10 lenders who offer small personal loans

Our goal at Credible Operations, Inc., NMLS Number 1681276, hereafter referred to as “Credible”, is to give you the tools and confidence you need to improve your finances. Although we promote the products of our partner lenders who pay us for our services, all opinions are our own.

If you face an unexpected expense and only need to borrow a little money, small personal loans can be beneficial. (Shutterstock)

If you need to borrow a small amount of money to consolidate debt, pay a medical bill, or cover a emergency expense, you may be considering a small personal loan. Small loans probably won’t earn the lender as much interest, so not all lenders offer them.

But many lenders offer personal loans for amounts of $5,000 or less. Here’s how small personal loans work and where to find them.

If you are looking for a small loan, Credible allows you to view your prequalified personal loan rates from various lenders, all in one place.

What is a small personal loan?

A small personal loan is generally considered to be a loan in the amount of $5,000 or less. You can use funds from a small loan for almost any expense, including debt consolidation, car repairs, medical expenses or vacations.

Small personal loans are installment loans. You will receive the funds in a lump sum and then make fixed monthly payments (including interest) towards the balance over a set period of time.

In most cases, small personal loans are unsecured, so they don’t require you to post any asset as collateral. If you have bad credit, you may qualify for a secured loan, which would require collateral, such as your car or a savings account.

If you have little or no credit history, or if your rating is not what you would like it to be, it may be more difficult to qualify for a small personal loan. Many lenders work with borrowers with bad credit, but you’ll pay a higher interest rate to borrow money than someone with good credit.

You can find small personal loans from banks, credit unions and online lenders.

Types of small loans to avoid

When money is tight, it’s tempting to take advantage of any loan offer you receive. But you should avoid these types of small loans if possible:

  • Payday loan – Payday loans are small, short-term loans that are usually due before your next payday. Payday lenders do not consider your ability to repay the loan. They also charge exorbitant fees and interest, which can amount to an annual percentage rate (APR) of 400%, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
  • Title loan — With a title loan, the lender requires the title to your car as collateral. If you are unable to repay the loan, the lender may repossess your vehicle to pay off the debt. Title loans have short repayment terms (usually within 30 days) and come with high fees and interest rates.
  • 401(k) loan — If you have a 401(k) plan, you may be able to borrow funds from the account. But if you withdraw money from your 401(k) before age 59½, you’ll pay a penalty on the withdrawal and may owe taxes on the funds you use. You may also have to repay the loan in full if you leave your current job.

10 Lenders Who Offer Personal Loans Under $5,000

If you’re looking for a small personal loan, these 10 credible partner lenders are a good place to start:

Before

  • Minimum loan amount: $2,000
  • Minimum credit score: 550
  • Good for: Borrowers with bad credit who need a loan fast

Discover

  • Minimum loan amount: $2,500
  • Minimum credit score: 660
  • Good for: Borrowers looking for longer repayment periods and no loan origination fees

loan club

  • Minimum loan amount: $1,000
  • Minimum credit score: 600
  • Good for: Borrowers who wish to apply with a co-signer

LendingPoint

  • Minimum loan amount: $2,000
  • Minimum credit score: 580
  • Good for: Borrowers with subprime credit scores and a minimum income of $20,000

OneMain Financial

  • Minimum loan amount: $1,500
  • Minimum credit score: None
  • Good for: Borrowers with bad credit who have collateral

PenFed

  • Minimum loan amount: $600
  • Minimum credit score: 660
  • Good for: Borrowers who want smaller loan amounts

Prosper

  • Minimum loan amount: $2,000
  • Minimum credit score: 640
  • Good for: Low-income borrowers with fair credit scores

Universal Credit

  • Minimum loan amount: $1,000
  • Minimum credit score: 560
  • Good for: Borrowers with bad credit who would use free credit monitoring

Upgrade

  • Minimum loan amount: $1,000
  • Minimum credit score: 560
  • Good for: Borrowers with fair credit ratings looking to rebuild their credit

Reached

  • Minimum loan amount: $1,000
  • Minimum credit score: 580
  • Good for: Borrowers who have a good education and work history

Visit Credible for compare personal loan rates from various lenders, without affecting your credit score.

Advantages and disadvantages of small personal loans

Small personal loans have advantages and disadvantages to consider before applying.

Advantages of small personal loans

  • Lower interest rates than credit cards — If you use a personal loan to consolidate your debt, you could save on interest compared to your credit cards.
  • Quick Funding — Many smaller personal lenders offer financing in just one or two business days. Some lenders can even fund your loan the same day you are approved.
  • Options for borrowers with bad credit — Even if your credit score isn’t perfect, you’ll probably be able to find financing from a lender that specializes in subprime borrowers. But keep in mind that you will probably pay a higher interest rate. Lenders offer their lowest interest rates to borrowers with good or excellent credit.

Disadvantages of small personal loans

  • Higher interest rates than larger loans — Lenders may charge higher interest rates for smaller loans to increase their income on the money you borrow.
  • Can pay fees — Some lenders charge origination fees for loan processing or late payment fees. Read the fine print and factor the fees charged by the lender into the total cost of your loan.
  • Take the risk of taking on more debt — If you’re using a personal loan to consolidate your debt, it can be tempting to spend on your newly paid off credit cards, putting you in more debt.

How to Apply for a Personal Loan Under $5,000

Once you’ve decided you’re ready to apply for a personal loan, follow these five steps:

  1. Create a budget. Decide how much you want to borrow and how much you can afford to repay each month. This will help you not to overwork yourself.
  2. Compare rates from multiple lenders. The best way to save money when borrowing is to compare the rates and terms of multiple lenders to make sure you get the best deal for your situation.
  3. Gather financial information. You’ll want to have your personal information ready before you apply, including proof of income, address, and identification. If you have a co-signer, you will also need their information.
  4. Complete the application. Once you have chosen the lender you wish to work with, complete the application. If you apply online, you may have a decision in minutes.
  5. Set a payment date that works for you and start making payments on your loan. If you are approved for a loan, you will sign a loan agreement and the lender will disburse your loan funds. Many lenders allow you to choose your payment due date. Choose a date that suits your budget. You might even be able to save on interest if you opt for automatic payments.

If you’re ready to apply for a small loan, Credible makes it quick and easy compare personal loan rates to find the one that suits your needs.

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