What credit score do you need for a personal loan?

The credit score requirements for personal loans vary among lenders. Many give preference to borrowers with a good or excellent credit score (690 FICO and above), but some lenders accept borrowers with a bad credit score (less than 630).

The minimum credit score to qualify for a personal loan is typically 610 to 640, according to an anonymized data set of NerdWallet users who have pre-qualified for personal loans.

A high credit score does not guarantee that you will qualify or get a low rate. Eligibility relies heavily on your creditworthiness, which is usually a combination of your credit history and score in addition to your income and debt. Use the calculator below to find out what loan options you may have based on your credit score.

What you need to get a personal loan

Just because you meet a lender’s minimum credit score requirements won’t always qualify you for a loan.

Lenders have a range of criteria that they consider on an application. Some watch alternative data, such as where you went to college and what field you work in. Others primarily look at your credit report and history, as well as your income and debt.

Here’s what most lenders look at in a personal loan application:

  • Credit score: Many lenders look at the FICO credit scoring model, but some use VantageScore. Other lenders say they are developing their own rating systems for applicants based on data they collect on borrowers.

  • Credit history: Lenders like to see a long credit history on a loan application. A lender may say it takes at least two or three years of credit history, but more is usually better. More accounts throughout your credit history show a lender how diligently you have made payments. Borrowers with several credit card, a mortgage or car loan showing regular payments on time may be more likely to qualify.

  • Debt-to-income ratio: Lenders look for borrowers who earn enough money to meet their current monthly financial obligations, as well as loan repayments. Many use your debt to income ratio to see if another loan would take its toll on your finances.

  • Free movement of capital: Your debt-to-income ratio doesn’t take into account expenses like gas, groceries, and rent. So some lenders look at bank transactions to see how much money borrowers have left after other expenses. Lenders call this “free cash flow,” and the more you have, the more confident a lender can feel in approving your application.

Be prepared for any loan request

NerdWallet tracks your credit score and shows you ways to build it – for free.

Personal loans for fair or bad credit

Although lenders consider a few factors when applying for a loan, your credit score is often taken into account.

Borrowers with good or bad credit are often eligible for high rates, which can go as high as 36%. A low credit score could also be the reason why a lender approves you for a low loan amount.

Lenders who offer fair credit loans look beyond your credit score when making a loan decision. Credit unions, for example, examine a member’s position with the credit union and other factors on an application.

Loan applications can cause your score to temporarily drop. Prequalification can show you potential loan offers and will not hurt your credit score. If you are not eligible for the loan you want, you can increase your chances with a co-signer or by building your credit.

More calculators

Personal loan calculator: Learn how much your monthly payments could be, depending on your loan size, term, and your credit rating.

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