How Do You Apply for a Personal Loan?

The process of applying for a personal loan can seem complex and confusing. When you need money quickly, you may feel that it’s difficult to get a personal loan as soon as possible. Breaking the process down helps make it more manageable. You usually need to determine your personal loan requirements, check your credit score, and compare different types of personal loans to ensure you are getting the best loan for your specific situation. Checking the documents needed to apply for a personal loan is the last step before submitting the application.

Some lenders will allow you to apply for a personal loan online, which could be more convenient for your busy life. 

Personal Loan Application Steps

If you're wondering how to apply for a personal loan in the most efficient way possible, here is a short guide on the requirements borrowers should keep in mind.

Find out how much you need

It is important to evaluate personal loan requirements before you start looking for a loan. Remember that the total amount needs to be paid back plus interest, so be sure to look into your financial situation and confirm you can even borrow. Survey your credit card debt, your outstanding loans such as a car loan or mortgage and confirm your overall net worth.

Check your credit score

Credit scores are one of the most critical parts of the personal loan application process. You should check your credit report to find and fix errors before you apply for a personal loan.

You will likely need a credit score between at least 680 and 720 to qualify for any type of personal loan. A better credit score will secure a lower interest rate for you. The higher your credit score, the more options you will have for lenders and loan offers. 

Compare different types of personal loans

Not all personal loans are created equal. Your personal loan application process should include researching lenders and the types of personal loans offered that could be more tailored toward your specific financial needs. 

Most people may consider getting a personal loan from a bank or a credit union. Others, may look at non-banking financial institutions such as insurance companies or peer-to-peer lenders. You can even apply for a personal loan online. The right loan and lender for you depends on your unique situation.

Check documents required to apply for a personal loan

Applying for a personal loan requires various forms of documentation to prove your identity, address, and income. Here is a list of documents you may need to provide to apply for a personal loan:

Loan application

Loan applications usually require proof of identity, address, and income. While other documents may be necessary, most lenders generally mandate these.

Proof of identity

You can provide proof of identity with a government-issued ID, your passport, or your voter ID card. You can also use other less common documents such as a certificate of citizenship, birth certificate, military ID, or Social Security card. You should use copies of these documents to avoid submitting the original versions to the lender.

Proof of address

The above documents can also prove your address, in addition to a utility bill, a rent bill, or a residential lease.

Proof of income

Lenders generally accept bank statements from the past three months and your two most recent pay stubs. These pay stubs help prove to the lender that you can pay back the loan and serve as proof of employment. If you have alternative proof of income, such as social security or supplemental security payments, you will also be able to supply proof of these payments as proof of income.

Submit your application and receive funds

Once you feel comfortable with the information you've provided, you can submit the application. Depending on the lender, you could get your money the same day, or it could take a little longer. You will also be subject to a hard credit inquiry, which could temporarily cause a minor hit on your credit score.

What do you do if your loan application is denied?

If your loan application is denied, be sure to review the information you submitted. There is a chance you may have filled something out incorrectly, or perhaps you applied for a loan that you do not qualify for based on income. Regardless, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act mandates that the lender provides you with a statement of specific reasons of why they rejected your loan request.

Bottom Line

Applying for a personal loan may seem complicated at first, but taking it step by step can help borrowers just like you to figure out their smartest way forward. The most important step is to use a lender that is suited to your needs and proven to be trustworthy and fair. Be mindful of interest rates and confirm you can pay back the loan before you even begin the process. Keeping these guidelines in mind will have you well on your way to securing a personal loan. Citi offers personal loans to both existing Citi customers and new Citi customers that meet specific eligibility criteria, including an established credit and income history along with additional factors determined by Citi. If you think you could benefit from a Citi Personal Loan, apply online today.

Frequently Asked Questions

What can you use a personal loan for?

The options to use the funds from your personal loan very widely. For example, you could get a personal loan to consolidate credit card debt and potentially lower your interest rate, or you could get one to pay for medical bills once you've worked to negotiate the bills down. Personal loans can even help pay for car repairs or emergency expenses..

What is the maximum amount that can be borrowed with a personal loan?

Lenders generally approve loans ranging from $2,000 to $30,000. Income, credit score, and loan type are all determining factors for how much you can borrow with a personal loan.

How long does it take for a personal loan to get approved?

Your personal loan could be approved on the day you apply in many cases. However, it is more realistic to expect an approval process up to 7 business days. Your funds could also arrive as soon as the day of approval, though time to approval and time to funding are two separate windows.


Disclosure: This article is for educational purposes. It is not intended to provide legal, investment, or financial advice and is not a substitute for professional advice. It does not indicate the availability of any Citi product or service. For advice about your specific circumstances, you should consult a qualified professional.

Additional Resources

  • Start your personal loan application now!

  • Learn how FICO® Scores are determined, why they matter and more.

  • Review financial terms & definitions to help you better understand credit & finances.