Best Personal Loans for 2021

For many people who have lost jobs or wages during the COVID-19 pandemic, personal loans could be the best way to cover an emergency expense, consolidate debt or make a large purchase. Credit unions, banks and online lenders are still offering personal loans despite the pandemic — even if your credit score is fair or low, or if your income has recently changed. To determine the best personal loans of 2021, we compared every major lender’s interest rates, loan terms, customer satisfaction, customer support and fees using our proprietary SimpleScore methodology, and updated our ratings to reflect changes due to COVID-19. Just do us a favor: don’t take out a personal loan to buy the LEGO Star Wars Millennium Falcon.

What is a personal loan?

An option for quick funding, a personal loan is expected to be paid back in monthly payments over a set term. Available from banks, credit unions and online lenders, personal loan offers can be used for anything. They’re a better alternative than high-interest credit cards or payday loans because of their fixed terms — of 24 to 48 months — and comparatively low interest rates. Personal loans keep things simple, making them one of the easiest forms of debt to repay over time.

How secured vs. unsecured loans work

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Secured loan: A secured personal loan is backed up by an asset the bank can seize if you don’t repay — such as your car or home. Lenders use your collateral as assurance you’ll pay back your loan. The type of collateral you use will depend on the loan type. When you get a mortgage to buy a home, for example, your house serves as collateral — if you default on your mortgage, the lender can try to foreclose on the home to recover its losses. The same is true when you take out an auto loan to purchase a vehicle: Your loan is secured by the car you buy.
Unsecured loan: With an unsecured loan, you can borrow money without putting down any collateral. Instead of relying on assets, lenders use your credit score as a way to predict your ability to repay your loan. Typically available to those with a good credit history, qualifying for a favorable unsecured loan can be difficult if your credit score is lacking.


The annual percentage rate or APR is the rate of interest charged to borrowers each year. More than just your interest rate, the APR includes any costs and fees you’ll pay in addition to interest. An interest rate alone will represent what percentage of the outstanding balance will be added to the amount owed, while an APR gives you the whole picture. Use it to compare offers from lenders and find ways you can save money in the long run.
There are two types of APRs:
Fixed APR
a fixed APR, the interest rate for your loan will sta the same for the duration of the loan
Variable APR
A variable APR will vary depending on the prime lending rate, which is the lowest rate a bank will charge to borrow money