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From the Experts at

How to Apply for a Personal Loan

Advertiser Disclosure 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.

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  • 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.

  • Annie

    A few days ago I applied online for a credit card consolidation loan. I used my maiden name and the interest rate that was offered was very high. 2 days later I reapplied to the same company, using my married last name and the interest rate offered was considerably less (less than half). Why does that matter? This was a highly rated company.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Whether or not you are married shouldn’t matter. It’s illegal to discriminate on the basis of marital status. Is it possible they couldn’t access your full credit history with your maiden name? Did you provide your SSN and full details needed to access your credit information?

  • Jean Erwin Gailey

    I had to retire earlier than I had planned and still owe more than I wanted to when I retired. What I want to do is combine most of this debt, pay it off, and make one larger payment to a loan company to get it paid quicker. When I combine everything I pay to each one of them I would have no problem making the larger payment, but am having trouble finding someone to give me a loan. My credit rating is good 759+. Why am I having such a problem?
    I do have a personal loan already that will be paid off in just over a year, but that is included in the figures I added together when trying to figure what I could pay.. Thanks for your help.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      Why are you being turned down? The rejection letters should state the main reasons. What are they saying? Is your income lower now that you are retired?

      • Jean Erwin Gailey

        The only thing I can get is that my credit score is not high enough to get a loan from them. Cannot get to the letter I was supposed to get giving details of rejection and believe me I have tried. Score is 759 to 781. Income is lower than take home pay I had, but manageable to pay back loan I need.

        • Gerri Detweiler

          If you didn’t get the letter listing the reasons for the decline that may be a violation of federal law. (But if you got a letter disclosing your credit score, the reasons should be listed in that letter…) If you didn’t get a complete adverse action letter you can file a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

          Beyond that it’s really hard for me to say because I don’t know why they turned you down. Have you tried a P2P lender like Lending Club or Debt consolidation is one of the most popular uses for those loans. Learn more here: debt consolidation loans.

          • Jean Erwin Gailey

            The applications was with Prosper – everytime I tried to get to the letter, it was like another application form. All I ever got was that I needed to verify my email address which I did each time and each time it went back to the same thing. I give up with this bunch! I will try another option. Thanks for your help.

          • Gerri Detweiler

            Jean – I am emailing you…

          • Gerri Detweiler

            Jean – I just emailed you.

  • Pi Ka Chu

    I’d like to get a credit card but are there any that don’t require putting money into before receiving funds on the card? Say, for example depositing 50 dollars and the card being 200 dollars in return. Are there any that don’t require depositing 50 dollars? I’m currently unemployed and looking and I need financial help. I got hired at a taco shop but it doesn’t open until September 17th and I know it’s gonna be at least 2 weeks before my first check. I’m 21 and my credit score is 635.

    • Gerri Detweiler

      I doubt it’s going to be possible for you to get an unsecured card without income. You can try but your score isn’t very high and the combination of the two factors is going to make it difficult.

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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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