Where to apply for a loan

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We’re here to guide you step-by-step through the loan application process.

There are times when you need to pay for a large expense but don’t have the money in your savings. A personal loan can help you deal with anything, from repairing your car to financing your wedding, and our page will help guide you through the process of applying for a personal loan.

  • Jump to the step-by-step walkthrough

What you’ll need

Most personal loan applications are fairly straightforward, but to make the process simple and quick, you’ll need to have all the necessary information nearby. Here’s what most lenders require:

Minimum Requirements:

  • Credit Rating: Varies, but the lowest average score is 640.
  • Annual Income: Typically $25,000 or more.
  • Credit History: You will usually need a credit history, sometimes of several years, in order to qualify.
  • Debt-to-income ratio: Most lenders prefer a debt-to-income ratio of 45%, not including your mortgage.

Eligibility criteria:

  • You have an active checking or savings bank account.
  • You are over 18 years of age (varies by state).
  • You are a citizen or permanent resident of the United States.
  • You have a regular source of income.

Required documents:

  • Personal details. Your full name, date of birth, Social Security number and driver’s license number.
  • Contact details. Your address, phone number and email.
  • Employer’s name, address and the length of your employment.
  • Bank account information.

Before you apply

Before you start on the loan process, confirm what type of loan you need. Personal loans are generally unsecured, meaning they use your credit as a gauge rather than an asset like your house or car. If you need a larger loan or need an open source of credit, you may want to consider other financing options.

Decide how much money you need

The amount you borrow should be based on the expense you’re trying to cover and your income. It’s better to determine how much you can spend each month and borrow less than your maximum so you can avoid stretching yourself too thin.

Taking out a loan that’s too small can leave you with remaining financial needs, but if you take out a loan that’s too large, you’ll be stuck paying interest on a larger amount than necessary. This is why you should carefully calculate the debt you can handle and the amount of your purchase before you apply.

Check your credit

Your credit will determine how much you qualify to borrow. Most lenders will require good credit scores and a multi-year history before they offer you an unsecured loan, but there are personal loans for people with bad credit. Before you apply, check your credit score so you know what type of loan you qualify for.

Find the right loan

Don’t hesitate to shop around and compare lenders. Check interest rates, fees, loan terms and payment options before signing any documents. You can check out our comparison tables to find a loan that’s right for you.

Need more info? Our guide to personal loans will help you make an informed decision. You may also want to visit your local bank or credit union. The processing times may be higher than online loans, but you may receive a more prime interest rate.

he application process may vary slightly from lender to lender, but generally they all follow a format similar to the one above.

Receiving your loan funds.

Many lenders and banks require that you have a checking account to receive your loan via direct deposit, but that’s not always the only option. Some lenders will be able to send you a check or load your money onto a prepaid debit card. If this is important to you, ask your lender how they transfer funds.

Time to spend it.

If you took out a loan for something specific, such as an auto loan or a debt consolidation loan, you should spend it on that. However, you are free to spend your loan funds on whatever you’d like.

Make your payments on time.

It’s very important to make your payments on time so you don’t end up paying extra in fees or hurting your credit. Be sure to verify how you’ll need to make repayments. Can you pay by phone with a credit card or account number, online through the lender’s website or do you need to mail in a check? Is there an automatic payment option? These will impact which lender you choose and how you’ll pay off your debt.