Debt consolidating loan finance

Of course, you’ll need a great credit score to qualify for that number, but having the potential for a low APR is essential to a great lender.

Prosper did have a maximum of 35.99%, on the higher end of our top picks, but that's generally reserved for borrowers at the bottom of Prosper’s minimum required credit score.

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APR, or annual percentage rate, is the amount you’ll pay to borrow money for a year.

(Take out a $500 loan at 10% APR and you’ll pay $50 in interest.) Most debt consolidation lenders fall between 5% and 40% APR, with the two most established contenders on our list, Prosper and Lending Club, leaning toward the high end with maximums around 36%.

Lending Club offers loans up to $40,000, tied for the highest of our top picks for borrowers with average credit.

(Marcus goes up to $30,000, while Prosper tops out at $35,000.) While it’s not as high as some other lenders — So Fi goes up to $100,000, for example — we still thought it was a great option for those with average credit scores looking for bigger loans.

Like most of our picks, Prosper’s pre-approval process is also extremely simple, asking for name, address, credit score and income, rather than more obscure categories like “taxable income” that showed up in some of our finalists’ sign-up boxes.

Once you’ve entered your information and been pre-approved, Prosper lets you evaluate available loan options by payoff period, monthly payment, and loan amount to make sure you are happy with what you’re getting.

Prosper explained to us in transparent terms the reason our tester had been declined for a loan.

That gave us some insight into whether it was a problem we could fix, either by building up our credit history, or finding a co-signer, rather than leaving us wondering what happened.

The best debt consolidation loan isn't just the one with the lowest APR.

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