If this is not an emergency, the first step to get a loan with a bad credit is to improve your credit score so you can comfortably afford the loan you need.
Start by making on-time payments, especially on credit cards; and reduce the balance on cards to under 30% of the credit limit allowed. Finally, don’t apply for any new credit.
The combination of those three factors – on-time payment; low credit utilization; no new credit applications – account for 75% of your credit score. It’s not unrealistic to think that making an effort on those three fronts could raise your score by 100 points in as little as 3-6 months.
If, however, this is an emergency and your application for a loan has been turned down repeatedly due to poor credit or no credit, it might help to ask a bank or credit union loan officer for an in-person interview to convince them you are creditworthy.
If you get that interview, be sure you are prepared with documents that prove you’re a good risk. Lending institutions love stability. If you can show them that you’ve lived in the same house (or city) and worked the same job (preferably for the same employer) for several years, it definitely helps your case.
Not all of these documents are required, but if you have a poor credit history, anything you can produce that demonstrates you have become responsible with your money will be considered a plus. You should also expect the lender to ask questions about your credit history that may reflect negatively on you. Things like:
The last question would seem to violate anti-discrimination laws, but it is required by the government so that it can keep data on lending to minorities and make sure they aren’t routinely turned down or charged excessive fees.
The purpose of an in-person interview is to convince the lender that if you receive a loan, you can comfortably make payments. Any evidence you have that can support that fact – especially proof that you paid off loans on assets like a car, motorcycle or boat in the past – are going to work in your favor.
There are some outlets for people looking for bad credit loans, but it definitely will take some shopping around to find interest rates and repayment terms you can afford.
The big national and regional banks stick tightly to credit score ratings so don’t bother with that unless you have taken time to clean up your credit report and raise your score.
If you don’t have time to improve your score, find a loan from the sources listed below.
This is dangerous from a relationship standpoint, but makes a lot of sense from a financial and loan-anxiety standpoint because it should be easier to get approval and a break on terms.
Family and friends aren’t likely to put you through a grueling qualifying process and probably would cut you some slack on the interest rate charged compared to what you would get from lending institutions that make bad credit loans.
However, if you’re thinking about borrowing from friends and family make sure to factor in what happens if you default. Not repaying a loan to a relative or close associate can poison relationships in ways that go far beyond a bad credit report.
Treat any loan from someone you know just as if it were an important business transaction between you and a stranger. That means it should be formalized with clear documentation and legally recorded. To avoid future problems, create a written contract that includes the loan terms and interest rate, and what will happen if you cannot repay the debt.
If borrowing from a friend or relative is not possible, you can still approach someone you know with good credit about co-signing on for a bad credit loan.
With a qualified co-signer, the lender will set the loan terms based on the credit score of the person with good credit, who will then be equally responsible for repayment. All payment information will be recorded on both your credit report and your co-signer’s, so if you default on the loan, or you’re late with payments, you both suffer. However, if you make timely payments, your own score will improve, making it easier to obtain future loans without a co-signer.