Personal Loans After Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy is not the end of the world. In fact, while it is more difficult to acquire loans and credit cards, it’s not impossible. In this guide, we’ll show you how you can get short-term loans and long-term loans even after you have filed for bankruptcy.
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Whether you have debt to repay, bills to cover or credit to build, you can get back on track with a personal loan, even if you have recently filed for bankruptcy.
Challenges in Getting a Personal Loan After Bankruptcy
You will face a few issues when applying for an unsecured personal loan after bankruptcy. Firstly, lenders will insist that you wait a while before you apply. The exact timeframe will depend on the individual lender and the type of loan, but generally, you’ll need to give it at least 2 years.
Your credit score is also important. Bankruptcy can reduce your credit score by over 200 points, and it can do all kinds of major damage before you file. Loan companies are not interested in lending to individuals with poor credit scores and recent bankruptcy filings. This is especially true if they filed for Chapter 7, in which case all debts were discharged.
It makes sense—creditors base their activity on statistics and probability. If you have a recent filing and a terrible credit score, statistically you’re much less likely to meet your monthly repayments.
Some lenders will be more willing to take a risk on the basis that an individual who has recently filed is unable to file again for another few years. However, in these cases, they are still taking a massive risk and to offset that they will offer you massive rates.
What’s more, while it seems like they are doing you a favor by taking a chance when no one else will, they’re actually just taking advantage of your desperation, offering you an unsecured loan when you’re more willing to accept.
Most Common Challenges and How to Overcome
The biggest issue you have when applying for personal loans after bankruptcy concerns your credit score. Your score will likely be very low, and many lenders refuse to offer low-rate loans to consumers with scores less than 660. If you have a score of 550 or less, you may still be offered a loan, but the rates will be high.
The good news is that things get easier with time. A bankruptcy discharge essentially wipes your slate clean, eliminating your monthly payments. This leaves you with more money in your pocket, which means you should have less need for an unsecured personal loan.
If you need a car, try a car loan instead. The fact that it is secured against the vehicle should ensure you receive better rates, even with a low credit score. If you simply need to build your credit score, try a secured credit card instead. Providing you meet your monthly payments on this secured card, you’ll get your security deposit back and your credit score will improve, as lenders report all activity to the credit bureaus.
How Bankruptcy Affects Your Ability to Get a Personal Loan
A bankruptcy can remain on your credit report for 10 years and do some serious damage to your credit score in that time. The effects will diminish with each passing year and in the final few years, you shouldn’t have any issues whatsoever. However, it will take a few years before your credit score improves to a point where you don’t need to limit yourself to high-rate loans.
Your credit score isn’t the only issue, either. Many home, car, and personal loan lenders refuse all applicants who have filed for bankruptcy within a fixed period of time, often between 2 and 3 years. If you need a loan during this time then your options are limited, to say the least. You will be forced to choose one of the following options for unsecured credit:
- Bad Credit Car Loans: These loans offer respectable sums and terms, but they have high-interest rates, and these may increase if you don’t meet your monthly payment obligations.
- Payday Loans: High-rate and low-limit loans offered over a short period. The idea is that you take the loan when you’re struggling to make ends meet and need some assistance before payday. These loans are not as bad as they once were due to restrictions and regulations, but they are still not ideal. They are also illegal in nearly half of all US states.
- Unsecured Credit Cards: You can also get a revolving line of credit with an unsecured credit card. However, as with bad credit loans, these have high-interest rates and very poor terms.
To trick you into paying a higher APR, lenders won’t always advertise their rates and will instead charge a fixed sum every month. This can be the equivalent of an APR over 20%, much higher than the average, which is around 16%.
Best Installment Loans After Bankruptcy
Before applying for a personal loan, take a close look at your finances. Calculate your debt-to-income ratio, and make sure you can comfortably afford the payments. If you have recently filed for bankruptcy, you can’t apply again for several years which means you’ve lost your get-out clause and can’t afford to fall behind on your payments.
If you struggle to meet your payments, lenders may still offer a repayment plan and financial hardship programs. However, if you’ve already been through debt issues then your options decrease and they may be less willing to lend a helping hand.
Only when you’re absolutely confident in your financial situation and your ability to repay should you seek to acquire additional debt.
Here are a few providers and options that can help:
- Upstart: Accepts credit scores as low as 580 with APRs as high as 36%.
- Lending Club: You need a credit score of at least 600 to apply.
- OneMain Financial: There is no minimum credit score and monthly payments begin at just over $200.
- Lending Point: A minimum credit score of 585 is needed for loans of between $2,000 and $30,000.
- Avant: Get up to $35,000 with an APR ranging from around 10% to 36%.
What Happens if you Get Refused?
If you get refused for a personal loan because you have a poor credit card or have recently filed for bankruptcy, there are a few options:
Patience is the best policy in this situation. It doesn’t matter how bleak things seem right now, they will improve in time. The longer you wait, the older your accounts will become, the more your payment history will improve (assuming you have active accounts) and the further away that bankruptcy filing will be.
If you don’t have any active accounts, waiting can still help, but you should also look into acquiring a credit card with a security deposit, which can greatly improve your credit score in just a few months
A credit builder loan can also help, as can lending circles. These options are easy to apply for and don’t require stringent checks, great credit or a clean bankruptcy history. But before you get excited, they don’t give you cash sums in advance and are designed purely to help you rebuild your credit.
Appeal to the Lender
Bigger lenders use a long list of criteria to determine which applicants to accept and which ones to reject. No amount of begging or explaining will change their minds and if you’re rejected, you just need to move on, improve your score, and try again in the future.
However, if a smaller lender rejects you because of your recent bankruptcy filing, it’s worth contacting them to explain your situation. Explain how you have turned things around, show them proof if you have it, and ask them what would be required of you for them to accept. You might not get them to change their minds, but it should give you some valuable insight into their process.
Look for a Co-signer
A co-signer with a strong credit history can back you for a personal loan. However, it’s a very sensitive area and a huge favor to ask of anyone, even someone who loves you.
If you stop meeting those payments the co-signer will become responsible for them, putting their credit in jeopardy. Choose carefully, don’t place anyone in an awkward position, never assume they should help you just because you need help, and always make your monthly payments so they are never required to cover for you.
Seek Other Options
There are other creditors, other loans, and other options—try a credit card, borrow from a friend or family member, sell an asset, use a pawn shop. We live in a credit hungry society and there are more options than anywhere else. Use these to your advantage and don’t get stuck chasing the same loan.