Are There Loans for 18-Year-Olds With No Credit History?

By Melissa Brock · March 28, 2024 · 8 minute read

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Are There Loans for 18-Year-Olds With No Credit History?

If you’re an 18-year-old with no credit history, you can get a loan, but your choices may be more limited. You may have to tap into alternative options and sources, such as loans with a cosigner.

That’s because lenders like to lend to people with a history of borrowing and on-time payments. Oftentimes, young people just starting out have no credit history. This means they have no credit accounts in their name or haven’t used credit for a long period of time and the information has been removed from their credit history. Without credit, it can be difficult to access loans or credit cards, rent an apartment or buy a house, and obtain certain subscriptions.

Let’s take a closer look at loans for 18-year-olds.

Benefits of Loans for 18-Year-Olds

Two important benefits of getting a loan as an 18-year-old include gaining access to funds and building up credit history.

Access to Funds

The obvious benefit of getting loans as a young person is that you will have access to the money you need. Depending on the type of loan you get, you may be able to use the funds for a variety of purposes, including:

•   Education

•   Purchasing big-ticket items, such as a car

•   Personal expenses, such as medical or wedding expenses

Build Up Your Credit History

Loans allow you to start building up your credit history, which can help you meet goals such as:

•   Getting a cellphone

•   Accessing utilities in your name

•   Qualifying for a credit card

•   Getting good rates on insurance, a mortgage, or auto loan

Plus, establishing a strong record of borrowing and repayment can position you well for future borrowing.

💡 Quick Tip: Need help covering the cost of a wedding, honeymoon, or new baby? A SoFi personal loan can help you fund major life events — without the high interest rates of credit cards.

Cons of Loans for 18-Year-Olds

While there are benefits to getting a loan when you’re 18, there are downsides to consider as well. Let’s take a closer look at a few.

Limited Loan Amounts

You may not be able to borrow a large loan amount when you’re young and just starting out. For example, if you want to purchase a $500,000 home as an 18-year-old and have no credit history, you’ll likely have difficulty qualifying for this type of loan.

Potentially High Rates

It’s possible to get a loan with no credit as a young person, but lenders may charge a higher interest rate than if you had an established credit history.

Why is that the case? Lenders try to assess your risk level when you apply for anything from a personal loan to a credit card. If they can’t see evidence that you have successfully made loan payments, they may not grant you a loan or they may compensate for that risk by charging you a higher interest rate.

Some lenders consider other aspects of your profile beyond credit history, including whether you can comfortably afford your payments.

Risk of Getting Into Debt

According to a consumer debt study conducted by Experian, Generation Z (those aged 18-26) had a non-mortgage debt average of $15,105 in 2023. This includes credit cards, auto debt, personal loans, or student loans.

While carrying any level of debt can be stressful, there are also financial implications to consider. For starters, if you don’t pay off your balance in a timely way, interest can start to build. Credit cards tend to carry higher interest rates than home or auto loans. This means wiping out credit card debt could take a long time if you only pay the minimum amount.

Then there are potential penalties to be mindful of, such as late fees. You may also face collection costs if you don’t pay your bills, which will remain on your credit report and potentially impact your credit score for years.

Recommended: Why Do People Choose a Joint Personal Loan?

Is a Co-Signer Required When Applying for Loans as an 18-Year-Old?

Not all lenders require a cosigner, so be sure to ask if you’ll need one. In most cases, a loan without a cosigner will likely have a lower loan amount and a higher interest rate.

What exactly is a cosigner? Simply put, it’s a person who agrees to take responsibility for a loan alongside the primary borrower. If one person fails to make payments, it will affect the other person’s credit score.

Applying for a loan with a co-borrower or cosigner can be a quick way to get accepted for a loan.

Understanding Your Loan Status

Like many financial processes, applying for a loan involves multiple steps. Here’s a general idea of what’s involved:

•   Pre-approval: Pre-approval means that your lender takes a look at your qualifications (including a soft credit check). A soft credit check is an inquiry of your credit report.

•   Application: In this part of the process, you submit a formal application, and your lender will verify your information.

•   Conditional approval: You may also get conditional approval for your loan, which means the lender may likely approve you to get a loan as long as you meet all the requirements.

•   Approval or denial: Finally, you’ll either get approved or denied for the loan.

Your lender should be clear with you at every step of the application process.

Recommended: How to Get Approved for a Personal Loan

Private Lender Loan Requirements for 18-Year-Olds

There are no hard-and-fast requirements that encompass private lender requirements. However, lenders generally look at an applicant’s credit score, debt, and income.

Credit Score

There’s no universally set minimum credit score requirement for a loan because rules can vary by lender. It’s worth noting that low-to-no-credit borrowers may be able to access a loan.

Debt and Income

Lenders will check to see how much debt you have and calculate your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, which ideally should be less than 36%. To figure out your DTI, lenders add up your debts and divide that amount by your gross income.

Lenders will also look at your income to ensure you can make monthly payments on your loan. This can include income from your job, a spouse’s income, self-employment, public assistance, investments, alimony, financial aid for school, insurance payments, and an allowance from family members.

Tips for Getting Loans as an 18-Year-Old

If you’re ready to get a loan as a young person, you can take steps to help boost your odds of getting approved.

Show Your Savings

Show the lender what you’ve saved in your accounts, which may include:

•   High-yield savings accounts

•   Certificates of deposit (CDs)

•   Money market account

•   Checking or savings accounts

•   Treasuries

•   Bonds, stocks, real estate, and other investments

Demonstrating savings can help you show that you can repay your loan.

Show Proof of Income

Lenders will likely require you to provide proof of income so they can see how you’ll pay for your loan. But remember, this doesn’t mean just the money you earn from a job. Consider other types of income you receive. For instance, you may not initially think of alimony as a source of income, but a lender might.

Apply for a Lower Amount

Lenders may deny your loan if you choose to borrow more money than you can realistically repay. So if you’re young and have no credit history, you may be able to increase your chances of getting a loan if you apply for a lower amount. You may also want to consider this strategy if you’re denied for a loan and want to reapply.

💡 Quick Tip: Just as there are no free lunches, there are no guaranteed loans. So beware lenders who advertise them. If they are legitimate, they need to know your creditworthiness before offering you a loan.

The Takeaway

While most 18-year-olds don’t have a large income or lengthy credit history, that doesn’t mean you can’t qualify for a personal loan. Just remember that funding choices may be more restricted, and you might not qualify for a large amount. If you’re having trouble getting approved, you may want to consider asking someone to cosign the loan, showing proof of income and savings, or applying for less money.

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.


Are there loans for 18-year-olds without a job?

You can get a loan without a job. However, you’ll need to show a lender that you have some form of consistent income, such as through investments, alimony, financial aid, or another source of cash flow.

Are there loans for 18-year-olds without credit?

Yes, loans do exist for 18-year-olds with no credit history. But note that even if you qualify for a loan without credit, it may be a lower amount than you could qualify for if you had a lengthy credit history. You may also not be able to get a low interest rate.

Can I get a loan as an 18-year-old?

Yes, 18-year-olds can get a loan. Your age matters less than your credit history and credit score — or the availability of a cosigner. Keep in mind that you may have trouble getting a loan if you don’t meet a lender’s qualifications. Contact a lender to learn more about your options.

How can I build credit as an 18-year-old?

If you want to start building credit, it may be worth exploring a secured credit card. Similar to a debit card, this type of credit card requires you to put down a cash deposit to insure any purchases you make. For example, putting down a $1,000 deposit, and that becomes your starting credit line on your card.

Photo credit: iStock/SeventyFour

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