Best bad credit loans of December 2021

As of December 05, 2021
These rankings of the best bad-credit personal loans evaluate interest rates, fees, terms and features to help you compare potential lenders. The resources below can also help you determine whether a personal loan is right for you and how to get the best interest rate with a subpar credit score.
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Answer a few questions to see which personal loans you pre-qualify for. The process is quick and easy, and it will not impact your credit score.

4.7

Bankrate Score
APR from

5.99%

3 or 5 year term
Loan Amount

$2k- $50k

Term: 3-5 yr
Min. Credit

660

4.6

Bankrate Score
APR from

5.99%

Loan Amount

$5k- $35k

Term: 2-5 yr
Min. Credit

600

4.5

Bankrate Score
APR from

7.04- 35.89%

Loan Amount

$1k- $40k

Term: 3-5 yr
Min. Credit

600

4.6

Bankrate Score
APR from

7.95- 35.99%

Loan Amount

$2k- $40k

Term: 3-5 yr
Min. Credit

560

4.4

Bankrate Score
APR from

15.49- 34.99%

Loan Amount

$2k- $25k

Term: 2-5 yr
Min. Credit

580

3.9

Bankrate Score
APR from

18.00- 35.99%

Loan Amount

$2k- $20k

Term: 2-5 yr
Min. Credit

None

4.5

Bankrate Score
APR from

27.95- 35.99%

Loan Amount

$2k- $25k

Term: 2-4 yr
Min. Credit

550

APR from

Loan Amount

Min. Credit

None

APR from

7.99- 35.99%

Loan Amount

$1k- $35k

Term: 1-3 yr
Min. Credit

None

4.3

Bankrate Score
APR from

34.00%

Loan Amount

$1k- $10k

Term: 0.5-5 yr
Min. Credit

None

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The Bankrate guide to choosing the best personal loan for bad credit

To help you choose the right loan for you, our editorial team has gathered the most important information you need to shop for lenders and make your decision. We have gathered 
 
The lenders listed here are selected based on factors such as credit requirements, APRs, loan amounts and fees. Bankrate evaluated lenders and options for individuals with bad credit to help people find the best lender and rates for their situation.
 

How to choose the best bad credit loan company

There's no single best loan company for everyone. The best bad credit loan company for you depends on a few factors:
 
  1. Elligibility requirements. Many lenders will list eligibility requirements on their websites, including minimum credit scores, minimum income levels and maximum debt-to-income ratios.
  2. Interest rates and fees. Lenders use different criteria to calculate your interest rate. Get quotes from a few lenders and compare interest rates, origination fees and prepayment penalties to determine which will have the cheapest loan interest for you.
  3. Repayment terms. Personal loan lenders may offer repayment terms of anywhere from one year to 12. A shorter repayment period means that you'll be out of debt sooner and will pay less overall in interest. A longer repayment period, on the other hand, will reduce your monthly bill.
  4. Type of lender. You can find personal loans from banks, credit unions and online lenders. Online lenders often have the lowest rates, but you won't have the in-person service of a bank. Additionally, a local credit union that you already do business with may be more willing to extend you a bad credit loan based on your existing relationship.
Best bad credit loan rates in December 2021
LENDER BEST FOR MIN. CREDIT SCORE EST. APR MIN LOAN AMOUNT MAX. LOAN AMOUNT
Bad Credit Loans Poor credit scores Not specified 5.99%-35.99% $500 $10,000
Upstart Limited credit history No minimum credit score requirement 4.37%-35.99% $1,000 $50,000
OneMain Financial Secured loans Not specified 18%-35.99% $1,500 $20,000
TD Bank Low rate caps Not specified 6.99%-18.99% $2,000 $50,000
Avant A range of repayment options 580* 9.95%-35.99% $2,000 $35,000
LendingPoint Small loans 590 9.99%-35.99% $2,000 $36,500
Upgrade Fast funding Not specified 5.94%-35.97% (with autopay) $1,000 $50,000
LendingClub Online experience 600 7.04%-35.89% $1,000 $40,000

*Avant's minimum credit score is 580 FICO and 550 Vantage.

The best bad credit loan lenders of December 2021

Bad Credit Loans: Best loan for poor credit scores

Overview: The APR on personal loans from the Bad Credit Loans network of lenders and financial service providers ranges from 5.99 percent to 35.99 percent, with loan amounts of up to $10,000. Applying for a loan is free.

Why Bad Credit Loans is the best for poor credit scores: As a loan aggregator, Bad Credit Loans refers applicants to reputable lenders that are willing to provide unsecured loans to those who have poor credit. The company says that it designs its application process to allow nearly anyone to qualify, even those who would not necessarily be approved elsewhere.

Perks: Bad Credit Loans does not charge you any fee for requesting a loan through its site.

What to watch out for: Bad Credit Loans is not a lender itself. It connects consumers to lenders and other financial service providers, meaning you will need to carefully read through the terms, the fees and all other requirements offered by each lender, as details will vary.
 
Who Bad Credit Loans is best for: People who may not qualify for loans elsewhere because of past financial missteps should still be able to find a loan through Bad Credit Loans. 

Impact on bad credit borrowers: Applicants may have a better chance of being approved for loans through the company’s lender network.
 
LENDER:
Bad Credit Loans
BANKRATE RATING:
N/A
MIN. CREDIT SCORE:
Not specified
EST. APR:
5.99%-35.99%
LOAN AMOUNT:
Up to $10,000
TIME TO RECEIVE FUNDS:
As soon as the next business day after approval
TERM LENGTHS:
90 days to 6 years
MIN. ANNUAL INCOME:
Not specified
FEES:
Using the website is free, but individual lenders may have their own fees
ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS:
Applicants must be at least 18-years-old; Details of requirements will depend on the individual lender

Upstart: Best loan for limited credit history

Overview: Upstart developed a reputation for offering fast and fair unsecured personal loans. APRs for Upstart loans vary by state and range from 4.37 percent to 35.99 percent. Loan amounts range from $1,000 to $50,000, and you can choose a repayment term of either three or five years.

Why Upstart is the best for limited credit history: While many loan applications are based primarily on a borrower’s credit score and years of credit, Upstart applications also factor in an individual’s education, job history and area of study.

Perks: Funds are provided quickly, as soon as the next business day after approval, and there are no prepayment penalties.

What to watch out for: Upstart charges a one-time origination fee, which can be as high as eight percent of the approved loan amount. Upstart also charges late payment fees and returned check fees, as well as a fee for receiving paper copies of documents.
 
Who Upstart is best for: Upstart is especially good for young people such as recent college graduates who need loans but haven't had time to establish a strong financial history. 

Impact on bad credit borrowers: Because Upstart’s approval decisions aren’t based solely on credit history, applicants may fare better than they would with other lenders.
 
LENDER:
Upstart
BANKRATE RATING:
4.5/5
MIN. CREDIT SCORE:
No minimum credit score requirement
EST. APR:
4.37%-35.99%
LOAN AMOUNT:
$1,000-$50,000
TIME TO RECEIVE FUNDS:
As soon as one business day
TERM LENGTHS:
3 or 5 years
MIN. ANNUAL INCOME:
$12,000 minimum gross income
FEES:
Origination fee: 0% to 8%; Late fee: greater of 5% of the amount due or $15; Returned check fee: $15; One-time paper copies fee: $10
ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS:
Must have a US residential address unless active-duty military; Personal bank account with U.S. routing number; full-time job or full-time job offer starting within six months or a part-time job combined with some other income; Email account

OneMain Financial: Best secured loan

Overview: OneMain Financial offers both unsecured loans and secured loans, which require providing collateral, such as a motor vehicle. Loan amounts range from $1,500 to $20,000. APRs can run anywhere from 18 percent to 35.99 percent, and term lengths are 24, 36, 48 or 60 months.

Why OneMain Financial is the best for a secured loan: Many lenders only offer unsecured loans. Borrowers who can’t get approved elsewhere may have a better chance of getting a secured loan with OneMain Financial.

Perks: The application and funding process with OneMain is very quick — typically two to three days from the start of the application to receipt of funds. The company also has over 1,500 branch offices for those who like to deal with a brick-and-mortar business.

What to watch out for: OneMain Financial charges origination fees that vary based on the state you live in. In some cases, it’s a flat amount, ranging from $25 to $400, while in others it may be a percentage of the loan. Percentage-based fees range from 1 percent to as much as 10 percent. OneMain also charges late payment fees that vary based on the state where you opened the loan. Typically, the fees range from $5 to $30 or 1.5 percent to 15 percent of the monthly payment or delinquent portion.
 
Who OneMain Financial is best for: People who are homeowners or otherwise have an asset that can be used as collateral may find this lender preferable.

Impact on bad credit borrowers: With the option of secured loans, bad credit borrowers may be able to avoid costlier forms of financing, such as payday loans.
 
LENDER:
OneMain Financial
BANKRATE RATING:
3.8/5
MIN. CREDIT SCORE:
Not specified
EST. APR:
18%–35.99%
LOAN AMOUNT:
$1,500–$20,000
TIME TO RECEIVE FUNDS:
As soon as the next business day after approval
TERM LENGTHS:
24 to 60 months
MIN. ANNUAL INCOME:
Not specified
FEES:
Origination fee: $25 to $400 or 1% to 10%; Late payment fee: $5 to $30 or 1.5% to 15% of the monthly payment or delinquent portion; Insufficient funds fee: $10 to $50
ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS:
Branch visit required to complete the application process; Minimum loan amounts in select states (Alabama: $2,100; California: $3,000; Georgia: $3,100 unless you are a present customer; Ohio: $2,000; Virginia: $2,600); OneMain does not go into detail about how to qualify, so additional requirements may vary

TD Bank: Best loan for low rate caps

Overview: TD Bank's TD Fit unsecured personal loan offers borrowers anywhere from $2,000 to $50,000 and comes with few fees. Its loans are also funded in as little as one business day.

Why TD Bank is the best for low rate caps: While TD Bank doesn't offer the absolute lowest rates, the cap on its personal loan rates is relatively low at 18.99 percent APR. This could make it particularly appealing for borrowers with poor credit who might otherwise be subject to rates above 30 percent.

Perks: TD Bank's only fee is a late fee of 5 percent of the minimum payment due or $10, whichever is less. There are no monthly fees, annual fees, prepayment fees, late fees or insufficient funds fees.

What to watch out for: TD Bank's loans are available to a very limited customer base. In order to qualify, you must reside in Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Vermont, Virginia or Washington, D.C.
 
Who TD Bank is best for: People who live in the states TD Bank services and would otherwise have loans above 22 percent APR.

Impact on bad credit borrowers: The maximum APR for TD Bank’s personal loans is roughly 14 percentage points lower than what many other lenders offer, which could save borrowers thousands in interest.
 
LENDER:
TD Bank
BANKRATE RATING:
4.9/5
MIN. CREDIT SCORE:
Not specified
EST. APR:
6.99%–18.99%
LOAN AMOUNT:
$2,000–$50,000
TIME TO RECEIVE FUNDS:
As soon as one business day
TERM LENGTHS:
36 to 60 months
MIN. ANNUAL INCOME:
Not specified
FEES:
Late fee: 5% of minimum payment due or $10, whichever is less
ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS:
Loans can’t be used for business or education expenses; Must be at least 18-years-old; Must give Social Security Number

Avant: Best for a range of repayment options

Overview: Avant offers unsecured loans of between $2,000 and $35,000 with APRs from 9.95 percent to 35.99 percent.
 
Why Avant is the best for a range of repayment options: Avant’s loans offer repayment terms of 24 to 60 months, and with no prepayment penalty, borrowers can save money on interest by paying their loans off early.
 
Perks: For those who qualify, the loan funds can be made available as soon as the next business day after approval.
 
What to watch out for: Avant loans come with an administration fee of as much as 4.75 percent. There’s also a $25 late fee if monthly payments are not made in full within 10 days of the due date, as well as a $15 insufficient funds fee.
 
Who Avant is best for: Avant may be preferable for individuals with a low credit score but think they are likely to be able to pay off the loan early.
 
Impact on bad credit borrowers: Avant’s minimum FICO credit score is 580 — the lowest among the four lenders on this page that disclose their credit score requirements.
 
LENDER:
Avant
BANKRATE RATING:
4.5/5
MIN. CREDIT SCORE:
580 FICO, 550 Vantage
EST. APR:
9.95%–35.99%
LOAN AMOUNT:
$2,000–$35,000
TIME TO RECEIVE FUNDS:
As soon as the next day
TERM LENGTHS:
24 to 60 months
MIN. ANNUAL INCOME:
Monthly net income of $1,200 (includes income not from a job such as alimony)
FEES:
Administration fee: up to 4.75%; Late fee: $25; Dishonored payment fee: $15
ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS:
$500 monthly free cash flow; 70% debt-to-income ratio, including rent or mortgage payments

LendingPoint: Best for small loans

Overview: LendingPoint operates in 48 states and Washington, D.C., and is known to offer unsecured loans for those with credit scores as low as 590. Loan amounts range from $2,000 to $36,500, and APRs start at 9.99 percent and go as high as 35.99 percent. The repayment terms offered by LendingPoint vary from 24 to 60 months.

Why LendingPoint is the best for small loans: Some lenders with tighter credit requirements have a $5,000 minimum for personal loans, but LendingPoint lets bad credit borrowers take out as little as $2,000.

Perks: LendingPoint provides application decisions in just a few seconds, and once the loan is approved, funds can be available as soon as the next business day.

What to watch out for: Depending on your state, you may pay an origination fee of as much as 6 percent with LendingPoint, which can be deducted from your loan proceeds. In addition, you must have a minimum annual income of $35,000 to qualify for a loan.
 
Who LendingPoint is best for: LendingPoint is a good option for people who have bad credit and don't need to borrow a lot of money, such as people needing a small loan to cover a college expense or small purchase.

Impact on bad credit borrowers: LendingPoint offers broad availability, with personal loans available to borrowers in all but two states.
 
LENDER:
LendingPoint
BANKRATE RATING:
4.4/5
MIN. CREDIT SCORE:
590
EST. APR:
9.99%–35.99%
LOAN AMOUNT:
$2,000–$36,500
TIME TO RECEIVE FUNDS:
As soon as the next business day
TERM LENGTHS:
24 to 60 months
MIN. ANNUAL INCOME:
$35,000
FEES:
Origination fee: up to 6%
ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS:
Less than 50% debt-to-income ratio, not including mortgage. Not available in Nevada or West Virginia

Upgrade: Best loan for fast funding

Overview: Upgrade offers unsecured personal loans that can be used for debt consolidation, credit card refinancing, home improvements or major purchases. APRs available from Upgrade start at 5.94 percent and go as high as 35.97 percent. Loan amounts range from $1,000 to $50,000, and terms are 24 to 84 months.
 
Why Upgrade is the best for fast funding: Loan funds can be available within just one business day of going through the provider’s verification process.
 
Perks: When applying for an Upgrade loan, you’ll get a decision within just a few seconds.
 
What to watch out for: All personal loans include a 2.9 percent to 8 percent origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds.
 
Who Upgrade is best for: Upgrade may be a good option for people who have a big purchase but not a lot of time to find a lender. It is also good for people who want to have their lender send payments directly to creditors for a debt consolidation loan. 
 
Impact on bad credit borrowers: Customers looking to consolidate debt can have their loan funds sent directly to their creditors. This could help borrowers stay on track while building their credit.
 
LENDER:
Upgrade
BANKRATE RATING:
4.8/5
MIN. CREDIT SCORE:
560
EST. APR:
5.94%–35.97% (with autopay)
LOAN AMOUNT:
$1,000–$50,000
TIME TO RECEIVE FUNDS:
As soon as the next business day after verification
TERM LENGTHS:
24 to 84 months
MIN. ANNUAL INCOME:
None
FEES:
Origination fee: 2.9% to 8%; Late fee: up to $10; Returned check fee: $10
ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS:
Lowest rate requires autopay and using some loan proceeds to pay off existing debt directly; Minimum of two accounts on credit history; 75% or less debt-to-income ratio

LendingClub: Best loan for online experience

Overview: If your credit score makes it difficult to get approved for a loan, LendingClub allows you to increase your chances of approval by having a co-borrower. Not every lender offers this option, and it can be a helpful way to qualify for a loan that you wouldn't have gotten otherwise.
 
Why LendingClub is the best for an online experience: LendingClub has a robust website that features an easy application process and an extensive loans resource center.
 
Perks: Along with the option of a co-borrower, LendingClub offers a 15-day grace period if you're unable to make your payment on the day it's due.
 
What to watch out for: There's an origination fee that ranges from 3 percent to 6 percent of the total loan cost.
 
Who LendingClub is best for: People who want to have a co-borrower or don't want to borrow a high amount may find what they need with this lender.
 
Impact on bad credit borrowers: Customers can borrow as little as $1,000, which makes it easier to get only the money you need and avoid going into more debt.
 
LENDER:
LendingClub
BANKRATE RATING:
4.3/5
MIN. CREDIT SCORE:
600
EST. APR:
7.04%–35.89%
LOAN AMOUNT:
$1,000–$40,000
TIME TO RECEIVE FUNDS:
As soon as four days
TERM LENGTHS:
36 or 60 months
MIN. ANNUAL INCOME:
Not specified
FEES:
Origination fee: 3% to 6%; Late fee: greater of 5% or $15
ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS:
Maximum debt-to-income ratio (DTI): 40 for individual applications, 35 for joint applications

What to know about your credit score and securing a loan

When lenders give you money, they need you to pay back the money so they make money instead of losing it. Lenders tend to view people with less optimal credit to be riskier, so people with lower credit tend to see higher APRs. 

Estimated APR by FICO score range
CATEGORY CREDIT SCORE PERCENTAGE OF PEOPLE IN THIS CATEGORY ESTIMATED APR
Excellent 800-850 21% 10.3%-12.5%
Very good 740-799 25% 10.3%-12.5%
Good 670-739 21% 13.5%-15.5%
Fair 580-669 17% 17.8%-19.9%
Very poor 300-579 16% 28.5%-32%

What is considered a bad credit score?

There are a few credit-scoring models that you can use to check your credit score, but the FICO credit scoring system is one of the most popular. FICO scores range from 300 to 850, with the scores on the lower end considered poor or fair.
 
According to FICO, a bad credit score is within the following ranges:
 
Having a poor or fair credit score can impact your ability to get approved for a loan and can even affect your ability to rent an apartment or purchase a home. If you do get approved for a loan with bad credit, you'll likely be charged the highest interest rates and higher fees. However, there are long-term habits that you can develop to improve your credit score, like paying your bills in full every month and regularly checking your credit report to catch errors.


What makes up a bad credit score?

FICO calculates your credit score using five pieces of information:

If your finances fall short in one or more of these areas, your score will drop. For instance, having a history of late payments will have a huge impact on your score, since payment history contributes the most to your score. Things like bankruptcies, foreclosures and high amounts of debt relative to your income could also result in a bad credit score.

Steps to apply for a bad credit loan

Getting a personal loan with bad credit isn’t impossible, but it requires some research to find the most affordable loan possible. Here are a few steps to get a personal loan if you don’t have strong credit:
 
  1. Check your credit score. You are entitled to one free credit report every year from each of the credit reporting agencies, though you can currently access weekly reports through April 20, 2022, from AnnualCreditReport.com. Your credit report doesn’t include your credit score, though. You can purchase that from a credit bureau or get it for free from some financial institutions.
  2. Ensure that you can repay the loan. Evaluate your home budget to make sure that you can support an additional monthly loan payment.
  3. Compare bad credit personal loans. If your accounts with your existing bank or credit union are in good standing, it may have a personal loan option for you. You can also research personal loans for people with bad credit online, but read the fine print and independent reviews about the lender.
  4. Take advantage of prequalification. Before you apply for a loan, many online lenders allow you to prequalify, or check whether you’ll qualify without doing a hard credit check.
  5. Look into secured loans. Some lenders offer secured personal loans, which are often easier to get if you have below-average credit. These loans must be backed by an asset like your home or car, but they typically have lower APRs.
  6. Add a co-signer if necessary. Co-signers take on partial responsibility for the loan and may be required to repay it if you fall behind on payments. Adding a co-signer who has good credit could help you qualify and may net you lower interest rates. However, not all lenders allow co-signers, so you will need to research to find one that does. 
  7. Gather financial documents. When applying for a loan, you'll likely have to provide financial documents that include pay stubs, tax documents and employment information.
  8. Be prepared for a hard credit check. While you can get prequalified with many lenders without a hard credit check, the actual application will result in a credit inquiry, which can temporarily damage your credit.
One of the most important things you can do to protect your financial health is to do your research before you apply for a personal loan, especially if you have bad credit.
 
“I can’t stress enough the importance of educating yourself as a consumer and shopping around for the right financial product to assist you with your goals,” says Leslie Tayne, a debt resolution attorney. “A low credit score does mean you have limited options, but it doesn’t mean you don’t have many options. There are products that assist borrowers with low or bad credit.”
 

Types of bad credit loans and their uses

There are two main options when it comes to getting a personal loan if you have bad credit: secured and unsecured, but there are many other varieties.
 

Secured personal loans

Secured loans are those that require collateral, like a home or car. Generally, these loans offer more favorable rates and terms and higher loan limits because you have a greater incentive to pay your loan back. If you have bad credit, it may be easier to get a secured loan than an unsecured one.
 
Who it's best for: People who feel confident that they will pay back the loan without any problems and will have trouble otherwise qualifying for a loan with a favorable APR.
 
What to watch out for: If you default on the loan, you risk losing your home, car or other collateral. The most common types of secured loans are mortgages, home equity loans and auto loans, although some lenders offer secured personal loans.
 
When to get started: When you have considered all of your loan options and are having trouble finding an option that you can afford, you may want to consider getting a secured loan for a better rate.
 
How to get started: Consider what items you have that could qualify for collateral and look for lenders that will accept collateral of that type.
 
Takeaway: Secured personal loans can help someone with bad credit get a loan with a better APR, but it does put whatever is used as collateral at some risk.
 

Unsecured personal loans

Unsecured loans don’t require any collateral, and the rate you receive is based on your creditworthiness — meaning they may be harder to qualify for if you have below-average credit.
 
Who it's best for: Generally, this type of personal loan is the best option for most people.
 
What to watch out for: Because these loans are not secured by an asset, they typically come with a higher interest rate and lower loan limits. APRs may be far above what you're able to pay, and you may not qualify at all.
 
When to get started: When you need a loan for a bigger purchase or debt consolidation.
 
How to get started: Shop around for loans, getting prequalified if possible, to identify the best overall loan for you.
 
Takeaway: Unsecured loans are the most common type of personal loans, but they can be hard to qualify for or get favorable APRs with if you have bad credit.
 

Payday loans

Payday loans are short-term loans, typically for $500 or less. They charge incredibly high fees in exchange for fast cash, and repayment is typically due by your next paycheck.
 
Who it's best for: Generally, it is best to avoid these loans unless there are no other possible options.
 
What to watch out for: The overall cost of borrowing is high — sometimes up to 400 percent in interest — so it's important to weigh your other options first. Payday lenders can also be predatory, so thoroughly research companies before signing up.
 
When to get started: Start only after you have considered all other options.
 
How to get started: Research loan companies to ensure you don't use a predatory lender, and have a plan to make sure you can pay back the loan by the due date so you don't get in more severe debt very quickly.
 
Takeaway: Payday loans have the potential to put you in more debt due to extremely high interest rates. They can also be predatory, and it's best to start your search for a personal loan with more reputable lenders.
 

Cash advances

A cash advance is similar to a short-term loan and is offered by your credit card issuer. The sum you receive is disbursed in cash and is borrowed from the available balance on your credit card.
 
Who it's best for: Cash advances are one of the fastest ways to get money, so they may be worth looking into if you have urgent needs.
 
What to watch out for: If you have an unsecured credit card, your cash advance interest rate will likely be higher than your card’s standard purchase APR and higher than interest rates on personal loans.
 
When to get started: If you need money quickly and don't have time to wait a few days for money.
 
How to get started: Contact your credit card company or look up their policies on how to get a cash advance without talking to a representative.
 

Bank agreements

Depending on your bank’s policy, it may approve you for a short-term loan or minimal overdraft agreement. This is, of course, dependent on your banking history and ability to keep your account open. For more information, contact your bank and ask about your options.
 
Who it's best for: People who have a good relationship with their bank and need to access a small amount of cash as a short-term solution.
 
What to watch out for: Because bank agreements are not official policies, they are not reliable ways to borrow money.
 
When to get started: When you have looked at your loan options and find that a bank agreement may be the right decision for you.
 
How to get started: Contact your bank.
 
Takeaway: If you'd like to set up a bank agreement, the best way to find out your options is to contact your bank directly and ask about its policies.
 

Home equity loans for poor credit

Home equity loans disburse a lump sum of money upfront, which you pay back in fixed monthly installments. These loans use your home as collateral.
 
Who it's best for: Someone who needs a lot of money upfront or who wants to use their home equity to make home improvements that increase the home's value or otherwise improve their financial position. 
 
What to watch out for: Because your home is collateral for the loan, if you fail to make the monthly payments on time, you risk losing your home.
 
When to get started: After you have shopped around for personal loans and determined collateral will be the best option for you.
 
How to get started: Search for lenders who offer home equity loans.
 
Takeaway: Home equity loans can be ideal for reasons that require a large sum of money upfront, like larger home improvement projects or debt consolidation.
 

HELOCs for poor credit

HELOCs are similar to home equity loans in that they are based on your home equity and secured by your home itself. HELOCs, however, are functionally similar to credit cards in that they allow you to borrow only as much as you need, when you need it, then repay funds with a variable interest rate.
 
Who it's best for: Homeowners who need to borrow some cash some at a time rather than all at once.
 
What to watch out for: As with a home equity loan, you use your home as collateral, which puts you at risk if you don't make the payments on time.
 
When to get started: When you know you'll need small amounts of cash over a period of time and can pay back what you borrow.
 
How to get started: Find lenders that offer HELOCs and search for the ones that work with people with bad credit.
 
Takeaway: A HELOC is a valid loan option for people with bad credit because you'll secure the loan with your home. It's also a good option if you don't need all of your funds upfront.
 

Student loans for bad credit

While not a type of personal loan, a student loan may meet your needs if you're trying to pay for education costs like tuition, textbooks and room and board. Many personal loan lenders do not allow you to use funds for education, so you'll have to start your search with dedicated student loan lenders for bad credit.
 
Who it's best for: Students who need money for their education. Student loans are sometimes the only way to get funding if you need to pay for your college tuition or related expenses.
 
What to watch out for: Student loans are not offered by many personal loan lenders, and if you have bad credit, you'll almost certainly need a co-signer to qualify.
 
When to get started: When you become a college student and other funding options such as scholarships or family aid aren't enough to cover your costs.
 
How to get started: Look for student loan lenders that offer loans for people with bad credit or offer co-signer opportunities.
 
Takeaway: Unlike the other options on this list, student loans can only be used for one purpose, but almost all student loan lenders accept co-signers if you have poor credit.


How to spot bad credit loan scams

While shopping for a personal loan, look out for red flags that may be a sign you’re walking into a scam:

  • Guarantees without approval: Reputable lenders generally want to see your credit report, income and other information before extending an offer. If you come across a lender that isn’t interested in your payment history, you might be getting lured into a bad situation.
  • No registration in your state: The Federal Trade Commission requires that lenders be registered in the state where they do business. Research whether the business is licensed in your state.
  • Poor advertising methods: Phone calls and door-to-door solicitation are not considered legitimate advertising practices for trustworthy lenders. Similarly, loan offers that pressure you into taking action immediately are designed to get you to accept without due consideration.
  • Prepayment: While application, origination or appraisal fees are common loan charges, these charges are often deducted from the total amount of your loan. If a lender requires you to provide cash or a prepaid debit card upfront, it's not legitimate.
  • Unsecured website: A lender's site should be secure, meaning the website address should begin with "https" and feature a padlock symbol on any page where you're asked for personal information.
  • No physical address: A reputable lender should have a physical address listed on its website.

Frequently asked questions

Next steps

After you have decided that a bad credit loan is the right option for you, you may want to take the following steps:

  • Shop for lenders: Consider which lenders have the options and tools you feel are best for you. Consider the features of managing your loan that will help you stay on top of your finances.
  • Check your possible rates: After you've narrowed your list down to a few lenders, see if you can check rates with those lenders through a soft credit check. That can help you determine which lenders may offer you the best rates.
  • Apply for the loan: Once you have decided on a lender, apply for the loan.
  • Make and stick to a plan to pay off the loan: Have a plan in mind to make sure that you can keep up with the payments and pay off the loan on schedule.
By following these steps and researching your options, you are likely to find personal loans for bad credit that will work for you.