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Personal Loans

How to Get a Loan Without a Job

If you qualify, a personal loan can help you stay afloat when times get tough. You can use a personal loan for almost anything, and they come with fixed interest rates and consistent monthly payments you can count on.

But it can be tough to get approved for a personal loan without a job. You may need to show other sources of income to qualify or apply with a cosigner who has a steady paycheck. Here’s a closer look at how to get a loan without a job. 

Do you need a job to get a personal loan? 

You don’t necessarily need a job to qualify for a personal loan, but you’ll often need to provide proof of income. The lender wants to ensure you have the means to repay your loan. Alternative sources of income could include retirement distributions, disability benefits, or alimony. 

If your income is insufficient, it may still be possible to get a personal loan if you apply with a cosigner. Adding a cosigner who has decent credit and income to your application can reassure the lender that you’ll repay the loan in full and on time. The lender will expect your cosigner to make payments on the loan if you fall behind. 

Along with income, lenders also look at your credit score, credit history, and debt-to-income ratio. A low credit score or history of missing debt payments can make it tough to get a personal loan. You can find personal loans for all credit categories—including good, fair, and even bad credit—but a good credit score will help you qualify for the best interest rates. 

Our experts recommend avoiding any personal loan with an APR of 36% or higher. 

Personal loans for unemployed borrowers

A variety of lenders offer personal loans for unemployed borrowers if you meet their income, credit, and other requirements or apply with a creditworthy borrower who can. Online bank and lender SoFi, for example, says borrowers must be “employed, have sufficient income from other sources, or have an offer of employment to start within the next 90 days.”

Many of these lenders offer personal loans starting around $1,000 and going up to $50,000 or $100,000. Interest rates may be as low as 7% or 8% (in April 2024), with a maximum rate of 36%. Depending on the lender, you can also choose repayment terms starting at one or two years and going up to five or seven years. 

Here are three top lenders and one marketplace that will consider unemployed borrowers as long as you can meet their eligibility requirements. Note that some accept much lower credit scores than others. 

LenderRates (APR)Min. credit score
SoFi 8.99% – 29.49680
Upgrade 8.49% – 35.99%560 
Upstart7.80% – 35.99%300 

How to increase chances of being approved for a loan while unemployed

If you’re applying for a loan while unemployed, be extra careful about what you put on your loan application, what lender you choose, and how you manage your finances.

Here are five tips to keep in mind as you attempt to get a loan:

1. List all sources of income on your loan application

You may not have consistent paychecks at the moment, but if you have any income coming in at all, be sure to include it on your loan application; it will increase your chances of approval.

You should include:

  • Retirement or 401(k) distributions
  • Social Security checks
  • Disability income
  • Unemployment benefits (yes, these count as income!)
  • Capital gains, interest, and dividends earned on investments or savings
  • Pension payments
  • Income from rental properties (even short-term rentals)
  • Your spouse’s income
  • Inheritances or trust distributions
  • Child support, spousal support, or alimony

You can even include any federal assistance you receive.

2. Consider a part-time job or freelance work

If you’re not bringing in much cash, consider taking up a part-time job or side hustle to make extra money before you apply for your loan. Apps such as Uber, Lyft, Favor, and Shipt all offer entry-level part-time gigs, and Upwork and Fiverr can be helpful platforms for finding freelancing opportunities.

3. Stay on top of credit card payments and other loans

Lenders will scrutinize your credit score and payment history. If you’ve fallen behind or defaulted on other debts, lenders will be hesitant to approve you for a loan. Do your best to pay on time, every time, for credit cards and other loans, even if it means just making the minimum payment. 

I recommend establishing automatic monthly payments to pay the minimum payment due; this protects you from missing a payment and damaging your credit.

Erin Kinkade


4. Choose a lender that targets consumers like you

Some lenders only loan to high-credit borrowers, while others have less stringent criteria and are willing to issue loans to borrowers with average or even poor credit scores. If your score is on the lower side, be sure to shop around for your lender. Apply with a marketplace (such as Credible), or find a lender that targets low-credit borrowers to save yourself time and hassle.

To compare options, check out companies that offer loans for the following credit ranges:

5. Add a cosigner or co-applicant to your loan

Applying with a cosigner or a co-applicant can help improve your shot at getting a loan—especially if they have a steady income and good credit. Just make sure they know what they’re signing up for: They’ll be on the hook for the debt if you’re unable to repay it.

If you’re interested in these options, check out the guides below to learn more about these loans and compare companies that offer them:

Should you get a personal loan if you’re unemployed? 

Whatever loan you decide to take out, consider the long-term impacts it could have on your finances.

Consider a personal loan if…Reconsider a personal loan if…
✅ You have a plan for repayment❌ You’re at risk of missing payments 
✅ The interest rate is reasonable❌ You’re facing high rates and fees 
✅ You’re using the loan for necessary expenses❌ You can get free financial help elsewhere 

Consider a personal loan if…

  • You have a plan for repayment: If you have no income, not repaying the loan may mean more financial hardship (and worse credit) down the line. Make sure you have a plan for increasing your income and paying down your balance before the situation worsens. Consider whether the loan’s repayment terms work for your budget before you borrow. 
  • The interest rate is reasonable: Interest rates vary by lender and across loan products. Evaluate the interest rate of any loan you’re considering and see what your interest costs would be by the end of the loan term (not just each month).
  • You’re using the loan for necessary expenses: Are you using the funds for needs or wants? Be sure the long-term costs of the loan are worth what you’re spending it on. Evaluate the cost versus the reward, and avoid taking on debt for nonessential expenses.

Reconsider a personal loan if… 

  • You’re at risk of missing payments: Know what’s at stake with any loan you take out. If you’re using a secured loan, you could lose your collateral, whether that’s your car or fixtures in your home. If it’s unsecured, missing payments could harm your credit and future financial prospects.
  • You’re facing high rates and fees: Weak credit and an unstable income could lead to more expensive loan offers. Some personal loan providers charge interest rates as high as 36%, which could mean high borrowing costs. 
  • You can get free financial help elsewhere: Before taking on debt to make ends meet, find out whether you have options for free assistance, such as unemployment benefits or other federal assistance programs.

You should also shop around for your loan. Interest rates, terms, repayment periods, and other details can vary from one vendor to the next, and comparing your options can mean serious savings over time.

If you’re ready to shop around and have answers to the questions above, check out the best personal loans to find an option that fits your needs.

What our expert recommends

Erin Kinkade


I suggest consulting with a financial counselor or a financial professional, depending on what you can afford and whether you have an established relationship with one. Be certain the loan has a specific purpose and you know what you’ll use it for. Ideally, at this point, it’s for a need and not a want.

Alternative options for those with no job

You may have options if you don’t qualify for a personal loan. See whether you’re eligible for the following.

OptionBest for
🔒 Secured personal loanBorrowers who are comfortable putting up collateral 
🏦 Personal line of credit Flexible access to funds on an ongoing basis 
🏠 Home equity loan or HELOC Homeowners with sufficient equity in their homes 
💳 Credit card Borrowers who can qualify for a 0% APR offer 
🤝‍Friend or family loan Avoiding the official loan process 
💼 Retirement loan Borrowers who can pay back the loan within five years 
💳 💲 Credit card cash advance Meeting an urgent need for cash 
💍 Pawnshop loan Fast cash, but beware of high fees 
🗓️ Payday loan Not recommended 

Here’s a closer look at each option: 

  • Secured personal loans: A secured personal loan is an option if you have some sort of collateral, such as a car, stocks, or business equipment. Because they’re secured by an asset, they typically come with lower rates and larger loan amounts than traditional unsecured personal loans. The downside is that your asset is at risk should you default on the loan.
  • Personal line of credit: A personal line of credit functions like a credit card, letting you draw money as needed (rather than in a lump-sum payment). This can be an excellent option if you know you’ll need access to cash for an extended period, but you’re not quite sure what it will amount to.
  • Home equity loan or line of credit (HELOC): Home equity loans and HELOCs are only options if you’re a homeowner. Like secured personal loans, they put your collateral (in this case, your house) at risk. Home equity loans act as a second mortgage and require monthly payments. HELOCs are more like credit cards. You draw on them for an extended period (typically 10 years) and then start repaying the balance once that period comes to a close.
  • Credit card: If you can qualify for a 0% APR credit card, this may be a solid option. Just be sure you know when the promotional period ends, and aim to have your balance paid off or transferred by then. If you don’t, it could mean sky-high interest costs and even more financial difficulty down the line.
  • Friend or family loan: If you have a friend or family member with extra cash, you may consider borrowing it from them. If you do this, be sure to weigh the pros and cons, including the strain it could put on your relationship. You should also outline the terms of your arrangement and make sure both parties agree to it in writing.
  • Retirement loan: Retirement loans allow you to borrow against a retirement account—a 401(k), for example—and pay it back within five years, but your options will vary based on your exact retirement plan and employer. The risks can be significant. For one, you put your retirement savings on the line. You also may owe the balance in full if you leave the employer sponsoring your plan.
  • Credit card cash advance: Many credit card companies offer cash advances to cardholders. These can be helpful in a pinch, but they come with fees, and you’ll often pay a higher interest rate on the balance you rack up.
  • Pawnshop loan: A pawnshop loan, aka collateral loan, allows you to turn a piece of property into cash. You offer an item—jewelry, for instance—and the pawnshop loans you money based on its value. Once you repay the loan, you get your collateral back. If you can’t repay the loan, the pawnshop sells your item to recoup its losses. Pawnshop loans can come with sky-high APRs of over 100%.
  • Payday loan: A payday loan should be your last resort for funds. These come with high interest rates, sometimes 400% APR or more, and require fast repayment. They can also lead to a vicious cycle of debt that’s hard to escape.

Recap: Personal loans for unemployed borrowers

LenderRates (APR)
SoFi 8.99% – 29.49
Upgrade 8.49% – 35.99%
Upstart7.80% – 35.99%