We get it—personal loans are quite enticing. Imagine the possibilities. You could update your kitchen, install new fixtures in the bathroom, or just reward yourself and the kids with a weekend trip to the nearby water park, hotel, and food, all paid for with the loan.
But these are not the reasons to take out personal loans, especially if your credit is not good. Personal loans for bad credit (or any credit, for that matter) should be used only in the event of life emergencies, such as your car’s alternator deciding to fail or your teenage kid requiring braces, which can cost thousands.
If you would like to get a personal loan but don’t want the hassle of a payday loan, you should look for what is called a “personal installment loan.”
They are a lot more affordable, and the associated terms are easier to deal with. In this article, we will discuss the differences between installment and payday loans and discuss four personal loan lending platforms that can help if you have bad credit.
Top Picks For Best Personal Loans [Full Reviews]
#1. CashUSA: Overall Most Trusted Platform for Bad Credit Loan
#4. LendingTree: Leading Direct Lenders for Best Loan Interest
#1. CashUSA.com: Overall Most Trusted Platform for Bad Credit Loan
Need cash quickly? Having trouble getting qualified elsewhere? CashUSA.com might just be what you’re looking for. They can help whether you need a loan to cover an unplanned flight to visit a sick family member, have a home emergency you must fix, or any other problem you didn’t see coming.
We should make it clear that CashUSA.com does not provide or service the loans you will be applying for. Instead, they connect you, the borrower, with an extensive lending network offering loans to U.S.-based customers. They are a highly regarded source for loans and use only reputable companies to connect borrowers with lenders.
Their process is quick and convenient, and their site is very user-friendly. They offer both state and Tribal loans. (Just a note on Tribal loans—these loans are not subject to federal laws; instead, they follow those of sovereign Native American lands. Interest rates can therefore be very high on these loans. Read the terms carefully if choosing a Tribal lender).
You can submit a request for a loan as small as $500, or you can opt for a larger loan, the maximum being $10,000. It’s a quick and easy loan approval process, with funds going into your bank account the following business day.
This site is ideal if you are cash-strapped, but your credit is not that good. You can borrow funds online in an instant with the help of this website. While some folks will find it easier to visit their local bank or credit union, we know this won’t work for everyone. So, CashUSA can help.
You will begin by providing CashUSA.com with your name, birthdate, and military status. You will also need to provide the last four digits of your social security number, as well as your zip code. Make sure all information is correct, as it helps determine your rates. The service is free, so just relax, take your time and fill out the form with care.
After this, you will input the amount of money you’d like to borrow and what your credit rating is to the best of your estimation. You can enter anywhere from Poor (under 500) to Excellent (720 and above). Then you will discuss the reason for your loan request—this is done by selecting from a box the purpose of the loan. Choices include things like Rent, Vacation, Auto repair, Emergency situations, and others. Choose the one that most accurately fits your situation. It does not have an impact on your eligibility for the loan. CashUSA just wants to match the appropriate lender to the borrower.
After this, you’ll enter contact info. You will discuss whether or not you own your home, the best time to call you, your address, your phone number, how long you’ve lived at your home, and your email address. You will then enter employment info, such as your source of minimum individual annual income, debt to income ratio, salary frequency, time employed with your company, employer name, phone number, and gross income. Then you’ll give some identity info to CashUSA; this helps verify your identity. You will do this by providing your SSN, driver’s license, and bank account. Next, you will give bank account information so that your funds can be deposited, and repayment arrangements can be made.
You’ll then discuss when your next paycheck is coming, whether or not you own your car, if you are paid via direct deposit, and your job title. After that, you will review loan offers. From there, you should read over the loan terms carefully and decide if you’d like to pursue it.
To apply for a loan here, you need to be at least 18 years old, have a checking account under your name, and earn at least $1000 a month. You must also be a permanent resident or citizen of the U.S.. You need to also provide work and home phone numbers, plus a valid email.
Meeting these requirements is relatively easy but does not guarantee you will get a loan. Make sure to provide as much info as you can and be truthful about it. Rest assured their site is secure, and you needn’t feel worried about giving so much personal information out.
CashUSA.com is free to use, and there are no charges for using the service. You can contact their customer service reps with any questions about their service via phone or email. Do understand that the representatives cannot answer questions about your specific loan. However, you must contact your loan servicer for that.
We highly recommend the use of this service, but there are some caveats borrowers should know about before signing up for a loan.
The first is that you must read the terms and conditions of the loan with care. Ask any questions you have before signing. Make sure you can repay the loan. Rest assured the offer won’t be withdrawn if you don’t take it in the next five minutes. Remember, this is real money you need to pay back, so be cautious.
In summary, however, you should take a look at CashUSA.com for yourself. Their site is convenient, and you can get your money pretty quickly if you use their services. Your information will be processed in mere minutes, and the preapproval process will not have an impact on your credit score (it’s what they call a ‘soft pull’). We also liked that the requirements for income are relatively easy to attain—earning $1000 a month is quite realistic for most people.
This is another online marketplace to shop for loans, similar to what you get with CashUSA.com. The service is free of any charges, and there are plenty of loan options created just for people with bad credit.
Having bad credit can make us feel like we will never get approved anywhere. But BadCreditLoans can help turn it around for you. BadCreditLoans works as a go-between, sending information between you and the lenders in their network to show you loans available for your use.
They do not service or give out the loans they offer. Instead, they just give you the site and the terms, where you’ll go to get the full details if interested.
It works similar to the many other lending marketplaces out there. You will begin by completing a single application, which they then send out to all the lenders that match your criteria. You will then get offers that you can compare from lenders willing to help.
When picking out your loan, you will formally sign up for it with that lender—BadCreditLoans will then be out of the picture. There’s zero cost associated with using their service, and you are not obligated to accept an offer.
It’s worth noting that because you are a ‘bad-credit’ borrower, the loan terms are not going to be as ideal as they would be if using a bank or credit union with a good credit score. Loan amounts will not be as high, either. That being said, you can still secure the funds you need, which can be a real lifesaver. Just think of it as the first step to boosting your credit score to get more favorable terms in the future.
It’s also great to know that this site caters directly to bad credit consumers. We have been in your shoes, and we know how intimidating it can be to apply for a loan and walk out with your head hung low because you got rejected (again). Here, they already know what you are going through, and they work with lenders who can help you out.
Their personal loans or unsecured loans are like any other; they do not require you to put up collateral, and the funding deposits fast into your checking account.
Aside from personal loans, they offer several other products, too. For example, BadCreditLoans offers mortgages. If you cannot qualify for a USDA or FHA loan, try checking out BadCreditLoans. They may be able to connect you to home lenders that work with bad credit consumers. Bear in mind that in this case, your home is collateral if you cannot make payments, so be cautious if going this route.
Auto loans are also offered on this platform. Just about everybody needs a car, after all; we have jobs we need to report to and kids we need to shuttle around. The terms that dealerships and buy-here-pay-here places offer aren’t that great. So, this is a great place to have a look if you’d like to get yourself a car, but your credit isn’t that good.
Indeed, the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to using BadCreditLoans. For starters, you are going to connect directly to a lender that is willing to help. The initial form you fill out is a prequalification form and is the first step in making that connection to a lending service.
This form is your ticket to getting several quotes for lenders, which you can compare side-by-side. Best of all, it’s just a single form you need to fill out, no calling dozens of places and getting turned away. Applying through BadCreditLoans will only take minutes.
The eligibility requirements for using BadCreditLoans are also pretty straightforward. For starters, you have to be at least 18 years old. You need to provide a valid email address, as well as work and home phone numbers. You must have a checking account in your name, plus proof of being a U.S. citizen or legal resident. You also need to have a regular source of income. This can be from regular, full-time employment, Social Security benefits, disability benefits, or self-employment.
Once you have connected with a lender who can help you out, your information will be reviewed quickly, and your request will be approved or denied in just minutes. If you are approved, take your time, and review the loan details carefully. You don’t have to accept the offer, especially if any part of it makes you question your ability to pay it back on time whenever a payment is due.
If you decide to take the loan, you will use your e-signature to sign off on it. Then, the lender will deposit your funds into your account as soon as the next business day, depending on what deposit procedure that lender follows.
What happens if BadCreditLoans cannot find a lender within their network willing to offer a loan? You will get ads for other loan companies, or you will be connected to offers involving credit repair, debt relief, or other related services/products. Rest assured, they do not show sensitive info to these companies; instead, they just send your contact information to them.
To wrap it up, BadCreditLoans ranks favorably with us. They have a user-friendly website, a form that is easy to fill out, and they are welcoming to credit-challenged consumers.
Loans from $500 to $10,000
Simple application form
Good for bad credit applicants
Get funds as soon as next business day
Educational resources for avoiding financial scams
Personal Loans is another loan marketplace that can connect you with a large network of lenders that suit your credit rating.
One cool thing we noticed right off the bat is that they are an Online Lenders Alliance member. This means that information they glean from people applying for their services is kept private and taken seriously.
You can borrow anywhere from $1000 to $35K when you use Personal Loans, and these funds can be used for any reason you desire. Whether you’d like to spend it on home repairs, a vacation, or debt consolidation is up to you, but remember—we don’t advise borrowing money for things you want, only things you need.
Personal Loans offer a variety of lending options. For starters, they have peer-to-peer loans, which connect you to a person who can lend you money. This is not a bank you’ll borrow from; instead, it’s a live person or business. They work with a myriad of lenders that provide peer-to-peer loans.
Personal installment loans are also offered. This is what we all think of when we hear the phrase ‘personal loan.’ These debt consolidation loans are quick to be doled out and pretty easy to pay back—simply have your money ready on the due date and have it withdrawn automatically from your checking account or call your lender directly to make a payment.
Bank personal loans are also offered, but you’re more likely to get offers through the previous two options if your credit is not so good. Then again, some banks may be willing to offer you a loan. It’s best just to enter your info into the site and see what happens.
The APR at Personal Loans ranges from 5.99% to 35.99%. That’s par for the course with bad credit loans. It is better than some other lending networks out there, whose rates start at 6%.
The APR of 35.99% is very high, and this is because Personal Loans work with Tribal lenders. These lenders have rates that go beyond federal limits because they operate on sovereign Native American territories. So, make sure you read the terms carefully because you might find the interest charges to be too high for you to comfortably pay.
In terms of fees, the peer-to-peer loans you take out will have an origination fee ranging from 1% to 5%. Make sure you read over the terms to understand fully what your origination fee will be. After all, once the contract is signed, there’s no going back.
Personal Loans does a pretty good job of explaining what to expect when you borrow with one of their partners. That being said, you will have to do most of the research yourself. However, they do inform you that if your credit isn’t great, you can expect a high APR. They also make a note about Tribal lenders having higher rates, which we appreciated.
The income requirements are higher than we’ve seen elsewhere. You need to make at least $2000 a month if you want to get a peer-to-peer loan or a personal installment loan. You have to make at least $3000 a month if you want to get a personal bank loan.
You must also have at least a 580 credit score, live in the United States, be at least 18 years old, have a valid ID, and have a savings or checking account in your name.
But what is the application process actually like? It’s pretty easy; it takes just a few minutes. You’ll begin by completing the loan request, which you can do online at any time.
Next, you’ll review the lenders that Personal Loans has found. These lenders are willing to work with you based on your credit rating. You have been pre-approved; now, you can look through the available lenders and select those that appeal to you.
Once you’ve found a lender you’re interested in, you will apply for the loan. This will result in a hard pull on your credit score. If approved, you should read over the terms of the loan carefully. If you have any questions or concerns, contact the lender to ask them.
Do not accept the loan unless you feel 100% comfortable with it and your ability to repay it.
Once you have accepted the loan, your money will go right to your bank account, usually in as little as 24 hours. It could take longer, depending on your lender.
In summary, we like Personal Loans. We found their site to be well-constructed and easy to navigate. They put a big emphasis on security and safety when it comes to sensitive borrower information.
They have lots of information available about various loans, plus some info about loan scams. We liked that their contact information was readily displayed, so if you have any questions about the service they offer, you can call, email, or write.
All in all, Personal Loans is a great place to go if you need a loan, but your credit isn’t the best.
Loans between $1,000 and $35,000
Huge lending network
Safe and secure website
Applicants with bad credit may receive higher interest rates
#4. LendingTree: Leading Direct Lenders for Best Loan Interest
LendingTree is known for their creative commercials, but what you did not know is that they are one of the biggest names in peer-to-peer online lending. They got their start in 1998, in North Carolina.
Their goal is to connect lenders and borrowers so that they can make arrangements for personal loans, refinanced/new mortgages, auto loans, and business loans. Their site offers tools and services that help improve your personal finance. For example, they discuss credit scores and credit cards so that the beginner can understand them.
The cool thing about LendingTree is that the loans are largely not from banks. Instead, they come from small companies and individual investors. They’ve helped millions of people since their first days in business. And because their structure depends on their lending network participants offering varied interest rates, you are sure to find a lender willing to work with you.
The application process for LendingTree is just what you’d expect. The info you enter, on the other hand, will vary based on what loan you’re taking. So, we will discuss the criteria for a personal loan.
As you know, a personal loan is not backed using collateral or something the lender will take in the event you default on the loan. For auto and home loans, this is the car you’re financing and the house you’re mortgaging, respectively.
When applying for a personal loan, you will list the loan purpose; for example, you’re using the loan to repair your leaking roof or replace the transmission in your car.
The loan amount is what you will enter next—for example, you might need $4000 for the roof to be repaired or $2000 to fix the broken transmission. LendingTree doles out loans in amounts of $1000 to $50,000.
Your estimated credit score will be next. Choose the score that reflects most accurately your credit rating: poor, fair, good, or excellent. You will also be required to include pre-tax income and employment info, identification information such as your email address, last four digits of your social security number, and physical address, as well as the type of residence in which you reside.
They will only give you your true credit score after you’ve completed the application. A series of questions will be asked to confirm your identity, and then you’ll be shown all offers that are available for the loan amount you’ve requested.
You will get a chance to see the lender’s name, estimated monthly payments, APR, amount, and number of years you will have to repay the loan. They also give you a telephone number you can use to answer questions you might have about the loan, or you can use it to apply for the offer as well.
If you do choose to take the loan, you will be asked to enter more info. As the application moves forward, LendingTree will email you with your status. The entire process from start to finish will take 30 minutes or less.
Make sure you understand that your credit history will be pulled if you decide to take a loan. You will want to apply to multiple lenders within a short period as this counts as only one hard pull.
Why is it important to do your shopping in a 30-day window? Doing too many ‘hard pulls’ can lower your credit score even more. A single hard pull will reduce your score by five points or less.
Sometimes, no points are deducted. But multiple hard pulls can reduce your credit score by 10 points every time they occur. The bottom line? If you know you need a loan, complete the entire process from start to finish within that 30-day period.
The terms of the loans offered will vary greatly, especially due to your credit score, amount of loan, type of loan, and income. Loan repayment periods usually last about three years or more.
The LendingTree website mentions you are able to hunt for loans without giving out sensitive info via LoanExplorer, a site-specific feature. There are no obligations, and the quotes are tailored to you.
So just how are these loans funded? Many of them are banks; some are individuals, some are partnerships or small businesses. Rest assured that even if you’ve never heard of the company offering you a loan, you have the chance to look them up and do some research before you commit.
LendingTree is a safe and legitimate loan marketplace, but you as the consumer should always be aware of where and how you’re getting your loan.
So, do we recommend LendingTree? Absolutely, yes! They have been around for over 20 years, and their BBB rating is A+. Their services are a great way to compare the rates of various lenders and pre-qualify without hurting your credit.
It’s also much easier to get a loan using LendingTree if your credit is not so good. Granted, the APR is going to be higher, and you’re going to have to deal with that pesky e-mail and telephone marketing. But it’s much more comfortable than being turned down in person at the bank or getting those annoying rejection letters in the mail.
So yes, go ahead and check out LendingTree with confidence- they may be able to help. We also recommend their TV ads. They’re actually sort of funny.
Loan amounts from $1,000 to $50,000
Accepts all credit ratings
No additional fees
Easy to compare interest rates on offers
May need to negotiate with lenders for competitive rates
The Difference Between Installment and Payday Loans
Payday loans are a cash advance given on a short-term basis with the expectation that you will pay back all the money borrowed at your next payday. These loans last anywhere from two to four weeks, ideally. Payday loans are tempting for those of us with bad credit because they grant you fast money and few hassles related to your credit.
However, if something sounds way too good to be true, it probably is. Payday loans are generally something to stay away from. If you cannot pay them back on the due date in full, you will only incur more consolidated debt in the form of late fees, and the cycle continues.
These loans are deemed so predatory that some states have banned them altogether. Other states have strict laws about payday loans, although some companies find legal loopholes that allow them to lend money to people who more than likely will struggle to pay it back.
Installments loans are paid monthly or bi-weekly. Meanwhile, payday loans are repaid via a large lump sum. So, you will have to not only repay what you borrowed (the principal) but also the finance charges as well.
The charges are nothing to laugh about, either. The usual interest rate we see on payday loans is in the triple digits, and finance charges can be anywhere from 10-30 dollars per hundred borrowed.
This is dependent upon your loan length and credit. These high fees are easily the greatest danger posed by a payday loan.
Consider this: A payday loan with a fee of $20 per $100 borrowed means it has an APR of 520%, which is more than ten times more expensive than even the most pricey personal loans, which have a cap of 35.99%. This is, of course, assuming you don’t end up paying extra finance fees to prolong your loan if you cannot pay it back on time, which is more common than you think.
Conclusion: Build Your Credit and Get Better Loan Options
When faced with a financial hardship that cannot be waylaid, you might be itching to pull out the credit card, rush to the payday loan store or pick up the first loan offered to you. But don’t do that just yet—instead, try to find yourself a good personal installment loan.
With this type of loan, you will not only enjoy a better interest rate, but you can make monthly, scheduled payments in reasonable dollar amounts. You will find it easier to stay on schedule and repay the loan. Plus, these regular payments you make on time can bring up your credit score. This will make it easier to obtain financing for things you need in the future.
If you cannot get a personal loan due to having bad credit, make sure you go over other options available to you before opting for a payday loan or similar product. You might consider using a credit card, for example, as there are a few great options for subprime credit cards out there.
As always, use your loan wisely and only for things you need. We always say that loans should be used only for medical, housing, or transportation emergencies. Whatever you need your loan for, we wish you the best of luck with it.