Low-Income Loans: What Are They and How to Get One

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A low-income loan is a personal loan offered to people whose annual income falls at or below a specific amount. In 2024, a low-income earner was anyone who’s previous year gross income did not exceed 150% of the national poverty level – $21,870/year for a single person or $45,000 for a family of four. Read on for tips to apply – and be approved – for a loan.

Facing a financial hurdle with limited resources? 

You’re not alone. 

When unexpected expenses hit and your income leaves little room for maneuver, traditional loans might seem out of reach. But what if there were options specifically designed for individuals like you?

That’s where low-income loans can help. 

Tailored to address the unique challenges faced by those with lower incomes, these loans offer a lifeline during tough times. 

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • A low-income loan overview
  • Different types of low-income loans available
  • How to apply (and be approved) for a low-income loan

A low income doesn’t have to stop you from getting a personal loan. Read on to discover how to borrow the funds you need even if you’re between jobs, making less than you’d like, or struggling with limited means. 

What is a low income loan?

A low-income loan is a type of personal loan designed specifically for borrowers with limited financial resources. 

In 2024, the threshold for poverty is an income of $20,440 for a couple and $15,060 for an individual. Of course, the threshold for lower income can vary based on location, cost of living and household size.

Just because you don’t fall into the U.S. Federal Poverty Guidelines doesn’t mean you’re a high earner.

Unlike traditional personal loans, low-income options often come with:

  • Lower minimum income requirements: Some lenders don’t have minimum income requirements, while others set significantly lower thresholds compared to regular loans.
  • Alternative credit checks: Instead of solely relying on credit scores, lenders may consider alternative factors like your employment history, bank statements, or ability to repay.
  • More flexible repayment terms: Lower interest rates, longer repayment periods, and smaller loan amounts are common features to ensure affordability.

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young couple looking at ipad

Low-income loan examples

No-interest loan programs: Supported by government or non-profit organizations, these offer small loans (usually up to $3,000) with no interest or fees, aimed at covering essential expenses like medical bills or car repairs.

Payday alternative loans (PALs): Offered by credit unions and community development financial institutions (CDFIs), PALs provide small, short-term loans (typically up to $1,000) with capped interest rates and fees, aiming to be a safer alternative to predatory payday loans.

Credit-builder loans: Designed to help build credit history, these loans offer small amounts with secured collateral (like a savings account) and report your repayment activity to credit bureaus.

Until recently, credit builder loans were only available from small, local credit unions – but times have changed. 

Top plans now include:

Low Income Loans vs. Traditional Loans: Key Differences

Income Requirements:

  • Low-income loans: Have significantly lower minimum income requirements, (or sometimes none at all). This makes it easier for individuals who wouldn’t meet the threshold for regular loans.
  • Traditional loans: Typically have stricter income requirements. These are often based on your ability to repay and maintain a healthy debt-to-income ratio.

Credit Checks:

  • Low-income loans: Often consider alternative factors alongside credit scores, such as employment history, bank statements, or ability to repay based on income and expenses. This might allow you to borrow funds even with less-than-stellar credit.
  • Traditional loans: Primarily rely on credit scores to assess risk and determine eligibility. Lower credit scores typically lead to higher interest rates or the frustration of missing out on loans completely.

Repayment Terms:

  • Low-income loans: Generally offer more flexible repayment terms to make them affordable. This includes lower interest rates, longer repayment periods, and smaller loan amounts compared to traditional loans.
  • Traditional loans: May have varying repayment terms depending on the loan type and your creditworthiness. However, interest rates can be higher, and repayment periods shorter, compared to low-income options.
happy couple getting low income loan

Getting a Low-Income Loan: Step-by-Step Guide

Low-income loans offer a lifeline when traditional loans seem out of reach. 

Since lenders often consider multiple factors outside of your income, here’s a step-by-step guide to help navigate the process:

1. Identify your needs: What do you need the loan for? Maybe it’s an emergency expense, car repair, or home improvement project. This helps define the type and amount of loan needed.

2. Research loan options: Explore different types of low-income loans and compare lenders and their terms. Look for reputable lenders with transparent terms, including interest rates, fees, repayment periods, and eligibility requirements. 

3. Gather required documents:

  • Proof of income: Pay stubs, tax returns, or bank statements.
  • Government ID: Driver’s license, passport, or other valid ID.
  • Proof of address: Utility bills, rental agreements, etc.
  • Additional documents: Depending on the lender, some may require proof of expenses, collateral, or references.

4. Complete your application: Be prepared to answer questions about your financial situation and intended use of the loan. You may be asked to list income sources outside of traditional employment, like gig work or social security benefits.

5. Wait for Approval: Processing times vary depending on the lender and loan type. You may be contacted for additional information or clarification. Some lenders offer same-day funding (more on that below), but others might take a few days.

By following these steps and making informed decisions, you can navigate the low-income loan process and get the money you need.

Woman holding a phone that displays PockBox instant loan choices

PockBox: Low-Income Loans for Up to $2,500

Online lenders may be a handy option for low-income earners or those with bad credit because they can have softer borrowing requirements or look at factors beyond your credit and income.

PockBox is a great way to see how much you can borrow without having to download multiple apps and compare your loan options.

Start by answering a few quick questions and PockBox will instantly fetch loan quotes from up to 50 lenders. There’s no obligation to choose any loan so you can find and compare offers that work best for you. 

Low-income loans start at $100 but you may be able to borrow up to $2,500 for larger expenses. With most lenders, you can get your loan by the next business day, and sometimes even faster.

PockBox is free to use and many lenders specialize in borrowers with bad credit, so even if you’ve been turned down elsewhere, you may still qualify for a loan.

Compare loan offers for up to $2,500 >>> Check out the free PockBox app 👈

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Alexander Porter
  1. As of February 13, 2024. Offers may change and may not be available to all users. Eligibity requirements apply. See KashKick's Terms of Service for full details.

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