A complete step-by-step walkthrough of a personal loan application.
Whether you need to repair your vehicle, move across the country, pay for your wedding or simply buy some extra gifts for the holidays, a personal loan can help you deal with these expenses without putting you in a financial hard spot. Review this checklist to make sure you know everything you need to apply for a personal loan.
- Ready to apply? Jump to the step-by-step walkthrough.
What you need to apply
While applying for a personal loan is usually a fairly quick and straightforward process, you should make sure you’re eligible and you have the necessary information you’ll need ahead of time. These include:
- Credit Rating: Varies, but on average the lowest score accepted is 640.
- Annual Income: Typically $25,000 or more.
- Credit History: Usually you will need a credit history, sometimes of several years, in order to qualify.
- Debt-to-income ratio: 45%, not including your mortgage.
- You have an active checking or savings bank account.
- You are over 18 years of age.
- You are a resident of the United States.
- You have a regular source of income.
- Personal details like your full name, date of birth, Social Security number and driver’s license number or state ID number.
- Contact details like your home address, home phone number and email address.
- Employer’s name and time employed.
- Bank account information.
Before you apply…
Decide how much money you need
One of the first things you’ll need to do is decide how much money you need. Carefully calculate your debt or the size of the purchase you need to pay for.
Taking out a loan that’s too small can leave you with remaining financial needs. On the other hand, if you take out a loan that’s too large, you will be stuck paying interest back on a larger amount than necessary.
Find the right loan
Shop around and compare all of your options. Make sure to check interest rates, fees, loan terms and payment options before signing any documents. You can check out our comparison tables to find a loan that’s right for you.
Need more info? Read the Personal Loan Guide in full so you can make an informed decision. Once you decide which type of loan and lender fits your financial situation, it’s time to apply.
Ready to apply? Steps to completing the application process
Step 1: Go to the lender’s website and click on the application for the loan. Fill out the basic information, such as your zip code and whether you’ll be filing for a joint or individual application. Step 2: As you hit continue, you’ll be prompted to fill out more pages detailing your personal information and financial situation. Step 3: Next you’ll input the loan information, such as the amount you will be needing and how long you want to take to pay it back. The sooner you pay it back, the less you’ll pay in interest. Step 4: Once everything is filled out, verify that the information is correct, hit submit and you will receive a decision on your loan application shortly. Sometimes you can receive a decision on your loan in as little as one business day, depending on the lender.
What happens next?
If your loan application is approved, you will receive instructions from the lender on how to finalize and sign the loan documentation.
Receiving your money. Many lenders and banks require that you have a checking account to receive your money via direct deposit, but that’s not always the only option. Some lenders will be able to send you a check, or load your money onto a prepaid debit card.
Time to spend it. If you took out a loan for something specific, such as an auto loan or a debt consolidation loan, you should spend it on that. But if you take out a personal loan with no restrictions on what you can purchase, you are free to spend that on whatever you’d like.
Make your payments on time. It’s very important to make your payments on time so you don’t end up paying extra in fees. Be sure to verify how you’ll need to make repayments. Can you pay by phone with a credit card or account number, online through the lender’s website or do you need to mail in a check? Is there an automatic payment option? The application process may vary slightly from lender to lender, but generally they all follow a format similar to the one above.
Find a personal loan
Frequently asked questions about applying for loans
What are some types of loans I can apply for?
There are many types of loans available. Some of the ones you can find include: student, home-improvement, green, adoption, pet, vacation, wedding and car loans.
I don't have credit, can I still get a loan?
Yes. There are lenders who work closely with borrowers who are building or rebuilding their credit. You can also consider building your credit with a secured credit card.
What happens if I miss payments?
Missing payments can negatively impact your credit score. If you think you won’t be able to make a payment, contact your lender immediately as they may be able to help you.