10 best personal loans for fair credit

Our goal here at Credible Operations, Inc., NMLS Number 1681276, referred to as "Credible" below, is to give you the tools and confidence you need to improve your finances. Although we do promote products from our partner lenders who compensate us for our services, all opinions are our own.

When you have bad credit or minimal credit history, you may be aware that borrowing money can be more expensive — or that your loan request might not be approved. And having good credit can decrease your borrowing costs — you’ll likely get lower interest rates and avoid some fees. But you may be unsure how having fair credit affects your ability to get a personal loan.

Let’s look at some lenders that offer the best personal loans for fair credit and show you how to get one. We’ll also cover some alternative options if a personal loan isn’t right for you.

Best personal loans for fair credit: Check these lenders

Here’s a list of some of the best personal loan companies to consider if you have fair credit. The following seven lenders are  Credible partners.

Discover

If you desire a longer loan term — up to seven years — and the option to change your mind within a 30-day time frame, Discover personal loans might be worth considering.

Minimum credit score: 660

Loan terms: Three to seven years

Loan amount: $2,500 to $35,000

Good for: Borrowers who want a longer repayment period

LendingPoint

LendingPoint could be a good borrowing option if you have a subprime to near-prime credit score (580 to 659) and want to take out a small personal loan — as little as $2,000.

Minimum credit score: 580

Loan terms: Two to five years

Loan amount: $2,000 to $25,000

Good for: Borrowers who have "subprime" to "near-prime" credit scores

LightStream

If you have a fair credit score that falls just beneath the good credit score range (660 or higher) and want to take out a larger personal loan, LightSteam could be a good choice.

Minimum credit score: 660

Loan terms: Two to seven years

Loan amount: $5,000 to $100,000

Good for: Borrowers who want to borrow a larger amount of money

Marcus by Goldman Sachs

Marcus charges no fees for its personal loans and offers the option to defer one monthly payment after you’ve made 12 or more on-time consecutive payments in full.

Minimum credit score: 660

Loan terms: Three to six years

Loan amount: $3,500 to $40,000

Good for: Borrowers who don’t want to pay any fees

OneMain Financial

You may need to visit a branch to get the money, but if you want your funds as soon as the same day, OneMain Financial could be a good fit for your needs. You can apply to take out a $1,500 to $20,000 personal loan.

Minimum credit score: None

Loan terms: Two to five years

Loan amount: $1,500 to $20,000

Good for: Borrowers who want to borrow a smaller amount of money and need money immediately

Prosper

If you want to take out a $2,000 to $40,000 personal loan that has no prepayment penalty, Prosper’s peer-to-peer lending platform could be a good option.

Minimum credit score: 640

Loan terms: Three or five years

Loan amount: $2,000 to $40,000

Good for: Borrowers who want to consolidate debt or make home improvements

Upstart

If you want to take out a $1,000 to $50,000 personal loan and have credit that’s on the lower side of fair, Upstart considers factors other than credit score, including your education and work history.

Minimum credit score: 580

Loan terms: Three to five years

Loan amount: $1,000 to $50,000

Good for: Borrowers who have below-average credit but strong education or work backgrounds

You can compare personal loan rates from these lenders through Credible.

Other lenders to consider

The following three lenders are not Credible partners, so you won’t be able to easily compare your rates with them on the Credible platform. But they may also be worth considering if you’re looking for a personal loan with fair credit. 

Citizens Bank

Citizens Bank is a very well-established financial institution. But unless you have good to excellent credit, you may not have access to the bank’s best personal loan rates.

Minimum credit score: Does not disclose

Loan terms: Three, four, five, six or seven years

Loan amounts: $5,000-$50,000

Fees: None

Good for: People with good to excellent credit

Earnest

Earnest is an online platform that matches you with different lenders so you can compare offers. But you won’t be eligible if you live in AL, DE, KY, NV, or RI. 

Minimum credit score: 680

Loan terms: Three to five years

Loan amounts: $5,000 to $75,000

Fees: Does not disclose

Good for: People who want to compare lenders before applying for a loan

Laurel Road

Laurel Road offers an autopay discount, and it doesn’t charge any fees on its personal loans. 

Minimum credit score: 660

Loan terms: Three to five years

Loan amounts: $5,000 to $45,000 (depending on loan type)

Fees: None

Good for: People who want to borrow money without paying fees

Methodology: How Credible evaluated lenders

Credible evaluated the best personal loan lenders for fair credit based on factors such as customer experience, minimum fixed rate, maximum loan amount, funding time, loan terms and fees. Credible’s team of experts gathered information from each lender’s website, customer service department and via email support. Each data point was verified to make sure it was up to date.

What is a personal loan for fair credit?

A personal loan for fair credit is one that has a minimum credit score requirement that falls within the fair credit score range. It works the same as other personal loans. Typically, no collateral is required, the lender issues you a lump sum payment and you pay it back in fixed monthly installments. The only difference is that a lender may charge you more in interest and fees because of your credit score.

When you take out a personal loan for fair credit, you can use it to pay for most expenses. Personal loans are commonly used for emergencies, home improvement projects or high-interest debt consolidation. By comparison, when you take out a mortgage or auto loan, you can only use it for a specific purpose. 

What’s a fair credit score?

Are you wondering where your credit score falls in the range of poor to good? The FICO credit scoring model can provide you with an answer. It has five credit score ranges:

  • Poor: Below 580
  • Fair: 580 to 669
  • Good: 670 to 739
  • Very Good: 740 to 799
  • Excellent: 800 to 850 

If you have a poor credit score, it may be difficult to get approved for a personal loan unless you have a cosigner. Your chances improve if you have fair credit, though you’ll likely have to pay a higher interest rate. The best rates usually go to borrowers who have good to excellent credit scores (670 and more).

Your FICO score is based on five key factors — information that’s found on your credit reports. Credit scoring models weigh each factor differently.

  • Amount owed (35%): This represents the total amount of your credit accounts, including student loans, personal loans, mortgage loans, credit card debt and other types of debt.
  • Payment history (30%): Your payment history shows whether you’ve made on-time payments. Late payments can negatively affect your score.
  • Length of credit history (15%): The length of your credit history factors in the age of your oldest and youngest accounts, along with the average age for all your accounts.
  • New credit (10%): This category factors in how recently and how often you apply for new credit. If you apply too often, this might signal to a lender that it’s more of a risk to lend you money.
  • Credit mix (10%): Having a variety of different credit accounts can be beneficial for your score, but having all types of loans isn’t a necessity.

Why credit scores are important

Your credit score is important because it’s one of the factors lenders use to assess the likelihood that you’ll repay your loan. 

If you don’t meet the lender’s minimum credit scoring requirements, this increases the chances of having your application for credit denied. In addition, if you’re approved, your credit score helps lenders decide what your interest rate and fees (if any) will be.

How much does a personal loan for fair credit cost?

To make a profit, lenders charge borrowers interest and fees. How much your personal loan will cost depends on the amount you borrow, plus the interest and fees the lender charges you. 

Usually, the higher your credit score, the more likely you are to get a lower interest rate or more favorable loan repayment terms. This can help you pay less than someone with a lower credit score over the life of the loan.

What are fair credit personal loan rates?

Personal loan interest rates vary, depending on many factors. But it’s likely a lender who offers rates ranging from 6.99% to 24.99%, for example, gives its lowest rates to people with good to excellent credit. And those with poor credit would likely get the highest interest rates.

Since fair credit puts you in the middle of the credit score range, you might expect an interest rate of in the neighborhood of 16% — about halfway along the lender’s rate range. Meanwhile, a borrower with poor credit might qualify for the highest rate, 24.99%.

Based on those projected interest rates, if both you and the poor-credit borrower took out $10,000 personal loans with a loan term of five years and no fees, each would pay different total amounts. With your fair credit, you would pay $14,590 over the life of the loan. The borrower with poor credit would pay $17,607. In this situation, your fair credit would save you $3,017.

See what rates your credit score could put in reach, and compare rates from multiple lenders using Credible.

What are some personal loan fees?

Fees are another way lenders make money off personal loans. Types and amounts of fees can vary from lender to lender, but here are some common personal loan fees: 

  • Late payment fees: If you pay your personal loan after the agreed-upon due date, your lender may charge you a late fee.
  • Origination fees: Some lenders charge you an origination fee to underwrite and process your loan; this amount is usually deducted from your loan amount.
  • Prepayment penalties: When you pay your loan off early, it reduces the amount of interest your lender receives. To recoup some of the interest you would have paid during the lifetime of your personal loan, some lenders may charge you a prepayment fee.
  • Returned check fees: If you make your monthly loan payment with a check and it bounces, you might have to pay a fee.

If you have good or excellent credit, you might qualify to get some of these fees waived. However, if you have fair or poor credit, a lender may charge you fees because it’s taking on more risk.

What are the pros and cons of personal loans for fair credit?

Like all financial products, personal loans have advantages and disadvantages. When you’re considering taking out a personal loan for fair credit, make sure you fully understand the benefits versus the costs.

Pros

  • Lower average interest rate than credit cards: Since personal loans have lower average interest rates than credit cards, using a personal loan versus a credit card might help you save money on interest charges.
  • Harder to seize your assets if you default: Personal loans are generally unsecured, meaning you don’t have to risk any property as collateral. If you default on a personal loan, the lender won’t be able to seize your assets, unless a court awards it a judgment against you. 
  • Quick access to funding: Often, you can receive your loan funds as soon as the same day or the next business day. This could be beneficial if you need the money for an emergency expense.

Cons

  • High maximum APR: Some personal loan lenders have annual percentage rates (APRs) as high as 35.99%. This can greatly increase your borrowing costs.
  • Defaulting can damage your credit score: If you can’t afford to repay your personal loan, defaulting will cause serious damage to your credit score, making it harder for you to qualify for future loans.
  • Fees: High origination fees can reduce the amount of your loan and increase your borrowing costs.

How to compare fair credit personal loans and lenders

To get the best rate and terms, you should compare personal loan lenders, looking at these key factors: 

  • APR: When comparing personal loans, don’t just look at the interest rate. Review the lender’s minimum and maximum annual percentage rates. Since this rate takes into account fees and other loan costs besides just interest rate, it can give you a better idea of your true borrowing costs.
  • Fees: If possible, try to avoid lenders that charge high origination fees or prepayment penalties — both make your loan more expensive.
  • Repayment terms: Choose the loan term that best fits your borrowing needs. While you might be able to reduce your monthly loan payments by choosing a longer loan term, the downside is that you’ll likely pay more in interest over the life of the loan.
  • Speed of funding: If you need quick access to the loan funds, choose a lender that has a track record of issuing funds the same or next business day.

How to get a personal loan for fair credit

If you’ve decided a personal loan is best for you, follow these six steps.

  1. Check your credit: To see if you meet the lender’s minimum credit requirements, review your credit report and check your credit score.
  2. Compare rates and loan offers from multiple lenders: If you want to get the best deal available, review lender websites for loan amounts offered, fees, income requirements and other qualifications.
  3. Prequalify: When you prequalify for a loan, the lender usually does a soft credit check, which has no impact on your credit score. Afterward, you’ll get an estimate of what your APR and loan terms could be. Prequalifying with multiple lenders can help you compare personal loan lenders faster.
  4. Choose the one that best fits your needs: Once you’ve compared rates and terms, choose the lender that has terms that match your unique borrowing needs.
  5. Apply: Apply for your loan online or in person (if available) — you’ll be asked for personal information, such as your income, employer, date of birth and Social Security number.
  6. Receive funds: If your loan is approved, your funds may be directly deposited into your account the same or next business day.

Alternatives to personal loans for fair credit

If you’ve decided that taking out a personal loan isn’t right for you, here are some alternative borrowing options to consider.

  • Credit unions: Instead of applying for a loan with an online lender or bank, look into applying for a loan with your local credit union. Because these institutions are member-owned and not-for-profit, you may be offered a better interest rate and more flexible repayment terms. You’ll need to meet the credit union’s membership criteria in order to join the credit union and apply for a loan.
  • Friends and family: Ask a friend or family member if they’ll let you borrow money. The lender might charge you minimal or no interest. Make sure to get the terms of the agreement in writing, plus pay back the loan on time to avoid harming your relationship.
  • Peer-to-peer lending: Unlike a traditional personal loan lender, peer-to-peer (P2P) personal loans are funded by individual investors. Some P2P lenders offer personal loans for fair credit.
  • Home equity loans: If you have enough equity in your home, a lender might let you borrow against it at a cheaper rate since the loan is secured by your home. Be careful with this option — home equity loans can be risky because a lender can foreclose on your home if you default on the loan.

When searching for alternatives, avoid payday lenders. Although many payday loan lenders won’t check your credit score, APRs can be as high as 400%.

How to improve your credit — and possibly get a better personal loan deal

If you want to improve your chances of qualifying for some of the best personal loans, take some steps to boost your credit score.

  1. Review your credit report for accuracy: To ensure your reports are accurate and complete, review them annually. You can visit AnnualCreditReport.com to get your credit reports for all three major credit bureaus: TransUnion, Experian and Equifax. Dispute any incorrect and incomplete information with each credit bureau that lists it to eliminate its negative impact on your credit.
  2. Pay down debt: Since the amount of debt you owe accounts for 35% of your credit score, paying it down may have a positive impact on your score.
  3. Pay your bills on time: Paying your credit accounts and other bills on time can help you establish a positive payment history. In addition, it helps you avoid serious damage to your score for making late payments or defaulting on your loans.

Prequalify with as many lenders as possible to get an estimate of your rate, loan terms and loan amount. If you apply for a personal loan and it gets denied, a lender must give you a reason why. This will let you know what you need to work on to increase your approval odds.

You can see prequalified personal loan rates from multiple lenders in just two minutes using Credible.