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Top 5 Personal Loans for F-1 Visa Holders

Updated on March 18, 2024

At a Glance

  • F-1 visas are for international students studying in the U.S.
  • Obtaining a personal loan with an F-1 visa often requires a cosigner due to limited credit history.
  • Alternative options include providing nontraditional credit accounts or foreign credit history.
  • Various personal loan types are available, with lenders offering different rates, terms, and cosigner requirements.

International students on F-1 visas often find it stressful to study abroad as there are large costs involved. These essential costs include tuition and boarding.

Fortunately, if you are a student in the U.S. on an F-1 visa, you aren’t stuck. There are lenders in the U.S. who offer loans to nonresidents as well as international students to help out when things get sticky.

What is an F-1 Visa?

F-1 visas are visas specifically for those students who wish to study or further their education in the U.S. (i.e. for international students). This visa is required if you want to study at an academic institution like a(n):

  • University
  • College
  • Public or private school
  • Seminary
  • Conservatory

If you only want to do vocational training study at another non-academic institution, you will need an M-1 visa.

It’s important to note that F-1 visas or only for people visiting the U.S. on a temporary basis. An F-1 visa is, therefore, a non-immigrant visa.

Can Students with an F-1 Visa Get a Personal Loan?

If you are an F-1 student, you can get a personal loan like F-1 Visa loan, but isn’t necessarily an easy process. One difficulty may be your credit score. It is likely you haven’t been in the U.S. long enough to build up a good credit score (or even an average one). Most lenders generally require a two-year credit history and a valid credit score.

Fortunately, there are lenders who will offer you other options. One such option is to have a cosigner.

Cosigners as an Option to Get an F-1 Visa Loan


Cosigners play a pivotal role in the F-1 loan process, offering additional security to lenders by committing to share the responsibility for the debt. This arrangement is particularly beneficial when the primary borrower, often an international student without a substantial credit history in the U.S., seeks financial assistance. The presence of a cosigner reassures the lender, as it provides an alternative means of repayment if the primary borrower is unable to fulfill their loan obligations.

For lenders to consider the cosigner’s guarantee as reliable security, they typically require cosigners to meet specific criteria, including:

  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent residency: This ensures that the cosigner has a legal standing in the country, making it easier for lenders to pursue repayment if necessary.
  • A solid credit history and credit score: A good credit background indicates that the cosigner is financially responsible and has a track record of managing their debts effectively.
  • A steady income history: This demonstrates the cosigner’s financial capability to meet the loan obligations if the primary borrower fails to do so.
  • Proof of residing in the U.S. for more than two years: This requirement helps establish the cosigner’s stable presence in the country, further securing the lender’s ability to recover the loan.

For those exploring their options for an F-1 loan, considering lenders that understand the unique circumstances of international students and their cosigners is crucial. Platforms like Fiona can be invaluable in this search, offering access to a variety of loan options tailored to meet the needs of students and their cosigners. By leveraging such resources, borrowers can find competitive loan terms that account for the financial realities of pursuing education in the U.S., ensuring both the student and the cosigner are protected and informed throughout the loan process.

Other Options to Help You Get an F-1 Visa Loan

Some lenders also give you the option to provide other proof that you are a good candidate to get an F-1 visa loan. One option could be providing nontraditional credit accounts such as a utility bill or an insurance account. Some lenders might even accept a credit rating or credit history from a foreign credit reporting agency.

Other lenders also look at non-credit related factors such as being employed, or your monthly income to determine if you are an eligible borrower.

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3 Types of Personal Loans You Can Consider

Type

Description

Maximum amount

Short-term loan

These loans are typically designed for smaller amounts of money which is needed for a legitimate purpose.

The repayment terms can vary anything from a few weeks to months.

Repayment of the loan usually happen in one big payback amount, and not in installments.

$1,000 – $2,250

Installment loan

With this type of loan, you repay the loan amount with more than one installment scheduled over a specific period.

This is a good loan to choose when you want to build a good credit score.

Generally up to $5,000.

Unsecured loan

Unsecured loans are loans that are not secured by an asset or other collateral as a guarantee for repayment.

Fixed interest rates and terms usually apply.

Generally, up to $100,000, but some lenders give more for specific purposes.

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5 Best F1 Visa Personal Loans

It’s not always easy to get funding for school when you’re on an F1 visa in the US, especially since non-citizens don’t qualify for federal loans. Luckily, F1 visa holders can qualify for personal loans, which can be used for anything, including tuition and other school-related costs. Below, we’ll look at some of the best personal loan options for F1 visa holders. Here’s a quick look at our picks:

  1. AmOne (Best for Okay or Good Credit)
  2. Spotlight Loans (Best for Bad Credit)
  3. Spring Loans (Best for Bad Credit or No Credit)
  4. First Premier Lending (Best for Bad Credit)
  5. Upgrade (Best for Good Credit)
  6. Avant (Best for Okay Credit)

Read on to learn about each of these lenders and why we picked them. 

1. AmOne (Best for Okay or Good Credit)

AmOne’s platform connects a diverse range of borrowers, including international students, to suitable lenders. Recognizing the unique financial challenges faced by students from abroad, AmOne facilitates matches that can help these students secure personal loans tailored to their specific needs and circumstances.

AmOne Personal Loan

4.5
Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
Min. credit score

600

Fixed APR

3.99%-35.99%

Variable APR

N/A

Overview

  • Minimum credit score: 600.
  • Fixed APR: 3.99%-35.99%.
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to $50,000.
  • Repayment: 1 to 7 years.

Qualifications

  • Must be at least 18 years old.
  • Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • While there’s no specific income requirement, a consistent source of income is essential for the applicant.

Pros

  • Suitable for individuals with lower credit scores.
  • No cost for the matching service.
  • Attractive loan rates.

Cons

  • Acts as an intermediary, not a direct lender.
  • Risk of multiple contacts from prospective lenders.
  • Lack of clarity on lender details.

2. Spotlight Loans (Best for Bad Credit)

Spotlight Loans provides personal financing solutions with a commitment to accessibility and efficiency, offering borrowers the chance to obtain funds rapidly for a range of personal needs, supported by customer-friendly service and adaptable loan terms.

Spotlight Loans

4.8
Stilt rating
Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
Min. credit score

None

Fixed APR

6.63% and up

Variable APR

N/A

Overview

  • Minimum credit score: n/a
  • Variable APR: 4.99% and up
  • Loan amounts: $100 – $5,000
  • Repayment: Depends on choice of lender

Qualifications

  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Have a checking or savings account
  • Have regular income
  • Have a fair credit rating

Pros

  • Spotlight Loans is willing to work with individuals who have less-than-perfect credit, making it a viable option for those who may struggle to secure loans from traditional lenders​​​​.
  • Spotlight Loans offers same-day approval and funding, which is beneficial for those in urgent need of funds. This makes it a good option for emergency financial situations​​.
  • Unlike traditional payday loans, Spotlight Loans provides the option to repay the loan over a period of months, offering more flexibility in repayment planning​​​​.

Cons

  • One of the most significant drawbacks of taking a personal loan with Spotlight Loans is the potentially high interest rates. With APRs that can be much higher than traditional personal loan lenders, this can lead to substantial interest payments over time​​.
  • Spotlight Loans offers loan amounts that are relatively low, which may not be sufficient for all borrowers’ needs​​​​.
  • Spotlight Loans services are not available in all states, so it’s important to check if you reside in an eligible location before applying​​.

3. Spring Loans (Best for Bad Credit or No Credit)

Spring Loans offers a range of personal loan solutions suitable for a wide array of needs. For international students, who might have limited credit history in the host country, Spring Loans can be an avenue to explore flexible lending options designed to accommodate their specific requirements.

Spring Loans Personal Loan

4.2
Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
Min. credit score

None

Fixed APR

27.00%

Variable APR

N/A

Overview

  • Minimum credit score: None.
  • Fixed APR: 27.00%
  • Loan amounts: $3,000.
  • Repayment: 48 months.

Qualifications

  • Demonstrate a recurrent income.
  • Minimum age prerequisite: 18 years.
  • Validate U.S. citizenship status with an SSN.
  • Provide a legitimate U.S. driver’s license or a state identity card.
  • Establish a functional bank account for incoming deposits.
  • Adhere to any specific demands by the loan provider.

Pros

  • Open to applicants with any credit background.
  • Four-year loan period aids in structured financial management.
  • The $3,000 offer addresses several short-term financial challenges.
  • Wide-reaching eligibility criteria invite a broad spectrum of applicants.
  • The focus on dependable income over job title benefits varied income sources.

Cons

  • The set 27% APR is higher than many alternatives.
  • Restriction to a $3,000 loan might not cover all financial outlays.
  • Possessing specific IDs is mandatory, sidelining some applicants.
  • A prerequisite for an ongoing bank account may limit certain users.

4. First Premier Lending (Best for Bad Credit)

First Premier Lending provides customized loan solutions that cater to individual needs. Understanding the nuances and challenges faced by international students, such as navigating a new financial system and often lacking a domestic credit history, First Premier Lending strives to offer personal loans that address these unique concerns.

First Premier Lending Personal Loan

4.2
Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
Min. credit score

None

Fixed APR

27.00%

Variable APR

N/A

Overview

  • Minimum credit score: None.
  • Fixed APR: 27.00%.
  • Loan amounts: $3,000.
  • Repayment: 48 months.

Qualifications

  • Maintain a consistent source of income.
  • Must be at least 18 years of age.
  • Possess valid U.S. citizenship and a legitimate social security number.
  • Hold a current U.S. driver’s license or state-issued ID.
  • Keep an active bank account for direct deposit.
  • Satisfy any lender-specific criteria, such as credit rating, borrowing history, or place of residence.

Pros

  • No minimum credit score requirement allows accessibility for those with varied credit histories.
  • 48-month term provides clarity and allows for long-term financial planning.
  • Specific loan amount of $3,000 can meet many short-term financial needs.
  • Broad set of qualifications make the loan accessible to a wide range of people.
  • Emphasis on consistent income, not necessarily employment type, allows flexibility for borrowers.

Cons

  • A fixed APR of 27% is relatively high.
  • Loan amount is capped at $3,000, which might not cater to larger financial requirements.
  • Requirement of a U.S. driver’s license or state-issued ID could exclude some individuals.
  • Mandatory active bank account could be limiting for those who are unbanked.

5. First Premier Lending (Best for Bad Credit)

Upgrade emphasizes transparency and inclusivity in its lending processes. International students can explore Upgrade’s offerings to find personal loans that understand their specific context—being new to a country and often without a local credit foundation.

Upgrade Personal Loan

5.0
Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
Min. credit score

560

Fixed APR

8.49% - 35.99%

Variable APR

N/A

Overview

  • Minimum credit score: 560
  • Fixed APR: 8.49% – 35.99%
  • Loan amounts: $1,000 to $50,000
  • Repayment: 3 to 5 years (7 years on some larger loans)

Qualifications

  • Possess an active bank account.
  • Able to provide a legitimate email address.
  • Minimum age requirement: 18 years (19 for Alabama residents).
  • Credit score of 600 or higher.
  • Annual income of $25,000 or more.

Pros

  • Willing to accommodate borrowers with a credit score as low as 560.
  • Offers flexibility with a range of loan amounts from $1,000 to $50,000. This can be suitable for both small and large financial needs.
  • Provides options for repayment, allowing borrowers to choose a timeline that best suits their financial situation.
  • Once approved, borrowers can access funds in just one day, which is useful for urgent financial needs.

Cons

  • Origination fees can go as high as 9.99%, which might add a significant cost to the loan.
  • Apart from the origination fee, there are fees for late payments and failed payments, which can add up if one is not careful.
  • While there is an option to extend repayment for larger loans up to 7 years, it’s not standard for all loan amounts.

6. Avant (Best for Okay Credit)

Avant offers a holistic approach to personal loans, considering various facets of a borrower’s financial profile. This can be beneficial for international students who may lack a traditional credit history in their host country. Avant’s comprehensive lending solutions aim to assist these students in securing the funds they need while studying abroad.

Avant Personal Personal Loan

4.0
Stilt’s lender ratings reflect the findings and opinions of our editorial staff. Our scoring methodologies consider a wide array of factors and data points for every lender, offering, and financial solution.
Min. credit score

550

Fixed APR

9.95-35.99%

Variable APR

N/A

Overview

  • Minimum credit score: 550.
  • Fixed APR: 9.95-35.99%.
  • Loan amounts: $2,000-$35,000.
  • Repayment: 1 to 5 years..

Qualifications

  • Strong credit and income may secure lower rates, but not mandatory.
  • Must possess a bank account in good standing under your name.
  • A valid Social Security number is required.
  • Bankruptcy should not be active.
  • Minimum credit score of 550; using FICO score version 8 and VantageScore version 3.
  • Minimum monthly net income: $1,200 from various sources including employment, alimony, retirement, child support, and Social Security payments.

Pros

  • A dedicated mobile app is available for loan management.
  • Offers a diverse selection of repayment terms.
  • Customer service is accessible seven days a week.

Cons

  • An origination fee might be applicable.
  • They don’t offer co-signed, joint, or secured loan options.
  • Direct payments to creditors aren’t available for debt consolidation loans.

Final Thoughts

If you’re an F1 student looking for a personal loan, you have options. Which option makes the most sense for you, however, depends on a couple of factors. Is going to be up to you and your situation to determine what the best interest rate and loan term will be and if a cosigner for your loan is possible. Luckily, there are more than few options with rates, terms, and cosigner requirements for every situation.

Remember, the path to finding your ideal loan is clear and easy. No matter the type of financial assistance you need, there’s a match waiting for you. Go to Fiona to uncover the perfect loan options that cater to your needs, ensuring a seamless experience.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can F-1 Visa Holders Apply for Personal Loans in the U.S.?

Yes, F-1 visa holders can apply for personal loans in the U.S., but they may face more restrictions and requirements compared to U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

What are the Requirements for F-1 Visa Holders to Get a Personal Loan?

The requirements typically include having a valid Social Security Number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), proof of income, a credit history in the U.S. (if applicable), and sometimes a U.S. citizen or permanent resident as a co-signer.

Do F-1 Visa Holders Need a Cosigner for a Personal Loan?

Many lenders require F-1 visa holders to have a cosigner who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The cosigner agrees to take responsibility for the loan if the primary borrower fails to make payments.

Are There Specific Lenders That Offer Loans to F-1 Visa Holders?

Yes, some lenders specialize in loans for international students and F-1 visa holders. These lenders often have more flexible criteria for loan approval.

How Does Credit History Affect Loan Approval for F-1 Visa Holders?

Having a U.S. credit history can significantly improve the chances of loan approval and favorable terms. However, some lenders may consider other factors if an F-1 visa holder has no U.S. credit history.

What Types of Personal Loans Are Available to F-1 Visa Holders?

Personal loans available to F-1 visa holders may include student loans, refinancing options, and general personal loans for expenses like car purchases or emergencies.

Can F-1 Visa Holders Use Personal Loans for Tuition and Living Expenses?

Yes, F-1 visa holders can use personal loans to cover tuition and living expenses, though it’s important to check if the lender has any restrictions on how loan funds can be used.

How Do Repayment Terms Work for F-1 Visa Holders?

Repayment terms for personal loans vary by lender but typically range from one to several years. Some lenders may offer flexible repayment options for F-1 visa holders.

What Happens If an F-1 Visa Holder Leaves the U.S.?

If an F-1 visa holder leaves the U.S., they are still responsible for repaying the loan. It’s crucial to understand the terms and conditions regarding repayment from abroad.

Are Interest Rates Higher for F-1 Visa Holders?

Interest rates for F-1 visa holders may be higher than for U.S. citizens due to perceived increased risks. However, rates vary widely between lenders.

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