Many lenders still offer personal loans to people with “fair” or “poor” credit — and some even specialize in offering loans and other financial products to those types of customers. But if you have debt, bad credit, or both, and you’re thinking about a personal loan, you should consider whether or not taking on new debt makes sense.
You might be better off considering alternatives like credit cards with promotional rates or even a home equity line of credit (HELOC) if you own a home. Consider what it takes to make long-term financial improvements as well, such as rebuilding your credit or starting a debt management plan.
If you think a personal loan is your best option despite having a lower credit score, here’s what you should know:
This list does not represent the entire market. To rank the personal loan rates you’re most likely considering, we began by analyzing the 16 most commonly reviewed and searched-for personal loans that met NextAdvisor’s standards, as outlined in our Personal Loan Rates Guide. Each lender had to meet the following criteria to appear in this review:
We eliminated lenders that make it difficult to find the above essential loan information on their websites without entering an email or other personal information. Many lenders prominently display this information on their sites, making it easy to compare to other lenders. If you’re in the market for a personal loan, we recommend a lender that’s transparent with its rates and approval requirements, and doesn’t require personal information for a rate comparison.
We ruled out any lenders whose max APR exceeds 40%, which is well above the average APR you can find even if you have bad credit. A high APR will result in you paying more over the course of the loan.
Our list features only direct lenders, rather than intermediaries or loan marketplaces. We also ruled out credit unions, which have unique membership requirements and limit the number of people who could easily consider them for a loan. Credit unions can offer competitive rates to those who qualify; check your local area or use a credit union locator to compare rates.
None of these banks charge any fees or penalties for early payments or otherwise paying off your loan early. We don’t think you should ever have to pay a fee to get out of debt faster, so will never recommend a personal loan that includes such a fee or penalty.
Each lender has a minimum FICO credit score that includes people in the “fair” credit score range, which includes scores between 580-669.
The above rates and loan information is accurate as of November 1, 2021. The NextAdvisor editorial team updates this information regularly, though it is possible APRs and other information has changed since it was last updated. Some of the lowest advertised rates might be for secured loans, which require collateral such as your home, car, or other asset. Also, some loan offerings may be specific to where you live.
Overview: Avant is an online lender that serves customers with fair-to-excellent credit. It’s one of the only two lenders on this list that offers both secured and unsecured loans.
Pros: Avant’s bread-and-butter is unsecured loans, but it also provides secured loans for which you’d use your car as collateral. Avant doesn’t specify a minimum income, and the minimum credit score starts at 580, which FICO considers “fair” credit.
Cons: If you have a “fair” credit score, you won’t be eligible for the lowest APR available; you may get a rate as high as 35.99% so make sure to always make your monthly payments. You also can’t add a cosigner or co-borrower to your application to improve your chances of approval for a more favorable rate.
Overview: The online lender Best Egg offers unsecured personal loans for everything from debt consolidation and home improvement to moving, child care expenses, and adoption.
Pros: Best Egg personal loans can range from $2,000 to $35,000, with repayment terms between three to five years. The minimum credit is 640, and you won’t be penalized if you want to pay off your loan early or make additional off-schedule payments.
Cons: You need a minimum 700 FICO score and a minimum individual annual income of $100,000 to get the lowest APR available. And if you have “fair” credit, you can’t boost your chances of approval through a co-borrower, cosigner, or collateral.
|Current APR||5.99% to 35.99%|
|Loan Term Range||3 to 5 years|
|Loan Amount||$2,000 to $50,000|
|Origination Fee||0.99% to 5.99%; 4.99% for loan terms longer than four years|
|Minimum Credit Score||640; 700+ for the lowest APR|
|Minimum Annual Income||$100,000 minimum individual annual income for the lowest APR|
|Unsecured Personal Loans||Yes|
|Secured Personal Loans||No|
Overview: LendingClub is a peer-to-peer lender that offers unsecured personal loans through an online marketplace connecting borrowers and investors.
Pros: Personal loans range from $1,000 to $40,000, with repayment periods between three to five years. You can get a joint loan through LendingClub by adding a co-borrower to your application — something not all lenders offer.
Cons: You may have to undergo a more stringent verification process (i.e., providing more documentation to prove income, assets, and debt) due to pullbacks from the COVID-19 recession. If you have excellent credit, you may find better rates elsewhere as the lowest APR is higher than others on the list.
Overview: LendingPoint is an online-only lender that offers unsecured personal loans to borrowers with “fair” credit” and steady income or employment.
Pros: The minimum credit score is 590, and the loans range from $2,000 to $25,000 with repayment terms between two to five years. You won’t have to pay a prepayment penalty if you decide to pay off your personal loan earlier than scheduled.
Cons: LendingPoint would prefer you be at your job for at least 12 months before applying to a loan, though it’s not a requirement. You need to make at least $35,000 per year, and you can’t add a co-borrower, a cosigner, or collateral to your loan to improve your chances of approval.
Overview: Payoff is an online lender that works only with borrowers who want to consolidate high-interest credit balances.
Pros: The APR range is lower than many of its competitors, you don’t get charged late fees if you’re accidentally late making a payment, and you can receive free FICO score updates.
Cons: To qualify for a Payoff loan, you need at least three years of established credit and a 640+ credit score. You also wouldn’t qualify if you live in Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, or Nevada, or want to take out a personal loan for anything other than debt consolidation.
Overview: Prosper, a peer-to-peer lender, lends to borrowers with fair-to-excellent credit scores who want to consolidate debt and take on home improvement projects.
Pros: Co-borrowers and cosigners are allowed and might help boost your chances of getting approved for a personal loan with a better rate. Prosper’s loans range from $2,000 to $40,000 with repayment terms of three or five years.
Cons: If you don’t have solid credit, you may be stuck with an interest rate at the high end of the spectrum (35.99% APR). Prosper also doesn’t offer secured loans.
Overview: Rocket Loans, a subsidiary of Quicken Loans, is a personal loan lender that serves borrowers looking to consolidate debt or finance home improvement projects or auto expenses.
Pros: Rocket offers the lowest minimum credit score (540) of any lenders we reviewed, so you may qualify for a personal loan with a “poor” credit score. You can also get instant decisions and same-day funding through Rocket.
Cons: You can’t boost your approval odds by applying with a co-borrower or cosigner, or by using an asset as collateral for a secured loan (Rocket doesn’t offer secured loans).
Overview: Upgrade, an online-only lender, offers personal loans for debt consolidation and financing home improvement projects and major purchases.
Pros: Personal loans with Upgrade range from $1,000 to $50,000, with repayment terms between three to five years. You can apply for a joint loan if you want to better your chances of getting approved for a low rate.
Cons: If you have “fair” credit, you may end up with an APR as high as 35.97% and an origination fee as high as 8%. People who live in Hawaii and Washington, D.C., aren’t eligible for Upgrade personal loans.
Overview: Upstart is an online lender that uses AI technology to evaluate and approve borrowers with non-traditional financial backgrounds, which includes those who may not have strong credit scores but are considered creditworthy in other respects (e.g., having a steady income and employment history).
Pros: Upstart’s AI technology factors employment and education history into your application, so if you have a limited credit history or are self-employed, your odds of getting a personal loan may be higher with Upstart than other lenders. The minimum credit score is 580 (considered “fair”), and you may receive funds as soon as the day after approval.
Cons: Even if you get approved for a personal loan with a “fair” credit score, you may be paying a very high APR. And if you live in Iowa or West Virginia, you won’t be eligible for an Upstart personal loan.
If you’re in need of a specialized debt payoff plan, we recommend looking at nonprofit credit counseling agencies. A credit counselor can help you create a budget and improve your credit score so that you won’t need to take out a personal loan designed for bad-credit borrowers.
Bad-credit loans are for borrowers with low credit scores or a limited credit history. Oftentimes, people end up with low credit scores because of missed payments, bankruptcies, or heavy debt loads — or because they haven’t had enough time yet to establish a credit history. Personal loans are more difficult to get when you have bad credit. But many lenders do offer them — and some even specialize in bad-credit borrowing.
Each credit scoring agency defines a bad credit score differently. But for our purposes, we’ll refer to FICO credit scores here. FICO scores are between 300 and 850; the better your credit, the higher your score.
A bad credit score falls within FICO’s “fair” or “poor” credit tiers:
There are five factors that make up your FICO score. The percentages reflect how important each of them are:
If your credit score is low, it’s likely because you haven’t consistently made payments or because you have substantial debt from multiple loans. Your credit score can also get dinged if you have a short credit history, if you have only had access to one type of loan or credit, and if you have recently gotten a new credit card or loan.
The process of getting a personal loan with bad credit may be more difficult than if you had excellent credit — but you can find one that’s flexible or affordable. You’ll just have to do a little more digging and consider how a loan payment may fit into your budget.
First, consider why you need a personal loan. Are you looking to consolidate credit card debt? Fund a wedding or vacation? Taking out a loan is a big responsibility and can damage your financial health if you’re not careful. We recommend taking out a loan only if it’s going to improve your financial health. Otherwise, you could be sinking yourself into unnecessary debt with unfavorable terms.
Find out what banks, credit unions, and online lenders offer personal loans for people with “fair” or “poor” credit. With the COVID-19 pandemic, many lenders have tightened their qualification standards and limited lending to people with good-to-excellent credit, but there are still options out there for you. Just make sure the interest rates and fees aren’t too high and that the lender is reputable.
Many lenders offer the option to apply for pre-qualification, where you can enter a limited amount of information about yourself on the website and see what type of APR and loan terms you’d potentially qualify for. It’s not an official offer, but it does give you a sense of your eligibility for the loan without the lender running a hard credit inquiry on you. A hard credit check (one or multiple) can lead to a temporary decrease in your credit score.
Qualifications and required information will differ between lenders, but you’ll likely need to provide the following details:
Lenders will also run a hard credit check to understand what your credit score and debt-to-income ratio are.
If you’re approved for a personal loan, the lender will need to verify the information you provided during the application process. So it’s helpful to keep the following documents on hand:
Once the lender has verified your documentation, you’re ready to receive the loan amount — if you’re approved. Lenders will either mail you the check, direct deposit the cash, or send a wire transfer. And it can take anywhere from one day to a week to receive it. To mitigate any potential problems in the future, we recommend setting up autopay with your lender so you never miss a bill payment.
Scams are abundant in the world of bad-credit lending. Many predatory lenders will entice people with promises of quick cash, only to charge extremely high fees and interest rates. As a result, those who have low income or low credit scores can find themselves in a cycle of debt. Here are some ways you can avoid getting scammed by a predatory lender.
Even if they’re accepting of bad credit, a reputable lender should still ask for your credit history and sources of income. It’s a bad sign if a lender seems like it would accept anyone; it could mean it’s more interested in extracting fees from people than lending responsibly.
Any lender you work with should be licensed by the Federal Trade Commission in your state. You can find out this information through your state regulator or attorney general. We also recommend checking the lender’s letter-grade with the Better Business Bureau (BBB), which rates companies based on consumer complaints. If a prospective lender has been sued by a state attorney general, for example, you’ll be able to see those details on its BBB page.
It’s normal for origination, application, or appraisal fees to come out of the loan amount. But if a lender is charging you cash upfront, that is a major red flag.
Reputable lenders typically aren’t advertising to you over the phone or at your front door. If an ad or sales pitch seems like a scam, it probably is. Similarly, you shouldn’t work with any lender that tries to pressure you into applying or signing a contract.
Your lender should have a robust and secure website (starting with “https” in the url in your browser and a padlock symbol), as well as a physical address. Online lenders may not have physical storefronts you can walk into, but they should still have an address that signifies an office staffed by employees.
Personal loans are either secured or unsecured. To get a secured loan, you need to put up an asset (such as your home or vehicle) as collateral for the loan. When you do this, the bank gets extra reassurance about your application and is more likely to approve you or give you a lower APR — but the risk is you could lose that asset if you fall behind on payments. Unsecured loans don’t require collateral and may come with higher interest rates and lower loan amounts, but they’re less risky for you as the borrower.
Payday loans are short-term, high-cost loans — often for $500 or less. You can get these loans quickly, but the fees and interest rates are exorbitantly high. Payday loans frequently land people in cycles of debt due to often-predatory lending terms. We recommend avoiding payday loans at all costs.
Cash advances are short-term cash loans borrowed from the available balance on your credit card. They can be an easy method for fast cash, but the interest rates are often much higher than a credit card’s standard purchase APR or a personal loan APR.
Bank agreements are small loans given out by banks who have existing relationships with customers. If you’re in a bind, your bank may be able to loan you some cash — but keep in mind these policies are not official and the terms and requirements will differ depending on the lender and the applicant’s financial profile.
Home equity loans are fixed-term, fixed-rate loans taken out from the value of your home. These loans are secured by your home equity and may be available to you as a homeowner, even if you have “fair” or “poor” credit. But know that you are taking on additional risk — if you fall behind on payments, your home could go into foreclosure.
Similar to home equity loans, a home equity line of credit (HELOC) is secured by the value of your home. But with HELOCs, you’re borrowing from a revolving credit line (not unlike a credit card) and can withdraw cash any time you want within the draw period of the line of credit. After the draw period, you’ll enter a repayment period in which you cannot withdraw more cash and must pay back what was borrowed in a certain amount of time. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, HELOCs have become extremely difficult to get for anyone with less than “good” credit.
Student loans are available to borrowers with “fair” or “poor” credit who are looking to pay for tuition, student living expenses, textbooks, and other learning essentials. You likely won’t be able to take out a personal loan for student expenses, so instead, you’ll need to shop around among specialized student loan lenders.
Having a less-than-perfect credit score can limit your options when it comes to finding a lender, but you should still shop around for the best terms and do your research to make sure you’re working with a reputable lender. Here are some things to look out for:
In general, having a less-than-ideal credit score will disqualify you from getting the best rates, but you should still be mindful of what APRs (Annual Percentage Rate) you’re getting and shop around to get the best deal. Generally, APRs over 40% should be avoided. High APRs may be a sign of a predatory lender and taking loans with high APRs may make it more difficult for you to get out of debt.
Besides the APR, fees are another important factor to watch out for, as they can quickly rack up. Common fees include application fees, origination fees, late payment fees, and prepayment penalties. Fees typically come out of the loan amount, so be wary of any lender charging money upfront. And it’s best to avoid lenders that charge prepayment penalties, which charge you a fee if you decide to pay off your loan early.
Having a low credit score may rule out your ability to get a loan from certain lenders, but all the lenders we picked for this list have a minimum FICO credit score requirement in the “fair” credit score range, which is 580 – 669. Many lenders will list the recommended credit score ranges on their site, and some may even let you see if you pre-qualify without a hard credit inquiry. It’s important to keep in mind the credit score requirements and be strategic about applying so that you’re only applying to loans you have a good chance of qualifying for.
One factor to take into consideration when choosing a lender is if you want to get a secured or unsecured loan. With secured loans, you put down an asset — such as a house or a car — as collateral, which the lender can seize if you don’t make your payments. Since secured loans offer less risk to the lender, you may be able to get better rates or qualify with a lower credit score. However, you should weigh the pros and cons carefully and make a decision based on your individual financial situation.
A final thing to watch out for is the transparency of the lender and the quality of customer service. For this list, we at NextAdvisor ruled out lenders who did not make essential information easily accessible. A lender that is transparent about basic information does not guarantee they’ll be transparent about everything. And a lender that hides important information or appears misleading is never a good sign.
Getting a sense of the quality of customer service before you sign with a lender can also be helpful. The lending and repayment process can be long and complicated, and working with a lender that’s helpful when issues arise can save you a lot of headache in the long run. You can check out customer reviews and complaints — as well as how the company responded to them — on consumer review websites like the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
If you want to increase your credit score to better your chances of getting a loan, here are some ways to do it:
With a secured loan, you put down an asset — such as a house or a car — as collateral, and the lender can seize that asset if you don’t make your payments. An unsecured loan does not require putting down collateral. Unsecured loans are considered riskier for the lender, and because of this, unsecured loans will typically have higher interest rates, lower loan amounts, and stricter credit requirements than secured loans.
Even if you don’t have assets on the line, defaulting on an unsecured loan still has serious consequences. It will seriously damage your credit score, and lenders may take legal action against you.
The amount you can borrow will depend on the lender you choose and your credit application. The loan amount offered by the lenders we included here range from $1,000 to $50,000. In general, the higher your credit score, the larger the loan amount you’re likely to be approved for. The APR you pay on the loan will also vary depending on the loan amount. Larger loan amounts will also typically have longer loan terms.
Having bad credit will make it harder for you to get a loan, but it is possible. All the lenders we included on our list have minimum FICO credit score requirements in the “fair” range, which includes scores from 580 – 669. Keep in mind that the lower your credit score, the higher your APR will likely be. Be wary of payday loans or other predatory lenders who may offer loans to those with poor credit at the cost of extremely high APRs and fees.
If you have a bad credit score, here are some things you can do to improve your chances of getting approved:
It is possible to get a loan if you’re unemployed, but it may be harder, and there are certain considerations you’ll need to take in mind. Lenders ask for employment information because they want to make sure you can make the monthly payments. If you have a source of alternative income outside of a traditional job — unemployment benefits, social security benefits, a side hustle, or a spouse’s income — you may have better chances of getting approved for a loan.
Most reputable lenders, even ones that have lower credit score requirements, will require a credit check. Be wary of companies who promise to accept anyone; it may be that they’re more interested in making money off of high fees and APRs than lending responsibly.
In general, secured loans are easier to get than unsecured loans because they’re less risky for the lender. Secured loans also tend to come with lower interest rates than unsecured loans, even if you have poor credit. Secured loans are riskier for the borrower, however, because you could lose your collateral if you don’t make payments.
One type of loan you should avoid is payday loans, which may have low credit score requirements at the cost of high fees and APRs that could dig you deeper into debt.
When applying for any loan, the lender will run a “hard” credit inquiry on you, meaning they’re pulling your credit report from a credit bureau to assess your creditworthiness. A “hard” credit inquiry can temporarily harm your credit score and may stay on your credit report for two years. Because recent activity accounts for 10% of your credit score, it’s best not to apply for too many new credit accounts in a short period of time.
Sometimes lenders will offer a “soft” credit inquiry to allow you to check if you’re pre-qualified for a loan and what rates you’ll get before you formally apply. “Soft” inquiries will not affect your credit score.
Requirements will vary from lender to lender, but in general, here’s what you should have on hand when you apply for a loan:
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