How to apply for a personal loan | Steps and pictures of the process
How to apply for a personal loan

How to apply for a personal loan (with pictures)

We’re here to guide you step-by-step through the loan application process.

There are times when you need to pay for a large expense but don’t have the money in your savings. A personal loan can help you deal with anything, from repairing your car to financing your wedding, and our page will help guide you through the process of applying for a personal loan.

What you’ll need

Most personal loan applications are fairly straightforward, but to make the process simple and quick, you’ll need to have all the necessary information nearby. Here’s what most lenders require:

Minimum Requirements:

  • Credit Rating: Varies, but the lowest average score is 640.
  • Annual Income: Typically $25,000 or more.
  • Credit History: You will usually need a credit history, sometimes of several years, in order to qualify.
  • Debt-to-income ratio: Most lenders prefer a debt-to-income ratio of 45%, not including your mortgage.

Eligibility criteria:

  • You have an active checking or savings bank account.
  • You are over 18 years of age (varies by state).
  • You are a citizen or permanent resident of the United States.
  • You have a regular source of income.

Required documents:

  • Personal details. Your full name, date of birth, Social Security number and driver’s license number.
  • Contact details. Your address, phone number and email.
  • Employer’s name, address and the length of your employment.
  • Bank account information.

Before you apply

Before you start on the loan process, confirm what type of loan you need. Personal loans are generally unsecured, meaning they use your credit as a gauge rather than an asset like your house or car. If you need a larger loan or need an open source of credit, you may want to consider other financing options.

Decide how much money you need

The amount you borrow should be based on the expense you’re trying to cover and your income. It’s better to determine how much you can spend each month and borrow less than your maximum so you can avoid stretching yourself too thin.

Taking out a loan that’s too small can leave you with remaining financial needs, but if you take out a loan that’s too large, you’ll be stuck paying interest on a larger amount than necessary. This is why you should carefully calculate the debt you can handle and the amount of your purchase before you apply.

Check your credit

Your credit will determine how much you qualify to borrow. Most lenders will require good credit scores and a multi-year history before they offer you an unsecured loan, but there are personal loans for people with bad credit. Before you apply, check your credit score so you know what type of loan you qualify for.

Find the right loan

Don’t hesitate to shop around and compare lenders. 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? Our guide to personal loans will help you make an informed decision. You may also want to visit your local bank or credit union. The processing times may be higher than online loans, but you may receive a more prime interest rate.

How to complete your loan application

Find the lender you want to work with then go to the its website and find 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 1
As you continue, you’ll be prompted to fill out more pages detailing your personal information and financial situation. step 2
Next you’ll input the loan information. This will be the amount you want to borrow and how long you’ll need to pay it back. Remember, the shorter the loan, the less you pay in interest. step 3
Once everything is filled out, verify that the information is correct and hit submit. You’ll be notified with a decision on your loan application within a few minutes. If you’re approved, your lender will likely contact you to confirm your information, and most people receive their loan funds as soon as one business day after approval.

What happens next?

The application process may vary slightly from lender to lender, but generally they all follow a format similar to the one above.

Receiving your loan funds.

Many lenders and banks require that you have a checking account to receive your loan 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. If this is important to you, ask your lender how they transfer funds.

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. However, you are free to spend your loan funds 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 or hurting your credit. 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? These will impact which lender you choose and how you’ll pay off your debt.

Find a personal loan

Rates last updated April 19th, 2018

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Unfortunately, none of the personal loan providers offer loans for that credit score. If you are in urgent need of a small loan, you might want to consider a short term loan.
Name Product Product Description Min. Credit Score Max. Loan Amount APR
Even Financial Personal Loans
Get connected to competitive loan offers instantly from top online consumer lenders.
580
$100,000
4.99%–35.99% (fixed)
Monevo Personal Loans
Quickly compare multiple online lenders with competitive rates depending on your credit score.
580
$100,000
3.09%–35.99% (fixed)
Upgrade Personal Loans*
Affordable loans with two simple repayment terms and no prepayment penalties.
620
$50,000
5.96%–35.97% (fixed)
Prosper
Borrow only what you need for debt consolidation, home improvements and more — with APRs based on overall creditworthiness.
640
$35,000
5.99%–35.99% (fixed)
LendingClub Personal Loan
A peer-to-peer lender offering fair rates based on your credit score.
660
$40,000
5.98%–35.89% (fixed)
CompareFirst Personal Loans
An easy-to-use loan connection service geared toward introducing first-time borrowers to affordable personal loans.
580
$50,000
2.99%–36% (fixed)
Best Egg Personal Loans
A prime lender with multiple repayment methods.
640
$35,000
5.99%–29.99% (fixed)
FreedomPlus Personal Loans
Consolidate debt and more with these low-interest loans. Cosigners welcome.
640
$35,000
4.99%–29.99% (fixed)
Laurel Road Personal Loans
Get a personal loan with no application or origination fees and a rate discount for autopay.
680
$45,000
5.5%–11.74% (fixed)
LendingPoint Personal Loans
Get a personal loan with reasonable rates even if you have a fair credit score in the 600s.
600
$25,000
15.49%–34.99% (fixed)
NetCredit Personal Loan
Check eligibility in minutes and get a personalized quote without affecting your credit score.
550
$10,000
34%–155% (fixed)
OneMain Financial Personal and Auto Loans
An established online and in-store lender with quick turnaround times. Poor credit is OK.
Varies
$25,000
typically around 18.49%* (fixed)

Compare up to 4 providers

Frequently asked questions about applying for loans

Aliyyah Camp

Aliyyah Camp is a publisher for finder.com helping folks compare personal, student, car and business loans. When she's not helping people with their personal finances, you can find her going for runs outdoors.

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US Personal Loans Offers

Important Information*
Even Financial Personal Loans

Get connected to competitive loan offers instantly from top online consumer lenders.

Prosper

Borrow only what you need for debt consolidation, home improvements and more — with APRs based on overall creditworthiness.

LendingClub Personal Loan

A peer-to-peer lender offering fair rates based on your credit score.

SoFi Personal Loan Fixed Rate (with Autopay)

Borrow up to $100,000 with a competitive APR and no fees.

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