Key takeaways

  • No-credit-check loans cater to those with low credit scores or a thin credit history.
  • No-credit-check loans often come with interest rates and fees far above the average personal loan.
  • These loans should be approached with great caution and as a last resort funding option.

No-credit-check loans do not require a review of your credit score, which can make them convenient if you have bad credit. But they can be risky and often have extremely high interest rates and origination fees. As a result, you should only consider using these loans as a last resort.

What a no-credit-check loan is

Lenders do not conduct a hard credit check or review your credit history with a no-credit-check loan.

Instead, the application review process and decision are based on other factors such as your employment status, income or bank account history. It may even be based on collateral if you borrow a secured loan. For applicants who have subprime credit or a spotty repayment history a no-credit-check loan can be an appealing option.

However, lenders are able to charge significantly higher interest rates and additional fees. The average interest rate on a personal loan for borrowers with fair to bad credit is 17.8 percent to 32 percent.

Although a lender won’t check your credit, you can expect similar rates because you are viewed as a more risky borrower. Review your loan contract carefully and understand exactly what you’re signing on for before you borrow.

How no-credit-check loans work

Once approved, a lender requires you to repay funds from the no-credit-check loan over a specified term. You repay the loan plus interest just like any other loan.

Unlike a loan that requires a credit check, some types of no-credit-check loans don’t report repayment history to the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and Transunion. This means a no-credit-check loan might not help you build credit. But if you default on the loan and it’s sold to a debt collection company, it may be reported to the bureaus and cause significant harm to your credit.

Loans that don’t require a credit check

There are different types of loans that don’t require borrowers to go through a credit check to get approved for the funds.

Payday loans

Payday loans are small, short-term loans you can pay back the next time you get paid. In most cases, within two to four weeks.

These no-credit-check loans are designed to provide you with quick cash to hold you over until your next paycheck. Although these loans can be a lifesaver in case of an emergency, they should be your last choice because different state regulations allow them to have APRs as high as 400 percent.

No-credit-check installment loans

With no-credit-check installment loans, you borrow a lump sum of money and repay it over time through fixed monthly payments. They usually come with larger borrowing amounts than payday loans and can be used to cover just about any expense. And while they have lower interest rates on average, some states allow lenders to set their APRs in the triple digits.

Car title loans

Car title loans are secured loans that use your car title as collateral. The amount you can receive will depend on the value of your car, and in many cases, you will need to own your car outright to qualify.

Most lenders will allow you to drive your car as you repay the loan. If you default on a car title loan, the lender may repossess your vehicle. Just like payday loans, title loans should be a last resort because the average auto title loan has an APR of about 300 percent.

How to shop for no-credit-check loans

No credit-check loans are offered by a variety of lenders, some of which may be less reputable, making it important to do your research.

  • Look at the interest rates charged by each lender. Even if you get stuck with a high APR, comparing lenders will help you get the lowest rates you qualify for.
  • Understand all fees associated with the loan. With payday loans, the lender may only charge a flat fee per $100 borrowed. This can result in a high equivalent APR, even if there is no interest.
  • Read online reviews. Use websites like the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and Trustpilot for each lender to help you steer clear of any scams or companies that have patterns of poor customer experiences.
  • Know your state laws. Ensure that the loan you’re taking out is legal — and that the lender is following the limits on fees, interest and loan terms.

If you’re asked to provide money up front in exchange for a loan, move on. This is a sign of a scam. Additionally, if a lender will not provide information about all of the fees associated with the loan, consider it a warning sign that that the lender may not be on the up and up.

Why no-credit-check loans are a bad idea

While no-credit-check loans may seem like a great option, some of them — like payday and car title loans — should be approached with caution. Exorbitant interest rates lead to high payments, which can steer you into a cycle of debt that can negatively impact your credit. Some lenders also tack on additional fees that make it even harder to put your finances in order.

And because many of these types of loans do not build your credit, you lose the opportunity to have your payments contribute to increasing your credit score. In a nutshell, no-credit-check loans can lead to quite a few negative financial consequences.

Alternatives to no-credit-check loans

There are several alternatives to no-credit-check loans that can give you the funds you need even if you have bad credit or no credit.

Bad credit loan lenders

A number of lenders specialize in extending money to borrowers with bad credit. If you go with a bad credit loan lender, you may be able to secure a relatively low interest rate for someone with less-than-stellar credit.

Credit unions

Compared to banks, credit unions often have lenient requirements. As long as you’re a member, you may be able to get approved for a loan from a credit union even with bad credit. Credit unions will likely look at your entire financial picture in addition to your credit.

Plus, the interest rate they charge on most loans is capped at 18 percent. The maximum APR for payday alternative loans (PAls) is 28 percent.

Payday alternative loans

Payday alternative loans (PALs) are small, short-term loans offered by some federal credit unions. Loan amounts typically range from $200 to $1,000.

They’re generally more affordable than traditional payday loans and repayment terms range from one to six months. If you apply for a PAL, a credit union will ask you for proof of your income to make sure you can repay your loan.

Secured loans

Secured loans are protected by collateral, which is something valuable you own. Collateral can be a physical asset such as a house, car or boat. It may also be a cash deposit.

Since secured loans are less risky for lenders, you can get approved for one with bad credit. The caveat, however, is that the lender may seize your collateral if you default on your loan.

Secured credit cards

You may not get approved for a traditional unsecured credit card with bad credit. That’s where secured credit cards come in — some issuers do not do credit checks for them.

When you take out a secured credit card, you make a cash deposit that’s typically equal to your credit limit. The credit card issuer will take your deposit if you don’t repay your bill.

Co-signer loans

If you’re ineligible for a loan on your own, ask a trustworthy friend or family member to be your co-signer and apply for a loan with you. You’re more likely to get approved and qualify for a favorable interest rate if you have a co-signer with good or excellent credit.

Just make sure you repay the loan so you can improve your credit — and so that you don’t leave your co-signer responsible for the payments.