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How to get a personal loan with bad credit in 5 steps

Bad credit personal loans are available — but the high interest rates and fees might not be worth it.

A bad credit loan is a loan from a provider that accepts borrowers with low credit scores or no credit history. The credit scoring company Fair Isaac Corporation (FICO) defines a poor credit score as a personal credit score below 580 — though some lenders consider a credit score below 670 to be bad credit.

If your credit scores falls within this range, your options are limited. Those that accept bad credit typically charge borrowers who have bad credit APRs above 30%. Getting approved for a bad credit personal loan at an affordable rate can take more steps than your average personal loan application.

How to get a bad credit personal loan

Following these steps can help you find the best personal loan available to you — even with bad credit.

  1. Check your credit
  2. Compare lenders
  3. Prequalify with your top choices
  4. Complete the application
  5. Review your loan offer

1. Check your credit

It helps to check both your credit report and credit score before you apply for a personal loan. This helps ensure your score is accurate — and avoid a lower rate than you would otherwise qualify for.

Start with your credit report

Before you start comparing lenders, check your credit report for mistakes that lower your credit score.

  • How to check your credit report: You can get a free copy of your credit report at You’re entitled to one from each of the three credit bureaus every 12 months. Or, call 877-322-8228.
  • Next steps: If you notice a mistake, contact the creditor that reported an error to have it removed before you apply for a loan.

Next, get an estimate of your score

Once you’re sure your credit report is accurate, get an estimate of your personal credit score.

  • How to check your credit score: Many banks and credit card companies offer this service for free to current customers. Other websites also offer credit scoring services.
  • Next steps: Use your credit score estimate to you rule out personal loan providers you won’t qualify with.

Credit score estimates are based on a soft credit check. This means they won’t affect your credit score — but also aren’t guaranteed to reflect what you lender sees.

2. Compare lenders that accept bad credit

Start your search by looking for personal loan providers with a minimum credit score requirement lower than your score. Then compare using factors like loan amounts, terms, restrictions on the use of loan funds, interest rates and fees. Also consider a variety of different types of lenders and lending services:

  • Community banks often have more flexible requirements than large national banks and may be willing to overlook poor credit due to a one-time event — like a divorce or medical emergency.
  • Credit unions are nonprofit lenders that can work with borrowers of all credit types. Some federal credit unions even offer payday alternative loans (PALs), which cap interest rates at 28%.
  • Community development financial institutions (CDFIs) are nonprofit lenders with a mission to bolster the economy of the communities they serve. Many offer low-cost loans to locals with bad credit.
  • Online lenders typically look at factors beyond personal credit to help you qualify for a low rate with a less-than-stellar credit. The interest rates and fees are high compared to banks, but can often fund your loan within 24 hours.
  • Connection services can help you compare offers from multiple lenders that accept borrowers with your credit score. But you have to agree to share your information with several lenders, who might contact you even after you’ve received your loan.
  • Short-term lenders like payday and installment loan providers offer small loans with fees equivalent to 700% APR in some cases. But they may be the only option if you don’t have a checking or savings account.

Save short-term loans for emergencies

Some short-term lenders offer what they call installment loans for people with a bad credit score or no credit history. In fact, many don’t conduct a credit check at all. But they’re also the reason the average APR for bad credit borrowers was over 100% in 2019, according to a report by personal loan marketplace LendingTree.

These lenders get around state laws that limit personal loan rates by offering shorter repayment terms and loan amounts under $10,000. These can lead to high monthly repayments and come with the risk of getting caught in a cycle of debt. Save them for emergencies when you can’t qualify for a regular personal loan.

Get started on our search by using our personal loans comparison table. Fill out the form to get personalized results. Or, read about our picks for the best personal loans for bad credit.

1 – 4 of 4
Name Product Filter Values APR Min. credit score Loan amount
LightStream personal loans
Finder Rating: 4.8 / 5: ★★★★★
LightStream personal loans
7.49% to 25.49%
Good to excellent credit
$5,000 to $100,000
Borrow up to $100,000 with low rates and no fees.
PenFed Credit Union personal loans
Finder Rating: 3.6 / 5: ★★★★★
PenFed Credit Union personal loans
7.99% to 17.99%
$600 to $50,000
With over 80 years of lending experience, this credit union offers personal loans for a variety of expenses.
Credible personal loans
Finder Rating: 4.3 / 5: ★★★★★
Credible personal loans
4.60% to 35.99%
Fair to excellent credit
$600 to $100,000
Get personalized prequalified rates in minutes and then choose an offer from a selection of top online lenders.
First Premier Lending
Not rated yet
First Premier Lending
5.99% to 35.99%
All credit types
$100 to $20,000
Short-Term Loans to Fit Your Needs

3. Prequalify with your top choices

Prequalifying for a personal loan gives you an estimate of the interest rate, origination fee, loan amounts and terms you might be eligible for.

  • Prequalification is usually based on a soft credit check and gives you an idea of the cost of the loan without affecting your credit score.
  • You can typically prequalify for a personal loan by filling out a form on the lender’s website.
  • If a lender doesn’t offer prequalification, call and ask for an informal quote.

After you’ve prequalified for a loan, use our calculator to get an estimate of your monthly payment and total cost.

Bad credit personal loan calculator

Enter your estimated loan amount, term and APR for an estimate of monthly paments.
Your loan
Loan amount
Loan terms (in years)
Interest rate

Fill out the form and click on “Calculate” to see your estimated monthly payment.


Compare more lenders
You can expect to pay back $ per month
Based on your loan terms
Principal $
Interest $
Total Cost $

4. Complete the application

If you prequalify for a loan, the lender will send you instructions on how to complete the application. Often, you can complete the form online — even if you apply with a bank or credit union. However, in some cases you may need to meet with a loan officer.

While it varies by lender, you’ll typically be asked to provide the following information and documents:

  • Contact information
  • Employer details
  • Social Security number
  • Date of birth
  • Pay stubs, tax returns or bank statements

If you’re applying for a secured loan, you’ll also need to provide information about the collateral you’re using to back the loan. Usually an unsecured loan requires less information.

Typically, lenders run a hard credit check after you submit the application or once you accept the offer. This will show up on your credit report and lower your credit score by about five points for the next 12 months, according to FICO.

5. Review and sign your final offer

Once approved, your lender will send you a loan offer. With an online lender, you can receive your offer in less than a day. Loan approvals from banks or credit unions can take at least a week — especially if it’s a secured. Read over your loan agreement, taking note of the following important information.

  • Loan amount
  • Interest rate
  • Origination fee
  • Repayment terms
  • Prepayment penalties
  • Late fees

If the rates and terms are close to what you expected, sign and return your loan agreement to the lender. Otherwise, go back to another top choice and follow their instructions to apply for a loan. This shouldn’t affect your credit again as long as you apply within two weeks.

Once you sign your loan, you should receive your loan funds in your bank account within three business days. If you applied for a debt consolidation loan, some lenders may send the funds directly to your creditors.

Tips to get a loan with less-than-stellar credit

These tips won’t guarantee you’ll be approved for a loan, but they can help increase your chances when you have bad credit.

6 tips to qualify for a personal loan with a low credit score.

Tips to get a personal loan with a low credit score

Follow these steps to up your chances of qualifying for a personal loan with a low credit score.

  1. Check your credit report by requesting a copy from one of the three main credit bureaus and look for any errors. Contact your creditor if you notice a mistake to get it fixed before you apply for a loan.
  2. Rebuild your credit before you apply if you aren’t pressed for time — or consider a credit-builder loan. While it will take time and careful budgeting, improving your score means lower rates in the future and a better chance of being approved for larger loans, like a car loan or mortgage.
  3. Compare multiple bad-credit lenders, especially if you can’t wait to rebuild your credit. Prequalify with a few different lenders to find the best offer available to you. You can even let an online loan connection service do the work for you.
  4. Find a cosigner, like a friend or family member. Someone willing to vouch for you and cosign a loan can significantly increase your chances of approval. But they’ll be on the hook for repayments should you find yourself unable to pay.
  5. Opt for a secured loan to increase your chances of approval. Lenders may be more willing to offer you a personal loan — and at lower rates — if you back it with collateral. Just be careful: Defaulting on a secured loan means losing whatever asset you put on the line.
  6. Watch out for predatory lenders and personal loan scams. Borrowers with bad credit are targeted more frequently, so do your research before applying. Check consumer review sites like the Better Business Bureau and Trustpilot to verify the lender is legit. And read over your loan agreement carefully to ensure you understand all of the costs that come with borrowing.

Personal loan alternatives for bad credit

Not sure a personal loan is right for you? Consider these alternatives instead.

  • Credit card cash advances are available instantly: You can withdraw a cash advance from an ATM if you have a credit card. Check your credit card advance rates first. While they can be high, they might not be as costly as a short-term loan.
  • Pay advance apps like Earnin allow you to get an advance on the hours you’ve already worked for an optional tip. And some employers offer pay advances as an employee benefit.
  • Friend and family loans are informal loans from your social circle. They might be willing to help you out for a lower rate than a personal loan provider.
  • Crowdfunding is a popular way to raise money from your peers for expenses like medical bills or to finance a wedding. You don’t have to repay any contributors, though most platforms charge a fee if you reach your goal.

Bottom line

Bad credit isn’t the end of the line when it comes to taking out a personal loan. Credit unions, local banks and online lenders all offer options, though how much you’re able to borrow might be limited. And you’ll likely face higher interest rates and fees, since you pose more of a risk to the lender.

Learn more about how it all works with our guide to personal loans.

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20 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    AhnahDecember 14, 2018

    I have a checking account with a bank. But not direct deposit with the bank. I don’t have bad credit but I don’t have any so its fair. Where can get a loan ONLINE With a DIRECT Lender???

      Default Gravatar
      nikkiangcoDecember 18, 2018

      Hi Ahnah,

      Thanks for getting in touch! You can check the list of lenders we have on the information above. As a friendly reminder, review the eligibility criteria of the loan before applying to increase your chances of approval. Read up on the terms and conditions and product disclosure statement and contact the bank should you need any clarifications about the policy. Hope this was helpful. Don’t hesitate to message us back if you have more questions.


    Default Gravatar
    TheresaSeptember 12, 2018

    I have really bad credit and has only been made worse over the last couple days…. I am I desperate need of a loan very quickly… Who will legitimately help me

      johnbasanesSeptember 13, 2018Finder

      Hi Theresa,

      Thank you for leaving a question.

      I understand that bad credit does hinder one in taking out a loan but there are lenders who may be willing to assist you on this. On this page that you are on are a list of lenders who you could inquire about getting a personal loan out. Kindly review and compare your options on the table displaying the available providers. Once you have chosen a particular provider, you may then click on the “Go to site” button and you will be redirected to the provider’s website where you can proceed with the application or get in touch with their representatives for further inquiries you may have.

      Before applying, please ensure that you meet all the eligibility criteria and read through the details of the needed requirements as well as the relevant Product Disclosure Statements/Terms and Conditions when comparing your options before making a decision on whether it is right for you. Hope this helps!


    Default Gravatar
    AliceOctober 29, 2017

    Hi, I’ve was laid off work about 6 months ago, have been struggling to find work, but have been receiving unemployment benefits which will be running out in a month. There have been unforeseen emergencies that took place within the past month that have unfortunately left me unable to pay my rent in a few days. My credit is bad (last checked it was 549), and I do not own a car. I’d like to get a loan of at least $1,000 (rent amount) to $1,500 maximum (extra $500 would be for phone and electric bills, public transportation, and basic necessities such as food), but will obviously take anything in-between. I reside in Los Angeles and am getting pretty desperate. Any recommendations? Thank you so much!

      JudithOctober 30, 2017Finder

      Hi Alice,

      Thanks for contacting finder, a comparison website and general information service.

      I hope everything would turn out well for you. Some lenders require you to be employed, but you may find a lender that will consider you if you are unemployed. If you receive welfare payments, you can still get a loan. Keep in mind there may be restrictions you need to meet, such as your loan repayments not exceeding more than 50% of your welfare income. There are lenders offering a $1500 loan that you may want to check.

      Kindly take time to read so you can find out more information on the lenders which accept applicants with alternate income.

      I hope this helps.

      Best regards,

    Default Gravatar
    samanthaSeptember 26, 2017

    Do you also loan people in Namibia?

      JudithSeptember 26, 2017Finder

      Hi Samantha,

      Thanks for contacting finder, a comparison website and general information service.

      The page which you’re viewing is for US and is not available in Namibia.


    Default Gravatar
    AndreaSeptember 25, 2017

    Yes I am trying to borrow around $3,000 for moving costs. I can prove income I don’t have a bank account but I have a prepaid credit card. I live in a state that prohibits payday loans. I was unaware that if I applied to a number of different lenders it would look bad on me. I really need this money but I can’t get anybody to help me out. My credit score is in the Fair Credit range. I don’t want to be homeless. Thank you

      Default Gravatar
      JonathanSeptember 26, 2017

      Hello Andrea,

      Thank you for your inquiry.

      You may consider getting an unsecured loan. At the top of the comparison table, kindly select your state of residence and credit score range as availability varies.

      It is worth advising that eligibility and lending terms differ, so it is imperative to understand it fully prior to accepting the loan. You may click “Go to Site” green button of your chosen lender to proceed with your application.

      Hope this helps.


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