When you’re brave enough to risk it all for your country, there’s no excuse to be left in a sticky financial situation once you’re back in your civvies. But unfortunately, unemployment and poor credit are financial realities facing many of our veterans today, especially those who valiantly served post-9/11.
And what’s even more shocking is that, despite the preponderance of veteran-focused financial and educational resources, the government has yet to set up a direct personal loan program specifically designed for our nation’s heroes.
This means military veterans who find themselves unable to make ends meet are left with the same loan options as the rest of us. Traditional personal installment loans, which sometimes have steep interest rates and credit score requirements, are just not a good option.
There are, however, some online lenders out there waiting to connect you with the resources you need, even if your credit scores leave something to be desired.
Loans for Veterans to Pay Their Bills or Consolidate Their Debts
Although it’s never ideal to borrow money to cover loans you already owe, unemployed or disabled veterans may sometimes find themselves with few other options. This is true, especially if they’re already drowning in debt.
And if you’re dealing with revolving balances as well as bills, the minor windfall of a personal loan can help you get out in front of a bad financial situation. In fact, many veterans use debt consolidation loans to consolidate credit card debt and move forward on building stronger credit for the future.
By paying off multiple debts with one personal loan (and then focusing on aggressively paying down that one), you’ll simplify your monthly payments and potentially save a heap of money on interest.
Best Lenders for Veterans with Bad Credit
No matter what you use your personal loans for, here are some of the best lenders and vendors to consider if you’re a veteran with bad credit.
Offering personal installment loans of up to $10,000 which can be used for any purpose, CashUSA is a great resource to turn to for veterans working on building their credit. Its easy application process is done entirely online, and you may be able to receive the funds in as little as one business day.
- Loan Amount: $500 to $10,000
- APR: 5.99% to 35.99%
- Loan Term: 3 to 72 months
There’s no need to be worried or embarrassed about your credit history when you apply for a loan at BadCreditLoans.
Along with actually getting you the personal loan you need, BadCreditLoans is also committed to helping veterans, and other borrowers get back on their feet with as much empowerment and information as possible. The company offers a wide range of free resources, including information on how to spot scams and basic personal finance best practices.
- Loan Amount: $500 to $5,000
- APR: 5.99% to 35.99%
- Loan Term: 3 to 60 months
This large lender network is available to borrowers in all 50 states, and you don’t have to have a perfect credit score to achieve application approval. You’ll find out your decision in seconds and could have the funds within as little as one business day. With a maximum loan of $35,000, PersonalLoans.com is a great option for veterans who need a fairly substantial windfall.
- Loan Amount: $500 to $35,000
- APR: 5.99% to 35.99%
- Loan Term: 3 to 72 months
Banks and Credit Unions for Veterans and Their Families
Another option that’s available to veterans (and not the general public) is to open an account with a military-focused credit union, association, or bank. These financial institutions may be able to provide you exclusive financial products, including personal, auto, and home loans that will help you take control of your financial future for the long run. All of these come at substantially lower fees and a lower interest rate than traditional lenders might offer.
Proudly serving military members and their families since 1922, the United States Automobile Association (also known as the USAA) is so much more than a military-focused bank.
It also offers its members investment products, retirement accounts, and auto, homeowners, and rental insurance. And yes, they have a competitive personal loan program that can help you get where you’re going.
USAA membership is open to both active duty military and veterans, as well as their families. In most cases, you’ll learn your approved interest rate within seconds of submitting your online loan application. The money is typically deposited into your USAA bank account on the same day.
- Loan Amount: $2,500 to $20,000 or more
- APR: 9.49% to 11.49%
- Loan Term: 12 to 84 months
USAA also provides a military separation checklist to assist with the transition from active duty to veteran status that helps you plan for the future.
5. Navy Federal Credit Union
Although its name may be the Navy Federal Credit Union, membership at this institution is actually open to any current or ex-member of the armed forces, Department of Defense, or National Guard.
Along with a slew of other convenient and well-priced banking services, Navy Federal Credit Union also offers personal loans of up to $50,000, with interest rates starting as low as 8.19%. And unlike many other lenders, you can take out unsecured personal loans with much longer loan terms (up to 15 years) at NFCU.
- Loan Amount: Up to $50,000
- APR Range: 8.19% to 18.00%
- Loan Term: Up to 180 months
6. Pentagon Federal Credit Union
PenFed offers membership and services to those eligible via association membership, employment, military affiliation, and more. With its mobile-friendly customer service options, you’ll have access to and control over your account 24/7.
What’s more, PenFed offers personal loans starting with interest rates as low as 6.49%. Plus, you won’t have to worry about any origination fees or varying loan rates that can ruin your budget. You can use the money however you see fit, and you’ll have up to 60 months to repay it.
- Loan Amount: Variable
- APR Range: Starting at 6.49%, but depends on creditworthiness
- Loan Term: Up to 60 months
Best Resources for Veterans
If you’re having a hard time qualifying for a short-term personal loan, there may be other options available. There are additional resources available to helped veterans get back on their feet.
The best place for veterans to start is by checking out the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA created a federal benefits guide to let veterans and their spouses know what options are available to them. This guide provides information on disability compensation, housing relocation, and educational assistance.
There are also a number of federal grants available to veterans and their families. For instance, the Rural Veterans Coordination Pilot was created for veterans living in rural or underserved communities. The goal of the project is to help these veterans readjust to civilian life.
The Unmet Needs Program is a grant for military families that are facing financial struggles as a result of a deployment. The program comes with a grant for up to $1,500 which can be used for expenses like housing, utilities, food, and clothing.
And veterans who are looking to start a business may qualify for a small business grant. Plus, they may be eligible for additional training and development.
Blue Star Families is an organization that specializes in helping veterans get back in the workforce. The nonprofit offers job training, mentoring, and networking events for veterans.
And the U.S. Chamber of Commerce launched a program for veterans called Hiring Our Heroes. This initiative helps veterans find employment opportunities through job fairs. The program also provides mentorship and free job skills training.
As our nation’s first line of defense, our veterans and military members shouldn’t have to worry about dealing with a financial headache once they’re back on homeland soil. So choose one of the personal loans or credit unions above that offers financial assistance to service members. They can help you get yourself back on your financial footing and managing your wealth on your own terms.