7 Best Bad Credit Loans: How to Get Personal Loans With Bad Credit
Your credit score can define you in the eyes of a lender. That mysterious, magical number on your credit report is the single most important factor for securing a loan. Bad credit is, well, bad. But not having credit at all is also a major strike against you.
Interested in getting a loan while having bad credit? This guide is for you.
But let’s get the basics out of the way first: “bad credit” and “no credit” are quite different. Read on to learn everything there is to know about bad credit and bad credit loans, or use the quick links below to read about a particular topic:
- What Is a Credit Score?
- Bad Credit vs. No Credit
- Bad Credit Loans
- Who Needs a Bad Credit Loan?
- How to Prequalify for a Personal Loan for Bad Credit
- Best Low Credit Loans
- Best Poor Credit Loans
- Tips for Finding the Best Bad Credit Loans
- Best 7 Companies to Get a Personal Loan With Bad Credit Online
- 7 Ways to Get a Personal Loan With Bad Credit Online
- 6 Ways to Spot a Bad Credit Scam
- How to Improve Your Credit History in the United States
- Bad Credit FAQ
What Is a Credit Score?
A credit score is a number between 300 and 850. It is essentially a rating by which your credit risk profile is determined.
A score closer to someone is more likely to default on credit and is seen as a higher risk. A score closer to 850 is seen as positive and more trustworthy. This means someone is less likely to default on a debt.
A credit score is taken at a specific point in time. It does not account for your future potential. It is only a summary of your credit history.
Your credit history is, therefore, displayed as a score for lenders to use to determine if they want to offer you a loan.
How Is Your Credit Score Calculated?
A credit score is tallied like a test. The calculation process has different questions. Your credit score depends on the outcome of each question. Let’s say the credit score test adds up to 100%. Your score will be determined by the following factors and the corresponding weight per factor:
Credit History – 35%
A history of your credit dealings is taken into account. Credit bureaus keep track of your financial history for up to 10 years. Good account payment habits will give you a good score here. Bad account payments and defaults will give you a bad score here.
Utilization – 30%
Your credit utilization is the amount of credit you have available versus the amount of credit you are using. This is expressed as a ratio. Let’s say you have a credit card with a $100 limit and you are only using $20. Then your utilization ratio will be 20%. A lower ratio is considered better and will, therefore, contribute to a higher credit score. Remember to still use some of your available credit. Don’t hold back completely as you can only build a credit score when you use credit.
Length of Use – 15%
You need a credit history with a minimum of 6 months to score any points in this category. A longer history can help towards getting a better score. But, someone with a shorter credit history can still score well here. This category is important, but it doesn’t bear the same weight as the first two categories.
New Applications – 10%
Any new forms of credit you apply for are also taken into account. If you apply for a lot of new loans, it will give your credit score a knock.
Types of Credit Used – 10%
This part of credit scoring can be vague. The general consensus is that lenders would like to know your ability to handle different types of credit. This includes anything from credit cards to other types of loan repayments like personal loans, car loans, and mortgages.
Bad Credit vs. No Credit
Having a bad credit score means you have a poor credit history. Essentially, at some point, you took on credit you couldn’t pay it back.
Having no credit score means you have no credit experience. Lenders have no way of knowing whether they can trust you to pay back your loan.
Both can prevent you from getting a loan; however, having a bad credit score is worse than having no credit score. Having a bad credit score means you have a bad track record and a potential lender will see this as a red flag—you can even be denied a job because of it! Having no credit experience is also a red flag, but a lesser one; while there is nothing to hold against you, there is also nothing going in your favor.
Young people, recent immigrants, and people who have typically accrued expenses under others’ names (family or siblings) tend to have this problem. Or, some combination of all three (e.g. young immigrants).
Having a bad credit history or no experience with credit can work against you, but neither is insurmountable. It’s important to understand the difference between the two and how they are used to profile you financially so that you can strategize ways to overcome them.
What’s Considered Bad Credit?
So what qualifies as bad credit?
The answer will differ from lender to lender. Different lenders will regard different credit scores as “unacceptable.” Generally, however, a credit score below 629 is considered “bad.”
Bad Credit Loans
Bad credit loans can be separated into various categories, depending on the score of the borrower. With that in mind, depending on the credit score, you might qualify for a low credit loan, poor credit loan, a very poor credit loan, or an extremely bad credit loan. You should know this in advance so you aren’t caught off guard when going through the application process.
Low Credit Loans
Most likely, when it comes to low credit loans, you have more options at your disposal than somebody with poor credit or extremely poor credit. Even so, it’s best to shop around a bit to ensure you’ve made a sensible choice.
Poor Credit Loans (600 to 650)
In this segment, there is a range of options to choose from. But depending on the lender, you might need to pay really high interest fees, particularly if you borrow a large sum of money.
Very Poor Credit Loans (500 – 599)
If your credit rating is between 599 and 500, the possibility of finding a loan with convenient terms slightly diminishes. Even so, there are still some lenders that are open to collaborating with borrowers with very poor credit, at the cost of a higher interest rate in most cases.
Extremely Bad Credit Loans (499 or less)
If your credit rating is 499 or lower, then your borrowing options are slim and you need to start looking for extremely bad credit loans.
Who Needs a Bad Credit Loan?
Loans for bad credit are a great option if you have a bad credit score, as you might not be able to get any other loan offers. If you manage your bad credit loan well, it can also be a great way to build your credit score.
How to Prequalify for a Personal Loan for Bad Credit
Prequalifying for a loan, also know as preapproval, allows you to see your loan terms with just a soft credit check, rather than a hard inquiry which can negatively affect your credit score. Most lenders will ask you for some basic information about your income and employment and will be able to give you prequalification terms from that.
Why You Want Preapproval for a Personal Loan
You definitely want preapproval for a loan so you can know the terms up front. Your best bet is to get preapproval from multiple lenders so you can compare rates and terms and make sure you get the best options for your situation. Getting preapprovals for your personal loan will help make sure you don’t take a loan with unfavorable terms.
3 Steps to Preapproval for a Personal Loan for Bad Credit
With most lenders, there are three simple steps you should take to get preapproval:
- Figure out your monthly payment
- Identify lenders that meet your needs
- Complete the preapproval applications
After you complete the applications, the lenders will perform a soft credit check and evaluate your financial profile to see what kind of terms they can offer. From there, it’s up to you to compare offers and pick the one that’s right for you.
Best Low Credit Loans
Now that you know the differences between different credit ratings, we can proceed to introduce you to some of the best low credit loans on the marketplace. To ensure you get a good deal, it’s always best to do some preliminary research. We hope our suggestions will help with your due diligence.
New American Funding — Best Mortgage
Is there such a thing as the best mortgage for people with bad credit? Yes, the good thing is that there is since more and more people struggle with poor credit. New American Funding facilitates FHA and VA loans, as well as conventional and jumbo mortgage loans. In the case of FHA loans, in order to qualify, your credit score cannot be lower than 580. As for other loans, you’ll need a credit score of at least 620.
The downside is that the interest rates are high if the credit rating is poor. Therefore, you know what to expect prior to filing an application. If you’re not under any time constraints, you might consider waiting a while before getting a mortgage to repair your credit and save some money on interest rates.
Marcus by Goldman Sachs — Best Debt Consolidation
Odds are you’ve heard a lot about debt consolidation. There are pros and cons associated with it, which you should look into beforehand. Once you do that, you should know that Marcus by Goldman Sachs is a good candidate in this category, since it is more flexible. Therefore people with poor credit can get a pretty good deal on debt consolidation.
The best debt consolidation is available to people whose credit scores are above 660 on the FICO 9 and are above 580 on the VantageScore. The good part about the application process is that it only takes a couple of minutes since everything happens online. You can quickly find out the interest rate that applies to your situation. As for the APR, it varies between 5.99 percent to 28.99 percent. What will matter most in the equation is your credit and the market interest rates.
There aren’t any additional fees such as prepayment, late, or signup fees you need to worry about. This is why we think Marcus by Goldman Sachs qualifies as the best debt consolidation.
Best Poor Credit Loans
Bad credit can be a major impediment when you want to get financing. And while you could always attempt to rebuild your poor credit and make more sensible financial choices, it takes time. If you need money to make an important purchase or simply because you have an emergency, the best poor credit loans will solve your problem. Before committing to a new loan, it’s important to understand the implications and ensure you can afford the loan.
Capital One – Best Auto Loan
Finding the best auto loan isn’t that easy because almost every online lender introduces itself as the best in the marketplace. However, that isn’t necessarily true since there are many lenders that have unfair rates and really high APRs, especially for people with poor credit.
But Capital One distinguishes itself as the best auto loan for several reasons. For one thing, Capital One is basically a bank for checking and savings accounts. It accepts applicants who have low credit scores—as low as 500. Even if you have been previously rejected someplace else, you should still consider applying with Capital One.
You can borrow a sum of money ranging from $4,000 to $40,000, and the loan terms are up to 72 months. On top of that, the application process is straightforward and to the point, which means you don’t have to worry about a lengthy, complicated application process. Thanks to the Capital One Auto Navigator, you might pre-qualify for the best auto loan without it leaving a mark on your credit rating.
Tips for Finding the Best Bad Credit Loans
Are you in need of a bad credit loan? Here are some handy tips to help you find the best personal loans for bad credit:
- Look for limits higher than $1,000: The best lenders will offer more to those who need it.
- Only take reasonable APRs: Bad credit scores will lead to higher interest rates, but the best lenders will still offer competitive rates.
- Try and get flexible terms: Personal loans for bad credit should have a relatively fast repayment period. Don’t get locked into a fixed repayment plan that stretches over a long timeframe.
- Only accept clear offerings: Lenders who can’t clearly explain what they’re offering should be avoided.
- Reputation says it all: Research lenders through the Better Business Bureau. Don’t follow too many personal reviews as some people might be angry for failing to qualify for a loan. Research and find objective reviews about the customer service these lenders provide and if they follow through on their promises.
Best 7 Companies to Get a Personal Loan With Bad Credit Online
These 7 lenders are the best options if you need a loan but have bad credit—in addition to no credit.
Best for Bad Credit
Lending Point is a Georgia-based online lender that gives bad credit loans to individuals in the credit score range of 600 to 680. Lending Point considers factors beyond credit score and income and will give favorable payment options.
Avant is a Chicago-based online lender that gives bad credit loans to credit scores as low as 580. You must have a minimum salary of $40,000 and the conditions are more strict than at Lending Point. However, Avant is a reputable name in the online lending community and may offer favorable rates in contrast to traditional banks.
Bad Credit Loans is one of the oldest online lenders and has a solid reputation. What makes Bad Credit Loans different than the others on this list is that it does not lend directly, rather, it is a marketplace that pairs lenders and borrowers. Bad Credit Loans is a place that facilitates peer-to-peer lending.
Opploans gives loans to people with subprime credit—a very difficult credit situation. If you have subprime credit, then you should head over to OppLoans because they may be the only lender willing to consider giving you a loan. The advantage of using Opploans is that they regularly deal with very poor credit situations, but their interest rates do tend to be steep.
Peerform is another platform that facilitates peer-to-peer lending (not including business loans). Peerform connects bad credit borrowers to business investors.
One Main Financial is not an online lender but they do grant bad credit loans to those with credit scores under 600. The drawback is that you cannot file your application online, but their willingness to accommodate poor credit makes them a decent option.
NetCredit is an online financial services provider and lender who’s mission statement touts that they believe borrowers are more than just a credit score. While NetCredit’s loan amounts cap at $10,000 and they are a relatively new lender, they are willing to work with borrowers with less-than-stellar credit scores.
Types of Loans
Understanding the difference between types of loans is crucial for choosing the best loan for you and your situation. If you understand what you are looking for, and the specific information related to that loan, then you can figure out how to overcome a bad credit history.
Getting a loan can be complicated. There are so many different terms and conditions that it can feel overwhelming. However, most loans can be broken down into these two simple categories:
Do you want something you can’t afford? Does a family member need something they can’t afford? Personal loans tend to be taken out in times of need. Sometimes, matters in life are time-sensitive; having the money for something now is more important than waiting until you can earn it yourself.
People need personal loans for a variety of reasons. They may need to purchase something, they may need financial assistance, or they simply want the chance to build up their credit with a loan.
A personal loan can increase your spending power and allow you more financial freedom when you need it. If you urgently need to purchase something (for instance, an auto loan with bad credit) or are just in need of financial assistance, a personal loan can help alleviate that pressure.
Whatever credit you take on will need to be paid back in the future, so you should always be careful about how much credit you take on. With that caveat out of the way, we must admit that a personal loan can be helpful when necessary, and if you’re confident that you can take on the credit, then you should consider a personal loan.
Business loans are loans aimed at individuals looking for financial support when starting a business. Start-up costs can be too much for one proprietor to handle themselves.
Taking out business a loan is common; having all the money necessary for getting a business off the ground is rare. Therefore, it is normal to seek out a business loan. There are many moving parts in getting a business off the ground and taking out a business loan can alleviate that pressure.
Purchasing fixed assets, hiring staff, and other associated costs all take upfront costs. Short-term loans, installment loans, or long-term loans can help sustain a new business while it’s getting off the ground.
You may have a brilliant idea for a business, but a bad credit score will make it hard for people to invest in that idea. Knowing the ins and outs of business loans will help.
When the business begins making a profit, the borrower can then return the capital to the lender while continuing to run their business. Taking out a business loan depends on that idea being financially successful.
If the business does not make revenue, then it will be difficult to pay back the loan. However, if the business succeeds once the operations are in full swing, the revenue made once the business is up and running will counteract the needed loans to start the business.
7 Ways to Get a Personal Loan With Bad Credit Online
If your credit history and score are poor, it can feel impossible to get a loan. However, there are other variables lenders take into account when deciding whether to grant a loan. The following options may help you overcome your credit score.
1. Get a Loan With a Cosigner
Cosigning a loan means taking out a loan with another person. You should see this as an opportunity: If your reasoning behind getting a loan is strong, and someone else with a better credit history believes in that reasoning, lenders will look at that favorably.
The idea is to find a friend or family member who has a good credit history to cosign your loan.
In doing this, you will give the lender additional assurance that you will pay back the full loan and your chances of being approved for a bad credit loan will increase. Furthermore, the cosigner will now share the risk (and return) of the investment the lender makes in you or your idea.
Remember that the most important thing you need to consider when you choose your cosigner is their creditworthiness. If your cosigner’s credit history is very good, this will automatically lower your interest rates.
You also want to make sure it is someone you can confide in about your finances and that you trust in general. Read further into this article to see how you can find a cosigner in the United States, or check this article out for even more information on finding a cosigner.
2. Make Use of Your Home Equity
Another way of overcoming a poor credit score is to use the value of your fixed assets, such as your home or car, as collateral. This will mitigate some of the lender’s risk and offset some of the unfavorable conditions that result from having a poor credit score or a poor credit history.
There is risk involved in home equity, but it is certainly a way to strengthen your case for a loan. Doing this means you are willing to put yourself at risk to receive the loan, which ultimately puts a lender’s mind at greater ease.
When drafting the loan agreement, you can offer your home equity as a caveat that may counterbalance your poor credit history. There is high risk involved if you default on your loan, but if you are confident in your reasoning behind seeking a loan, then it may be a viable option.
3. Take on a Secured Loan
Home equity, which we just mentioned, is just one of the categories of secured loans.
You can also use most of your fixed assets as financial leverage when seeking a secured loan. Fixed assets include cars, boats, savings, and stocks that you can use to leverage the loan. This is a called a secured loan because the loan is secured against something that you own, namely a valuable fixed asset.
You are showing a lender that you are willing to risk something of your own to get something from them. A lender may look past your credit history if you are willing to take on risk for yourself.
The returns from secured loans on less-significant possessions will reap lower benefits but also yield lower risks. Weighing risk versus reward is important, and asking yourself what you are willing to risk for a loan is key when considering taking on a secured loan.
4. Find Online Lenders
These days, you have the option of getting a loan from an online lender even if you have bad credit or no credit history. New online banks now offer competitive loans for people with bad credit through an easily accessible and easy-to-use loan application process. They themselves are competing for your business, while people still look to traditional lenders as the first step to borrowing money.
That means new competitors, like online lenders, may offer you more favorable conditions and less restrictive standards for borrowing. Usually, online lenders decide whether or not to give you a loan based on your education level and your employment history, whereas traditional lenders may be more strict by focusing mostly on your credit history.
The important thing is to find reputable online lenders, ones with what may be short, but successful, histories. If you can find an above-board online lender, you may finally find traction in your pursuit of a bad credit loan. Because some of these above-board online lenders may be less established, they will offer bad credit loans at lower interest rates.
5. Ask Friends and Family
If you don’t find a cosigner or have equity to borrow against, you might consider borrowing money from family or close friends. It’s hard to bring personal relationships into financial matters, but if they are confident in your reasoning for a loan, then you may want to seek their help. If you decide to do this, you should try to make it as formal as possible to avoid any problems.
Set out terms from the outset so that if problems arise, you know how to handle the situation. This means writing an agreement with the loan terms, and of course, always make payments on time—you don’t want to ruin your relationships because of financial disputes.
6. Join a Credit Union
Joining a credit union is an unconventional option but it may be another way for you to overcome a bad credit history. You can likely get a loan by joining a credit union in the United States. There are credit unions for teachers, veterans, and all different kind of professions, and we’ve reviewed quite a few, like Central One Federal Credit Union and Eastman Credit Union.
Credit unions, in general, are nonprofit organizations that offer similar services as commercial banks, with the main difference being that they are owned by members—and not shareholders seeking to make a profit. Credit unions are normally open to new members and are willing to lend money, even if the member has a bad credit history.
Typically, credit unions represent a certain class of people. If you are new to the United States, there may be collectives like credit unions designed to help you get a loan. Credit unions usually make their judgment based on your character and demeanor, and if they allow you into their collective as a member, you get to enjoy the perks of membership. One of those perks is a more personal touch when considering your loan application.
The most important thing to remember is that you should look for a credit union that has something in common with you and your profession—be sure that you can identify yourself as a member of the credit union.
7. Explore Peer-to-Peer Lending
This is one of the newest forms of lending money and has only existed for a couple of years. Basically, you have the option to borrow money from other people and not an institution.
This is another adaptation that has risen from the internet. Whereas online lenders are online companies, peer-to-peer lending pertains to lending between people.
Nowadays, there are several peer-to-peer lending online platforms where you can get a loan. This is another situation of risk versus reward. Individual lenders may lean more heavily on credit history for bad credit loans, or they may be more lenient because they have to compete with traditional avenues.
This risk is greater for both parties, both you as a borrower and them as a lender. However, if you do find the right platform, then you may be able to create favorable conditions for all parties involved. There is an advantage to peer-to-peer lending and it doesn’t hurt to look into it to seek out the possibility that you may find an accommodating lender you can trust. The most well-known peer-to-peer lending sites are Lending Club, Prosper Marketplace, SoFi, and Peerform.
6 Ways to Spot a Bad Credit Scam
Be warned, there are some scammers out there who want to take advantage of people with bad credit scores. You need to be able to spot them before they cause you any harm. Here are 6 ways to identify these crooks.
Legitimate lenders are not allowed to tell you that you will definitely get a loan without any prior knowledge of your credit report. So if a lender guarantees a loan, it is probably a scam. Legit lenders need to check your credit history before they can promise you anything.
2. Upfront Fees
No lender is allowed to charge you any type of application fees before they can process your application for a bad credit personal loan. So if the lender asks for upfront payment, run!
3. Spam-Like Communication
Lenders who pester you with constant generic emails or texts are generally bad news. They will not offer you the best personal loans for bad credit. Make sure you get personalized service from a real legit lender.
4. Odd Names
Companies that sound too much like existing companies are probably fake. Anyone that sounds like a made-up person should also be avoided. You want to work with lenders who actually exist. If you’re not sure, look them up on platforms such as the Better Business Bureau.
5. Unnecessary Requests for Personal Information
You should only supply personal information to companies you trust. Refrain from supplying any personal details over the phone. A lender will need your bank account number to transfer your loan to you. But, they certainly don’t need your passwords or pin codes. So don’t supply any information that is too personal or too sensitive.
6. Scare Tactics
No one needs to (or is allowed to) force you into a decision. Any company that tries to scare people into personal loans for bad credit is not worth it. This is your financial wellbeing at stake. You don’t need to rush it. So avoid any lenders who try to pressure you.
What Happens If My Application Gets Rejected?
If you have a bad credit history, it is very likely that your first application will get rejected. However, don’t give up right away. Instead, try to get a personal interview with the lender that denied you.
If they accept having a personal interview with you, make sure to prepare several documents that can prove that lending money to you is not so much of a risk. There are a variety of documents you can bring to prove your creditworthiness, like documents from your employer or your landlord.
Other important documents include tax returns, a list of assets (house, car, etc.), your job history, and bank statements. The best thing is to bring as many documents as possible that can help your “credit” case.
At the interview, you will be asked several questions about yourself and your past so be prepared to lay everything out! if you don’t give them anything to worry about, they will most likely give you the loan.
How to Improve Your Credit History in the United States
Although getting a bad credit loan might work for you, it does not take away from the fact that you should probably consider improving your credit history in the U.S. There are various ways you can build up your credit, and plenty of opportunities you can take advantage of.
First, it is important to know that there are three major consumer credit reporting agencies in the United States that keep track of all the information on your credit report. When building up credit, certain factors have to be taken into account in order to reach a higher score.
Here is a brief overview of what you should know when attempting to build up your credit:
1. Balancing Credit—Keep It Low
Keep your credit balance low.
Even if you have a high credit card limit, don’t spend the maximum amount of the card’s limit–keep it lower than approximately 30% of the total card’s limit. This way you are not teetering on the edge of the card’s limit with nowhere to turn in case of an emergency.
If you max out your credit limit, unsuspected circumstances may push you over the limit in a time of need. Saving credit is the same concept as saving money. If you have money acting as a cushion for a rainy day, then you will not find yourself in a rocky financial situation when you need funds.
The same principle applies to credit: if you utilize your credit to the limit, a rainy day may push you into the territory that negatively impacts your FICO score.
2. Paying on Time
Payment history is very important when calculating your credit score. Make sure to pay on time each month and to not miss any payments because that will indicate how reliable you are to a lender.
If you begin missing payments, interest and penalties are tacked onto your payments, so you step into quicksand by not paying your debts in a timely fashion. Paying on time is a show of good faith to a lender, and it also allows you to manageably pay off installment loans on a fixed schedule. Your FICO score is partly determined by how reliably you meet these installment deadlines, and a lender can tell by your credit score if you have a good track record in this regard.
3. Credit Boost Through Credit Diversity
Diversity, or variation, is one of the keys to a high credit score. Having pre-existing loans, credit cards, and mortgages is very important to show banks that you can handle different financial loans at the same time. Having this variation shows that you can reliably manage different aspects of the financial system and that you can handle and balance different forms of debt effectively.
If you show that you are capable of handling credit in multiple areas, a lender is more apt to provide you with an additional form of credit. In the same way that versatility shows how effective someone is, when it comes to your credit score, managing the requirements and debt obligations of multiple credit formats will increase your standing and boost your credit score.
4. There’s Always More Time to Boost Your Score
Having a long credit history will also give you more points. The years add up when calculating your score, which essentially means you have experience. With that experience, you may be able to compensate for a stretch of poor credit history if you have an even greater length of credit history where you managed your credit well.
The full stretch of time will allow for a margin of error, while also showing that you can handle long-term loans.
When starting to build up your credit history, make sure to keep all these factors in mind. Remember to be patient! Building credit does not happen overnight. It is a lot of work and takes years of discipline to successfully achieve.
Bad Credit FAQ
We have worked through what bad credit is. Now let’s look at some commonly asked questions about bad credit.
What’s a Credit Report?
A credit report is your financial track record. Every account you own and every line of credit you’ve taken out and repaid is recorded on this document.
According to law, the good and the neutral information about your financial dealings may remain on your credit report. The negative information (like missed payments) must be removed after 10 years.
Why Do I Have More Than One Credit Report?
There are three credit bureaus, namely Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Each of them calculates your credit score a bit differently based on their specific scoring method. So each of them keeps a separate credit record about you.
What Is Debt Monitoring?
This is a service that helps you monitor your credit. It will notify you of any changes taking place in your credit score. Good and bad changes will be sent to you. This can help you monitor your progress in building your credit score.
Which Credit Report Should I Look At?
You have one free credit report from each credit bureau per year. Use all three to monitor your report at each of them. They don’t keep the exact same records of your financial history, so it’s wise to monitor all three of them to dispute any false information or errors that might be stored by them.
We hope this article has helped you learn where you can get a loan if you have bad credit and what you can do to start improving your credit history today. If you have more questions about building good credit, feel free to get in contact with us so we can help answer your questions and lower your concerns.
Remember the golden rule about building your credit history: Never pay late, always pay on time!