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Best Banks for Personal Loans in Wisconsin for 2020

Whether you need help consolidating your debts or getting a home improvement project off the ground, a personal loan can get you the cash that you need.

We've analyzed the personal loans offered by the top 20 lenders in Wisconsin to identify the best options for borrowers in the state.

Compare them to online personal loans to get the best deal.

Biggest Lenders in Wisconsin

The biggest lenders in Wisconsin are:

  • U.S. Bank
  • BMO Harris Bank
  • Associated Bank
  • Wells Fargo
  • Johnson Bank
  • PNC Bank
  • North Shore Bank
  • Bank First
  • Old National Bank

This list includes both national and local banks. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Local Wisconsin Lender

If you’re looking for a local lender in Wisconsin, you could consider one of these options:

  • BMO Harris Bank
  • PNC Bank
  • TCF National Bank

Working with a local bank can be a good idea for a number of reasons.

One of the primary reasons that people work with local banks is that they’re easy to find. You probably drive by a few different lenders on your way to work, so it’s easy to stop at one to apply for a loan.

Another perk for working with local lenders is that they have experience with the people in your area. People who live in the same region share a lot of financial characteristics and needs. Local lenders know these and are well-equipped to work with you.

BMO Harris Bank

BMO Harris offers loans in amounts ranging from $1,500 to $35,000 and borrowing terms of 12 to 72 months.

The low minimum loan makes it easy to borrow exactly the amount that you need.

There aren’t any special features to be aware of but you should know that there is a $75 processing fee when you receive your loan.

PNC Bank

PNC Bank offers unsecured personal loans between $1,000 and $35,000, with terms ranging from 6 to 60 months.

This makes it a great lender if you want to borrow money for a very short amount of time.

If you need to borrow more than $35,000, you can borrow as much as $100,000 by opting for a secured personal loan. You’ll need to provide collateral, but it can be easier to qualify for secured loans than for unsecured loans.

TCF National

TCF National only offers personal loans to customers who hold another account at the bank. If you have an account, the bank might be a good fit.

Loans range in size from $2,500 to $35,000 and you can choose from a term of 3 or 5 years. TCF National funds its loans the day after they’re approved, meaning you can get the money you need quickly.

Can Online Lenders Be a Good Alternative?

Just because there are a lot of local lenders in your area doesn’t mean that they’re your only option for a personal loan.

There are many online lenders that you can choose from and it’s a good idea to make the effort to compare all of the options.

Online lenders often have lower interest rates and charge fewer fees.

Another good reason to work with online lenders is that some of them may offer a better chance of qualifying for a loan.

For example, Earnest uses non-traditional methods to determine your creditworthiness, such as looking at your retirement contributions and savings habits. This can make it easier to borrow money if you have less than perfect credit.

Things to Compare

When you’re comparing loans, there are a lot of different factors to look at.

To make your life a bit easier, the first thing you should do is come up with a list of lenders that you think are likely to approve your application. There’s no reason to compare loans from lenders that won’t let you borrow money anyway.

Once you’ve come up with your list of potential lenders, compare the following parts of their loans.

Fees

No matter the type of loan, you almost always have to pay interest. Just because you’re paying interest doesn’t mean you have to pay fees too.

Some lenders charge an origination fee when you receive a personal loan. This fee is a percentage of the amount that you borrow and get tacked onto your balance when you receive your first bill.

Like other loans, personal loans also have standard fees like late and missed payment fees.

Borrowing terms

A loan’s term is the amount of time that it will take to pay the loan off if you follow the minimum payment schedule.

Most personal loan providers will let you choose from terms ranging from 12 to 60 months. Some offer slightly longer or shorter terms.

Short terms and long terms both have their perks. Short terms mean high monthly payment requirements but lower costs in the long run. Conversely, loans with longer terms will give you the most flexibility each month but leave more time for interest to accrue.

When choosing a term, aim to strike a balance between monthly affordability and total cost for the loan.

Lending limits

Different lenders have different lending maximums and minimums.

Some lenders won’t even offer a loan for less than $5,000.

Others won’t want to you borrow a penny more than $20,000 at a time.

When you choose a lender, make sure it offers a loan of the appropriate size for your needs.

Fund disbursement speed

If you need cash fast, look for lenders that specialize in quick fund disbursement.

Some lenders can approve an application and fund it in one or two days. Others take weeks.

Rate discounts

If the bank where you have a checking or savings account offers personal loan, check out its offerings.

Many banks give relationship discounts to account holders, which can make borrowing from your bank a great option.

What Do You Need to Apply for a Personal Loan?

When you’re applying for any kind of loan, you have to provide some personal information that the bank can use to make a decision.

Expect to provide some or all of the following information:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Date of birth
  • Proof of identity, such as a driver’s license
  • Social Security number
  • Annual income
    • Proof of income, such as bank statements or paystubs.

  • Verification of employment

As you fill out your application, make sure you take your time and provide all of the information requested. The fewer questions your lender has, the better your chances of getting a loan.

How to Improve Your Chances of Being Approved for a Personal Loan

When you’re applying for any type of loan, you should put take steps to give yourself the best chance of qualifying for the loan.

One of the best ways to improve your odds is to boost your credit score.

It takes years of making timely payments to build solid credit, but if your credit is good there are a few things you can do to give it a short-term boost, which can help your application and maybe secure a lower interest rate.

One way to do this is to reduce your credit utilization ratio, which measures your total debt compared to the total credit limits across all your cards.

If you avoid using your card for a month or two and make additional payments to reduce your balances, you can get a short-term score boost.

Your debt-to-income ratio isn’t part of your credit score but also plays a major role in your ability to get loans. Reducing this ratio will improve your chances.

The best way to reduce your debt-to-income ratio is to pay off existing debts.

The other way to reduce the ratio is to earn more money, which can be difficult to do.

If you opt for the second option, make sure that any additional income you receive is documented.

Best Uses for Personal Loans

Personal loans are popular in part because of their flexibility.

You can use them for almost anything (legal).

These are some of the best reasons to get a personal loan.

Consolidate high-interest debt

Personal loans are a great way to consolidate multiple debts into one, easy to manage, monthly payment.

This can also help you save on interest if you consolidate high-interest credit card debt.

Pay emergency expenses

If you have an emergency, you can use a personal loan to cover the costs.

This will let you avoid taking on expensive credit card debt and means the bill won’t go to collections.

Renovate your home

If you want to get started with a project but don’t have enough cash to cover the costs, you can use a personal loan to get the project off the ground.

Another plus is that personal loans don’t make you put your home on the line and usually require less paperwork than a HELOC or home equity loan.