Best Personal Loans for Fair Credit of April 2023

Compare rates and terms among the best personal loans for fair credit.

By Annie Millerbernd 

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Your credit score is a key factor that determines whether you qualify for a personal loan. Applicants with fair credit scores — generally from 630 to 689 — may have a harder time qualifying for a loan than those with good or excellent credit.

But it’s still possible. Many lenders consider additional factors on an application, such as employment, whether you rent or own your home, income and outstanding debts.

Here are the best personal loans for fair credit, plus information about how to qualify and build your credit.

  • Upstart: Best fair-credit personal loans for thin credit histories.

  • Achieve: Best fair-credit personal loans for joint applicants.

  • First Tech: Best fair-credit personal loans with flexible features.

  • Alliant: Best fair-credit personal loans from a credit union.

  • Upgrade: Best fair-credit personal loans for debt consolidation.

  • Navy Federal: Best fair-credit personal loans for military members.

  • LendingPoint: Best fair-credit personal loans with fast funding.

  • Prosper: Best peer-to-peer personal loans for fair credit.

Best Personal Loans for Fair Credit


Our pick for

Personal loans for fair credit

How we chose the best personal loans for fair credit

We compared more than a dozen lenders that require a minimum credit score between 560 and 660 to choose the best personal loans for fair credit. We reviewed factors such as income and other borrowing requirements, borrowers’ average credit scores, annual percentage rate ranges, loan amounts, funding time and the ability to add a co-applicant or collateral.

How to compare personal loans for fair credit

Here are the top features to compare on fair-credit loans.

Annual percentage rate: A personal loan APR is its interest rate plus any fees a lender charges. This is the best apples-to-apples cost comparison tool for personal loans and other financing options like credit cards. Fair-credit borrowers may get relatively high personal loan APRs, so it pays to compare.

Monthly payments: A lender should disclose the monthly payments before you sign a loan agreement — usually during pre-qualification or once you’re approved. Personal loans have fixed rates, so the monthly payment won’t change over the life of the loan.

Borrower requirements: Compare lenders’ borrowing requirements, including minimum credit score, income and debt-to-income ratio. Because lenders consider your income and existing debts on an application, meeting the minimum credit requirements may not be enough to qualify, especially if the monthly payment would overextend your finances.

Repayment term: Repayment terms for fair-credit personal loans typically range from two to seven years. A longer term lowers your monthly payment, but increases the total interest cost. Choose a repayment term that keeps payments affordable and helps you clear the debt within the term or earlier.

Fees: Prepayment fees aren’t common with personal loans, but some fair-credit lenders charge origination fees. This is from 1% to 10% of the loan amount, and a lender typically takes the fee before depositing the funds into your bank account.

Other features: If you’re choosing between two affordable offers, compare these other features:

  • Time to fund: Personal loans are often funded in less than a week, but some lenders can fund a loan the business day after you apply. If you need the funds quickly, consider lenders that offer fast funding.

  • Credit building tools: Ideally, you’ll leave this loan with better credit than when you got it. Most lenders report payments to all three major credit bureaus, but be sure yours does before signing the loan agreement to get credit for on-time payments. Some lenders offer credit score monitoring, so you can see how payments affect your score.

  • Payment flexibility: Some lenders require you to keep your original payment date for the lifetime of the loan. If you think you’ll need more flexibility, look for a lender that lets you change the payment date.

How to get a personal loan with fair credit

  1. Review your credit reports. Check your reports from the three major credit bureaus to spot any errors or opportunities to improve your credit. If your score is already on the rise, consider taking extra time to build it before you apply for a personal loan.

  2. Compare lender requirements. The lenders listed above accept borrowers with fair credit, but many also consider income and DTI. Some lenders review a wide range of factors, like where you attended college and your work history. Compare qualification criteria to learn what each lender requires on a loan application.

  3. Pre-qualify. Pre-qualify to see how likely you are to be approved for a personal loan and preview potential offers. The process involves a soft credit check, which doesn't affect your credit score.

  4. Submit an application Once you’ve found a lender, it’s time to apply. Many large lenders have online applications that take only a few minutes to complete, but some banks and credit unions may require an in-person visit. A tip to speed things up: Gather documents, including W-2s, pay stubs and government-issued IDs, before you apply.

Where to get a personal loan with fair credit

Credit unions and online lenders are your best bets for getting a personal loan with fair credit. If you have a strong relationship with a local bank, it may go a long way.

Credit unions: Your credit union may consider your membership history, in addition to credit and income, on a personal loan application. If you’ve been a member for several years, usually repay your debts and keep your account in good standing, the credit union may take that into account.

Online lenders: An online lender may use alternative data to make a loan decision based on your full financial picture rather than just your credit and income. Pre-qualify with multiple online lenders to see your likelihood of qualifying and what rate to expect.

Banks: Fair-credit borrowers may not qualify for a loan from major national banks because those prefer borrowers with good or excellent credit scores (690 or higher). However, a strong relationship with your local bank could improve your chances.

Fair-credit personal loan rates

A lower credit score usually means your personal loan will have a higher annual percentage rate. Qualified borrowers may get the most affordable loans from federal credit unions because they cap APRs at 18%. Use a personal loan calculator to estimate monthly payments based on your credit score.

Here are average personal loan rates by credit score:

How's your credit?

Score range

Estimated APR













Source: Average rates are based on aggregate, anonymized offer data from users who pre-qualified in NerdWallet’s lender marketplace from July 1, 2022, to Oct. 31, 2022. Rates are estimates only and not specific to any lender. The lowest credit scores — usually below a 500 credit score — are unlikely to qualify. Information in this table applies only to lenders with APRs below 36%.

What is fair credit?

A fair credit score is generally from 630 to 689. Lenders can have their own definitions of fair credit, which may be informed by which credit scoring company they use to evaluate applications. FICO defines fair credit as 580 to 669, while VantageScore puts “near prime” scores between 601 and 660. Some lenders use information from both companies.

Moving a fair score into the good credit range gets you access to a wider range of personal loan options and often lower rates.

How to improve fair credit

Here are a few ways to build your credit quickly:

  • Make on-time payments. Your payment history is the biggest factor affecting your credit score. The more consistently you make on-time payments toward your credit cards, mortgage or car loan, the more likely you are to build your score.

  • Keep utilization low. The portion of available credit that you use is called credit utilization, and it’s the second-biggest factor determining your credit score. Try to use less than 30% of your credit card’s limit. You can quickly lower your utilization by asking your credit card company to increase your limit, but the request may trigger a hard credit inquiry.

  • Become an authorized user. If you can get yourself added as an authorized user to a family member’s or partner’s credit card, the positive payment history they’ve built up can benefit your credit. You don’t have to get access to the card to become an authorized user.

Tips to boost your chances of qualifying for a fair-credit loan

Secure the loan: Most personal loans are unsecured, but some lenders offer secured personal loans, which require collateral. Giving the bank something to take if you can’t repay makes the loan less risky for the bank. Banks and credit unions typically let you use a savings or investment account to secure the loan, while online lenders prefer a vehicle.

Add a co-applicant: Adding a co-signer with better credit and a higher income to your loan may help you qualify for a lower rate. A co-signer is someone who agrees to pay the loan if you can’t, but that person doesn’t have access to the money. You may also consider a joint personal loan, which is similar to a co-signed loan except that your co-applicant can access the funds. In both cases, if you fail to repay the loan, your co-applicant is responsible for repayment — and both of your credit scores will take a hit.

Fair-credit personal loan alternatives

Fair-credit personal loan rates can be high, so compare alternative borrowing options to find the right one for your budget and expense. Here are five alternatives to fair-credit loans.

Credit cards: While personal loans work best for large, one-time expenses, credit cards are better for everyday use. Some cards for fair credit even come with rewards. Like personal loans, your credit is a factor in determining whether you qualify for a credit card, and your rate will likely be high, which is especially important to remember if you tend to carry a balance.

Buy now, pay later: If you need to make a large purchase such as a mattress or laptop, a “buy now, pay later” loan may be an inexpensive alternative to personal loans and credit cards. BNPL apps often only do a soft credit check and don’t charge interest on their short-term payment plans. BNPL is offered at most major retailers. Proceed with caution, though, as these plans can encourage overspending.

Cash advance apps: A cash advance app lets you borrow up to a couple of hundred dollars to bridge an income gap or cover an unexpected expense. Like payday loans, apps don’t check credit and withdraw repayment on your next payday, but they usually have lower fees. If you can repay the money in two weeks or less, an advance from an app can get cash to you quickly.

Family loans: Though it could be uncomfortable to ask, a loan from a friend or family member can be an affordable, no-credit-check borrowing option. You and the lender can draw up a loan agreement, including rates, terms and interest, to avoid any misunderstandings. Tread lightly with this type of loan — your relationship with the lender may be collateral.

Lending circle: You may have friends or family members who could occasionally use extra cash, in which case, consider starting a lending circle. The group raises money for one member at a time by contributing a set amount of money each month. Once the funds are sent to that member, the cycle starts over and moves on to the next person.

Last updated on March 10, 2023


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 Personal Loans for Fair Credit of April 2023

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