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Personal loans are a popular way to fund large expenses because they typically carry lower interest rates compared to credit cards, can provide as much as $100,000 in funding and can be used for just about any purpose, including debt consolidation, medical bills, a home renovation, a vacation and more.
This is a form of installment debt that's usually unsecured (meaning, you don't have to put up any collateral like your car or home in order to borrow money) and must be paid back in regular increments plus interest over a set period of time.
There are many ways you can get a personal loan. Some big banks carry personal loans and there are some online lenders that provide a hassle-free way to apply. You can even get a personal loan from some credit unions. Below, Select rounded up four of the best personal loans offered by credit unions.
When compiling our list of the best personal loans, Select evaluated dozens of lenders. 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.)
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Who's this for? Navy Federal Credit Union offers some of the lowest personal loan amounts on this list — loan amounts start at $250. This makes Navy Federal Credit Union attractive to those who may just need a couple hundred dollars and don't want to take on a loan that would be too large.
This lender also offers a shorter minimum repayment term compared to other lenders on this list (and compared to most personal loan lenders in general) — you can choose to repay your loan in as little as six months. Shorter repayment terms mean that you save money on interest charges, though your monthly payment amount may be higher compared to if you had picked longer repayment terms.
In order to be eligible to apply for a Navy Federal Credit Union personal loan, you must be an active military member or a veteran, or an employee or retiree of the Department of Defense. You're also eligible if you're a family member of someone who is an active military member, veteran, or employee or retiree of the Department of Defense.
This lender doesn't charge origination fees or prepayment penalties, but it does charge a $29 late fee.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR)
Starts at 10.49% APR
Debt consolidation, home improvement, or emergencies
$1,000 to $50,000
1 – 5 years
Early payoff penalty
Who's this for? Similar to some of the other lenders on this list, Alliant offers personal loan amounts for as much as $50,000 (the minimum amount is $1,000, though, so it may not be appealing to those who need to borrow less than this). But this lender also has a considerable amount of flexibility when it comes to its personal loan products. For one, the lender can usually deposit the funds into your bank account on the same day (providing that you've submitted all the necessary documents and the information is accurate and nothing else is needed). However, if you'd rather receive your funds in the form of a check, Alliant offers to mail you one.
The APR for Alliant personal loans are tiered and depend on the timeline you choose for repaying the loan. According to the Alliant website, you may qualify for a rate close to the lowest APR (6.24%) if you choose a loan term of 12 months. Then the APR starts at 7.24% for a 24-month loan term, 9.24% for a 48-month loan term and 10.24% for a 60-month term. Of course, aside from the term you choose, your interest rate will also depend on your credit score. The higher your credit score, the more likely you'll be to get approved for interest rates on the lower end of the lender's ranges.
This lender also doesn't charge origination fees or a prepayment penalty.
Annual Percentage Rate (APR)
As low as 7.99% APR
Debt consolidation, home improvement, medical bills or emergencies
$500 to $50,000
2 – 7 years
Early payoff penalty
Who's this for? First Tech offers some of the longest repayment terms on this list — the credit union gives borrowers up to seven years to repay their personal loan. Borrowers can apply for as little as $500 or as much as $50,000, giving them plenty of flexibility for smaller and larger amounts.
You'll need to be a First Tech member before you can apply and receive your funds. However, the lender offers some other provisions you can meet for eligibility: You can still apply if someone in your family or household is a First Tech Credit Union member; you or a family member work for a company on First Tech's partners list (or you work for the state of Oregon); you work or live in Lane County, Oregon; or you're a member at the Computer History Museum or the Financial Fitness Association (which anyone can join and only costs $8).
Unlike many other lenders, First Tech gives borrowers the option to defer their first payment for up to 45 days after their funding date, which can be helpful for those who need funding immediately but may need a bit more time before they begin making payments. Just keep in mind, though, that choosing a deferral option may affect the total interest you pay since deferring payment doesn't defer interest charges).
Annual Percentage Rate (APR)
7.74% to 17.99% APR
Debt consolidation, home improvement, medical expenses, auto financing and more
$600 to $50,000
1 to 5 years
Early payoff penalty
Who's this for? PenFed provides personal loan options for debt consolidation, home improvement, medical expenses, auto financing and more. Potential borrowers need to apply with good or excellent credit. But for those who have less than ideal credit, this lender allows the option to apply with a co-applicant. Applying with a co-applicant who has a higher credit score than you can help you get approved for better interest rates that you otherwise wouldn't have qualified for.
Borrowers can apply for as little as $600. Most lenders have a $1,000 minimum for personal loans, but PenFed's low minimum may make it attractive to those who don't need to borrow such a large amount of money.
PenFed loan terms range from one to five years. While you don't need to be a member to apply, 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.
Much like with any other personal loan lender, the best way to qualify for the lowest interest rate on a PenFed loan is to apply with a higher credit score.
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.