But many lenders have high minimum loan amounts. That means you may have to borrow more than you need, which isn’t ideal. Not only does that mean paying interest on debt you don’t need, but it can also tempt you to spend the money instead of paying it right back.
What is a small personal loan?
Small personal loans are usually unsecured cash advances that are used to get you through an unexpected financial tight spot, or to help you consolidate debt. They are designed to be short term in nature, with a typical time frame to repay the money being anywhere from a couple of months up to several years. The interest on these loans is usually fixed, which means your monthly payments won’t fluctuate and will remain consistent throughout the life of the loan. However, the interest rates on small-dollar personal loans are usually higher than regular loans. Rates and fees vary widely by lender so it is important to shop around and compare terms before choosing a loan.
The 6 best small personal loans
To avoid the problem of overborrowing, it’s important to consider lenders that offer small personal loans. Here are six options to compare.
Founded in 2013, RISE offers small-dollar, short-term loans to people who need cash fast but can’t qualify for most personal loans. With its low minimum credit score and low minimum loan amount, it’s one of the more accessible loan options available.
That said, interest rates on RISE loans can be high, depending on your credit situation. It can be so high, in fact, that you could end up paying more in interest over the life of the loan than you originally borrowed.
Check out our RISE review for full terms and conditions.
However, the lender doesn’t operate in many states, so you may not even be able to apply for a loan. If you do, you may need to pay for it.
“Remember that personal loans usually come with an origination fee,” says Joe Toms, president of Freedom Financial Asset Management. “As the fee will be taken from your loan proceeds before you receive the funds, be sure to account for it when you request a total loan amount.”
Read our review of the lender to get the full details.
Another lender to consider for reasonable rates when your credit score is not great is NetCredit.
LendingClub offers small personal loans online, but its credit score requirements are a bit higher than that of OppLoans and RISE. With a higher credit threshold, that means you may qualify for a lower interest rate.
As with any lender, however, there’s no guarantee that you’ll get a low-interest rate, even if you have great credit. In addition to interest, LendingClub may charge you an origination fee when you first get the loan.
Get more information about that fee and other key details on our LendingClub review page.
Upgrade is another online lender that offers decent interest rates for people with less-than-stellar credit. The range of possible interest rates is fairly wide, though, so it’s hard to get a ballpark figure for what to expect.
Like some other lenders listed here, Upgrade may charge an origination fee on your loan; the amount will depend on your creditworthiness and where you live.
See our Upgrade review page for more information.
5. 0% APR credit cards
This option isn’t a personal loan, per se, but you can still use it to get the funds necessary to cover some emergencies.
These 0% APR credit cards typically allow you to finance a large purchase or a series of small purchases and pay them back without any interest. The catch is you have to repay the entire balance before the promotional period ends.
Also, if you just need a small amount, the card’s credit limit might not be too much trouble, as long as it’s enough for your situation.
6. Local credit union
Since credit unions are not-for-profit organizations, they typically have the best interests of their customers in mind. As a result, you may get better terms on a loan as long as you’re a member of the credit union.
Bonus Tip: If your credit is not great, try Peerform. It’s a lending marketplace that considers borrowers with poor credit.
The bottom line
Getting a small personal loan isn’t difficult in this day and age, even if you have bad credit. It’s just a matter of where you look. There are several other types of small personal loans for bad credit you can consider, like an auto title loan or guaranteed approval loan.
But the problem with these types of loans is that they can add extra risk to your financial situation that you may not want to deal with later. Instead, use those loan types only as a last resort and make sure you do your due diligence to make one of the other options work.
Also, be sure to consider more than just your credit score when choosing which loan to apply for. “Some lenders consider aspects of your background beyond credit,” says Toms.
He adds,”Traditional credit data does not necessarily account for your complete financial profile and ability to pay your debts. Independent lenders may use different criteria to help evaluate how likely you are to repay a loan.”
For example, the lender may want to know about your savings, life insurance, and other factors. In short, the lender wants to make sure they know your full financial picture, not just the credit part.
Doing your due diligence in this area of your life is critical, especially if you’re dealing with lenders that charge super-high interest rates on payday loans or auto title loans. After all, it’s your money that’s at risk, and you don’t want to pay more in personal loan interest and debt than you need to.