Bad Credit Loans

Studying at university and struggling to make ends meet? You’re not alone – nearly 80% of all students worry about money, according to 2019 research. But what can you do when you need something to see you through to your next student loan instalment? It can seem hard to find a lender who’ll give you a chance; especially if your credit score is anything less than perfect.

Lenders who offer dedicated loans for students with bad credit might seem like the ideal option. But it doesn’t mean they actually are. Here at Smart-Pig, we aim to make sure you can get the financial help that’s right for you. And we do this by looking at things a little differently. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach with us – because we know that you and your situation are unique.

We think that everyone should have a chance to get the support they need. Each application we receive is given the same consideration – no matter what your credit score is. After all, studying should be a fun and fulfilling experience. It shouldn’t be a time when you’re worrying about how to pay that next bill or supermarket trip. And that’s why our loans are for students, by students.

What is bad credit?

So, why do some lenders offer these student loans for people with bad credit? Well, if you don’t have a spotless credit record, it's known as bad (or poor) credit. It’s not just students who may be affected by this either. Millions of people across the UK are in the same boat.

Bad credit is a particular issue for students because it also applies to anyone with no history of using credit. That’s likely to apply to you if you’ve only just turned 18. But, while it sounds like bad news, it doesn’t have to be. And we certainly don’t believe that it should be.

You can apply for a Smart-Pig student loan – without fretting about your credit score. For us, it matters more that a loan is right for your circumstances. And that’s what we always look for.

Why do I have bad credit?

In a lot of cases, the cause of bad credit comes down to one of two reasons.

The first (as we mentioned above) is not having any credit record. You can’t get a loan or credit card until you’re 18 years old. So, it’s not easy for students to build up a healthy track record of using credit. This is what a lender uses to work out if you’re likely to pay them back.

The second reason is past struggles with credit. It can include things like a late/missed payment or going over your credit limit. In more extreme cases, having a County Court Judgement (CCJ) or being made bankrupt can harm your credit score.

A low (or non-existent) credit score can mean some lenders are less able to help out if you need credit. But there are also other lenders who can.

Why is my credit score important?

A credit score is a bit like a financial CV. It gives lenders an insight into how you’ve used money and credit in the past. And it helps them to decide if they can accept your application – whether it’s for a credit card, loan or even a mobile phone contract.

If your score isn’t brilliant, it can mean you miss out on some of the things you might apply for. Once you leave university, this can be really frustrating and upsetting. That’s why it’s important to build up your credit score and keep it as high as you can.

Can I get a student loan with bad credit?

The simple answer is “yes”. As a company founded by students for students, our core aim is to help our fellow students out when they need it most. That’s what makes us different – and it’s why we’re one of the few lenders who don’t just see you as a number.

You can be sure we’ll always look at every application – no matter how good or bad your credit score is. In fact, we take a more holistic approach to our assessments. It’s not only about your credit score, but your personal credentials as well.

We feel that every student that comes to us for financial help should have that chance.

Why choose Smart-Pig student loans if you have bad credit?

At Smart-Pig, we aren’t offering student loans for bad credit – but short-term student loans that we want to be the right fit for you. Our loans are clear and transparent. We agree the details up front, so there’s no hidden charges and no nasty surprises.

That’s how it should be – and that’s how it is.

The support we aim to offer all students is built on trust. And it’s a two-way thing. You can trust us to offer financial support that helps make ends meet. In return, we trust you to pay back the amount you borrow on the date we agree at the start.

Here are a few more reasons why applying for a loan – even with bad credit – is simple with us:

  • No Late Payment Fees: If you’re late paying back your loan because the Student Loans Company (SLC) is late paying you, don’t panic – we have NO late fees.
  • 10-Day Grace Period: You’ll automatically go into our 10-day grace period if your payment fails because your student finance is delayed. During this time, it won’t be reported either – meaning it won’t show up on your credit report as a late payment.
  • Capped Interest: The interest on our loans is capped, which means you’ll NEVER pay more than 50% of what you borrow.
  • No Rollovers Allowed: We won’t let our loans turn into long-term problems as we don’t allow them to rollover.
  • Fair and Ethical: At Smart-Pig, we’re committed to responsible lending – always putting you at the heart of what we do and the financial support we can offer.
  • We Know Students: After all, we ARE students. Our story started when we saw other students being unfairly treated by other payday lenders.
  • Fully Authorised: We’re authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. We’re also members of the Consumer Finance Association.
  • ‘Excellent’ Rating: For some people, the most convincing reason is the experience of others. So, why not check out why our customers rate us ‘Excellent’ on Trustpilot?

We also have a friendly, UK-based customer service team who are ready to help if you need us. For any questions about our loans or anything else, call us on 0203 5071 930 or email [email protected].

Smart-Pig student loans: What are the advantages?

We pride ourselves on having your best financial interests at heart – providing loans to students when they’re needed most. And there are a few advantages when you apply to us for support:

  • You can apply for a Smart-Pig loan online. The whole process only takes 15 minutes and we’re here to guide you every step of the way.
  • You can top your loan up to your limit, change the due date (up until your student loan date) or pay back your loan early to reduce the interest you pay.
  • You can get a quick short term loan for students from us – with good or bad credit. Once approved, you can expect your money on the same day. Normally, it’ll be with you within 1 hour.
  • You can borrow up to £350 for up to 6 months, based on what we think you can afford.

One of the biggest upsides of a Smart-Pig loan is that they can even help you build your credit score. It’s not a quick fix, of course. But when you repay your loan when you say you will, it’ll be noted on your credit file.

That’ll show future lenders you’re a responsible borrower – boosting your chances of approval.

What are the disadvantages of student loans for bad credit?

With some student loans for bad credit on the market, you can’t be sure that a lender is making sure it’s the right option for you and your current situation. So, you could find that – instead of helping you – it actually makes things worse. And that’s something that we never want to see.

Even with a Smart-Pig loan, however, there are things to be aware of.

To start with, applying for a short-term loan will leave a mark on your report. This is typically only minor – but it does mean that applying for too many loans in a short space of time can be a warning sign to potential lenders.

It’s also important to pay back your loan on time. Not doing so will be noted as a late payment on your report and can pull down your credit score. But, as a responsible lender, we always try to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Why do I need a Smart-Pig loan?

There’s no one set reason why you’ll need to take out a Smart-Pig loan. According to the 2019 National Student Money Survey, UK students are left short each month by an average of £267. And that’s money that can be needed for many different reasons.

The one common factor, if there is one, is that being a student means you aren’t likely to have a great credit record – or one at all. That means finding a lender who is not only able to help, but one that “gets” you too. And that’s where our quick student loans come in.

What can I use my loan for?

Apart from your studies, going to university is about learning to live on your own – often for the first time. With it, you get all the costs that come with independent living. And that cost is going up each year. Once your rent comes out of the bank account, there’s not always much left over.

It can be hard when the next student loan payment is still a few weeks or months away too.

So, here are a few of the things you might need to use your Smart-Pig student loan for:

  • Extra course materials (e.g. textbooks)
  • Going to/from home by car, rail or coach
  • Food, drink and other supermarket items
  • Gas, electric, broadband or mobile bills

If there’s something that needs to be paid for and the funds are running low, you can apply for a short term loan for students from Smart-Pig today.

Can you consolidate private student loans with bad credit?

Our short-term loans could be the ideal solution in many different circumstances. But we don’t recommend applying if you plan to use your loan to repay other debt – no matter how good or bad your credit score is. This can make your personal situation worse. And that’s something we definitely want to avoid doing. It’s all part of our ethos as a Responsible Lender.

For any debt concerns you have, free and impartial advice is available from StepChange or the Money Advice Service.

How do Smart-Pig’s student loans work?

At Smart-Pig, you can apply for a loan up to £350 and for as long as 6 months. The exact length and amount, however, is based on the checks we’ll do when you apply. This just helps us to make sure that you can afford to pay back what you borrow.

The interest on our loans is charged at 0.8% per day. It’s added each day – but will stop once it hits 50% of the amount you borrow. This does also mean, however, that you’ll only pay interest on the days you still have the loan – and paying back early can reduce that total amount.

Let’s give you a real-world example.

If you take out a £200 loan for 30 days, the total amount to pay back will be £248 – that’s the original amount, plus £48 interest. But if you apply for the same amount for a 6-month period, £300 is what you’ll pay back. The interest is capped at 50% – so would never be more than £100 in this instance.

Why not find out more information about how our loans for students work?

Can I get a private student loan with bad credit?

If you’re interested in applying for a private student loan where your credit score won’t be the be-all-and-end-all of the decision, you can turn to us if the following ALL apply:

  • You study at a UK university
  • You get a student loan, grant or bursary from Student Finance England/Wales, Student Awards Authority Scotland (SAAS) or the NHS
  • You’re a permanent resident of the UK
  • You’re at least 18 years old

We may also be able to help if you’re continuing your studies after receiving a degree. Find out more about our postgraduate loans if that sounds like you.

Can I apply for a Smart-Pig student loan without a credit check?

No. We don’t offer student loans without a credit check. It’s a necessary part of the application process. But, unlike other lenders, we won’t make decisions based solely on your credit report. We’ll also look at your personal situation to find out if our loans are the right option for you.

What do I need to apply for a Smart-Pig loan?

You must have a valid UK bank account and debit card in your name to apply for a short-term loan from Smart-Pig. This is because we take your repayment using your card details. You can find out more about this by reading about how our loans work.

We also need to know the exact date when your next student loan instalment is due. So, it’s a good idea to have your SLC timetable to hand. This can either be the paper version or by logging into your online SLC account.

If we’re not able to confirm your bank details, we may also ask for extra information to verify your identity – and here are the documents we can accept.

You can also contact our friendly team at any time if you’re stuck on something or need a little bit of guidance. You can call us on 0203 5071 930 or email [email protected].

How do I apply?

It’s easy to apply for one of our loans. You can apply now – or go to the Smart-Pig homepage and use our interactive tool to decide the amount/length of time.

We must know exactly when you expect to get the next part of your student loan, however. You can find this online. Our guide on How To Get Your Student Finance Document will show you.

Your Student Finance England/Wales, SAAS or NHS letter also tell you this.

After that, the application process just takes a few simple steps and you’re all done.

What happens next?

We’ll use all the information you provide to make sure that it’s all correct and that your student loan is genuine. We’ll also confirm that you’ll be able to pay back your loan on time.

Of course, we know that a quick decision can make all the difference. While we need to be sure that everything looks good on your application, we do aim to let you know very shortly.


Great! You should receive your loan within a matter of hours – though we try to ensure you’re waiting no more than 1 hour.

You’ll also have access to your loan details through your online Smart-Pig account. Here, you can keep track of your loan – as well as extend your loan, pay back early or even borrow more up to your limit.


We aim to help as many students as we can. But, as a responsible lender, that sometimes won’t be possible for everyone. If we can’t offer you a loan on this occasion, please think twice before you apply again – whether with us or another lender.

Too many loan applications can harm your credit score and make it even harder to find a lender who can help. To start with, you might want to consider checking your credit report(s). This will let you see if there’s anything standing in your way – or if there are any errors on your file.

How can I check my credit score for free?

There are three main credit reference agencies in the UK, which is where lenders can view your credit report. Different lenders use different agencies, so it’s a good idea to check them all. You can do this for free here:

How can I build my credit score?

If there’s a mistake on your credit report, you should get this fixed as soon as you can. It could be holding your score back. Other things you can do to help build your credit score include:

  • Register to vote: No matter if you plan to vote or not, this is a dead easy way to push your credit score in the right direction when living away from home. Do it online today.
  • Pay your bills on time: Energy, broadband or mobile phone – you should do all you can to pay bills on time. If you’re low on funds until your student loan instalment is due, our loans could help.
  • Report your rent: You pay your rent on time every month or term, so why shouldn’t it help your credit score? Now it can – thanks to a service called Credit Ladder.
  • Space out credit applications: If you fire off a load of applications for credit in a short space of time, it can make you look desperate to a lender and it can harm your chances.

Building up your credit score is a long-term thing. But it is worth it, believe us. It could make all the difference when you apply for credit after graduating. To help you on the right path, Smart-Pig can offer student loans – even if you do have bad credit – so you won’t be left in the lurch.

Where can I find out more?

For more information about our loans, try our frequently asked questions. If you’re still unsure about something, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Call us on 0203 5071 930, email [email protected], or visit our contact page for more details.

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