How to apply for a personal loan

How to get a personal loan?

If you have a big life event coming up and you need to borrow some money, you could get a personal loan from a range of UK financial institutions such as banks, credit unions and online lenders, including M&S Bank.

Traditionally, you’d have had to go in person to a branch to apply for a loan, but now you can normally apply online.

Why might you need a personal loan? Learn more about the reasons to get a personal loan.

How much can I borrow from a personal loan?

Lenders typically offer personal loans between £1,000- £25,000, although it’s possible to borrow more. How much you can borrow depends on your personal financial circumstances and the lender’s eligibility criteria.

Before you take out a personal loan, think carefully about how much money you’ll need; there’s no point paying interest on unnecessary debt. Next, consider your income and your outgoings, and budget how much you’ll realistically be able to afford to repay each month.

Now you’ll be able to see how long you need the loan for and start comparing options. A loan with a longer lifetime could mean lower monthly repayments, but in general, the longer the loan, the higher the Annual Percentage Rate (APR) so you may end up paying more overall.

Our personal loan calculator makes it easy to see how much you’ll pay back for different loan amounts and repayment terms based on representative interest rates.

How to get accepted for a personal loan?

Personal loans are typically unsecured, which means they’re not backed by an asset like your home. To qualify, your lender will want to see that you can afford the repayments and that you’ve handled credit responsibly in the past.

Here are things you’ll need to know before applying for a personal loan:

  • How much you want to borrow, and for how long
  • What your ideal monthly repayment would be
  • Your reason for borrowing
  • Your employment details
  • Details of your monthly outgoings
  • Details of any existing credit repayments

You’ll normally have to provide certain documents to support your application, including:

  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of address
  • Proof of income

The best time to apply for a personal loan is when your credit score is high. Your credit score determines if you’ll be approved and how much interest you’ll pay, with the lowest APRs typically offered to the customers with the highest credit scores. Check your credit rating before you apply and see if there are steps you can take to improve it.

You may be able to check your chances of getting approved before you apply. With our loan eligibility checker, you can see what loans and rates may be available to you based on your financial situation and credit history.

How long does it take for a personal loan to go through?

It depends on the lender and the strength of your application. It could take hours, days, or even over a week to hear back about the decision on a personal loan, and the same again to get the money into your account.

If you’re unsuccessful, wait a while before you apply for another loan. Other lenders can see that you’ve applied for credit recently when they look up your credit history, and they may see it as a red flag that you’re struggling financially.

If your credit rating is low, take some time to prove you can manage credit responsibly, by making payments on time and clearing debts, and you’ll improve your chances of getting approved next time.

Get a personalised quote to find out if you’re likely to be approved for a personal loan – without it affecting your credit score.

Updated July 2023