Beyond credit scores: 7 factors that affect a loan application

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5 Important Factors Impacting Your Credit

When it comes to good finances, credit scores get a lot of press. Based on a formula incorporating loan and repayment history, credit scores are often touted as the reason someone gets approved for a credit card, auto loan or mortgage – or denied one.

However, some financial experts say the role of credit scores may be overblown. "It is a very useful tool, but it's just one tool," says Kathleen Lindquist, a certified financial planner with San Diego Wealth Management. In addition to credit scores, lenders may look at everything from your housing history to your social media presence and credit decisions.

Mortgage and subprime borrowers may be subject to even greater scrutiny. That isn't to say credit scores aren't important, but their role may vary significantly depending on a lender's three-digit number. "If your score is greater than 750, the decision is made primarily on your credit score," says Rich Hyde, chief operation officer of Prestige Financial, which specializes in auto loans for buyers with subprime credit.

People with lower numbers may find lenders begin asking for more documentation. However, that isn't necessarily a bad sign. "We're in the business of loaning money," Hyde says. "We're looking for the good things."

Mortgage lenders also tend to have more stringent requirements, Lindquist says. Beyond a credit score, they also look for details regarding income and assets to determine whether a borrower will have the means to pay off a large loan with a long term.

7 Other Factors Lenders May Consider

All lenders have their own criteria, but here are seven commonly considered factors that can play a role in a credit decision.

1. Proof of income. It's not enough to simply state your income. Some lenders want to see proof, either in the form of pay stubs, bank statements or even old tax forms.

2. Investment statements. Some lenders may also want to see 401(k) or IRA statements, "particularly for those who are retired and don't have an income," says Mikel Van Cleve, director of personal finance advice for USAA Bank.

3. Employment history. Hyde says subprime lenders often look for a stable employment history when weighing the likelihood of a borrower being able to pay back a loan.

4. Housing history. As with employment, lenders are looking for stability when it comes to housing. Frequent moves could indicate money management problems or increase a lender's chances of not being able to track down a borrower who defaults on a loan.

5. Debt-to-income ratio. Sometimes broken down as a payment-to-income ratio, this factor calculates debt as a percentage of your income. "It's a good idea to keep that debt-to-income ratio below 36 percent," Van Cleve says. However, a higher ratio may not automatically disqualify someone from a loan.

6. Recent payment history. If you have past bad credit, a lender may consider when that occurred. Missed payments from three years ago may not be a concern, but missed payments from last month could sink someone's chances for a loan.

7. Social media. "Data companies are continuing to look for new ways to help lenders," Van Cleve says. That includes surveying social media sites for signs a potential borrower may be irresponsible with their money. Van Cleve is quick to note this is a new strategy of evaluating applicants and not one used by USAA Bank.

Surprisingly, a bankruptcy may not mean you will automatically be denied a loan. "A recent bankruptcy means you don't have other debt we have to compete with," Hyde says.

Don't neglect your credit score. While checking your credit score every day isn't necessary, borrowers should still be aware of their number. By paying on time and keeping credit card balances low, you can boost your score and minimize the need for your entire financial life to go under a microscope.

RELATED: 20 unusual ways to make quick money

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Beyond credit scores: 7 factors that affect a loan application

Dog-sitting, babysitting, or house-sitting

These jobs are always in high demand, and the best part: you can name your price and create your own schedule! Post an ad on craigslist, or use your friends' and family's connections to get your name out there. 

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Rent out your space 

List your apartment on Airbnb or another rental site, and make some easy cash by staying at a friends and renting out your place for the weekend.

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Share your space

Just as you can rent out your full apartment or house, you can also post a free room (or even just your couch!) on sites like Craigslist or Airbnb. This way you can split your living expenses -- and maybe even make a new friend!

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Sell your body parts

Now here's a weird one: Donate your hair, breast milk, or even plasma for a profit. According to Grifols, if you're healthy and weigh above 110 pounds, you can earn up to $200 a month donating your plasma to life-saving medicine. 

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Sign up to participate in medical tests and clinical trials. 

Universities constantly need volunteers to test new medicines and treatments -- and because the pool of willing participants is limited, there is typically a large compensation for being a guinea pig. 

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Participate in a focus group

Companies and organizations will pay you to join a focus group. These can be conducted in person, online, or via phone. You will most likely be reimbursed in cash or gift cards -- plus, you often get to test out fun new products! 

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Take online surveys

Similar to focus groups, you can get paid to give your time and insights on an online questionairre. Plus, you can do this from the comfort of your couch. 

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Bank on your sperm

Although we don't necessarily recommend this option, there is a very high demand for healthy sperm donors. Keep in mind some of the obvious drawbacks, but sperm donation is non-invasive and highly compensated. 

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Crowdfund your dreams

Crowdfunding allows you to raise monetary contributions from a large group of people who want to support your venture. Post your project or idea on a crowdfund site, like GoFundMe.com, and see the cash pile up.

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Become a tutor

If you're qualified, post an ad online or on a community board to tutor children on their school courses or for the upcoming SATs.

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Get a part-time job

Capitalize your free time (on the weekends or after work hours) by working a part-time job. A bartender, waiter, or Uber driver are all great options for an additional source of income -- and great tips! 

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Resell tickets

Take this suggestion at your own risk: If you're staying within legal limits, buy tickets low and sell high as an effective way to source additional money. (Just make sure to check your state and local laws first!)

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Rentafriend.com

You can sell anything on the internet these days... including your companionship! Get paid to go on a platonic outing for a few hours and enjoy your afternoon with a new friend. 

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Rent out your parking spot

Make sure to check with your landlord first, but if you have the option to park your own car further away, lend or share your parking space or driveway for the hour, day, or even month! 

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Keep a coin jar 

This one takes patience before a big pay out, but keep a spare jar or drawer for loose change that you usually toss anyway. It will keep it all in one place -- and those quarters do add up! 

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Make something to sell 

If you have a knack for arts & crafts, create jewelry or other handmade gifts to sell on sites filled with other thrifty vendors like Etsy

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Sell items online

This effective strategy requires low effort with a high return. Post photos of your used or non-used items on sites like eBay or Craigslist, and let the bidding begin! 

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Have a yard sale

Sell clutter you've been meaning to get rid of right in your front yard. This simple tactic is convenient, and guarantees a wad of cash right to your pocket.  

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Return past purchases

This tip may seem obvious, but is often overlooked: Take your recently-purchased items that are laying around back to the store for either store credit or a full refund. 

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Recycle scrap metal and cans

Collect cans and scrap metal out your own garbage, basement, and street and bring to your local recycler to exchange your findings for money.  

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