Yes, you can still be eligible for a personal loan even with a poor or low credit score. However, you may find your options are more limited in terms of the lenders you can choose, as well as the size of your loan amount and the rate you receive.
Depending on your situation, it may be a better idea to try and improve your credit score before applying for a loan. If you need a loan in the near future, there are ways to improve your chances of getting a loan with bad credit.
How to get approved for a bad credit personal loan
Unfortunately, there is no universal secret to getting approved for a loan if you have bad credit. However, there are a few things you can do to improve your chances:
Check your credit score to see where you stand. By checking your credit score you can get an idea of your credit position and where you fall in the credit-active population.
Don’t make too many credit applications at once. This is a red flag to lenders and can hinder your chances at future credit approvals. If you have done this, try and wait to make any future applications.
Check for “soft searching” facilities. Many lenders are now able to carry out a “soft search” – where they tell you your likelihood of being approved and give a personalised quote, without affecting your credit score, and sometimes without leaving a “footprint” that would be visible to potential lenders.
What are your personal loan options with bad credit?
There are various credit options for people with a bad credit rating. Here are some of the main ones:
Specialist bad credit loans. Some lenders such as those compared above have made a niche for themselves by catering specifically to those with less than perfect credit histories. These loans typically cost more, but eligibility is based more on affordability that credit score.
Secured personal loans. If you can provide collateral, such as a car, equity in your home or another high-value asset, a lender may be more willing to overlook a few negative marks on your credit file.
Guarantor personal loans. Do you have a partner, close friend or relative who is willing to guarantee the loan for you? You may be able to qualify for a guarantor personal loan. There are certain bad credit lenders who offer tailored products for borrowers that you may want to consider.
Payday/short term loans. Are you only looking to borrow a small amount to cover an unexpected shortfall? You could consider a short-term loan. These lenders are less focused on your credit history and more focused on your current financial position and ability to repay the loan.
Credit builder credit cards. With a credit builder credit card, you start with a low credit limit, but quickly get opportunities for this to be reviewed. This type of card is designed as an interim solution, to help borrowers build or improve their credit record before moving on to different credit products.
Alternative specialist lenders. There are a few innovative new lenders such as Tappily, that offer alternative takes on short term loans, to help people avoid expensive unauthorised overdraft fees.
Don’t forget: talking to lenders is also a great idea – you may be surprised at how flexible they can be. Ultimately, lenders do want to lend money – they have to do so responsibly, but it’s in their interests to work with borrowers to find a sustainable credit solution.
Tappily line of credit up to £2,500 as and when you need it
Tappily uses read-only access to your current account to provide a flexible line of credit.
Avoid unauthorised overdraft fees by setting account balance triggers.
Once approved, transfer money into your account within 15 minutes.
Representative example: Borrow £1,200 for up to 75 days at a rate of 124% p.a. (variable). Representative APR 49.7%.
Lenders are also wary of lending to people without much in the way of credit history. This might include 18-year olds or newly-arrived migrants. If you’re in this situation there are a few things you could do to help your case:
Register on the electoral roll. Visit your local council’s website to register.
Open a UK current account. Showing lenders that you can keep up direct debits and utility payments will help show that you are likely to keep up repayments on a loan. Making regular deposits into savings could bolster your case further.
Start small. By borrowing just a small amount, for example using a credit builder credit card, you can demonstrate that you pay back loans responsibly.
What about a broker?
As long as you bear in mind that it’s unlikely to check the whole market, but instead subsection of lenders with whom it has an arrangement, then a broker can take the strain out of finding a competitive personal loan deal. Brokers find the best rate available to you from their panel of lenders, taking into account your individual circumstances. Normally this service is free, because the broker will earn a referral fee from the lender.
Some brokers or “matching services” can now run soft searches with a range of lenders in seconds, meaning that without any impact on your credit score you’ll be able to get realistic rate quotes for loans you’re likely to be approved for. This can be a smart way to avoid disappointment, protect your credit score and focus on lenders likely to approve you.
What is APR?
If you’re comparing any credit-based products, it won’t be long before you’ll come across the Annual Percentage Rate (APR).
This figure is designed to provide an annual summary of the cost of a loan and takes into account both interest and any mandatory charges to be paid (for example an arrangement fee) over the duration of a loan.
All lenders must calculate the APR of their products in the same way, and must tell you the APR before you sign an agreement, so for consumers it can be a handy tool for comparison.
If you’re looking at bad credit personal loans, expect higher APRs than those you’ll see comparing standard products. This means borrowing will be more expensive but also that it’s easier to be approved if you don’t have a great credit score.
Bear in mind, however, that lenders are only obliged to award this rate to 51% of those who take out the loan – the other 49% could pay more. That’s why it’s often referred to as the representative APR. Depending on your circumstances, you may be offer a better or a worse rate than the advertised APR.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, lenders tend of focus on your affordability and credit history when considering your loan application.
This is to avoid fraud and to guarantee the guarantor named in the paperwork really is the guarantor.
A non-homeowner or tenant guarantor loan is not a secured loan, so it’s not tied to your home as collateral. If the borrower defaults, the guarantor will be called upon to continue paying off the loan.
As with most unsecured loans, most lenders could request a county court judgement (CCJ) or a “charging order” on a homeowner’s property if both the borrower and guarantor default on the loan. The charging order means the lender could obtain their outstanding debt from the sale or remortgaging of the guarantor’s home. However, lenders rarely resort to this action and will usually work with the borrower and guarantor to devise an alternative method of paying off the loan.
Finder.com has selected Accepty Technology Ltd to provide details of credit products and whether you may be eligible to get them. Accepty Technology Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN: 839295). Accepty is acting as a credit broker, not a lender, and may receive a payment from a credit provider if you take out a credit product.
Chris Lilly is a publisher at finder.com. He's a specialist in credit-based products including business and personal loans, mortgages and credit cards, and is passionate about helping UK consumers make informed decisions about their borrowing. In his spare time Chris likes forcing his kids to exercise more.
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