Why Your Bank Loan Was Denied or Approved - What Do Loan Officers Look For

Your Credit Application

Whether you are applying for a mortgage, a credit card, or a car loan, banks and credit unions are going to be looking for the same thing--how much risk they will take on if they approve your loan. They want to know if they will risk losing money by granting you the loan, or rather, if you will pay the loan and any accrued interest back to them. Financial institutions earn money by charging interest on the loans they extend. But, they lose money when loans "go bad" and aren't paid back. They want to avoid as many of these bad loans as possible.


Basically, whether you get approved or denied for a loan depends on how much risk the financial institutions is willing to take on and how risky your credit application looks. If your loan is approved, the interest rate you are given will also be based on your potential risk to the financial institution. The more risk (or chance you will default on your loan), the higher the loan is going to cost you through the interest rate if you are approved. You can swear that you will pay back a loan, but the sad truth is people lie and the financial institution can't tell which ones are honest and which ones aren't. And, even people that truly mean to pay back loans, sometimes fall into situations where they aren't able to. Your loan application is the best indicator a bank or credit union has for whether or not you are going to pay back a loan and what interest rate they should charge.

Every financial institution has their own loan policies and specific numbers they use to determine if your loan is approved or denied and these numbers and guidelines will change based on the economy and on their business needs. Having a strong credit application will help ensure your application is always approved. After working in the financial industry for many years, including as a loan officer, I can tell you some of the things a loan officer will look at when they review your loan application and what things can help or hurt you.

Credit Score

Your credit score is the quickest tool a loan officer has for determining what your credit risk is. Scores can range from around 400 to 850. The higher your score the better. If you haven't had a lot of credit experience, it is possible that you won't have a score. This isn't a negative thing, but it doesn't help either. To get the best rates and to help approve your loan, you'll probably want a score in the 700's or higher. Scores in in the low 600's or lower don't look good to a loan officer. When you request your score (also known as a FICO score), be aware that it is not necessarily the same score that your loan officer will see. Each financial institution can use their own standards for determining your score.

Credit History

Your credit score is determined by the items on your credit history. Your credit history is not an indication of whether or not you will repay a loan, but it does show a history of how you have operated in the past and the past is a good indicator of the future. It is probably the most important thing the loan officer will look at. You can check your credit histories for free from each of the major credit bureaus once a year by going to . This is set up through legislation by the government to help fight identity theft. It's a good idea to check your credit report in advance for applying for a loan so you can see if there is anything that needs to be cleared up (such as mistakes or identity theft issues).

They will want to see that you have had experience with credit and have made on time payments. Late payments showing on your credit history look bad, especially since they usually only show up if you were more than 30 days late. A late payment on a mortgage looks worse than a late payment on a credit card, since a loan officer would expect a higher priority to be placed on your home. The loan officer will see how long you have had experience with credit by looking at the date your earliest account was opened. The more time, the better. And the more on time payments you have, the better.

Other things that could show up on your credit history include collections, judgements, and garnishments. These are big red flags to a loan officer. Obviously, it is best to avoid these, but if one of these show up on your credit history and you have a reasonable explanation for it, let the loan officer know. They can sometimes make exceptions for these items, but they'll need a really good reason to overlook them. If you are aware of any of these items on your credit history, pay them! It will show up as paid on your credit (which will also reflect in your credit score). A paid collection or judgement always looks better than an unpaid collection or judgment.

Some judgments come from lawsuits. If you are in court and are ordered to make payment, ask the Judge if you can pay it right then. If you do, you may be able to avoid it ever showing on your credit history.

Bankruptcies and foreclosures also show up on your credit history. These are biggest red flags to loan officers because it can indicate serious financial mismanagement. It also shows other (sometimes large) loans that have gone unpaid. Remember, loan officers are looking at your past to determine your performance in the future. The best thing to do if you have either of these on your credit is making sure you handle your finances prudently from here on out by always making your payments on time. These items can stay on your credit report for 7-10 years. If there was an unusual circumstance behind your bankruptcy or foreclosure, that would no longer have an impact on your finances now, let the loan officer know. An example of this would be a medical illness that you no longer have. Loan officers can sometimes make exceptions, but not always, but give them the information they need to make a case for you.

Above all, a history of on-time payments is the best thing for your credit report. Having a variety of different types of credit (car loan, credit card, etc.) helps a little to, but is not nearly as important as showing that you can consistently make payments on time.

Employment History

Another aspect of your credit application is your employment history. The financial institution will want to make sure that you are receiving and will continue to receive the money you will need to pay back their loan. The longer you are at the same job, the more secure it seems. Changing jobs right before you apply for a loan (or worse, WHILE you are applying for the loan) makes loan officers cringe. They want to see that you have are secure in your employment. The first few months a person is at a new job is when they are at greatest risk of losing their job, either because of lay offs or because they aren't a good match for the company. Showing that you have been with the same employer for years is optimal. But, don't fret if you haven't been at your job that long, your employment history isn't nearly as important as your credit history. If you have switched jobs, but have stayed in the same field, most loan officers will consider that the same line of employment.

Debt and Income

The next part of your credit application that a loan officer will consider is whether or not you can afford to make the payment on the new loan. This is one area where people with good credit history often get caught up on. The loan officer is going to look at all your debts and then compare this to your income. They will determine your debt-to-income ratio, or rather how much of your income is being spent on debt payments. Usually when you fill out your credit application, they will ask you to list your debts (other loans and obligations), but even if you don't, they will probably see it on your credit history. The loan officer may ask to verify your income to make sure you are making what you say you are making. The loan officers will assume that a certain percentage of your income is going to go to living expenses (food, etc.). They will want to keep your debt compared to your income at a certain amount to make sure you can handle your expenses. The amount allowed sometimes is correlated to the risk you represent from your credit history. If your credit looks a little more risky, then they aren't going to allow as much debt. If you have a strong credit history, that shows reliability and they may allow for a higher debt-to-income ratio. If your loan is denied for this reason, work on paying off debts or at least lowering your monthly payments or waiting until your income increases. Sometimes people will get a raise and immediately go apply for a new loan, but loan officers usually look at your average income, so unless they are certain you will stay at the higher amount, they are going to use your average. If you can, wait until your raise has been in effect for a couple months before you apply.


There are two types of loans, secured loans and unsecured loans. Secured loans are ones that have physical property to back up the loan, such as a house or a vehicle. The property is called collateral. Loan officers like these types of loan because if you fail to pay the loan, there is property secured, usually through a lien, to the loan. That means, that they would have a right to take or repossess the property. This provides some protection to the financial institution because it gives them an asset they could sell to recoup the loan and their expenses with trying to collect the loan. Unsecured loans are loans that do not have any property tied to them. Examples of this type of loan are credit cards and signature loans. These loans are more risky for the financial institution because if you stopped making payments on your loan they wouldn't have anything they could use to recover the loan amount. However, these loans are not usually for large amounts like secured loans can be. Interest rates on unsecured loans are usually higher than on secured loans because there is more risk for the financial industry.

For secured loans, the loan officer is going to look at the value of the collateral. They will want to make sure the collateral is for at least the amount of the loan. They may sometimes allow the loan to be more than the value of the collateral if the rest of the application is strong. If you have a couple problems with the rest of your credit application, or if you don't have a lot of credit experience (reflected in your credit history), using collateral with more value than the amount you are requesting for in the loan is a good way to make up for it. You can do this by making down payments. The more value you have in your collateral compared to the amount you are requesting, the better it is for your application.


The thing to keep in mind when applying for loans is that the financial institution isn't wanting to deny your loan, but for their sake and the sake of their customers, they have to manage their risk. Even if one bank denies your loan, that doesn't mean a different bank would. However, if you have some of the problems listed above, work to correct them and it will be easier. A strong application is built in the long run by developing a history of responsibility and reliability.

Comments 21 comments

monicamelendez profile image

monicamelendez 4 years ago from Salt Lake City

My credit score used to be 520 and back then, I was super high risk for any lender. Fortunately I was able to get things turned around. After that banks stopped denying me when I applied for loans. Fortunately, that embarrassing part of my life is over. I hope that I never go back to that situation!

AmandaLu profile image

AmandaLu 4 years ago Author

Good for you Monica!

Katie 2 years ago

This past July, I was approved for a car loan. My first car loan. I didn't expect to get that because I had no prior payment history and I had medical on my credit. However recently, I was in a car accident. ( NOT MY FAULT) and the insurance company considered it a total loss, and they will be paying that loan. I have had a secured credit card now for about 6 months, and I paid on that car every time on time ( only had the car for 3 months) what are my chances of getting reapproved for another loan?

AmandaLu profile image

AmandaLu 2 years ago Author

Hi Katie. Thanks for your comment. I can't really say what your chances are of getting approved for another loan because every financial institution has their own loan policy that they use. However, if your debt to income ratio is good and everything is pretty much the same as when you were approved for the first loan, you probably won't have any trouble getting a new loan. Making on time payments on the first car loan and the secured card both will help your credit score, and the insurance company paying off your loan will help as well. However, I wasn't sure what you meant when you said you had medical on your credit. If those are medical collection items, then it might be slightly more difficult to get a loan even though you now have established a credit history because now it will be impacting a score, when before, without any credit history, you probably didn't even have a score. Sorry about your accident. Good luck!

dieg aguilar 2 years ago

Hello : i.just apply for a car loan i have poor credit and after i applied i got hire on another company it hasn't even past a week can the bank take the car back from me ?

AmandaLu profile image

AmandaLu 2 years ago Author

dieg aguilar,

The bank wouldn't be able to take the car back from you unless you default (or break) part of the loan agreement. So, unless your loan agreement specifically says something about keeping the same job, they wouldn't be able to take the car back just for that, and I've never seen a loan agreement that had that kind of stipulation. Usually the only reason a bank will take collateral (the car in this case) back is if you miss making payments or are consistently late with payments. If the loan is already set up and you have the vehicle, I wouldn't worry about changing jobs at all. However, if the loan is not finalized, as in you haven't signed the paperwork and received the money, then you are obligated to let them know you've changed jobs or it could be considered fraudulent information which could give them reason to take the car back. I hope this answers your question.

Angela 2 years ago

I recently got a used car loan with little to no credit history. So the interest rate is horrible. I spoke with them and they said to come back in 6 months. Would 6 months of on time payments be enough to convince my CU to refinance me?

Angela 2 years ago

^^^Sorry, I meant to say I originally got financed with a sub prime lender in Feb. 2014 and I went to speak with my CU about what I could do after that. My credit union said to come and see them after 6 months of on time payments and I might be able to get a lower APR instead of the APR that I have now. My CU does finance up to 115% of KBB retail value so in 6 months ill be in that range. Ive also been paying my car payments 2 weeks ahead of time.

AmandaLu profile image

AmandaLu 2 years ago Author


Thank you for your question. I wouldn't be able to say if that would be enough to convince your CU because their loan policy will be based on their current loan portfolio and how much risk they are willing to take on at the time. There's a lot of things that are involved in what loans they choose to make such as how the economy is doing and what market conditions are like, and it varies all the time. They probably wouldn't be able to tell you if they could do the loan in six months or not at the point because it would depend on their needs and stability at the time. There's nothing you can do about that. The only thing you can control is to continue to make on-time payments which will build up a positive credit report for yourself. In my personal opinion, I feel it is a good sign that they told you to come back in six months. One thing to keep in mind is credit reporting can be a couple months behind your actual payments, so even if you've made six payments, it's possible only four of them might show on your credit report. If you are a strong borrower income-wise and the car's value is enough to be used as collateral, the history you are building by making your payments will increase your ability to refinance with the Credit Union, but I can't say for sure if it will be enough. Good luck!

Angela 2 years ago

I also had another question. My car loan was $10,945 at 24% APR due to never having a loan or any type of credit before. My question is why do my payments keep going up and down? First payment of $360 made on 3/6, not due until 3/25: applied to principal($173) applied to interest($180something). After first payment, car balance went down to $10,772. SECOND payment of $360 made on 4/7, NOT DUE until 4/25: amount applied to principal($133) amount applied to interest($220something). Car balance is now $10,639. I am not late AT ALL so why did the amount change?

Angela 2 years ago

I thought if you paid a couple of weeks early, more would be applied to the principal and less to the interest. Am I wrong? Also, Thank you so much for replying to my very first posts. It was very helpful!

AmandaLu profile image

AmandaLu 2 years ago Author

With some loans, early payments are not allowed to reduce interest paid (check your loan agreement), but I think what has happened in your situation is actually just the accrual of interest increasing. Let me walk through how interest owed is calculated.

APR stands for Annual Percentage Rate so 24% is the amount of interest you pay in an annual (or yearly) period. To figure out how much interest you are being charged a month, take 24% and divide it by 365 days in a year to get a daily interest rate. (.24/365=6.5753424657534246575342465753425e-4)

Take that number and times it by your balance to get the amount of interest charged per day. (6.5753424657534246575342465753425e-4 X $10,945) That's approximately $7.20 per day, or roughly $223 per month. As you pay more towards principal, the amount changes, replace the equation above with the new balance and and the daily interest rate (6.5753424657534246575342465753425e-4 X $10,772) and that comes to $7.08, or roughly $220 per month, so about $3 less due in interest the second month.

Now to your question, why did the interest amount go up in the second month? The reason why is because you paid early, the interest for the entire month had not been charged yet (similarly, it had not accrued or built up because that time, those days, had not passed yet.) So when you made your first payment on 3/6 you only owed $187 in interest at that time because that was the amount of interest charged from when your loan began to when you made your first payment.

However, with the next payment, the interest from 3/7 (the day after you made your payment) to 4/7 (the day you made your next payment) had accrued, basically a full month of interest had accrued by that point, which is why the amount was higher.

If you make early payments, you will pay less in interest because you will lower the principal faster and the daily rate of interest charged will be based on the balance of each day. A lower balance equals less interest charged. So, it is good to make early payments, but it might not seem like much of a difference at the beginning of your loan, it will be more noticeable as you continue to do so.

I hope this answers your question. Basically, the reason amount changed was because of the timing of when you made your payment. If you were to always pay on the same date, the interest charged would for the most part go down. (Interestingly, months that have 31 days are charged more interest than months that only have 28 days. That's because there are more days in the month.) If I need to clarify anything, please let me know. Thanks!

Ntuthuko 2 years ago

Can I make a Consolidation to the Unsecured Loan and if so what steps must I take to make things clear???

AmandaLu profile image

AmandaLu 2 years ago Author

Ntuthuko, thank you for your comment.

Consolidation refers to taking out a loan or line of credit to pay for other debt or debts, so yes you can consolidate unsecured loans. I'm not sure what you are asking with the second part of your question about the steps to take to make things clear. If you are asking whether you should consolidate, that is something you'll have to decide for yourself. Consider whether the consolidation will increase your interest rate or elongate the time you are paying and how your monthly payments will change. Sometimes consolidating can actually cost you more money in the long term, although some people are willing to pay more to simply their payments. If I'm misunderstanding your question, please let me know, and I'll try again.

Angie B 2 months ago

I went to dealership and took possession of a vehicle and was approved. I tried to take the vehicle back and dealership said it would go on my credit as a repo. so I kept the vehicle. so I called the bank that finance the vehicle and asked for a copy of my contract. they sent it to me and it didn't have my signature on the contract. so am I responsible for this loan?

jeff 2 months ago

Hello can you tell me if I have a better chance getting a loan with a loan officer with 14 years experience, then I do with loan officer with 1 year, does the loan officer have more pull getting your loan pushed through when they say they will fight for you to get the loan? or does the loan officer just punch in what you want and credit score and sees what comes back, thanks in advance

AmandaLu profile image

AmandaLu 7 weeks ago Author


I wouldn't be able to say if you are responsible for the loan. You may want to seek legal counsel. Sometimes contracts state that by taking possession of the vehicle you are agreeing to the terms of the contract.

AmandaLu profile image

AmandaLu 7 weeks ago Author

Hi Jeff,

In general your chances would be the same with the new loan officer and the experienced loan officer. It really depends on the strength of your loan application. However, the experienced loan officer might have slightly more "override authority" that would allow them to grant a little leeway. But that would be extremely rare. It's mostly just based on their lending policy with your numbers punched in.

Carinarod 3 weeks ago

Can a mortgage loan application be review again for pre- approval after being denied? If I give the underwriter an explanation and proof to reasons of the denial?

Nelson Mac 2 weeks ago

Good day everybody my name is Nelson Mac am from Canada but few years back i was financially strained i rushed to my bank to apply for a loan to start up my business but i was denied by my bank because of my credit score and they could not help and due to my desperation i was scammed by several online lenders who promised to help me but at the end i was scam i lost my money and my hope because i was so frustrated, One day when i was going through the internet again i found one lender call Mr Larry Scott i thought to give it a try one more time to my biggest surprise he was able to lend me a secure loan totally the amount of $200,0000 for the first time in my life i realize that there are few lender who don't scam people his name is Mr Larry Scott i will advice any body that are in need of loan to contact him with his Email ( he can be able to help you because he was a God sent to me this year and i will never forget him for the help he render to me.

God bless him

Nelson Mac 10 days ago

my credit score was really messed up and the level at it,i had to leave my house which has been in my family for over 130 years,due to the fact that banks and lenders wont grant me a loan because my credit score was low,i had no option than to give in after all hopes was lost,credit repair company's and big names financial houses couldn't help either,i was already planning a yard sale when a friend of mine suggested i sort the help of this ethical elite hackers who helps repair bad credits and could get my credit score up,what more could i lose,so i went ahead and contacted hackhemp((AT))gmail((DOT))com and within weeks i was more than surprised like a miracle,they were able to get my credit score to just where i wanted it to be to get a loan to save a roof over my families head,information is power and i believe its time to get help from wherever help could come,the government dont really care.we have to be smart now than ever.

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