Compare personal loans for “fair” credit scores

Having "fair" credit won't stop you getting a loan – plenty of lenders don't expect perfection – but with higher rates involved it's worth finding the cheapest loan you're eligible for.

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For most of us, big-ticket expenditures like a car, wedding or holiday very often can’t be paid for upfront. So, being practical is incredibly important – and even more so if you’ve been declined for a loan in the past.

If you’re looking for a loan and have your credit rating in mind, you’re already ahead of the curve. By taking into account what kind of loan your credit score can get you, you’re setting yourself up for success. Here’s how to track down the best rates available to you.

Calculate the cost of loans for fair credit

Table: sorted by representative APR, promoted deals first

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Check your personalised rates and likelihood of acceptance.
Name Product Total Payable Monthly Repayment Representative APR Link
1st Stop Personal Loans Ltd Homeowners Unsecured Loan
Check eligibility
View details
Representative example: Borrow £10,000.00 over 3 years at a rate of 31.3% p.a. (fixed). Representative APR 31.3% and total payable £14,801.76 in monthly repayments of £411.16.
118 118 Money Personal Loan (fair credit)
Check eligibility
View details
Representative example: Borrow £2,000.00 over 2 years at a rate of 35.9% p.a. (fixed). Representative APR 35.9% and total payable £2,710.32 in monthly repayments of £112.93.
besavvi Personal Loan
Check eligibility
View details
Representative example: Borrow £10,000.00 over 3 years at a rate of 18.9% p.a. (fixed). Representative APR 18.9% and total payable £12,913.20 in monthly repayments of £358.70.
Everyday Loans Personal Loan (fair credit)
Check eligibility
View details
Representative example: Borrow £10,000.00 over 3 years at a rate of 34.4% p.a. (fixed). Representative APR 34.4% and total payable £15,269.04 in monthly repayments of £424.14.
Bamboo Personal Loan
Check eligibility
View details
Representative example: Borrow £10,000.00 over 3 years at a rate of 49.7% p.a. (fixed). Representative APR 49.7% and total payable £17,537.04 in monthly repayments of £487.14.

Compare up to 4 providers

Please note: You should always refer to your loan agreement for exact repayment amounts as they may vary from our results.

Late repayments can cause you serious money problems. See our debt help guides.

What is a fair credit score?

There is no single, definitive credit score that’s defined as “fair”. Each Credit Reference Agency (CRA) uses a different scale. Lenders will normally check with one or more of these agencies when assessing your application for credit. Even though these bureaus collect the same information to determine your credit score, there’s enough variance in their algorithms to result in different scores among them.

These are the scoring ranges employed by the main UK CRAs. The higher the number, the better the score.

  • Experian: 0-999
  • Equifax: 0-700
  • TransUnion (formerly Callcredit): 0-710

Depending on your score, you’re said to have excellent, good, fair, poor or very poor credit:

AgencyScoreRating
Experian0-560
561-720
721-880
881-960
961-999
Very poor
Poor
Fair
Good
Excellent
Equifax0-279
280-379
380-419
420-465
466-700
Very poor
Poor
Fair
Good
Excellent
TransUnion (formerly Callcredit)0-550
551-565
566-603
604-627
628-710
1: Very poor
2: Poor
3: Fair
4: Good
5: Excellent

Having a decent credit score will make it easier to get approved for personal loans, mortgages, vehicle finance and credit cards. It’s also likely to have a bearing on the credit limits and interest rates that you’re offered by lenders (which can vary at the lender’s discretion).

How does my credit score affect my application?

While it’s not the only factor considered, your credit score is one of the main things used to determine, your odds of getting approved for a loan in the first place, the maximum amount you can borrow and the interest rate you’re offered.

Although your perceived risk may vary from lender to lender, they’ll all try to determine how well you’re meeting your financial obligations. The better you are at meeting those financial obligations, the less risk you’ll pose in a lender’s eyes. If you haven’t always paid bills on time or have missed loan repayments in the past, the rates you’re offered will most likely be “sub-prime”.

The lowest rates on the market – and therefore the cheapest loans – are only accessible to people with excellent credit. Applicants with fair credit may be offered personalised (higher) rates or may need to apply to specialist lenders.

All lenders must evaluate the interest and fees they charge and calculate the APR (annual percentage rate) of their products in the same way, and must tell you the APR before you sign an agreement. So for consumers, the APR should be a handy tool for comparison.

But crucially, when lenders advertise their Representative APR, in most cases this is not the rate that they award to all successful applicants. It’s defined by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) as being the APR that the lender realistically expects at least 51% of its borrowers to get. Because most lenders tailor their interest rates to the applicant, it’s usually the 51% of applicants with the best credit scores that get the representative APR, while the remaining 49% get a higher APR. This is known as risk-based pricing.

OK… so how do I find the cheapest fair credit loan for me?

Let’s say that you have a fair credit score, and you go straight to the lender offering the very lowest rates on the market. If your application is approved, it’s highly likely that the lender will offer you a higher rate than what you’d seen them advertise. If you apply to a specialist fair credit lender, you’ll stand a better chance of getting approved and a better chance of getting their advertised representative APR.

So when your credit score isn’t excellent, the representative APR can be misleading. What you really need to know is the actual APR that you personally would be offered by each lender, and what their loans would cost you each month and overall. Lenders can give you this information before you apply if you consent to a soft search of your credit file (the “soft” bit means that it won’t hurt your credit score).

Better still, a decent loan matching service (like Finder!) can check your eligibility with multiple lenders in one go, and give a personalised comparison of the actual APRs that you’d receive and the monthly/overall costs of the loans.

What types of loans are available to fair credit scores?

Repairing your credit score can take time, but you do have loan options now if your credit is sitting at “fair”.

  • Unsecured personal loans. Fixed-rate, unsecured instalment loans such as those compared on this page, involve a lump sum of £500 to £25,000 borrowed up front repaid in monthly instalments. As the name suggests, these loans aren’t secured against any property. They’re available from high street banks, supermarket banks and online direct lenders or through brokers and loan matching services. Many lenders cater to those whose credit histories are less than perfect. With a fair credit score, the interest rates on a personal loan are likely to range from around 15% to 40% yearly.
  • Guarantor loans. Guarantor loans require a friend or relative of the borrower (who will need to have good credit) to promise to step forward in the event that the borrower defaults on the loan. Interest rates for these loans typically sit between about 35% and 50% yearly.
  • Secured (homeowner) loans. If you’re a homeowner with a mortgage, a secured loan is essentially a second-charge mortgage, that can let you leverage the equity in your home as security for the lender. By reducing the chances that the lender could lose its money, you could be more likely to get your application approved, you could be able to borrow a larger sum and you could get a lower rate. There are some downsides to be aware of: your home is on the line and a lower rate might actually work out more expensive if you end up borrowing over, say, 20 years. At the time of writing, with a fair credit score, the interest rates on a secured loan are likely to range from around 8% to 20% yearly.
  • Credit builder credit cards. Credit building cards are essentially just regular credit cards that designed for lower credit scores, to be “stepping stone” products to cards or loans with better rates. Credit limits typically start relatively small, but can usually be reviewed within just a few months of responsible card use. By reporting back to CRAs that you are borrowing responsibly, any credit card can help you to build or rebuild a positive credit history. Whether or not a card is a better bet for you than a loan may come down to whether you need a one-off lump sum now or ongoing access to a bit of credit each month.
  • Car finance. Car loans take various forms, and because some forms use your vehicle as security, lenders can be less exposed to risk and can be more inclined to lend.
  • Logbook loans. With a logbook loan, you hand over the V5 logbook of your vehicle to a lender as security. These loans are usually considered short-term loans because they are meant to be repaid quickly. Interest rates are high, and if you fail to repay a logbook loan on time, you stand to lose your vehicle. The amount you are able to borrow will be relative to the value of your vehicle.
  • High-cost, short term loans. Short term loans, including payday loans, can be paid back in as little as a few days or on your next payday, but they typically come with some of the highest interest rates around. They are usually given in smaller monetary amounts of up to £1,000, over terms ranging from a few days up to 12 months. Interest rates on this type of loan are legally capped at 0.8% per day (292% yearly).

Amigo Guarantor Personal Loan

Borrow up to £10,000 within 24 hours with a guarantor

  • Amigo loans will not judge you based on your credit score
  • Loans of £500-£10,000 over 1-5 years
  • Loans normally paid out within 24hrs of the guarantor being accepted

Representative example: Borrow £5,000.00 over 3 years at a rate of 49.9% p.a. (fixed). Representative APR 49.9% and total payable £8,782.92 in monthly repayments of £243.97.

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How do I compare my loan options if I have a fair credit score?

A fair credit score can limit your options slightly. Not all lenders will be willing to fund you, and others might not give you their best loans. Here’s what you should look for when comparing lenders:

  • Eligibility. Different lenders will require you to meet different criteria. Credit score, age, income and residence are all factors that may determine your eligibility for a loan, and there’s no point applying if you don’t meet those terms. Look for “soft search” or “eligibility checker” facilities to find out whether or not you’re likely to be approved, without affecting your credit score.
  • Available loan amounts. Consider exactly how much you need to borrow, and why that amount is necessary. Borrowing more than you need will obviously cost you more in the long run, and lenders can be apprehensive about lending larger sums to people with less-than-perfect credit histories.
  • Overall cost. If you only compare one factor, it should probably be this one! Aim to keep the overall cost as low as possible, while ensuring the repayment schedule is affordable.
  • Interest rate. One of the biggest factors to look at is the APR that’s offered. Your credit score, the amount you want to borrow, your ability to repay and the loan term can all impact this figure. Don’t forget that the advertised “representative APR” may not be awarded to all applicants. Lenders typically tailor rates to the individual.
  • Available loan terms. Typically your loan term will be dictated by how much you’re borrowing and how much you can afford to repay each month. Broadly speaking, the longer you borrow for, the more expensive the loan, but realistically it can be necessary to spread larger loans over longer terms.
  • Turnaround time. Some lenders are able to get you the funds on the same day that you apply, but these lenders may not have the best rates. Consider carefully whether you really need to prioritise speed over savings.

I want better rates and terms on a loan. How can I improve my credit?

Some of the main factors determining your credit score are your payment history, your credit utilisation, how long you have held credit, the type of credit used and your number of credit searches. To repair your credit, keep in mind the following factors:

  • Start small. If you’re going to have to pay a higher rate of interest than those with better credit scores, it might make sense to start with a smaller sum over a shorter term, so that you can prove to a lender that you’re trustworthy. Then, next time, you should be able to score a better rate.
  • Save regularly. By demonstrating that you can put aside even a tiny part of your regular income, you will demonstrate that you’re financially responsible.
  • Reduce your debt balances. Lenders will also consider your credit utilisation ratio – that’s how much of your available credit that you’re actually using (your debt compared to your total credit). Simply moving your balances around will not actually change your utilisation rate. It’s often easier said than done, but reducing your level of debt overall will naturally make you more appealing to a would-be lender.
  • Don’t necessarily close an unused credit account if you don’t have to. Closing an account can actually have a negative effect on your credit utilisation rate. Provided that there are no ongoing costs to do so, and provided you resist the urge to use it, it could be worth keeping an unused credit account open.
  • Avoid applying for lots of loans or credit cards. Nothing looks more desperate to a potential lender than a multitude of loan applications in a short space of time, especially if none of the applications result in an account being opened. Use “soft search” facilities to check whether or not you will be approved for credit without affecting your credit score.

As an aside, if you’re not on the electoral roll, it’s worth registering with your local council, as CRAs will check this too.

LOQBOX

Build your credit history while you save with LOQBOX

  • Choose what you want to save – from £20 to £200 a month
  • Build your credit history with the credit reference agencies
  • Leave with an improved credit history, plus all your savings
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Bottom line

Your credit score can affect your ability to get a loan, with interest rates, terms and eligibility all at least partially dependent on your credit score. It’s important to know not only what your score is, but also how your actions influence it.

When you’re looking to take out a loan, make sure it’s both what you need and something that you can financially handle. If you can’t make timely payments, you could damage your creditworthiness and hurt future attempts at financing. Shop around, do your research, ask advice from an expert or even a trusted friend, and make sure you sleep on any big decisions.

There’s a decent spread of loan companies out there serving all sectors of the market. All of them must only practice responsible lending, however, which means that they should consider factors like your income and outgoings so that they don’t offer loans likely to lead to financial difficulty.

Frequently asked questions

How different factors can affect your credit score

Will you be approved?

Check your personalised rates and likelihood of acceptance.

We show offers we can track - that's not every product on the market...yet. Unless we've said otherwise, products are in no particular order. The terms "best", "top", "cheap" (and variations of these) aren't ratings, though we always explain what's great about a product when we highlight it. This is subject to our terms of use. When you make major financial decisions, consider getting independent financial advice. Always consider your own circumstances when you compare products so you get what's right for you.

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