Maybe you missed a payment on a credit card you don’t use often. Or you closed a credit card account without thinking about what it meant for your credit utilization ratio. Or you went on a credit card application spree, lured by the promise of attractive sign-up bonuses.
Whatever happened, it wasn’t great news for your credit. It’s not terrible news — your FICO score remains between 620 and 660, the commonly accepted range for “fair credit.” But you’d have done things differently if you’d known what would come next.
Your misfortune is compounded by the fact that you need credit again, like yesterday. Fortunately, there are lenders who will give you a loan, even with a fair credit score. You just have to choose the best one for your needs.
The Best Personal Loans for Fair Credit
These personal loan companies lend to people with fair credit or a spotty credit history — people just like you.
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Each of these loan providers does at least one thing really well, whether it’s offering unusually long-term loans or your choice of installment loans or lines of credit. The best overall provider is our pick for delivering the greatest value for the widest range of would-be borrowers, but other lenders may be better, depending on your circumstances.
Best Overall: Upstart
Upstart is a loan broker that makes it easy to compare competitive loan offers from multiple lenders — increasing your chances of finding the ideal fair-credit loan for your needs.
Upstart’s underwriting process is laid-back, allowing some applicants with credit scores below 600 on the FICO scale to qualify. You do pay a price for leniency, though. Depending on your credit score and chosen lender, you must pay an origination fee as high as 8%.
- Up to $50,000 loans for qualified borrowers
- Minimum credit score of 580 to qualify
- Repayment terms as long as 60 months
- No prepayment penalties
- Funding available as soon as the next business day, depending on your lender
Best for Credit Lines: Upgrade
Upgrade is the best lender on this list for applicants seeking unsecured personal lines of credit.
Choose from one of four user-friendly credit card options:
- The classic Upgrade Card, a no-frills product that doesn’t earn rewards
- The Upgrade Cash Rewards Card — earn unlimited 1.5% cash back when you make payments
- The Upgrade Bitcoin Rewards Card — earn unlimited 1.5% back on payments in Bitcoin
- The Upgrade Triple Cash Rewards Card — earn unlimited 3% cash back on eligible auto, home, and health purchases
Upgrade also offers unsecured personal loans in installment form if that’s what you prefer.
- Seamless application process
- Loans as large as $50,000, subject to credit approval
- Competitive interest rates on loans and credit lines
- Consolidate debt by direct payments to your creditors from Upgrade
Best for Debt Consolidation: Happy Money (The Payoff Loan)
Formerly known as Payoff, Happy Money offers a straightforward debt consolidation loan aptly named The Payoff Loan. That makes it the best choice for fair-credit borrowers looking to combine high-interest credit card debts into one lower-interest balance.
Happy Money pays off your credit card bills directly so you don’t have to. Its underwriting standards are relaxed — you can qualify with a FICO score as low as 620. And it offers user-friendly features like autopay to reduce your risk of missing a payment.
- Up to $40,000 for qualified buyers
- Loan terms as long as 60 months
- Origination fee of up to 5%, depending on your exact credit score
Best for No Origination Fees: Discover Personal Loans
Discover Personal Loans is notable for waiving origination fees for all borrowers, making it one of the few fair-credit lenders to forgo this upfront payment voluntarily.
While Discover isn’t as transparent about credit qualification requirements as competitors like Happy Money, it does consider a range of credit and noncredit factors in underwriting decisions. On balance, that’s good news for borrowers with blemishes on their credit reports.
- Relatively low minimum income requirement ($25,000 annual income)
- Direct payoff option for debt consolidation loans
- Up to $35,000 loans, depending on creditworthiness
- Loan terms ranging from 36 to 84 months
Best for Fast Funding: Avant
Avant offers the fastest turnaround between approval and funding of any fair-credit lender on this list. Under normal circumstances, you can expect to receive your loan’s proceeds one business day after approval, and same-day funding isn’t out of the question.
If you need money now to cover bills coming due tomorrow or the next day, that’s a big deal. Plus, Avant offers loans as small as $2,000 — perfect for lower borrowing needs.
- Loans as large as $35,000 if you qualify
- Optional (if you qualify) credit-building credit line alongside your loan for $1,000 in additional borrowing power
- Approval on credit scores as low as 580
- May forgive late payment fees in some cases
- No hard credit check on your application
Best for User Experience: Rocket Loans
Like its sister company, Rocket Mortgage, Rocket Loans uses technology to improve applicants’ and borrowers’ experiences.
If you’re already thinking ahead to your likely three- to five-year relationship with your personal lender, Rocket Loans has you covered with an intuitive borrower dashboard, ample self-help resources, and robust customer support that’s available evenings and weekends.
- Seamless loan application process
- Qualifying credit scores as low as 580
- Up to $45,000 loans, depending on your creditworthiness and eligibility
- Same-day funding if you qualify
- No hard credit check to prequalify
Methodology: How We Select the Best Personal Loans for Fair Credit
We use several different factors to assess the quality of personal loan companies for people with fair or average credit, then narrow down the list of suitable options to build this list. Each factor relates in some way to these loans’ underwriting processes, key features, and overall cost.
Credit Score Requirements
When we talk about “fair credit,” we’re talking about FICO credit scores between 620 and 660. Some definitions expand the fair-credit range above and below these bounds, but this 40-point window is the sweet spot.
All the lenders on this list accept applications from people within the fair-credit range. That’s a must-have. But we prefer those that take applications from people with bad credit too — meaning FICO scores below (and in some cases well below) the 620 mark. That way, if your credit deteriorates further before you apply, you know you’ll still have a chance of approval.
A bigger loan isn’t necessarily better. The most important thing is that you can afford the monthly payment.
Still, if you need to get a larger loan to pay off a big debt load or finance a major home improvement project, it’s nice to have the option to go higher. That’s why we prefer lenders with broad borrowing ranges, from modest to quite large.
The longer you have to pay off a loan, the more interest you’ll pay over its lifetime. On the bright side, longer-term loans have lower monthly payments, all else being equal.
As such, we give preference to lenders that offer broad term ranges. The best offer loans with terms as short as 12 to 24 months and as long as 60 to 84 months.
Most of the lenders on this list offer installment loans only. Personal lines of credit, which function like credit cards and have more flexible draw and repayment options, are less common.
Still, because we’re big fans of borrower choice, we prefer lenders that offer both installment loans and lines of credit.
Your credit score heavily influences the interest rate on your personal loan or line of credit. The higher your score, the lower your interest rate, all other things being equal.
But there’s some variation on this point between lenders. Since we believe borrowers should pay as little for credit as the market will bear, we prefer lenders that offer extremely competitive rates for people with less-than-perfect credit.
Personal Loans for Fair Credit FAQs
Many borrowers don’t even realize you can get a loan if you have less-than-stellar credit, so it’s common to be uncertain about the process. These answers to frequently asked questions can help clear things up.
What Counts as Fair Credit?
The commonly accepted definition of “fair credit” is a FICO score between 620 and 660. FICO scores above 660 generally denote good credit or better, while scores below 620 are considered subprime or impaired.
Some of the lenders on this list cut off borrowers with scores below the traditional fair-credit threshold of 620. Others lend to people with moderately impaired credit, some down to FICO scores of 580 or even 560.
Can You Get a Personal Loan With Fair Credit?
Yes, you can get a personal loan with a fair credit score. All the lenders on this list make loans to people in the fair-credit range, and some even lend to people with bad credit.
The catch is that your credit score directly impacts your interest rate and loan terms. With fair credit, you’re unlikely to qualify for the sorts of highly favorable loans available to people with good or better credit. You’ll pay a higher interest rate, have a lower borrowing limit, and possibly face a shorter repayment period as well.
Should You Wait to Apply Until Your Credit Score Improves?
If you want a better rate or more favorable terms and don’t need the money right away, improving your credit score before applying could be a smart move. But if you don’t have the luxury of waiting to apply for your loan, you have to play the hand you’re dealt.
The good news is you’re likely to qualify for a personal loan of some kind. The question is whether the terms are acceptable to you. But note that the fact that you’re likely to improve your credit score if you take out a small personal loan and pay it back over time may offset any potential downsides.
What Is the Interest Rate on a Personal Loan for Fair Credit?
That depends on the lender, the loan terms, and where your credit score falls. It could also depend on specific items on your credit report, such as a bankruptcy your score has recovered from but still appears on your report.
Regardless, your interest rate is likely to be higher than if you had excellent credit. Expect to pay a fair-credit penalty of at least 3 percentage points, possibly more.
How to Choose the Best Personal Loan for Fair Credit
If your credit isn’t as good as you’d like but doesn’t qualify as truly impaired, you’re not totally frozen out of the personal loan market.
Far from it. You have plenty of options. They’re not as amazing as those available to people with good credit, but you should be able to find a loan that suits your needs.
As you look, consider what you want and need from your loan:
- How much you need to borrow
- The monthly payment you can afford
- How long you want to carry the loan
- What you need the loan for
Your answers to these questions will further narrow your list. If you still have a decision to make, focus on value-added features like customer service availability, digital account usability, and forbearance options. Then go with a loan — and a lender — that makes your life as easy as possible.
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