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9 Personal Loans for Military Veterans, Active Duty

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A personal loan can be a valuable financial tool, whether you want to consolidate debt or pay for an emergency expense. If you’re an active-duty military service member or veteran, loans for military personnel are available to help you meet your financial needs and wants.

Here’s a breakdown of your military personal loan options, as well as alternatives that can provide support.

LENDING PLATFORMAPR RANGE*LOAN AMOUNTLENGTH
Avant9.95%-35.99%$2,000-$35,00024 to 60 months
LendingClub7.04%-35.89%$1,000-$40,00036 or 60 months
Marcus by Goldman Sachs®6.99%-24.99%$3,500-$40,00036 to 72 months
Navy Federal Credit Union 7.49%-18.00%$250-$50,00060 months
PenFed Credit Union6.74%-17.99%$600-$50,00012 to 60 months
SoFi Bank, N.A7.99%-22.73%$5,000-$100,00024 to 84 months
Upgrade6.95%-35.97%$1,000-$50,00036 or 60 months
USAA Bank7.24%-18.00%$2,500-$20,00012 to 84 months
Wells Fargo Bank5.74%-24.24%$3,000-$100,00012 to 84 months

*Annual percentage rate (APR) is a measure of your cost of borrowing and includes the interest rate plus other fees. Available APRs may differ based on your location.

9 personal options for veterans, active-duty military

Personal loans let you borrow a lump sum of money that’s repaid in fixed monthly installments over a set number of months or years. They’re typically unsecured, meaning the lender doesn’t require collateral like your car or home.

Many personal loan lenders offer special benefits for members of the military. Plus, there are federal protections in place to benefit eligible military personnel. For example, interest rates are capped at 6% for eligible active-duty military members through the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA).

Who’s eligible for SCRA protections?

  • Active-duty service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, National Guard or Coast Guard, including reservists serving on active-duty.
  • Active-duty commissioned officers of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration and Public Health Service.
  • Active-duty service members who are absent on account of sickness, wounds, leave or other lawful cause.

Additionally, the Military Lending Act (MLA) caps personal loan APRs at 36% for active-duty service members as well as covered dependents and family members who are in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System.

Not all military personnel are eligible for these protections. For instance, veterans will not qualify for SCRA or the MLA, although lenders may offer other military benefits that apply to veterans, as well.

Here are a few places where active-duty military service members and veterans can receive added benefits:

1. Avant

  • APR rates: 9.95%–35.99%
  • Terms: 24 to 60 months
  • Loan amount: $2,000–$35,000
  • Minimum credit score: 600
  • Origination fee: Up to 4.75%

May be best for: Personal loans for active-duty military members with bad credit

Avant is a personal loan lender that extends its offering to consumers with a less-established credit history.

While APRs can run on the higher side for non-military consumers, it may be a good option for active-duty military personnel who qualify through the SCRA. Avant offers these personal loans with an interest rate cap of 6%, which can provide a much cheaper alternative to a traditional personal loan.

Who is eligible?

You don’t need to be military to apply for a personal loan through Avant, but the 6% interest rate cap is only offered to active-duty service members who qualify for the SCRA.

2. LendingClub

  • APR rates: 7.04%–35.89%
  • Terms: 36 or 60 months
  • Loan amount: $1,000–$40,000
  • Minimum credit score: Not specified
  • Origination fee: 3.00% - 6.00%

May be best for: Online personal loans for active-duty military

LendingClub is an online loan marketplace that offers personal loans for a variety of purposes, offering reduced-interest personal loans to those who meet SCRA eligibility. Qualified active-duty military personnel can get an interest rate of 6% or less.

A unique offering from LendingClub is the joint personal loans, since many personal loan companies don’t let you use a co-borrower. This can be a good option if you don’t have the credit necessary to qualify for a loan on your own.

Who is eligible?

Like Avant, you don’t need to be a military service member to apply for a personal loan through Lending Club, but you need to meet the same SCRA criteria to qualify for the 6% interest rate cap.

3. Marcus by Goldman Sachs®

  • APR rates: 6.99%–24.99%
  • Terms: 36 to 72 months
  • Loan amount: $3,500–$40,000
  • Minimum credit score: 720
  • Origination fee: No origination fee

May be best for: Long loan terms for service members and their families

With loan terms ranging from 36 to 72 months, Marcus by Goldman Sachs provides flexible payment plans for military members and veterans. As an added bonus, borrowers who make their minimum loan payments on time for 12 months in a row may skip a month.

Those who qualify under the SCRA may receive the 6% cap on interest rates. Marcus also allows borrowers to switch their payment due date three times throughout the lifetime of the loan. This lender does not charge sign-up fees, late fees or prepayment penalties.

Who is eligible?

While you don’t need to be a member of the military for a Marcus loan, to qualify for the SCRA interest cap rate, you’ll need to fall under SCRA’s criteria.

  • APR rates: 7.49%–18.00%
  • Terms: 60 months
  • Loan amount: $250–$50,000
  • Minimum credit score: Not specified
  • Origination fee: None

May be best for: Credit union military loans for active-duty service members and veterans

Navy Federal Credit Union offers its financial products exclusively to military service members and select federal personnel and their families. As a result, the terms of these products tend to be more beneficial than your typical lender such as the 0.25% loan discount given to active duty or retired members of the military.

This credit union also offers general unsecured personal loans, as well as personal loans for debt consolidation and home improvement. You can also apply for a savings- or CD-secured loan, which can be a good option for building credit.

Navy Federal also offers its products in tandem with the SCRA, so qualified active-duty personnel may qualify for a personal loan with an interest rate below 6%.

Who is eligible?

You must be one of the following to qualify for membership through Navy Federal Credit Union:

  • Active-duty service members (Air Force, Air National Guard, Army, Coast Guard, Marines and Navy)
  • Delayed Entry Program recruits
  • Department of Defense officer candidates/ROTC
  • Department of Defense reservists
  • Veterans, retirees and annuitants

5. PenFed Credit Union

  • APR rates: 6.74%–17.99%
  • Terms: 12 to 60 months
  • Loan amount: $600–$50,000
  • Minimum credit score: Not specified
  • Origination fee: None

May be best for: Small loans for active-duty military members and veterans

Ranging from $600–$50,000, PenFed Credit Union offers a flexible range of loan amounts that many lenders don’t offer. Borrowers can also skip paying origination fees with PenFed, an extra expense that most lenders tack on to personal loans.

If you don’t have the preferred credit score to be approved by PenFed, the credit union allows applicants to apply with a co-borrower. However, in order to receive a personal loan, borrowers will need to first become a member of PenFed.

PenFed offers personal loans with capped interest rates at 6% and no late fees to active-duty service members and members of the National Guard or Reserves under the SCRA.

Who is eligible?

To qualify for a personal loan with PenFed, you’ll need to become a member with the credit union. Fortunately, PenFed does not have strict criteria for membership. Borrowers provide their personal information then open a savings account with PenFed with just a $5 initial deposit.

6. SoFi Bank, N.A

  • APR range: 7.99%–22.73%
  • Terms: 24 to 84 months
  • Loan amount: $5,000–$100,000
  • Minimum credit score: 680
  • Origination fee: No origination fee

May be best for: Large loans for military members and veterans

While most lenders don’t offer personal loans above $50,000, SoFi offers loans up to $100,000. SoFi also doesn’t charge borrowers origination fees which is an expense you would find with some lenders.

SoFi not only provides same-day funding for borrowers who are approved, they also offer unemployment protection should borrowers experience financial hardship. In this case, SoFi may adjust a borrower’s payments to fit their current situation and assist them in finding a new job.

Service members can apply for a loan with SoFi and receive SCRA benefits should they qualify.

Who is eligible?

Anyone can apply for a personal loan with SoFi as you don’t have to be a member or former member of the military. Applicants may need to meet certain criteria for SoFi (such as a 680 credit score) and will need to be eligible under the SCRA to receive military benefits.

7. Upgrade

  • APR rates: 6.95%–35.97%
  • Terms: 36 or 60 months
  • Loan amount: $1,000–$50,000
  • Minimum credit score: 620
  • Origination fee: 1.85% - 8.00%

May be best for: Military members with fair credit scores

To be eligible for a personal loan with Upgrade, this lender only requires a minimum credit score of 620 making it easier for those with lower credit scores to qualify. While Upgrade does charge an origination fee, borrowers can receive their loans quickly, typically within one business day of being approved.

If a borrower doesn’t quite fit Upgrade’s minimum criteria to qualify for a loan, this lender also offers secured loan options in which applicants can offer up collateral.

Who is eligible?

Upgrade does not require that applicants be members of the military in order to qualify for a personal loan. However, to receive SCRA benefits, borrowers will have to fit the right criteria.

8. USAA Bank

  • APR rates: 7.24%–18.00%
  • Terms: 12 to 84 months
  • Loan amount: $2,500–$20,000
  • Minimum credit score: 700
  • Origination fee: Not specified

May be best for: Personal loans for military members, active or retired, and their families

USAA offers personal loans to eligible military service members and veterans. While the SCRA interest rate cap is an obvious benefit for active-duty military, USAA is exclusive to the military community.

The USAA personal loan application process is fast. You may be able to fill out an application within minutes, and you’ll receive your money within 24 hours on Mondays through Fridays.

Who is eligible?

You must meet one of the following criteria in order to bank with USAA:

  • Active-duty service members, including Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, National Guard, Navy and Reserves
  • Veterans, including retired or honorable discharge
  • Cadets and midshipmen
  • Eligible family members, including spouses, widows, widowers and unremarried former spouses of USAA members, as well as children

9. Wells Fargo Bank

  • APR rates: 5.74%–24.24%
  • Terms: 12 to 84 months
  • Loan amount: $3,000–$100,000
  • Minimum credit score: 620
  • Origination fee: None

May be best for: Bank loans for active-duty military

Wells Fargo offers a range of financial products, including personal loans. Existing Wells Fargo customers who connect their personal loan to their bank account may qualify for an APR discount, too.

In addition to offering benefits for its current members, Wells Fargo also has perks for military personnel. Eligible active-duty service members can qualify for the 6% interest rate cap through the SCRA. Plus, there are also benefits for military families and veterans, including scholarships and VA home loans.

Who is eligible?

Wells Fargo personal loans are available to consumers regardless of military service, but you’ll need to meet the SCRA criteria to qualify for the 6% interest rate cap.

How to apply for loans for military members and veterans

While the process for applying for a loan may vary from lender to lender, typically, this is the process you’ll follow to get a personal loan.

  • Check your credit score: Your credit score can be one of the biggest indicators as to whether you’ll have an easy time qualifying for a personal loan with a lender. Your credit score may also play a definitive role in what kind of interest rates you receive. If your credit score is lower than 670, you may want to work on increasing your score, though some lenders will work with much lower scores than 670.
  • Create a budget: You don’t want to take on a personal loan that you won’t be able to repay, so it’s important that you budget out your monthly income and expenses to calculate how much of a loan you can afford. You’ll want to add some financial padding as well in case you come across unexpected expenses while you’re paying off your loan.
  • Compare lenders: Evaluating lenders to decipher which financial institute is best for you is an important step in getting a personal loan. Be sure to pay attention to the loan amounts, APR rates, terms and fees. By comparing lenders, you can increase your chances of snagging the most competitive offer you may be eligible for.
  • Submit your loan application: When filling out a loan application, you’ll most likely need to provide personal information as well as details about your employment, income, and credit score. After submitting your application for a military loan, you’ll most likely need to verify that information with that lender. A lender may require that you submit a government-issued ID, W-2s, or other documents that demonstrate your ability to repay the loan.

Where to find financial help for veterans

It’s important to keep in mind that both the MLA and the SCRA apply to active-duty military and therefore do not cover veterans. So those individuals will have to be extra careful to make sure that the financial products they get are affordable and do not have unreasonable fees or requirements.

If a personal loan isn’t an option for you and you’re a veteran, there are other options that can help you meet your financial needs. Select programs and organizations provide financial assistance specifically for veterans, including funding opportunities to help you pay your bills and get out of debt, as well as advocacy support:

Operation First Response

Operation First Response provides financial aid to wounded veterans from the time of injury through the recovery process. Payments typically go through the vendor, rather than being disbursed directly to the families.

Who they help: Wounded and disabled veterans and their families.

USA Cares

USA Cares provides emergency financial assistance and post-service skills training. It offers programs for those who have been injured in combat, need housing or emergency assistance and for those who are going through a career transition.

Who they help: Post-9/11 military veterans, service members and their families.

VFW: Unmet Needs

The VFW’s Unmet Needs program provides grants of up to $1,500 to help cover “basic life” expenses. You’ll need to have a qualified financial hardship, caused as a result of deployment or military-related activity or injury.

Who they help: Service members, veterans and eligible dependents as listed under the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System.

VA financial hardship assistance

The VA offers a financial hardship assistance program for veterans who can’t afford to pay for their medical care. It allows veterans to set up a repayment plan, request a copayment exemption or a debt waiver for their VA costs.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the VA canceled and refunded medical copays; however, the organization started collecting copays again at the beginning of October 2021.

Who they help: Veterans who are suffering from financial hardships or an increase in out-of-pocket family health care expenses.

Why military members and veterans may need personal loans

Like anyone else, current and former members of the military can experience financial hardship. This may be in the form of medical bills or financial assistance when making the transition back into living as a civilian. Personal loans require no collateral and can be used for just about any purpose, including debt consolidation, home improvement and credit card refinancing. These types of loans can provide current and former military members with the financial boost they may need.

Tips for comparing military personal loans

It can be overwhelming knowing where to start with military personal loans. Here are a few factors borrowers may want to consider when choosing a lender:

  • Prequalify with a lender: Many lenders offer the ability to prequalify for a loan. This will allow you to check if you meet the criteria for loan approval via a soft credit inquiry without hurting your credit score. Prequalifying will also allow you to see what kind of rates, amounts and terms a lender is willing to offer you.
  • Compare interest rates: If you qualify for the SCRA with a lender, then your interest rate will be capped at 6%; however, it still doesn’t hurt to compare various lenders’ interest rates to see which will offer you the lowest. Interest rates can determine how much you end up paying over time, and the lower your interest rate, the lower you may end up paying over the life of the loan.
  • Evaluate loan terms: Loan terms can be another factor that determines how much you end up paying over a loan’s lifetime. The longer the loan is drawn out for, the lower your monthly payments will be but the more you’ll end up paying in the long run. However, the shorter the loan, the higher your monthly payments will be but the less you’ll be paying in the long term. It’s important to check what kind of terms lenders offer and whether they are flexible enough to fit your specific financial situation and budget.
  • Check for fees: Each lender approaches fees differently. While origination fees are a common expense on personal loans, some lenders don’t charge them and may even skip late fees as well. This is where reading the fine print of any loan offer is important as fees can add up and may cost you more in the long term.
  • Ask about loan support: No one knows what kind of challenges life will present them with, so one important detail to research with lenders is whether they are willing to work with borrowers in case of financial hardship, like unemployment. Some lenders may be willing to offer forbearance or change your monthly payment amounts to fit your current needs.

Loans for military members and veterans: FAQ

Can I get a home loan through the VA?

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) offers home loans to veterans, military service members and surviving spouses of military members. These home loans offer many benefits to current and former military members including no down payments, few closing costs, no private mortgage insurance and low interest rates. You can use a VA home loan multiple times.

Are there loans for military members with bad credit?

Multiple lenders are willing to work with military members with poor credit, including lenders like Avant, Upgrade and Wells Fargo. Improving your credit score can boost your chances of getting approved by a lender as well as qualifying for that lender’s lower rates which are often reserved for borrowers with good or excellent credit.

What credit score do I need for a military personal loan?

The credit score you need to qualify for loans for military members and veterans depends on the lender. While some lenders, like SoFi, require higher credit scores, some lenders, like Upgrade, are willing to work with borrowers whose credit scores are less than perfect.

Do all military loans apply to veterans or just those on active duty?

The type of loan a veteran qualifies for will depend on the lender. For instance, veterans do not qualify for the SCRA or MLA; however, lenders like PenFed, Navy Federal and USAA all cater to veterans. Veterans may also be eligible for VA home loans as well as grants.

What grant options are available to disabled veterans?

The VA offers grants specifically geared toward veterans and service members with disabilities, such as the Specially Adapted Housing grant and Special Home Adaptation (SHA) grant. These grants allow for qualified applicants to modify their homes in order to be more accommodating to their disability, for example, the installation of ramps.

Dan Shepard contributed to the reporting of this article.

 

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