When you need a sum of money for a specific purpose — perhaps to pay medical bills or renovate your home — you might consider applying for a personal loan. You could pay for these expenses with your credit cards, but your credit limit might be too low to cover your costs or using your cards might lead to overspending. Instead, you can borrow money with a personal loan for the exact amount needed for a predetermined interest rate, a fixed-term and a predictable monthly payment.
Personal loans are available from traditional lenders, such as banks, credit unions and peer-to-peer online lenders. The minimum and maximum borrowing limits are set by each lender and the amount of your personal loan limit depends on your creditworthiness, and an important factor for your creditworthiness will be your credit score at the time you submit your loan application. Keep reading to learn more about how much you can borrow from a lender.
How Much Can I Borrow With a Personal Loan?
Lenders offering personal loans generally set a range of loan amounts from $1,000 up to $50,000, with some offering loans into the six figures. Here’s a sampling of what some traditional lenders and peer-to-peer lenders offer for personal loans:
|Personal Loan Limits: Traditional Lenders|
|Traditional Lender||Personal Loan Amounts|
|Citibank||$2,000 to $50,000|
|Discover||$2,500 to $35,000|
|Wells Fargo||$3,000 to $100,000|
|Personal Loan Limits: P2P Lenders|
|Peer-to-Peer Lender||Personal Loan Amounts|
|LendingClub||$1,000 to $40,000|
|Prosper||$2,000 to $35,000|
What Is a Good Credit Score?
Lenders decide for themselves what constitutes a good credit score that will qualify you for their maximum loan amount with the best interest rates and repayment terms. However, because the three major credit reporting agencies — TransUnion, Equifax and Experian — all use FICO Scores when reporting your credit history to a prospective lender, there is a consensus regarding what the range of FICO Scores mean. According to myFICO, the range of scores and ratings are:
|FICO Score Scale|
|740 – 799||Very Good|
|670 – 739||Good|
|580 – 669||Fair|
Before applying for a personal loan, learn your credit score by getting a copy of your credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com. Federal law requires the credit reporting agencies to provide you with a copy of your report at least once every 12 months.
How Much Can I Get Approved For?
Many lending sites provide a personal loan calculator as a self-help tool that you can use to educate yourself about the cost of a personal loan, referred to as the annual percentage rate or APR. Lenders use a sliding APR scale for personal loans. The lowest APR is offered to applicants with exceptional credit scores.
The further your credit score is from exceptional, the higher APR you can expect to pay. For example, Discover has an APR range on personal loans between 6.99 percent and 24.99 percent. If you have a good credit score (670 to 739), you might pay 13.99% APR on a $10,000 personal loan. The amount of your monthly payment depends on the length of your loan. For a minimum three-year loan, the payment is $342.
How Much Personal Loan Can I Get With My Salary?
Final approval for your personal loan amount depends on your overall creditworthiness, not just your credit score. A prospective lender will review several factors including your credit history, gross monthly income, and other debt payments. Lenders will also analyze your capacity to repay a personal loan by determining your debt-to-income ratio, which is typically the percentage of your monthly salary that is used to pay off debt. As a rule, lenders require this ratio to be less than 36 percent.
How Many Personal Loans Can You Have at Once?
Lenders set their own rules regarding whether an existing personal loan will prevent you from qualifying for a new personal loan. For example, you cannot qualify for a personal loan from Citibank if you have more than one existing personal loan or the loan was opened less than six months before your application.
Personal Loan Terms You Need to Know
Below are some useful terms to know before shopping for a personal loan:
Annual Percentage Rate
APR is the true cost of a personal loan. Although it is given as a yearly interest rate, the APR includes all fees and other up-front costs you paid for the loan.
Related: How to Calculate APR
This is a common fee charged when you receive a personal loan and is a percentage of the loan amount. It will vary depending on your credit score and creditworthiness. For example, LendingClub’s origination fee is between 1 and 6 percent. The origination fee is deducted from the principal amount you receive. For example, if your loan is for $6,000 and the origination fee is $230, you will receive $5,770.
Gross Monthly Income
Gross monthly income amount of your salary before taxes are withheld. This figure is needed to determine your debt-to-income ratio.
The percentage of your gross monthly income that is used to pay your existing debts. Lenders consider a manageable level of debt to be less than 36 percent of your gross monthly income.
Prepayment Fees or Penalty
If your personal loan requires a minimum length of time, such as 36 months, you will incur extra fees or penalties as stated in your loan agreement if you pay it off early. Some lenders do not charge prepayment fees or penalties.
Secured vs. Unsecured Personal Loan
Personal loans are usually unsecured, which means that the debt is solely based on the loan agreement and related document you sign. A secured personal loan means collateral has been given to the lender as security for the debt. This is typically a lien on your property, such as your car title, a bank account or certificate of deposit. If you don’t repay the loan as agreed, the lender can take the collateral to satisfy the debt.
Fixed Interest Rate
A fixed interest rate is one that will not change during the entire length of your personal loan.
A down payment is the cash portion pay out-of-pocket when you obtain a mortgage to buy a home. Using a personal loan as a down payment is not acceptable to mortgage lenders.
Debt consolidation occurs when you use a personal loan to pay off other loans or credit cards so that you have only one monthly payment with a lower interest rate. Whether this is the right strategy for you depends on a careful analysis showing what you will ultimately be paying on your new personal loan versus continuing your current debt payments. If you will end up paying more on your new loan, this might not be a good strategy for you.