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Best Personal Loans For Self-Employed Borrowers Of June 2024 – Forbes Advisor

Best Personal Loans For Self-Employed Borrowers Of June 2024 – Forbes Advisor

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Deputy Editor, Personal and Business Loans

Updated: May 31, 2024, 10:08am

Editorial Note: We earn a commission from partner links on Forbes Advisor. Commissions do not affect our editors’ opinions or evaluations.

Lenders often look for a steady source of income when considering whether or not to do business with you. This can be straightforward for traditional employees: You simply provide pay stubs from work.

But if you’re self-employed, you might have to provide alternative documentation to prove your income. As long as you can show the lender you can afford repayment—and can meet other requirements—you shouldn’t have trouble qualifying for a personal loan.

Being self-employed doesn’t mean you can’t get a personal loan, and with a steady income, you’ll likely have access to a wide range of loans.

Compare Personal Loan Rates

Best Personal Loans for Self-Employed Borrowers

Best Overall Personal Loan for Self-Employed Borrowers

SoFi®

APR range

8.99% to 29.99%

with autopay

8.99% to 29.99%

with autopay

Editor’s Take

SoFi is an online lending platform that offers unsecured fixed-rate personal loans in every state. Founded in 2011, SoFi has extended over $50 billion in loans and stands out for allowing high loan amounts and its availability of extended loan terms.

Loans are available from $5,000 to $100,000, making SoFi a great option for those with excellent credit who need to borrow a large amount of money. Loan amounts available may vary by the state you live in. Repayment terms range from two to seven years, making SoFi an incredibly flexible option for those with sufficient credit (minimum 650) and annual income (at least $45,000). SoFi also lets prospective borrowers submit joint applications—although co-signers are not permitted.

Approved borrowers are rewarded with comparatively low APRs. What’s more, SoFi doesn’t charge origination fees, late fees or prepayment penalties—a stand-out feature because personal loan lenders often charge origination or late payment fees at a minimum.

However, if you’re considering a debt consolidating loan from SoFi, keep in mind that the lender does not offer direct payment to a borrower’s other creditors. This means the loan proceeds will be deposited to your bank account and you’ll have to pay off your other lenders individually. The platform does offer customers a number of other perks and discounts.

Pros & Cons

  • Prequalification without a hard inquiry
  • Same-day approval possible
  • Can pay off third-party creditors directly
  • High credit score requirement
  • Co-signers not permitted

Details

Eligibility:

  • Minimum credit score required. 650
  • Minimum annual income. $45,000
  • Co-borrowers. Permitted
  • Co-signers. Not permitted

What I find impressive about SoFi is its innovative approach to lending, with a focus on providing borrowers with personalized loan options tailored to their unique financial situations.

As a small business owner, I benefited from SoFi’s competitive rates and borrower-friendly terms, which include no origination fees or prepayment penalties. Also, SoFi’s member benefits, such as career coaching and financial planning resources, add value beyond just the loan itself, making it an attractive choice for entrepreneurs looking to grow their businesses while managing their finances responsibly.

— Michael Ashley, finance expert, Richiest.com

BEST FOR LOW INTEREST RATES

LightStream

APR range

6.99% to 25.49%

with autopay

6.99% to 25.49%

with autopay

Editor’s Take

LightStream is a consumer lending division of Truist—which formed following the merger of SunTrust Bank and BB&T. The platform offers unsecured personal loans from $5,000 to $100,000. Loan amounts vary based on the loan purpose. Although a number of lenders offer smaller loans than the LightStream minimum, few lenders offer a higher maximum loan. Repayment terms are available from two to seven years, making it an excellent option for those who want to spread out the payment of large expenses over time.

In addition to offering appealing and flexible terms, LightStream charges no origination, late payment or prepayment fees. The lender also offers a 0.50% rate discount for borrowers who enroll in autopay—higher than most lenders with the same perk—as well as a 30-day loan experience guarantee to ensure borrower satisfaction, Covid-19/hardship assistance and a rate-beat program. LightStream will beat a competitor’s interest rate by 0.1 percentage point for applicants who meet certain criteria.

LightStream offers loans in all 50 states plus Washington, D.C., and applicants can contact the lender’s customer support team seven days a week; current borrowers have access to customer support from Monday through Saturday. While LightStream doesn’t offer a mobile app for loan management, customers can access their account through LightStream.com.

Pros & Cons

  • Long loan terms available
  • Low interest rates
  • Fast approval and funding
  • No prequalification option
  • High minimum loan amount
  • Low average customer rating on Trustpilot

Details

Eligibility:

  • Minimum credit score. 660
  • Minimum income. Does not disclose
  • Co-borrowers. Permitted

Lightstream, a division of Trust Bank, is known for its range of loan options and competitive rates. The downside can be its strict eligibility criteria, making it difficult for those with less-than-stellar credit history to gain approval.

— Jonathan Feniak, general counsel and head of finance, LLC Attorney

BEST FOR FAST FUNDING & BELOW-AVERAGE CREDIT

LendingPoint

APR range

7.99% to 35.99%

with autopay

7.99% to 35.99%

with autopay

Editor’s Take

LendingPoint is an online lender based in Atlanta that offers personal loans to prospective borrowers in 48 states and Washington D.C.; it does not offer loans in Nevada and West Virginia. Prospective borrowers in eligible states can apply online and benefit from quick funding.

LendingPoint personal loans range from $2,000 to $36,500; Georgia loans have a minimum loan amount of $3,500. Repayment terms range from 24 to 72 months—or two to six years.

There are two main disadvantages to LendingPoint: high maximum APRs and origination fees. While you can typically avoid high APRs by maintaining a high credit score, LendingPoint origination fees (up to 10%) depend on the state you live in.

Pros & Cons

  • Quick funding
  • Low credit score requirements
  • No prepayment penalty
  • Origination fee up to 10%
  • Co-signers or joint loans not permitted
  • Not available in Nevada and West Virginia

Details

Eligibility: 

  • Minimum credit score. 600
  • Minimum annual income. $35,000
  • Co-signers. Not permitted

LendingPoint can be a good option for those who may not have a high credit score. They focus more on the potential borrower’s job history and income when determining loan eligibility and rates.

— Jonathan Feniak, general counsel and head of finance, LLC Attorney

BEST FOR BAD CREDIT

Upgrade

Editor’s Take

Upgrade was launched in 2017 and provides accessible online and mobile credit and banking services. Since that time, the platform has made more than $3 billion in credit available to over 10 million applicants and continues to expand its online and mobile services. Although maximum APRs are on the high end compared to other online lenders, Upgrade makes loans available to those with poor credit history.

Loans amounts, which range from $1,000 to $50,000. Upgrade has two- to seven-year terms  available. Upgrade charges an origination fee between 1.85% and 9.99% of the loan, and borrowers will encounter a $10 fee if their payment is more than 15 days late or if the payment does not go through; there are no discounts for autopay. That said, Upgrade borrowers are not subject to a prepayment penalty, so you can reduce the overall cost of the loan if you’re able to pay it off early.

Beyond offering accessible personal loans, Upgrade streamlines the lending process with a mobile app that lets borrowers view their balance, make payments and update personal information. Upgrade’s Credit Heath tool also makes it easy to track your credit score over the life of your loan.

Pros & Cons

  • Flexible eligibility requirements
  • Can pay off creditors directly
  • High loan amounts available
  • High APR range
  • Fees for late payments and insufficient funds
  • Charges origination fees from 1.85% and 9.99%

Details

Eligibility: 

  • Minimum credit score. 580
  • Minimum income. None
  • Co-applicants. Permitted

Upgrade’s personal loans come with a unique feature—mandatory automatic payments. While this is an effective default prevention measure, it might not suit everyone, especially those with irregular income streams.

— Jonathan Feniak, general counsel and head of finance, LLC Attorney

BEST FOR COMPARING MULTIPLE OFFERS

Universal Credit

Editor’s Take

Universal Credit is an online lending platform that offers personal loans between $1,000 to $50,000 through its partners. Repayment terms range from three to seven years.

While Universal Credit makes finding a personal loan accessible even to those with damaged credit, it comes with a few tradeoffs. First, it charges high APRs, well above the most competitive rates seen on our list. Second, Universal Credit charges a 5.25% to 9.99% origination fee on all personal loans. Because this is deducted from your loan proceeds, you’ll need to factor this in when determining your loan amount to ensure you receive the necessary amount after the fact.

Pros & Cons

  • Flexible qualification requirements
  • Next-day funding
  • No prepayment penalty
  • High APRs
  • All personal loans charge a 5.25% to 9.99% origination fee

Details

Eligibility:

  • Minimum credit score. 580
  • Minimum income requirement. Does not disclose
  • Co-signers. Does not disclose
  • Co-borrowers. Does not disclose

BEST FOR NO INTEREST IF REPAID WITHIN 30 DAYS

Discover

Editor’s Take

Discover is an online bank that also offers customers credit cards, retirement solutions and personal loans in all 50 states. As a lending platform, Discover stands out because of its online application and mobile banking tools, well-reviewed customer support team and quick funding.

In general, loans are available from $2,500 to $40,000 and may be issued for between three and seven years. So, while borrowers may get a larger loan from another lender, the repayment terms are fairly flexible. Discover charges a late payment fee and does not offer an autopay discount; however, it does not charge any origination fees or prepayment penalties, making it competitive with other top personal loan providers.

Pros & Cons

  • No origination fees
  • Low interest rates
  • Funds can go directly to paying off credit lines
  • No interest rate discount for autopay
  • No co-signers or co-borrowers accepted
  • Good credit needed to qualify

Details

Eligibility: 

  • Minimum credit score: 660
  • Minimum income: $25,000
  • Co-signers. Not permitted
  • Co-borrowers. Not permitted

BEST FOR LOANS AS LOW AS $1,000

Upstart

Editor’s Take

Upstart has made a mark on the personal loan space because of its artificial intelligence- and machine learning-based approach to borrower qualification. In fact, Upstart estimates that it has been able to approve 27% more borrowers than possible under a traditional lending model. With competitive APRs, Upstart is not a top lender for borrowers who can qualify for more competitive rates. Even so, the platform’s minimum 300 credit score makes it an accessible option to those with fair credit.

Upstart also offers a pretty flexible range of loan options, with amounts ranging from $1,000 to $50,000 so you don’t have to borrow (or pay interest on) more than you really need. And, while Upstart’s loan cap is lower than some lenders—this is likely to be enough for many prospective borrowers.

Even though Upstarts three-, five-, seven-year loan terms are more restrictive than other lenders, it’s likely to be an acceptable tradeoff for applicants who might not be approved in a more traditional lending environment. Plus, it’s available in every state except West Virginia and Iowa, so it’s as widely available as many other top lenders.

Pros & Cons

  • Accessible to borrowers with no credit history
  • Prequalification with a soft credit check
  • Ability to choose a custom payment date
  • Charges an origination fee up to 12% of the loan amount
  • No co-signer option
  • Only offers three- or five-year terms

Details

Eligibility: 

  • Minimum credit score. 300
  • Minimum income. No minimum but must have a source of income
  • Co-signers. Not permitted
  • Co-borrowers. Not permitted

Upstart has no minimum credit score to apply for a loan, which makes them a popular choice for borrowers of all categories. Those with lower credit scores or uneven credit history may receive offers with [high APRs]. Loan amounts range from $1,000 to $50,000 and loan term lengths available are three- or five-year.

Upstart offers flexibility with payment dates and funding can be as soon as one business day. However, some requirements are employment, steady income, a personal bank account, email address and a Social Security number. Some fees may apply, including an origination fee, late fees or statement fees.

— Stephen Kates, CFP®, Annuity.org

BEST FOR A RANGE OF REPAYMENT TERMS

Avant

Editor’s Take

Founded in 2012 and based in Chicago, Avant is a consumer lending platform that offers secured and unsecured personal loans through a third-party bank (WebBank). Unsecured loans are available in Washington, D.C. and every state but Hawaii, Iowa, New York, Vermont, West Virginia and Maine. The platform specializes in middle-income borrowers with fair to good credit and only requires a minimum score of 580 to qualify.

Maximum loan amounts are low compared to other lenders, but the low minimum amount and flexible repayment terms (two to five years) make it an accessible option for borrowers. However, as with many loans for subprime borrowers, Avant personal loans come with a price. In addition to charging an administrative fee of up to 4.75% of the loan amount, Avant’s APR range (9.95% to 35.99%) is on the high end for applicants with a good to excellent credit score—and there is no autopay discount. Still, the platform earns top marks for borrowers with less than stellar credit who need quick access to funds.

Pros & Cons

  • Secured and unsecured loan options available
  • Low credit score requirement (580)
  • Loan terms available up to 60 months
  • Charges an upfront administrative fee
  • High starting APR for prime borrowers
  • Co-signers and co-applicants not allowed

Details

Eligibility: 

  • Minimum credit score: 580
  • Minimum income: $20,000
  • Doesn’t allow co-signers or co-borrowers

Loan uses:

  • Debt consolidation
  • Large expenses
  • Home projects

Summary: Best Personal Loans for Self-Employed Borrowers

Tips for Comparing Personal Loans for Self-Employed Borrowers

Before borrowing any type of loan, compare your options from multiple lenders. Since terms and conditions can vary by lender, shopping around can help you find the most affordable loan. 

Many lenders make this process easier through prequalification, which lets you check your rates online with no impact on your credit score. As you research loans, you can compare personal loans for self-employed borrowers based on many criteria. 

  • Low annual percentage rate (APR). Finding a low APR—which includes both the interest rate and any fees—can mean lower monthly payments and reduced long-term borrowing costs. This can be the most effective way to determine the lowest cost option offered to you.
  • Additional fees. A loan with origination, administrative or application fees could cost you more than one that has no fees. Also, consider other fees that could increase costs in the future, such as late fees or prepayment penalties. 
  • Repayment terms. The amount of time you have to pay back your loan impacts your monthly payments and total interest charges. Many lenders offer terms anywhere from one to seven years but look for one that works with your budget and financial goals. 
  • Borrowing limits. Each lender sets its own loan minimums and maximums. Look for a lender that offers the loan amount you need. 
  • Funding time. Some lenders can fund a loan within a day of approval, whereas others may take a week or longer. 
  • Co-signer option. Adding a creditworthy co-signer to your application can help you meet income and credit requirements or access a better interest rate. Find out if the lender offers this option, especially since adding a co-signer may help you qualify if your self-employment status is an obstacle during the approval process. 

What Are Personal Loans for Self-Employed Borrowers?

A personal loan for self-employed borrowers offers cash that you can use for almost any expense. Common expenses include home renovations, debt consolidation, medical bills and major purchases. If a lender sets restrictions on how you use your loan, it may say that you can’t use the loan on illegal activity, gambling, education costs or business expenses. 

Some lenders may be more likely to offer funds to self-employed borrowers than others, so do some research to find the right financial institution. As mentioned, some lenders also let you apply with a co-signer to boost your chances of approval. Besides providing proof of income, you (and your co-signer, if applicable) will need to meet other requirements, such as a strong credit score and acceptable debt-to-income ratio. 

If you’re having trouble qualifying, you could also consider a secured personal loan, which requires collateral. Secured loans tend to have easier approval criteria than unsecured ones, but you risk losing your asset if you can’t repay the loan. 

How Loans for Self-Employed Borrowers Work

Personal loans for self-employed borrowers are installment loans that you pay off on a monthly basis or a certain period of time, often one to seven years. Lenders offer various loan amounts, often ranging from $1,000 to $50,000, though some lenders offer up to $100,000 or even $200,000. 

APRs often range from around 4% to 36%. Lenders typically offer the best interest rates to borrowers with good or excellent credit, which is a score of 670 or higher on the FICO scoring model. 

When you borrow a personal loan, you may receive the proceeds as a direct deposit into your bank account. If you’re using the loan for debt consolidation, some lenders will pay off your creditors directly. 

How To Get a Personal Loan When You’re Self-Employed

When you’re ready to pursue a personal loan, take these steps to secure your loan: 

  1. Review your credit. Before you start applying, it’s important to know what your credit score looks like. You can use a free credit monitoring service and get a free copy of your credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com through December 2023. If you have weak credit, you can take steps to improve it or enlist a co-signer before applying for a personal loan. 
  2. Prequalify with multiple lenders. Many lenders let you prequalify online after submitting a few basic pieces of information, such as your name, date of birth and requested loan amount. This prequalification won’t impact your credit score, but it gives you the opportunity to check your rates and compare loan offers. 
  3. Gather financial documents. As a self-employed individual, you’ll need to provide proof of income to show you can pay your loan back on time. The requirements may vary by lender, but some documents you might need to provide include tax returns, bank statements or business ledgers. If you’re receiving any alternative income, such as government benefits or child support, you can provide that documentation, too. 
  4. Submit an application. Once you’ve found an offer that works for you, your next step is to fill out an application. You’ll provide personal information, as well as any required documents. Reach out to the lender if you have questions or need support as you go through the process. 
  5. Receive your loan and start repayment. Once your application is approved, the lender will fund your loan. Read over your loan agreement to see when your payments are due and how to make them. Consider setting up automatic payments so you don’t miss a bill, as missing payments can result in late fees and damage to your credit. 

Alternatives to Personal Loans

If your self-employed status is making it difficult to qualify for a personal loan—or you simply want to explore your options—there are alternative ways to access funding. Consider these other options for borrowing money: 

  • Credit cards. Credit cards let you charge expenses up to a certain limit. If you can pay off your balance in full each month, you won’t have to pay interest or fees on the amount. If you do accrue a balance, though, you can pay a high interest rate for your debt. Some credit card issuers also offer a 0% introductory APR for 12 months or longer to new cardholders.
  • Home equity loan or line of credit. If you’re a homeowner, you could tap into your home’s equity with a home equity loan or home equity line of credit (HELOC). A home equity loan works like a personal loan in that it offers a set amount upfront and requires monthly payments, usually at a fixed interest rate. A HELOC, on the other hand, is similar to a credit card, as it offers revolving funds that you can draw on as needed and pay off as you go. Both home loans and HELOCs are secured by your house, so failing to repay them means you could lose your home to foreclosure.
  • Secured personal loan. While most personal loans are unsecured, you may also be able to borrow a secured personal loan. Secured loans require collateral, such as property, a vehicle or another valuable asset. These loans can be easier to qualify for than unsecured ones, but you’ll have to be comfortable with the risk. Not only can missing payments damage your credit, but it also means the lender can recoup your collateral as repayment. 

Methodology

We reviewed 29 popular lenders based on 16 data points in the categories of loan details, loan costs, eligibility and accessibility, customer experience and the application process. We chose the 8 best lenders based on the weighting assigned to each category:

  • Loan cost. 35%
  • Loan details. 20%
  • Eligibility and accessibility. 20%
  • Customer experience. 15%
  • Application process. 10%

Within each major category, we also considered several characteristics, including available loan amounts, repayment terms, APR ranges and applicable fees. We also looked at minimum credit score requirements, whether each lender accepts co-signers or joint applications and the geographic availability of the lender. Finally, we evaluated each provider’s customer support tools, borrower perks and features that simplify the borrowing process—like prequalification options and mobile apps.

Where appropriate, we awarded partial points depending on how well a lender met each criterion.

To learn more about how Forbes Advisor rates lenders, and our editorial process, check out our Loans Rating & Review Methodology.

Next Up In Personal Loans

Information provided on Forbes Advisor is for educational purposes only. Your financial situation is unique and the products and services we review may not be right for your circumstances. We do not offer financial advice, advisory or brokerage services, nor do we recommend or advise individuals or to buy or sell particular stocks or securities. Performance information may have changed since the time of publication. Past performance is not indicative of future results.

Forbes Advisor adheres to strict editorial integrity standards. To the best of our knowledge, all content is accurate as of the date posted, though offers contained herein may no longer be available. The opinions expressed are the author’s alone and have not been provided, approved, or otherwise endorsed by our partners.



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