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Key takeaways

  • Explore various options, including online lenders, credit unions, and peer-to-peer platforms, to find the best loan terms for a poor score.
  • Focus on improving your credit score through timely payments and reducing your debt, to access better borrowing opportunities in the future.
  • Consider alternative financing options such as secured loans, borrowing from friends and family, or cash advance apps.

Loans for a 500 credit score can be challenging to secure, but it’s not impossible. Plenty of lenders offer loans to borrowers with poor scores. Be prepared for higher borrowing costs – increased interest rates and fees – plus shorter repayment terms. You may have to go online or look at alternative funding sources, but yes, you can get a loan with a 500 credit score.

In this article, we will cover 500 credit score loan options, what to look out for, and how to get the best personal loans possible.

Top loan options for 500 credit score borrowers

Securing a loan with a poor credit score can be challenging, but there are still viable options available. Borrowers in this situation often need to explore alternative lending avenues that cater to those with less-than-perfect credit. Below are some top loan options for 500 credit score borrowers:

online lender

Online lenders

Many online personal loan lenders have flexible criteria, a low minimum credit score requirement, and offer fast funding. A 500 credit score personal loan direct lender might not even conduct a credit check, choosing to rely on other factors, including income, employment history, and debt-to-income ratio, rather than your score. While this can help you when you have a low credit score, it’s risky. Lenders who do not consider scores usually charge higher interest rates and fees to offset the increased risk.

Secured loans

Secured loans are a practical option for borrowers with poor credit scores. These loans are backed by collateral, such as a car, savings account, or other valuable assets. The presence of collateral reduces the lender’s risk, making them easier to qualify for. Secured loans often come with lower interest rates and more favorable terms compared to unsecured loans. However, if you fail to repay the money as agreed, the lender has the right to seize your collateral to recoup losses.

Payday alternative loans

Payday alternative loans (PALs) are small, short-term loans offered by certain federal credit unions as a safer and more affordable option compared to traditional payday loans. These loans are designed to help borrowers who need quick access to cash but may have difficulty qualifying for other types of funding due to poor scores. PALs typically have lower interest rates (capped at 28%) and fewer fees than other bad credit loans and come with more reasonable repayment terms. To qualify for a PAL, you do need to be a member of the credit union for at least one month and meet certain income requirements.

Co-Signer loans

A final option is to find a co-signer with a good score. Adding a co-signer reduces the risk for the lender, so they are more likely to approve the loan with favorable terms. The catch is, if you fail to make payments, the co-signer is responsible for the money, and their score will also suffer. Before you add a co-signer, make sure both of you understand the ramifications and have a repayment plan in place.

How credit scores affect loan rates

Credit scores play a crucial role in determining the interest rates and terms of a loan. Lenders use scores to assess the risk of lending to a borrower. A higher score indicates low risk, leading to more favorable terms and lower interest rates. Conversely, a lower score signals high risk, resulting in higher interest rates and stricter terms.

A 500 rating falls in the poor range on the FICO scale. A score this low is very high risk and indicates a poor credit history. It is below the minimum score required by most financial institutions and may disqualify you from borrowing.

If you are able to borrow money, you will most likely have to pay higher interest rates and additional fees, such as origination fees. The added charges help lenders compensate for the increased risk of default, but you will end up with higher fixed monthly payments and total interest costs.

To avoid the extra charges and decrease the risk for the lender, look for a co-signer or add on collateral for a secured loan.

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Compare offers to find the best loan

When seeking a 500 credit score loan, it’s important to compare multiple offers to ensure you get the best possible terms and conditions. The easiest way to do this is to prequalify. Prequalifying lets you compare multiple lenders and see potential rates and terms without hurting your score. Try to prequalify with at least three lenders.

Once you have your potential offers, compare the APR, loan amounts, repayment terms, fees, and consider the lender’s reputation to ensure you get the best deal.

Annual percentage rate (APR)

The APR represents the total yearly cost of the loan. It includes both the interest and fees, expressed as a percentage. It provides a more comprehensive picture of the loan’s total cost. Try to secure a loan with a lower APR so that you’ll pay less over the life of the loan.

Loan amounts

How much you can borrow will vary by lender and loan type. Most lenders have minimum and maximum amounts they give out. Look for a lender who will give you what you need but not more. Borrowing too much can lead to unnecessary debt, while borrowing too little might not solve your financial problem.

Repayment terms

Repayment terms dictate how long you have to repay the loan and the frequency of payments. Longer repayment terms typically mean lower monthly payments but higher overall interest costs. Shorter terms result in higher monthly payments but lower total interest paid. Assess your financial situation and choose a repayment schedule that fits your budget. Consider lenders who offer flexible terms in case your situation changes.

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Loan fees

All loans come with fees. Common fees for loans for poor scores include:

  • Origination fee
  • Processing fee
  • Late payment fee
  • Prepayment penalty

These additional costs can significantly impact the cost of the loan. When comparing offers, pay close attention to these fees and factor them into your decision. Avoid lenders with excessive or hidden fees, as these can quickly add up and exacerbate financial strain.

Lender’s reputation

Research each lender’s credibility by reading customer reviews and checking ratings from reputable sources like the Better Business Bureau (BBB). A lender with a good reputation is more likely to offer transparent terms and provide reliable customer service. Avoid lenders with a history of poor customer experiences or predatory lending practices.

Alternative financing options

If you’re having difficulty securing a 500 credit score loan, alternative financing options may be worth considering. These alternatives can provide the funds you need hopefully without the high interest rates and strict terms common with traditional lenders.

Borrowing from friends and family

If you can borrow from friends and family, this can be one of the easiest and cheapest solutions. Chances are you can borrow money without interest or fees and with a more flexible repayment schedule. Before you go this route, draw up a loan agreement. Put in writing the loan amount, repayment schedule, and any interest or fees (if applicable) to ensure both parties are on the same page.

Credit unions

Credit unions are member-owned financial institutions that often offer more favorable loan terms compared to traditional banks. They tend to be more lenient with their lending criteria and offer a variety of loans (not just PALs), usually with lower interest rates and fees. Many also offer a product called a credit builder loan, which can help you improve your score. You most likely will have to be a member to apply. Joining a credit union may require a small fee, but the benefits can be substantial.

Cash advance app

Cash advance apps let you borrow a small amount – up to $750 – without considering your score. Instead, you typically connect the app to your bank account, where you get direct deposits. The lender then views your transaction history and how much you earn to determine how much to advance you. Certain apps only advance the wages you’ve already earned, while others are more lenient. They typically have no credit check, no interest, and no mandatory fees.

Peer-to-peer lending platforms

Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platforms are exactly what they sound like. You find individual investors who are willing to lend you money. P2P lenders may have more flexible requirements and the competitive nature of these platforms can lead to better interest rates and terms. When using a P2P lending platform, ensure you fully understand the terms and conditions, and be mindful of any fees associated with the service.

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Are personal loans for a 500 credit score worth it?

Deciding whether a personal loan is worth it depends on the cost of borrowing, loan terms, and what you need the money for. Many personal loans for low scores come with higher interest rates and fees, which can result in a significant financial burden over time. If the loan will cost too much and add to your debt burden, it’s probably not a good idea.

If it’s for an urgent need and there are no other alternatives, the high cost may be worth it. A personal loan is certainly going to be better for you than a payday loan. If it’s not an urgent need and borrowing money now could hurt you financially in the future, it’s best to wait. Work on improving your score so that you can secure a loan with more favorable terms later on.

What can you do if you’re denied a personal loan?

If you’re denied a personal loan, it’s essential not to panic. There are several steps you can take to improve your chances of securing a loan in the future or finding alternative financing.

Understand the Reason: Request an explanation from the lender. Knowing why you were denied can help you address specific issues.

Check Your Credit Report: Obtain a copy of your credit report and review it for errors or negative marks that could be impacting your score. You can get a free copy once a year from each of the three major credit bureaus via Dispute any inaccuracies with the issuing bureau.

Improve Your Credit Score: Work on improving your score. It will take a little time, but is well worth the effort.

  • Pay down debts
  • Make timely payments on all bills
  • Reducing your utilization ratio to below 30%
  • Keep old accounts open and active
  • Only apply for new accounts when necessary

Small, consistent efforts can lead to significant improvements over time.

Consider Alternative Lenders: Explore other lending options, such as credit unions, online lenders, or peer-to-peer lending platforms, which might have more flexible requirements.

Seek a Co-Signer or co-borrower: If possible, find a co-signer or co-borrower with a good score and positive payment history to help you qualify. A co-borrower will have equal access to the funds.

Build a Savings Cushion: In the meantime, focus on building an emergency savings fund to reduce your reliance on loans for unexpected expenses.

By taking these steps, you can strengthen your financial profile and increase your chances of loan approval in the future.

Frequently asked questions

Prequalifying for a personal loan means that a lender has conducted a preliminary assessment of your finances and done a soft pull on your credit. Soft pulls have no impact on your score. This process gives you an estimate of the loan amount, interest rate, and terms you might qualify for. It’s a useful step to gauge your loan options and compare before formally applying.

Yes, some lenders do consider giving personal loans to borrowers with a 500 score, though it is more challenging. Look into online lenders, credit unions, and peer-to-peer platforms. Many loans for poor scores will come with higher interest rates, extra fees, and stricter repayment terms to mitigate the risk. You may need to provide collateral or secure a co-signer to improve your chances of qualifying for best personal loans and securing more favorable terms.

Payments on credit card bills and installment loans are almost always reported to the three national credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. All on time payments that are reported will help improve your score. If you’re wondering if your lender reports payments, ask them. Most payday lenders do not report payments – but they may report a failure to pay. Landlords and utility companies typically do not report payments. Certain companies will report rent, utilities, and other monthly bills to help raise your rating. This is a special service and usually comes with a small fee.

No, avoid payday loans. These loans come with extremely high interest rates and short repayment terms, which can easily trap you in a cycle of debt. While they might seem like a quick solution for immediate cash needs, exploring alternatives like credit unions, personal loans, or borrowing from friends and family is often a safer and more cost-effective choice.

Bottom line

Securing a loan with a 500 credit score can be challenging, but it’s doable. Look into online lenders and credit unions to see if you can find a loan that fits your budget. Before you borrow money, know your options, compare offers, and find the best match for you.

If the loan costs too much, it may not be in your best interest financially. Look into alternatives like getting a co-signer or borrowing from friends and family. Or if you can wait and take the time to improve your score. With a higher score, you’ll have better borrowing options in the future.

About the author

Rachel Alulis

Rachel Alulis has been the lead editor for Moneyfor’s credit cards team since 2015 and for the financial rewards team since 2023. Before joining Moneyfor, Rachel worked at USA Today and the Des Moines Register. She then established a successful freelance writing and editing business specializing in personal finance. Rachel holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and an MBA.