Best Loans for Fair Credit

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38 Lenders reviewed
40 Loan features considered
8 Best of awards

Personal loans can be a great way to consolidate your debt or pay for an upcoming expense. You can apply in just minutes, have the funds deposited within a few days, and most loans don’t require any collateral to qualify.

The catch is that if you don’t have the best credit score, it may be hard to qualify. Whether you have debts that have gone to collections, or simply don’t have a strong credit history, your loan options are more limited without excellent credit.

But there are several companies that offer personal loans to borrowers with fair credit, and some even allow co-signers and co-applicants to help you qualify. We reviewed dozens of personal loan companies and found the top lenders that offer loans to borrowers with lower credit scores and less-than-perfect credit histories.

Best Loans for Fair Credit of January 2023

If youre not seeing anything in the results that are a good fit for your needs, consider warranties from these companies:
Company APR Credit Score est. Loan Amount More Details
Best Overall PenFed Credit Union
4.7
APR Range
7.74% - 17.99%
Recommended Minimum Credit Score
650
This lender does not disclose its minimum credit score requirements.
Loan Amount
$600 - $50,000
See Details Check Rates
Best for Military Members Navy Federal Credit Union
4
APR Range
7.49% - 18.00%
Recommended Minimum Credit Score
600
This lender does not disclose its minimum credit score requirements.
Loan Amount
$250 - $50,000
See Details Check Rates
Best for Flexible Terms Discover
4.2
APR Range
6.99% - 24.99%
Recommended Minimum Credit Score
660
This lender does not disclose its minimum credit score requirements.
Loan Amount
$2,500 - $35,000
See Details Check Rates
Best for Small Loan Amounts Upgrade
4.3
APR With Autopay Discount
7.96% - 35.97%
Recommended Minimum Credit Score
560
This lender does not disclose its minimum credit score requirements.
Loan Amount
$1,000 - $50,000
See Details Check Rates
Best for Quick Funding Rocket Loans
4
APR With Autopay Discount
8.42% - 29.99%
Recommended Minimum Credit Score
Not Disclosed
This lender does not disclose its minimum credit score requirements.
Loan Amount
$2,000 - $45,000
See Details Check Rates
Best for Debt Consolidation Achieve
APR Range
7.99% - 29.99%
Recommended Minimum Credit Score
Not Disclosed
This lender does not disclose its minimum credit score requirements.
Loan Amount
$5,000 - $50,000
See Details Check Rates
Best for Low Fees LendingPoint
3.6
APR Range
7.99% - 35.99%
Recommended Minimum Credit Score
580
This lender does not disclose its minimum credit score requirements.
Loan Amount
$2,000 - $36,500
See Details Check Rates
Best for High Loan Amounts LightStream
4
APR Range
6.99% - 23.99%
Recommended Minimum Credit Score
660
This lender does not disclose its minimum credit score requirements.
Loan Amount
$5,000 - $100,000
See Details Check Rates
Filter (8)

Best Overall : PenFed Credit Union

Investopedia's Rating
4.7

  • APR Range: 7.74% - 17.99%
  • Time To Receive Loan: 1 day
  • Loan Amount: $600 - $50,000
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Minimum credit score of only 650

  • May receive funding within one day

  • Borrow $600 up to $50,000

Cons
  • PenFed membership required

Why We Chose It

PenFed is our top overall choice for fair credit personal loans, offering loans starting at only $600, competitive rates, and a relatively low 650 credit score to qualify. PenFed is a national credit union that offers banking services and loans to members. You do need to join PenFed to qualify for a loan, but membership is free.

PenFed offers pre-qualification on all personal loans, meaning you can submit a short application and check your rate without hurting your credit score. You can even pre-qualify without being a member just to see your rate, but you do need to join to actually receive funding.

PenFed also doesn’t charge any loan fees, such as origination fees or prepayment penalties. And though co-signers are not allowed, co-applicants are, meaning you can have someone else apply with you to help you qualify. Overall, PenFed offers great loan rates, no fees, and minimal credit to receive a loan.

Qualifications
  • Be a PenFed member
  • Live in the United States
  • Be the age of majority as defined by state of residence
  • Be a United States citizen (PenFed does not support non-citizen permanent residents)
  • Minimum credit score of 650
  • Qualify based on financial history, credit history, and other factors

Best for Military Members : Navy Federal Credit Union

Investopedia's Rating
4.0

  • APR Range: 7.49% - 18.00%
  • Time To Receive Loan: 0 days
  • Loan Amount: $250 - $50,000
Pros and Cons
Pros
  • No origination or prepayment fees

  • Flexible loan terms

  • Low minimum loan amount

Cons
  • No pre-qualification available

  • Membership required

Why We Chose It

Navy Federal is a credit union that is open to all military members and their families. Navy Federal offers personal loans with low rates, repayment terms up to 15 years in length, and no origination fees. There is no minimum credit score required to apply, although your credit history will play a role in loan approval.

Navy Federal offers a few different loan options, including personal loans, home improvement loans, and even secured loans. While shorter-term loans offer low rates (under 8% APR), longer term loans do charge a higher APR (over 14% for terms longer than three years).

Navy Federal also requires higher minimums for longer-term loans, with a $25,000 minimum for loan terms over five years, and a $30,000 minimum for loans over seven years. And pre-qualification isn’t available, so you will need to complete a full application to see your rates.

Navy Federal is a great option for military members to access personal loans, even with poor credit. But you must be a Navy Federal member to apply.

Qualifications
  • Be a Navy Federal member
  • Be at least the age of majority in your state
  • Be a United States citizen, eligible permanent resident, or non-permanent resident alien
  • Reside in one of the 50 U.S. states or Washington, D.C. 
  • Qualify based on credit history, income, and other financial factors

Best for Flexible Terms : Discover

Investopedia's Rating
4.2

  • APR Range: 6.99% - 24.99%
  • Time To Receive Loan: 1 day
  • Loan Amount: $2,500 - $35,000
Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Loan terms up to 7 years

  • No application, origination, or prepayment fees

  • Low interest rates

Cons
  • Late payment fee of $39

  • No co-signers or co-applicants

Why We Chose It

Discover offers personal loans with low interest rates to applicants, with a recommended minimum 660 credit score. Discover loans can be repaid for 36 months up to 84 months, and there are no fees for applying or funding your loan. Rates also remain the same, no matter which term length you apply for.

Discover offers loans starting at $2,500 up to $35,000, and rates start as low as 6.99%. This interest rate is lower than many lenders, and even the maximum of 24.99% isn’t that high compared to others. Discover loans are great for debt consolidation or other small to medium-sized needs.

Discover doesn’t allow co-signers or co-applicants on personal loans, so you must have a fair credit score and income to qualify on your own. And though there are no origination or application fees, Discover does charge a $39 late payment fee, even if you are only one day late.

Qualifications
  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have a minimum household income of at least $25,000
  • Qualify based on financial history, credit score, and other factors

Best for Small Loan Amounts : Upgrade

Investopedia's Rating
4.3

  • APR Range: 7.96% - 35.97%
  • Time To Receive Loan: 1 day
  • Loan Amount: $1,000 - $50,000
Pros and Cons
Pros
  • Low minimum recommended credit score of 560

  • Next-day funding available

  • Co-applicants allowed

Cons
  • 1.85% to 8.99% origination fee

  • Late payment fee of $10

Why We Chose It

Upgrade offers personal loans starting at just $1,000, with a low recommended minimum credit score of just 560. This presents an opportunity for more applicants to qualify, but take note that borrowers with poor credit will tend to get higher fees and rates. But if you do have poor credit, you can apply with a co-applicant to help you qualify for a better rate.

The application process is seamless, with the ability to pre-qualify within a few minutes to see your rates and loan options. You can then complete the application online and receive your funds within a day or so. Loan terms are available from 24 months up to 84 months, and rates start as low as 7.96%.

Upgrade charges an origination fee, which is taken directly from your loan balance. The fee is up to 8.99%, which can be costly on larger loans. And there is a late fee for payments at least 15 days late, but it is only $10, which is relatively small. Overall, Upgrade makes the process of obtaining a loan simple and is a good choice for people who don’t have the best credit.

Qualifications
  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, or living in the U.S. on a valid visa
  • Be at least 18 years old (19 years old in Alabama and certain other states)
  • Provide a verifiable bank account
  • Provide a valid email address.
  • Borrow a minimum of $1,000
  • Have a recommended minimum credit score of 560
  • Qualify based on credit history, credit usage, and payment history
  • Apply with a qualifying co-applicant if needed

Best for Quick Funding : Rocket Loans

Investopedia's Rating
4.0

  • APR Range: 8.42% - 29.99%
  • Time To Receive Loan: 0 days
  • Loan Amount: $2,000 - $45,000
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Same-day funding available

  • Pre-qualification available

  • Only need a 580 credit score

Cons
  • Origination fee up to 7%

  • Only two repayment terms

Why We Chose It

Rocket Loans offers same-day funding on personal loans, allowing you to borrow up to $45,000 quickly. If your application is completed and the promissory note is signed by 1 p.m. Eastern Time, funds may be deposited into your account that same day.

Rocket Loans offers loans to borrowers with credit scores as low as 580, and rates start at 8.416%, although people with worse credit typically won’t get the best rates. Loans are available starting at $2,000, and borrowers can only choose between 36-month or 60-month repayment terms.

Rocket Loans does charge up to a 7% origination fee, and rates can be as high as 29.99%. Overall, Rocket Loans is a great choice for borrowers that need funds quickly, but keep an eye on the fees and compare overall costs to other lenders.

Qualifications
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Be a U.S. resident
  • Monthly income is reviewed
  • Tax forms may be reviewed
  • Debt-to-income ratio (DTI) is reviewed
  • Overall credit history and credit score are reviewed

Best for Debt Consolidation : Achieve


  • APR Range: 7.99% - 29.99%
  • Loan Amount: $5,000 - $50,000
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Pays off creditors directly

  • Minimum credit score of 620

  • Multiple loan discounts available

Cons
  • Origination fee up to 6.99%

  • $5,000 minimum

Why We Chose It

Achieve (formerly Freedom Plus) offers debt consolidation personal loans to borrowers with fair credit, only requiring a credit score of 620 to qualify. Loans can be funded in as soon as two business days, and there are several loan discounts available. There is a discount for applying with a co-applicant, and even a discount if you allow Achieve to pay your creditors directly when consolidating your debt.

Loans are available from $5,000 up to $50,000 in total, and rates start at 7.99%. Multiple debts can be consolidated into a single loan, helping lower your interest rates and simplify your monthly payments.

Achieve charges an origination fee, ranging from 1.99% up to 6.99%, so it is important to calculate the cost before completing your application. You can pre-qualify for the loan in just a few minutes online to see your rates and loan term options.

If you are hoping to consolidate your debt, Achieve is worth a look.

Qualifications
  • Be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have a valid Social Security number
  • Provide proof of income and employment
  • Provide proof of identity
  • Qualify based on financial history, credit score, and other factors

Best for Low Fees : LendingPoint

Investopedia's Rating
3.6

  • APR Range: 7.99% - 35.99%
  • Time To Receive Loan: 1 day
  • Loan Amount: $2,000 - $36,500
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Origination fee waived for some

  • No application or prepayment fees

  • Interest rates start at 7.99%

Cons
  • Can only borrow up to $36,500

  • No co-applicants or co-signers

Why We Chose It

LendingPoint offers personal loans with minimal fees and low interest rates. There are no application or prepayment fees assessed, and select borrowers may qualify to have the origination fee waived as well.

Loans are available from $2,000 up to $36,500, and interest rates start at only 7.99%. Loan repayment terms are available from 24 months up to 72 months in length, and you can pre-qualify to check your rates and terms without hurting your credit score.

There is no minimum credit score needed to apply, though you can’t apply with a co-signer or co-applicant, so you’ll need to qualify on your own. LendingPoint is a good option for borrowers with fair credit looking to save on fees for smaller loans.

Qualifications
  • Be 18 years or older
  • Be able to provide a U.S federal, state, or local government-issued photo ID
  • Have a Social Security number
  • Have a minimum annual income of $35,000 (from employment, retirement, or some other source)
  • Have a verifiable personal banking account in your name
  • Not reside in Nevada or West Virginia

Best for High Loan Amounts : LightStream

Investopedia's Rating
4.0

  • APR Range: 6.99% - 23.99%
  • Time To Receive Loan: 0 days
  • Loan Amount: $5,000 - $100,000
Pros & Cons
Pros
  • Borrow up to $100,000

  • No fees on loans

  • Same-day funding available

  • Low rates available

Cons
  • Must borrow at least $5,000

  • No pre-qualification

Why We Chose It

LightStream is part of Truist Bank, and offers personal loans up to $100,000 in total. Borrowers can choose from a wide range of repayment terms (up to 12 years in length). There are no fees on LightStream loans, including no application, origination, prepayment, or late payment fees. It’s recommended that you have a minimum 660 credit score for the best chance of approval.

LightStream offers an online application process, and funds may arrive the same business day if you complete your application and verification by 2:30 p.m. ET. You can’t apply at a Truist Bank location, as LightStream is a separate company that only offers online loans.

LightStream applicants can apply with a co-borrower, further increasing the chances of qualifying and getting a better rate. But LightStream doesn’t offer pre-qualification, which means you need to submit a completed application to see your loan rates and terms.

If you are looking for a large personal loan, LightStream is a great option.

Submitting an application will result in a hard credit pull, which can affect your credit score.

Qualifications
  • Be at least the age of majority in your state
  • Be a U.S. citizen, eligible permanent resident, or non-permanent resident alien
  • Reside in one of the 50 U.S. states or Washington, D.C. 
  • Minimum recommended credit score of 660
  • Qualify based on financial history, credit score, and other factors

Compare the Best Loans for Fair Credit of January 2023

Overall Rating Best For
APR Range
Average Origination Fee
Late Fee
Time To Receive Loan
Loan Amount
Latest Repayment
Reset All
PenFed Credit Union
4.7
Best Overall 7.74% - 17.99% 0.00% $29.00 1 day $600 - $50,000 60 months Check Rates
Hide, not for me
Navy Federal Credit Union
4.0
Best for Military Members 7.49% - 18.00% 0.00% $29.00 0 days $250 - $50,000 180 months Check Rates
Hide, not for me
Discover
4.2
Best for Flexible Terms 6.99% - 24.99% 0.00% $39.00 1 day $2,500 - $35,000 84 months Check Rates
Hide, not for me
Upgrade
4.3
Best for Small Loan Amounts 7.96% - 35.97% 1.85%–8.99% $10.00 1 day $1,000 - $50,000 84 months Check Rates
Hide, not for me
Rocket Loans
4.0
Best for Quick Funding 8.42% - 29.99% 1.00% - 7.00% $15.00 0 days $2,000 - $45,000 60 months Check Rates
Hide, not for me
Achieve Best for Debt Consolidation 7.99% - 29.99% N/A N/A N/A $5,000 - $50,000 5 Years Check Rates
Hide, not for me
LendingPoint
3.6
Best for Low Fees 7.99% - 35.99% 0.00% - 8.00% $0.00 - $30.00 1 day $2,000 - $36,500 72 months Check Rates
Hide, not for me
LightStream
4.0
Best for High Loan Amounts 6.99% - 23.99% 0.00% $0.00 0 days $5,000 - $100,000 120 months Check Rates
Hide, not for me
*APR ranges for some companies include a discount for automatic payments or existing bank customers.

Final Verdict

If you have a lower credit score, there are still plenty of options for personal loans. Not all companies require great credit, and applying with a co-signer or co-applicant will increase your chances of qualifying—and getting a better rate.

PenFed offers great rates and flexible loan terms for borrowers, and you only need a 650 credit score to apply. There are no hidden fees or costly origination fees on its personal loans, making them a cheaper option than other lenders. The other options on this list are great for specific use cases and borrowers looking for a lender that can work with their personal financial situation.

Guide to Choosing the Best Personal Loans for Fair Credit

Should You Get a Fair Credit Personal Loan? 

If you have fair credit and you’re thinking about getting a personal loan, there are a few things you should consider before making a decision. Some of the most important considerations are why you need the loan, how quickly you can repay it, what you can afford, and if you can qualify. 

  • Why you need the loan: A personal loan can be a good option if you have a one-time expense you want to pay off over time or if you want to consolidate debt into a lower fixed-rate payment. It’s a better option than a credit card for these purposes since you’ll pay the debt in full at the end of the repayment period and will usually get a lower rate.
  • How quickly the loan can be repaid: If you think you can pay off the money you’re borrowing very quickly (e.g., in a matter of weeks or months), then you may be able to use a credit card to fund the expense. However, if you need more time to pay (e.g., two to seven years), a personal loan is a better choice.
  • What you can afford: Before you get a loan, one of the most important things to do is make sure you can afford it. Qualifying for a loan and affording it are two separate things. Carefully evaluate your budget and make sure you can comfortably make the monthly payment before signing on the dotted line.
  • If you can qualify for the loan: Qualifying for a loan with fair credit can be challenging, particularly if you have active delinquencies on your accounts. To improve the odds that you’ll get approved, bring all of your accounts current before applying for a loan. If you still can’t qualify on your own, consider applying with a co-signer.

Ultimately, the decision to get a personal loan depends on what’s important to you and your financial situation. 

Comparing Personal Loan Lenders for Fair Credit

When comparing personal loans for fair credit, it’s important to consider the qualifications, APR, repayment terms, and funding speed.

  • Qualifications: It’s harder for people with fair credit to get loans, so knowing what it takes to qualify for a personal loan is important. Most lenders evaluate your credit score, but they’ll also consider such things as your income, ability to repay the loan, and credit history. To improve your odds of qualifying, make sure you can afford the loan and you don’t have any actively delinquent accounts.
  • Annual percentage rate (APR): When comparing loans, make sure you compare the APR rather than the interest rate. Unlike the interest rate, the APR also includes the fees you’ll be required to pay. For instance, many lenders charge origination fees, which are often reflected in the APR. By comparing APRs across different loans, the effect of these fees is taken into consideration.
  • Repayment terms: Ensure that the lender you select offers the repayment term length you want. Many lenders offer limited repayment terms of 36 or 60 months. However, if you need more or less time to repay your loan, you may be able to find a lender that offers a shorter term of a year or less or a longer term of up to 180 months.
  • Funding speed: If you need money quickly, look for a lender that can get you funded in a matter of days. Many of the best personal loan providers can get you funded as quickly as the next business day after your loan is approved.

How to Apply for a Fair Credit Personal Loan

The basic steps you’ll need to take to apply for a fair credit personal loan are:

  • Submit a preliminary application with basic information about yourself and the loan
  • Review introductory offers from your lender and decide if you want to proceed
  • Agree to a hard credit check and submit a full application
  • Review and accept the terms offered by the lender
  • Provide any additional information requested by the lender (e.g., pay stubs, tax returns)
  • Receive funding as soon as the same day or up to several days after you apply
  • Set up an online account with the lender to manage your loan

Provide Basic Information

If you’re ready to move forward with a personal loan, the first step is to submit an application. You’ll usually be required to share information about why you need the funds, the amount of money you want, and how long you’ll need to repay the loan. As part of the process, you’ll also need to share personally identifiable information (e.g., your Social Security number and birthdate) along with information about your income.

Review Preliminary Offers and Agree to a Hard Credit Check

Once your initial application is submitted, some lenders will run a soft credit check to pre-qualify you and let you know the rates and terms you can get. Only after you’ve had a chance to review loan options and choose the one you want will the lender proceed to the full application and hard credit check. Other lenders don’t offer pre-qualification and will require that you submit a full application and undergo a hard credit inquiry to see your loan options. Make sure you understand when and how your credit will be checked at the onset.

Accept the Terms and Provide Additional Information

After the lender has evaluated your credit, you may be asked to provide some other information so they can confirm your income and identity. For example, you may need to share your tax returns, pay stubs, and driver’s license. Keep in mind, the more completely you fill out your application, and the quicker you submit any required information, the quicker your loan can be approved and funded. 

Receive Funding and Manage Your Account Online

When the lender is done evaluating your file, they’ll let you know if you’re approved and provide details about the terms of your loan—e.g., rates, fees, repayment terms, etc. After you accept the terms, then you’ll receive the funds in the way you identified in your application; usually, you can request that funds be disbursed into your bank account or sent directly to your existing creditors. Sometimes this can happen as soon as the day you apply. However, it can take up to a few days.

Then, all that’s left is to manage your loan and make your monthly payments. Most lenders allow you to manage your account online through a customer portal or an online app.

What Is Considered Fair Credit?

Most credit scores range from 300 to 850, with higher scores deemed better than lower scores. What is considered fair credit depends on the credit bureau. Fair FICO credit scores fall between 580 to 669, while fair VantageScore credit scores range from 600 to 660.

This is slightly higher than a bad credit score, which is typically anything 579 and below (FICO) or 499 and below (VantageScore).

Can I Get a Personal Loan If I Have Fair Credit?

Whether you can get a loan if you have fair credit largely depends on why your credit score is low. If it’s low because of past due accounts, getting caught up should improve your credit score. Also, making future payments on time may eventually result in an improved credit score. 

If you have fair credit for a reason other than a current delinquency, then it might not be as big of an issue. For instance, if all of your accounts are up to date but you have a history of medical collections or several outstanding credit card balances, you might qualify more easily.

As long as you are able to demonstrate that you can afford your debt and the problem that created the low score is not recurring or could be fixed with the new loan (e.g., you’re consolidating your credit card debt), then the new lender may be willing to overlook your fair credit score.

What Steps Can I Take to Improve My Credit Score?

Improving your credit score can go a long way toward helping you qualify for a personal loan and get a better interest rate. If you’re not happy with your credit score, the good news is you can take steps to improve it. It often takes time to improve your credit score, but here are three strategies to help you get started:

Check Your Credit Reports

You’re entitled to get free copies of your credit reports from the three credit reporting agencies (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) once each year. You can get your free credit reports by visiting AnnualCreditReport.com. Even if you don’t have credit issues, it’s a good idea to check your credit report annually to ensure there aren’t mistakes and that you’re not a victim of identity theft. 

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. Your ratio increases the closer you come to maxing out your cards, and it acts as a drag on your score. Your credit score might increase if you lower your credit utilization ratio by paying down your card balances.

Pay Your Bills on Time

Even if you haven’t paid all of your bills on time in the past, it’s not too late to start doing so now. This is important because your payment history can contribute as much as 35% to your FICO credit score. Building a budget is a good place to start if you struggle with paying your bills on time. By doing so, you’ll know if you make enough money to cover your bills and can start figuring out what expenses to cut.

Methodology

Investopedia is dedicated to providing consumers with unbiased, comprehensive reviews of personal loan lenders. To rate providers, we collected hundreds of data points across more than 40 lenders, including interest rates, fees, loan amounts, and repayment terms, to ensure that our reviews help users make informed decisions for their borrowing needs.

Mature man wearing eyeglasses working on personal finances at home

Stephen Zeigler / Getty Image

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.
  1. Experian. "What Is a Fair Credit Score?"

  2. AnnualCreditReports.com. "What to Look For."

  3. Experian. "The Ultimate Field Guide to Understand and Improving Your Credit."