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Loans

3 personal loan lenders to consider if you don't have a credit score

CNBC Select found personal loan lenders that may still approve applicants who don't have a credit score.

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Personal loans have become known as a versatile and quick way to cover large expenses upfront. There are many things you can use a personal loan for, including a wedding, a funeral, a home renovation, debt consolidation or a big emergency. These events can costs tens of thousands of dollars, and sometimes while you may have some money stashed away in savings, it may not be enough to cover the entire cost. That's where personal loans come in.

Just like with any other form of credit, personal loan lenders will typically want to measure the creditworthiness of applicants by looking at their credit scores and credit history. This can present a problem if you don't have a sufficient credit history. For example, if you're a recent graduate, you probably don't have enough credit history built up yet to have a credit score. Or, if you've been avoiding getting a credit card or any other form of debt, you probably have a low (or no) credit score.

Fortunately, though, some personal loan lenders can still consider such applicants.

CNBC Select rounded up some personal loan lenders that may still approve applicants who don't have a sufficient enough credit history to generate a credit score. We looked at key factors like interest rates, fees, loan amounts and term lengths offered, plus other features including how your funds are distributed, autopay discounts, customer service and how fast you can get your funds. (Read more about our methodology below.)

Best personal loans if you have an insufficient credit history

Compare offers to find the best loan

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Best overall

SoFi Personal Loans

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

    8.99% - 29.99% when you sign up for autopay

  • Loan purpose

    Debt consolidation/refinancing, home improvement, relocation assistance or medical expenses

  • Loan amounts

    $5,000 to $100,000

  • Terms

    24 to 84 months

  • Credit needed

    Good to excellent

  • Origination fee

    No fees required

  • Early payoff penalty

    None

  • Late fee

    None

Terms apply.

Pros

  • No origination fees required, no early payoff fees, no late fees
  • Unemployment protection if you lose your job
  • DACA recipients can apply with a creditworthy co-borrower who is a U.S. citizen/permanent resident by calling 877-936-2269
  • Can have more than one SoFi loan at a time (state-permitting) 
  • May accept offer of employment (to start within the next 90 days) as proof of income
  • Co-applicants may apply

Cons

  • Applicants who are U.S. visa holders must have more than two years remaining on visa to be eligible
  • No co-signers allowed (co-applicants only)

Fixed rates from 8.99% APR to 29.99% APR reflect the 0.25% autopay interest rate discount and a 0.25% direct deposit interest rate discount. SoFi rate ranges are current as of 02/06/2024 and are subject to change without notice. The average of SoFi Personal Loans funded in 2022 was around $30K. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed and will depend on the term you select, evaluation of your creditworthiness, income, and a variety of other factors.

Who's this for? While SoFi generally accepts good or excellent credit for its personal loan products, borrowers can apply for a loan using a co-applicant. A co-applicant can be beneficial for someone who has damaged or poor credit or a credit history that's so insufficient that they likely may not be approved for the loan if they applied alone. An ideal co-applicant will have a higher credit score and higher income. These attributes tell lenders that the borrowers are more likely to be able to afford to repay the loan. The co-applicant is also financially on the hook for repaying the loan if the other co-applicant fails to make payments.

SoFi doesn't charge any late fees, or early payoff fees. And, you can borrow between $5,000 to $100,000, which makes SoFi an attractive option for people who need to borrow larger amounts for bigger expenses.

You can get your loan funded the same day, or the next business day, providing you don't need to apply with additional information. Plus, when you sign up for a SoFi Personal Loan, you can join its membership platform to take advantage of a host of other perks like career counseling, financial advising and more.

Best for borrowing small amounts

Upstart Personal Loans

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

    6.4% - 35.99%

  • Loan purpose

    Debt consolidation, credit card refinancing, wedding, moving or medical

  • Loan amounts

    $1,000 to $50,000

  • Terms

    36 and 60 months

  • Credit needed

    Credit score of 300 on at least one credit report (but will accept applicants whose credit history is so insufficient they don't have a credit score)

  • Origination fee

    0% to 12% of the target amount

  • Early payoff penalty

    None

  • Late fee

    The greater of 5% of last amount due or $15, whichever is greater

Terms apply.

Pros

  • Open to borrowers with fair credit (minimum 300 score)
  • Will accept applicants who have insufficient credit history and don't have a credit score
  • No early payoff fees
  • 99% of personal loan funds are sent the next business day after completing required paperwork before 5 p.m. Monday through Friday

Cons

  • High late fees
  • Origination fee of 0% to 10% of the target amount (automatically withheld from the loan before it's delivered to you)
  • $10 fee to request paper copies of loan agreement (no fee for eSigned virtual copies)
  • Must have a Social Security number

Who's this for? Upstart usually approves applicants with a FICO score of 600 or higher, but this lender also accepts applicants with no credit history, making it a good choice for someone who needs to borrow a larger amount of money but doesn't have sufficient credit history. Just keep in mind that if you are approved for the loan with a lower (or no) credit score, you may be subject to a higher interest rate.

You can apply for loan amounts as low as $1,000 and as much as $50,000. The $1,000 minimum makes the loan feel a little more accessible for those who don't need to borrow too much money. It's generally best to only apply for what you'll need since borrowing more will result in higher monthly payments.

And while there are no penalties for paying off your balance early, Upstart does charge an origination fee (up to 12% of the amount you borrow) and late fees ($15 or 5% of the past due balance, whichever is greater).

When it comes to repaying the balance, loan terms range from 36 to 60 months, which can be appealing to borrowers who think they may need a longer time horizon to repay the entire loan.

Best for flexible terms

OneMain Financial Personal Loans

  • Annual Percentage Rate (APR)

    18.00% to 35.99%

  • Loan purpose

    Debt consolidation, major expenses, emergency costs

  • Loan amounts

    $1,500 to $20,000

  • Terms

    24, 36, 48, 60 Months

  • Credit needed

    Poor/Fair

  • Origination fee

    Origination fee starting at $25 to $500 or percentage ranging from 1% to 10% (depends on your state)

  • Early payoff penalty

    None

  • Late fee

    Up to $30 per late payment or up to 15% (depends on your state)

Click here to see if you prequalify for a personal loan offer. Terms apply.

Pros

  • Approves applicants with bad or fair credit
  • No early payoff fees
  • Reasonable loan minimums ($1,500) for smaller needs
  • Can pre-qualify with a soft credit check (no hard inquiry right away)
  • ACH funding within 1-2 business days (sometimes same day with proper paperwork)
  • Option to apply for secured loan (with collateral) for potentially lower rates
  • Borrowers can choose the date the bill is due each month
  • Applicants may apply with a co-applicant or, if married, may apply for a loan separately from spouse

Cons

  • High origination fee
  • High interest rates
  • No autopay APR discount
  • No co-signers

Information about OneMain Financial's secured loans:

While not required, applicants who don't qualify for an unsecured personal loan with OneMain Financial may be offered a secured loan. A secured loan lets borrowers who want to use the equity from their car potentially qualify for lower interest that way. Rates, repayment terms and agreements vary by individual and the state in which apply. Learn more by checking for offers on OneMain Financial's site.

OneMain Financial link provided by Even Financial.

Not all applicants will be approved. Loan approval and actual loan terms depend on your ability to meet our credit standards (including a responsible credit history, sufficient income after monthly expenses, and availability of collateral) and your state of residence. If approved, not all applicants will qualify for larger loan amounts or most favorable loan terms. Larger loan amounts require a first lien on a motor vehicle no more than ten years old, that meets our value requirements, titled in your name with valid insurance. APRs are generally higher on loans not secured by a vehicle. Highly-qualified applicants may be offered higher loan amounts and/or lower APRs than those shown above. OneMain charges origination fees where allowed by law. Depending on the state where you open your loan, the origination fee may be either a flat amount or a percentage of your loan amount. Flat fee amounts vary by state, ranging from $25 to $500. Percentage-based fees vary by state ranging from 1% to 10% of your loan amount subject to certain state limits on the fee amount. Visit omf.com/loanfees for more information. Loan proceeds cannot be used for postsecondary educational expenses as defined by the CFPB's Regulation Z such as college, university or vocational expense; for any business or commercial purpose; to purchase cryptocurrency assets, securities, derivatives or other speculative investments; or for gambling or illegal purposes.

Borrowers in these states are subject to these minimum loan sizes: Alabama: $2,100. California: $3,000. Georgia: $3,100. North Dakota: $2,000. Ohio: $2,000. Virginia: $2,600.

Borrowers in these states are subject to these maximum loan sizesNorth Carolina: $9,000 for unsecured loans to all customers, $9,000 for secured loans to present customers. Maine: $7,000. Mississippi: $12,000. West Virginia: $14,000. Loans to purchase a motor vehicle or powersports equipment from select Maine, Mississippi, and North Carolina dealerships are not subject to these maximum loan sizes.

Example Loan: A $6,000 loan with a 24.99% APR that is repayable in 60 monthly installments would have monthly payments of $176.07.

Time to Fund Loans: Funding within one hour after closing through SpeedFunds must be disbursed to a bank-issued debit card. Disbursement by check or ACH may take up to 1-2 business days after loan closing.

Who's this for? OneMain Financial offers loan options that are much less rigid compared to other lenders. Borrowers can take advantage of repayment terms between 24 months and 60 months. This lender generally approves applicants with at least a poor or fair credit score but, like SoFi, you may be able to get a co-applicant on board to improve your chances of approval if you have insufficient credit history.

Another thing that makes this lender a little more flexible is the ability to secure your loan with collateral. Personal loans are generally unsecured. But with secured loans, a borrower essentially uses another asset as a "promise" that if they fail to repay their loan in full, the lender can seize that asset from them as collateral. Not only does OneMain Financial give you this option, but doing so also lets you potentially receive an even lower interest rate. Plus, borrowers can actually choose the date their monthly payments are due.

The origination fee is on the higher end: either a fixed fee between $25 and $500 or up to 10% of the loan amount, depending on which state you live in. And while there aren't any penalties for paying off the loan early, there is a late fee that will run you $30 or up to 15% (depending on your state).

Our methodology

To determine which personal loans are the best, CNBC Select analyzed dozens of U.S. personal loans offered by both online and brick-and-mortar banks, including large credit unions, that come with no origination or signup fees, fixed-rate APRs and flexible loan amounts and terms to suit an array of financing needs.

When narrowing down and ranking the best personal loans for fair or good credit, we focused on the following features:

  • Fixed-rate APR: Variable rates can go up and down over the lifetime of your loan. With a fixed rate APR, you lock in an interest rate for the duration of the loan's term, which means your monthly payment won't vary, making your budget easier to plan.
  • Flexible minimum and maximum loan amounts/terms: Each lender provides a variety of financing options that you can customize based on your monthly budget and how long you need to pay back your loan.
  • No early payoff penalties: The lenders on our list do not charge borrowers for paying off loans early.
  • Streamlined application process: We considered whether lenders offered same-day approval decisions and a fast online application process. 
  • Customer support: Every loan on our list provides customer service available via telephone, email or secure online messaging. We also opted for lenders with an online resource hub or advice center to help you educate yourself about the personal loan process and your finances.
  • Fund disbursement: The loans on our list deliver funds promptly through either electronic wire transfer to your checking account or in the form of a paper check. Some lenders (which we noted) offer the ability to pay your creditors directly.
  • Autopay discounts: We noted the lenders that reward you for enrolling in autopay by lowering your APR by 0.25% to 0.5%.
  • Creditor payment limits and loan sizes: The above lenders provide loans in an array of sizes, from $500 to $100,000. Each lender advertises its respective payment limits and loan sizes, and completing a preapproval process can give you an idea of what your interest rate and monthly payment would be for such an amount.

After reviewing the above features, we sorted our recommendations by best for overall financing needs, quick funding, lower interest rates and flexible terms.

See if you're pre-approved for a personal loan offer.

Note that the rates and fee structures advertised for personal loans are subject to fluctuate in accordance with the Fed rate. However, once you accept your loan agreement, a fixed-rate APR will guarantee interest rate and monthly payment will remain consistent throughout the entire term of the loan. Your APR, monthly payment and loan amount depend on your credit history and creditworthiness. To take out a loan, lenders will conduct a hard credit inquiry and request a full application, which could require proof of income, identity verification, proof of address and more. 

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.
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