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Can You Get a Personal Loan if You're Unemployed?

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Few things are more stressful than being unemployed. And even though you know it's not a permanent situation, you probably have a lot on your mind, including your finances. You may even be wondering whether you're eligible for a personal loan to get you through. Here, we'll show you how it's possible to get a personal loan while unemployed, and help you decide if it's the right move for you.

Unemployed because of COVID-19?

If you're one of the millions of unemployed individuals impacted by COVID-19, you might qualify for a coronavirus hardship loan. To learn more about this type of financial assistance, visit our coronavirus hardship loans page.

Getting a loan while unemployed

Your ability to get a personal loan doesn't depend on your employment status, although it might seem that way at first. Here's how to get a loan while you're out of work:

How to qualify for a personal loan while unemployed

The income you use to repay the loan debt does not have to come from an employer. The best personal loan lenders understand that everyone's situation is different.

A lender will consider any of these as income:

  • Unemployment benefits
  • Child support
  • Disability payments
  • Investments like annuities
  • Pension
  • Social Security
  • Rental income
  • Inheritance
  • Alimony
  • Regular payments from a settlement

If you don't have a steady income, ask your lender if you can use something of value as collateral. When you get a loan with collateral, the loan is known as a secured loan, and lenders can take this collateral if you're unable to pay. Examples of collateral include:

  • Car
  • House
  • Savings account
  • Retirement account
  • Something else of value

Personal loans that don't require collateral are known as unsecured loans. With unsecured loans, the lender can't take your house, car, or other possessions if you miss payments. But unsecured loans are harder to get approved for. If you're struggling to get approved for a loan, find out if your preferred lender offers secured loans.

What can I use a personal loan for?

A personal loan can be used for anything -- if you have debt piling up, you're probably focused on things like:

  • Paying mortgage or rent
  • Buying food
  • Covering utilities
  • Paying for prescriptions

What credit score do I need to get a loan?

Generally, you'll need a score of 580 or higher to qualify for a personal loan (Although the credit score needed for a personal loan varies by lender and it may be possibly to qualify with a lower score).

If you need an emergency loan and don't have time to improve your credit score, you're not alone. Look for loans for bad credit. These lenders will have experience working with low-credit borrowers and will be more likely to approve you for a loan.

Should I get a loan while unemployed?

Yes, if you need it -- and if the payments won't add additional worry to your life.

If you can't afford to make the monthly payment on a loan, look for a less stressful way to cover expenses. You are likely more stressed right now than you have ever been in your life, and if adding one more bill to your life adds more strain, take care of yourself by not taking on the obligation.

Below, we'll cover some alternatives that might be less stressful than a loan.

Alternatives to personal loans

Here are a few options to look into if a personal loan isn't the best fit for you.

Contact your current creditors for financial assistance

Since the pandemic, people have been able to find more financial assistance from:

  • Banks
  • Credit union
  • Lenders
  • Credit card issuers
  • Utility providers
  • Landlords

If you're struggling to keep up with your bills, call your creditors and explain your situation. They may offer paused payments, deferment, forbearance, new repayment plans, or other forms of financial relief.

Low-interest credit card

If you had a low-interest credit card before your job loss, check the current interest rate to make sure nothing has changed. If you're sure you can manage the monthly payment, consider using it as an emergency loan.

Borrow from an investment or retirement account

If you're in a bind, call your investment or retirement account manager to learn if you can borrow from your account. When you borrow from an investment or retirement account, you don't need to worry about credit score requirements or interest rates. You will give up the interest you could have earned from keeping your money in your retirement account, but that's a small price to pay for peace of mind and having your bills taken care of.

Family and friends

There's not a person in our country who has not been impacted in some way by the pandemic. If you have family and friends on solid financial footing, consider asking for a loan to get you through.

You are naturally concerned about your life, family, and finances. If a personal loan can help you through this time without adding additional stress, consider it as a loan option.

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.

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