Personal Loans to Fix Bad Credit: Smart or Risky Strategy?

Personal Loans to Fix Bad Credit: Smart or Risky Strategy?

If you have “bad credit”, a number typically below 670, you know how much it limits your financial options. Higher interest rates, difficulty getting approved for loans and credit cards, and even trouble securing housing or employment can all be consequences. While it might seem counterintuitive, personal loans to fix bad credit can be a surprisingly useful tool but it requires careful consideration and planning.

The most common reasons for bad credit include late or missed payments, excessive debt, and a limited credit history. Taking out a personal loan and managing it responsibly can address some of these issues. However, it’s important to understand that personal loans for those with bad credit often come with higher interest rates. This strategy should only be used if you are certain you can afford the monthly payments.

Let’s delve into the pros, the cons, and when using personal loans to fix bad credit might be a smart strategy – or a risky trap to avoid at all costs.

How Personal Loans Can Help Improve Credit

At first glance, taking on more debt to fix bad credit might seem like a bad idea. However, when used responsibly, personal loans can be a tool to rebuild your credit score in several ways:

  • Positive Payment History: Your payment history accounts for roughly 35% of your credit score. Every on-time payment you make on your personal loan is reported to the credit bureaus, demonstrating your reliability as a borrower.
  • Lowering Credit Utilization: This refers to the percentage of your available credit that you’re currently using. High credit utilization hurts your score. If you use a personal loan to consolidate credit card debt, you decrease your credit utilization ratio, which can improve your credit score.
  • Establishing a Track Record: If you have limited or damaged credit history, a personal loan provides an opportunity to create a positive track record of responsible borrowing and payments with a lender.

The Risks of Personal Loans for Bad Credit

While personal loans can be a credit-building tool, they also carry significant risks, especially if you already have a history of financial difficulties. It’s essential to weigh these risks carefully before taking on this kind of debt:

  • High Interest Rates: Borrowers with bad credit are often offered less favorable terms, including significantly higher interest rates. These high rates mean you’ll end up paying much more for the loan over time, which can make getting out of debt even more difficult.
  • The Danger of More Debt: If the underlying spending habits that led to bad credit aren’t addressed, taking on a personal loan simply adds to your overall debt burden. This could lead to a cycle of debt that’s even harder to break free from.
  • Further Credit Score Damage: Any missed payment on your personal loan will reflect negatively on your credit history. If you’re unable to keep up with payments, you risk damaging your credit score even further.

When to Consider Personal Loans to Fix Bad Credit

Using a personal loan to fix bad credit is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It’s a strategy that carries both risks and potential benefits. Here’s when it might make sense to consider this approach:

  • You Have a Solid Repayment Plan: Before taking out a loan, create a detailed budget and be certain you can comfortably afford the monthly payments. If you’re not confident about your ability to repay on time, this strategy is likely too risky.
  • You Can Secure a Lower Interest Rate: If you’re consolidating credit card debt, the personal loan’s interest rate needs to be significantly lower than your credit card rates to make it worthwhile. Otherwise, you’ll end up paying more in interest over time.
  • You’re Ready to Change Your Habits: Getting a personal loan won’t magically fix your credit. If you don’t address the underlying behaviors that caused your bad credit (like overspending or missing payments), you’re likely to end up in the same situation again.

Alternatives to Personal Loans

If a personal loan seems too risky or you don’t qualify for a reasonable interest rate, there are other options to rebuild your credit:

  • Credit-Builder Loans: These loans are specifically designed for people with bad or limited credit. The loan amount is held in a secured account while you make payments. After the loan term, the funds are released to you, and your on-time payments are reported to the credit bureaus.
  • Secured Credit Cards: With a secured credit card, you put down a cash deposit as collateral. Your credit limit is usually equal to your deposit. Using the card responsibly and making on-time payments can help build your credit history.
  • Non-profit Credit Counseling: Reputable credit counseling agencies can help you develop a budget, manage your debt, and offer guidance on improving your credit score.

What to Consider Before Committing to a Personal Loan

Taking on a personal loan to repair your credit is a significant decision. Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you fully consider the following factors:

  • Your Total Cost of Borrowing: Don’t just focus on the monthly payment. Calculate the total amount you’ll repay over the life of the loan, including interest and any fees.
  • Available Terms: Compare interest rates, repayment periods, and any prepayment penalties from multiple lenders.
  • Eligibility: Before applying, check lenders’ minimum credit score requirements and other eligibility criteria to avoid unnecessary hard inquiries on your credit report.
  • The Impact on Your Debt-to-Income Ratio (DTI): Lenders consider your DTI, which compares your monthly debt payments to your income. Adding a personal loan payment will increase your DTI, potentially making it harder to qualify for other credit in the future.


Using personal loans to fix bad credit can be a smart strategy, but only if used as part of a larger strategy to improve your financial health and spending habits. They present both a potential path to better credit and significant risks if not managed responsibly.

Before taking on a personal loan, it’s crucial to weigh the pros and cons carefully. If you have a solid repayment plan, can secure a good interest rate, and are committed to addressing the root causes of your credit issues, a personal loan might be a smart strategic step.

However, if you’re unsure of your ability to manage the debt or find that the interest rates are too high, consider the alternative credit-building options available. Ultimately, rebuilding your credit takes time and effort, but with smart choices and a focus on healthy financial habits, it’s achievable.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, there are lenders who specialize in offering personal loans to borrowers with bad credit. However, be prepared for higher interest rates and potentially less favorable terms compared to loans offered to those with good credit.

There’s no instant fix for bad credit. Using a personal loan responsibly can help improve your score over time, but it requires consistent on-time payments and good financial habits. The process may take several months or even years.

This can be a smart strategy if the personal loan has a significantly lower interest rate than your credit cards and you’re confident in your ability to make the loan payments on time.

The biggest risks are ending up with even more debt if you don’t address your spending habits, and potentially damaging your credit further with missed payments. High interest rates can also make it expensive to borrow money.

Yes! Options include credit-builder loans, secured credit cards, and working with a non-profit credit counseling agency.

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