If you're thinking about taking out a personal loan, you're probably wondering just how much money you can borrow. While many lenders offer loans as large as $50,000, how much you actually qualify for is dependent on a number of factors.
If you're in the market for a personal loan, here's what you need to know.
A smart debt-reduction strategy
If you have high-interest credit card debt or need to finance a big purchase, taking out a personal loan is a popular solution. In fact, Experian — one of the three major credit bureaus — found that there were 36.8 million personal loan accounts in the United States, as of 2018.
Why are personal loans are so common? A few reasons, including:
- They offer lower interest rates than credit cards, which can be a huge cost saver
- They often include flexible repayment terms, and
- Because you can spread out your payments over several years, you can usually land a pretty affordable monthly payment.
4 factors that affect your loan amount
With a personal loan, you may be able to borrow $5,000 to $50,000, depending on your needs and circumstances — but each lender has their own eligibility requirements.
However, all lenders will typically look at the following criteria to decide how much to lend to you and what interest rate you’ll have.
Lenders want to make sure you have a source of income so you can keep up with your loan payments. Many lenders will require you to provide them with your annual salary, and they will have a minimum you have to meet in order to qualify for a loan.
For example, the minimum income required for a personal loan is $24,000 at Citizens Bank.
2. Credit score
Your credit score is a number between 300 and 850 that lenders review when evaluating your loan application. The higher the number, the better. A good to excellent credit score, meaning a score between 670 and 850, indicates that you’re a low-risk borrower, so lenders are more likely to offer you a loan with favorable terms.
If your credit is less-than-stellar, you may still be able to qualify for a loan. However, you'll likely pay higher interest rates, or you may need a cosigner in order to get approved.
3. Debt-to-income ratio
Besides your income and credit score, lenders will look at your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio to decide how large of a loan you can handle. Your DTI ratio is the amount of monthly debt payments you have relative to your monthly income.
For example, if you earn $6,000 a month but have a $1,500 mortgage and a $200 student loan payment, your DTI ratio is 28.3%. That's the sum of your debt ($1,500 + $200), divided by your income ($6,000).
You want to have the lowest DTI possible; that shows lenders that you can comfortably afford the payments on the loan you're applying for. If your ratio is too high, you’re likely stretched too thin, and won’t qualify for a loan. Or, you’ll have to settle for a much smaller amount than you’d really like to borrow.
If you have less-than-stellar credit or don’t make enough money, don’t despair; you may still be able to qualify for a loan as large as $50,000 if you have a cosigner. A cosigner is someone with good credit and a stable income who applies for the loan with you. If you fall behind on the payments, they’re responsible for making them instead.
Having a cosigner reduces your lender’s risk, so they’re more willing to work with you and lend you the full amount you requested. Using a cosigner can also be a great way to score a lower interest rate.
Applying for a personal loan
If you’re wondering how large of a personal loan you can take out, there’s a way you can get an estimate and a rate quote without damaging your credit score.
Most like lenders will allow you get a preliminary approval that doesn't require a "hard pull" on your credit. That allows you to shop around for the best rates without dinging your credit score. Once you decide to move forward with a specific lender, that bank will then run a complete credit check before distributing your funds.
Our pick for the best personal loan right now is Citizens Bank. They'll give a quote on a personal loan in as little as two minutes. Plus, Citizens Bank offers loans with no fees, and you can get the money you need in just two business days.