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Can I get a personal loan without hurting my credit?

How to avoid a dip in your score when you're comparing lenders.

Updated

There’s no way around it — finalizing any personal loan application will cause your credit score to drop. But many lenders offer preapproval that allows you to see what rates and terms you might qualify for without affecting your credit. The key to finding out if a form will affect it is asking whether it requires a hard or soft credit pull.

Does applying for a personal loan hurt my credit score?

Yes, most lenders do a hard credit check when you fill out a personal loan application and finalize it. This can cause your credit score to drop a few points, though how many will vary based on your credit profile and other factors.

However, some personal loan providers offer preapproval that comes with a soft credit check, which won’t affect your score. This can help you compare offers from multiple lenders before following through with a full application.

Can I get a personal loan with no credit check?

It’s unlikely. Personal loan providers will almost always do a hard pull of your credit when you finalize your loan application. While there are some short-term lenders that offer loans with no credit check, these are expensive and should be saved as a last resort.

What is a soft credit check?

Soft credit checks don’t count as inquiries on your credit report — which means they won’t lower your credit score. Lenders and companies frequently do soft credit pulls for background checks or to get an idea of your credit. Unlike hard credit checks, a person or company doesn’t need your permission to run a soft inquiry.

If you’re comparing personal loans, car loans or credit cards, make sure your lender has a preapproval process that only requires a soft credit check. This allows you to preview your potential rates without lowering your credit score — effectively preserving your score until you’ve found a product you’re ready to commit to.

Examples of a soft credit check

  • Loan and credit card offers in the mail
  • Loan and credit card preapproval
  • Background checks
  • Employment verification

What is a hard credit check?

Hard credit checks are the actual inquiries listed on your credit report. The most common reason for a hard inquiry is when you apply for a loan and accept the offer. The lender will do a hard pull of your credit in order to see your borrowing and repayment history so it can make a more informed decision about your rates and terms.

It may lower your score slightly, but hard inquiries only stay on your credit report for two years. And certain types of loans — car loans, student loans and mortgages — only count as one hard inquiry if applications are submitted within a short timeframe. Just be careful, too many hard inquiries over a few months can take a toll on your score and make you look like a high-risk borrower to lenders.

Examples of a hard credit check

  • Loan and credit card applications
  • Rental or lease applications

Find a personal loan today

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Filter Values APR Min. Credit Score Max. Loan Amount
Credible personal loans
4.99% to 35.99%
Fair to excellent credit
$100,000
Get personalized rates in minutes and then choose an offer from a selection of top online lenders.
SoFi personal loans
5.99% to 18.53%
680
$100,000
A highly-rated lender with competitive rates, high loan amounts and no fees.
Upstart personal loans
8.69% to 35.99%
580 or 600 depending on state of residence
$50,000
This service looks beyond your credit score to get you a competitive-rate personal loan.
LendingTree personal loans
Starting from 3.99%
Good to excellent credit
$50,000
Receive up to five loan offers in just minutes through LendingTree's simple online form.
Monevo personal loans
3.49% to 35.99%
None
$100,000
Quickly compare multiple online lenders with competitive rates depending on your credit.
Fiona personal loans
4.99% to 35.99%
Good
$100,000
Get loan offers from multiple lenders at once without affecting your credit score.
NetCredit personal loans
34% to 155%
No minimum
$10,500
Check eligibility in minutes and get a personalized quote without affecting your credit score.
LightStream personal loans
Varies
Good to excellent credit
$100,000
Borrow up to $100,000 with low rates and no fees.
Even Financial personal loans
4.99% to 35.99%
550
$100,000
Get connected to competitive loan offers instantly from top online consumer lenders.
Prosper personal loans
7.95% to 35.99%
640
$40,000
Borrow only what you need for debt consolidation, home improvements and more — with APRs based on overall creditworthiness.
OneMain Financial personal loans
18% to 35.99%
Varies
$20,000
An established online and in-store lender with quick turnaround times. Poor credit is OK.
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Compare up to 4 providers

How do I dispute a hard credit inquiry?

To dispute a hard credit inquiry you didn’t authorize, contact the credit bureau in writing. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recommends including copies of any documents that support your position. You can use the FTC’s sample dispute letter to help guide you.

The credit bureau is required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act to accept disputes and investigate, usually within 30 days. If your dispute is accepted, all three major credit bureaus must correct any incomplete or inaccurate information.

Find and correct mistakes on your credit report

Bottom line

You can’t get a personal loan — or any loan — without a hard inquiry, but it should only lower your score a few points. And if you compare personal loans before applying, you can further limit the impact a hard credit check has on your credit.

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