October 6, 2023

How Personal Loans impact your Credit Score: A Quick Guide

Learn how they can make or break your financial future in this concise guide.

Did you know that Personal Loans can help improve 90% of the factors that make up a Credit Score? Personal Loans are a flexible financial tool that people can use to close gaps in their finances, make large expenditures, or consolidate Debt. Personal Loans provide financial freedom, but it's important to comprehend how they might impact your Credit Score. Your capacity to obtain loans, rent an apartment, or even land a job all depends on your Credit Score, which is crucial in your financial life. 

But before we get into the topic, it is recommended first to read about 3 reasons to use Personal Loans to pay off Debt in detail by Bright Money!

This thorough tutorial will go into great detail about Personal Loans and explain how they might hurt your score.

Understanding Credit Scores

Before diving into the details of Personal Loans and their effects on Credit Scores, it's essential to have a solid grasp of what a Credit Score is and why it matters.

Lenders or Financial Institutions assess your creditworthiness using your Credit Score, a 3-digit number based on your Credit history, including your Credit Card accounts, payment history, Credit usage, history length, and recent Credit inquiries, typically measured using the FICO score ranging from 300 to 850. 

Higher scores indicate better creditworthiness, which can lead to more favorable loan terms and lower interest rates. To make wise financial choices, it's crucial to understand Personal Loans, so in this section, we'll explore what they are, the different types, and their main features.

How Personal Loans can affect your Credit Score?

Personal Loans can significantly impact your Credit Score, and this effect is largely data-driven. Here's how timely payments can have a positive impact, while missed payments can negatively hurt your Credit Score, illustrated with an example:

Timely Payments and Positive Impact

When you take out a Personal Loan, your payment history becomes a crucial factor in determining your Credit Score. Making on-time payments consistently is one of the most influential factors that positively affect and help you build a good Credit Score. Timely payments demonstrate your financial responsibility and reliability to creditors and Credit reporting agencies.

Example: Let's say you take out a Personal Loan with a monthly payment of $300. Over the course of a year, you make all 12 payments on time. Each on-time payment gets reported to the Credit bureaus(like Equifax, Experian and Transunion), gradually improving your payment history. As a result, your Credit Score is likely to increase over time.

Missed Payments and Negative Impact

On the flip side, missing payments on your Personal Loan can have a significant negative impact on your Credit Score. When you fail to make payments by the due date or default on the loan, it signals to creditors that you may be a higher Credit risk. This can result in a substantial drop in your Credit Score.

Example: If you miss several consecutive payments on the same Personal Loan mentioned earlier, it can lead to delinquency. Let's say you miss payments for three months in a row. In this scenario, your Credit Score is likely to decrease significantly due to the negative payment history.

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Types of Personal Loans

Secured Personal Loans are backed by assets like a car or house, offering lower interest rates and higher borrowing limits, but the lender can take the collateral if you default. 

Unsecured Personal Loans, on the other hand, don't require collateral and depend on your income and creditworthiness, but often have higher interest rates and lower borrowing amounts due to increased lender risk. 

Fixed-Rate Personal Loans maintain a consistent interest rate for predictable monthly payments, while Variable-Rate Personal Loans have rates that can change over time, potentially starting lower but carrying the risk of future increases based on benchmarks like the prime rate.

Common uses of Personal Loans

Personal Loans are a versatile tool and can be used for a vast range of needs, including:

  • Debt Consolidation: Combining high-interest Debts, such as Credit Card balances, into a single, lower-interest Personal Loan can save money and simplify repayment
  • Emergency Expenses: Personal Loans can provide quick access to funds for unexpected medical bills, car repairs, or other emergencies
  • Home Improvement: Many homeowners use Personal Loans to finance home improvement projects, enhancing the value of their property
  • Education: Personal Loans can help cover education expenses like tuition, books, and living costs
  • Weddings: Couples often use Personal Loans to cover wedding expenses, such as venue rentals, catering, and photography
  • Travel: If you want to take a dream vacation, a Personal Loan can help you in financing the trip

How Personal Loans Differ from Other Forms of Credit

It's essential to differentiate Personal Loans from other types of Credit:

  • Credit Cards: Personal Loans provide a lump sum of money with a fixed repayment schedule, while Credit Cards offer revolving Credit lines with minimum monthly payments
  • Student Loans: Personal Loans differ from student loans, which are specifically designed for educational expenses and often come with more favorable terms for students
  • Mortgages: Mortgages are loans that are used to buy or refinance homes and have longer terms (15-30 years) and lower interest rates than Personal Loans
  • Auto Loans: Auto loans are designed for purchasing vehicles and are secured by the car itself, usually with lower interest rates than Personal Loans
How Personal Loan impacts your credit score? Bright

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The Impact of Personal Loans on Your Credit Score

Your Credit Score is a crucial financial metric that plays a crucial role in determining your ability to secure Credit, obtain favorable interest rates, and even influence various aspects of your life, including housing and employment opportunities. Given its importance, it's essential to understand how different financial actions, including taking out Personal Loans, can impact your Credit Score.

A Personal Loan is a form of installment loan, which means you borrow a set sum of money and pay it back over the course of a set period of time with regular, scheduled installments. Most of the time, these loans are unsecured, which means that no security is needed. Personal Loans may be a helpful financial tool, but they can also have a mixed impact on your Credit Score.

  1. Positive Effects of Personal Loans on Your Credit Score:

  • Payment History: The largest influence on your Credit Score is your payment history, which makes up around 35% of your FICO score. Personal Loans that you take out and repay on time reflect well on your Credit Score. Each on-time payment displays your capacity for responsible Debt management, which over time can raise your Credit Score
  • Diversifying Your Credit Mix: Credit scoring algorithms want to see a variety of Credit categories on your report. Revolving Credit, (Credit Cards) and installment Credit(Personal Loans) are the two main categories of credit. By demonstrating your ability to appropriately manage various forms of credit, including an installment loan like a Personal Loan in your Credit mix can help
  • Credit Utilization Ratio: Your Credit usage ratio might drop if you take out a Personal Loan to pay off high-interest Credit Card Debt and then refrain from racking up new bank accounts. Your Credit Card balances to Credit Card limits are compared to determine your Credit Usage. In general, a lower usage ratio is good for your Credit Score
  • Credit Age: While taking out a new Personal Loan might slightly reduce the average age of your Credit accounts, it can have a minimal positive impact in the long run. As you continue to make on-time payments and the loan age, it can contribute positively to your Credit age

  1. Negative Effects of Personal Loans on Your Credit Score

  • Hard Credit Inquiry: When you apply for a Personal Loan, the lender performs a hard Credit inquiry. This inquiry can result in a slight, temporary dip in your Credit Score. However, the impact is generally modest and diminishes over time
  • Increased Debt Load: If you use a Personal Loan to consolidate Credit Card Debt but continue to accumulate new Debt on your Credit Cards, your overall Debt load may increase. A high Debt-to-income ratio can affect your Credit Score negatively
  • Missed Payments: The most damaging impact on your Credit Score comes from failing to make timely payments on your Personal Loan. Payment history is a critical factor in Credit scoring models, and late payments can even stay on your Credit Report for up to 7 year
  • Default and Collections: If you default on your Personal Loan, and the lender sends your account to collections, this can have a severe negative impact on your Credit Score. A collection account is a significant red flag to future lenders
  • Multiple Applications: Applying for multiple Personal Loans or Credit Accounts in a short period of time can result in multiple hard Credit inquiries, which can temporarily lower your Credit Score

How to Manage Personal Loans Wisely

Managing Personal Loans wisely is essential to ensure that they remain a beneficial financial tool without negatively impacting your financial stability or Credit Score. Whether you're using a Personal Loan for Debt consolidation, home improvement, or another purpose, responsible management is key. Here's a detailed guide on how to manage Personal Loans wisely:

  1. Borrow Only What You Need:

Assess your financial situation carefully and determine the exact amount you need. Avoid borrowing more than necessary, as this can lead to higher interest costs and increased Debt burdens.

  1. Shop Around for the Best Terms:

Before committing to a Personal Loan, first compare offers from multiple lenders. Look for favorable interest rates, loan terms, and any associated fees. Shopping around can save you money in the long run.

  1. Understand the Terms and Conditions:

Read the loan agreement thoroughly to understand the terms and conditions. Pay close attention to interest rates, repayment schedules, and any prepayment penalties. Make sure that you fully comprehend the terms before signing.

  1. Set a Budget:

Create a detailed budget that includes your monthly income and expenses. Factor in the new loan payment to ensure that you can comfortably meet your financial obligations without stretching your budget too thin.

  1. Make Timely Payments:

Making timely payments is essential for keeping a good Credit history. Set up automated payments or reminders to make sure you never forget a deadline. Late fines and a worse Credit Score might result from missed payments.

  1. Put high-interest Debt first:

Pay off high-interest Debt first if you're consolidating Debt with a Personal Loan. Over time, this might help you save money on interest payments.

  1. Avoid Accumulating New Debt:

While paying off your Personal Loan, refrain from accumulating new Credit Card Debt or taking on additional loans. Doing so can increase your overall Debt load and negatively impact your Credit Utilization Ratio.

  1. Emergency Fund:

Maintain an emergency fund in order to cover unexpected expenses. Having this financial cushion can prevent you from relying on additional loans or Credit Cards in times of crisis.

  1. Communicate with Your Lender:

If you encounter financial difficulties and cannot make a loan payment, contact your lender immediately. Some lenders offer hardship programs or can work with you to adjust your payment schedule temporarily.

  1.  Monitor Your Credit:

Check your Credit reports frequently with Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, the three main Credit agencies. Make sure the data is accurate, and immediately report any mistakes. You can track your progress and catch any possible problems early by keeping an eye on your Credit.

  1. Reduce the number of loan applications:

Reduce the number of loan applications you submit quickly. A hard Credit inquiry is the consequence of every application, and these might momentarily damage your Credit Score.

  1.  Plan for the Future:

Consider how the Personal Loan fits into your long-term financial goals. Make sure that it aligns with your overall financial plan and doesn't hinder your ability to achieve other financial objectives.

13. Prepayment Option:

If your Personal Loan allows for prepayment without penalties, consider making extra payments when possible. This can help you pay off the loan faster and thus reduce interest costs.

14. Avoid Cosigning or Guarantees:

Think carefully before cosigning a Personal Loan for someone else or providing a personal guarantee for someone else's loan. Your Credit and financial stability can be at risk if the borrower defaults.

15. Seek Financial Counseling if Necessary:

If you're struggling with Debt management or financial planning, consider Bright Money’s Bright Builder for building credit. Bright Builder helps you create a personalized plan with the help of AI to manage your loans and finances more effectively.

Case Studies and Examples: How Personal Loans impact Credit Scores

To better understand how Personal Loans can affect Credit Scores in real-life scenarios, let's explore some case studies and examples. These cases highlight the various ways Personal Loans can impact individuals' Credit profiles, both positively and negatively.

Case Study 1: Improving Credit Score through responsible borrowing

Background: Sarah had a Credit Score of 620 and a mix of Credit Card Debt. She decided to take out a Personal Loan to consolidate her high-interest Credit Card balances.

Impact on Credit Score:

  • Initial Impact: Sarah's Credit Score experienced a minor dip due to the hard inquiry when applying for the Personal Loan, reducing it to 615
  • Positive Impact Over Time: As Sarah consistently made on-time payments on her Personal Loan, her Credit Score gradually improved
  • Reduced Credit Utilization: By paying off her Credit Cards with the Personal Loan, Sarah lowered her Credit Utilization Rate, further benefiting her Credit Score.
  • Credit Mix: The Personal Loan diversified her Credit mix, positively contributing to her Credit profile

Overall Outcome:

Over the course of a year, Sarah's Credit Score increased to 685, providing her with access to better loan terms and lower interest rates.

Case Study 2: Maintaining Good Credit with timely payments

Background: John took out a Personal Loan to finance his home renovation project.

Impact on Credit Score:

  • Initial Impact: John's Credit Score experienced a slight drop due to the hard inquiry when applying for the loan, going from 730 to 725
  • Consistent Payments: John made all his Personal Loan payments on time, which had a positive impact on his payment history
  • Diversified Credit Mix: The Personal Loan added an installment account to John's Credit mix, improving his Credit profile
  • Longer Credit History: Since John maintained his other Credit accounts, the impact on his Creditage was minimal

Overall Outcome: 

John's Credit Score remained stable, and he successfully completed his home renovation project without any negative Credit consequences.

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Case Study 3: Defaulting on a Personal Loan

Background: Mark took out a Personal Loan to cover an unexpected medical expense. However, due to unforeseen financial difficulties, he was unable to make his loan payments.

Impact on Credit Score:

  • Initial Impact: Mark's Credit Score experienced a notable decrease after missing his first Personal Loan payment, dropping from 680 to 600
  • Continued Default: As Mark continued to miss payments, his Credit Score plummeted further
  • Collection Efforts: The lender eventually sent the defaulted loan to collections, which had a severe negative impact on Mark's Credit
  • Long-Term Consequences: Mark's Credit Score remained low for several years, making it challenging to secure new Creditor favorable loan terms

Overall Outcome: 

Mark's Credit Score suffered long-lasting damage due to the default on his Personal Loan, highlighting the importance of responsible borrowing and communication with lenders during financial difficulties.

Case Study 4: Paying off a Personal Loan early

Background: Emily took out a Personal Loan to cover her wedding expenses, and she decided to pay it off early using a work bonus.

Impact on Credit Score:

  • Initial Impact: Emily's Credit Score initially experienced a minor dip due to the hard inquiry, dropping from 710 to 705
  • Early Repayment: Emily paid off her Personal Loan in full, well before the loan term ended, which had a positive impact on her Credit Score
  • Improved Credit Utilization: With the loan paid off, Emily's Credit Utilization Rate improved

Overall Outcome: 

Emily's Credit Score quickly rebounded, reaching 720, demonstrating how responsible financial management, including early loan payoff, can positively impact Credit Scores.


According to Experian, one of the major Credit reporting agencies in the United States, the average Personal Loan balance in the second quarter of 2021 was $16,651. Personal Loans are a necessary tool that, depending on how you manage them, can either help or hurt your Credit Score. Maintaining a sound Credit profile requires an understanding of the subtleties of Credit scoring and prudent Debt management.

Personal Loans can assist you in reaching your financial objectives and enhancing your creditworthiness when utilized responsibly. However, careless borrowing and poor handling of Personal Loans can result in damage to your Credit Score that may take years to repair.

Start Your Journey to Financial Freedom Today! Sign Up for Bright Money and Take Control of Your Finances.

Recommended Read: Can 2 Secured Credit Cards Build Credit Faster?  


  1. How do Personal Loans impact my Credit Score?

Personal Loans can both positively and negatively impact your Credit Score. Making timely payments and managing the loan responsibly can boost your score, while late payments or defaults can harm it.

  1. Do Personal Loan applications hurt my Credit Score?

Yes, applying for a Personal Loan typically results in a hard Credit inquiry, which can thus lower your Credit Score temporarily. However, the impact is usually modest and short-lived.

  1. How can I use a Personal Loan to improve my Credit Score?

You can use a Personal Loan to consolidate high-interest Debt, reduce Credit Card balances, and make consistent, on-time payments to enhance your Credit Score over time.

  1. Can a Personal Loan lower my Credit Utilization Ratio?

Yes, using a Personal Loan to pay down Credit Card Debt may lower your Credit Utilization Ratio, which may positively affect your Credit Score.

  1. How long does it take for a Personal Loan to positively affect my Credit Score?

The impacts of a Personal Loan on your Credit Score can start as soon as you make on-time payments, but significant improvements may take several months or more.

  1. What happens to my Credit Score if I miss a Personal Loan payment?

Missing a Personal Loan payment can have a detrimental effect on your Credit Score. Late payments may stay on your Credit report for as long as seven years and lower your score significantly.

  1. Should I close a paid-off Personal Loan account?

Closing a paid-off Personal Loan account will reduce your Credit mix and average account age, which can both impact your Credit Score. If there are no yearly fees, it is often a good idea to keep the account open.

  1. Can a Personal Loan be used to build Credit if I have no Credit history?

Yes, Personal Loans can be used to establish a Credit history, especially if you have no previous Credit accounts. However, obtaining a loan may be more challenging, and interest rates may be higher.

  1. Do all lenders report Personal Loan activity to Credit bureaus?

Not all lenders report to Credit bureaus, but many do. To ensure your Personal Loan activity benefits your Credit Score, choose a lender that reports to the major Credit bureaus.

  1. How can I monitor the impact of my Personal Loan on my Credit Score?

Through a variety of paid or free Credit monitoring programs, you can keep an eye on your Credit Score and report. Reviewing your Credit report on a regular basis enables you to keep track of changes and identify potential problems.

  1. Can I pay off a Personal Loan early without hurting my Credit Score?

Paying off a Personal Loan early is normally a positive financial move and doesn't typically hurt your Credit Score. In fact, it can reduce your overall Debt and interest costs.

  1. Should I use a Personal Loan for emergencies or unforeseen expenses?

While Personal Loans can be used for emergencies, it's important to consider the interest rate and fees. Building an emergency fund is a more cost-effective way to handle unexpected expenses.

  1. What is the ideal Debt-to-income ratio when applying for a Personal Loan?

Lenders often prefer a Debt-to-income ratio of 36% or lower when approving Personal Loans. This ratio reflects your ability to manage the additional loan payment alongside your existing Debts.

  1. Can I qualify for a Personal Loan with a low Credit Score?

It's possible to qualify for a Personal Loan with a low Credit Score, but you may face higher interest rates. Explore options like secured Personal Loans or improving your Credit Score before applying.

  1. Are there any alternatives to Personal Loans that won't affect my Credit Score?

While most Credit products have some impact on your Credit Score, alternatives like budgeting, negotiating with creditors, or seeking assistance from nonprofit Credit counseling agencies may help without affecting your Credit Score directly.




Disclaimer: Bright Credit is a line of Credit that can be used to pay off your Credit cards. Subject to Credit approval. Variable apr range from 9% –24.99%, Credit limit ranges from $500 - $8,000. Apr will vary based on prime rates.  Final terms may vary depending on Credit review. Monthly minimum payments are as low as 3% of the outstanding principal balance plus the accrued interest. Also, you can choose to pay more than the minimum due if you want to pay down the loan faster. Creditline originated by bright or cbw bank, member fdic. Products and services subject to state residency and regulatory requirements. Bright Credit is currently not available in all states

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