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Is It Hard to Get a Personal Loan? Here’s What You Should Know

By Jamie Cattanach · January 23, 2024 · 8 minute read

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Is It Hard to Get a Personal Loan? Here’s What You Should Know

Getting a personal loan is typically a simple process but many lenders require at least a good credit rating and a stable income for approval. Banks tend to have stricter qualification requirements than private lenders. The type of personal loan you get — secured or unsecured — can also have an impact on how hard the loan is to get.

Once approved, a personal loan offers a lot of flexibility — you can use the funds for a wide variety of expenses, from planned home repairs to unexpected medical bills. Unlike loans with a specified purpose, like an auto loan or mortgage, personal loan funds can be used for virtually any type of expenditure.

Here’s what you need to know about personal loans and how to increase the chances that you’ll qualify.

Types of Personal Loans

A personal loan is essentially a lump sum of money borrowed from a bank, credit union or online lender that you pay back in fixed monthly payments, or installments. Lenders typically offer loans from $1,000 to $50,000, and this money can be used for virtually any purpose. Repayment terms can range from two to seven years.

While there are many different types of personal loans, they can be broken down into two main categories: secured and unsecured. Here’s how the two types of personal loans work:

•   Secured personal loans are backed by collateral owned by the borrower such as a savings account or a physical asset of value. If the loan goes into default, the lender has the right to seize the collateral, which lessens the lender’s risk.

•   Unsecured personal loans do not require collateral. The lender advances the money based simply on an applicant’s creditworthiness and promise to repay. Because unsecured personal loans are riskier for the lender, they tend to come with higher interest rates and more stringent eligibility requirements.


💡 Quick Tip: Before choosing a personal loan, ask about the lender’s fees: origination, prepayment, late fees, etc. One question can save you many dollars.

Getting a Personal Loan From a Bank

In addition to the type of personal loan you choose, the lender you borrow from can have an effect on how hard the loan is to get. For many borrowers, their bank is an obvious first choice when the time comes to take out a personal loan.

Banks sometimes offer lower interest rates than other lenders, particularly if you’re already an account holder at that bank. However, they may also have steeper eligibility requirements, such as a higher minimum credit score. Compared to an online lender, banks tend to have a more time-consuming application process, and the loan may take longer to disburse.

Still, the convenience of utilizing the bank you’re already familiar with and the comfort of in-person customer service may be worth the trade-off for qualified borrowers.

Getting a Personal Loan From a Private Lender

A private online lender is a non-institutional lender that is not tied to any major bank or corporation. Online lenders are less regulated than banks, allowing faster application processes and more lenient eligibility requirements. However, some online lenders will have higher interest rates and fees compared to traditional banks, so it’s key to shop around. One of the biggest advantages of a private online lender is convenience. You can complete the entire process online and funding is typically available within the week.

Recommended: What Are Personal Loans & How Do They Work?

Is It Harder to Get a Personal Loan From a Bank or Private Lender?

Generally speaking, it may be more difficult to get a personal loan from a bank than a private lender — but your best bet is to shop around and compare a variety of personal loan options, then see where you’ll get the best interest rate.

Here are the basic differences between getting a personal loan from a bank versus a private lender at a glance:

Bank

Private Lender

Interest rates may be lower, though eligibility requirements may be more stringent Interest rates may be higher, but eligibility requirements may be more lenient
You could get lower rates or easier qualification requirements if you have an existing relationship with the bank Some private lenders market personal loans specifically to borrowers with poor or fair credit — though at potentially high interest rates
You may have the option to visit the bank in person for a face-to-face customer service interaction The entire process may be done online
Loans typically take longer to process and you may have to visit a branch in person to finalize the paperwork Funds might be disbursed the same day or within a day or two

Is It Easier to Get a Small Personal Loan?

Generally, yes. Loan size is another important factor that goes into how hard it is to get a personal loan. It’s much less risky for a lender to offer $1,000 than $50,000, so the eligibility requirements may be less stringent — and interest rates may be lower — for a smaller loan than for a larger loan.

That said, there are exceptions to this rule. Payday loans are a perfect example. Payday lenders offer small loans with a very short repayment timeline, yet often have interest rates as high as 400% APR (annual percentage rate). Even for a smaller personal loan, it’s generally less expensive to look for an installment loan that’s paid back on a monthly basis over a longer term.

Recommended: How Much of a Personal Loan Can I Get?

What Disqualifies You From Getting a Personal Loan?

There are some financial markers that can disqualify you from getting a personal loan, even with the most lenient lenders. Here are a few to watch out for.

Bad Credit

While the minimum required credit score for each lender will vary, many personal loan lenders require at least a good credit score — particularly for an unsecured personal loan. If you have very poor credit, or no credit whatsoever, you may find yourself ineligible to borrow.

Lack of Stable Income

Another important factor lenders look at is your cash flow. Without a regular source of cash inflow, the lender has no reason to think you’ll be able to repay your loan — and so a lack of consistent income can disqualify you from borrowing.

Not a US Resident

If you’re applying for personal loans in the U.S., you’ll need to be able to prove residency in order to qualify.

Lack of Documentation

Finally, all of these factors will need to be proven and accounted for with paperwork, so a lack of official documentation could also disqualify you.

How to Get a Personal Loan With Bad Credit

If you’re finding it hard to get a personal loan, there are some steps you can take to improve your chances of approval. Here are some to consider.

Prequalify With Multiple Lenders

Every lender has different eligibility requirements. As a result, it’s worth shopping around and comparing as many lenders as you can through prequalification. Prequalification allows you to check your chances of eligibility and predicted rates without impacting your credit (lenders only do a soft credit check).

Consider Adding a Cosigner

If, through the prequalification process, you find that you don’t meet most lender’s requirements, or you’re seeing exorbitantly high rates, you might check to see if cosigners are accepted.

Cosigners are family members or friends with strong credit who sign the loan agreement along with you and agree to pay back the loan if you’re unable to. This lowers the risk to the lender and could help you get approved and/or qualify a better rate.

Include All Sources of Income

Many lenders allow you to include non-employment income sources on your personal loan application, such as alimony, child support, retirement, and Social Security payments. Lenders are looking for borrowers who can comfortably make loan payments, so a higher income can make it easier to get approved for a personal loan.

Add Collateral

Some lenders offer secured personal loans, which can be easier to get with less-than-ideal credit. A secured loan can also help you qualify for a lower rate. Banks and credit unions typically let borrowers use investment or bank accounts as collateral; online lenders tend to offer personal loans secured by cars.

Just keep in mind: If you fail to repay a secured loan, the lender can take your collateral. On top of that, your credit will be adversely affected. You’ll want to weigh the benefits of getting the loan against the risk of losing the account or vehicle.


💡 Quick Tip: If you’ve got high-interest credit card debt, a personal loan is one way to get control of it. But you’ll want to make sure the loan’s interest rate is much lower than the credit cards’ rates — and that you can make the monthly payments.

The Takeaway

You can use a personal loan for a range of purposes, such as to cover emergency expenses, to pay for a large expense or vacation, or to consolidate high-interest debt. Personal loans aren’t hard to get but you usually need good credit and a reliable source of income to qualify. The better your financial situation, generally the lower the interest rate will be.

Think twice before turning to high-interest credit cards. Consider a SoFi personal loan instead. SoFi offers competitive fixed rates and same-day funding. Checking your rate takes just a minute.

SoFi’s Personal Loan was named NerdWallet’s 2023 winner for Best Online Personal Loan overall.

FAQ

Is it hard to get a personal loan?

Personal loans aren’t necessarily hard to get but you typically need good credit and reliable income to qualify. Secured personal loans (which require pledging something you own like a savings account or vehicle) are generally easier to qualify for than unsecured personal loans

Is it hard to get a personal loan from a bank?

Banks tend to have more stringent qualification requirements for personal loans than private online lenders. Getting a personal loan from a bank can be a good move if you have good to excellent credit, an existing relationship with a bank, and time for a longer approval process.

What disqualifies you from getting a personal loan?

You will be disqualified for a personal loan if you do not meet a lender’s specific eligibility requirements. You may get denied if your credit score is too low, your existing debt load is too high, or your income is not high enough to cover the loan payments.


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Disclaimer: Many factors affect your credit scores and the interest rates you may receive. SoFi is not a Credit Repair Organization as defined under federal or state law, including the Credit Repair Organizations Act. SoFi does not provide “credit repair” services or advice or assistance regarding “rebuilding” or “improving” your credit record, credit history, or credit rating. For details, see the FTC’s website .

Non affiliation: SoFi isn’t affiliated with any of the companies highlighted in this article.

Checking Your Rates: To check the rates and terms you may qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.

Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.

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