Best Financing Companies in the US - Your 2020 Guide to Financing

SimpleDirect's Guide to finding the best financing options near you!

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By Ben Harper

Life gets expensive and sometimes we need help paying for those large expenses. Whether you have miscellaneous expenses to cover or have a specific need, such as home improvements or paying for college, there are financing companies able to help you.

Check out the top financing companies in the US and how to find the right lender for your situation.

What are Personal Loans?

Personal loans are unsecured loans – you don’t need collateral to get the loan. In exchange, lenders charge higher interest rates and/or fees to make up for the risk.

You can use personal or unsecured loans for any reason. Common reasons include debt consolidation, home improvements, pay for college, or any other large expense. Personal loans usually have a fixed term and interest rate. You receive the funds in one lump sum shortly after approval.

How do you Qualify for Personal Loans?

Each lender has specific qualifying requirements, but on average expect:

  • A credit score of at least 640
  • Positive payment history for the last 12 – 24 months
  • A debt-to-income ratio of 35% or lower

Features of Personal Loans

Just like qualifying factors, lenders have many different programs, but on average expect:

  • Loans between $1,000 - $50,000
  • APRs ranging from 3.5% - 35.99%
  • Fixed terms
  • Fixed interest rates

What are Home Improvement Loans?

Homes need maintenance, repairs, and sometimes renovations and they’re not cheap. The average whole home renovation costs around $45,000, but even a bathroom renovation may cost $5,000 - $12,000.

Home improvement loans help you fund these large expenses at affordable rates. They are available in two options:

  • Line of credit – You receive access to a checking account (with a debit card and/or checkbook) and use the funds as you need. This is similar to a credit card. You draw the funds as you need them and pay interest on the amount borrowed. Your minimum payment is the interest only, but you can pay the principal back too. If you do, you can reuse the funds for the 10-year draw period. After the draw period, you pay principal and interest payments for the next 20 years.
  • Home improvement loan – You receive the funds in one lump sum. You can’t ‘re-borrow’ the funds, but you get a fixed interest rate and term. You know exactly how much you owe each month and when the loan will be paid off if you only make the minimum payments.

Both the line of credit and home improvement loans have one thing in common – they use your home as collateral. If you default on the loan, the bank could foreclose on your home. You may borrow from your home’s equity or the difference between your home’s value and your first mortgage. For example, if your home is worth $200,000 and your first mortgage has a $100,000 balance, you’d have $100,000 in equity.

If you don’t have the equity or don’t want to use your home as collateral, some personal loan lenders offer home improvement loans.

How do you Qualify for Home Improvement Loans?

Home improvement lenders have a variety of requirements, but in general, expect:

  • A credit score of 560 or higher
  • Debt-to-income ratio 43% or less
  • Stable income and employment
  • No recent bankruptcies or foreclosures
  • Proof your home is worth enough (and you have enough equity in it to take out the funds)

Features of Home Improvement Loans

  • Access to funds either as a line of credit or lump sum loan
  • Attractive interest rates as low as 3%
  • Loan amounts up to $100,000 (sometimes more depending on your qualifying factors)
  • The potential for a fixed term and fixed interest rate if you choose a home improvement loan

Best home-improvement financing options

Lending Partner APR Loan Amount
Upstart Personal Loans by SimpleDirect 9.99 - 35.99% $1k - $35k Apply Now
Avant Personal Loans by SimpleDirect 9.99 - 35.99% $2k - $35k Apply Now
SoFi Personal Loans by SimpleDirect 5.99 - 16.19% $5k - $100k Apply Now
Prosper Personal Loans by SimpleDirect 7.95 - 35.99% $1k - $35k Apply Now

Read More about Home Improvement Loans Here

What are Student Loans?

College grads today graduate with as much as $37,000 in student loans. Once you exhaust your options for financial aid after completing the FAFSA and applying for scholarships, you may need money to supplement your education costs with a student loan.

Some students qualify for federal student loans which have attractive interest rates and repayment terms, but it’s not always enough. Private student loans help bridge the gap between what the government provides/offers and the funds you need.

Student loans often have a grace period while you’re in school. You may be able to pay interest only until you graduate, at which point you’ll owe principal and interest for 10 years or more. This varies by lender, so always ask about the terms.

How do you Qualify for Student Loans?

Qualifying for private student loans is a bit different than any other loan:

  • Be enrolled in a qualified college at least half-time
  • Be at least 18-years old with a high school diploma
  • Have a credit history with at least a 680 credit score or a qualified co-signer
  • Have enough income to cover the loan or have a qualified co-signer

Features of Student Loans

  • Loan amounts vary by lender and student needs
  • APRs range from 3% - 15%
  • Grace periods while you’re in college (check with the lender)

The Best Financing Companies

Best personal loan options

Lending Partner APR Loan Amount
Upstart Personal Loans by SimpleDirect 9.99 - 35.99% $1k - $35k Apply Now
Avant Personal Loans by SimpleDirect 9.99 - 35.99% $2k - $35k Apply Now
SoFi Personal Loans by SimpleDirect 5.99 - 16.19% $5k - $100k Apply Now
Prosper Personal Loans by SimpleDirect 7.95 - 35.99% $1k - $35k Apply Now

SoFi

get personal loan online in the USA
get personal loan in usa

If you have excellent credit (at least 680), look no further than SoFi for your personal loan. Check your eligibility online with an instant pre-qualification that doesn’t affect your credit score. Set up payments on your terms, and change your payment date as needed.

SoFi personal loans: One of the best online customer experiences

Loan Amount $5,000 - $100,000
APR $5.99% - 21.99%
Minimum Credit Score 680
Funding Within 3 business days

Features:

  • Repayment terms from 2 to 7 years
  • Options for unemployment protection

Upstart

If you have less-than-perfect credit (at least a 620), Upstart is a good option. Made for fair credit borrowers, this personal loan is great for borrowers who need to consolidate their debts.

Upstart personal loans: Best option for fair to good credit borrowers

Loan Amount $5,000 - $30,000
APR $6.18% - 35.99%
Minimum Credit Score 620
Funding Within Typically, by next business day
  • Pros: Low rates, available to lower credit borrowers
  • Cons: Cannot borrow more than $30,000

Best Home Improvement Loans

Lightstream

LightStream is one of the best home improvement loans options out there

If you have good credit (at least a 660 credit score) and need a large loan amount for home improvements, Lightstream has flexible guidelines and no fees.

LightStream personal loans: Best for low rates, fast funding

Loan Amount $5,000 - $100,000
APR $3.49% - 19.99% (lowest rates with auto-pay)
Minimum Credit Score 660
Funding Within Typically, by next business day

Features

  • Discount if you sign up for autopay
  • Repayment terms up to 7 years

Upstart

Upstart is a personal loan lender that considers borrowers with little credit history

If you don’t have much of a credit history, Upstart may give you a chance. In addition to your credit history (or lack of it), Upstart looks at your educational and job history. They qualify you based on these factors which may not only result in approval, but also a loan with lucrative terms to fix up your home.

Upstart personal loans: Best option for fair to good credit borrowers

Loan Amount $5,000 - $30,000
APR $6.18% - 35.99%
Minimum Credit Score 620
Funding Within Typically, by next business day

Features

  • No prepayment penalty
  • Repayment terms of 3 to 5 years

Best Student Loans

Ascent

Ascent offers two private student loan programs. One for students with a parent co-signer and one for students with an established credit history and no co-signer. If you want the no co-signer option, you’ll need a 2-year credit history to qualify.

Features:

  • Loan amounts between $1,000 - $200,000 over the student’s lifetime
  • APRs between 3.5% - 14.5%
  • Offers in-school deferment with $25 monthly payment and income-based repayment options after graduation
  • Forbearance options available for a total of 24 months over the life of the loan (in 3-month increments)

College Ave

College Ave is an online-only student loan lender. They require good credit scores, but in exchange offer a large variety of benefits that many student loan lenders don’t offer. If you want to get ahead and make payments while in school, this is a good student loan lender to consider.

Features:

  • Loan amounts starting at $1,000 and up to the total attendance cost
  • APRs between 3.49% - 12.99%
  • Loan terms in 5-year increments (with an 8-year term too)
  • No application, origination, or prepayment fee

In Summary:

Consider your Loan Needs Before Choosing a Financing Company

Today there are hundreds of financing options thanks to online-only lenders. With more flexible guidelines and a variety of options, it’s important to shop around.

Look not only at the interest rate and loan amount but at the term and total cost over the loan’s lifetime. Longer-term loans cost more overall because of the length you pay interest, but may be more affordable monthly. Shorter-term loans have lower APRs, but higher monthly payments.

Choose the loan that’s most affordable for you, while providing you with the best terms. Look for prepayment penalties, origination fees (they get deducted from the funds you receive), and any fine print including interest rate changes, late fees, or accelerated payment requirements if you default on your loan.

Compare your options and get pre-qualified. Most lenders offer instant pre-qualification with a soft credit pull (doesn’t hurt your credit score). See which loan suits your needs and is the most affordable financing option.

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Ben Harper

Ben is a personal finance writer with SimpleDirect, where he focuses on topics such as personal loans, credit cards, and offering financing.

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Best personal loan options

Lending PartnerAPRLoan Amount
Upstart Personal Loans by SimpleDirect9.99 - 35.99%$1k - $35kApply Now
Avant Personal Loans by SimpleDirect9.99 - 35.99%$2k - $35kApply Now
Sofi Personal Loans by SimpleDirect5.99 - 16.19%$5k - $100kApply Now
Prosper Personal Loans by SimpleDirect7.95 - 35.99%$1k - $35kApply Now

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