BEST OF

Best Bad Credit Loans of February 2023

Bad-credit loans are one option for consumers with low credit scores. Before you get a bad-credit loan, consider cheaper alternatives, like borrowing from a family member or picking up a side gig.

By Annie Millerbernd 

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

Bad-credit loans are available for consumers with low credit scores (generally between 550 and 629). If that's you, you may qualify for a personal loan from a lender that specifically tailors its product for bad-credit borrowers. These lenders often provide a simple application process and fast funding. Annual percentage rates are up to 36%.

The online lenders listed here accept borrowers with bad credit or thin credit histories and can fund a loan within a day or two of approval.

Best Bad Credit Loans From Our Partners

Our pick for

Secured and joint loans for bad credit

OneMain
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OneMain Financial

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
OneMain

Est. APR

18.00-35.99%

Loan amount

$1,500-$20,000

Min. credit score

None
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Min. credit score

None

Key facts

OneMain prioritizes a borrower’s ability to repay on a loan application. Rates are high, but this lender provides fast funding to borrowers with low credit scores.

Pros

  • Option to choose and change your payment date.

  • Joint and secured loans.

  • Fast funding.

  • Direct payment to creditors on debt consolidation loans.

Cons

  • Rates are high compared to other lenders.

  • Charges origination fee.

  • No rate discounts.

  • Pre-qualification does not allow borrowers to preview potential rates.

Qualifications

  • Must have a Social Security number or taxpayer identification number.

  • Must be 18 or older in most states.

  • Minimum credit score: None.

  • Minimum number of accounts on credit report: None, but applicants with no credit history may not qualify.

  • Minimum income: None; this lender accepts income from employment, alimony, retirement, child support, Social Security payments, investments and public assistance.

Available Term Lengths

2 to 5 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: $25 to $500 or 1% to 10% of the loan amount.

  • Late fee: $5 to $30 or 1.5% to 15% of your monthly payment.

  • Non-sufficient funds fee: $15.

Disclaimer

Not all applicants will be approved. Loan approval and actual loan terms depend on your ability to meet our credit standards (including a responsible credit history, sufficient income after monthly expenses, and availability of collateral). If approved, not all applicants will qualify for larger loan amounts or most favorable loan terms. Larger loan amounts require a first lien on a motor vehicle no more than ten years old, that meets our value requirements, titled in your name with valid insurance. Loan approval and actual loan terms depend on your state of residence and your ability to meet our credit standards (including a responsible credit history, sufficient income after monthly expenses, and availability of collateral). APRs are generally higher on loans not secured by a vehicle. Highly-qualified applicants may be offered higher loan amounts and/or lower APRs than those shown above. OneMain charges origination fees where allowed by law. Depending on the state where you open your loan, the origination fee may be either a flat amount or a percentage of your loan amount. Flat fee amounts vary by state, ranging from $25 to $500. Percentage-based fees vary by state ranging from 1% to 10% of your loan amount subject to certain state limits on the fee amount. Visit omf.com/loan-fees for more information. Loan proceeds cannot be used for postsecondary educational expenses as defined by the CFPB’s Regulation Z such as college, university or vocational expense; for any business or commercial purpose; to purchase cryptocurrency assets, securities, derivatives or other speculative investments; or for gambling or illegal purposes. Borrowers in these states are subject to these minimum loan sizes: Alabama: $2,100. California: $3,000. Georgia: Unless you are a present customer, $3,100 minimum loan amount. North Dakota: $2,000. Ohio: $2,000. Virginia: $2,600. Borrowers (other than present customers) in these states are subject to these maximum unsecured loan sizes: North Carolina: $7,500. An unsecured loan is a loan which does not require you to provide collateral (such as a motor vehicle) to the lender. Example Loan: A $6,000 loan with a 24.99% APR that is repayable in 60 monthly installments would have monthly payments of $176.07. Time to Fund Loans: Funding within one hour after closing through SpeedFunds must be disbursed to a bank-issued debit card. Disbursement by check or ACH may take up to 1-2 business days after loan closing.

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Our pick for

Debt consolidation for bad credit

Upgrade
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Upgrade

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Upgrade

Est. APR

7.96-35.97%

Loan amount

$1,000-$50,000

Min. credit score

560
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Min. credit score

560

Key facts

Upgrade offers personal loans plus credit-building tools; you'll need strong cash flow to qualify.

Pros

  • Secured and joint loans.

  • Multiple rate discounts.

  • Mobile app to manage loan payments.

  • Direct payment to creditors with debt consolidation loans.

  • Long repayment terms on home improvement loans.

Cons

  • Origination fee.

  • No option to choose your payment date.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: 560.

  • Minimum number of accounts on credit history: 1 account.

  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: 75%, including the loan you're applying for.

  • Minimum length of credit history: 2 years.

  • Minimum income requirement: None. Lender accepts income from alimony, retirement, child support, Social Security and other sources.

Available Term Lengths

2 to 7 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: 1.85% to 8.99%.

  • Late Fee: $10.

  • Failed payment fee: $10.

Disclaimer

Personal loans made through Upgrade feature Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) of 7.96%-35.97%. All personal loans have a 1.85% to 8.99% origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Lowest rates require Autopay and paying off a portion of existing debt directly. Loans feature repayment terms of 24 to 84 months. For example, if you receive a $10,000 loan with a 36-month term and a 17.59% APR (which includes a 13.94% yearly interest rate and a 5% one-time origination fee), you would receive $9,500 in your account and would have a required monthly payment of $341.48. Over the life of the loan, your payments would total $12,293.46. The APR on your loan may be higher or lower and your loan offers may not have multiple term lengths available. Actual rate depends on credit score, credit usage history, loan term, and other factors. Late payments or subsequent charges and fees may increase the cost of your fixed rate loan. There is no fee or penalty for repaying a loan early. Personal loans issued by Upgrade's bank partners. Information on Upgrade's bank partners can be found at https://www.upgrade.com/bank-partners/.

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Our pick for

Limited credit history

Upstart
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Upstart

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Upstart

Est. APR

6.50-35.99%

Loan amount

$1,000-$50,000

Min. credit score

None
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Min. credit score

None

Key facts

Upstart personal loans offer fast funding and may be an option for borrowers with low credit scores or thin credit histories. Upstart is a solid financing choice for large purchases.

Pros

  • Accepts borrowers new to credit.

  • Fast funding.

  • Option to change your payment date.

  • Option to pre-qualify with a soft credit check.

  • Offers free financial education

Cons

  • May charge origination fee.

  • No joint, co-signed or secured loans.

  • No mobile app to manage loan.

  • Only two repayment term options.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: None.

  • Minimum annual income: $12,000; this lender accepts income from employment, alimony, retirement, child support, Social Security, rentals, trusts, pensions, disability and scholarships.

  • Must have a full-time job or be starting a full-time job in six months.

Available Term Lengths

3 to 5 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: 0% - 10%

  • Late fee: 5% of past due amount or $15, whichever is greater.

  • Returned check fee: $15.

Disclaimer

Your loan amount will be determined based on your credit, income, and certain other information provided in your loan application. Not all applicants will qualify for the full amount. Minimum loan amounts vary by state: GA ($3,100), HI ($2,100), MA ($7,000), NM ($5,100), OH ($6,000). The full range of available rates varies by state. The average 5-year loan offered across all lenders using the Upstart platform will have an APR of 25.05% and 60 monthly payments of $25.80 per $1,000 borrowed. For example, the total cost of a $10,000 loan would be $15,478 including a $804 origination fee. APR is calculated based on 5-year rates offered in June 2022. There is no down payment and no prepayment penalty. Your APR will be determined based on your credit, income, and certain other information provided in your loan application. Not all applicants will be approved. This offer is conditioned on final approval based on our consideration and verification of financial and non-financial information. Rate and loan amount are subject to change based upon information received in your full application. This offer may be accepted only by the person identified in this offer, who is old enough to legally enter into contract for the extension of credit, a US citizen or permanent resident, and a current resident of the US. Duplicate offers are void. Closing your loan is contingent on your meeting our eligibility requirements, our verification of your information, and your agreement to the terms and conditions on the Upstart.com website.

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Our pick for

Low rates for bad credit

Avant
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Avant

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
Avant

Est. APR

9.95-35.95%

Loan amount

$2,000-$35,000

Min. credit score

550
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Min. credit score

550

Key facts

Avant personal loans are for fair- and bad-credit borrowers who need fast funding, but they lack some flexible features other online lenders offer.

Pros

  • Fast funding.

  • Option to change your payment date.

  • Option to pre-qualify with a soft credit check.

  • Mobile app to manage loan.

Cons

  • May charge an origination fee.

  • No co-signed, joint or secured loans.

  • No rate discounts.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: 550.

  • Cannot be in active bankruptcy.

  • Minimum number of accounts on credit report: 1.

  • Minimum monthly income: $1,000.

Available Term Lengths

1 to 5 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: 0% - 4.75%.

  • Late fee: Typically $25.

  • Returned payment fee: $15.

Disclaimer

A $5,700 loan with an administration fee of 4.75% and an amount financed of $5,429.25, repayable in 36 monthly installments, would have an APR of 29.95% and monthly payments of $230.33. Minimum loan amounts may vary by state. If approved, the actual rate and loan amount that a customer qualifies for may vary based on credit determination and other factors. An administration fee of up to 4.75% will be deducted from the loan proceeds. Avant branded credit products are issued by Webbank, member FDIC

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Our pick for

Fast bad-credit loans

LendingPoint
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LendingPoint

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
LendingPoint

Est. APR

7.99-35.99%

Loan amount

$2,000-$36,500

Min. credit score

600
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Min. credit score

600

Key facts

LendingPoint accepts low credit scores and has flexible payments. Rates are high but comparable to competitors.

Pros

  • Soft credit check to pre-qualify.

  • Fast funding.

  • Offers mobile app to manage loan payments.

  • Option to change your payment date.

Cons

  • Reports payments to only two of the three major credit bureaus.

  • No joint, co-signed or secured loans.

  • No large loan amounts.

  • Does not directly pay creditors with debt consolidation loans.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: 600. LendingPoint uses FICO score version 9 and VantageScore version 3.

  • Minimum credit history: 6 months.

  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: 50%, not including mortgage.

Available Term Lengths

2 to 5 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: 0% to 8%.

Disclaimer

Applications submitted on this website may be funded by one of several lenders, including: FinWise Bank, a Utah-chartered bank, Member FDIC; Coastal Community Bank, Member FDIC; Midland States Bank, Member FDIC; and LendingPoint, a licensed lender in certain states. Loan approval is not guaranteed. Actual loan offers and loan amounts, terms and annual percentage rates ("APR") may vary based upon LendingPoint's proprietary scoring and underwriting system's review of your credit, financial condition, other factors, and supporting documents or information you provide. Origination or other fees from 0% to 8% may apply depending upon your state of residence. Upon final underwriting approval to fund a loan, said funds are often sent via ACH the next non-holiday business day. Loans are offered from $2,000 to $36,500, at rates ranging from 7.99% to 35.99% APR, with terms from 24 to 72 months. Minimum loan amounts apply in Georgia, $3,500; Colorado, $3,001; and Hawaii, $2,000. For a well-qualified customer, a $10,000 loan for a period of 48 months with an APR of 24.90% and origination fee of 8% will have a payment of $331.01 per month. (Actual terms and rate depend on credit history, income, and other factors.) Customers may have the option to deduct the origination fee from the disbursed loan amount if desired. If the origination fee is added to the financed amount, interest is charged on the full principal amount. The total amount due is the total amount of the loan you will have paid after you have made all payments as scheduled.

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Our pick for

Credit-building tools for bad credit

Universal Credit
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Universal Credit

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
Universal Credit

Est. APR

11.69-35.93%

Loan amount

$1,000-$50,000

Min. credit score

560
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on NerdWallet's secure website


Min. credit score

560

Key facts

A Universal Credit loan is an option for bad-credit borrowers with high debt-to-income ratios, but rates are high compared to similar lenders.

Pros

  • Offers direct payment to creditors with debt consolidation loans.

  • Fast funding.

  • Offers multiple rate discounts.

  • Offers free credit score access.

Cons

  • Charges origination fee.

  • Borrowers can choose from only two repayment term options.

Qualifications

  • Minimum credit score: 560.

  • Minimum number of accounts on credit history: 1 account.

  • Maximum debt-to-income ratio: 75%, including mortgage and the loan you’re applying for.

  • Minimum length of credit history: 2 years.

  • Minimum income requirement: None. Lender accepts income from alimony, retirement, child support, Social Security and other sources.

Available Term Lengths

3 to 5 years

Fees

  • Origination fee: 5.25% to 8.99%.

  • Late fee: Up to $10.

Disclaimer

Personal loans made through Universal Credit feature Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) of 11.69%-35.93%. All personal loans have a 5.25% to 8.99% origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Lowest rates require Autopay and paying off a portion of existing debt directly. Loans feature repayment terms of 36 to 60 months. For example, if you receive a $10,000 loan with a 36-month term and a 28.47% APR (which includes a 22.99% yearly interest rate and a 7% one-time origination fee), you would receive $9,300 in your account and would have a required monthly payment of $387.05. Over the life of the loan, your payments would total $13,933.62. The APR on your loan may be higher or lower and your loan offers may not have multiple term lengths available. Actual rate depends on credit score, credit usage history, loan term, and other factors. Late payments or subsequent charges and fees may increase the cost of your fixed rate loan. There is no fee or penalty for repaying a loan early.

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How to get approved for a bad-credit loan

These steps can help bad-credit borrowers improve their personal loan application.

  1. Check your credit report. Is a credit reporting error keeping your credit score low? You can review your credit report for any incorrectly reported delinquencies or accounts that aren’t yours. Remedying these kinds of issues before you apply can improve your chances of qualifying.

  2. Add a co-signer or co-borrower. Adding someone with better credit may boost your chances of qualifying since the lender will consider both applicants’ credit and income to make a decision. With a joint or co-signed personal loan, whoever you add is on the hook for the loan if you fail to make payments.

  3. Add collateral. You may be approved more easily or get a lower rate with a secured loan. Online lenders like OneMain and Upgrade let borrowers secure a loan with collateral — typically a vehicle — while credit unions and some banks offer loans secured with savings or CD accounts. If you can’t repay the loan, though, the lender can take the collateral.

How to choose a bad-credit loan

Here are five things to look for when comparing bad-credit loans:

  1. Affordable rates: Look for a lender that caps annual percentage rates at 36%, which is the maximum rate consumer advocates consider affordable. Some online lenders offer no-credit-check loans at rates above 36%, but consider these loans a last resort after you’ve ruled out alternatives. (See our list of alternatives below.)

  2. Credit reporting: Find a lender that reports your payments to at least one of the three major credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Ideally, a lender will report to all three, ensuring that on-time payments help you build credit and qualify for lower rates in the future.

  3. Fast funding: If you need money quickly, an online loan may be your best option. Online lenders can often fund a loan the day after you’re approved, if not the same day.

  4. Easy application: Online personal loan applications — offered by banks, credit unions and online lenders — typically take a few minutes to complete. Pre-qualifying with an online lender can be a simple way to see your rates and loan terms without affecting your credit score.

  5. Perks: Some lenders have features that help you build credit, like free access to your credit score. A lender may also offer free financial education on its website.

About bad-credit loans: Rates, amounts, terms

Borrowers with bad credit can expect rates at the high end of a lender’s range. Most lenders have a minimum credit score requirement, but other information — like your monthly cash flow or occupation — also help a lender decide whether to approve you and what rate to charge.

Rates

Personal loan rates are from 6% to 36%; rates on bad-credit loans can be above 20%. A lender usually assigns you a rate based on how risky they think the loan is. If you have a high debt-to-income ratio and low credit score, a lender might assign you a higher APR.

Amounts

Personal loan amounts for consumers with low credit scores typically range from $1,000 to $50,000. Few online lenders offer loan amounts below $1,000, and not everyone qualifies for the largest loans. Borrowers with consistent income and a credit history showing on-time payments may qualify for higher loan amounts.

Terms

Personal loans typically require monthly payments over a period of two to five years. A longer term gives you lower monthly payments, but you’ll pay more interest over the lifetime of the loan. Try to find a repayment term that balances affordable monthly payments with reasonable interest costs.

Bad-credit loan example

A $3,000 loan with a 25.6% APR repaid over 12 months would require monthly payments of $286, according to NerdWallet’s personal loan calculator. You’d pay $432 in total interest on that loan.

Alternatives to bad-credit loans

Personal loans are one option if you need fast cash, but you may have access to cheaper alternatives.

Friend or family loan: Borrowing from a friend or family member takes your credit score out of the equation. You can draw up a contract and agree to repayment terms. Try to discuss how you both can keep the relationship intact once you’ve mixed in money.

Charity or nonprofit: If you need help covering everyday expenses like groceries, gas and housing — or if an expensive emergency comes up — a local charity may be able to help. These organizations may provide assistance with food or rent, or offer small, interest-free loans.

Credit-builder loan: A credit-builder loan is a safe way to build credit without borrowing money. These loans are typically offered by credit unions and community banks and require you to have an income that supports monthly payments.

Side gig: There are legitimate ways to make extra cash, no matter how quickly you need it. From babysitting and selling your gently used clothes to becoming an influencer and creating for Etsy, you may be able to find a sustainable way to bring in extra money.

Lending circles: You can form a lending circle with a group of people you trust. Everyone contributes some amount of money, which is then pooled and distributed to one circle member every month or so. In some cases, contributions are reported to the credit bureaus. It isn’t the fastest option, but it’s one way friends or family can help each other.

Buy now, pay later: A buy now, pay later loan is usually an interest-free way to split a purchase into smaller bi-weekly payments. BNPL can help you afford a new mattress or laptop. Try to sign up for one payment plan at a time to avoid overextending your finances.

Cash advance apps: A cash advance app like Earnin or Dave lets you borrow up to a few hundred dollars to help cover an income gap. Just be sure your budget can withstand a hole in your next paycheck when you have to repay the app.

How to choose between bad-credit loan companies

Each lender offers something unique, so if you qualify for a similar rate with multiple companies, compare them to decide which loan you'll get the most out of.

Here's who each bad-credit lender is best for:

Upgrade is best for borrowers who:

  • Have fair or bad credit (689 or lower score). Consumers with the lowest credit scores may not qualify.

  • Want to secure the loan or add a co-borrower to their application.

  • Are consolidating credit cards and other unsecured debts.

  • Need help building credit.

Upstart is best for borrowers who:

  • Have limited credit history.

  • Want fast funding and the ability to change the payment due date.

  • Don't need to manage their loan from a mobile app.

Avant is best for borrowers who:

  • Have bad credit (629 or lower score) and a DTI below 70%. Consumers with the lowest credit scores may not qualify.

  • Need to pay for a small to midsize expense.

  • Don’t want to add a co-signer or secure the loan.

  • Need the funds fast.

OneMain is best for borrowers who:

  • Have bad credit (629 or lower score). Consumers with the lowest credit scores may not qualify.

  • Can add collateral or a co-borrower to the application, which can help lower your rate.

  • Need the funds within a day or two.

Universal Credit is best for borrowers who:

  • Have bad credit (629 or lower score) and a debt-to-income ratio below 75%. Consumers with the lowest credit scores may not qualify.

  • Are consolidating other high-interest debts.

  • Don’t want to add a co-signer or secure the loan with a vehicle.

  • Want tools that help build credit.

LendingPoint is best for borrowers who:

  • Have fair or bad credit (689 or lower score) and a low debt-to-income ratio.

  • Want to see multiple offers via pre-qualification.

  • Don’t want a secured or co-siged loan.

  • Want credit-building tools, such as credit monitoring and tips to build your score.

Last updated on October 12, 2022

Methodology

NerdWallet’s review process evaluates and rates personal loan products from more than 35 financial institutions. We collect over 45 data points from each lender, interview company representatives and compare the lender with others that seek the same customer or offer a similar personal loan product. NerdWallet writers and editors conduct a full fact check and update annually, but also make updates throughout the year as necessary.

Our star ratings award points to lenders that offer consumer-friendly features, including: soft credit checks to pre-qualify, competitive interest rates and no fees, transparency of rates and terms, flexible payment options, fast funding times, accessible customer service, reporting of payments to credit bureaus and financial education. We also consider regulatory actions filed by agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. We weigh these factors based on our assessment of which are the most important to consumers and how meaningfully they impact consumers’ experiences.

This methodology applies only to lenders that cap interest rates at 36%, the maximum rate most financial experts and consumer advocates agree is the acceptable limit for a loan to be affordable. NerdWallet does not receive compensation for our star ratings. Read more about our ratings methodologies for personal loans and our editorial guidelines.

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Best Bad Credit Loans of February 2023

Frequently asked questions