Best Personal Loans for Fair Credit of May 2021

Compare rates and terms at online lenders offering personal loans to borrowers with fair or average credit.

Steve NicastroMay 5, 2021
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There’s no way to sugarcoat it: It’s harder for borrowers with fair or average credit (630 to 689 FICO score) to qualify for a personal loan than it is for borrowers with good or excellent credit. But it’s still possible, and some lenders will consider more than your credit score when determining your creditworthiness.

Compare personal loans at multiple lenders and choose one that offers the lowest rate. Here are your best options for fair credit loans, plus what you need to know.

  • Upgrade: Options for rate discounts.

  • FreedomPlus: Lower rates for joint loans.

  • Upstart: Best for short credit history.

  • LendingClub: Debt consolidation and joint loans.

  • Prosper: Joint loans and flexible payment options.

  • Avant: Loan refinance option.

  • Rocket Loans: Fast application and funding.

  • Payoff: Best for credit card consolidation.

How much will a personal loan cost?

As with most credit products, the rate you receive on a personal loan depends a lot on your credit score. Borrowers with fair or average credit will pay a higher rate — somewhere above 20% — than those with good credit. The interest rate also affects your total monthly payment, as does the term length; a longer term means lower monthly payments, but more interest.

Use our personal loan calculator to estimate your monthly payments based on your credit score. Here's what rates on personal loans look like on average:

How's your credit?

Score range

Estimated APR












28.7% (Lowest scores unlikely to qualify.)

Source: Average rates are based on aggregate, anonymized offer data from users who pre-qualified in NerdWallet’s lender marketplace between Jan. 1, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2020. Rates are estimates only and not specific to any lender.

How to qualify for fair-credit loans

Focus on your credit score. Even if lenders look at other factors, your credit score is a key consideration. Building your credit can mean better odds of qualifying and getting a lower rate.

Add a joint applicant or co-signer to your application. There are risks to co-signing, but it’s an option that can help you qualify for a loan that you wouldn’t be able to on your own because of fair credit or low income. Online lenders and banks offer joint and co-signed loans.

Consider a credit union. Credit unions tend to know their members and their financial histories and may offer lower rates and more flexible terms to borrowers with average credit. Federal credit unions cap interest rates at 18%.

Pre-qualify with multiple lenders. Many online lenders allow you to pre-qualify to see rates and terms you may receive. This usually involves a soft credit check, which doesn’t affect your credit score, and it allows you to compare rates and terms.

Pre-qualify for a personal loan

Most online lenders will give you preview of the rates and terms you may receive by performing a soft check of your credit. This won’t affect your credit score, so it pays to take the steps to pre-qualify for a loan with multiple lenders and compare rates and loan features. You can pre-qualify on NerdWallet and see rates from lenders that partner with us.

Last updated on May 5, 2021


NerdWallet's ratings for personal loans award points to lenders that offer consumer-friendly features, including soft credit checks, no fees, transparency of loan rates and terms, flexible payment options, accessible customer service, reporting of payments to credit bureaus and financial education. We also consider the number of complaints filed with agencies like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This methodology applies only to lenders that cap interest rates at 36%, the maximum rate financial experts and consumer advocates agree is the acceptable limit for a loan to be affordable. NerdWallet does not receive compensation of any sort for our reviews.

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Best Personal Loans for Fair Credit of May 2021

  • Upgrade: Best for Fair credit and rate discount options
  • FreedomPlus: Best for Fair credit and joint loans
  • Upstart: Best for Fair credit and short credit history
  • LendingClub: Best for Fair credit and debt consolidation
  • Prosper: Best for Fair credit and flexible payment options
  • Avant: Best for Fair credit and refinance option
  • Rocket Loans: Best for Fair credit and fast funding
  • Payoff: Best for Fair credit and credit card consolidation

Frequently asked questions