If you need extra cash to renovate your home, purchase a new car or pay off debt, a long-term loan can be a good solution. While some borrowers only need 12 to 24 months to pay off a personal loan, some people may need longer terms to fully take advantage of personal loan. This is where long-term personal loan options come in for borrowers who take out large amounts and thus, need longer to pay it back.
However, it’s not enough to search for any personal loan — you want to find the best long-term personal loans. To find the best long-term loans, we reviewed loan providers using the SimpleScore method. Each lender was evaluated based on fees, loan amount, customer support, APR, and customer service.
The 5 best long-term personal loans of 2020
Best long-term personal loans at a glance
|Lightstream||2.99%–20.49% w/out Autopay||2–12 years||$5,000–$100,000||4.8/5|
|PersoanlLoans.com||5.99%–35.99%||3 months–6 years||$1,000–$35,000||3.7/5|
|Citizens One||8.24%–21.13%||3–7 years||$5,000–$15,000||3.8/5|
*Rates accurate as of January, 2021 and exclude autopay discounts
What is a long-term personal loan?
A long-term personal loan is borrowed money that you repay over a certain period of time. Most long term loans are repaid over three to six years, but there’s no official time length. It’s usually difficult to find a long-term loan that offers term limits longer than seven years. However, Lightstream offers a maximum term length of 12 years, which is very impressive.
[ Read: How Personal Loans Work ]
One of the benefits of a personal loan is that you can use the money for almost anything. If you want to buy a new car, fund a home improvement project, consolidate debt, pay off a credit card, or get extra money for a medical procedure, it’s fair game. Keep in mind that student loans and mortgages are separate from long-term personal loans.
How long-term personal loans work
To get a long-term personal loan, you submit an application with your loan amount and desired term length. The lender reviews your application, checks your credit score, verifies your income and calculates your monthly payment. If you look like a low-risk applicant, your loan is approved and you receive the money within a few days after signing final documents. As soon as the money hits your bank account, you can use it for what you need.
Interest over term length
When you get a personal loan, you pay it off in equal monthly payments on a schedule. Every month, you’re charged a certain percentage of the amount owed until you pay it off. This interest is essentially the cost of borrowing the money. If your loan term is several years or longer, you could potentially accrue a significant amount of interest, which is something to keep in mind. For example, a personal loan of $10,000 at 8% APR over three years garners $1,281.09 in interest during that time but $2,165.84 in interest over five years. That’s almost double the amount of interest for a personal loan over a long-term repayment.
[ More: Should You Use a Personal Loan to Pay Off Student Debt? ]
Lower monthly payments
One of the perks of a long-term personal loan is getting lower monthly payments. The longer your term length is, the less you’ll owe each month. That $10,000 loan at 8% APR will be approximately $300 a month over three years, but only about $200 over five years. If you’re borrowing money because you’re deep in debt or are short on cash, having a lower monthly rate can be a huge relief. However, remember that you pay interest on your loan over time. So even if you’re getting cheaper monthly payments, you’ll end up paying more money with a long-term loan.
What to consider when getting a long-term personal loan
- How much money you need: Long-term loans are used to fund big expenses or pay off large amounts of debt. If you need $20,000 or more, a long term loan could be a good solution. But keep in mind that the more money you need to borrow, the more you’ll pay over time in the form of interest. If you only need a few hundred dollars to hold you over, you’re better off looking into an alternative option.
- How much you can afford each month: Getting a loan can offer much-needed financial relief, but that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. Your monthly payments could be expensive based on your term details. Use an online calculator to see how much you can expect to pay each month based on your term limit, loan amount and APR. If you can’t afford the monthly rate, there are cheaper alternatives.
- How quickly you need the money: Most lending companies will deposit your loan funds within a few days, and sometimes sooner. If you need money right away — no more than five business days — go for a long-term loan. But if you need money to pay for something in several months, start by building up your personal savings before you look into a loan.
Pros and cons of long-term personal loans
- Lower monthly payments
- Can fund large expenses
- Eventually lengthens credit history
- Need a fair to excellent credit score
- Pay more in interest
- Increases debt-to-income ratio
Reasons to avoid long-term personal loans
A long-term loan can be a great solution for many people. However, it does have downsides. First, you need to have a relatively good credit score in order to get approved. Most long-term personal loan providers require applicants to have at least a 670 credit score to borrow large amounts that warrant long repayment terms. You might also need to meet a minimum income requirement. There’s no guarantee that you’ll be approved for a loan just because you apply.
[ Next: Is a Personal Loan My Best Option? ]
Another thing to consider is the interest on a long-term loan. You could end up paying thousands of dollars more than you borrowed based on the length of your loan term. For instance, if you take out a $20,000 loan over six years with a 9.5% interest rate, you would pay about $6,315 in interest. And because you’re repaying the long-term personal loan over five years, your financial situation could change significantly during that time.
Alternatives to long-term personal loans
If you need to borrow money quickly but aren’t sold on a long-term personal loan, there are some alternatives to consider. Before you make a decision, spend time weighing the pros and cons to ensure you’re making the best financial decision for you.
- Credit cards: If you don’t have the money to cover a big expense, consider putting the balance on a credit card. Find a credit card with a low interest rate and additional perks you can take advantage of.
- Short-term loans: You could also look at a short-term loan, which is available from some lenders. As the name suggests, it takes less time to repay a short-term loan, so you pay less interest overall.
- Payday alternative loans: Many credit unions offer payday alternative loans (PALs), which allow you to borrow a small amount of money — usually up to $1,000. It’s a cheaper alternative to traditional payday loans with slightly longer repayment periods.
[ See: Here Are the Documents Required to Get a Personal Loan]
Long-term loans for bad credit
There aren’t many requirements for getting a long-term loan, but having a decent credit score is one of them. Anyone with a credit score below 600 will probably have a hard time looking for viable long-term personal loan options. Having poor credit makes you a risky borrower in the eyes of the lender. There’s a chance you won’t be able to repay the entire loan, which would mean the lender loses money on you.
If you are able to get approved for a personal loan with bad credit, you could be limited to a short-term limit. Usually, lenders want to be paid back quicker with bad credit borrowers. That also means your monthly payments could be high. If you have bad credit, a PAL or a credit card might be better options.
[ Read: How to Get a Loan With Bad Credit ]
We welcome your feedback on this article and would love to hear about your experience with the long-term personal loan options we recommend. Contact us at [email protected] with comments or questions.