Chicago offers a wide range of personal loans with favorable rates. And, with rising prices, inflation, and an increased cost of living, loans for home improvement projects, covering a move, paying for a vacation or wedding, or consolidating debt are much more common.
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Many loan options exist for Chicagoans, including those from traditional banks, credit unions, and online lenders. However, borrowers mst expect that their credit scores will be checked via a hard credit inquiry at the time of application. And the best personal loans in Illinois are typically from national lenders that make loans available to all U.S. residents age 18 or older. The best personal loans in Chicago are offered to consumers with a credit score of 700 or higher.
Avant - Best for borrowers with bad to fair credit
Personal loans can have serious implications on your financial situation. For this reason, you should review your options to ensure you’re getting the best possible loan rates and terms. Also, comparing your rates across multiple lenders can ensure you get the best deal for your credit history and financial situation.
Our team of financial experts ranked lenders based on our rating methodology for personal loans and found the best loans in Chicago. This rating methodology evaluates lenders in Chicago and nationally based on loan length, APR, repayment terms, user experience, customer service, credit score history, banking and credit union use, and additional features.
Best Personal Loans in Chicago - Full Overview
Here are some of the best personal loans available to residents of Chicago and the surrounding communities.
SoFi personal loans are best suited for those with a credit score of 680 or higher that want to borrow from a well-known lender. Additionally, SoFi stands apart from its competition as it offers personal loan customers perks. SoFi borrowers can access free career and financial advising, estate planning discounts, referral bonuses, unemployment protection to protect their credit score, and a mobile app for easy payments.
This lender offers competitive interest rates and offers relatively flexible loan terms. However, those wanting to take out a loan from SoFi must know that they require a gross income of at least $50,000 per year ($961 per week) to qualify for a loan. And loan funds are not distributed on the same day. Typical loan disbursement takes two to seven business days.
SoFi is an excellent personal loan option for Chicago residents due to its competitive APRs, high borrowing limits, and lack of hidden fees. This lender is best for fee-free debt consolidation loans.
LightStream - Best for funding home improvement projects
Lightstream personal loans are best suited for those who want to fund a large project such as home repairs or a home renovation. They offer competitive rates for customers with good to excellent credit scores but also have great solutions for consumers with a credit score of around 660.
LightStream offers fast funding (potentially as soon as the same day you sign the loan agreement), low APRs, and a fast application process. APRs are competitive and there are no fees for loan origination, late payments, or early loan payoff. Finally, LightStream’s rate beat program will beat a competitor’s interest rate by 0.10 percentage points if borrowers can show the competitor approved them for an unsecured, fixed-rate loan with matching loan terms.
LightStream is the personal loan choice for Chicago residents who need to consolidate debt or take on expensive home improvement projects. You can get your money fast and don’t have to worry about a complicated application process.
This lender is a great option for those with less-than-stellar credit or those who only need to borrow a small amount. This lender is also a great choice for those who want to build their credit from scratch, as credit history is not required. Upstart differs slightly from online lending competitors as their underwriting model uses artificial intelligence and nontraditional data such as your job history, college education, and residence. Traditional lenders, such as banks and other major financial institutions, focus more on your credit report data, debts, income, and assets.
Upstart loans come with higher-than-average APRs and charge an origination fee. Borrowers with fair to good credit scores can often get better terms from alternate lenders. Approval and funding are fast. However, this lender doesn’t allow borrowers to apply for joint, co-signed, or secured loans.
Upstart is a good option for Chicago borrowers trying to build or repair their credit. Funding is relatively fast (within one business day). With good monthly payment habits, your credit score can improve, making you eligible for loans with more favorable terms.
Avant - Best for borrowers with bad to fair credit
Avant is an online lender for borrowers with a credit score range of 600 to 700. And this is a good choice for customers who want to improve their credit but do not necessarily build their credit from scratch due to a lack of co-signed, joint, or secured loans.
Avant borrowers are charged origination fees of up to 4.75% of the loan amount and late fees of $25, and their loans have annual percentage rates consistent with other bad credit loans. However, borrowers with poor credit can benefit as Avant lets potential borrowers see their potential loan amount and corresponding annual percentage rate as part of their prequalification process. Finally, funds are generally deposited via ACH for delivery the next business day if approved by 4:30 PM CST Monday through Friday.
Avant personal loans are a good choice for borrowers with bad to fair credit. Avant funds quickly but doesn’t offer the convenience of an app for easy payments. If you choose to borrow with Avant, ensure you have the diligence to visit the site every month to make your payment or schedule automated payments so you don’t get behind.
Main Features of The Best Personal Loans in Chicago
All in all, if you are looking for personal loans in Chicago, you should pay attention to what is most important to you. Most borrowers want a competitive yet low APR, a low credit score threshold, fast funding, and high borrowing limits. Check out this terms comparison of the lenders we discussed above.
Min. credit score
5.74% to 20.28%
$5,000 to $100,000
12 to 60 months
6.99% to 23.99% (with autopay)
$5,000 to $100,000
24 to 84 months
6.50 to 35.99%
$1,000 to $50,000
36 to 60 months
9.95 to 35.95%
$2,000 to $35,000
12 to 60 months
Maroon Financial Credit Union
6.00% to 18.00%
$1,000 to $25,000
12 to 48 months
7.99% to 9.24%
$1,500 to $35,000
12 to 72 months
How to Choose the Best Personal Loans in Chicago
Choosing personal loans in Chicago, Illinois, or finding the right loan places in Chicago takes a bit of time and some homework. However, we have documented some best practices for choosing your personal loans. Our experts use these parameters to rank lenders, whether you are looking for bad credit loans in Chicago or personal loans for good credit.
Here’s what to look for:
Loan features - Ensure you understand the loan terms, amount of the loan and any use limitations. Some lenders restrict how you use the money from their loans.
Interest rates and fees - Know what you will be paying each month in interest (ensure you can identify the APR for the loan) and have fees such as origination fees, late payment fees, or early payoff penalties.
Application process - Though the application process is relatively consistent from lender to lender, you should know that when you apply for a loan from a Chicago loan company, you will be subject to a hard credit inquiry. This can impact your credit score by five points and will remain on your credit report for up to two years.
Qualification process - Check if the lender requires a minimum credit score, has any income requirements, has a membership requirement, or allows a co-signer or joint application if you need it.
Customer support - See what options the lender has for you to reach out should you need help with your loan. Look at their hours of operation and see if they have a chat, phone, or even a text option to schedule a call.
Online user reviews -Check Google and TrustPilot for reviews from customers that have used the lender you are considering.
Perks and Bonuses - Some loan companies offer perks and bonuses such as payment flexibility or advanced technology for your communication preferences. Check to see if the lender offers you free access to your credit score too, which can help you stay on top of your credit.
Reasons to Get a Personal Loan in Chicago?
There are many reasons why personal loans in Chicago could be beneficial. Specifically, personal loans can be used to finance the following types of transactions:
Paying for medical emergencies such as a broken bone or injuries from a car accident
Debt consolidation to allow you to obtain a lower total monthly payment at a more competitive interest rate
Pet expenses such as veterinary visits or surgeries
Moving expenses including packaging supplies plus the costs for a professional moving company to manage your move
Home improvement such as building a new deck or adding landscaping
Rent or mortgage payments, provided you can manage your other expenses
How to Get a Personal Loan in Chicago?
Although the process varies by lender, the process to get a personal loan in Chicago works something like this.
Identify the lender(s) you want to apply to - remember that every time you apply for a loan, a hard credit inquiry will be conducted (this can impact your credit score by up to five points and will remain on your credit report for up to two years).
Fill out the application and include any requested documentation (such as the above identification information).
Wait for your loan approval - depending on the lender, this can take several minutes to several days.
Once you have been approved, review your loan agreement for all loan terms and what will be expected of you throughout the course of the loan. Specifically, look to ensure the date of the agreement is accurate and that the interest rate and repayment terms are called out as part of the Truth in Lending Agreement.
Sign the loan agreement and submit it as requested - do not complete the loan agreement or accept the loan terms if you are unable to meet the loan requirements.
Getting a personal loan in Chicago is beneficial as the identification and verification requirements are easy to obtain. To get a personal loan in Chicago, the lender will ask you for the following at the time of your application:
A government-issued photo ID such as your driver’s license, passport, permanent resident card, etc.
Proof of income which could include bank statements, pay stubs, income statements, invoices, etc.
Proof of your residency in Chicago or a surrounding community, such as bank statements, a utility bill that has come in the mail, etc.
How to Deal with Loan Scams in Chicago
With a population of over 2.5 million, consumers in Chicago would inevitably be the targets of loan scams. However, understanding how to spot loan scams can save you time, money, and headache.
Here is what to be on the lookout for.
The lender guarantees approval before receiving any of your personal information.
The lender demands payment up front - even with a secured personal loan, you will not be asked to provide a deposit until you have signed your loan agreement.
The lender calls you, sends you a letter, or appears on your doorstep. According to the FTC, it is not legal for companies to over a loan in the U.S. over the phone or asks you to pay before the loan is delivered.
You are unable to locate a physical address for the lender.
The lender pressures you to take action immediately. A reputable lender will give you time to review the offer and loan terms and your loan agreement.
The lender has hidden fees.
The loan and terms sound too good to be true.
If you have a consumer complaint against a legitimate or illegitimate consumer loan lender in Chicago, file a complaint with the Illinois Better Business Bureau.
Personal Loan Alternatives in Chicago
If you cannot apply for a personal loan because you do not have the required information for approval, or if you can’t get approved, there are personal loan alternatives in Chicago.
The best alternatives are:
Using the available credit on your credit card - if you can keep your balance below 30% of your credit limit.
Taking out a personal line of credit from your credit card issuer - however, note that this might come with a cost for a cash advance and may be subject to a higher interest rate
Taking out a peer-to-peer (P2P) loan from an investor
Taking a loan out against your mortgage - this is referred to as a home equity loan or home equity line of credit
Taking a 401(k) loan from your employer or investment firm - this allows you to take a loan out from yourself and usually has only a small fee associated with the process.
Asking for a salary advance from your employer
Taking out a small business loan if you are a small business owner
The fact is that there is no shortage of great personal loan places in Chicago. Whether you need a bad credit loan in Chicago or simply want to work with a loan company in Chicago that has a physical presence, you won’t have trouble finding what you need. Our article lists only a snapshot of the lenders available to you. The key to finding the right personal loan is to ensure the terms align with your financial goals and that you can always make your minimum monthly payment.
Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)
How does personal loan repayment work?
Personal loans are a type of installment credit. Once you receive your loan lump sum, you will be responsible for paying back that amount plus interest in regularly scheduled, monthly installments until your loan term has been reached (at which time you should have a zero balance).
What can I use personal loans for?
Though some lenders restrict how you may use your loan funds, most borrowers use their loan to finance purchases such as a dream vacation, wedding, home improvement project, medical emergency, to consolidate their other debt, etc.
How do personal loans affect credit scores?
When you apply for a personal loan, the lender will conduct a hard credit inquiry. This will ding your credit score by five points and remain on your credit report for up to two years. Personal loans can help you improve your credit score if you pay your bills on time each month and fulfill the obligations that come with the loan. Missing one or more loan payments can negatively impact your credit score by 180 points.
How can I consolidate personal loans?
If you have multiple personal loans or credit cards, a debt consolidation loan can help you combine all of your balances into one loan with one monthly payment each month. In most cases, debt consolidation loans result in a lower overall interest rate and minimum monthly payment.