There is no universal formula for winning approval of a personal-loan application. But loan companies have one thing in common: They want to be paid back on time. Here are five tips to boost the chances of qualifying for a personal loan.

Clean up your credit

Check your reports for errors. Common errors that may hurt your score include wrong accounts, closed accounts reported as open and incorrect credit limits. Get on top of payments. If you are not already, be vigilant about making monthly payments toward all your debts, paying more than the minimums when you can. You have a better chance of approval if you haven’t missed any payments.

Rebalance your debts and income

Consider starting a side hustle to supplement your income, or work toward a raise at your full-time job. Also, do what you can to pay down debt. Consider selling liquid assets such as stocks held in taxable accounts. Using the proceeds toward high-interest consumer debts should get you a higher rate of return, said Alison Norris, advice strategist and certified financial planner at personal finance company SoFi.

Don’t ask for too much cash

Requesting more money than what you need to reach your financial goal can be seen as risky by lenders, Norris said. “Look at the reason why you are asking for the loan, tie a specific dollar amount to that financial need, and only ask for that amount,” she said.

A larger personal loan also squeezes your budget, as higher loan payments affect your ability to meet other financial obligations.

Consider a co-signer

If your credit scores are in the “fair” range, adding a co-signer with stronger credit and income can increase your chances of approval.

Because the co-signer is equally responsible for repaying the loan, it’s critical to co-sign with someone who can afford the risk. Have an honest conversation with the prospective co-signer so they fully understand the risks before agreeing.

Find the right lender

Most online lenders disclose their requirements for credit scores and annual income and whether they offer options like co-signers. If you meet a lender’s qualifications and want to see estimated rates and terms, you can pre-qualify for financing. Pre-qualify with multiple lenders and compare rates and terms. The best loan option has costs and payments that fit into your budget.

NerdWallet