typically carry a much lower interest rate (though the rate you receive will depend on your credit score). 

If you're considering using a loan to cover some or all of your wedding expenses, CNBC Select rounded up four of the best personal loan lenders for you to consider. When compiling our list, we evaluated dozens of lenders and 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.)

Best wedding loans

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 is known for offering loans with some of the lowest interest rates (plus the ability to receive an even lower interest rate when you enroll in autopay). This lender provides loans for nearly every purpose except for higher education and small business, which means using the funds to cover wedding expenses is fair game. 

Terms range from 24 to 144 months — the longest-term option among the lenders on this list. A longer loan term typically means lower monthly payments, which can make repaying the debt feel a little more affordable. Just keep in mind that a longer term also means you'll accrue more interest charges over the long run.

LightStream does not charge any origination fees, administration fees or early payoff fees.

Best for borrowing larger 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 offers personal loan amounts of up to $100,000 depending on creditworthiness, which can be ideal for individuals who need to borrow larger amounts of money to cover their wedding expenses.

SoFi allows borrowers to choose between a variable or fixed APR — most other personal loans only come with a fixed interest rate. Variable rates can go up and down over the lifetime of your loan, which means you could potentially save if the APR goes down (but the APR can also go up depending on economic conditions). However, fixed rates guarantee you'll have the same monthly payment for the duration of the loan's term, which makes it easier to budget for repayment.

Best for lower credit scores

Upstart Personal Loans

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

    7.8% - 35.99%

  • Loan purpose

    Debt consolidation, credit card refinancing, wedding, moving or medical

  • Loan amounts

    $1,000 to $50,000

  • Terms

    36 and 60 months

  • Credit needed

    Credit score of 300 on at least one credit report (but will accept applicants whose credit history is so insufficient they don't have a credit score)

  • Origination fee

    0% to 12% of the target amount

  • Early payoff penalty

    None

  • Late fee

    The greater of 5% of last amount due or $15, whichever is greater

Terms apply.

Pros

  • Open to borrowers with fair credit (minimum 300 score)
  • Will accept applicants who have insufficient credit history and don't have a credit score
  • No early payoff fees
  • 99% of personal loan funds are sent the next business day after completing required paperwork before 5 p.m. Monday through Friday

Cons

  • High late fees
  • Origination fee of 0% to 10% of the target amount (automatically withheld from the loan before it's delivered to you)
  • $10 fee to request paper copies of loan agreement (no fee for eSigned virtual copies)
  • Must have a Social Security number

Who's this for? Upstart is ideal for individuals with a low credit score or even no credit history. It considers factors like education, employment, credit history and work experience. Term lengths are a bit limited, though, compared to other more flexible options; you can choose either a three-year or five-year loan.

There are a few fees involved with this loan. Upstart charges an origination fee of up to 12% of the loan amount. And while there is no early payoff fee, this lender does charge a late fee of 5% of the last amount due or $15, whichever is greater.

Best for next-day funding

Discover Personal Loans

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

    7.99% to 24.99%

  • Loan purpose

    Debt consolidation, home improvement, wedding or vacation

  • Loan amounts

    $2,500 to $40,000

  • Terms

    36, 48, 60, 72 and 84 months

  • Credit needed

    Good

  • Origination fee

    None

  • Early payoff penalty

    None

  • Late fee

    $39

Terms apply.

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? With Discover Personal Loans, you can receive your money as early as the next business day provided that your application was submitted without any errors (and the loan was funded on a weekday). So if you need funding in a pinch so you can start booking your venue and other services, this lender may be appealing.

While there are no origination fees, Discover does charge a late fee of $39 if you fail to repay your loan on time each month. There's no penalty for paying your loan off early or making extra payments in the same month to cut down on the interest. 

Compare offers to find the best loan

How wedding loans work

Most personal loan terms range anywhere from six months to seven years. The longer the term, the lower your monthly payments will be, but they usually also have higher interest rates, so it's best to elect for the shortest term you can afford.

The cash from a personal loan is usually delivered directly to your checking account. Once you receive the money, you have to pay back the lender in monthly installments, usually starting within 30 days.

Your monthly loan bill will include your installment payment plus interest charges. Although none of the lenders on our list have early payoff penalties, sometimes lenders charge a fee if you make extra payments to pay your debt down quicker.

See if you're pre-approved for a personal loan offer.

Common personal loan definitions you should know

Here are some common personal loan terms you need to know before applying.

  • Co-applicants or joint applications: A co-applicant is a broad term for another person who helps you qualify by attaching their name (and financial details) to your application. A co-applicant can be a co-signer or a co-borrower. Having a co-applicant can be helpful when your credit score isn't so great, or if you're a young borrower who doesn't have much credit history. If your co-applicant has a good credit score, you might be offered better terms, including qualifying for a lower APR and/or a bigger loan. At the same time, both applicants' credit scores will be affected if you don't pay back your loan, so be sure that your co-applicant is someone you feel comfortable sharing financial responsibility with. 
  • Co-signers: A co-signer agrees to help you qualify for the loan, but they are only responsible for making payments if you are unable to. The co-signer does not receive the loan, nor do they necessarily make decisions about how it is used. However, the co-signers credit will be negatively affected if the main borrower misses payments or defaults.
  • Co-borrower: Unlike a co-signer, a co-borrower is responsible for paying back the loan and deciding how it is used. Co-borrowers are usually involved in decisions about how the loan is used. Some lenders will only consider two co-borrowers who share a home or business address, as this is a firm indicator that they are sharing the responsibility of money in mutually beneficial ways. Both co-borrowers' credit scores are on the hook if either one stops making payments or defaults.
  • Direct payments: Some lenders offer direct payments when you select debt consolidation as the reason for taking out a personal loan. With direct payments, the lender pays your creditors directly, and then deposits any leftover funds into your checking or savings account. Until you see your account balance is fully paid off, it's best to keep making payments so that you don't get hit with additional late fees and interest charges.
  • Early payoff penalty: Before you accept a loan, look to see if the lender charges an early payoff or prepayment penalty. Because lenders expect to get paid interest for the full term of your loan, they could charge you a fee if you make extra payments to pay your debt down quicker. The fees could equal either the remaining interest you would have owed, a percentage of your payoff balance or a flat rate.
  • Origination fee: An origination fee is a one-time upfront charge that your lender subtracts from your loan to pay for administration and processing costs. It is usually between 1% and 5%, but sometimes it is charged as a flat-rate fee. For example, if you took out a loan for $20,000 and there was a 5% origination fee, you would only receive $19,000 when you got your funds. Your lender would get $1,000 of the loan off the top, and you'd still have to pay back the full $20,000 plus interest. It's best to avoid origination fees if possible. Having a good to excellent credit score helps you qualify for loans that don't have origination or administration fees. 
  • Unsecured versus secured loans: Most personal loans are unsecured, meaning they are not tied to collateral. However, if your credit score is less-than-stellar and you're finding it hard to qualify for the best loans, you can sometimes use a car, house or other assets to act as collateral in case you default on your payments. When you put an asset up as collateral, you are giving your lender permission to repossess it if you don't pay back your debts on time and in full.

FAQs

A wedding loan is simply a personal loan that is used to cover wedding expenses. Personal loans are a form of installment credit that can be a more affordable way to finance the big expenses in your life. In addition to weddings, you can use a personal loan for debt consolidation, home renovations, travel and more.

Lenders offer a wide range of personal loan sizes, from $500 to $100,000. Before you apply, consider how much you can afford to make as a monthly payment, as you'll have to pay back the full amount of the loan, plus interest.

As with any other form of credit, wedding loans and other personal loans can impact your credit score positively or negatively. Applying for a personal loan will trigger a hard inquiry so you should expect a slight dip at first, but using a personal loan to diversify your credit mix and making on-time payments can improve your score in the long run.

Your interest rate will be decided based on your credit score, credit history and income, as well as other factors like the loan's size and term. Generally, loans with longer terms have higher interest rates than loans you pay back over a shorter period.

CNBC Select has a widget where you can put in your personal information and get matched with personal loan offers without damaging your credit score.

Bottom line

Selecting the personal loan that's right for you can make large expenses, like a wedding, feel more affordable. Pay attention to features like low or no fees, the ability to receive quick funding and the maximum loan amount you can apply for.

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 wedding loans.

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Our methodology

To determine which personal loans are the best, CNBC 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, borrowing larger amounts, no fees, low credit scores 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.

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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