Loan eligibility checker

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What is a loan eligibility checker?

An eligibility check can help you get it right first time when you come to make your loan application.

Our loan eligibility checker gives you an indication of what loans you’re likely to be accepted for. The results are based on information from your credit report and the loan provider’s lending criteria.

Why should I use a loan eligibility checker?

It can be difficult to know which loans (if any) you’ll be accepted for. Every time you apply for credit, it leaves a mark on your credit file that lenders can see.

Lenders look at your credit file to see how you’ve managed credit and made payments, including whether you’ve applied for credit recently and if you’ve missed payments or made any late payments. Your credit history is captured in a single number called a credit score. Having a good credit score increases your chances of getting approved for a loan.

Constantly applying for loans and having the applications rejected can lower your credit score and make it harder for you to get a loan in the future.

That’s where we can help. You can check your loan eligibility online with our free checker to see how likely it is that you’ll qualify for a loan, before you apply. This means you won’t waste time chasing loans that may be out of your reach. And you’ll protect your credit score while you’re shopping around.

Why it’s important to consider how much money you need

Knowing how much you need to borrow will help you decide where best to find that extra cash injection.

  • If you only need to borrow a small amount of money for a very short time, consider using your interest-free overdraft, if you have one. If not, it could be worth looking at different current accounts that offer this facility.
  • Credit cards with 0% interest on purchases could be worth a look, particularly if you need to buy something specific. As long as you pay back what you owe within the interest-free period (and make at least the minimum monthly payments on time), you can be smug in the knowledge that the credit hasn’t cost you a single penny extra.

If you need a larger sum of money, a personal loan could be the best answer. You can usually opt to borrow a minimum of £1,000, with upper limits depending on the lender. Most will lend you up to £25,000, although some may go as high as £50,000.

The best APRs (annual percentage rate – this is the amount of interest, plus any fees, you pay on top of your loan) are reserved for customers with the best credit ratings. That’s why when you apply for a loan, you need to know that the APR you see might not be the one you get, unless it’s labelled as a guaranteed APR.

How do lenders decide if I’m eligible for a loan?

Lenders want to be as sure as possible that you’ll be able to pay back the money they lend you and that you can comfortably afford your monthly repayments.

Affordability criteria for each lender can vary, but usually they’ll look at:

  • Your income and job status. A regular income and full-time employment can show lenders that you’re financially stable, which makes them more likely to lend you money.
  • Your credit history. Lenders will look at your credit file to see whether you’ve applied for credit recently and whether you’ve missed any payments. A solid track record of repaying debt after borrowing money shows you can be trusted to take out a loan. When they do a credit check, lenders will also look at your credit rating – the higher your score, the more chance you have of getting the loan amount you want at a decent interest rate.

Compare the Market Limited acts as a credit broker, not a lender. To apply you must be a UK resident and aged over 18 or over. Credit is subject to status and eligibility.

How much does a loan cost?

The cost of a loan will depend on:

How much you borrow

The length of the loan

To find out how much you could afford to borrow, use our loan calculator.

What do I need to use the loan eligibility checker?

To use the eligibility checker, you’ll need to answer a few questions about:

  • How much you want to borrow
  • Your personal details, including employment status and occupation
  • Your UK address history
  • Your annual salary and any other income
  • Any financial dependents
  • Any mortgage or rent payments

This online eligibility check won’t impact your credit score. Once we have the details we need, we’ll let you know whether you could be accepted for a loan before you apply.

Why use Compare the Market?

See loans you’re eligible for from a wide range of providers

Loan providers

We can help check your eligibility and compare a wide range of loan providers, including banks, supermarkets and department stores, to help you find a lender and get a loan that’s right for you.

Popular loan providers you can compare through us include:

  • Tesco Bank
  • Nationwide Building Society
  • M&S Bank
  • Sainsbury’s Bank
  • Santander

Correct as of February 2022.

Author image Rob Silvey

What our expert says...

“We’ve partnered with Experian to provide a free credit score tool to help you improve your eligibility for loans and other credit. Even minor errors on your file can cause difficulties getting a loan, so it’s important to get your credit report in tip-top shape. Checking your report won’t damage your credit score.”

- Rob Silvey, Finances expert

What types of loans can I check?

When you use our eligibility checker, we’ll ask you how much you want to borrow, how long you want to borrow for and the purpose of the loan: for example, home improvements, a wedding, buying a car or debt consolidation.

You’ll then be able to compare suitable loans. You can use the loan eligibility checker to find the following types of loans:

  • Personal loan
    Lets you borrow a fixed amount of money over a fixed term, typically at a fixed interest rate for the length of the loan. Personal loans usually range from £1,000 up to £25,000.
  • Home improvement loan
    Allows you to borrow a set amount for home renovations. 
  • Debt consolidation loan
    Lets you move outstanding debt from your credit cards, store cards, overdraft or other loans to one convenient monthly payment. Although it can be a good way to manage multiple debts under one single loan, you’re effectively taking on more debt - which could cost you more if you extend the length of your loan.

Frequently asked questions

Will using the loan eligibility checker impact my credit score?

No, don’t worry. The eligibility checker is based on a soft credit search and isn’t connected to a real loan application. You can use the checker as many times as you like without it affecting your credit score. You’ll be able to see the eligibility check on your credit file, but the lender won’t.

If you decide to apply for a loan, the provider will carry out a hard search. Each hard search stays on your credit file for 12 months.

How does the loan eligibility checker work?

You give us a few details about yourself, including your name, address and employment details, and we use this information to retrieve your credit file. We’ll compare your credit file to the lenders’ criteria for accepting loan applications, to work out how likely you are to be approved for each loan.

How will my information be used?

You can find full details of how your data will be used, along with important information about your rights, in our Privacy  Policy. You’ll need to acknowledge you’ve read this before you can see your loan eligibility results.

If you’re providing information on behalf of someone else, please make sure they’re aware of our Privacy Policy as well.

How can I improve my credit score?

There are several ways you can improve your credit score and so increase your chances of being accepted for a loan. Here’s a few simple ways to boost your credit rating:

  • Register to vote. Lenders use the electoral roll to verify your identity and where you live, so make sure you’re registered to vote at your current address.
  • Make payments on time. Paying off your credit card in full each month and continuing to pay your bills on time show you’re willing and able to repay debts. If necessary, take a few months to reduce your current debts and improve your overall credit rating.
  • Keep your debt levels low. Try to pay off outstanding debt before you apply for a new loan – lenders might be reluctant to lend you more if you already have a lot of debt.
  • Check your credit file for mistakes and fraud. If you spot anything, you can get it fixed. You can check your credit report online for free at Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.

What are the minimum requirements for applying for a loan?

To apply for a loan, you need to meet certain requirements. These can vary from lender to lender, but typically you need to tick the following boxes:

  • You must be 18 years old or over. For some loans, you might need to be 21 to apply. Some lenders also have upper age limits.
  • You need to be a UK resident with full rights to live in the UK and have at least three years’ worth of UK address history.
  • You need to have a current account.
  • You must not have been declared bankrupt in the past six years.

How long does the loan eligibility checker take?

The loan eligibility checker is quick and easy to use. It takes less than 3 minutes** to get a list of suitable loans to compare and check your eligibility.

**Correct as of March, 2022.

What are hard and soft credit searches?

Credit searches reveal information about your financial behaviour and history found on your credit file. There are two types of credit search:

Hard credit search
A hard credit search is a thorough search of your credit report. Lenders will carry out a hard credit search every time you apply for credit: for example, when you apply for a loan, credit card or mortgage. A hard credit search will be marked on your credit file (usually for 12 months) and lenders will be able to see that you’ve applied for credit.

Soft credit search
A soft search can be used as an initial check to see how likely you are to be approved for a loan or other types of credit.Soft searches aren’t visible to lenders, so they won’t affect your credit score in any way. You can carry out a soft search as many times as you like, as only you will see them on your credit file.

When you use our loan eligibility checker, we’ll carry out a soft search. This will give you an idea of which loans you’re likely to be approved for without it harming your credit score.

How will the loan eligibility checker show up on my credit report?

The soft search used by our loan eligibility checker will appear in a separate section of your credit file under ‘other searches’. Lenders won’t be able to see this, only you. Any hard searches carried out by lenders will be under ‘credit searches’.

What does it mean if I am ‘pre-approved’ for the loan?

When you get the results from our eligibility checker, you may notice that some loans are marked ‘pre-approved’. This is because certain lenders will pre-approve your application for a loan based on the information we’ve given them from our soft search. In most cases, it means that you can go ahead and apply with the confidence that you’ll be approved for the loan.

The lender will then carry out a hard search so that credit reference agencies can mark the credit application on your credit file. It’s also done to confirm your identity and check that you’re not a fraudster.

Just be aware that pre-approval doesn’t 100% guarantee you’ll get the loan. If something comes up in the deeper search that the lender isn’t happy with, there’s a small chance your application could still be rejected.

Is it worth applying for loans if I have a low probability of being accepted?

Each lender has their own criteria, so a low probability doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be rejected. When you compare loans, you’ll see a percentage next to each one. This is called an eligibility rating and shows what chance you have of being accepted for the loan. Although a 20% eligibility rating is pretty low, it still means you have a one-in-five chance of getting the loan.

But is it worth applying if your chances are so slim? If there are other loan offers with a higher eligibility rating, you’re probably better off applying for one of them. Remember, when you apply for a loan, a hard search will be marked on your credit file. If your application is rejected, then it could hamper your chances of finding another loan elsewhere.

What should I do if I’m refused a loan?

If you go ahead and apply, but are turned down, you should try to find out the reason why. It might be something you can rectify, so you’ve got a better chance of being accepted next time.

Whatever you do, don’t immediately apply for another loan somewhere else. It’s more than likely you’ll be rejected again – then you’ll have two hard searches on your credit file.

Check your credit report for any errors or debts you forgot about; a mistake on your credit file can be fixed quite quickly. Then take a few months to improve your credit score before applying again.