How to Get a Loan If You Are Unemployed

Getting a lender to approve a loan when you don't have a steady job can be a challenge. There are, however, other ways to show an income stream or get a loan with the help of a co-signer.

Verify an Income Stream

A lender wants to see how you support yourself and how you intend to repay the loan you're asking for. If you’re self-employed, this might mean showing a profit and loss statement. If you receive dividends from interest-bearing investments or income from investment properties, a bank will want to see earning statements, signed lease agreements or other paperwork indicating how much money you get and when you get it. If you receive Social Security or income from a pension or retirement fund, a bank statement can help verify proof of income.

Get a Co-signer

Another option for securing a loan when you’re unemployed is to bring on a co-signer. This may be a family member or close friend who has good credit and is willing to take over loan payments if for any reason you default. A lender will check your credit score and the credit score of your co-signer, and will verify your co-signer’s income before making a decision. The amount loaned, interest rate and terms will be largely based on your combined credit and income figures.

Lending Sources

Traditional lenders like banks, credit unions and auto finance companies will have the strictest application guidelines. Other options for securing a loan when you’re unemployed include seeking a personal loan from a family member. If you need fast cash for a short period of time, you might consider a pawnshop, car title loan or payday loan company. Such lenders can have excessively high interest rates, and if you don't repay the loan and interest in the agreed-upon timeframe, interest, fees and penalties can snowball and put you into a downward financial spiral. Use this only as an absolute last resort.