5 Things To Consider When Shopping For Personal Loans

Posted on July 4, 2017

There are so many types of loans available today that choosing the one for your needs can become very difficult. While some loans are for specific needs, like auto loans for buying a car, home loans for buying a home, or student loans for paying education costs, some loans are more ambiguous.

One of these is the “personal loan.” Personal loans share some similarities with other common loan types, but they are also different in certain ways. Understanding these differences will help you decide what type of loan is best for you and how to go about securing your next loan.

1. What’s Required To Qualify For A Personal Loan?

The first thing you need to know about personal loans is that they’re typically unsecured. This means you don’t have to put up any collateral to get a personal loan and will usually just sign a loan contract agreeing to repay the loan. Personal loans also do not require a down payment like home and auto loans typically do.

However, without a down payment and collateral, it’s up to your creditworthiness to secure the loan. If you have bad credit, no credit, or your debt-to-income ratio is too high, a personal loan may not be the best option for you.

2. Is It Okay To Shop Around For A Personal Loan?

Personal loans are available from a variety of different providers, including credit unions, banks, and online finance companies. These different loan providers will usually have a selection of personal loan options, including:

  • Different loan amounts (how much money you borrow).
  • Varying interest rates (how much you pay for borrowing the money).
  • Diverse loan terms (how long you have to repay the loan).

It can pay to shop around, as one personal loan is not necessarily like another. Finding one that works for you can take some time, but it’s often worth it, as your payments, terms, and interest rate will be as beneficial as possible.

One thing to consider as you shop around is how your credit score may be affected if you apply for multiple loans. It’s standard for credit bureaus to count inquiries from auto and mortgage lenders as one hard inquiry, but it’s not quite as clear for options like personal loans.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t shop around for the best rate, but be aware of how your credit is being impacted while you do it to make sure you don’t fall from one borrower tier to another.  

3. What Happens After Applying For A Personal Loan?

After you’ve applied for the loan, you’ll likely have to wait for approval; whether it’s minutes, hours, days, or weeks depends on your specific loan and provider. Once you’ve received approval for your personal loan, you should expect to receive a lump sum in the amount of the loan.

That money can be used for just about anything, including consolidating other debts, going on vacation, or making a few improvements in your home like new furniture or appliances.

You’ll have to start making payments on your loan according to the terms you agreed to.

Whatever the terms of your loan, you’ll likely be making payments every month. That means having a plan to afford those payments once the loan is secured. Don’t take out a personal loan you can’t afford; missed payments and defaulted loans can cause your credit to take a nosedive.

4. How Can You Maintain Creditworthiness After Getting A Personal Loan

Good credit will affect your interest rate on everything from credit cards to auto loans, and beyond. It will be especially important when applying for personal loans, as your interest rate may be based almost solely on your credit score.

Have a plan to repay any loan you’re considering; it’s extremely important to build and maintain your credit worthiness, not just for personal loans, but for your long-term financial future.

5. Questions To Consider Asking Lenders

Personal loans are usually fairly straightforward, but it’s important to ask questions. This makes it much easier to understand the loan’s terms and what to expect throughout the process. Questions you should consider asking:

  • How much is the interest rate? The interest rate is presented as a percentage and tells you how much you’re paying to borrow the money.
  • What’s the annual percentage rate (APR)? The APR is the percentage of your loan’s total value that you pay annually for your loan, including fees. Along with the interest rate, this is essential information about how much you’ll pay to use the lender’s money.
  • Is there an origination fee? This is the amount a lender may charge for processing your loan paperwork.
  • What kind of interest is it? Adjustable-rate loans can carry big surprises as the interest rate can fluctuate over the life of the loan. Fixed-rate interest remains the same throughout the life of the loan, meaning you know exactly what to expect from your monthly payments.

It’s also important to ask about any special fees, like early repayment penalties, late payment fees, or anything else that could affect your total repayment amount.

Securing Your Personal Loan

Personal loans can be extremely useful for a variety of financial needs. It’s important to have a plan to repay the money, not to borrow more than you can afford to repay, and not to use it as a supplement for your lifestyle (chronic overspending cannot be remedied with personal loans).

Personal loans are generally simple to understand and provide better interest rates than credit cards for large purchases, making them a great option for many borrowers.

To learn more about your person loan options, contact Partners Financial Federal Credit Union or take a look at our Personal Loans resources online.

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A $15. Convenience fee will be automatically added to your payment amount. Your maximum total payment amount (including the $15 convenience fee) cannot exceed $800. Payments initiated and approved by 3:00pm will be applied to your loan on the same business day. Payments initiated and approved after 3:00pm, or on a day that the credit union is closed (weekends and holidays), will be applied on the next business day. If you have a PFFCU debit card, please log into home banking to make your loan payment.

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Excludes mortgages and home equity lines of credit. A $25 fee is due at set-up for each loan. Loan must have been open for at least 6 months. Past due accounts do not qualify. One skip-a-pay allowed per calendar year (Jan-Dec).