Personal Loans

If you have debt or need help paying for a large purchase, then you may want to consider a personal loan. Personal loans, including online personal loans, provide you with the money you want but may not have right now. This makes it convenient for you to buy things, including cars or a home, take out money for school or even invest in your business.

Personal loans are either secured or unsecured. The majority are unsecured, with the amount you can take out determined by your credit score. In some cases, personal loans are secured against collateral, especially if your credit score is classified as fair or low.

Personal loans can be very beneficial, but there’s a lot to know before you apply for one, even if you work with one of the best personal loan companies. We’ve presented some important facts about personal loans and what you should consider before searching for a lender.

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What Is a Personal Loan?

A personal loan is a type of installment loan. You’ll borrow a specific amount of money that you then pay back with interest over time. Most loans have a specific length, which means that you’ll know exactly when this bill will be paid off in the future.

According to the Chamber of Commerce, personal loan usage grew by 19.2% in the first quarter of 2019. Today, there are approximately 21.1 million people with outstanding personal loans in the United States. The average debt that borrowers owe is $8,402. Around 19.1 million Americans have unsecured personal loans, while 176 million turned to credit cards instead of personal loans.

Personal loans are more accessible than ever before, which is why they’re seeing such growth. They’re used for debt consolidation, credit-card refinancing, home improvements, vacations, major purchases and medical bills among other purposes. You can even obtain a personal loan for business startup expenses.

Why Use Personal Loans?

You can choose to use personal loans for many reasons. For instance, personal loans can be used to:

Consolidate your debts

Pay for a wedding

Make a major purchase

Support your business

Pay off credit card debts

Deal with medical bills or unexpected expenses

Find lower interest rates to save money

Finance a renovation on your home

The benefit of a personal loan is that it combines your debts into a single, more manageable loan. You’ll have one payment, and the loan is likely to have a lower interest rate than credit cards or other unsecured lines of credit.

Personal loans are generally given out based on your credit score and income. You may be able to borrow anywhere from $1,500 to $100,000 or more, but your creditworthiness is what matters most in this equation. People with good credit have an easier time getting a better loan with lower interest rates.

You may be able to borrow anywhere from $1,500 to $100,000 or more, but your creditworthiness is what matters most in this equation.

Personal Loans

There are many different types of personal loans, from secured loans to debt consolidation loans. The requirements and terms vary, but in general, here’s what you can expect when applying for a personal loan.

When applying for a personal loan, expect to provide documents that verify your identity and income. Here are some things your lender may require:

  • Driver’s license
  • Social Security card
  • Passport or visa
  • Bank statements
  • Federal income tax returns
  • W2s or 1099s
  • Employment verification
  • Credit report
  • Collateral if applying for a secured loan

You have the best chances of scoring an approval if your FICO is at least 600 — but a low
credit score isn’t always a dealbreaker. Some lenders work with scores as low as 500.
However, you may need to provide collateral or get a cosigner if you have a below-average
FICO score.

Personal loans often range from $1,500 to $100,000, though smaller and larger amounts
are possible. The amount you receive depends on your credit history and ability to repay
borrowed funds.

Funding typically takes anywhere from a couple days to a few weeks for a personal loan. You can help speed up the approval process by having all of the required documents ready when you apply.

A personal loan is an installment loan. Installment loans are usually issued with a set repayment schedule, so you know exactly when you must repay your loan. You should also expect an APR of at least 5% when you get a personal loan, plus other possible fees for origination, processing or closing costs. Some lenders have an APR of 35% or higher, but rates like this are typically reserved for applicants with below-average credit.

Secured Loans

Not all loans require a flawless credit profile. If you have some blemishes on your credit report, consider a secured loan backed by personal or business assets.

Secured loans often have more paperwork than other types of personal loans. Along with the usual documents, such as a photo ID and bank statements, you should expect to sign forms about asset seizure. These forms confirm that the lender can freeze your bank account, take your car or keep your home, if you default on your loan.

  • Driver’s license
  • Social Security card
  • Passport or visa
  • Bank statements
  • Federal income tax returns 
  • W2s or 1099s
  • Employment verification
  • Credit report 
  • Collateral, such as a car or home

Unlike many other types of personal loans, you don’t need an average or high credit score for approval. Some lenders work with FICO scores as low as 500 when issuing secured loans. In fact, you might even be able to get a secured loan with a score in the 400s, if you have enough collateral.

You may not qualify for as much money as applicants with unsecured loans, even if you offer a significant amount of collateral. However, you can still receive anywhere from $1,000 to $50,000 in secured funds. Some lenders, such as PenFed, offer secured loans as low as $600. This is a good option if you don’t have many assets.

You might get your funds in just a few days, but some applicants wait weeks or even months. Your lender needs time to review your documents and assess the value of your assets before offering a loan. 

A secured loan is an installment loan with a predetermined payment schedule. Expect to make regular payments for two to seven years until your balance is repaid.

Unsecured Loans

Many personal loans are unsecured, which means you don’t need to offer collateral in exchange for funds.

Your unsecured loan may require one or more of these documents:

  • Driver’s license
  • Social Security card
  • Passport or visa
  • Bank statements
  • Federal income tax returns 
  • W2s or 1099s
  • Employment verification
  • Credit report 

An unsecured loan usually requires average or above-average credit. Many applicants have FICO scores that are in the mid-600s or higher; although, it is possible to get a loan with a lower FICO score. You may need a cosigner if your credit history does not meet the lender’s minimum requirements.

Unsecured personal loans typically range from $1,000 to $50,000, though other amounts are possible. The higher your credit score, the higher the loan you’ll likely receive.

You can get your funds quickly if you have a solid credit history. Expect to see money in as little as a day or two if you work with a lender who processes applications quickly. Otherwise, you may need to wait a few weeks.

Unsecured personal loans often have a set payment schedule for a period of two to five years. During this time, you must pay a fixed amount each month until your balance is gone.

Fixed-Rate Loans

Fixed-rate loans have the same interest rate for a set period of time. Sometimes this rate lasts for the entire loan, but that’s not always the case. Some lenders offer a promotional APR for a set period, such as six to 12 months. Your APR increases after this promotional period ends.

You need numerous documents for a fixed-rate loan, including any or all of the following:

  • Driver’s license
  • Social Security card
  • Passport or visa
  • Bank statements
  • Federal income tax returns 
  • W2s or 1099s
  • Employment verification
  • Credit report 
  • Collateral if applying for a secured loan

Approval is based on creditworthiness, so you’ll fare best if your FICO is at least 600. Some lenders have set requirements, such as a FICO score of at least 620 or 650. Prepare to offer assets or get a cosigner if your credit score is below average.

Fixed-rate personal loan amounts begin at around $1,000 or $1,500, with some borrowers receiving as much as $100,000. Your credit history and income impact the amount you receive.

Funds are often available quickly for fixed-rate loans, sometimes in just a few days. However, funding may take several weeks for some applicants.

Pay close attention to the repayment terms for fixed-rate loans, as they may change over time. Some people mistakenly assume a fixed-rate loan has an APR that never fluctuates. Unfortunately, your low APR may be part of a promotional offer. If that’s the case, expect it to go up after a set period of time. This can change your monthly payment.

Variable-Rate Loans

Variable-rate loans have fluctuating APR percentages that change based on market interest rates. This can make payments increase or decrease, especially if you have combined principal and interest rates.

Before receiving a variable-rate loan, your lender may require the following items:

  • Driver’s license
  • Social Security card
  • Passport or visa
  • Bank statements
  • Federal income tax returns 
  • W2s or 1099s
  • Employment verification
  • Credit report 
  • Collateral if applying for a secured loan

A FICO score of 600 or higher is ideal if you’re applying for a variable-rate personal loan. 

Applicants may receive anywhere from $1,000 to $100,000, but some lenders offer other amounts. Your loan amount is based on your creditworthiness and ability to repay the funds you borrow.

Have your documents filled out fully and accurately if you need cash fast. Some lenders disburse funds in just a day or two, while others wait weeks.

Fixed-rate personal loans are installment loans, which means you can generally expect a set repayment schedule. Repayment can take anywhere from two to 10 years, depending on how much you borrow.

Debt Consolidation Loans

Keeping up with multiple payments can get tricky. That’s why many people knock out credit cards, auto loans or other expenses with debt consolidation loans. When you pay off debt with a debt consolidation loan, you have one monthly payment instead of a slew of creditors to deal with each month.

Before getting a debt consolidation loan, you might be asked to provide the following documents:

  • Driver’s license
  • Social Security card
  • Passport or visa
  • Bank statements
  • Federal income tax returns 
  • W2s or 1099s
  • Employment verification
  • Credit report 

In general, personal loans require a FICO score of 600 or higher. However, some debt consolidation companies are flexible with FICO scores since they understand the benefits of getting this type of loan. Applicants may find it easy to keep up with payments after repaying other debts, which creates less of a risk factor.

Debt consolidation loans can be as low as $600 or as high as $100,000. However, loans are typically offered in the $5,000 to $50,000 range.

It’s important to knock out old debts quickly after you receive a debt consolidation loan. However, some applicants must wait weeks before funds become available. Make sure you let your creditors know if you’re in the process of getting a debt consolidation loan; some creditors may postpone payments or waive late fees if they know your plans.

Debt consolidation loans generally have repayment schedules ranging from two to seven years — though longer terms are possible. Interest rates often range from 5% to 35%.

Personal Line of Credit

A personal line of credit provides funds for a set period of time. Think of it as a credit card, minus the plastic. You can borrow funds over and over again — as long as you continue making payments as agreed. For example, if you have a $5,000 personal line of credit, you can continue borrowing up to $5,000 each time you repay your balance. 

When applying for a personal line of credit, the requirements are similar to that of personal loans. Expect to provide any or all of these documents:

  • Driver’s license
  • Social Security card
  • Passport or visa
  • Bank statements
  • Federal income tax returns 
  • W2s or 1099s
  • Employment verification
  • Credit report 

Approved applicants often have FICO scores in the mid-600s or higher. Borrowers with FICO scores of 690 or higher are likely to receive the lowest interest rates for borrowed funds.

If you’ve got a solid credit history, you can potentially borrow more money from a personal line of credit than a personal loan. Personal lines of credit often range from $3,000 to $100,000, but some banks offer $250,000 or more for approved applicants.

Funding for a personal line of credit takes anywhere from a couple days to several weeks. Unlike a personal loan, you might not receive a lump sum of cash or a paper check. Your personal line of credit may be accessible via a bank card through your lender.

Repayment terms vary, but many borrowers have up to 10 years to repay the funds from a personal line of credit.

Top 5 Personal Loans

LenderAPRCredit ScoreLoan Amount
LightStream 5.49 - 20.49%660$5,000 to $100,000
SoFi 5.99 - 18.83%680$5,000 to $100,000
Payoff 5.99 - 24.99%640$5,000 to $40,000
Best Egg5.99 - 29.99%640$2,000 to $35,000
Wells Fargo5.49 - 24.49%600$3,000 to $100,000

What Is the Difference Between a Personal and Business Loan?

Personal loans are guaranteed based on your personal credit history. This means that by looking at your credit score, the lender can decide if they’ll be able to lend you the amount of money you want. Small business loans, on the other hand, can look at your personal credit score as well as your business credit score. So, if you have a poor business credit score but a good personal score, the business loan might be more difficult to get than if you have a good credit score when applying for a personal loan.

Personal loans can be used for nearly anything unless the lender specifies otherwise. A personal loan finance company usually asks why you’re applying but won’t generally restrict you to only spending money on your intended use. Business loans tend to have more restrictions and require that you use the money for business-related purchases.

Personal loans can be used for nearly anything unless the lender specifies otherwise.

Are Personal Loans Applicable to Businesses?

If you qualify, you can use a personal loan for business purposes. Personal loans have a few benefits, such as being faster to obtain than other types of funding for businesses. They don’t require collateral in most cases, and you usually pay them back in two to five years.

If you want to use a personal loan for your business needs, make sure you talk to your lender first. Ask them if they prohibit loans being used in this way before you apply.

How Does Your Credit History Affect Personal Loan Approval?

Your credit history says what you do or don’t do when it comes to paying back what you owe. If you have a history of making payments on time, no history of bankruptcy and no issues, then getting a personal loan should be simple.

On the other hand, if you have regularly missed payments, gone to court over debts or have a generally low credit score, getting a personal loan is going to be more difficult.

Your credit score shows you’re responsible with the money you borrow. The higher the score, the more likely the lender is to provide you with a loan. If you do qualify for a loan, don’t spend more on your credit cards or run many hard inquiries until the loan is approved. Doing those things could decrease your score and cause you to no longer qualify for the loan.

Can You Get a Personal Loan If You Have Bad Credit?

It may be possible to get a personal loan if you have bad credit, but it’s not always easy. If your credit score is under 600, getting any kind of credit can be extremely difficult.

The good news is you can get a loan, but you’ll actually have to do some research to get one and find out which lenders are interested in dealing with borrowers at high risk. While you look for that lender, take the time to try to improve your score. Pay off debts; continue making payments on time, and check for any errors that might be negatively impacting your credit score. Don’t make any unnecessary credit inquiries, and report any suspicious credit activity.

The next step is to talk to your bank or credit union. Ask them what their minimum credit score requirements are and discuss your situation. Many credit unions are more flexible with lending than others, so they can discuss your options with you.

If you have poor credit, then the lender may ask for collateral. Secured loans use personal property as collateral. Lenders may take the collateral you use, such as your home or car, if you don’t make payments on time.

What Is a Cosigner, and Do You Need One?

If your credit is poor or fair, or if the lender doesn’t believe that you have enough income to pay them back, they may ask you to have a cosigner apply for the loan with you. This loan can be considered a guarantor loan because it’s a type of loan that requires a guarantor to cosign on your behalf.

When you have someone else sign your loan, it must be taken seriously. If you default, miss payments or stop paying completely, they’ll be asked to pay what you owe.

When someone cosigns a loan, you may be able to take out more money or get a better interest rate thanks to their good credit score. Remember, though, if you need a cosigner, the lender thinks that there’s something in your record that makes you a high-risk borrower.

If you can borrow the money you need at a fair interest rate without a guarantor, it’s better to do so. However, if you have a trusted family member or friend who’s willing to sign, it may help you get the loan you need.

Ready to Fund Your Plans?

How do I get a personal loan? Where can I find small personal loans near me? Can I get a personal loan for small business expenses? 

These are common questions we hear at Lendzi, and we’re here to help. If you’re looking at consolidating debt, want to go to school, need a car or just want some extra money for household projects, then a personal loan could be a good option for you. Once you decide that receiving a traditional or online personal loan is something that you’re interested in doing, finding the right lender is the next step. 

At Lendzi, we’ll help you choose the lender with the right interest rates and offers, so you can get the money you need quickly. Contact us today so we can make your vision a reality with funds from one of the best personal loan companies.

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