Are you considering taking a personal loan? First, it’s important to understand what it is before taking action.
A personal loan allows you to borrow money to pay for personal expenses as a form of installment debt. You might use a personal loan to cover moving expenses, debt consolidation, medical bills, unexpected expenses, and more.
A personal loan is also different from a personal line of credit. The latter is not a lump sum amount; instead, it works like a credit card. You have a credit line that you can spend money against and, as you do so, your available credit is reduced. You can then free up available credit by making a payment toward your credit line.
With a personal loan, there’s typically a fixed end date by which the loan will be paid off. A personal line of credit, on the other hand, may remain open and available to you indefinitely as long as your account remains in good standing with your lender.1
Types of Personal Loans
Personal loans may be secured or unsecured. A secured personal loan is one that requires some type of collateral as a condition of borrowing. For instance, you may secure a personal loan with cash assets, such as a savings account or certificate of deposit (CD), or with a physical asset, such as your car or boat. If you default on the loan, the lender could keep your collateral to satisfy the debt.
An unsecured personal loan requires no collateral to borrow money. Banks, credit unions, and online lenders can offer both secured and unsecured personal loans to qualified borrowers. Banks generally consider the latter to be riskier than the former because there’s no collateral to collect. That can mean paying a higher interest rate for a personal loan.2
Types of Personal Loans
When considering a personal loan, it’s helpful to understand how much it may cost. The annual percentage rate (APR) on a personal loan represents the annualized cost of repaying the loan based on the interest rate and fees. The APR and loan term can determine how much you pay in interest total over the life of the loan.1
For example, assume you get a $10,000 personal loan with an APR of 7.5%. The loan has a repayment term of 24 months. Using those terms, your monthly payment would be $450 and the total interest paid over the life of the loan would be $799.90.
Now assume you borrow the same amount but with different loan terms. Instead of a two-year term, you have three years to repay the loan, and your interest rate is 6% instead of 7.5%. Using those terms, your monthly payment would drop to $304, but your total interest paid would increase to $951.90.
Comparing the numbers this way is important if you want to get the lowest monthly payment possible or pay the least amount of interest for a personal loan. Using a simple online personal loan calculator can help you determine what kind of payment amount and interest rate are the best fit for your budget.
- Investopedia.com, https://www.investopedia.com/personal-loan-5076027. March 17, 2023.
- My Credit Union, https://mycreditunion.gov/life-events/consumer-loans/secured-unsecured. March 17, 2023.