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Compare personal loans for American expats

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You can get funding for that spontaneous trip while living abroad (and boring things too). It’s tricky, but possible.

Living abroad is a life-changing experience. But it’s not uncommon to need just a bit more cash to get by.

Unexpected opportunities often arise while you’re an expat — as do unexpected medical expenses — but borrowing money as a foreigner is a bit complicated. We give you a rundown of your options to get cash as an American abroad.

Can I get a loan while traveling abroad?

Yes, but it might be more difficult than get a loan back home — and your options are limited. While the most common types of financing available to American expats are mortgages and student loans, it’s not impossible to find loans for general personal use.

Getting an online loan

The simplest and quickest way to get financing while abroad is to apply with an online lender based in the US. These providers tend to have less rigorous requirements and can typically get you money faster than a bank will.

You often need to have a US account for this option to work — most online lenders aren’t keen on sending money to an overseas bank since payments could take as long as a month to go through. You might also need to have a US address or work for a US employer.

Here are a few online lenders that might approve a loan while you’re traveling.

Lender Eligibility requirements Borrowing limits
Laurel Road
  • US address
  • US citizen
  • 680+ credit score
$1,000 – $45,000
SoFi
  • US employer
  • US bank account
  • Good credit

Make sure to use Google Chrome when applying for a SoFi loan from abroad — otherwise, you could have trouble with its website.

$5,000 – $100,000
LendingPoint
  • Bank account in a state LendingPoint serves.
  • 600+ credit score
  • $40,000+ annual salary
  • One+ years of continuous employment.
  • No bankruptcies, liens or chargeoffs in past year.
$2,000 – $25,000
NetCredit
  • Active US checking account
  • US citizen
  • 18+ years old
  • Valid email address
  • Verifiable income (must show up in your US checking account)
$1,000 – $10,000
LendingClub
  • US address
  • US bank account
  • 660+ credit score

You might have trouble qualifying if you work for a foreign company, but Lending Club recommends trying — applying for preapproval won’t hurt your credit score.

$1,000 – $40,000

Getting a personal loan from your home bank

Taking out a loan with your US bank could be option for expats that still have a US bank account accessible overseas. That’s because some banks only require you to be a US citizen — not a current resident — to qualify for a loan.

More likely than not, you won’t find online if your bank cares where you live. Give your bank a call to see if you qualify, and ask what the process involves. It could take a while to get approved if you’re employed by a foreign company.

You might be able to get around a bank’s residency rules by applying with another person living in the US. Finding a coborrower can increase your chance of being approved.

If your bank offers international banking options, take advantage of them — it could also help you qualify for a loan.

Compare top US banks offering personal loans

International banking

Living abroad is extra expensive if you have the wrong bank account. Among foreign withdrawal fees, currency exchange fees and the inability to deposit paychecks, your US bank account is impractical if you’re staying for a year or longer.

Before you leave, look for a bank that offers international-friendly options — like HSBC Expat, which allows you to link your foreign bank account to your account back home, manage multiple currencies and streamline money transfers. These accounts make it easy to cover rent, utilities and shopping, easing the challenges that come with living abroad.

Getting a loan from a local financial institution

In some countries, it’s possible for a US citizen to take out a personal loan from a local financial institution. Loans typically depend on such factors as the country’s financial regulations, its relationship with the US and the demand for US expat financing.

You won’t want to go for this option unless you’re a legal resident with a bank account or you’re trying to buy real estate — otherwise, you might have trouble qualifying. Even if you do qualify, make sure you fully understand how lending works in that country, and how to pay back your loan. Don’t sign anything without running it by a translator unless you’re a native speaker with a firm grasp of financial jargon.

Lina opens an account in France

woman applying payday loanMoving to Paris was a childhood dream of Lina’s. So after graduating from college, she took on a teaching job in the City of Light before starting her career. She applied for an HSBC Expat account and opened a local account in France to make sure she could easily transfer money back and forth.

Everything went smoothly until the day her apartment was broken into. It was a nightmare: The burglar took her computer and an expensive camera she needed for work. She didn’t have insurance to cover the loss, and the police told her there wasn’t much she could do to get it back. Altogether, it cost Lina about $4,000 to replace.

Not wanting to borrow money from her family, she looked at her personal loan options. It was hard enough opening a bank account as an American in Paris, so she quickly ruled out French banks, going with a US online lender instead. She applied to prequalify with three lenders and got the best offer from Laurel Road: a $4,000 loan with a 6.75% APR.

After Laurel Road disbursed the money into her US account, Linda transferred it to her French bank account and replaced her stolen items. To guarantee on-time repayments, she transferred part of her salary to her US account a few days before payments were due.

Bottom line

Getting a loan abroad complicates an already seemingly complicated process. It’s possible to get one, but you might have to convince a lender to work with you — it’s just not something they do very often.

You almost certainly need a working US bank account to qualify for a loan from a US-based lender. If you decide to look locally, qualifying can depend on factors like your residency status and employment.

Make sure to compare your options and look into other financial solutions — such as borrowing from friends or family — before you apply with a particular lender.

Frequently asked questions

Anna Serio

Anna Serio is a staff writer untangling everything you need to know about personal loans, including student, car and business loans. She spent five years living in Beirut, where she was a news editor for The Daily Star and hung out with a lot of cats. She loves to eat, travel and save money.

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2 Responses

  1. Default Gravatar
    VjSeptember 10, 2018

    Can I get a small business loan as a US citizen living abroad?

    • finder Customer Care
      AnnaSeptember 10, 2018Staff

      Hey Vj,

      Thanks for your question! You likely won’t be able to get a business loan from an American lender unless your business is located in the US. If you happen to be living abroad and have a US-based business, then you might qualify for some business loans — though should still double-check to make sure you’re eligible. If your business is based outside of the US, your might want to look consider local options instead, especially if you have a business partner that’s a citizen of the country where you currently live.

      Hope this helps!

      Anna

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SoFi Personal Loan Fixed Rate (with Autopay)

No fees. Multiple member perks such as community events and career coaching.

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