What is a Personal Loan?
A personal loan is a financial arrangement that allows individuals to borrow a specific amount of money from banks, credit unions, or private lenders for a defined period. Unlike secured loans, personal loans are unsecured, meaning they do not necessitate the borrower to provide collateral. Repayment of these loans occurs over a predetermined timeframe, with interest applied according to the terms set by the chosen lender.
Top Personal Loan Providers
Best Personal Loans For Bad Credit
Top Personal Loan Types
Knowing the different types of personal loans can help you choose the right loan for your needs. It's important to compare rates and terms from multiple lenders to find the best personal loan for you.
- Secured personal loans: These are loans that require collateral, such as a car or home. If the borrower defaults, the lender can take possession of the collateral.
- Unsecured personal loans: These loans don't require collateral but may come with higher interest rates. This is the most common type of personal loan.
- Debt consolidation loans: These loans are specifically designed to consolidate multiple debts into one loan with a single monthly payment.
- Co-signer loans: These loans allow a borrower to apply with a co-signer who assumes responsibility for the loan if the borrower defaults.
- Medical loans: These loans are intended to help individuals pay for medical expenses, including surgeries, treatments, and procedures. They can be a good option if you don't have savings set aside for unexpected medical costs.
- Home improvement loans: These loans are used to fund home improvement projects, such as renovations or repairs.
- Wedding loans: As the name suggests, wedding loans are designed to cover the cost of your wedding. They can help you pay for expenses such as the venue, catering, and wedding attire, and are typically unsecured loans with fixed interest rates.
How to Take Out a Personal Loan
Taking out a personal loan is an easy, straightforward process. Here's how to do it:
- Check your credit score: Your credit score plays an important role in determining whether you qualify for a personal loan. It will also determine the rates and terms of the loan. You can check your credit score for free at websites like Credit Karma and Credit Sesame.
- Shop around: There are many lenders out there, and they all have different rates and terms. You should compare offers from multiple lenders before deciding which one to use.
- Apply for the loan: Once you've found a lender you want to work with, you'll need to fill out an application. You’ll need to provide information regarding your income, employment status, and other financial obligations.
- Wait for approval: The lender will review your application and make a decision. If you're approved, you'll receive an offer outlining the terms of the loan.
- Accept the offer and get funded: If you're happy with the offer, you can sign the agreement. The lender will then disburse the funds to you.
Average Personal Loans Interest Rates by Credit Score
Personal Loans Rates History
As shown in the following data and accompanying line chart, personal loan interest rates have been rising over the latter half of 2023.
The historical rates of personal loans from July to November 2023 show an incremental upward trend in interest rates. Starting from 10.99% in early July, the rate experienced a steady increase, reaching 11.16% by mid-July. The rate continued to climb, albeit slower, hovering around 11.29% to 11.31% through August and September. A notable increase occurred in late October, where the rate rose from 11.43% to 11.47% and then to 11.52% by the start of November. Since November 8, 2023, the rate has stabilized at 11.53%. This trend reflects a period of rising interest rates for personal loans, which could indicate various economic factors such as inflation, changes in monetary policy, or shifts in the credit market. Borrowers during this period would have faced slightly higher costs for borrowing as the year progressed.
How To Compare Personal Loan Providers
Choosing the right lender is essential to getting the best personal loan for your needs. Here are some things to consider when evaluating potential lenders:
- Interest rates and fees: Interest rates and fees will vary between lenders. Make sure to compare variable and fixed rates. Also check for any additional fees, such as origination fees or prepayment penalties.
- Reputation and customer service: Look for lenders with a good reputation and positive customer reviews. Check online reviews and ratings from sites Lendstart. Consider the lender's customer service options and responsiveness rate.
- Loan terms and flexibility: Consider the loan terms and repayment options offered by each lender. Some lenders may offer more flexible repayment terms than others. Those include longer repayment periods or the option to defer payments for a period of time.
- Eligibility requirements: Be sure to check the lender's eligibility requirements before applying. Some lenders may have strict credit score or income requirements, while others may be more flexible.
- Application process: Look for lenders with a streamlined and easy application process. Some lenders may offer prequalification options. Those can help you determine your eligibility without impacting your credit score.
Required Documents for a Personal Loan
To apply for a personal loan, you will typically need to provide some personal information and documentation to your lender. Here are some of the most common documents you may need to provide:
- Proof of identity: Lenders require a valid government-issued ID like a driver's license or passport. If you plan on using a co-signer, their ID should be provided too.
- Proof of income: You will need to provide evidence of a steady income, such as pay stubs, tax returns, or bank statements.
- Employment verification: Lenders may require verification of your employment status and history, such as a letter from your employer.
- Credit history: Lenders will check your credit history and score to assess your creditworthiness.
- Financial statements: Depending on the lender, you may need to provide financial statements, such as a balance sheet, profit and loss statement, or cash flow statement.
- Collateral documentation: If you're applying for a secured personal loan, you'll need to provide documentation of the collateral you're offering, such as a car title or property deed.
- Other documentation: Lenders may require additional documentation, such as proof of insurance, a budget plan, or a loan application form.
Alternative Options to a Personal Loan
While a personal loan can be a good option for some borrowers, other alternatives exist. Here are a few:
- Credit cards: This may be a better option if you only need to borrow a small amount of money.
- Home equity loan: If you're a homeowner, you may be able to take out a home equity loan for which rates are lower.
- 401(k) loan: A 401(k) plan may let you borrow against it. You should only consider this as a last resort since it can result in negative tax consequences.
Finding the Best Rates for Your Financial Needs
Securing the best rates on various financial products is crucial for optimizing your borrowing experience. Whether you're seeking a personal loan, a mortgage, or contemplating other financial moves, making informed choices can save you money in the long run. For credit cards, home loans, auto loans, and savings accounts, it's essential to shop around and compare offers. Each sector has its unique considerations, such as understanding how interest rates affect credit card APRs or exploring different types of home loans. By taking proactive steps to find the most favorable rates, you'll be better equipped to manage your finances and achieve your long-term goals.