Editorial Note: We earn a commission from partner links on Forbes Advisor. Commissions do not affect our editors' opinions or evaluations.
Navigating credit and debt with poor credit can be challenging. Although it’s important to avoid predatory options like payday loans and high-interest installment loans, there are steps you can take to get a loan with bad credit.
As you look for options to get a loan, compare different lenders and be sure to understand the terms and conditions of any loan before accepting it. Some lenders try to take advantage of borrowers in desperate financial situations, but these loans can land you in a cycle of debt.
What To Know Before Getting a Loan With Bad Credit
Getting a loan with bad credit can be challenging, as lenders typically view individuals with bad credit as high-risk borrowers. If your credit score is poor—your FICO score is below 580—lenders may be less willing to approve your loan application, or they may charge you higher interest rates or require collateral to back your loan.
Although it can be tempting to turn to just any loan that doesn’t require a credit check, these loans can also come with many risks. These loans, often marketed to those with poor credit histories, typically come with extraordinarily high interest rates and fees.
If you fail to repay one of these loans on time or start missing payments, the debt can grow due to the interest and fees. Eventually, that can lead to taking out other loans to cover previous debt, which can trap you in a cycle of debt.
Before accepting any loan, be sure to understand the interest and fees that come with the loan and the loan terms. Beyond that, a loan calculator can help to estimate what your payments could be so you can be sure those payments fit into your budget.
How To Get a Loan With Bad Credit
Getting a loan with bad credit is often more difficult than qualifying with a credit score of 670 or above. Still, there are steps you can take to simplify the process, improve your approval odds and qualify for the best rates available to you.
1. Understand Your Credit Score
Your credit score reflects your creditworthiness, and it’s the first thing lenders consider when you apply for a loan. If you have bad credit, look to understand why. Obtain a copy of your credit report and scrutinize it for errors or discrepancies that could negatively affect your score. If there are errors, contact the three major credit bureaus to correct them.
Understanding your credit score can also give you insights on how to improve it. There are several factors that make up your credit score, and lowering your credit utilization rate, for example, can help increase your score.
2. Improve Your Credit
Improving your credit score isn’t a quick process, but it can be essential to secure favorable loan terms. You can improve your credit by paying your bills on time, reducing the debt you owe and not opening too many new credit accounts.
3. Research Potential Lenders
Not all lenders look at bad credit in the same way. Some specifically work with borrowers with bad credit and look closer at other aspects of an application, such as income and college education. The lenders that offer the best bad credit loans often look beyond your credit and offer loans with competitive interest rates.
Keep in mind, lenders that work with borrowers with bad credit often offer high interest loans, so be sure you understand the rates and terms of a loan before accepting it.
4. Prequalify for a Loan
Before submitting a loan application, try to prequalify with multiple lenders. This allows you to see the rates and terms you may qualify for without impacting your credit score. Comparing prequalification offers can be an effective way to find the most cost-effective loan option.
5. Apply for the Loan
Once you’ve done all the preparatory work, it’s time to apply. Be ready to provide all necessary documentation and follow up quickly in case any other information is needed. Remember, a rejection doesn’t mean the end—it just means you need to keep looking for the right lender.
6. Consider Co-Signers or Collateral
If you’re still struggling to secure a loan, consider enlisting the help of someone with a better credit score as a co-signer. A co-signer is responsible for the loan if you cannot make payments. Alternatively, you could offer collateral, such as a car or property, to get a secured personal loan. These options may increase your chances of approval.
Where To Get a Loan With Bad Credit
Securing a loan with a less-than-perfect credit score can take time and effort. However, several avenues are available, each with pros and cons. These are some options for where you can get a loan with bad credit:
Credit unions are member-owned financial institutions that often work with borrowers with bad credit, low income or both. They are known for offering more personalized services compared to traditional banks.
Personal loans from credit unions can be a viable option when seeking a loan with bad credit due to their more flexible lending policies. They often look beyond the applicant’s credit score and consider their overall financial and personal situation. Moreover, credit unions generally offer lower interest rates and fewer fees than other lenders.
Personal loans from online lenders are a convenient and competitive alternative to loans from traditional banks and credit unions. Online lenders often utilize algorithms to assess loan applications, focusing on a range of factors like income, expenses and payment history—instead of relying solely on credit scores.
Some online lenders specialize in bad credit loans, offering customized solutions that cater to the borrower’s needs. However, interest rates and terms can vary significantly among online lenders.
Traditional banks are financial institutions that provide a range of services, including personal loans. These lenders have physical locations and in many cases, allow you to apply for a loan in person or online.
For individuals with bad credit, securing a loan from a traditional bank may seem challenging due to their usually strict lending criteria. However, if a borrower has an existing relationship with the bank—such as a checking account or previous loan—the bank may be more willing to extend a loan regardless of credit.
Alternatives to a Loan With Bad Credit
Although it may seem like a loan is your only option, there are alternatives to a personal loan that may work better for your financial situation. Some alternatives include:
- Credit card cash advance. Credit card cash advances let you withdraw cash directly from your credit card. It can be a quick and easy way to access funds, especially in emergencies. However, interest rates are typically higher than other financing options and interest starts accruing immediately with no grace period.
- Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending. P2P lending is a form of financing where individuals can borrow and lend funds without needing a traditional financial institution as an intermediary. P2P lending can offer more flexible terms than traditional lenders, and your credit score may not be as significant a factor.
- Friends and family. Borrowing from friends and family can be a viable option if you have bad credit. It provides an opportunity to obtain a loan with more favorable terms, such as flexible repayment plans, lower interest rates or no interest rates at all. If you pursue this option, ensure the terms and conditions are clear.
- Credit counseling and debt management plans. These services, often provided by nonprofit organizations, can help you improve your credit score and manage your debt over time. Credit counselors can assist you in creating a budget, negotiating with creditors and developing a debt management plan.
- Paycheck advance. Some lenders offer paycheck advances or emergency loans. A paycheck advance lets you access your earned wages before your scheduled payday. While it can be convenient to cover unexpected expenses, only use this option sparingly to avoid becoming reliant on future earnings.
Compare Personal Loan Rates From Top Lenders
Compare personal loan rates in 2 minutes with Credible.com
As an enthusiast with a deep understanding of the credit and lending landscape, I can confidently navigate the complexities discussed in the provided article. My extensive knowledge is grounded in a comprehensive understanding of credit scores, lending institutions, and alternative financial solutions.
Let's break down the concepts discussed in the article:
Credit Score Importance: The article emphasizes the significance of a credit score in the loan application process. A credit score below 580 is considered poor, making individuals high-risk borrowers. The FICO score is specifically mentioned as a benchmark used by lenders.
Loan Options and Risks: The article cautions against predatory options like payday loans and high-interest installment loans. It highlights the potential risks associated with loans that don't require a credit check, such as extraordinarily high interest rates and fees, which can lead to a cycle of debt.
Steps to Get a Loan With Bad Credit: a. Understand Your Credit Score:
- The article recommends obtaining a copy of your credit report to identify errors.
- It suggests understanding the factors that make up your credit score and improving your credit utilization rate.
b. Improve Your Credit:
- Long-term strategies for improving credit are mentioned, including paying bills on time, reducing debt, and avoiding opening too many new credit accounts.
c. Research Potential Lenders:
- Different lenders have varying approaches to bad credit, some looking beyond credit scores.
- Emphasis on understanding rates and terms before accepting a loan.
d. Prequalify for a Loan:
- The article suggests prequalifying with multiple lenders to compare rates without impacting your credit score.
e. Apply for the Loan:
- Tips on being prepared with necessary documentation and not getting discouraged by rejection.
f. Consider Co-Signers or Collateral:
- Exploring options like having a co-signer with a better credit score or offering collateral for a secured personal loan.
Where to Get a Loan With Bad Credit: The article provides insights into various lending options:
- Credit Unions: Member-owned institutions with flexible lending policies.
- Online Lenders: Utilize algorithms beyond credit scores, with varying interest rates.
- Traditional Banks: Consideration may be given if there's an existing relationship, despite typically strict criteria.
Alternatives to Personal Loans: The article suggests alternatives for those with bad credit, including credit card cash advances, peer-to-peer lending, borrowing from friends and family, credit counseling, debt management plans, and paycheck advances.
In conclusion, the article provides a comprehensive guide for individuals navigating the challenges of obtaining a loan with bad credit, offering valuable insights into responsible financial practices and alternative solutions.