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From the Experts at

How to Apply for a Personal Loan

by Lucy Lazarony

How To Apply for a Personal Loan

Whether or not you qualify for a personal loan and what interest rate you will be charged if approved for the loan depends on your credit.

That’s why checking your credit score is the first step you should take when applying for a personal loan. You can pay one of the major bureaus to see one of your credit scores, or you can use a free tool like the Credit Report Card, which updates your credit scores every month.

And if you haven’t checked your credit reports recently, you can request free copies of your credit reports from the three major credit bureaus. Review the content of your reports carefully and correct errors before shopping for a loan.

Research Before You Apply

Every time you apply for a personal loan triggers an inquiry into your credit and this nudges down your credit score a little bit. So be selective about the loans that you apply for. Ask lenders in advance about the minimum credit score that they require for personal loans. Some lenders will even list this information on their websites. Only apply for loans with credit standards that you meet.

Start Local

A good place to begin your search for a personal loan is with your local bank or credit union. Be sure to research the credit criteria required for personal loans before you apply. Check your bank or credit union’s website, or call customer service. You may even wish to make an appointment with a loan officer.

Some online lenders are options as well. You can find loans on anytime.

What’s in a Loan Application?

In addition to checking your credit score, a potential lender will want to ascertain your annual income as well as your debt-to-income ratio.

Other questions you are likely to find on a loan application include: your monthly housing payment, whether you rent or own your primary residence, your employer and the years worked at your employer.

Being prepared with this information will speed up the process of applying for a personal loan.

  • Alex

    I would like to get a personal loan for about 15,000, pay off cc debt, consolidate everything but I want a fixed rate of interest and I want to pay $200 dollars a month until paid off. How do I go about finding that sort of loan?

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Most unsecured consolidation loans are for 5 years or less. So $200 a month is a probably low as a monthly payment for that loan amount, unless you get a home equity loan (which may be for 10 years or longer). At 12% interest, for example, your payment on a 5 year loan for $15,000 would be about $335 a month.

      If that’s still doable, you can
      search for an online personal loan for debt consolidation at Whether or not you can qualify will depend on your credit scores and your income.

  • Mike

    I want to apply for a loan. My bank told me they will check the last 2 paychecks before allowing me a loan. However on my latest paycheck I missed 2 days of unpaid work. The amount will be therefore about 100 less. Will they still consider loaning me coz my raw income will still be above their minimal standards even with my amputated paycheck.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      It really depends on whether you can qualify at the lower income amount. I’d suggest you ask the lender.

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  • Meet Our Expert

    lucy_lazarony GravatarLucy Lazarony is a freelance personal finance writer. Her articles have been featured on Bankrate, MoneyRates, MSN Money, and The National Endowment for Financial Education. Prior to freelancing, she worked as a staff writer for Bankrate for seven years. She earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Florida and spent a summer as an international intern at Richmond, The American International University in London. She lives in South Florida.
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