Want to Apply for a Personal Loan? Here’s What You Need First

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Student Loan Hero Advertiser Disclosure

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.

Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by any financial institution. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the financial institution.

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You’ve decided that you want to apply for a personal loan. Maybe it’s a loan to buy that new car, pay for a wedding, or refinance credit card debt.

Whatever the reason, it’s important to make sure your financial house is in order first.

How to apply for a personal loan

Here is a list of what you should do beforehand, as well as what you need to have ready when it’s time to apply for a personal loan.

1. Know what type of personal loan you need

Before applying for the loan, you should do some homework. Learn about who offers the type of loan, what the going interest rates are, and the general length of time it will take to pay the loan off based on the amount you plan to borrow.

Choices may include banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions. Both local brick and mortar and online lenders are options.

2. Ask plenty of questions

When speaking with a prospective lender, be prepared to ask a lot of questions. A good motto: ask, don’t assume.

Ask them about their application process. Make sure you understand what types of documents and information that they will be seeking from you. Understand any and all fees that you may incur. These might include origination fees or down payments.

3. Know what’s on your credit report

It’s important to check your credit reports before a prospective lender does (you can get yours for free at annualcreditreport.com) to avoid wasting your time applying for a loan for which you won’t qualify.

You will want to understand what is on your reports and be prepared to address any adverse items. Even better, you will have the chance to fix any issues ahead of time.

Equally as important is to check your credit report for mistakes. If there is a negative item reported that’s an error, you can contact the credit reporting agency to have it corrected. Even if this correction is not completed by the time the lender pulls your credit, you can show them the correspondence with the credit bureau and your efforts to have the situation corrected.

4. Have the documents required for loan approval ready

When it comes time to apply, you will need to be able to document your income, employment history, assets, any other debt you have, and other financial metrics they may request.

Most likely, you should have the following items handy:

  • Recent income tax returns (generally two years)
  • Recent pay stubs
  • W-2 forms from the past two years
  • A business financial statement and 1099 forms if you are self-employed
  • A list of your assets and your liabilities, in short a personal financial statement

5. Be realistic about your situation

As with any financial transaction, you need to be realistic about your expectations. If your credit score is low or you have a spotty employment history, you might qualify for the loan you had in mind. You may be denied outright or the interest rate and terms may be less desirable.

In this case, you can look at options like a secured personal loan or even borrowing from a trusting family member. Other options here might include getting someone to cosign your loan or paying a much higher interest rate than you would like.

6. Keep an eye out for scams

Financial fraud and scammers are sadly all over the news today. Applying for a personal loan is no exception to this situation. There are any number of loan application scams, especially if your finances aren’t in top shape.

With the advent of online lenders, you need to be careful to protect yourself from fraudsters posing as lenders. Be careful about sending any money for origination fees or supplying personal financial information that could be used to commit identity theft.

Applying for a personal loan is like anything else — be confident going into the process. However, If you don’t receive a loan at terms that will work for you, or worse, if you feel that you are being taken advantage of, walk away from the process.

If you have a good credit score, earn a good salary, and pay your bills on time, you shouldn’t have any problems convincing a personal loan lender to do business with you.

Applying for a personal loan is a business transaction just like any other. As such, you will want to be prepared. Do your homework and get the required information and documentation together before applying. Have a businesslike attitude and be confident when applying for your loan.

Interested in a personal loan?

LendingTree allows you to compare rates from multiple lenders by filling out one easy form. Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero Advertiser Disclosure

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.

Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero Advertiser Disclosure

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.

RATES (APR)loan amount
5.74% – 18.07%1 $5,000 to $100,000
5.67% – 35.99% $1,000 to $50,000
5.99% – 35.89%* $1,000 to $50,000
5.99% – 24.99%3 $5,000 to $35,000
5.99% – 29.99%4 $7,500 to $40,000
15.49% – 35.99% $2,000 to $25,000
compare rates on Lendingtree now
Disclaimer: Student Loan Hero is a subsidiary of LendingTree
1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Fixed rates from 5.99% APR to 18.07% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 5.74% APR to 14.70% APR (with AutoPay). SoFi rate ranges are current as of October 10, 2019 and are subject to change without notice. Not all rates and amounts available in all states. See Personal Loan eligibility details. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, to qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including evaluation of your credit worthiness, years of professional experience, income and other factors. See APR examples and terms. Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at 14.95%. Lowest variable rate of 5.74% APR assumes current 1-month LIBOR rate of 2.05% plus 3.08% margin minus 0.25% AutoPay discount. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account.
  2. To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull.
    See Consumer Licenses.
  3. Minimum Credit Score: Not all applicants who meet SoFi’s minimum credit score requirements are approved for a personal loan. In addition to meeting SoFi’s minimum eligibility criteria, applicants must also meet other credit and underwriting requirements to qualify.
  4. If you lose your job through no fault of your own, you may apply for Unemployment Protection. SoFi will suspend your monthly SoFi loan payments and provide job placement assistance during your forbearance period. Interest will continue to accrue and will be added to your principal balance at the end of each forbearance period, to the extent permitted by applicable law. Benefits are offered in three month increments, and capped at 12 months, in aggregate, over the life of the loan. To be eligible for this assistance you must provide proof that you have applied for and are eligible for unemployment compensation, and you must actively work with our Career Advisory Group to look for new employment. If the loan is co-signed the unemployment protection applies where both the borrower and cosigner lose their job and meet conditions.
  5. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)
2 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for Payoff.

Payoff Disclosures

  1. All loans are subject to credit review and approval. Your actual rate depends upon credit score, loan amount, loan term, credit usage and history. Currently loans are not offered in: MA, MS, NE, NV, OH, and WV.
3 Important Disclosures for FreedomPlus.

FreedomPlus Disclosures

  1. All loans available through FreedomPlus.com are made by Cross River Bank, a New Jersey State Chartered Commercial Bank, Member FDIC, Equal Housing Lender. All loan and rate terms are subject to eligibility restrictions, application review, credit score, loan amount, loan term, lender approval, and credit usage and history. Eligibility for a loan is not guaranteed. Loans are not available to residents of all states – please call a FreedomPlus representative for further details. The following limitations, in addition to others, shall apply: FreedomPlus does not arrange loans in: (i) Arizona under $10,500; (ii) Massachusetts under $6,500, (iii) Ohio under $5,500, and (iv) Georgia under $3,500. Repayment periods range from 24 to 60 months. The range of APRs on loans made available through FreedomPlus is 5.99% to a maximum of 29.99%. APR. The APR calculation includes all applicable fees, including the loan origination fee. For Example, a four year $20,000 loan with an interest rate of 15.49% and corresponding APR of 18.34% would have an estimated monthly payment of $561.60 and a total cost payable of $7,948.13. To qualify for a 5.99% APR loan, a borrower will need excellent credit on a loan for an amount less than $12,000.00, and with a term equal to 24 months. Adding a co-borrower with sufficient income; using at least eighty-five percent (85%) of the loan proceeds to directly pay off qualifying existing debt; or showing proof of sufficient retirement savings, could help you also qualify for the lowest rate available.
* Important Disclosures for Upgrade Bank.

Upgrade Bank Disclosures

* Personal loans made through Upgrade feature APRs of 5.99%-35.89%. All personal loans have a 1.5% to 6% origination fee, which is deducted from the loan proceeds. Lowest rates require Autopay and paying off a portion of existing debt directly. For example, if you receive a $10,000 loan with a 36-month term and a 17.98% APR (which includes a 14.32% 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 $343.33. Over the life of the loan, your payments would total $12,359.97. 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 WebBank, Member FDIC.

** Accept your loan offer and your funds will be sent to your bank via ACH within one (1) business day of clearing necessary verifications. Availability of the funds is dependent on how quickly your bank processes this transaction. From the time of approval, funds should be available within four (4) business days.

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You are being directed to LendingTree.com where you’ll be able to fill out an online form. Based on your creditworthiness, you may be matched with up to five different personal loan lenders in our partner network.