Personal loans in Chicago: A guide to securing the best deal
Are you in need of funds because of an emergency, medical bills, or other expenses but unsure where to turn?
Whether you reside in Chicago or elsewhere, a personal loan is a great way to get fast and cost-effective financing.
Unlike predatory payday and title loans, personal installment loans offer more transparent terms, fixed monthly payments, and better rates for borrowers with good credit.
Whether you need a couple thousand dollars or as much as $50,000, many Chicago lenders provide personal loans online and through local branches.
Where to get the best personal loans in Chicago
Chicago has multiple national lenders with online services and local branches that provide personal loans. Here are some top options to consider:
Happy Money—Best for simple online lending
Happy Money believes taking out a personal loan should be a happy experience. Their team works hard to find you the lowest fixed rates possible and routes fees through one predictable upfront charge—that way, the rest of your repayment journey can be smooth sailing.
Rates: 11.52% - 24.81% APR
Loan amounts: $5,000 - $40,000
Terms: 24 - 60 months
Best Egg—Ideal for higher credit borrowers
Best Egg provides hassle-free personal loans with low fixed rates to help you save money and worry less. They smoothly guide you from application to funding while looking beyond credit scores to customize offers.
Numerous happy customers highlight the fast, easy, and reliable loan experiences.
Rates: 8.99% - 35.99%
Loan amounts: $2,000 - $50,000
Terms: 36 - 60 months
Lightstream—Best for higher loan amounts
Lightstream wants to reward your financial responsibility with low rates and superior service for online personal loans in Chicago. They make the loan process uncomplicated, so you can get funds fast with minimal headaches.
Rates: 7.99% – 25.49%
Loan amounts: up to $100,000
Terms: 24 - 144 months
Alliant Credit Union—Best for borrowers who prefer credit unions
Alliant Credit Union has your back when you need a trustworthy personal loan. Their quick and affordable loans help members get the cash they need with flexible terms and no prepayment penalties.
Alliant is known for responsive service and ease of qualifying for competitive rates.
Rates: 11.79% - 13.79%
Loan amounts: $1,000 - $100,000
Terms: 12 - 60 months
Universal Credit - Best for fast funding
Universal Credit provides easy online personal loans with fixed rates and predictable repayment. Their dedicated reps help guide you from application to funding fast.
Rates: 11.69% - 35.99%
Loan amounts: $1,000 - $50,000
Terms: 36 - 60 months
What credit score do you need?
Each lender sets its own minimum credit requirements, but scores of at least 660 or higher will qualify you for the lowest rates from most lenders. Here are general credit score guidelines:
- Excellent credit (720+) — qualifies for the lowest 6-10% rates
- Good credit (680-719) — still considered very good credit able to qualify for competitive rates from 8-15%
- Fair credit (640-679) — most lenders will approve but at higher interest rates from 10-25%
- Poor/No credit — consider a credit builder loan to establish your profile before a personal loan
Work on boosting your credit score above 700 before applying for the best chance at low rates. Pay all bills on time, lower balances, and resolve any errors on your credit reports.
What information do you need to apply?
Having all required information ready and organized speeds up the application and approval process. Most lenders need:
- Your personal details — name, date of birth, Social Security Number, contact information
- Income verification — recent pay stubs, W2s, and bank statements proving recurring income
- Employment information—employer name, job position, number of years worked
- Monthly expenses — housing payments, debt payments, and other recurring expenses
- Loan amount requested and purpose
Submitting complete and accurate applications establishes your creditworthiness. Avoid delays or denials by having everything needed ready to submit electronically or by mail.
How to get approved for the best rates
Follow these key tips for getting approved for a personal loan with the lowest rates:
Check your credit — Review your credit reports and focus on any negative items dragging your scores down before applying. Dispute errors!
Calculate how much you need — Borrow only what you need to get the job done to save on interest fees. Avoid bloated loans.
Compare lender options — Research different banks, online lenders, credit unions, etc., to find the best fit for your situation. Pre-qualify to check rates.
Improve your credit if needed — Pay down debts, resolve credit errors, or take out a credit builder loan to boost your profile if your score is low. Then reapply.
Apply with a cosigner if credit is limited — Adding a cosigner with good credit saves on interest and increases approval odds for large loans if your credit is limited.
Provide complete applications — Have all required financial details, income proofs, and documents ready to speed up processing and show your creditworthiness.
Consider secured loan alternatives — If denied for an unsecured personal loan, explore secured options like a share-secured loan from a credit union that uses the money you deposit as collateral.
Contact lenders if denied — Find out why you were denied and what criteria need improvement. Many lenders allow reapplying in as little as 60-90 days once issues are resolved.