Do you have multiple forms of outstanding debt, maybe from a couple of credit cards or an old auto loan?
Are the interest rates too high? And is tracking multiple monthly payments stressing you out?
Then a debt consolidation loan might be the move for you.
Debt consolidation loans are special types of personal loans that are specifically used to pay off existing debts. Let’s say you have $3k in credit card debt and $2k left on an auto loan, both at interest rates above 10%. If you pay them off with a $5k debt consolidation loan at 8%, you can save time, stress, and potentially a ton of interest.
But which debt consolidation loans are best? What do the best lenders have to offer, and which one is right for you and your situation?
Let’s investigate the best debt consolidation loans.
Overview: Best Debt Consolidation Loans
- Best for low rates and zero fees (for qualified borrowers): LightStream
- Best for new, limited, or poor credit: Upstart
- Best for no credit check: LendingClub
- Best for borrowers with good credit (680+), but limited credit history: SoFi
- Best for borrowers earning $100k+: Best Egg
- Best for borrowers with very good credit (730+): Marcus by Goldman Sachs
LightStream: Best Overall (Low Rates, Zero Fees)
- Estimated APR: 5.24% to 19.99% (w/ AutoPay)
- Loan amounts: $5,000 to $100,000
- Minimum credit score: 660
- Pros: Extremely low rates, zero fees, easy to apply and make payments online, big bank stability and customer support
- Cons: High minimum credit score required, moderately high minimum loan amount of $5,000, no option to prequalify
LightStream is the Mercedes-Benz of lenders, with high-quality products across the board — but a (slightly) high bar for entry.
Let’s talk about qualifications to start. For a debt consolidation loan (or any type of loan from LightStream) you’ll need a minimum 660 credit score and several years of credit history to apply. There’s also no risk-free prequalification tool, so you’ll want to know for sure that your credit is good enough before applying since a rejection will hurt your credit. (Here’s how to check your credit score for free.)
Lastly, LightStream doesn’t loan less than $5k, so this isn’t the place to pay off just a few Gs of credit card debt.
But if you do qualify, you’ll enjoy the “Mercedes” experience of super low rates starting at 5.24% (with AutoPay), a robust platform and support provided by Truist, and zero fees.
Needless to say, if you qualify and need to borrow at least $5k, LightStream should be high on your list. And if you’re interested in borrowing from LightStream but need to bump up your credit first, check out our guide, How to Improve Your Credit Score, Step by Step.
Upstart: Best for New, Limited, or Poor Credit
- Estimated APR: 5.60% to 35.99%
- Loan amounts: $1,000 to $50,0000
- Minimum credit score: 300 (Upstart focuses on job/income/education)
- Pros: Virtually no credit score requirement (only that you have one), wide range of loan amounts, no early repayment fees, prequalification tool
- Cons: Only two loan terms (3 and 5 years), origination fees range anywhere from 0% to 10%, still requires a good job with decent income
Similar to how a lot of colleges have stopped looking at SAT scores, Upstart isn’t too interested in your credit score. To them, credit scores aren’t a fair, even-handed metric for assessing a borrower’s ability to pay back a loan. I mean, what if you just graduated or immigrated for an awesome job, but this is your first loan ever?
For that reason, Upstart’s sophisticated AI algorithm focuses on other factors like your job, income, and education level to qualify you. If it likes what it sees, you can get loans as low as 5.60% with no origination fee.
But offers can certainly vary. While Upstart welcomes all kinds of borrowers, rates can quickly rise to the double digits — as can the origination fee.
Thankfully, Upstart lets you prequalify with no risk to your credit score. And if your awesome new job lets you pay off your loan faster, there’s no early repayment fee, either.
Learn more/apply or read our full Upstart review.
LendingClub: Best for No Credit Check
- Estimated APR: 8.30% to 36.00%
- Loan amounts: $1,000 to $40,000
- Minimum credit score: 600
- Pros: Loans starting at just $1,000, check your rates without impacting your credit
- Cons: High origination fees of 3% to 6%, late fees as high as 5%, restrictive repayment terms of just 3 or 5 years
In many ways, LendingClub is the opposite of LightStream. Instead of a big bank with high entry requirements, it’s a smaller, more welcoming lender with more to offer borrowers with less-than-ideal credit.
For starters, LendingClub lets you check your personalized rates in as little as two minutes without impacting your credit score. The minimum requirement is 600, and loans start at just $1,000.
That said, LendingClub’s relatively open arms come with some drawbacks. LC charges origination fees and they’re not small, ranging from 3% to 6%. It also charges late fees, so be sure to check the box for autopay. Lastly, LendingClub only offers two repayment terms: three or five years.
Learn more/apply or read our full LendingClub review.
SoFi: Best for Borrowers with Limited Credit History
- Estimated APR: starting at 7.99% APR (with autopay discount)
- Loan amounts: $5,000 to $100,000
- Minimum credit score: 680
- Pros: Good rates, doesn’t require extensive credit history, $300 two-way referral bonus, helpful resources like unemployment protection and financial guidance
- Cons: High credit requirement
SoFi is an interesting player in the lending space. In 2016 it launched under the slogan “this is the beginning of a bankless world.” Six years later, the company applied for a bank charter, with CEO Anthony Noto stating there’s no “better time” to be a bank.
To its credit, SoFi is becoming a bank to serve its customers better. Formerly P2P-only, SoFi can now originate loans itself and offer even lower rates and expanded services. At the moment, rates start at just 7.99% with terms ranging from two to seven years and zero origination fees. Having launched as a student loan refinancing company, SoFi also doesn’t require an extensive credit history to apply like many others on this list.
In lieu of extended credit history, however, SoFi does require good (680+) credit, which may be too high a bar for many borrowers in need of debt consolidation. But if you fall into that niche of good credit, limited history, SoFi may be the lender for you — and be sure to find a friend or ask someone on Reddit for a referral code, since both of you will score a $300 bonus!
Learn more/apply or read our full SoFi review.
Best Egg: Best for Borrowers Earning $100k or More