Advertiser Disclosure

What’s Your Debt-to-Income Ratio? Calculate Your DTI

Your debt-to-income ratio shows how your debt stacks up compared to your income. Lenders look at DTI to ensure you can repay a loan.
January 17, 2018
Credit Score, Loans, Personal Loans
At NerdWallet, we adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity to help you make decisions with confidence. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.
We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

Debt-to-income ratio divides the total of all monthly debt payments by gross monthly income.

Lenders use this calculation — along with credit history — to evaluate whether a borrower can repay a loan. Your debt-to-income ratio (also called DTI) can also be used to help you consider different ways to handle your debt.

Use this debt-to-income ratio calculator to determine your DTI.

How to use this DTI calculator

To calculate your DTI, enter the payments you owe, such as rent or mortgage, student loan and auto loan payments, credit card minimums and other regular payments. Then adjust the gross monthly income slider.

A debt-to-income ratio of 20% or less is considered low.

Here’s an example: A borrower with rent of $1,000, a car payment of $300, a minimum credit card payment of $200 and a gross monthly income of $6,000 has a debt-to-income ratio of 25%.

A debt-to-income ratio of 20% or less is considered low. The Federal Reserve considers a DTI of 40% or more a sign of financial stress.

» MORE: Get help lowering your DTI

How lenders view your debt-to-income ratio

Lenders look at debt-to-income ratios because research shows borrowers with high DTIs have more trouble making their payments.

Each lender sets its own debt-to-income ratio requirement. Not all creditors, such as personal loan providers, publish a minimum debt-to-income ratio, but generally it will be more lenient than for, say, a mortgage.

Note that a debt-to-income ratio of 43% is generally the highest mortgage lenders will accept for a qualified mortgage, which is a loan that includes affordability checks.

You may find personal loan companies willing to lend money to consumers with debt-to-income ratios of 50% or more, and some exclude mortgage debt from the DTI calculation. That’s because one of the most common uses of personal loans is to consolidate credit card debt.

» MORE: Learn how to pay off debt in three steps

Does your DTI affect your credit score?

Your debt-to-income ratio does not affect your credit scores; credit-reporting agencies may know your income but do not include it in their calculations.

To reduce your debt-to-income ratio, you need to either make more money or reduce the monthly payments you owe.

But your credit-utilization ratio, or the amount of credit you’re using compared to your credit limits, does affect your credit scores. Credit reporting agencies know your available credit limits, both on individual cards and in total, and most experts advise keeping the balances on your cards no higher than 30% of your credit limit. Lower is better.

To reduce your debt-to-income ratio, you need to either make more money or reduce the monthly payments you owe.

What your debt-to-income ratio means for your debt

Your DTI can help you determine how you should handle your debt and whether you have too much debt.

Here’s a general rule-of-thumb breakdown:

  • DTI of 0% to 14.9%: You can probably take a do-it-yourself approach to paying down debt. Consider using the debt avalanche or debt snowball method.
  • DTI of 15% to 49%: If you have primarily credit card debt, look into a debt management plan from a nonprofit credit counseling agency. You may also want to consider credit card debt consolidation. If you are closer to the higher end of this range, seek a free consultation with a nonprofit credit counselor and a bankruptcy attorney to understand all of your debt relief options.
  • DTI of 50% or more: Look into debt relief options, such as bankruptcy.

Updated Jan. 17, 2018.