Real Estate Tips

Best Home Improvement Loans of 2020

Need more cash to do some home improvements? Check out some of these loan options that can help.

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American Home Shield® does not promote any of these loans based on partnership. We chose which loans to list based on research and accessibility to information from each institute's website. Please keep in mind that rates and terms can differ for each party.

Do you have some home improvements on your to-do list? Budgeting for a home improvement or renovation isn’t always easy. It’s not at all uncommon to need a renovation or improvement that’s too costly to save for in a reasonable amount of time, especially if it’s something you need right away, like improvements to help you age in place, make space for a new baby or make your home more wheelchair accessible. 

Borrowing against the equity in your home is one option, but what if you don’t have any equity, don’t want to take out a second mortgage and pay closing costs, or simply don’t have great credit? 

Here are some lenders offering home improvement loans that can help you finance the renovations you’ve been dreaming of, as well as the ones you need. Many of these loans offer great rates, and require no collateral. Some are also available to borrowers with less-than-perfect credit. 

Wells Fargo

There are plenty of online banks offering home improvement loans these days, but some homeowners still like the idea of walking into a brick-and-mortar branch and talking to a loan officer face-to-face. If that sounds like something you’re interested in, you may want to apply for an unsecured home improvement loan from Wells Fargo. There’s no need for any collateral, and you can borrow as little as $3,000 or up to $100,000, if you qualify. 

If you’re already a Wells Fargo customer, you can get a 0.25% discount on your interest rate. If you don’t want to apply in person but still want the convenience of a brick-and-mortar bank for loan servicing issues, you can apply over the phone or online. However, you have to be a Wells Fargo customer to qualify for online and over-the-phone applications.

The Wells Fargo personal loan application process can take some time and usually requires a hard credit check to see if you qualify and find your interest rate. Typical terms include:

  • No origination fees
  • No prepayment penalties
  • Interest rates from 5.74% to 20.24%
  • Minimum recommended credit score of at least 620
  • Loan terms are one to three years for loans under $5,000 and up to 84 months for larger amounts
  • Funds are available as soon as the next business day after approval
  • You must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident

SoFi

SoFi offers no-collateral personal loans with a soft credit check that displays your potential terms and interest rate before you apply. You can borrow $5,000 to $100,000 in most states, and loan funding takes up to a week after approval. If you lose your job during your loan term, you can temporarily pause your payments. There are no fees, but you’ll need good credit to quality. Terms include:

  • Interest rates from 5.99% to 16.19%, with discounts available for autopay
  • Minimum credit rating of 680 recommended
  • Loan terms of two to seven years
  • You must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or visa holder and at least 18 years old

USAA

If you’re a military veteran, USAA personal loans are without a doubt the best option to fund your home improvement project. These loans are only available to USAA members, and you need a USAA bank account to receive your funds. Loan amounts are small compared to other lenders — $2,500 to $5,000 — and you can’t prequalify, so you’ll need to consent to a hard credit check. However, you can get your money within 24 hours, and repayment terms extend from 12 to 84 months. Other terms include:

  • No early payment penalties
  • No application fee
  • Interest rates from 7.24% to 17.65%, with a discount for autopay
  • Loans of $5,000 require a loan term of 48 months

LightStream

LightStream is an online lending platform run by Truist, the merger of BB&T and Suntrust. It offers low interest rates and lightning-fast funding — you may be able to get your money the same day you apply. However, you need excellent credit to qualify for a LightStream loan — several years of credit history and a mix of account types on your report will help you qualify. Other loan terms include:

  • Loan amounts of $5,000 to $100,000 available
  • No appraisals or home equity requirements
  • Interest rates start at 4.99% for loans of $10,000 to $24,999, and going up to 16.99% with an autopay discount
  • Minimum credit score of 680
  • Loan terms of two to 12 years
  • Funds can’t be used for education, to refinance existing loans from LightStream or to fund business expenses

Avant

If you have bad credit but still need a home repair loan, Avant may be able to help. Their minimum credit score is reported to be about 580, though most borrowers have a score between 600 and 700. You can prequalify with a soft credit check, and you can get your money as soon as the next business day, as long as your application is approved by the cut-off time of 4:30 p.m. CST. There’s no home equity requirement, and you can borrow $2,000 to $35,000. Other terms for an Avant loan include:

  • An administration fee of up to 4.75%
  • Interest rates from 9.95% to 35.99%
  • Proof of employment and an active savings or checking account
  • Loan terms from two to five years

Upstart

Upstart offers home improvement loans and other personal loans to borrowers without much credit history — they use your job history and education, in addition to your credit score, to assess risk. So, even if you don’t have much credit history yet, you can still qualify for a lower rate. And you can pre-qualify with a soft credit check that won’t hurt your score. You can borrow as little as $1,000 and as much as $50,000, making Upstart a good option for those smaller home improvement jobs that might still be a little tough to swing financially. Other loan terms for Upstart borrowers include:

  • Interest rates from 8.13% to 35.99%, with the average borrower paying 15% on a three-year loan
  • Repayment terms of three or five years
  • No prepayment penalty
  • Late payment fees are 5% of the past due balance or $15, whichever is higher
  • Returned check fees are $15
  • Minimum credit score of 620
  • You must be at least 18 years old and have a U.S. residential street address
  • Loans are not available to residents of West Virginia or Iowa

PenFed Credit Union

With loan amounts as low as $500, PenFed is another great option for funding those home repairs and improvements that are just out of reach. You need to be a member of PenFed, Voices for America’s Troops or the National Military Family Organization. You can borrow as much as $20,000 and get your money as soon as the next day. Other terms for PenFed loans include:

  • No fees
  • Interest rates from 6.49% to 17.99%
  • Minimum credit score of 580
  • Loan terms of six to 60 months

When it comes to funding home repairs, improvements and renovations, an unsecured home improvement loan could be your best option. If you can, it’s a good idea to save yourself some interest fees and borrow only as much as you need to get the job done. And do some of the work yourself, if possible, to save on labor costs. Need tips? We can help. For more helpful information about home repair and improvement, check out our Home Matters blog.