- How To Pre-Qualify For A Personal Loan: See Your Rate Without Affecting Your Credit Score
- What you need to pre-qualify for a personal loan
- Pre-qualification is fast and easy
- Why you want to pre-qualify for a personal loan
- Applying for a loan triggers the hard inquiry
- Where to find personal loans
- Guide to Lenders
- Read more:
- Why You Should Avoid No-Credit-Check Loans
- What Is a No-credit-check Loan?
- Who Offers No-credit-check Personal Loans?
- Why No-credit-check Personal Loans Are Dangerous
- 1. They’re Extremely Expensive
- 2. They Can Trap You In Debt
- 3. They Don’t Build Credit
- 4. They’re More ly To Be Scams
- Alternatives to No-credit-check loans
How To Pre-Qualify For A Personal Loan: See Your Rate Without Affecting Your Credit Score
A personal loan can be a great way to consolidate credit card debt or finance large purchases with a predicable monthly payment.
But with interest rates ranging from single digits all the way up to 30% or more, you don’t want to tarnish your credit score applying for multiple loans only to discover you’re not qualified for an affordable rate.
Fortunately, more personal loan lenders are making it easy to pre-qualify for a personal loan without affecting your credit score.
When you pre-qualify for a personal loan, a lender can show you your best interest rate and monthly payment amount without needing to do a hard inquiry on your credit report. (The concern, of course, is that too many hard credit pulls will cause your score to drop, making it harder to get approved for credit in the future.)
With an actual interest rate and payment quote, you’ll be able to see whether the loan fits into your budget and make an educated decision before you borrow the funds.
What you need to pre-qualify for a personal loan
When you find a personal loan lender you want to work with (I’ll discuss lenders in-depth below), you’ll need to provide them with some information about your overall financial profile.
They’ll ly ask for any paperwork regarding your debt (car loan, mortgage, student loans, etc.), your income, and any assets you might have. This helps them get to know you financially.
Pre-qualification is fast and easy
Personal loan pre-qualification should always be free—if a lender wants to charge you a fee, run—and you can provide all the information online or over the phone.
As I mentioned before, there’s no hard pull on your credit report, but there is a soft pull. To get the most accurate numbers, lenders will have to know a little about your credit history, just nothing too in-depth.
Soft pulls actually occur more than you probably realize. You know all those annoying credit card offers you get in the mail? The card company ly did a soft pull to see if you even qualify for the card.
Sometimes, employers even do a soft credit pull to see of you’ve got a responsible credit history. Another common example of a soft credit inquiry is when you check your own credit score.
You can check your own credit score as often as you’d but it will never appear on your report as a hard inquiry.
Why you want to pre-qualify for a personal loan
Pre-qualifying for a personal loan is the very first step in figuring out what loan options work best for you. It’s an overall picture of where you stand.
However, since there’s not a hard pull on your credit report, the numbers lenders give you are subject to change—although lenders’ algorithms are getting so good, it’s unly that the change will be significant.
That leads us to the difference between being pre-approved versus pre-qualifying.
Applying for a loan triggers the hard inquiry
Before you request a personal loan pre-qualification, make sure that you’re beginning a pre-qualification process and not the process of beginning to apply. A lender that offers qualification will always say something “see your rate without affecting your credit score”.
Although the personal loan application will look very similar to a pre-qualification form, you may have to go into more detail regarding your financial and employment history. Typically, you’ll have to click a consent form before the lender does a hard credit inquiry, but this fact can get lost in the fine print.
Finally, keep in mind that pre-approval and pre-qualification can sometimes mean different things. When you apply for a mortgage, for example, a pre-approval is a more comprehensive step than a pre-qualification and may involve a hard credit pull. When it comes to personal loans, the two terms may be used interchangeably, so always read the fine print.
Where to find personal loans
Getting back to personal loans, now that you know what pre-qualifying is, you probably want to know where to look for lenders. Check out Money Under 30’s list of the best personal loan lenders, or go directly to the sites below:
This company is a little different from the others on the list because it’s not an actual loan provider. Fiona (formerly Even Financial) is basically an aggregator that finds the best loan for you your situation and needs.
We’ve partnered with them because we think they’ve got a great selection of loans, optimized for the individual. Check out our review to see if they have something for you.
Visit Fiona and find the optimal personal loan your individual needs and situation.
Credible offers a simple, one-page application that will then show you your best rates the information you provide. Credible offers personal loan rates starting at 3.99% APR (with autopay)*.
Learn more about Credible and the loans they have available or read our Credible review.
Guide to Lenders
Guide to Lenders let’s you pre-qualify for a personal loan from dozens of different lenders. You answer a few questions about your income, your credit score, what you’re looking to use the loan for, etc. and you’re given rates from a variety of reputable lenders. Learn more about GuidetoLenders and their personal loans.
Prosper is a marketplace lending network, meaning your loan will come from dozens of individual investors rather than from a bank.
There are pros and cons to this model, but one of the largest pros is that a site Prosper may be able to approve borrowers with credit issues that a typical bank will reject.
You can read about David’s experience using Prosper or our review of Prosper, or skip directly to Prosper and request pre-qualification.
SoFI is another lender to consider that offers pre-qualification and is offering some great interest rates in the personal loan space. SoFI can offer some very competitive APRs to borrowers with excellent credit.
You should also check them out if you’re a recent graduate with a good job but don’t yet have a robust credit report. Sofi can do some things in their underwriting that can help compensate for a short credit history.
Read more about SoFI in our review or visit SoFI to get pre-qualified for a personal loan now.
Related: Compare Money Under 30’s recommended personal loans.
Pre-qualifying for a personal loan can show you what your best options are, and, in most cases, it’s 100% free to do so. All you need to know is some basics about your finances and you can see what personal loans offer the best rates.
Why You Should Avoid No-Credit-Check Loans
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When you need money fast and have damaged credit, ads for no-credit-check loans can be tempting. They may seem the perfect solution to your financial problems, but no-credit-check loans are very expensive and can leave you in a worse position than you started.
Here’s why no-credit-check loans are dangerous, and several better types of personal loans and options you can use if you need cash.
What Is a No-credit-check Loan?
A no-credit-check loan is exactly what it sounds . Most loans require a credit check so lenders can see how well you’ve managed past debt. They then use this information to help qualify you for a loan and establish your interest rate.
No-credit-check loans, on the other hand, are given out your ability to repay the loan. For instance, lenders can check your bank account statements or past pay stubs to see how much you earn with each paycheck and how much loan you can afford.
Some no-credit-check lenders also require you to pledge collateral—a personal asset you use to secure a loan and one the lender can repossess if you fail to meet the repayment terms.
For example, you might need to leave something of value with a pawn shop to get a pawn shop loan. You’ll then get your item back when you repay the loan.
Auto title loans are another type of no-credit-check loan where you’ll leave your car’s title (and possibly even a set of keys) with the lender until you pay off the loan.
Who Offers No-credit-check Personal Loans?
No-credit-check loans aren’t as common as traditional loans; however, you can still apply for one through various institutions, including:
- Payday loan stores. This is what most people think of when they hear no-credit-check personal loan. Payday loans generally last until your next paycheck, charge extremely high interest rates and offer you the ability to roll your current loan into a new one if you can’t pay (for an even higher price, of course).
- Auto title lenders. Lenders who trade you an expensive loan for your car’s title can be found online, or they may have storefronts in your community.
- Online lenders. Some online lenders don’t specifically offer payday loans or auto title loans, but they still offer no-credit-check loans.
- Pawn shops. Pawn shops sell items, and they give out short-term pawn loans too. They’ll usually give you a ticket with your cash, which you’ll need when you repay the loan in order to get your pawned item back.
Why No-credit-check Personal Loans Are Dangerous
Although no-credit-check personal loans are convenient, they can hold you back or even be dangerous in some cases. Here are four things you should know before applying for one.
1. They’re Extremely Expensive
If you don’t have great credit, you’ll have to pay more for any loan than someone with better credit, unfortunately. If you’re comparing no-credit-check loans with regular loans for bad credit, though, it’s a difference of whether you want a high rate, or a sky-high rate.
Many loans for bad credit charge APRs of around 30%. With payday loans, for example, you’ll often be charged around 400% APR—over 10 times as high. Those numbers can seem abstract, so it’s helpful to see what it actually means for your wallet at the end of the day. Here are what three different $500 loans will cost if you pay them back over a six-month period:
The difference between having good credit and relying on payday loans in this case is $706.25 more in interest—more than you even borrowed in the first place. It’s high costs these that many people consider criminal, which is why some states prohibit payday loans.
Because payday loans only last until your next payday, term lengths are generally about two weeks, not six months. However, there are cases where you can end up paying that high APR for even longer (even six months or more as in the above example), which brings us to our next point.
2. They Can Trap You In Debt
Payday loan lenders know these loans are expensive, and that there’s a decent chance you won’t be able to pay. So they offer a handy trick: If you can’t pay your loan back, you can roll it up into a new loan, so you’ll essentially get an extension for an additional fee.
This means you’ll have an even bigger hurdle to clear next time. And if you weren’t able to pay it off the first time, it’s even less ly you’ll be able to two weeks down the road when it’s a larger balance.
According to a study from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, “The majority of all payday loans are made to borrowers who renew their loans so many times that they end up paying more in fees than the amount of money they originally borrowed.”
3. They Don’t Build Credit
Another way that payday loans and other no-credit-check loans trap you into a debt cycle is that they don’t help you build credit. Since they don’t check your credit, they generally don’t report your payments (even on-time ones) to the credit bureaus.
Since you’re not building credit, this means that you’re more ly to have to rely on no-credit-check lenders going forward, too. It’s another way they make you more reliant on them, versus being able to apply for loans that you can pay off more easily in the future.
4. They’re More ly To Be Scams
Not all no-credit-check loans are scams—or at least true scams, in the sense that they rob you of your money right away. But, since people who rely on no-credit-check loans are often more desperate in the first place, they’re commonly targeted by thieves advertising these products.
To safeguard against this, it’s a good idea to never send someone any money before you receive yours. Thieves using these scams also commonly ask for unusual forms of payment, as opposed to using collateral, before they grant you a loan, such as a prepaid debit card. And if you think you’ve been a victim of a scam, there are ways to protect yourself or resolve it.
Alternatives to No-credit-check loans
Lenders that offer no-credit-check loans earn their living by hoping you don’t do your research to find other options. However, you’re never pinned in, and you do have other choices, including:
- Saving up and building credit. This isn’t a choice for everyone, but if you don’t need the money immediately, it’s better to save up and build your credit first. Not all credit-building options take a long time, and by saving, you can earn interest instead of paying it to someone else.
- Seeking help from a charity. If you’re having trouble paying your bills, you don’t have to resort to a no-credit-check loan. There are a lot of options around the country that can help, and you can use 211.org to get connected to them.
- Getting help from a credit counselor. The nonprofit National Foundation for Credit Counseling is another resource that offers assistance from a live counselor in helping to find a solution for your financial and credit problems. This is a low-cost, or even free, service.
- Utilizing payday loan alternatives. Many credit unions offer payday loan alternatives, which are short-term loans for a small amount of money but at an affordable rate. You’ll need to join a credit union to be eligible to apply, so check to see if any credit unions in your community offer this option first.
- Applying for secured personal loans. Although title loans and payday loans are technically secured, you can usually find secured loans from other lenders at cheaper rates.
- Finding a co-signer. If you have a friend or family member with better credit and who trusts you, you can consider asking them to co-sign on your loan for you.