When applying for a loan, lenders review your credit score and credit history to determine your likelihood of repaying the loan and how much of a risk is associated with lending you money. When it comes to a personal loan, the lending criteria tend to be more strict than qualifying for a mortgage loan or an auto loan. This is because a personal loan is considered an unsecured loan – meaning there is nothing for the lender to take if you default on the loan. A credit score of 600 is considered poor to fair and may be caused by things like short credit history, late payments, or maxed-out credit cards. Although it’s harder to qualify for a personal loan with a 600 credit score, it’s still possible. You won’t qualify for a low APR rate offered to people with an excellent credit score, but you can still find acceptable interest rates that are lower than credit card advances or payday loans. Borrowers with a FICO score of 629 or lower may need to put in some extra work to find and qualify for the loan.
Check your credit
It’s important to review your credit report from the three major credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and Transunion – each year. You can obtain a free copy at annualcreditreport.com. There are also various companies that provide your credit score, but it’s important to see the information and accounts that actually make up your score. The credit report is a key component of your financial health. The strength of your credit history usually determines your borrowing power. Lenders typically have a minimum credit score requirement, and a lower score than the minimum could be rejected. However, you may find errors on your credit report that could boost your score if corrected.
Once you have a copy of your credit report, check for any errors or discrepancies. If there are any unfamiliar accounts or incorrect balances, file a dispute to launch an investigation with the bureaus. Under the Fair Credit and Reporting Act, credit bureaus are required to ensure the information about you is correct and give you the chance to correct any mistakes.
All lenders have different borrowing requirements and rate ranges. It’s always wise to compare multiple lenders and see your options. A good lender that offers personal loans for bad credit will not charge you an astronomical rate to set you up for default. Instead, they’ll offer a rate you can afford and provide helpful features like credit-building tools. Consider the duration of the loan and any associated fees. Transparency is an indication of a reputable lender, so if the lender fails to disclose terms or payment details upfront before you sign, this should raise red flags.
Although a good lender should not charge you incredibly high-interest rates, the rate is determined by various factors. If you have a limited credit history, you may be more likely to get a lower rate than someone with the same credit score that has accounts in collection or vehicle repossession.
Pre-qualifying for a personal loan allows the lender to determine what your rate will likely be, the amount you can expect and the repayment terms. It is usually a soft pull and won’t affect your credit score. A soft pull is really only showing a score estimate based on the limited information without having full access to your credit report. Soft pulls do not lower your score, so don’t worry about the inquiry dropping your score below 600. Pre-qualifying for a loan is especially when trying to determine whether you qualify for a loan without having to risk a hard inquiry. Too many hard inquiries will affect your score and the odds of approval, especially when your credit score is just at the 600 mark. The majority of online lenders and banks offer the ability to see if you pre-qualify for the loan first.
Keep in mind that a pre-qualification is not an approval. You could be pre-qualified but not approved once your credit report is pulled.
Add to your application
If your credit score is too low to qualify for an affordable interest rate on your own, consider asking someone to co-sign. With a co-signer, the other person’s credit score and income information are added to the application, increasing your odds of approval. However, they’re agreeing to be liable for the loan if you default so their credit is on the line when they co-sign. In addition to co-signed loans, there’s also secured loans. A secured loan allows you to offer up collateral — often a car or a savings account — to secure the loan. If you can’t repay it, the lender can take the collateral to satisfy the loan. These may be riskier for you as a borrower, but they provide the lender with a sense of security and minimize their risk. Some acceptable collateral for personal loans can include cash, a vehicle, stocks and bonds, jewelry, collectibles, etc.
Apply for the loan
Gather all the documents you’ll need to apply for a personal loan beforehand to prevent delays in the process. Some of the documents you need can include W-2s, pay stubs, bank statements and your Social Security number. Lenders will sometimes let you know the same day if you are approved, but others can take a few days to decide.
Work on your credit
Even after obtaining a loan with a 600 credit score, you’ll want to take the necessary steps to increase your credit score. The biggest component of a credit score is payment history. Make sure you pay all your bills on time. The next significant factor is credit utilization. Ideally, you should keep your credit card balance at no more than 30 percent of the limit. The less you utilize, the better. Credit mix is another element. Credit bureaus like to see a mix of accounts, including installment loans and credit cards. Having a personal loan can help boost your credit score, provided you make all the payments.
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