The Best Debt Consolidation Loans

Yes, a loan can help you get out of debt

The 30-Second Review

To find the best debt consolidation loans, we looked at which online lenders offer fixed interest rates, flexible loan amounts and lending periods, reasonable APRs, and no hidden fees. Why online lenders? The loan experts and credit counselors we spoke with said not to worry about FDIC-backed institutions when it comes to unsecured loans like these. In fact, online lenders have the flexibility to lend more on better terms, and the pre-approval process is much simpler: No pages-long paper applications or in-person meetings. Better yet, all three of our top picks use "soft-pulls" to ensure the pre-approval process won't affect your credit score.

Best for Average Credit

When it comes to getting pre-approved, Prosper makes it the easiest (and least intimidating) of all our top picks.

Minimum credit score: 640
Loan amounts: $2,000–$35,000
APR: 5.99%–36%

Best for Excellent Credit

Typical credit score: 700
Loan amounts: $5,000–$100,000
APR: 5.95%–12.99%

Best for Poor Credit

Minimum credit score: 600
Loan amounts: $1,000–$35,000
APR: 9.95%–36%

If you’re balancing so many different payments that you have trouble keeping your due dates straight, you might be ready to consolidate your debt — in other words, take out a new loan; use it to pay off all your existing debts; and then make just one single, comprehensive payment per month. So fewer due dates. So much simpler.

Best for Average Credit

Prosper Minimum credit score: 640
Loan amounts: $2,000–$35,000
APR: 5.99%–36%

But borrowing money is always a risky proposition, and even the best debt consolidation loan is no exception. “You should start with the idea that the last thing you should do is borrow money to fix your problem,” says Bill Dallas, co-founder and CEO of Cloudvirga. But he concedes that it sometimes makes a lot of sense, especially if you’re swamped with high-interest payments and can swing a better rate with a loan.

Borrowing money is also really personal, and the rates and terms available to you will depend a lot on your financial history. That’s why we have more than one top pick for the best debt consolidation lenders. All three have reasonable APRs, fixed interest rates, and multiple options for loan amounts and payoff periods — exactly what you want in a lender. But each caters to a different credit score range: Prosper is right in the middle with a credit score cutoff at 640; Avant is willing to go as low as 600; and the average SoFi borrower has a credit score of 700.

If you have the credit score to qualify for all three, we suggest finding out what rate you can get from each — because that’s the other thing that’s great about our top picks: Each will quote you a rate with a “soft pull” on your credit, so shopping around for the right lender for you won’t even ding your credit score.

Our Picks for the Best Debt Consolidation Loans

Because loans are so personal and shopping around for the best rate is so important, we chose three top picks, and honestly, we really like them all. Prosper, SoFi, and Avant each target a different demographic and together cover a wide variety of financial situations and needs with a bit of overlap in between.

The Best Debt Consolidation Loans at a Glance




Lending Club


Best for Average Credit

Best for Poor Credit

Best for Excellent Credit

Honorable Mention

Honorable Mention

Minimum credit score



N/A (700 is typical)



Loan amounts

$2,000 to $35,000

$1,000 to $35,000

$5,000 to $100,000

$40,000 max

$1,000 to $50,000

Loan periods

3 or 5 years

2 – 5 years

3 – 7 years

3 or 5 years

3 or 5 years







Origination fee






Unsuccessful payment fee






Late payment fee

The greater of 5% of the unpaid installment amount or $15

$25 (refundable w/ good behavior)

The lesser of 4% of the payment due or $5

The greater of 5% of the unpaid installment amount or $15

The greater of 5% of the unpaid installment amount or $15

Best for Average Credit

Prosper Minimum credit score: 640
Loan amounts: $2,000–$35,000
APR: 5.99%–36%

On paper, Prosper and Avant look pretty neck and neck. The two biggest differences are their credit score minimums and the type of lender they are. Let’s start with credit score.

Prosper has a higher threshold for poor credit than Avant, requiring a minimum of 640 compared to Avant’s 600. (But if you qualify for Prosper, you also qualify for Avant, so you can apply to get quotes for both and see how they compare.)

One thing to keep in mind though — even if you have the right credit score to qualify, you still may not get approved for a loan. We discovered this firsthand: One of our testers who has an Excellent credit score was denied a loan from both Prosper and Avant. In its denial email, Prosper explained that her credit history indicates she had “too few open trades,” and shuttled her to a loan broker partner called AmOne to shop around for other options. AmOne said she was a good match for SoFi, but SoFi denied her loan request as well, and recommended she try Avant. Avant denied her and sent her back to AmOne, which again recommended SoFi. A whirlwind — and no loan.

Screenshot of Prosper Decline Letter for Debt Consolidation Loans

If you’re not approved for a loan, Prosper’s email states in its first line the reason why.

Another tester was approved for Prosper, but denied by Avant. A third tester was denied by Prosper, but approved for Avant. Like we said, you’re going to need to shop around.

The other difference between Prosper and Avant is that Prosper is a peer-to-peer (or marketplace) lender, meaning investors are matched with the loans they will fund, whereas Avant funds its own loans. From a borrower’s perspective, there isn’t much of a difference: You get your loan; you pay it back; bingo bango.

All the online lenders — peer-to-peer or not — have been in the news a lot since early 2016, as they scramble to find more investors to fund their loans. In fact, in the summer of 2016, both Prosper and Avant severed ties with two massive loan brokers, LendingTree and Credit Karma, and have pulled way back on the amount of loans they are funding. We still think they’re great options to get a personal loan, but if you’re having trouble securing one, it might be time to turn to your bank or credit union.

Onto the nuts and bolts: what it’s actually like to apply and get a personal loan with Prosper. When it comes to getting pre-approved, Prosper makes it the easiest (and least intimidating) of all our top picks.

Screenshot of Prosper Application for Debt Consolidation Loans

The first of two screens to get a quoted rate with Prosper. The next asks for your legal name, home address, email address, and income — that’s it!

Once you’re approved, Prosper makes it simple to evaluate other available loan options by payoff period, monthly payment, and loan amount to make sure you are happy with what you’re getting.

Screenshot of Propser Loan Details for Debt Consolidation Loans

Once you do the math and pick the one you like the best, you are shuttled into the full application. From there, your anonymous loan request will go out to Prosper’s investors. If at least 70 percent of the amount you request is funded, you will receive a loan; only during this final handshake will Prosper do a hard check on your credit. You should receive your loan three to five days after that. (If your loan isn’t funded 100 percent, or at all, you can reapply for another loan. There is no waiting period between applications and no maximum number of times you can apply.)

One of Prosper’s other perks is that it comes with a free tracking app, called Prosper Daily. Among our top picks, Avant is the only other one with an official app, but it’s strictly an account manager. Prosper Daily, on the other hand, is a more comprehensive financial tracker that can monitor all your accounts (including those outside Prosper) in one place. It also lets you monitor your credit score for free, so — if all goes well — you can watch it climb throughout the lifetime of your three- or five-year loan.

Screenshots of Prosper Daily for Debt Consolidation Loans

Prosper Daily lets you import outside accounts and track your spending habits.

Best for Poor Credit

Avant Minimum credit score: 600
Loan amounts: $1,000–$35,000
APR: 9.95%–36%

Avant’s credit score limit is a full 40 points lower than Prosper’s, making it (theoretically) accessible to the 85 percent of Americans who can meet or exceed that score (but like we discovered when our various testers applied for pre-approval and rates, more than pure credit score is taken into account). It’s an incredibly popular lending platform, and in 2016 was named best in customer experience by the gigantic loan marketplace LendingTree.

One of those great customer experiences that sets Avant apart: its late fee forgiveness. If a borrower makes one late payment, but their next three payments are on time, Avant will refund the $25 late fee, which is a great morale boost when you’re working hard to get out of debt.

Avant’s pre-approval application is way more robust than Prosper’s: It requires your Social Security number, inquires whether or not you own your home, and wants your specific monthly net income before it decides whether or not you’ll be approved.

Screenshot of Avant Loan Options for Debt Consolidation Loans

Once you’re approved for and sign off on a loan, you’ll get that hard credit check and should receive your loan within 24 hours, or up to a week at most.

Best for Excellent Credit

SoFi Typical credit score: 700
Loan amounts: $5,000–$100,000
APR: 5.95%–12.99%

SoFi, short for Social Finance, was originally designed for student loan financing — and even though it has expanded its products to include personal loans and mortgages, its target demographic remains the same: individuals with high incomes, or recent grads that have high earning potential. The pre-approval application process includes questions about your alma mater, major, advanced degrees, and income.

SoFi cherry-picks who it approves for loans and while that may alienate a huge segment of the population (even though SoFi doesn’t list a minimum credit score, we chatted with Laurel Toney from SoFi’s public relations team who confirmed, “SoFi borrowers generally have scores above 700”), it takes care of its customers: Its $5,000–$100,000 loan range and max 12.99% APR blow both of our other top picks out of the water.

The name Social Finance comes from the fact that SoFi actually has a networking component, complete with career coaching and in-person events. It clearly caters to the educated and financially ambitious, with features like an entrepreneur program and a specific MBA loan. It also has a feature called Social Comparison, which shows where you fit into the bigger picture of borrowers and lenders.

Screenshot of SoFi Social Comparison for Debt Consolidation Loans

Other Debt Consolidation Loans to Consider

Lending Club has gotten lots of media attention this year, and not for any flattering reasons: There’s controversy over the ousted CEO padding reported loan volume and splitting loans to make them appear less risky to investors. From a borrower’s point of view, though, this doesn’t affect much — if you’re approved for a loan via Lending Club and like its terms, there’s no reason to suspect any hiccups. We suggest that if you meet the minimum 660 credit score, you should at least see what sort of rate you’d get. The pre-approval application process is as easy as Prosper’s, requiring just the basic address, birthday, and annual income.

Upstart caters to young professionals who may have a short credit history, but make up for it in earning potential. It gauges this potential by taking into account, in addition to traditional factors like credit score and income-to-debt ratio, the college you went to, your major, your current job, and your income. The lender feels very similar to SoFi, but a little more welcoming: Its credit score minimum is 620. Remember our tester who was denied by Prosper and Avant for having too few open trades? Upstart was the only lender out of five that approved her for a personal loan.

Did You Know?

Unsecured loans are risky — and come with some limitations.

Secured loans come with lower interest rates, but unsecured loans are generally easier to get, especially with the advent of online lending. Why the rate difference? With a secured loan, the bank can repossess your collateral (your house for a home loan, or your car for an auto loan) if you default. An unsecured loan involves no collateral — there’s nothing for the bank to repossess. A default will still diminish your credit score, which carries heavy repercussions (including not getting approved for future loans, say for a house or car).

It’s also important to note that unsecured loans are only meant for bundling other unsecured loans, like credit card debt, or those car repairs you’re still paying off. You might be able to consolidate some secured loans as well, but chances are, the higher interest rate will mean it just won’t make sense.

Most people who take out a debt consolidation loan will fall back into debt.

According to Ray Easter, a former debt counselor, a whopping 70 percent of borrowers begin running up balances on their credit cards before they’ve paid off their loan. And, says Woolsey, “Once they have paid off all the balances and get everything settled, there’s nothing to keep them from picking up that lifestyle again.”

You can take this as a downer or as a reality check. If you can learn why people fall back into debt — and the ways in which you’re most likely to do the same — you can look at your finances realistically and decide whether a loan really is the best choice for you right now. If it is, you can make a concrete plan to stay on track.

“Most people do go back into debt, and it’s because their mindset around money hasn’t changed, which means their habits haven’t either,” says Saxman. “In a lot of ways, money is an addiction, and like with any addiction, you need to have preventative measures,” adds Dallas. “The creditor comes at you with a full-stacked deck. They understand the laws; they understand the documents; they understand the rates and the quotes and the fees; they understand your behavior. And you don’t understand any of that as a consumer. So the more informed you can be, the better.”

There are many ways to improve your financial education. Debt counseling is available, and there are free online courses, like Bank of America and Khan Academy’s Better Money Habits. Feeling empowered? Check out our review on best personal finance software so you can keep track of your own spending.

Consider DIY debt consolidation.

Debt consolidation isn’t the only way to take control of your debt: If you prefer a secured loan, you might look into a home equity loan, for example. But there are a couple of DIY options you might not have considered that could save you a lot of hassle.

For one, if you really just want to convert all of your different loans into one lower-interest loan, you might be able to do that with a balance transfer credit card. Many of these have a 0% intro APR for some promotional period, typically one to two years.

Getting a new credit card to transfer balances to is a lot easier than getting a debt consolidation loan, so I do think that’s worth investigating before you go the loan route.

Ben Woolsey President / General Manager, CreditCardForum

Most balance transfer cards have an initial transfer fee of about 3%, according to Woolsey, but if you can pay off your balances within the 0% intro APR promotional period, you’ll spend less than you would have with a debt consolidation loan.

For example, let’s say you owe $2,000 total, which is the minimum amount you can borrow through Prosper. If you were to take out a Prosper loan with an APR of 21% (the middle of its range) and pay it off over three years (its shortest payoff plan), you would pay $75.35 per month and accrue $712.60 in interest over time, making your total payment $2,712.60.

Let’s say you transfer that same amount of debt to a balance transfer card, like the Chase Slate card, which charges no balance transfer fee for the first 60 days. If you can pay off your balance within the 15-month 0% introductory APR period, you’ll need to make monthly payments of $133.33 for a total payment of exactly $2,000 — no added interest.

Either of these options could be the right fit, but if you can afford to make that larger monthly payment, you’ll not only save in interest, but also be free of debt that much faster.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

An even easier way to get some relief from your debt is to call your creditors yourself and let them know the position you’re in. Amazingly, these calls often do lead to a lower rate or even a postponed deadline. “It certainly never hurts to ask, as issuers have been known to lower interest rates or offer extended repayment terms to accommodate loyal customers who are unable to stay current with their accounts,” says Woolsey.

Saxman gives the same advice. “Let them know, ‘Hey, I’m falling behind.’ A lot of creditors will work something out for you,” she says. “Now, they may close your credit card in the process if you can’t make minimum payments, but that might be better in the long run.”

Student loans are a whole different story.

If you have student loans, be careful before you consolidate them with the rest of your debt. Student loans come with certain built-in features, like the option to defer or go into forbearance, not to mention forgiveness. If you consolidate them, you could lose all those benefits. If you’re still interested in consolidating, Marketplace recommends going straight to the Department of Education to figure out the best way to handle it.

The Bottom Line

Debt is intensely personal, and so is the method you choose to tackle it. If a debt consolidation loan is right for you, start shopping around with lenders that use soft pulls to see what rates you qualify for. Not loving your options? Remember to check your local banks and credit unions too!

Take Action

Best for Average Credit

Prosper Minimum credit score: 640
Loan amounts: $2,000–$35,000
APR: 5.99%–36%

Make a budget. Find out how much, exactly, you owe, and how much you can afford to pay toward reducing your debt each month. “I feel like people sometimes are not realistic with themselves and they don’t write down, ‘Okay every month I have X amount of money coming in and X amount of money going out,’” says Van Horn. “If you’re going to do one of these loans, you need a way to pay it off. The money can’t come from rent and it can’t come from your car payment. And if you can’t do it on your own because you’re not good with numbers, find somebody that you can trust to review the numbers with you.”

Get some unbiased advice — preferably for free. “You definitely want to sit down and make a plan and speak to some kind of counsel because I see people whose first response is, ‘I want to file for bankruptcy,’ and that’s not always the right choice,” explains Saxman. You may already have your heart set on a specific option, be it debt consolidation or a home-equity line of credit. But before you commit, get a second opinion, and make sure you can trust that it’s an impartial one. Woolsey recommends checking out the nonprofit Consumer Credit Counseling Services, which offers both free and inexpensive credit counseling services and has local branches around the country.