Personal Loans for Bad Credit – Here are Your Best Options

Plenty of signs — besides a poor credit score– can point to having bad credit. You’re late paying monthly bills. Your checking account is overdrawn. Cellphone companies won’t give you a contract. You make only minimum payments on your debt.

One in five people don’t pay their bills on time, according to the 2016 Consumer Financial Literacy Survey. Paying bills on time can be especially hard for people with bad credit, but personal loans for people with bad credit can sometimes help people get back on track. This article will help you find the best options to get a personal loan with bad credit.

Why personal loans for bad credit?

Around 30% of Americans have a credit score below 640 (source). If that includes you, you probably struggle to get accepted for credit cards. Even if you do manage to get a credit card, it will have a small line of credit, and you’ll pay higher interest rates and fees than someone with a good credit score. According to a report by the Syracuse University, people with bad credit can pay an additional $4,975 in interest on their credit card debt than consumers with good credit. (source).

Average credit scores percent of population

Source: FICO

Personal loans for bad credit can help you consolidate credit card debt, finance an emergency expense, or purchase an expensive item.

Lenders that specialize in borrowers with bad credit have more flexible loan requirements and are more likely than other banks and traditional lenders to work with you if you have a borderline credit score.

Types of personal loans

Personal loans come in two categories: secured and unsecured loans.

A secured loan requires collateral that can be taken by the lender if you don’t repay the loan. A car or house is an asset that can be used as collateral.  Losing your house to a bank is a big risk to take for a personal loan.

An unsecured loan doesn’t need collateral. This makes it a higher risk for the lender. For that risk, you’ll likely pay a higher interest rate. But you won’t lose your car or another asset if you don’t repay the loan.

Banks and credit unions are common places to get personal loans. Here are five other options:

1. Home equity

Through a loan or line of credit, your home can be collateral for a personal loan.

2. Family and friends

These people are unlikely to want to look at your credit report and may charge you little or no interest for an unsecured loan. If you don’t repay them, it could spoil your relationship.

3. Co-signer

If you know someone with good credit who trusts that you’ll repay the loan, ask them to co-sign a loan with a traditional lender. They’ll be responsible for the payments if you default on the loan.

4. Peer-to-peer lending

Websites help investors loan money to borrowers. Some focus on personal loans for people with bad credit, known as P2P lending, which matches lenders directly with borrowers. The low overhead of operating entirely online can allow these lenders to earn higher returns for loans that are usually unsecured..

5. Online lenders for people with bad credit

If you got bad credit, no worries. There are a few lenders that offer personal loans for bad credit. Here is a list of lenders we suggest.

Lenders Accepting Bad Credit

LenderMin. FICOAPR Range 
Net CreditNo Min35% – 155%Apply
Avant Credit5809.95% – 35.99%Apply
Lending Point60015.49% – 34.99%Apply
Lending Club6005.99% – 35.89%Apply
OppLoans64036% – 199%Apply

Also, check out more lenders here.

Why and how credit matters

Credit cards, car dealers, mortgages and other lenders partly base loan terms such as interest rates on an applicant’s credit score. The score gives them an idea of how much of a credit risk someone is and if they’ll pay back the credit obligation.

Depending on which type of credit score you use, a high credit score of 800 or better — on a scale of 300 to 850 — is considered excellent and can lead to a low interest rate on a home loan, for example. A bad credit score of 550 can lead to loan denial or a higher interest rate such as 36%, versus 10% for having an excellent credit score.

Getting your credit score is free. The majority of adults — 56% — received their credit scores in 2016, the Consumer Financial Literacy Survey found. Thirty-five percent said they ordered their credit score out of curiosity.

Loan options for bad credit

Many online lenders offer personal loans to people with bad credit. The interest annual percentage rate (APR) that’s charged can be high — 30%APR is typical. Lenders such as payday loans that don’t check your credit can charge 1,000% APR or more.

Check out SuperMoney’s personal loan reviews to compare different types of loans, including personal loans for bad credit. Here are a few that specialize in loans for people with bad credit:

Avant Credit
APR: 9.95% to 35.99%Loan Amount: $1,000 to $35,000
Origination Fee: 0.95% to 4.75%Max. Loan Term: 60 months
Pros
Cons
Considers borrowers with less than perfect credit
Competitive rates
No prepayment penalty fees
Checking your rate will not hurt your credit
Avant does charge an origination fee
Well-qualified borrowers may find lower rates elsewhere

 

NetCredit

With interest rates up to 150 percent, NetCredit can be expensive, depending on the lending laws in your state.

For borrowers with poor or fair credit, NetCredit can be a better option than payday loans, cash advance loans or secured loans. It also offers larger loan amounts and longer repayment periods.

Lenders Accepting Co-Signers

LenderMinimum FICOAPR Range 
LightStream6804.99% – 14.49%Apply
Lending Club6005.99% – 35.96%Apply
FreedomPlus6007.93% – 29.9%

How to apply for a personal loan when you have bad credit

Applying for a personal loan if you have bad credit should be straightforward. You’ll fill out an online application and include information such as your education, employment history and monthly bills.

Here are some other things a lender may need, either online or paper copies of:

  • Tax returns from at least the last two years
  • Pay stubs
  • List of unsecured debts such as credit card and medical bills
  • List of assets and how far you are in paying them off
  • Alimony or child support payments
  • Bank statements
  • Bankruptcy or other legal judgments against you

How to get approved

Personal Loans for Bad Credit Approval

Eventually, a lender may want to interview you in person. The main purpose will be to determine if you can afford the loan payments.

If you have bad credit, this can be difficult to prove, but not impossible. Show the loan officer proof that you’ve paid off other assets in the past. A paid off car loan is a good start. If you’ve consistently paid your monthly bills on time, show them proof of that.

If you’ve lived in the same home for a long time and have a steady job, you have a better chance of being approved for a loan.

Alternatives to personal loans for bad credit

There aren’t many options for people with bad credit who need to borrow money. That’s because they’re considered a high credit risk.

If they do qualify for a loan, even a personal loan, it will be at a higher interest rate than if they had a higher credit score.

Some of the best options are the ones we listed up top. These include a loan from a family member, home equity loan or getting a co-signer on a loan. But those can move the responsibility of the loan to someone else if you don’t pay, or require collateral.

Another option is a payday lender. These loans are often predatory,  and can leave you in deeper debt than when you started.

Your local credit union may be your best option for an unsecured personal loan. All federal credit unions have a maximum APR of 18 percent on loans. That applies to borrowers with low incomes and low credit scores, according to the National Credit Union Administration.

Things to keep in mind while applying

Here  are some things you should look out for in the contract:

  • Minimum credit score – At least a score of 580 may be needed.
  • Fees – These vary by state, and can include origination fees, late fees, a personal check fee and returned payment fee.
  • Loan term – This usually varies between one and five years.
  • APR –  What is the interest rate and is it fixed for the life of the loan? The Truth in Lending Act requires that the cost of credit be stated as a dollar amount and as an APR.
  • Time to funding – Will you get the money the same day? It can take three business days or so to get you the loan amount.

Personal loans for bad credit shouldn’t be used as a way to extend your debt problems. If you can pay a personal loan off on time, it can start to improve your credit score. Doing that may be the best long-term solution to getting better credit options.

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