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A personal loan can help you cover big-ticket expenses, such as a wedding or home improvements, or pay down high-interest credit card debt. But what's the difference between getting a loan from a bank versus an online lender? Below, we highlight those differences and the benefits of getting a personal loan through your bank. Plus, we'll walk through how to qualify for one and offer our top picks so you can choose what's right for you.

Best Banks for Personal Loans

Loan results will vary based on creditworthiness, loan purpose, loan amount, and other factors.

Best for Small Loans: PenFed

You do have to be a member of this credit union to take out a loan here, but if that isn't a barrier, you'll have access to a wide range of loan amounts, no hidden fees and the option to add a co-borrower.

PenFed Credit Union

  • Loan Amounts$600 – $50,000
  • Loan Terms12 – 60 months
  • APR Range7.99% – 17.99%
  • Minimum
    Credit Score
    700 or above More Info

    A credit score is used to indicate the creditworthiness of an applicant, but it is only one of several factors considered for approval. These credit scores alone are not guarantees for approval and should only be used as guidelines.

PenFed offers no fees and small personal loans as low as $600.


While you will need to become a PenFed member if you decide to get a personal loan there, anyone can apply for membership and the process is quick and simple. Many lenders have relatively high minimum loan amounts, but PenFed offers loans as small as $600, with no origination fees and competitive APRs. If you’d like to view personal loan rates with PenFed, you can do so without impacting your credit score.


  • Pre-qualification is available
  • No origination fee, hidden fees or prepayment penalties
  • Borrow as little as $600
  • Allows co-borrower
  • Funding as early as 1-2 business days after approval


  • Must be a member to receive the loan
  • No option for direct payment to creditors for debt consolidation

Best for In-Person Banking: PNC Bank

PNC has many locations across the U.S. for in-person service, and the bank also doesn't charge origination fees.

PNC Bank Personal Loans

  • Loan Amounts$1,000 – $35,000
  • Loan Terms6 months – 60 months
  • APR RangeVaries by zip code
  • Minimum
    Credit Score
    Not disclosed More Info

    A credit score is used to indicate the creditworthiness of an applicant, but it is only one of several factors considered for approval. These credit scores alone are not guarantees for approval and should only be used as guidelines.

PNC Bank offers an in-person banking experience for personal loans, along with flexible repayment options such as direct payment for debt consolidation.


PNC Bank has more than 2,600 locations across the U.S., so you won’t have a problem finding a loan specialist at one of their brick-and-mortar locations. Plus, PNC Bank offers a variety of repayment options and the possibility of quick funding.

If you lack the credit to qualify, you have the option to apply with a co-borrower. For those who are using the loan for debt consolidation, the bank can also make direct payments to creditors to save you the hassle of transferring funds.


  • Over 2,600 locations
  • Loan repayment terms up to 60 months
  • Direct monthly payments to creditors for debt consolidation
  • Allows co-borrowers
  • No origination fees


  • Might need to finish the application in person
  • Loan amounts capped at $35,000
  • Loan amounts and rates vary by location

Best for Competitive Rates: Discover

Discover offers loans to those without perfect credit, and its interest rates stack up well against many competitors, even some online lenders, though you'll probably need better credit for the bank's lower rates.

Discover Personal Loans

  • Loan Amounts$2,500 - $40,000
  • Loan Terms36 - 84 months
  • APR Range7.99% - 24.99%
  • Minimum
    Credit Score
    660 or above More Info

    A credit score is used to indicate the creditworthiness of an applicant, but it is only one of several factors considered for approval. These credit scores alone are not guarantees for approval and should only be used as guidelines.

Discover offers personal loans up to $40,000 and no origination fees or prepayment penalties.


Best known for its credit cards, Discover also offers a range of banking and lending products, including personal loans. Its maximum loan amount is just $40,000, which is relatively low compared to certain competitors. A notable perk of Discover personal loans is that borrowers benefit from no origination fees or prepayment penalties, and an APR range that’s comparable to what other lenders offer. 

Discover also provides a credit score range of 660 to 850 on its personal loan page, suggesting its willingness to work with prospective borrowers with fair credit. Many lenders require good or excellent credit, so this accessibility sets Discover apart. Just be aware that if your credit isn’t great, your loan’s interest rate will likely be higher. 


  • Competitive APRs
  • May be available to fair-credit borrowers
  • No origination fees


  • Low maximum loan amount
  • No co-borrowers permitted

Best for High Borrowing Amounts: Wells Fargo

If you're already banking with Wells Fargo, it's worth looking at the institution's loan options as its borrowing limit is high and the bank also offers a prequalification process.

Wells Fargo Personal Loans

  • Loan Amounts$3,000 to $100,000
  • Loan Terms12 - 84 months
  • APR Range7.49% - 23.24%
  • Minimum
    Credit Score
    Not disclosed More Info

    A credit score is used to indicate the creditworthiness of an applicant, but it is only one of several factors considered for approval. These credit scores alone are not guarantees for approval and should only be used as guidelines.

With a Wells Fargo personal loan, you can borrow up to $100,000 and access a competitive APR—as well as no origination fees.


Offering a range of personal loan repayment terms, loan amounts up to $100,000, and competitive APRs, Wells Fargo could be a smart choice for borrowers seeking flexibility. Existing qualified Wells Fargo customers may also benefit from relationship discounts, which can bring your rate even lower. Like other personal loans, Wells Fargo’s loans can be used for several purposes, including debt consolidation and home improvements. Borrowers won’t pay any origination fees or prepayment penalties, though late fees may apply if you miss your payment date. 

Wells Fargo doesn’t disclose its minimum credit score requirements, and it indicates loans may be funded in one to three business days after approval. This is a longer funding time frame than certain competitors. Despite these drawbacks, a personal loan from Wells Fargo does offer solid perks, so it’s worth a look if you’re comparing options. 


  • Large loans of up to $100,000 available
  • Has prequalification option
  • Relationship discounts for qualified existing customers
  • Same-day credit decisions possible


  • Credit score requirements not disclosed
  • Funding time is longer than some competitors

Best for Flexible Payment Terms: KeyBank

KeyBank offers both unsecured and secured personal loans, decent term lengths and flexible payment options, though the bank is only available in around 15 states.

KeyBank Personal Loans

  • Loan Amounts$2,000 - $50,000
  • Loan Terms12 - 84 months
  • APR RangeVaries based on location
  • Minimum
    Credit Score
    Not disclosed More Info

    A credit score is used to indicate the creditworthiness of an applicant, but it is only one of several factors considered for approval. These credit scores alone are not guarantees for approval and should only be used as guidelines.

KeyBank offers both secured and unsecured loans to serve a wider range of customers. While not available in all states, KeyBank does offer flexible payment options and fast funding for those who qualify.


KeyBank offers unsecured and secured personal loans with terms of up to 84 months and 60 months, respectively, but its lending footprint is limited to just 15 states. Still, borrowers in eligible states may find that this lender provides a competitive offering. Its wide range of loan terms is appealing, and it doesn’t charge any origination fees or prepayment penalties. 

However, loan APRs can vary based on your location, loan term, and the amount you borrow. KeyBank doesn’t disclose its minimum credit score requirement on its website, but a 2021 annual report indicated that the majority of borrowers who qualified for consumer term loans had scores of 750 or higher. Some loans were given to fair credit borrowers, but you’ll likely need good credit to qualify for the lowest rates. If you’re interested in a KeyBank personal loan, you’ll need to enter your zip code to access potential rates and terms. 


  • No origination fee or prepayment penalty
  • Unsecured and secured loans available
  • Same-day funding possible


  • Only available in 15 states
  • Rates vary based on location and other factors
  • May require good to excellent credit

Banks vs. Online Lenders: What's the Difference?

Attribute Banks Online Lenders

Credit Score

May require higher credit score

Some serve wider range of credit scores

Application Process

May require you to finish application at a branch

Typically let borrowers complete application online

Customer Service

In-person support at branches

Online support may include email, chat or phone service (no in-person help)

Funding Time

May take longer to disburse funds

May provide funds in as little as one day


Existing customers might get better loan terms

No existing relationship usually needed

The process is largely the same whether you're getting a personal loan through a bank or an online lender. You’ll need to provide financial and basic personal information to apply for the loan. Then the lender will do a credit check, which requires a hard pull of your credit history.

But there are some differences between getting a loan through a bank versus an online lender:

  • Bank personal loans may not offer prequalification. Online lenders typically offer prequalification options. In other words, you can receive a quote with the loan amounts, rates and terms you will most likely be approved for without needing to run a credit check. On the other hand, banks might not offer the option to prequalify for a personal loan.
  • Existing bank customers may benefit from perks. Bank personal loans usually require a higher minimum credit score. In some cases, you'll need to be a current customer to be eligible to apply for one in the first place. However, having an existing relationship with a bank could boost your odds of getting approved or snagging a lower interest rate and better loan terms, even if your credit score is less than ideal.
  • You may need to finish a bank loan application in person. Online lenders may offer a more streamlined application you can complete virtually with fast electronic deposits. On the other hand, banks may give you the option to start the application online but require you to drop off a physical version at one of its branches.
  • You can talk to a human at the bank. If you prefer an in-person customer experience, a major perk of getting a personal loan through a bank is giving them a call or walking into a brick-and-mortar location and talking to a bank rep. They can explain the process and answer your questions thoroughly. 
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Qualifying for a Bank Personal Loan 

Personal loan requirements vary by lender, but considerations like credit score and income are approval mainstays across all institutions.

To qualify for a personal loan, you’ll need to meet these general qualifications: 

  • Steady income and employment verification
  • Low debt-to-income ratio (40% or under) 
  • Good to excellent credit (it’s possible to get a loan with a lower score, but you'll face higher rates.)

Improving Your Chances of Bank Approval

While what you need to qualify varies by bank, here's what can boost the chances of getting approved: 

  • Having an existing relationship with the bank. Some banks only give loans to existing customers, and some may consider your entire customer relationship. If you have a strong history with the bank, you might increase your chances of approval for a loan, snag the most favorable rates and loan terms and speed up approval and funding times.
  • Getting your approval documents ready. Besides providing your basic financial and personal information, you'll need to provide proof of documentation. Have these employment verifications and proof of identity documents handy:
    • Pay stubs 
    • W-2s and 1099s 
    • Bank statements 
    • Tax returns 
    • Employer contact information
    • Proof of identity (i.e., driver's license, military ID, passport or another government-issued ID)

Getting a Personal Loan from a Bank

Let's go through the steps to take to apply for a personal loan through a bank.

Preparing for the loan process How to Get a Bank Personal Loan

Follow these steps to get a personal loan from a bank

  1. 1

    Determine Your Borrowing Amount

    Think about how you’ll use the money. You’ll need enough to cover expenses, but remember: the more you borrow, the more you need to pay back—with interest. 

  2. 2

    Check Your Credit

    Check your credit. Before applying for a personal loan, check your credit to learn your approval odds. You can order a free credit report through If you see something incorrect or incomplete, you can file a dispute. Note you'll need to do this directly with each credit bureau.

  3. 3

    Boost Your Credit, If Needed

    Banks typically require a stronger credit score than online lenders. A higher score means lower interest rates. Pay off any active loans and credit card bills on time to improve your credit score and up your chances of landing one.

  4. 4

    Contact Your Bank

    A beautiful perk of getting a bank personal loan is the option to interact face-to-face with a human. Use this to your advantage. Give your local bank branch a ring or step foot inside a physical location to inquire about a loan. Ask how you can qualify for a low-interest loan and avoid a high-interest one, and then take action as needed.

  5. 5

    Submit a Loan Application

    If the bank doesn't offer prequalification, you'll need to go straight to the official loan application. Depending on the bank, you might need to drop off your application at the bank or start the process online before signing and submitting forms at a physical location.

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Alternatives to Big Banks for Personal Loans

If you're not keen on getting a personal loan through a bank, here are some other options on where you can apply for a personal loan.

Online Lenders

As mentioned before, online lenders use an online application process to encourage speedier applications and funding times. And while not all banks offer prequalification, most online lenders do, and you can get prequalified in a matter of minutes.

There are several online lending platforms, so you'll have no shortage of choices to pick from. Some online lenders are peer-to-peer platforms, meaning individual investors pool their money to offer you a loan. Others are more like go-betweens with third-party lenders. It's often a good idea to prequalify with multiple lenders so you can compare their terms and rates. 

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Credit Union

Credit unions can be a great place to get a personal loan if you have less-than-stellar credit because the credit requirements tend to be lower.

That said, you’ll likely need to be a member of the credit union to source a loan. You’ll need to find a credit union you’re eligible to join before starting the loan process. 

Friends and Family

In some scenarios, people can sometimes leverage their social circles for a personal loan. You might be able to agree on a loan with low or no interest and a more liberal repayment schedule if it's with someone in your personal life.

If you choose this option, proceed carefully. Make sure you lay out all loan terms, including repayment dates, interest rates and the amount borrowed, so lending money between friends doesn't hurt your relationship. 


  • Not all banks offer personal loans. Some banks only offer loans to borrowers who are existing customers, while other major banks, such as Chase or Bank of America, do not have personal loan products at all. It’s not a bad idea to check with your current bank first to see if they have personal loans, and whether there are incentives for current customers, before looking online for lenders.

  • Some banks only offer loans to existing customers. Others allow non-customers to get prequalified, but they’ll need to sign with an account to move forward with the loan.

  • There are several perks to getting a personal loan from a bank. For one, you might be able to get better term lengths and a low-interest loan if you have a good credit score and demonstrate creditworthiness. If you prefer to speak to someone about borrowing money, you might appreciate using a bank over an online lender.

  • Sometimes, but not always. The biggest factor in the rate you'll receive is usually your credit score. Some online lenders do offer lower rates than some banks, but if you have an established relationship with a bank, along with a great credit score, you might get a lower rate at a bank than with an online lender.

  • Typically, you can't get a personal loan from a bank with bad credit. Some banks, like Discover, do serve borrowers with fair credit, but banks usually look for good or excellent credit in their applicants.

    Some online lenders serve borrowers with bad credit, but it's important to research these lenders carefully. Some may charge extremely high interest or fees that could make the loan unaffordable in the long run.


Jackie Lam

Jackie Lam is a freelance writer with experience covering small business, insurance, budgeting, freelancing and money, and personal finance. Her work has appeared in, BuzzFeed, U.S. World & News Report, Time's NextAdvisor, Forbes, and Refinery29. She is an AFC (accredited financial coach) and works with artists, freelancers, and small businesses to improve their relationships with money.