Best Personal Loans for Fair Credit

There are plenty of good options for people with fair credit


When you need to borrow money, your credit score is key. If it's a high one, a lot of choices and favorable terms are open to you. However, if your credit score only registers as fair (in the 580 to 669 range on the FICO score scale), finding a great deal on a personal loan can be a bit more challenging. Some lenders may not consider you at all. While others will, their financing terms will be stiff, with interest rates several percentage points higher than those extended to the applicants they deem more creditworthy.

To put it bluntly, with fair credit you probably won't qualify for the best personal loan offers on the market. But take heart: There still are numerous lenders out there willing to let you borrow money at a decent price. Interest rates, fees, loan amounts, and other terms can vary widely from one lender to the next. To jump-start your search, we’ve done the research to make comparing your options easier. We've narrowed the potential lenders down to the five best choices, each sterling in a different way.

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Below you'll find personal loan offers available from our advertising partners, followed by our complete list of the best personal loan options for fair credit nationwide.

Upstart: Best Overall

Upstart

Online lender Upstart earned Investopedia’s "best overall" spot for several reasons. First, it offers maximum borrowing flexibility: personal loans of up to $50,000 that you can use for just about anything. Second, its minimum credit score requirement starts at 620, which is in the middle of the fair credit category.

To Upstart, you are more than your credit score (as its motto proclaims). In addition to your credit report/history, Upstart's AI-powered underwriting process also considers additional factors, such as your education, area of study, and job history. This alternative data can be a boon to borrowers with only fair credit, helping them qualify for a lower interest rate than they might otherwise.

Pros
  • There’s no prepayment penalty if you want to pay your loan off early.

  • A soft credit inquiry can help you check your rate before you officially apply (without dinging your score).

  • Your employment and education history are considered in setting terms.

Cons
  • It has potentially high origination fees—up to 8%.

  • The average interest rate on a three-year loan is more than 22%.

  • Only two loan lengths are offered.

  • Low maximum loan amount of $50,000

Other important information:

  • Minimum/maximum amount you can borrow: $1,000 to $50,000
  • APR range: 7.88% to 35.99%
  • Fees: Upstart doesn’t charge a prepayment penalty, but origination fees can range between 0% to 8% (deducted from your loan proceeds). Late fees are $15 or 5% of the past due balance (whichever is greater). Returned automated clearing house (ACH) transfer or check refund fees are $15 per occurrence. 
  • Minimum recommended credit score: 620 FICO or VantageScore
  • Other qualification requirements: Your credit report must be clear of bankruptcies, public records, or accounts that are currently past due. You should have less than six inquiries on your credit report in the last six months (excluding student loan, auto loan, or mortgage inquiries). Your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) will also be reviewed. 
  • Repayment terms: Three or five years
  • Time to receive funds: Funds may be available as soon as the next business day.
  • Restrictions: You aren’t eligible if you live in Iowa or West Virginia, or if you are under the age of 18. 

Payoff: Best Debt Consolidation Loan

Payoff

One factor that often dampens credit scores is having a mountain of debt in relation to your income—maxed-out credit cards, etc. If that’s your situation, a particular type of personal loan, called a "debt consolidation loan," can be a solution. Not only does it combine and pay off those outstanding credit card balances and other high-interest debts; it also can potentially improve your credit score in the process. And Payoff might be able to help.

Payoff isn’t a lender. Rather, it describes itself as a "financial wellness company" that works with lending partners, who do the actual financing. You’ll need fair credit or better to qualify for a debt consolidation loan (the only type Payoff offers) through the platform. $35,000 is the maximum amount you may be approved to borrow.

According to Payoff, its members see an average FICO score increase of 40 points after they use one of its loans.

Pros
  • There are no late/annual/application fees and no prepayment penalty.

  • You can check your rate before you apply with a soft credit inquiry.

  • You get free monthly FICO scores as a borrower benefit.

Cons
  • The maximum loan amount is low.

  • Loans can only be used to consolidate debt.

  • It takes a long time to receive funds compared with other lenders.

Other important information:

  • Minimum/maximum amount you can borrow: $5,000 to $35,000
  • APR range: 5.99% to 24.99% (Loans for more than $15,000 have a minimum APR of 6.99%.)
  • Fees: Payoff may charge an origination fee between 0% to 5%. 
  • Minimum recommended credit score: 640 FICO score
  • Other qualification requirements: Payoff requires borrowers to have at least three years of good credit history with two or more lines of credit that are open and in good standing. Your credit report cannot have any current late payments nor a record of any delinquencies that are 90 days late or worse within the last 12 months. Your debt-to-income ratio should be 50% or lower. You must be 18 or older with a valid Social Security number and checking account to qualify. 
  • Repayment terms: Two to five years
  • Time to receive funds: If your loan is approved, you may receive your funds within two to five business days after the verification process.
  • Restrictions: Personal loans aren’t available to residents of Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, or West Virginia.

LendingPoint: Best Minimum Credit Score Requirement

LendingPoint

For consumers with credit scores on the lower end of the fair credit range, qualifying for a personal loan can be especially difficult. LendingPoint offers loans up to $25,000 to borrowers with credit scores as low as 585. Even people who have filed for bankruptcy may be eligible, as long as the bankruptcy has been discharged for 12 months or longer. 

In exchange for looser approval criteria, however, be prepared for the possibility that your loan may cost more than it would if your credit was in better shape. Interest rates with LendingPoint start at 9.99%

Pros
  • Low credit score requirements

  • Check your rate before you apply with a soft credit inquiry

  • No prepayment penalty

Cons
  • Low maximum loan amount of $25,000

  • High minimum APR of 9.99%

  • Possible origination fee of up to 6%

Other important information:

  • Minimum/maximum amount you can borrow: $2,000 to $25,000
  • APR range: 9.99%–35.99%
  • Fees: Origination fees range from 0% to 6%
  • Minimum recommended credit score: 585 FICO score
  • Other qualification requirements: Your annual income must be at least $35,000 to qualify for a personal loan with LendingPoint. You also need to be 18 years or older with a valid U.S. federal or state ID and Social Security number. Finally, you’ll need to have a verifiable personal bank account in your name. 
  • Repayment terms: 24 to 48 months
  • Time to receive funds: Funds may be available as soon as the next business day (after loan approval). 
  • Restrictions: Loans are not available in all states. There is a full list of state licenses here

Upgrade: Best for Mobile App Fans

Upgrade

Strange as it may seem in this digital day and age, many personal loan lenders (especially the online-platform types, like the ones on our list) don’t have mobile apps. Or if they do, the app’s functions are limited to the basics—monitoring balances and that sort of thing. Upgrade stands apart in this department.

It not only offers an app; it offers a state-of-the-art app: You can use it to manage your account, check your credit score on the go, and even apply for loans. Admittedly, the app’s user ratings—3.8 stars in the Apple App Store and 3.7 stars on Google Play—do suggest room for improvement. But, when you consider that few personal loan lenders that cater to fair-credit borrowers offer mobile device tools at all, the scores are pretty good. 

Upgrade has plenty of loan options. Whether you want to consolidate debt, pay down high-interest credit cards, make a major purchase, or finance a home improvement project, this lender may well have a financing solution to suit your needs. Well-qualified borrowers may be able to access up to $35,000 in funding, with APRs starting as low as 7.99%. On the downside, Upgrade subjects all personal loans to an origination fee, unlike many lenders.

Pros
  • Check your rate before you apply with a soft credit inquiry

  • Free weekly TransUnion credit score (VantageScore 3.0)

  • Range of loan sizes from $1,000 to $35,000

Cons
  • An origination fee on all loans, regardless of your credit score

  • Only two loan lengths offered

  • High maximum APR

Other important information:

  • Minimum/maximum amount you can borrow: $1,000 to $35,000
  • APR range: 7.99% to 35.97%
  • Fees: The origination fee on personal loans from Upgrade ranges from 2.9% to 8% and is deducted directly from your loan proceeds. Upgrade does not charge a prepayment penalty. 
  • Minimum recommended credit score: Not disclosed by the lender, but reported to be 600 to 620 credit score
  • Other qualification requirements: To qualify you will need to be at least 18 years old and a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, or have a valid U.S. visa. You’ll also need a verifiable bank account and email address. 
  • Repayment terms: 36 or 60 months
  • Time to receive funds: You should receive your funds within four business days after your loan is approved.
  • Restrictions: You cannot use personal loans from Upgrade to pay for post-secondary education (or any associated costs). Residents of Iowa, Vermont, and West Virginia currently aren’t eligible.

Best Egg: Best for Satisfied Customers

Best Egg

The Best Egg online lending platform stands out for its happy clients. The lender has received five complaints from consumers who filed a report with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in the last year. That’s a low number, comparatively. By comparison, some other personal loan lenders received dozens of CFPB complaints within the same time frame. Some of the better-known lenders catering to fair-credit applicants have racked up complaints in the hundreds, including Avant (528 complaints), Credible (262 complaints), Prosper (347 complaints), and Rocket Loans (213 complaints).

At Best Egg you may qualify for a personal loan of up to $35,000 with a credit score as low as 640, and it offers interest rates starting at 5.99%. But, you need a minimum 700 FICO score and a minimum individual annual income of $100,000 to qualify for the lowest APR (as the Best Egg site does disclose, albeit in tiny print). On the plus side, if you’re in a rush to access funds, you might receive your loan proceeds as soon as one business day after approval.

Pros
  • Borrowing flexibility: a wide variety of approved purposes

  • No prepayment penalty

  • Potentially receive funds in one business day

Cons
  • Lowest interest rates only for high-income borrowers with good-range FICO scores

  • Origination fee as high as 5.99%

  • Low maximum loan amount of $35,000

Other important information:

  • Minimum/maximum amount you can borrow: $2,000 to $35,000
  • APR range: 5.99% to 29.99%
  • Fees: Origination fees range between 0.99% to 5.99% and are deducted from the loan amount. Best Egg also charges a $15 late fee if you’re more than three days late with your payment. 
  • Minimum recommended credit score: 640 score
  • Other qualification requirements: You should have several years of good credit history and must be able to demonstrate your ability to repay the loan to qualify. You’ll also need to be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and be old enough to legally take out a loan in your state. Finally, you must provide a verifiable personal bank account and email address. 
  • Repayment terms: 36 to 60 months
  • Time to receive funds: You may receive funds one to three business days after the verification of your loan application.
  • Restrictions: Residents of Iowa, Vermont, West Virginia, and the U.S. Territories aren’t eligible for a personal loan from Best Egg. 

What Credit Range Do You Fall Into?

It's important to know where you currently sit in terms of credit worthiness.

  • Excellent Credit: 800 - 850
  • Very Good Credit: 740 - 799
  • Good Credit: 670 - 739
  • Fair Credit: 580 - 669
  • Poor Credit: under 580

How Can You Improve Your Credit Score? 

Improving your credit score may go a long way toward helping you qualify for a personal loan and getting a better interest rate if you’re approved. If you’re not happy with your current number, the good news is you can take steps to try to improve it. Credit score changes often take time, but here are some simple strategies to help you get started. 

Check Your Three Credit Reports

You can access a free report from Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax once every 12 months at AnnualCreditReport.com. In fact, it’s wise to check your reports often to make sure that they are accurate. If you discover fraud or mistakes on your credit reports, federal law lets you dispute those errors with the credit reporting agencies.

When you send a dispute, the credit reporting agency that receives it typically has 30 days (sometimes 45) to investigate your claim. Any information that cannot be verified as accurate must be removed from your credit report. When negative errors come off your credit report, your score may improve. 

Check Your Credit Scores

Unlike your three credit reports, there are many options when it comes to checking your credit scores. You can find a number of no-cost credit score–checking options online, but the result you get likely won’t be the same FICO credit score a lender will use when you apply for a loan. Still, keeping an eye on the numbers can be helpful. If the credit score you consistently check online is trending upward, it’s a good sign that you’re managing your spending and debt well.

If you have a credit card, your card issuer or bank may give you free FICO credit score access. You can also go straight to the source. Through its site myfico.com, FICO itself will give you your score, though it charges for its single-use and monthly packages.  

Lower Your Credit Card Balances

The relationship between your credit card limits and balances, called your credit utilization ratio, matters a lot where your credit score is concerned. The closer you come to maxing out your cards—to using up all your available credit—your ratio goes up, and it acts as a drag on your score. If you lower your credit utilization ratio by paying down your credit card balances, your credit score might increase.

Pay Every Bill on Time

Paying on time won’t boost your credit score per se, but it can prevent you from losing points. Payment history is worth 35% of your FICO score. 

How Can You Increase Your Odds to Get Approved for a Loan With Fair Credit? 

Working to earn better credit is one of the most effective ways to increase your approval odds for any type of financing—personal loans included. In addition to focusing on your credit, the following steps might help. 

Pay Down Your Debt

Lenders look at your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) when you apply for a loan. DTI is somewhat similar to your credit utilization ratio, only it’s a measurement of your monthly gross income compared with your monthly payment obligations on debt. Paying down debt has the potential to save you money on interest and lower your DTI. A lower DTI could bode well for you when you apply for new financing. 

Consider a Cosigner

Some lenders allow you to include a cosigner on your loan application. Serving as an additional repayment source, a cosigner can help you qualify altogether or obtain loan terms that you may have otherwise not been approved for—a better interest rate or a larger amount of principal—especially if your cosigner has a good credit score.

However, there are some serious downsides to cosigning. First, in the event of a divorce or separation, joint debts can be difficult to separate. The credit reports and scores of you and your co-borrower could be damaged if there’s a disagreement about who’s responsible for the debt. Additionally, you’re asking your potential cosigner to accept considerable risk. Cosigners are just as responsible for debts as primary borrowers. If you ever pay late or default on the loan, both of your credit scores could suffer for years to come. 

The Bottom Line

When you have fair credit, your borrowing choices are limited. You may be tempted to go with the first lender that will qualify you when you need a personal loan. However, the truth is that you have options. You might not qualify for the lowest rate and best terms available, but that doesn’t mean you should settle.

Take the time to research your available options and go with the personal loan that’s the best fit for your financial profile and need. You can always work to improve your credit in the future, so that the next time you need to borrow, you’ll have even more choices.   

Methodology 

Investopedia is dedicated to providing consumers with unbiased, comprehensive reviews of personal loan lenders for all borrowing needs. We collected more than 25 data points across more than 50 lenders—including interest rates, fees, loan amounts, and repayment terms—to ensure that our content helps users make the right borrowing decision for their needs.

Article Sources

Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy .
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