In some cases, a personal loan is desirable.
You may want to start a home business, or you may want to borrow for a vacation, or you might have some other use for the money. Whatever the reason is, getting a personal loan can give you the money you need. A personal loan — usually unsecured — can provide you with a little extra cash to help you meet your goals.
Actually securing that personal loan can be a bit difficult, though. Many people find the process scary, and they don’t know where to begin.
Here’s a few ways on how to get your personal loan approved.
And if that doesn’t work, we have some other options, too.
Personal Loan Basics
Before you start you loan process, let’s make sure you understand how personal loans work. First of all, there are two main types of personal loans, secured and unsecured.
A secured loan will usually give you lower interest rates, but you have to put something up as collateral for the loan, which means that if you don’t pay back the loan, they take your collateral.
Unsecured loans, as you can guess, don’t require any collateral, but will have higher interest rates.
The other basic thing to know about personal loans is what you will need to get one. The information you’ll need will vary depending on which technique you use to get the loan. Just about every loan is going to require basic information like address, birthday, and Social Security Number.
You will also need your employment information like your work history and pay stubs to verify your income. You will need to provide other sources of income like alimony.
Depending on the loan type and loan amount, the lender may ask for other information and documents like a copy of your W-2 and tax information, as well as proof of address, bank statements, and your mortgage or renting statements.
Services that Help You Compare Loans
There are several places you can get rates for personal loans. The easiest one I have seen to use is PersonalLoans.com. Their form is quick and easy to fill out and you can be comparing loan rates in no time. You only have to input what type of loan you want, the amount, your zip code, and any other basic loan information, and you can see dozens of loan options near you.
PersonalLoans,cin has excellent reviews for users that have used the site to find the best loan option. PersonalLoans.com has been around since 1999 and works with many different lenders to help you get the best rates.
This allows you to cut through the salesmanship that you might get through a local bank and go directly through the lender. PersonalLoans.com can show you the best rates for just about any kind of personal loan you could want, they even give you the phone number of the business, making it very easy to get your loan.
Qualifying for a Personal Loan Through Your Bank or Credit Union
If you are a good customer and have good credit, you can usually get what is called a signature loan for $3,000 to $5,000. These loans are also called “character loans” or “good character loans”, because these loans don’t have any collateral. For these loans, the lender will usually look for a decent credit history and make sure you have an income.
Because these loans aren’t backed by anything, they will typically have higher interest rates than other loans. Check with your bank or credit union to find out whether they offer these loans, and what the application process is.
If you want a bigger loan, though, you will need to jump through some hoops. You will need to fill out a loan application, and you might even need to designate collateral. (Collateral is something of value that can be taken from you and sold to pay off the loan if you can’t pay it back.)
You will need to have a relatively high credit score (above 700 if you want to even be considered for an unsecured personal loan), and you likely not be approved for as much as you would like. (Not sure how your credit looks? Use services from Credit Sesame, Credit Karma and Transunion to figure that out first.)
However, the interest rate on a personal loan at a bank that values you as a customer is usually quite low compared to the alternatives.
Other Options for Personal Loans
If you have poor credit or don’t think you can receive an affordable loan from a bank or credit union, don’t worry. There are other options for personal loans, beyond your bank or credit union. Some of your other options include:
Many of us don't think of credit cards as loans, but, in reality, your credit card constitutes a personal loan. If you have good credit, and you are hoping for a larger limit, you can apply for a new credit card. You can boost your available credit, and then draw on that for your personal use.
However, credit cards usually have relatively high interest rates, and if you carry a balance, you could wind up paying quite a bit. Try to get a new card with an introductory period, and you will have an interest-free personal loan.
Here are some of the best credit cards you can get with a 0% introductory rate for either purchases or balance transfers:
- 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for 15 months
- Earn 1x points on all purchases, plus 5x points on the first $1,500 spent in categories that rotate every quarter
- Earn a $150 signup bonus when you use your card for just $500 in purchases during the first 90 days
- No annual fee
- Read here to learn more
Citi Diamond Preferred® Card
- 0% APR on purchases and balance transfers for the first 21 months
- No annual fee
- Access to Citi® Private Pass® travel program
- Worldwide Travel Accident Insurance
- Travel & Emergency Assistance
Peer to Peer (P2P) Lending:
One of the increasingly popular options right now is P2P lending. Whether you are financing a business, paying for college, or trying to buy a motorcycle, P2P lending can help. You will have to apply for the loan, and your credit will be checked.
Additionally, if you want to draw funding sources, you will need a plan, showing how you will use the money. P2P lending offers competitive interest rates, and a good story can help you get the funding you need.
Family and Friends:
If you have family members or friends who can help you out with the personal loan you need, you can often get the best loan terms.
However, you want to make sure that you are positive that you can repay the loan; you don’t want to risk your relationship. Have a contract so that you are accountable, and so that your friend or relative knows that you are serious. Be sure to include the loan term and the interest rate in the contract.
While I wouldn’t recommend using friends or family for a loan, sometimes it’s the best (or only) option.
Editor’s note: Personally, I’m totally against borrowing from family or friends. In my own family, money led to a huge falling out between family members. It shouldn’t have, but it did.
What you need to know before Getting a Personal Loan
We are going to be honest, getting a personal loan isn’t easy. There are a lot of things you need to consider before you apply for a personal loan.
The first, and most obvious, is decide how much you actually need from the loan. This might seem like a ridiculous tip to include, but it’s important enough to reiterate. Before you apply for your loan, sit down and calculate how much money you will need from the loan.
You should also spend some time researching to see which loan avenue works best for you. If you were paying attention to this article, there are several different ways to get a personal loan, but not every way works best for you. Fully understand the type of loan you are getting, the loan period, the payment methods, payment amounts, and any other important information.
Final Thoughts on Personal Loans
If you are looking for a personal loan, there are a number of options. From payday lenders (which you should avoid as much as you can) to credit cards to friends and family to random strangers via P2P lending, chances are that you can find a personal loan. But, depending on your situation, you might have to pay a lot for it.
Whichever path to a personal loan you select, make sure you track your finances well using a budgeting tool like Mint or Manilla. Both of these apps sync up with your financial accounts and are easy to use. They can show you all of your accounts and bills all in one place, making sure you don’t forget any debts. You don’t want to have to take a personal loan out during a pinch and end up paying thousands in interest and late fees from mismanaging your money.