Personal Loans

What It Takes to Get a Low-Income Personal Loan

Low-income personal loans are available to qualified borrowers. Learn which lenders offer low-income loans and what it takes to qualify.
A young man uses his mobile phone to apply for a personal loan
By Kevin Payne
Updated on: February 4th, 2022

Securing a personal loan with a low income is not impossible. Although most lender underwriting requirements include a minimum income level, it’s not the only factor that goes into qualifying for a loan.

Even if you have a low income, you may still qualify for a personal loan. A low-income personal loan is a standard personal loan for consumers who fall below a defined income level.

Learn more about low-income personal loans, how to qualify for one, and the pros and cons of these types of loans.

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What Is Considered Low Income?

What is considered low income depends on who you ask. There is no defined income level across the board that is considered low income.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) sets income limits to determine eligibility for special government programs. These limits take into account median incomes, family size, and location. There are three definitions of low income according to HUD:

  • Low-income: Families whose incomes do not exceed 80% of the median family income for the area.
  • Very low-income: Families whose incomes do not exceed 50% of the median family income for the area.
  • Extremely low-income: Families whose incomes do not exceed the greater of 30% of the median family income for the area or the federal poverty guidelines.

Another measuring stick used by the federal government to determine low-income families is the federal poverty level (FPL). The government defines low-income households that are less than double the FPL based on your household size.

How do lenders determine what is low income?

If you’re interested in a personal loan, the only definition of low income that matters is the lender’s, who may not rely on government definitions or calculations. Instead, most lenders have a minimum income requirement in their underwriting standards. If you fall below that, you are probably considered low income.

Other lenders specialize in personal loans for individuals with lower incomes. In that case, you can have what most lenders consider a low-income level and still qualify for a personal loan.

 

How to Get a Low-Income Personal Loan

While income is still a factor lenders consider when evaluating borrowers, it’s not the only thing they consider. Below are some tips that may increase your chances of getting approved for a low-income personal loan.

 

Improve your credit

Lenders consider your creditworthiness when determining eligibility for loans. Creditworthiness is simply how willing a lender is to trust borrowers to pay back a debt. Improving your credit score can do wonders in the eyes of lenders.

Start by checking your credit reports for errors. You can access your credit report for free once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com. If you find any errors, you can dispute them with the credit bureau.

A simple way to improve your credit score is to make on-time full payments each month. If you have trouble remembering to pay your bills, take advantage of automatic payment options available from vendors. Your payments are reported to the credit bureaus, which can help to raise your credit score over time.

Lower your debt total

One factor that lenders often consider is your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. DTI compares your recurring monthly debt payments versus your monthly income. A lower DTI ratio may signal to lenders that you have a good handle on your debt and can afford to make loan payments.

The best way to lower your DTI is to pay off existing debt. Continue to make all of your monthly debt payments. If you have extra funds available, prioritize paying off debt. This can help lower your DTI. Plus, it may free up more funds each month to use accordingly.

Boosting your income and lowering your debt improves your debt-to-income ratio, which is the percentage of your monthly debt payments divided by monthly income. Not all lenders have strict DTI requirements, but a lower ratio shows that your current debt is under control, and you can take on more.

Increase your income

Another way to improve your chances of getting a loan is to increase your income. You can do this by asking for a raise at your current job, picking up extra shifts or overtime hours, or changing careers. Adding a side hustle or part-time job is another way to boost your income short term.

Only ask for what you need

It might be tempting to borrow more money than you actually need since you’ll eventually pay it back. However, the more money you borrow, the harder it will probably be to qualify for a loan with low income. Lenders consider this risky behavior. Don’t forget that taking out a larger loan also means higher monthly payments, which may leave you stretched financially.

Use a cosigner

If you are having trouble qualifying for a personal loan on your own, consider using a cosigner with excellent credit to qualify. A cosigner is an individual who takes on financial responsibility for your loan if you can’t make your payments. Typically, people choose someone they have close relationships with, like a parent, sibling, another family member, or a friend. When using a cosigner, make sure they understand what they are getting into beforehand. Also, make sure you can afford to pay back your loan, so you don’t put your cosigner in a bind or damage the relationship.

Personal Loans for Consumers With Low Income

Best Egg

Minimum income: Not disclosed

Loan amounts: $2,000 to $50,000

Best Egg offers personal loans up to $50,000, which can be used to meet various needs like debt consolidation, home improvements, credit card refinancing, travel, special events, adoptions, and more.

 

Upgrade

Minimum income: Not disclosed

Loan amounts: $1,000 to $50,000

Upgrade offers flexible personal loans borrowers can use to consolidate debt, refinance credit card debt, make home improvements, and make major purchases. Borrowers can choose to have a fixed monthly payment that won’t change or pick your loan term.

 

Upstart

Minimum income: Have a regular source of income

Loan amounts: $1,000 to $50,000

Upstart boasts rates on personal loans that are 10% lower than traditional lenders. Borrowers typically receive funding in one business day and can pay off loans early without fear of prepayment penalties with Upstart.

 

Avant

Minimum income: Not disclosed

Loan amounts: $2,000 to $35,000

Avant offers quick funding on personal loans with terms ranging from 24 to 60 months. Personal loans come with an administration fee of up to 4.75%. Avant also offers the ability to set up automatic payments.

 

Prosper

Minimum income: Annual income greater than $0

Loan amounts: $2,000 to $40,000

Prosper is a peer-to-peer lending marketplace. Personal loans come with fixed rates, flexible three or five-year terms, and next-day funding. There are also no prepayment penalties on Prosper personal loans.

 

Pros and Cons of Low-Income Personal Loans

Pros Cons
May offer lower interest rates than payday loans and credit cards. Has higher interest rates than other personal loans.
Most are unsecured, which doesn’t require putting up collateral. You may still not qualify for a loan with a low income.
Quick funding may be available. Often have lower borrowing limits than other personal loans.
Can help free up monthly cash flow. May charge fees or penalties.

Low-Income Loan FAQs

Get quick answers to some of your most pressing low-income personal loans questions and concerns.

Can I get a loan with a low income?

Yes, some lenders offer personal loans with lower minimum income requirements. Typically, these types of loans come with higher interest rates and fees and lower borrowing limits.

What is the minimum income for a personal loan?

Lenders set minimum income requirements for loans. The income required can vary greatly depending on the lender. Always check income requirements with a lender before applying for a loan.

Can you get a personal loan with no income?

Typically, you’ll need to show proof of income to secure a personal loan. In some cases, though, you may qualify for a personal loan without having to show proof of income. These loans may come with higher interest rates and fees to offset the increased risk lenders take.