A personal loan is when you borrow a sum of money and agree to pay it back (with interest) in fixed, monthly installments over time.
Unlike a home mortgage or car loan, personal loans can be taken out for several different reasons, like:
- Consolidating debt
- Paying medical bills
- Buying a car
- Financing a wedding or vacation
- Covering emergency expenses
- Paying tax debt
- Covering education costs
When you apply for a personal loan, one of the first questions a lender usually asks is what you do for a living. But what if you don’t have a job? Can you still get a personal loan?
Yes! Even if you’re unemployed, you might still get approved for a personal loan. But the qualifications and approvals for personal loans vary by lender.
Keep reading to learn more about your options, how you can get a personal loan without a job, the pros and cons of personal loans and what alternatives you might want to look into.
What Is the Usual Minimum Income To Get a Personal Loan?
While it’s possible to get a personal loan without having a job, some lenders will have minimum income requirements.
In most cases, the more money you borrow, the higher the minimum income requirement. Lenders might also change their minimum income requirements based on location, taking the cost of living into account.
Many lenders offer low-income loans, which are specifically built for people who don’t have a high income to show. For example, these loans might have minimum income requirements of around $20,000 – $35,000 per year.
How To Qualify for a Personal Loan Without a Job
Qualifying for a personal loan without a job is possible because most lenders consider multiple factors when evaluating a borrower’s creditworthiness.
Before applying for a personal loan, you can use certain strategies to help increase your chances of getting the loan without a job. These tips can help show a lender you’re a low-risk applicant, giving them the confidence that you’ll be able to make your payments on time.
Check your credit report
When you apply for a personal loan, lenders will check your credit report to make sure you’re a reliable borrower and will make every effort to pay back your loan. A good credit history is crucial to qualifying for a personal loan without a job. On the other hand, any issues with your credit can hurt your odds of loan approval.
You can check your credit report and report anything you see that’s incorrect.
Include every income source
You can still get a personal loan without a job, but lenders will often want to see that you have some source of regular income. When you apply, be sure to include everything from all of your income sources, such as:
- Social security
- Veterans Affairs (VA) benefits
- Maintenance (alimony) and child support
- Investment dividends and account interest
- Retirement account distributions
Apply with a co-signer or joint loan
Some lenders will offer the option of a joint personal loan (two borrowers taking the loan out together, with equal responsibility to repay the debt) or allow someone to co-sign your loan. Both a joint loan and adding a co-signer to the application can help boost your chances of getting the loan approved if you don’t have a job.
Unlike a joint loan, a co-signer is not taking out the loan themselves. Instead, they assume full responsibility for paying the loan back in the event the borrower defaults on their payments. A co-signer to consider might be a family member with a higher income and excellent credit.
Apply for less money
Lenders are almost always stricter when qualifying borrowers for larger loans. So the more money you want to borrow, the higher the income and credit requirements. If you want to get approved for a personal loan without a job, think about applying for a smaller loan to increase the likelihood of getting your application approved.
Decrease your debt-to-income ratio
In addition to asking about your income and credit, lenders will also check your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. Your DTI ratio is the amount of debt you have each month relative to how much money you earn. A high DTI ratio is a red flag for lenders, indicating that you already have significant debt obligations. A lower debt-to-income ratio can make you a more appealing applicant for a personal loan.
Lenders will have their own DTI ratio requirements for issuing a personal loan, though some may ask for a DTI ratio of 36% or less. If your DTI ratio exceeds your lender’s maximum, there’s still hope for getting a personal loan if you decrease your DTI ratio by paying off some of your debts.
What To Consider for Personal Loans Without a Job
When you apply for a personal loan, there are certain things you’ll want to consider.
Personal loans can vary in length from a couple of months to several years. A loan with a shorter repayment period will have a higher monthly payment, but it will usually be easier to qualify for and have a lower interest rate than longer loans, based on the risk to the lender.
When you apply for a loan, consider your ability to make the monthly payments. Also, think about which repayment terms best suit your specific needs.
When you apply for a loan, one of the first things most lenders do is check your credit. Credit inquiries can either be soft pulls or hard pulls.
Generally, a soft pull is used in situations where you’re just getting pre-approval, or an employer is conducting a credit check. Soft credit pulls don’t negatively impact your credit score.
With personal loans, lenders will typically pre-qualify you for a loan using a soft pull. When you’re ready to proceed with applying for the loan, the lender will do a hard pull. A hard pull will appear on your credit history and affect your credit score temporarily.
Lenders offer borrowers money with the expectation of repayment – with interest. The annual percentage rate (APR) is the yearly interest rate the lender charges on the amount of the debt.
Personal loans may also come with one-time fees when you take out the loan (either a percentage of the loan or a set dollar amount), but the interest rate typically makes up the most significant cost. Interest rates vary by lender, loan length, loan amount, prime rate, your creditworthiness and other factors.
Personal loan rates can differ drastically by lender, but you can expect to pay somewhere in the range of 5% – 36% in annual interest.
To make sure you can afford your loan, do the math to see what your approximate monthly payment might be. For example, if you want to borrow $10,000 for one year at a 15% interest rate, your monthly payment would be just over $900 (not including any fees).
What Are Alternatives for Personal Loans Without a Job?
If you’re looking for a loan but aren’t currently employed, you may benefit from looking into some other options to get you the financing you need. These might include:
- Using your credit card (you can also request an increased limit if you need), but be aware that this is a cash advance with significant pitfalls
- Asking family or friends for a loan
- Finding ways to increase your income (some examples include becoming a rideshare driver, selling items online, renting a room in your house)
- Talking to a local credit union to see what solutions they can offer
- Exploring a cash-out refinance or home equity loan (if you own your home and have enough equity in it)
You Still Have a Chance Without a Job
While having a job can make getting a personal loan easier, there are still plenty of opportunities for you to get the green light if you don’t have one. Steady income from another source, good credit and a low DTI ratio can put you in a good position to earn a lender’s approval.
Nevertheless, every borrower, loan and lender is different. And you might even decide that getting financing from a personal loan alternative is a better fit for you.