Best Short-Term Loans in 2024

A short-term loan is a personal loan with one-to-three year terms

How Does LendingTree Get Paid?
LendingTree is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (such as the order). LendingTree does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.

How Does LendingTree Get Paid?

LendingTree is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (such as the order). LendingTree does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.
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Written by Carol Pope | Edited by Amanda Push and Janet Schaaf | Updated October 26, 2023
How Does LendingTree Get Paid?
LendingTree is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (such as the order). LendingTree does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.

How Does LendingTree Get Paid?

LendingTree is compensated by companies on this site and this compensation may impact how and where offers appear on this site (such as the order). LendingTree does not include all lenders, savings products, or loan options available in the marketplace.
LenderUser ratingsBest for…APR rangeLoan termsLoan amountsCredit score required
Avant logo
(2,682)
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Short-term loans for fair credit9.95% to 35.99%12 to 60 months$2,000 to $35,000580See Personalized Results
LightStream logo
(292)
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Short-term loans for customer satisfaction6.99% to 25.49% (with autopay)24 to 84 months$5,000 to $100,000Not specifiedSee Personalized Results
PenFed logo
(14)
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Small short-term loans7.99% to 17.99%12 to 60 months$600 to $50,000760See Personalized Results
SoFi logo
(97)
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Quick short-term loans8.99% to 29.99% (with discounts)

Pricing Disclosure

Fixed rates from 8.99% APR to 29.99% APR reflect the 0.25% autopay interest rate discount and a 0.25% direct deposit interest rate discount. SoFi rate ranges are current as of 02/06/2024 and are subject to change without notice. The average of SoFi Personal Loans funded in 2022 was around $30K. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed and will depend on the term you select, evaluation of your creditworthiness, income, and a variety of other factors. Loan amounts range from $5,000– $100,000. The APR is the cost of credit as a yearly rate and reflects both your interest rate and an origination fee of 0%-7%, which will be deducted from any loan proceeds you receive. Autopay: The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. Autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi. Direct Deposit Discount: To be eligible to potentially receive an additional (0.25%) interest rate reduction for setting up direct deposit with a SoFi Checking and Savings account offered by SoFi Bank, N.A. or eligible cash management account offered by SoFi Securities, LLC (“Direct Deposit Account”), you must have an open Direct Deposit Account within 30 days of the funding of your Loan. Once eligible, you will receive this discount during periods in which you have enabled payroll direct deposits of at least $1,000/month to a Direct Deposit Account in accordance with SoFi’s reasonable procedures and requirements to be determined at SoFi’s sole discretion. This discount will be lost during periods in which SoFi determines you have turned off direct deposits to your Direct Deposit Account. You are not required to enroll in direct deposits to receive a Loan.

24 to 84 months$5,000 to $100,000680See Personalized Results
Upgrade logo
(2,209)
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Secured short-term loan8.49% to 35.99% (with discounts)24 to 84 months$1,000 to $50,000580See Personalized Results
Upstart logo
(16,478)
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Short-term loan for bad or no credit7.80% to 35.99%36 and 60 months$1,000 to $50,000300See Personalized Results

Avant: Best short-term loans for fair credit

(2,682)
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(2,682)
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9.95% to 35.99%

$2,000 to $35,000

12 to 60 months

Up to 9.99%

580

Pros

  • Offers loans to those with bad and fair credit
  • Highly rated mobile app for account management
  • Offers approval in minutes

Cons

  • APRs not as competitive as some
  • Possible origination fee
  • $25 late payment fee
  • Not available in all states

What to know

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Avant — a lender specializing in online loans — has a 580 minimum credit score requirement. This means that many borrowers with fair credit might qualify. If you’re tech savvy, you might also enjoy Avant’s mobile app. This tool allows you to adjust your due dates, enroll in autopay and sign up for loan reminders via push notifications.

Although you might have to pay an origination fee, it could still be worth it if you’re looking for a short-term loan.

To learn more, read our full Avant personal loan review.

How to qualify

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Avant’s minimum credit score is 580. However, it doesn’t disclose many of its other borrower requirements. You may need to submit bank statements, pay stubs or tax documents to prove your income. Avant may also call your employer to verify your employment.

Avant loans are unavailable in Hawaii, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Vermont and West Virginia.

LightStream: Best short-term loans for customer satisfaction

(292)
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(292)
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6.99% to 25.49% (with autopay)

$5,000 to $100,000

24 to 84 months

None

Not specified

Pros

  • Offers unique programs aimed toward customer satisfaction
  • Competitive maximum APR
  • Flexible term lengths
  • No origination or late payment fees

Cons

  • Must have good-to-excellent credit to qualify
  • No prequalification
  • Cannot change monthly due date

What to know

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If you’re approved for an unsecured loan with a lower rate than LightStream offers, LightStream may beat it by .10% through its Rate Beat program (stipulations apply). LightStream may also send you $100 if you aren’t satisfied during the first 30 days of your loan.

At 24 months, LightStream may not have the shortest minimum term length, but it doesn’t charge any fees or a prepayment penalty. Not all borrowers will qualify, however, since LightStream only approves those with at least good credit.

Read our full LightStream personal loan review.

How to qualify

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LightStream does not have a prequalification process, so you can’t check your eligibility without taking a hard credit hit. The lender also advises that it only approves applicants with good-to-excellent credit. During the application process, it will review your FICO score, credit history, assets, debt-to-income ratio and payment history.

PenFed: Best small short-term loans

(14)
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(14)
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7.99% to 17.99%

$600 to $50,000

12 to 60 months

None

760

Pros

  • Low minimum loan amount
  • Offers joint loans
  • Can prequalify

Cons

  • Must join credit union to borrow
  • High credit score requirement
  • $29 late payment fee

What to know

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Pentagon Federal Credit Union (PenFed) is a credit union with a $600 minimum loan amount. This could make it ideal for those looking for a small personal loan. Its loan terms also start at just 12 months.

Like many credit unions, PenFed’s APRs are lower than many online lenders, but its credit score requirements are steep. Only those with a score of 760 or higher may qualify. However, PenFed might approve you if you add a creditworthy co-borrower to your application.

To learn more, read our full PenFed Credit Union personal loan review.

How to qualify

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You need to become a PenFed member to borrow, but you can prequalify on a personal loan before joining. Membership is open to anyone, as long as you open a PenFed savings account with at least a $5 deposit.

Other than its minimum credit score requirement, PenFed’s borrower criteria is vague. During the process, it may verify your income through your paystubs, retirement statements, bank statements or tax returns.

Sofi: Best quick short-term loans

(97)
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(97)
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8.99% to 29.99% (with discounts)

Pricing Disclosure

Fixed rates from 8.99% APR to 29.99% APR reflect the 0.25% autopay interest rate discount and a 0.25% direct deposit interest rate discount. SoFi rate ranges are current as of 02/06/2024 and are subject to change without notice. The average of SoFi Personal Loans funded in 2022 was around $30K. Not all applicants qualify for the lowest rate. Lowest rates reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. Your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed and will depend on the term you select, evaluation of your creditworthiness, income, and a variety of other factors. Loan amounts range from $5,000– $100,000. The APR is the cost of credit as a yearly rate and reflects both your interest rate and an origination fee of 0%-7%, which will be deducted from any loan proceeds you receive. Autopay: The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. Autopay is not required to receive a loan from SoFi. Direct Deposit Discount: To be eligible to potentially receive an additional (0.25%) interest rate reduction for setting up direct deposit with a SoFi Checking and Savings account offered by SoFi Bank, N.A. or eligible cash management account offered by SoFi Securities, LLC (“Direct Deposit Account”), you must have an open Direct Deposit Account within 30 days of the funding of your Loan. Once eligible, you will receive this discount during periods in which you have enabled payroll direct deposits of at least $1,000/month to a Direct Deposit Account in accordance with SoFi’s reasonable procedures and requirements to be determined at SoFi’s sole discretion. This discount will be lost during periods in which SoFi determines you have turned off direct deposits to your Direct Deposit Account. You are not required to enroll in direct deposits to receive a Loan.

$5,000 to $100,000

24 to 84 months

0.00% - 7.00% (optional)

680

Pros

  • Offers quick loans
  • Large loan amounts available
  • No late payment fees

Cons

  • May pay an origination fee for lowest APR
  • High minimum loan amount
  • Not available to bad-credit borrowers

What to know

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If you have good credit and need money fast, SoFi might be the solution. SoFi is an online lender that boasts same-day funding for the majority of its applicants (with the exception of those seeking a debt consolidation loan). You won’t be on the hook for late payment fees, as SoFi doesn’t charge any.

You may need to pay an optional origination fee to get SoFi’s lowest APRs. This lender also only makes sense if you need a large loan, as its minimum loan is $5,000.

Read our full SoFi personal loan review.

How to qualify

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SoFi, whose minimum credit score requirement is 680, will determine your creditworthiness by evaluating your financial history, credit background and debt-to-income ratio. SoFi also only approves applicants that have the following qualifications:

  • A U.S. citizen, permanent resident or non-permanent resident with valid documentation (such as DACA recipients or asylum seekers)
  • A job or a start date within 90 days
  • If not employed, you’ll need to verify a sufficient income from other sources (perhaps through Social Security payments)
  • Upgrade: Best secured short-term loans

    (2,209)
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    (2,209)
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    8.49% to 35.99% (with discounts)

    $1,000 to $50,000

    24 to 84 months

    1.85% - 9.99%

    580

    Pros

    • May offer lower APRs if you use your car as collateral
    • Lower minimum credit score requirement
    • Wide range of loan amounts

    Cons

    • Not all cars qualify as collateral
    • Charges an origination fee
    • $10 late payment fee

    What to know

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    If you’re willing to use your car as collateral, you may want to consider Upgrade. With an auto-backed secured loan, Upgrade will place a lien on your car in exchange for a lower APR. If you don’t repay your loan, Upgrade can recoup its losses through repossession.

    Secured loans can be risky. However, if you’re able to unlock Upgrade’s minimum APR by putting your car on the line, a secured loan could be worth it for the right borrower. Keep in mind that your car must be less than 20 years old and meet Upgrade’s other collateral requirements.

    Read our full Upgrade personal loan review.

    How to qualify

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    Upgrade isn’t very specific when it comes to its borrower requirements. It reviews your credit score, credit usage and payment history, as well as your requested loan amount and loan term. It doesn’t explain exactly what it’s looking for, though.

    For Upgrade’s secured loans, your vehicle must meet the following requirements:

  • Must be less than 20 years old
  • You must own the car
  • Cannot have a salvage title
  • Must be registered in your name in the state you live in
  • Can’t be a business vehicle, commercial vehicle, motorcycle, ATV or RV
  • Upstart: Best short-term loans for bad or no credit

    (16,478)
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    (16,478)
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    7.80% to 35.99%

    $1,000 to $50,000

    36 and 60 months

    0.00% - 12.00%

    300

    Pros

    • May be available if you have no or bad credit
    • Low minimum APR
    • Customer service available seven days a week (excluding major holidays)

    Cons

    • Potential for high origination fee
    • Only two term lengths offered
    • Charges 5% of unpaid amount or $15 (whichever is greater) for late payments

    What to know

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    Upstart is an online platform that connects borrowers with partner lenders. It considers more than its applicants’ credit scores and instead uses an AI-powered algorithm to evaluate consumers’ education, income, employment status, financial history and identity. The platform states that this model helps approve applicants that would have otherwise been denied.

    But just because Upstart approves you doesn’t mean your loan will be cheap. Its bad credit loans could come with an APR as high as 35.99%. Additionally, Upstart’s origination fee caps out at 12%, much higher than traditional lenders.

    Read our full Upstart personal loan review.

    How to qualify

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    Upstart has clear eligibility requirements. You could qualify with a credit score of 300, and it may approve applicants with no credit at all. Upstart also has the following requirements:

  • A debt-to-income ratio below 45% or 50%, depending on your state
  • No bankruptcy in the last year
  • No open delinquencies
  • No more than six inquiries on your credit report in the last six months (not including student loans, vehicle loans or mortgages)
  • No adverse changes in your credit report between the time Upstart approves you and disburses your funds
  • Can’t live in Iowa or West Virginia
  • What is a short-term loan?

    There is no standard definition of short-term loan, but generally, it’s a personal loan with short repayment terms. A term is the amount of time you have to repay your lender, and you choose it before the lender finalizes your loan. Sometimes, you can refinance a personal loan after the fact to make your term longer or shorter.

    Short loan terms can range between 12 and 36 months, though they may be even shorter depending on the lender and type of loan. Short-term loans may also come with higher minimum monthly payments, but you’ll pay less interest than you would with long-term loans.

    Short-term loan pros and cons

    Some lenders will allow you to modify your loan in the middle of your term; others are less flexible. In other words, you should choose a loan term you can handle — you might be stuck with it.

    Like any financial product, short-term loans come with pros and cons. Consider below:

    ProsCons

     Less interest. The shorter your term, the less interest you’ll pay over the life of your loan.

     Lower interest rates. Personal loans with shorter loan terms typically have lower interest rates.

     Less time in debt. Taking out a short-term loan means you’ll be in debt for a shorter period of time.

     Higher monthly payments. Since you’ll have less time to spread out your balance, your monthly payments will be higher.

     Limited availability. Not all lenders offer short-term loans.

     Can come with risk. Short-term loans usually have higher monthly payments. If you run into financial hardship, a short-term loan could put strain on your budget.

     Predatory lending. A days- or months-long loan term can be a sign of predatory lending.

    How to compare short-term loans

    Comparing short-term loans can be confusing, especially if this is your first time borrowing money. Referencing the definitions below while reviewing your loan offers might make the process easier.

    • Loan term length: Your loan term length is the amount of time you have to repay what you borrowed. Choosing the best loan term can be a balancing act. A longer loan term means you’ll pay more interest, but a short-term loan has higher monthly payments. Use our personal loan calculator to see how different term lengths can affect the total cost of your loan.
    • APR: Annual percentage rate (APR) is the overall cost of your loan, including your interest rate and fees. The lower your APR, the more affordable your loan. Since borrowers with higher credit scores are statistically less likely to default on a loan, lenders give them the lowest APRs.
    • Funding timeline: This measures how long it will take for you to receive your funds. This metric may be especially important if you need an emergency loan. When reviewing funding timelines, be sure to account for the amount of time a lender needs to provide its approval decision, as well as how long it takes to disburse your funds.
    • Fees: Some lenders charge more fees than others. Keep an eye out for origination fees, or an upfront fee that the lender deducts from your total loan amount. While less common, some short-term loans come with a prepayment penalty. This is an extra charge for paying your loan off before the end of your term.
    • Repayment experience: Everyone likes to do business differently. If you usually make online payments on your other bills, you may want to check out lenders’ mobile app reviews. If you enjoy doing business one-on-one, a bank or credit union might be more your style. Make sure a lender can meet your preferences before signing on the dotted line.

    How to qualify for a short-term loan if you have bad credit

    Taking out a short-term loan with bad credit may be possible, but you might want to take the steps below to boost your personal loan approval odds.

    • Check your credit score. Checking your credit score before applying for a loan can help you weed out the lenders that you probably aren’t eligible for. This is especially important if the lender doesn’t offer prequalification (since you’ll have to submit to a hard credit pull to check your eligibility).
    • Make on-time payments. Your credit score is calculated using several metrics. Of them, your payment history is the most significant (it makes up 35% of your score). Suffice it to say, making your payments on time is essential if you’re trying to improve your credit.
    • Pay down existing debt. Many lenders review your debt-to-income ratio (DTI) to help determine your ability to repay a loan. Your DTI compares how much money you make to the amount you spend. Lenders typically consider a DTI below 35% “good.” If yours is 43% or higher, you may want to pay down some of your current debt.
    • Target bad-credit lenders. If you don’t meet the personal loan requirements for more traditional lenders, you may need to apply with those that specialize in bad credit. Do note that while you may find a willing lender by using this tactic, you’ll likely face higher APRs.
     Get free credit score insights with Spring

    Your credit score is more than just a number — so much of your life can be dictated by these three digits. Your credit score can make or break your ability to take out a loan, buy a new home or even land that dream job.

    Keep your finger on your finances with LendingTree Spring. With Spring, you can check your credit score and see how it may be affected if you take out a short-term loan.

    Avoiding predatory short-term loans

    Short-term loans can be helpful, but this product is often used in predatory lending. To avoid being taken advantage of, you might want to avoid a short-term loan if it also:

     Doesn’t require a credit check

     Carries an APR above 36%

     Comes with a prepayment penalty

     Requires a days- or weeks-long loan term

     Has a lot of negative feedback on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s complaint database

    If your short-term loan comes with any of these red flags, you might want to move on to another lender. A predatory loan (such as a payday loan) will likely leave you worse off than where you started.

    Other types of short-term loans

    Thanks to excessively high APRs or extra-short repayment terms, we recommend skipping many of the short-term loans below. Still, knowing what’s out there could help you avoid the cycle of debt.

    Paycheck advance

    Some employers may let you take a paycheck advance, which is like getting paid before you’ve completed the work. With this type of loan, you’ll be borrowing a portion of your next paycheck. This can be handy in the present moment, but not so much for your future self.

    Employers are not allowed to make a profit through paycheck advances, but they can charge a fee or interest to pay for the extra accounting needed to provide this short-term loan.

    Not all employers allow paycheck advances, but there are mobile paycheck advance apps that can help you borrow funds sans credit check. When you get your next paycheck, the amount you borrowed will be deducted from your account, usually with no fees or interest.

    Paycheck advance apps usually only lend a couple of hundred of dollars at a time, at least to start. Take the mobile app EarnIn. When you first sign up, you can only borrow up to $100. But over time, you may be able to increase your paycheck advance amount, up to $750.

    Credit card cash advance

    You can borrow against your current credit card and get a cash loan by taking a cash advance. Since you’ve already been approved for the card, you don’t have to go through another credit check to get this short-term loan.

    You may be able to withdraw funds from an ATM using your credit card that allows credit advances or through a convenience check sent by the credit card company. How much you can access generally depends on your credit limit, but some lenders may have a separate cash advance credit limit.

    Beware: Using your credit card to get access to cash can be expensive. You’ll probably have to pay extra fees, but companies might charge a higher interest rate, too. That interest also begins to accrue immediately, leading you to owe more than you borrowed by your first billing cycle.

    Pawnshop loan

    If you have a valuable item — such as jewelry or a musical instrument — that you’re willing to risk, you could get a pawnshop loan. With this short-term loan, you’ll use your valuable item as collateral. If you can’t hold up your end of the loan, the pawnshop gets your item (for good).

    To make a profit, pawnshops usually offer loans for 25% to 60% of your item’s worth. Since the pawnshop undervalues your collateral, you might be forced to put up something very valuable to get the loan amount you need.

    According to the National Pawnbrokers Association, the average pawnshop loan is $180, and the shop will usually require you to pay back your loan within 30 days. Most pawnshops don’t charge interest, but don’t think you’ll get away scot-free. Instead of interest, they’ll charge fees. Many times, these fees reach predatory levels.

    On the plus side, you don’t need to pass a credit check to get a pawnshop loan. Also, defaulting or making late payments won’t impact your credit score.

    Car title loan

    Car title loans are another type of short-term loan that requires collateral. This time, you’ll use your car title, motorcycle title or truck title rather than a valuable personal item. Like pawnshops, car title loan lenders undervalue your collateral, typically to the tune of 25% to 50%.

    Since the lender knows it can recoup some of its losses through repossession, it doesn’t check your credit or have stringent requirements. On the other hand, you may lose your vehicle if you don’t make payments. Title loans also come with fees that may equate to 300% APR, and you’ll probably only have 30 days or less to pay back what you borrowed.

    Payday loan

    Payday loans are similar to paycheck advances, but they’re offered by lenders rather than your employer or an app. These short-term loans have lax requirements. You usually only need to provide proof of income and have a bank account — no credit check is required.

    While these loans are easy to get, payday loans come with colossal interest rates, like 400% APR. Payday loans typically come with a fee between $10 and $30 for every $100 borrowed, but this depends on state laws. You might also face fees for accessing your loan through a prepaid debit card, if that’s how you opt for payment.

    Even though you’ll pay dearly for a payday loan, you’ll only get a small amount of money in return. While this varies by state, $500 is a common loan size. You’ll also need to repay your loan (plus interest) in one lump sum, usually through your next paycheck.

    How we chose the best short-term loans

    We reviewed more than 28 lenders to determine the overall best short-term personal loans. To make our list, lenders must offer personal loans with a minimum term between 12 and 36 months. The lender must also offer competitive annual percentage rates (APRs). From there, we prioritize lenders based on the following factors:

    • Accessibility: Lenders are ranked higher if their personal loans are available to more people and require fewer conditions. This may include lower credit requirements, wider geographic availability, faster funding and easier and more transparent prequalification and application processes.
    • Rates and terms: We prioritize lenders with more competitive fixed rates, fewer fees and greater options for repayment terms, loan amounts and APR discounts.
    • Repayment experience: For starters, we consider each lender’s reputation and business practices. We also favor lenders that report to all major credit bureaus, offer reliable customer service and provide any unique perks to customers, like free wealth coaching.

    Frequently asked questions

    Whether a short-term loan is hard to get depends on your credit and the lender in question. Many of the best short-term loans are simply standard personal loans with a repayment term between 12 and 36 months.
     
    Generally, it can be harder to qualify for an affordable personal loan with a credit score below 640, but some lenders are willing to loan to bad-credit borrowers at a higher APR.

    The length of a personal loan term varies by lender and the type of loan you choose. For example, payday loans tend to have terms that only extend a few weeks. Traditional lenders may have terms that span at least one to three years.

    As long as your lender reports your payments to the credit bureaus, on-time payments can build your credit. On the flip side, that means that late payments can hurt your credit, too. Not all lenders report to the bureaus, so you may want to spend time researching before taking out your short-term loan.