What Are Loans Based on Income?

By Anna Davies · June 13, 2024 · 6 minute read

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What Are Loans Based on Income?

There are many different types of loans. And when you need money quickly, it can be challenging to assess the pros and cons of different options. It can also be challenging to assess which loans are right for you if you’re still building credit.

Many loans require a credit check, and your credit score may affect the interest rate and terms you are able to qualify for when borrowing a loan. But what if you have no credit or bad credit? There may be other loans available outside of personal loans from banks. Income-based loans, which evaluate your income as a primary deciding factor, may be an option to consider. These loans could give you the cash you need but also have some potential drawbacks. Here is what to know about loans based on income.

How Does a Loan Based on Income Work?

Personal loans can be used to pay for nearly any type of expense. In addition to the flexibility for use of funds, other advantages of personal loans include convenience, lower rates than credit cards (typically), and quick turnaround times. Generally, lenders will evaluate an applicant’s credit history in order to make lending decisions.

Loans based on income, also known as income-based loans, work differently. Instead of focusing on an applicant’s credit score and history, these loans take your income into account. While “income-based loans” and “loans based on income” are terms you may see when researching personal loans, these are primarily marketing terms. The companies who use these may be using income as a method of evaluating loan applications, making them an option for borrowers looking for no credit check loans.

With a loan based on income, the lender may ask for proof of income, such as a W-2, paystub, tax returns, and/or recent bank statements. You’ll also need to share personal information on the loan application, such as your address and social security number. But unlike a traditional personal loan, the evaluation may not include a credit check.

Because the lender isn’t considering credit, the terms of the loan may be different from a traditional personal loan. For example, the loan may have a high interest rate or require collateral. Collateral is when you, as a borrower, put up an item of value to back the loan in case you are unable to pay back the loan. This might be something like your car or even your house.

Whether a loan requires collateral determines whether it is a secured or unsecured loan. Both options may be part of an income-based personal loan.

Recommended: Using Collateral on a Personal Loan

Secured Loan

A secured loan is a loan that requires the borrower to put up collateral and can be an option for borrowers with poor or thin credit. These loans can take several forms:

Pawn loan. A pawnshop loan is where you put an item of value up as collateral, such as jewelry or electronics, in exchange for the loan. In addition to collateral, you’ll also have to pay the loan back with interest. If you are unable to do so, the pawn shop will then own the collateral and may sell it. Pawn loans can also be an option for those looking for no bank account loans.

Title loan. If you own your vehicle, you may be able to take out a loan for the valued amount of your car. In a title loan, you physically keep possession of your car, but the lender can hold the title of your vehicle. Interest rates for this type of loan can be very high — up to an APR equivalent of 300% — and can be risky. After all, if your income depends on your ability to drive to work, losing ownership of your car may mean that your ability to work is in jeopardy, too.

Home equity loan. If you own your home, you can borrow against the value of your home’s equity through different types of loans, including cash-out refinance, a home equity line of credit (HELOC) or a fixed-rate home equity loan. These types of loans can require a relatively lengthy approval process, and may not be appropriate if you need cash quickly, or if you need a relatively small loan.

Unsecured Loan

An unsecured loan does not require collateral. For this reason, this type of loan poses more risk to the lender. If you do not pay back the loan, the process to get back their money can take a long time, involve the legal system, and may be fruitless if you declare bankruptcy.

That’s why lenders may require a more extensive application, including performing a credit check on the potential borrower. If you, as a borrower, know that your credit history isn’t great or you are still building your credit, you may have fewer unsecured personal loan options.

Still, there may be some available. Knowing the pros and cons, reading the fine print, and having a clear plan for how to pay back the loan can be important in assessing which one is the right one for you.

Payday Loans

One type of loan that might be accessible for people with no or bad credit is a payday loan. This is usually a short-term, high-cost loan that is due on your next payday. Typically, payday loans are relatively small (generally under $500) and some states may have a limit as to how much people can borrow.

Payday loans are, like their name, due on your next payday or when you next get income. A payday loan typically has a relatively high interest rate may have fees as well. To ensure your loan is paid back, the lender may ask for a postdated check or money order. One of the problems with a payday loan is that if you can’t repay it on time and have to renew the loan, you can end up falling into the payday loan cycle. This can cause debt to snowball, and cost a lot of money in the long run.

Alternatives to Loans Based on Income

If you need money quickly, you may have some other options available. These could include:

Using a credit card or credit line. If you have access to credit, utilizing a credit card or credit line could help you through a financial rough patch. But because interest rates can be high, having a plan to pay back what you borrow or taking advantage of a card with a low APR can be a good strategy.

Borrowing from friends or family. Sometimes a loan from a friend or family member can be more flexible than borrowing from a lender. It can be a good idea to consider drafting an agreement, even if it’s relatively informal, regarding expectations, any interest agreements, and other conditions.

Selling things. Selling things you no longer need may help you raise cash quickly. Using local online marketplaces can be a quick way to unload things you’re not using and raise money.

Starting a side hustle. While it can take time to onboard onto a new job, applying for part-time jobs could be a potential long-term strategy to access more money. In the short-term, informal jobs such as babysitting, tutoring, or other work could help you raise the cash you need.

The Takeaway

Finding yourself in a financial lurch can be scary. But taking the time to weigh pros and cons of options may be helpful in choosing a sustainable path forward. Understanding the benefits and risks of loans based on income can help you assess whether this type of loan makes sense for your current financial circumstances.

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 2024 winner for Best Personal Loan overall.

Photo credit: iStock/Khosrork

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