If you’re struggling to build or repair your credit score, you know the vicious cycle all too well. You need money to pay for, well, life, and some of those payments require credit. But with an iffy score or no access to a bank account, you may find yourself stuck without an option… which means you fall behind on your payments, which means your score gets even worse.

struggling couple

A personal loan can help ease this kind of financial burden by allowing you to finally get ahead. A small windfall can help you pay off existing debts or cough up a down payment on a necessary investment. And although nobody likes to pay money just to have money, there are some fee-free account options that can help you access the loans you need.

Here’s what you need to know to get your hands on that loan you need and turn your financial landscape around.

Can You Get a Loan Without a Bank Account?

Maybe you’ve already been searching for a loan for some time, but you’ve realized you’re missing an important requirement: a bank account. The vast majority of lenders necessitate a bank account to initiate the transaction, as part of their eligibility prerequisites. (You may also have to meet other requirements, such as proving you meet a certain income threshold or holding permanent U.S. residency or citizenship).

And while there are certain loans you can get if you don’t have a bank account, they tend to be short-term loans with very high interest rates, such as payday loans or title loans. And in most cases, you want to avoid them.

What Are Payday Loans and Why Should You Avoid Them?

A payday loan is an extremely short-term loan (usually 30 days or less) with towering interest rates (up to 400% or even higher). Traditionally, the loan was due to be repaid on your next payday, which is where it gets its name.

Payday loans are available from a wide variety of vendors, including storefronts where it’s easy to walk in and secure your loan check the same day. However, just because the money is easy to come by doesn’t mean it’s a good idea! Payday loans often put borrowers even further behind when they find they can’t repay them. And even if you can, you’ll have paid more in interest than you need to.

Installment loans, on the other hand, are a type of fixed-interest loan. They’re repaid on a regular basis (usually monthly) over a longer period of time, such as one to three years. Although your exact terms will depend on your creditworthiness, personal installment loans don’t tend to have the same insane interest as payday loans do; you might find one for about 20% APR (and sometimes as low as 5% for very creditworthy borrowers).

What’s more, installment loans are available for much larger sums than payday loans, since they’re repaid over a significant portion of time. For example, a payday loan might cap out at $1,000, but it’s easy to find personal loans for $10,000 or even higher.

While we certainly don’t recommend taking out more debt than you need, those higher sums may actually help you lift yourself out of revolving credit card debt or other less-than-ideal financial scenarios. A payday loan of $500 or $1,000 rarely will and certainly won’t be worth the hundred bucks or more in interest you’ll pay to get it.

Fee-Free Checking Accounts

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to find a legitimate personal loan lender who doesn’t require a checking account. In fact, all of the lenders we’ve listed below do.

Having to pay a maintenance fee each month just to keep a bank account open is no fun, especially if you’re not in a financial situation where that $10 or $15 is significant to your budget. (And hey, even if you earn a lot, ten bucks is ten bucks!)

But thanks to the internet, you can find a variety of online-only checking options that are actually, real-deal free, with low account minimums and $0 monthly maintenance fees. One of the most well-regarded of these is BBVA.

There are plenty of other no-fee checking accounts available for those willing to forego the sticks-and-bricks bank. And once you sign up, you’ll be eligible to take out the loan you need!

Best Installment Loans for Bad Credit

Even if you don’t have great credit history, these financial institutions may have a personal loan that’ll suit your needs. Some of them can even let you know if you qualify without a hard credit check which will save you from making your credit even worse.

1. MoneyMutual

Operating “at the speed of life,” MoneyMutual understand that sometimes, you need cash right now. That’s why you can get your bad credit loan of up to $2,500 in as little as one business day after your application’s been accepted. You can be approved even if you’ve been involved with bankruptcy or other serious credit hassles.

  • Loan Amount: Up to $2,500
  • APR: Variable
  • Term: Variable

2. Cash Advance

Although the personal loans from Cash Advance are on the smaller end of the spectrum, generally capping out at $1,000, they still offer longer repayment periods of up to a year and much more reasonable interest rates than you’d find at a typical payday loan vendor.

  • Loan Amount: $100-$1,000
  • APR: Variable
  • Term: Variable

3. Lending Club

Lending Club offers personal loans of up to $40,000 with generous repayment terms, allowing you to chip away at the total over a course of up to five years. Depending on your creditworthiness, you may be able to secure a loan with an interest rate below 10% APR!

  • Loan Amount: Up to $40,000
  • APR: 6.95% – 35.89%
  • Term: 36 – 60 months

4. Upgrade

Combining available loans of up to $50,000 with affordable monthly payments and low fixed rates, Upgrade has a one-page application that you can fill out in a flash. Better yet, once you’re approved, the funds will be sent directly to your bank account within a day of clearing any necessary institutional verifications.

  • Loan Amount: $1,000 – $50,000
  • APR: 7.99% – 35.89%
  • Term: 36 – 60 months

5. OneMain

With loans ranging up to $30,000, OneMain is the perfect place to secure the personal loan you need, no matter what you need it for — be it debt consolidation, dealing with an unexpected life event, or even home renovations. After completing the easy online application, you’ll be invited to meet a loan specialist in person to nail down the exact terms of your agreement.

  • Loan Amount: $1,500 – $30,000
  • APR: 16.05% – 35.99%
  • Term: 24, 36, 48 or 60 months

Although living debt-free is obviously the ideal scenario, we all know life is sometimes less than ideal — and in ways that can be pretty darn expensive! Fortunately, if you are in need of fast fash, these vendors can help you find the personal loan you need, even if your credit isn’t quite where you want it to be. (Yet.)