personal loan2016 is officially here, and many people are turning their sights on all kinds of plans and goals for the year ahead. Whether you’d like to get your small business off the ground or take the plunge and complete your dream kitchen remodel, you might find that your plans are incomplete without a little monetary assistance in the form of a loan. While you might consider going the traditional route and applying for a loan from your bank, it’s worth considering the alternative of a personal or small business loan through an online lender. Also known as direct lenders, these companies cut out the hassle of paperwork and lengthy waiting periods by letting you know whether or not you’re approved to apply for a loan within minutes of submitting your information. Even better, since the relative costs of operation are lower for these services, they can offer better rates and terms — even if you don’t have perfect credit. So, would a loan be a good choice for you in the new year?

If you’re looking at a personal loan …

Whether you’re looking to make a big change in your life, such as adoption or home improvements, or you want to get ahead of your bills by consolidating your credit card debt or paying off a steep medical bill, a personal loan can be a great way to cover the costs without completely breaking the bank. These loans are typically unsecured, meaning they don’t require any sort of collateral to be obtained, and many services will work with applicants and look at their full credit and employment history rather than just their credit score. Applicants with the best credit will receive the best rates, of course, but since the majority of personal loans are fixed rate, the APR you receive when your loan is approved will remain the same throughout the life of the loan.

Most personalized loan experience: Prosper ($1,000 – $35,000 loans)

Not only does Prosper offer borrowers low APRs, starting at 5.99% for those with the best qualifications and topping out at 36%, but its peer-to-peer lending process turns getting a loan into a highly personal experience. Prosper’s process is simple: if you are approved to apply for a loan, you will then be able to create a listing that explains to potential lenders who you are and what you plan to do with the money. In addition, you can ask friends and family members to invest small amounts of money to showcase your credibility and trustworthiness in the eyes of your peers. Throughout the 14-day period your loan listing is live, investors can pledge money to hopefully help you reach your full requested amount. If you do not receive the full amount, you are welcome to try again or accept the lower amount. Prosper offers 36- and 60-month repayment terms and takes an origination fee of 1% to 6% of the total loan amount, depending on your qualifications and amount borrowed.

Great for excellent credit: LightStream ($5,000 – $100,000 loans)

If you’ve got stellar credit (680 FICO score or higher) and want to take out a loan to speed up the process of a purchase or project, LightStream is the lending service for you. With suggested uses ranging from swimming pool financing and boat loans to IVF/fertility treatments and adoptions, LightStream definitely isn’t for everyone. But if you qualify, you can’t beat LightStream’s rates — which range from 1.99% to 11.79%. The rates offered depend on what your intended loan purpose is, as well as the term you choose (24- to 80-month terms are available). While the majority of LightStream’s personal loans are unsecured, it does offer secured auto loans. As an added bonus, LightStream does not charge its borrowers any fees whatsoever, including late or missed payment fees, and it offers borrowers a 30-day $100 satisfaction guarantee if they aren’t satisfied.

Great for little-to-no credit: Upstart ($3,000 – $35,000 loans)

A surprising 53 million Americans don’t have credit scores, something that can make getting a loan difficult to impossible in most cases. Upstart understands the need for individuals with little or less-than-stellar credit to access loans, so it offers an analysis model that looks at a person’s academic performance as well as their credit and employment histories. The unsecured loans offered by Upstart have APRs ranging from a shockingly low 4.66% to 29.99%, and all loans have 36-month repayment terms. While a minimum credit rating of 640 is desirable, applicants who might not have credit or work histories due to being recent graduates or other life circumstances can get a break by submitting their academic transcripts and test scores for consideration.

If you’re looking at a small business loan …

The most important thing to be aware of when you consider taking out a loan for your small business is that there are really two types of small business loans — those for established businesses with a steady yearly income and at least a year or more of business history, and those for newer businesses that might lack an established income. Loans can be used for a myriad of purposes, from purchasing inventory to paying for remodels on your location, and they often don’t require as much paperwork as you’d need to fill out when dealing with a bank.

Most personalized loan experience: Street Shares ($1,000 – $50,000 loans)

With its spotlight on providing business loans to veterans and military spouses, Street Shares has mastered the art of making a big bank process feel like a small town affair. Applicants who are approved to submit a loan application are asked to create a Business Pitch that tells potential investors their story and why they need a loan. This Business Pitch is then put up for “auction” so Street Shares investors can bid against one another to fund different portions of the loan. Those who offer the lowest rates “win” the auction and fund your loan (along with Street Shares, which pitches in a portion of the money for every loan it handles). Due to the nature of this bidding process, APRs through Street Shares vary, though borrowers can expect terms of six to 36 months. Your business must be at least a year old and take in annual revenue of $25,000 or more to qualify. Additionally, you’ll be expected to have a personal credit rating of at least 600.

Great for established businesses: Lending Club ($15,000 – $300,000 loans)

Lending Club is the pioneer of peer-to-peer lending, and in addition to personal loans it offers an entire subset of small business loans catered to entrepreneurs and their needs. With APRs ranging from 5.9% to 25.9% and 12- to 60-month terms, a loan from Lending Club is perfect for all kinds of uses, such as expanding your business, buying inventory, purchasing equipment and refinancing. The process is quick, usually taking between one and seven business days total, so you won’t be fretting while you wait. Unlike its personal loans, Lending Club’s business loans are not peer-to-peer style, so once you’re approved for your loan the money will be automatically disbursed to your account. Since these loans are designed for businesses with a proven track record, you’ll be required to submit proof of your company being in business for at least two years and having an annual revenue of $75,000 or more. Additionally, the applicant must own at least 20% of the business and have fair or better personal credit.

Great for newer businesses: Prosper ($2,000 – $35,000 loans)

Prosper’s personal loans can be used for business purposes, which makes them a good option for business owners who are just getting their business off the ground and need some money to help make their dreams come true. As we described above, Prosper’s process is highly personalized, which is a boon to fledgling business owners who will likely benefit from the chance to tell prospective investors exactly what the loan is for and who they are. The same rates and terms apply for personal loans used for business purposes through Prosper, which means you can still expect to receive a rate ranging from 5.99% to 36%, depending on your credit qualifications, and 36- and 60-month repayment terms. It’s important to remember that taking a personal loan for your business makes you personally responsible for repaying the money — so if your business goes under, you’re still going to owe on the loan.

It’s important to remember that taking out a loan is a big financial undertaking. If you only need short-term credit or want to make a series of small purchases, a credit card might be a better option to manage your day-to-day business expenses.

Follow our personal finance blog to learn more tips on how to make the most of your fiances this year.