How to Compare Low Income Personal Loans
Getting approved for a low-income personal loan can have a profound impact on your finances, especially if you get a good rate.
Let’s discuss how to compare and choose a personal loan that fits your needs so you can avoid predatory and unfair lenders.
#1. Competitive Interest Rates
Although you may worry about finding competitive interest rates for low-income personal loans, it is possible if you shop around.
For example, you may want to try different lending markets such as CashUSA or others that provide access to multiple lenders.
If you only work with one lender at a time, you won’t know what other rates are available to you.
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#2. Funding Time
If you are trying to secure funding quickly, compare and verify the average disbursement time for the lenders you consider borrowing from.
You don’t want to go through the entire loan application process only to discover you won’t receive the money when you need it.
Many lenders can send funds within a business day or two, so make sure the lender you plan on working with can work within that timeframe.
#3. Loan Terms
If you look at the loan providers we outlined at the beginning of this article, and you will see a variety of terms and loan amounts.
Lower-income loans may not offer as much flexibility as more robust lenders, but you should still shop around for the best terms that fit your budget.
For example, if you want to finance a $5,000 purchase, you will need to prioritize either a lower interest rate or a lower monthly loan payment.
Shorter loan terms will generally result in a higher monthly payment, saving money on interest over the long term, but if you have inconsistent cash flow, you may opt for a lower monthly payment and longer loan term.
Fortunately, you have options, so you should do what is best for your budget and what you can afford.
#4. Online Experience
Most online lenders offer a reliable and user-friendly online experience that makes comparing rates and understanding terms straightforward.
If you find an outdated website or vague description of what the lender offers, that may indicate you should look elsewhere for a loan.
When you apply for a loan online, there are generally two different methods: working with a direct lender who issues the loan like a bank or a broker/online marketplace who will build a profile for you and compare rates from many lenders.
Both options have pros and cons, but if you have the opportunity to compare a variety of rates without a hard credit check, it generally makes sense to do so.
The reason behind comparing rates when possible is that you will come out with a much more accurate estimate of loans you qualify for, whereas one lender may or may not offer favorable terms.
#5. Customer Service
Receiving helpful and courteous customer service is essential when you are applying for financing.
Most lenders and marketplaces offer various customer service solutions, including phone numbers, online chats, and email support.
Customer service representatives can clarify the application and help expedite the approval process by informing you on which documents they are missing or how you should enter your income information.
Again, if you begin to apply for a loan on a website that does not offer any customer service solutions, you may want to look elsewhere.
The last thing you want is to fill out an application with your personal data online to find there is no customer support available.
How to Get a Low-Income Personal Loan (Step-by-Step)
Although low-income personal loans are not an official lending category, these steps will help maximize your chance for approval from a reputable lender:
Step 1: Compare Lenders
The first step in getting a loan with a lower income is making a plan and understanding which lenders are available to you and how you want to approach the loan application process.
Before submitting an application, understand if you are working with a bank, credit union, direct online lender, or marketplace. There are pros and cons to each choice, so it pays to learn the differences.
- Banks: Banks generally are the strictest regarding lending criteria such as credit score and income thresholds. However, they may allow cosigning.
- Credit Unions: Credit Unions have a reputation for charging lower interest rates with more flexible loan terms since they are not-for-profit businesses. Depending on how much you want to borrow, they will still have higher income thresholds than other lenders.
- Online Direct Lenders: Direct Lenders such as Avant will issue a loan to you directly or through a financial partner. These lenders specialize in working with borrowers with diverse financial backgrounds and can be a good resource for higher approval rates. So, those on the market for a no credit history loan, short-term loan, personal loan with no income verification, or direct deposit loan should look for a direct lender.
- Loan Marketplaces: Marketplaces such as CashUSA or Personalloans.com do not issue loans directly; instead, they take your borrower profile and match it with a group of affiliate lenders to see if you meet their borrowing criteria. These marketplaces are an excellent tool to see what terms and rates you may qualify for without requiring a hard credit inquiry until you choose the best lender for you.
Step 2: Review Loan Terms
Once you settle on the lender you want to work with, it’s time to discuss the loan terms and interest rate.
Lower-income borrowers may be seen as a riskier choice by the lender, resulting in higher interest rates. To get the best chance at a favorable interest rate, check on your credit score and provide as much detail as you can regarding your income and ability to make your payment.
You may even want to secure another part-time position because lenders will take this extra income and factor it into your overall earnings.
Step 3: Pick the Loan Option that Helps You the Most
Following step two, if you are approved for a loan, choose the option that fits your needs and budget the best. Remember, if you want a lower monthly payment, you end up paying more in interest over the long term, but you will have a predictable monthly payment that is easier to afford.
You may also be able to refinance or consolidate this loan in the future if your income increases or your other expenses go down.
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Step 4: Complete Online Application
Up to this point, you may have gone through the pre-qualification steps, but when you submit your application, the lender will conduct a hard credit check to see if you are eligible for the loan you chose.
If you are applying for a relatively large loan, you should refrain from applying for other lines of credit for a couple of months.
Multiple credit inquiries may be a red flag to the lender, so only submit them when you know you need new credit.
Step 5: Receive Your Funds
If the lender approves your application, you will need to provide your bank account information if you haven’t already.
The lender will not be able to supply the funds until you provide your information, so do so as soon as you are approved.
As long as you are working with a reputable lender, you should have the funds in your account within 1-3 business days.
Step 6: Make Monthly Payments
Once you have the funds in your account, your job is to make your monthly payments until you close out the loan.
It’s vital that you don’t miss your payments, so ensure you can fit them into your budget before closing on the loan.
A couple of useful practices are building an emergency fund to save 2-3 months’ worth of payments in case you switch jobs or have unexpected expenses pop up.
Start a new job or increase your income. You may be able to consolidate your low-income loan into a new personal loan with even more favorable terms.
Alternatives to Low Income Loans
Low-income personal loans generally charge higher interest rates with more limited terms depending on your financial situation, so let’s discuss some common alternatives for credit lines:
- Payday Loans: Payday loans are notorious for their astronomical interest rates and fees. Payday loans don’t require a credit check, but they often carry interest rates that can reach 500% or more. Cash advance loans and pawnshop loans are similar and are best avoided.
- Credit Cards: Credit cards can be a powerful tool or a dangerous liability, depending on how you use them. If you need regular access to credit and are comfortable with a rotating line of credit, then the flexibility provided by credit cards is second to none. However, if you believe that you will carry a balance for a long time, you may be stuck paying interest upwards of 30%. In this case, a personal loan may be a better fit for your finances.
- Secured Personal Loans: Secured personal loans can be a strong in-between option for lower-income households if they are comfortable putting up some of their assets for collateral. “Secured” means that the borrower is saying to the lender that they will guarantee their loan with rights to assets, including their car, bank account, computer equipment, etc. Secured loans often have a lower interest rate than other unsecured loans because the lender has less risk.
- Local Bank Personal Loan: Local banks may be easier to work with because they will be more familiar with the source of your income and may be able to offer more favorable terms than a national bank.
- Local Credit Union Personal Loan: Credit unions require a nominal membership to join and grant access to their services. If you can get a loan from a credit union, your loan officer may spend more time constructing a loan that fits your budget.
Can I Get a Personal Loan If I am Unemployed or Self-Employed?
Creditors prefer to see a reliable source of income when constructing a loan, but if you are either self-employed or unemployed, you may have options.
If you are self-employed, be prepared to show your tax returns and any other available proof of income to get the best chance of being approved. Certain lenders will work with you as long as you meet an income threshold.
Other creditors may work with you, even if you are unemployed. For example, some lenders will issue credit if your household income is high enough or if you receive other income, including alimony, child support, or even a combination of contract work and self-employment income.
What Is the Minimum Income Required for a Personal Loan?
Unfortunately, there is not a standard income threshold that all lenders require to issue a personal loan, but there are certain factors you can use to your advantage and improve the likelihood of approval.
First, make sure your credit score is as high as it can be before applying. Various credit bureaus and banks have reputable tools to give you a free report on your score and which factors affect you the most.
Next, check your overall debt to income ratio. If you have outstanding bills that you can afford to pay, knocking these out will make your ratio better and help you get a more favorable rate.
Summary: Low Income Personal Loans
Bottom Line: Best Low-Income Personal Loans
Hopefully, you can see that there are plenty of loan options for households with lower incomes. Regardless of which loan provider you choose, make sure to compare rates and terms whenever you can so you know you are getting the best deal.
Once you know a general ballpark of your rates, clean up any excess debts where possible and boost your credit score to put yourself in the best financial situation.
To select the best low-income personal loans, analysts reviewed 20+ lenders that offer loans with easy eligibility requirements and an online experience. Our unbiased evaluation included reviewing the lender’s security, online and mobile applications, credit score and income requirements, fees, rates, and funding times. Read our strict editorial guidelines and rating methodologies for personal loans to learn more about the honesty of our review process.