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How Long Does It Take to Get a Loan?

Dana George
By: Dana George

Our Loans Expert

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that compensate us. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.

If you need a debt consolidation loan, encounter an expensive emergency, or have some remodeling to do around the house, you may wonder how fast you can get a personal loan. Getting a personal loan is simpler and faster than getting a mortgage or small business loan. Still, the time it takes from loan approval to funding depends on the lender and how well you have prepared to apply.

Read on to learn more about how long it takes to get a loan and tips for faster loan approval.

How long it takes to get a loan

It's possible to get a personal loan in one to ten business days. That's in ideal circumstances -- if you have a strong credit score and steady employment history. If your case is a little more complicated, it could take longer. For this reason, a lender will likely take more time to verify your financial history if you are self-employed or get paid sporadically.

Loan approval time by lender

Here's how long it takes to get a loan from some of the lenders on our experts' list of best personal loans:

Pre-approval: Same-day
Days to get funds deposited after final approval: 1

Pre-approval: Same-day
Days to get funds deposited after final approval: 1

Discover Personal Loan
Pre-approval: Same-day (for most borrowers)
Days to get funds deposited after final approval: 1

Pre-approval: Same-day
Days to get funds deposited after final approval: 2

Happy Money
Approval: 3-7 days
Days to get funds deposited after final approval: 3-6

Current as of Jan. 20, 2021

Even if you're in a hurry, do yourself the favor of comparing multiple lenders. Taking time to shop around can save you money, because not all personal loan lenders are the same. The interest rate and terms available through one lender can be far different than from another -- so finding the best one can save you hundreds of dollars.

Tips for faster approval

There are two key ways you can speed up the loan process:

  1. Be ready to supply any required verification to the bank, credit union, or online lender processing your loan.
  2. When asked, provide that documentation quickly.

Each personal loan lender has a different set of requirements, but you can save time by gathering these documents ahead of time:

ID: Driver's license, passport, military ID, Social Security card, a government-issued photo ID, or certificate of citizenship (some lenders need one, while others ask for two forms of ID)

Proof of income from an employer: Bank statements, W-2 tax forms, pay stubs, income tax returns, or a letter of verification from your employer

Proof of income if you are self-employed: Bank statements, copies of past income tax returns, and 1099 tax forms

Proof of address: Voter registration card, utility bills, a lease agreement, or a mortgage contract

The loan approval process may feel like a hassle, but once you've taken care of the task, your documents are ready to go any time you need them. That means that the next time you apply for a mortgage, open a credit card, or take out an installment loan, you'll be ready.

For a detailed step-by-step guide to getting a loan, check out our guide: How to Get a Personal Loan.

Pre-approval vs. final approval

You'll notice that the terms "pre-approval" and "final approval" are both used above. These are two different things, and knowing what they mean will help you understand how personal loans work.


Let's say you decide to rate shop and want to check out five different lenders. Most lenders run a soft credit check (that doesn't affect your credit score) before letting you know if you qualify for a personal loan. Once you've pre-qualified, they tell you more about the interest rate, annual percentage rate (APR), and terms. This process has no impact on your credit score, which gives you the freedom to check as many lenders as you would like until you find a loan that works for you.

Final approval

Once you've decided that a loan is right for you, it's time to let the lender know that you want to move forward. At this point, the lender runs a final hard credit check. This hard check dings your credit score slightly. Don't worry -- the ding can be erased by making your monthly payment on time for several months.

Even if a loan application is pre-approved in minutes, it typically takes from one to 10 business days to receive final approval and the disbursement of funds. If you filled out your application accurately and nothing has changed in the interim, you're only waiting for the lender to verify the information provided.

You will find one thing to be true of any loan: the better prepared you are, the easier the process will be -- and the happier you're likely to be with the outcome.

Still have questions?

Here are some other questions we've answered:

The Ascent's best personal loans

Looking for a personal loan but don’t know where to start? Our favorites offer quick approval and rock-bottom interest rates. Check out our list to find the best loan for you.


  • The amount of time to get a loan depends on the lender, but it's typically 1-10 days. It might take longer if you're self-employed.

  • Be prepared to provide the lender with proof of identification, income, and residency. Respond quickly to lender requests.

  • Yes, but the fees and interest rates on same-day loans can cost you hundreds of dollars above other loans. It's better to wait a few days for approval on a less expensive loan. If you can, the best way to get a loan is to take your time, compare multiple lenders, and find the best one for you.

Our Loans Expert