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Personal loans can be valuable financial tools for various purposes, such as consolidating debt, covering unexpected expenses, or funding major life events. However, securing a personal loan requires meeting certain eligibility criteria and providing essential documentation to lenders. In this comprehensive guide, Finger Finance will explore the key requirements and steps to get a personal loan.



Understanding Personal Loans


What Is a Personal Loan?

A personal loan is an unsecured loan that allows borrowers to receive a lump sum of money from a lender, which is then repaid over a fixed term with interest. Unlike secured loans, such as auto loans or mortgages, personal loans are not backed by collateral, making them a popular choice for various financial needs.


What Are Different Types of Personal Loans?

Before applying for a personal loan, it is essential to understand the different types available:

  • Secured Personal Loans: While personal loans are typically unsecured, some lenders offer secured personal loans. These loans require collateral, such as a savings account or a valuable asset, to secure the loan. Secured loans may have lower interest rates but involve more risk for the borrower.
  • Unsecured Personal Loans: The majority of personal loans are unsecured, meaning they do not require collateral. Approval for unsecured loans is based on the borrower’s creditworthiness and ability to repay the loan.
  • Fixed-Rate Personal Loans: Fixed-rate personal loans have a consistent interest rate throughout the loan term, providing predictable monthly payments.
  • Variable-Rate Personal Loans: Variable-rate personal loans have interest rates that can fluctuate over time, potentially resulting in varying monthly payments.




What Are The Eligibility Requirements For Personal Loans?


Lenders have specific eligibility criteria that borrowers must meet to qualify for a personal loan. While these criteria can vary among lenders, they often include:

  • Credit Score: Lenders typically require a minimum credit score, which can vary but is often around 620 or higher for unsecured personal loans.
  • Income: You must have a stable source of income to demonstrate your ability to repay the loan. Lenders may have minimum income requirements.
  • Credit History: A positive credit history, including a track record of on-time payments and responsible credit use, can improve your chances of approval.
  • Age: You must be at least 18 years old to apply for a personal loan.


What Factors Impact Personal Loan Approval?


In addition to the minimum eligibility criteria, several factors can influence whether you are approved for a personal loan:

  • Credit Score: A higher credit score can increase your chances of approval and may result in more favorable terms, such as a lower interest rate.
  • Debt-to-Income Ratio (DTI): Lenders assess your DTI, which compares your monthly debt payments to your monthly income. A lower DTI is generally more favorable.
  • Employment History: A stable employment history and consistent income can enhance your eligibility.
  • Loan Amount and Term: The loan amount and term you request can affect approval. Some lenders may have maximum and minimum loan amounts.


What Documentation And Information Is Required When Applying For A Personal Loan?


To apply for a personal loan, you will need to provide specific documentation and information to the lender. Having these documents ready can expedite the application process:


Personal Identification:

  • Government-Issued Photo ID: A driver’s license, passport, or state-issued ID verifies your identity.


Income Verification:

  • Pay Stubs: Recent pay stubs or proof of income from your employer.
  • Tax Returns: Personal tax returns for the past one to two years, especially if you are self-employed.
  • Bank Statements: Statements from your checking and savings accounts, which show your financial history and stability.
  • W-2 or 1099 Forms: If you are employed, provide these forms to verify income.
  • Additional Income Sources: If you have additional sources of income, such as rental income or investments, provide documentation to support them.


Credit Information:

  • Credit Reports: Lenders may request permission to access your credit reports from one or more major credit bureaus, such as Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion.
  • Credit Score: While not a document you provide, lenders will use your credit score to assess your creditworthiness.


Personal Information:

  • Social Security Number (SSN): Lenders use your SSN to check your credit and verify your identity.
  • Contact Information: Your current address, phone number, and email address.


Loan Purpose:

  • Loan Application: Some lenders may ask for details about how you plan to use the loan funds, such as debt consolidation or home improvement.




What Is The Personal Loan Application Process?


Step 1 – Prequalification

Before formally applying for a personal loan, consider prequalification. Prequalification is a process in which you provide basic information to a lender, and they perform a soft credit check to estimate the loan amount and terms you may qualify for. Prequalification does not impact your credit score.


Step 2 – Loan Application

Once you’re ready to apply, submit a formal loan application to the lender of your choice. You can often apply online or in person at a bank, credit union, or online lending platform. The application will require you to provide personal and financial information, including the documentation mentioned in Section 3.


Step 3 – Credit Check

After you submit your application, the lender will conduct a credit check to assess your credit history and determine your creditworthiness. This credit inquiry may be a hard pull, which can temporarily lower your credit score.


Step 4 – Loan Approval and Terms

If your application is approved, the lender will provide you with a loan offer that outlines the loan amount, interest rate, repayment term, and other terms and conditions. Review the offer carefully to ensure you understand the terms and fees associated with the loan.


Step 5 – Acceptance and Funding

If you agree to the terms of the loan offer, you’ll need to sign a loan agreement. Once the agreement is signed, the lender will fund the loan, typically by depositing the funds into your bank account. The time it takes to receive the funds can vary by lender but is often within a few business days.


What Are Alternatives to Traditional Personal Loans?


If you find it challenging to meet the eligibility criteria, to secure a traditional personal loan with bad credit or due to other factors, there are alternative options you can consider. Examples are mentioned in the table below:

Secured Personal Loans: As mentioned earlier, secured personal loans require collateral, such as a savings account, certificate of deposit (CD), or valuable asset. Collateral reduces the lender’s risk and may make approval more likely, even with bad credit.
Co-Signer or Guarantor: Enlist a co-signer or guarantor with good credit to apply for the loan with you. Their creditworthiness can strengthen your application.
Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Lending: P2P lending platforms connect borrowers with individual investors willing to fund loans. These platforms often have more lenient credit requirements than traditional lenders.
Credit Unions: Credit unions are member-owned financial institutions that may offer more personalized lending options and more flexible credit requirements than banks.
Payday Alternative Loans (PALs): PALs are short-term loans offered by some federal credit unions to help borrowers avoid payday loans. They have lower interest rates and fees compared to traditional payday loans.


Final Thoughts


Getting a personal loan, even with bad credit, is possible with careful preparation, meeting eligibility requirements, and providing the necessary documentation. While bad credit may limit your options and result in higher interest rates, taking steps to improve your credit and exploring alternative lending options can help you secure the financing you need for various financial goals and emergencies. Before committing to any loan, carefully review the terms and conditions to ensure they align with your financial situation and goals.

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Justine Gray

Justine is an expert writer with a wealth of experience in the financial world. In particular, she enjoys writing about consumer finance and household income. Read her articles for useful advice and top tips on how to save money and lots more.

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