At a Glance

A personal loan is a type of loan that can be used for just about anything, from home renovations to medical bills, to wedding or emergency expenses. Banks, credit unions, and online lenders offer personal loans, ranging from $1,000 to $100,000, with repayment terms typically ranging from 12-72 months.

Getting approved for a loan can depend on several factors, such as the borrower’s credit score and history, income, and other lender requirements. That’s why how long it takes to get a personal loan can also vary based on the lender and other reasons.

In this article, learn more about:

How long it takes to get approved for a loan

In most cases, getting approved for a personal loan can take less than 24 hours, or up to several business days. This depends on several factors, such as your credit score, income, application information, whether you supplied the right documents with your application, and others.

It can also depend on where you get your loan from:

1. Banks can take the longest depending on whether you’re already a customer. Typically, they have higher credit score requirements and a more intensive review process, which can make the approval process longer.

If you’re already a customer and have a history with the bank, you may be approved within one or two business days. However, if you’re not, it could take up to one week or longer. Then, it could take up to another seven business days to receive the funds.

2. Credit unions offer personal loans to their members, so they already have information on the borrower’s financial history. Like banks, it can take one business day to one week or longer to get the funds, but the approval can happen within the same day that you apply as long as the application is filled out in full and documentation is provided. It can then take up to seven business days to receive the loan funds.

3. Online banks usually have the fastest approval process for personal loans. Everything is done completely online, from application to approval to fund transfer, which makes online lenders convenient and efficient for many borrowers. An application can be completed within a few minutes, and in some cases you could be approved immediately. The fund transfer typically happens in three to five business days or less.

How long it takes to get a personal loan from top providers

Loan Provider Approval Time Funding Time
SoFi Within two business days As soon as same business day; Within a few days
LightStream As soon as same business day As soon as same business day
Marcus by Goldman Sachs Within one day Within five days
Upgrade Up to three business days Within one to four business days after approval
Avant As soon as same business day As soon as next business day
Discover As soon as same business day As soon as next business day; up to seven business days
LendingClub Within 24 hours Within two days
Upstart As soon as 24 hours As soon as next business day
Rocket Loans One to three business days Two to four business days

How to get a personal loan faster

Regardless of whether you’re getting a loan from a bank, credit union or online lender, there are a few things you can do to speed up the process:

1. Check your credit score. Use a free service to check your credit score and credit report before applying for any loans. Typically, the better your credit score, the better the interest rate you will qualify for and loan terms you will receive. So, review your report carefully to check for any errors and get them corrected immediately.

Even if your credit report is accurate, do some research to estimate what interest rate you can get with your credit score. If it needs improvement, you should take steps to do so before applying for any loans.

2. Prequalify. Most lenders allow you to get prequalified for a loan, which only triggers a soft credit check, so it doesn’t affect your credit score. When you get prequalified, you’ll enter basic information like your credit score, income, desired loan amount and loan term, and you can get an estimated interest rate and monthly payment.

Getting prequalified is not a guarantee your application will be approved, and your interest rate could change, but it’s an effective way to start comparing lenders and finding one that can get you the best rate.

3. Have documentation and information ready. When you apply for a loan, it will ask for information like:

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Address
  • Social Security Number
  • Contact information
  • Income
  • Employment information
  • Loan information, such as requested amount and desired term

In some cases, you will be asked to provide documentation as proof, such as utility bills, W-2s, pay stubs, a driver’s license or passport, or others. Having all this information and documentation prepared ahead of time can help make the application process fast and seamless.

And, when all of the information is provided up front, it can make the application review and approval process faster as well.

4. Apply online. Online applications can be completed in just a few minutes, and the information will go straight into the lender’s system. This eliminates the need for a person to manually transfer and process your application, which can make the process faster. And, because it is automated, you could hear within minutes whether you’re approved.

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What can personal loans be used for?

A personal loan can be used for about any large purchase or expense, such as:

Personal loans can also be used to build credit, as long as payments are made on time. Unlike some loans that have a particular purpose, like student loans or a mortgage, personal loan funds can be spent however the borrower wants.

However, keep in mind it’s important to only apply for a loan if it’s completely financially necessary, because it is a type of debt that could impact your credit score and credit history.

Bottom line

Once you’ve decided that getting a personal loan is right for you, it is important to do your research, shop around, and compare options. This can help ensure you get the best interest rate, loan terms, and lender for you.

Because loans can be applied for with banks, credit unions, and online lenders, there are a lot of options. However, the time it takes to get approved and get funds also varies. Typically, online lenders are the fastest, but factors such as your credit score, credit history, and income can all come into play.

To make the process faster, have information and documentation prepared ahead of time. Get prequalified when you can and apply online for the fastest process.

FAQs

Applying for loans triggers a hard credit inquiry, which can temporarily decrease your credit score. Some experts recommend waiting at least 30 days, but others suggest waiting at least three to six months. This can depend on the credit score you are starting out with.

Personal loans are a type of installment loan, which means they have strict payment schedules. You repay these loans with a series of monthly payments, and in most cases the monthly payment is the same and due on the same day.

In most cases, the better your credit score, the faster you can get a personal loan. Those with credit scores above 670 will have the easiest time getting approved and may qualify for the best interest rates. However, credit scores between 580-669 can still get approved quickly, especially if working with an online lender.

There are a few ways a personal loan will affect your credit score. To start, applying for a personal loan will trigger a hard credit inquiry, which will temporarily decrease your score by a few points and stay on your credit report for two years. Then, because you are taking on additional debt and increasing your debt-to-income ratio, your score may drop. Late or missed loan payments will also significantly affect your score. However, if you make your payments on time, your score may increase.

No, speed is not the only or most important factor in loan approval unless you have a financial emergency and need the funds as soon as possible. Other and more important factors include APR, loan term, loan amount, fees, and monthly payments.