What companies give loans with bad credit
Top Lenders for Bad Credit Borrowers

A low credit score makes securing financing more challenging but not impossible. An entire industry now focuses on lending to subprime borrowers with damaged credit. If you have bad credit, don’t assume quality loans are out of reach.

Specialized lenders design products specifically for borrowers with troubled histories. They provide accessible credit-building opportunities unavailable from traditional banks. I’ve compiled this guide on top places to consider for bad credit personal loans and financing.

what companies give loans with bad credit

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Should You Borrow with Poor Credit?

Bad credit loans rightfully carry higher interest rates to offset risk – but are not inherently predatory products. They can serve as tools for credit rehabilitation under the right circumstances.

Borrowing makes the most financial sense when you use funds in ways that stabilize or strengthen your situation. This way, you can focus on repaying the debt through consistent on-time payments. Some examples of responsible borrowing reasons with poor credit include:

  • Paying off higher-interest credit cards or past-due debts
  • Financing job training or continuing education
  • Covering an income disruption like emergency repairs or medical bills
  • Purchasing reliable transportation for work
  • Funding a necessary move or childcare expenses

Avoid borrowing for discretionary purchases outside your budget. But if you have an important need without reachable savings, bad credit lenders do expand options.

Now let’s review well-regarded national lenders willing to work with damaged credit profiles.

Top 5 Picks for Bad Credit Loans

Upgrade Personal Loans

Upgrade offers personal installment loans from $1,000 to $50,000 for borrowers with credit scores as low as 560 (below the 620 subprime threshold)10. They base eligibility on credit factors beyond your score, approving 23.7% more applicants than competitor lenders11.

Upgrade personal loan features include:

  • Fixed rates from 5.94% – 35.97% APR
  • Terms of 2 – 7 years
  • No application fees; low origination fees from 1% – 6%
  • Free credit health tools to help build your score
  • Option to add a cosigner for lower rates

Upgrade also issues credit lines and runs Upstart, their lending platform for thin credit files. Overall, they provide multiple ways for subprime borrowers to access fair loan rates.


  • Appropriate for very low credit scores starting at 500
  • Free credit monitoring services included
  • No early repayment fees
  • Responsive customer service


  • Origination fee of 1% – 6% of loan amount
  • Late fees from $10 or 5% of unpaid dues
  • Available in 35+ states but not nationwide

For their innovative underwriting, flexibility of loan use cases, and credit health features, Upgrade earns our top pick.

Upstart Personal Loans

As mentioned, Upstart comes from the same parent group as Upgrade. But Upstart itself focuses specifically on borrowers with limited credit history using alternative data for decisions.

They incorporate your education, earning potential, and employment history alongside traditional credit factors. This helps Open Up Personal Loans for purposes like:

  • Paying off high APR credit cards
  • Refinancing student loans
  • Funding relocation expenses
  • Launching a new business venture

Upstart personal loan details include:

  • Fixed APRs from 7.37% to 35.99%
  • Loan terms of 3 or 5 years
  • Loan amounts from $1,000 to $50,000
  • No application fees; origination fees from 1% to 8%

The average first-time Upstart borrower has a 576 credit score and 18 open accounts12 – firmly in subprime territory. 85% have credit card debt and 33% hold existing personal loans, suggesting refinancing opportunities13. For those with limited credit history, Upstart loans remain competitively priced without requiring credit record perfection.


  • The site is easy to use with fast decisions
  • Educational focus improves loan options
  • Lower rates are possible through cosigners
  • Also offers auto loan refinancing


  • Origination and admin fees
  • Late fee of $15 or 5%
  • Not available in IA, WV, or VT

Thanks to their smart consideration of earning potential beyond just scores, Upstart makes our #2 pick.

Universal Credit Bad Credit Loans

Universal Credit positions itself as a one-stop-shop for financing needs whether your credit shines bright or looks tarnished. They offer loans catered specifically to borrowers below a 580 credit score.

What makes Universal Credit unique? Alongside personal loans, they provide tools to help improve your credit through responsible borrowing. Services include:

  • Online financial education programs
  • Customized credit evaluation tools
  • Ongoing credit profile support
  • Quarterly reevaluation for improved loan options
  • Rewards for consistent on-time payments

This mix of counseling and active monitoring helps position loans as an instrument for credit repair.

Universal Credit personal loan options feature:

  • Fixed interest rates from 35.99% – 299.99% APR
  • Loan amounts from $250 – $5,000
  • Loan terms of 12-48 months

Borrowers praise their rehabilitation lending model. But such high ongoing interest does underscore the “credit damage” pricing subprime borrowers pay.


  • Actively promotes credit-building
  • Helps improve options over time
  • Educational resources to improve financial literacy


  • Very high APRs exceeding 300%
  • Low maximum loan amounts
  • Limited to personal loans only

For the dual focus on credit improvement alongside lending, Universal Credit stands out as our #3 pick. Just expect rates reflecting real risk.

Avant Personal Loans

Avant positions itself as a fierce advocate for everyday borrowers overlooked by major banks. They aim to look beyond scored-based lending decisions to the reality of applicants’ financial situations.

Avant offers funding from $2,000 – $35,000 through fixed-rate installment loans. While minimum requirements include a 550 credit score and $2K monthly income, decisions emphasize your entire earning ability14.

Key details on Avant personal lending options:

  • Amounts from $2,000 – $35,000
  • Repayment terms of 2 – 5 years
  • Fixed annual interest rates from 9.95% – 35.99%
  • Administrative fee from 0.5% to 4.75%

Note the wide rate spread – while possible to secure interest under 20%, you could also draw rates over 30%. Read all disclosures carefully!


  • Loans up to $35K fit more needs
  • Focus on realistic repayment capacity
  • Clear contract terms and admin processes


  • Variable interest rates by applicant
  • Origination fees on top of APR
  • Requires steady full-time employment

If you like added transparency from fine-print disclosures, Avant delivers. Their larger balances accommodate more use cases as well.

Lightstream Personal Loans

Lightstream positions itself apart as a lender that places minimal weight on credit scores, instead weighing your income, assets, and current obligations. While part of the larger SunTrust group, Lightstream issues unsecured loans with fixed interest rates from 5.49% to 16.49% APR – making them an outlier from other picks.

Unexpectedly low rates come with a catch, however. Lightstream loans require:

  • Minimum annual income of $50,000
  • Very good debt-to-income ratio
  • Collateral availability if credit scores fall below 660

So while branded as an option for bad credit borrowers, Lightstream still expects stable earnings. Features include:

  • Minimum loan amount of $5,000
  • Terms up to 12 years fixed rates
  • (Min FICO 660; with collateral min FICO 600)
  • No application or origination fees

Through asset-based decisions, Lightstream issues remarkably affordable unsecured financing for borrowers with higher incomes but troubled credit records. Expect more traditional underwriting for scores below 660.


  • Much lower interest rates from 5.79%
  • Flexible terms up to 12 years
  • Unsecured loans possible down to 600 FICO


  • Requires strong income documentation
  • Collateral is often still necessary
  • Large minimum $5K loan amount

Lightstream opens access to predictable installment credit – an important step towards financial health. Just expect a thorough review of your earnings and obligations.

Conclusion & Key Takeaways

Bad credit borrowing remains very possible through specialized subprime lenders like Upgrade, Upstart, Universal Credit, Avant, and Lightstream. They look carefully at your full financial profile, not just scoring models when running decisions.

While higher interest rates do accompany poor credit, certified financial counselors confirm paying off unmanageable high-interest debts with a consolidated personal loan often makes mathematical sense15. Refinancing credit cards with 29% APR at a 19% fixed rate loan saves money over time by stopping ballooning interest charges. Then as your score gradually recovers, you can pursue lower cost products.

If your credit stands damaged from financial mistakes understand future financing is not necessarily blocked off. Be wary of predatory lenders with hidden fees or intolerable terms, of course – but also avoid simply being paralyzed by shame or fear. Responsible borrowing, balanced by financial education, helps people repair harm and forge healthier money management habits over time.

In this guide, we covered:

  • When borrowing despite poor credit scores can prove useful
  • Upgrade’s loans from $1K – $50K tailored specifically to credit below 560
  • Upstart using income potential factors to expand credit access
  • How Universal Credit combines lending with credit rehab programs
  • Avant’s loans from $2K – $35K weighed by realistic ability models
  • Lightstream’s focus on income and assets over scored underwriting

The above lenders provide workable financing access when you need it most. Stick to tidy contracts with predictable repayments – and over time, continue progressing towards prime market options through demonstrated good financial behaviors.

If you have any other questions on navigating credit lending, please do not hesitate to ask!

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why are bad credit loan rates so much higher than prime rates?

A: Default risk gets priced into subprime products. With low/no collateral and shorter income history, lenders consider bad credit applicants riskier. By charging interest rates covering assumed losses from defaults, lenders offset riskier borrowers with prime borrowers’ gains. Hence the wide interest spread.

Q: Are bad credit lenders predatory towards borrowers?

A: Any lender charging undisclosed or deceptive fees counts as predatory. However most bad credit lenders instead operate transparently but at higher costs matching their customer risk profiles. They expand access albeit at understandably elevated rates. Read contracts closely and calculate total costs before borrowing.

Q: Will a bad credit personal loan actually help improve my credit?

A: Yes – if you make all your payments on time. Personal loans show as installment accounts on your credit record. Financial scholars confirm that borrowers consolidating high-rate debts into fixed payment loans helps raise scores over time by demonstrating good payment behaviors16.

Q: What credit score is considered “bad” by most lenders today?

A: You generally enter subprime territory below a score of 620, with deep subprime falling under 580. Different lenders set their own threshold minimum scores for applicants. Upgrade finances scores as low as 560 while Lightstream draws the line at 600 for unsecured loans. Know each lender’s standards.


By QueenB

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