In unsteady economic times, you sometimes need a small amount of money to take advantage of a good deal or cover an unexpected expense.
If you don’t have cash on hand, a modest personal loan — which can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands — could help out in your time of need.
Personal loans can be more affordable than other forms of financing like a payday or title loan or a high-interest credit card. You may qualify for a low payment and an attractive interest rate if you have good credit.
To decide if a small loan is right for you, you need to understand how to apply and how they work.
While personal loans are available up to $100,000, a small personal loan is usually between $600 and $3,000. For this type of loan, borrowers can borrow money from a financial institution, including credit unions, banks, or online lenders.
After approval, you can repay the debt by making monthly payments. Interest and terms are based on your credit score and history.
Secured personal loans
Secured personal loans are backed by collateral, such as a savings account, home, or a car. This type of loan is usually offered to borrowers with at least fair credit.
The collateral borrowed against can be used as a payment if you don’t pay back the loan according to loan terms. Lenders use the collateral as an incentive for borrowers to pay the loan back on time.
Unsecured personal loans
These installment loans usually require that borrowers have good credit and don’t require collateral. Without collateral, it is crucial that you have good credit and steady income to be approved by a private lender and qualify for lower rates.
Do your research and examine different lenders to see the best deal and terms. You can get a jumpstart researching if you have a good credit score.
Personal line of credit
A personal line of credit is similar to a credit card, with a revolving amount that will come available for borrowing again after it is repaid. Personal lines of credit are given for a set amount of money you can borrow up to the set limit for a set amount of time.
This amount of time is referred to as a “draw period.”
Like a credit card, you can draw the amount you need from the available balance and pay interest on the amount withdrawn.
Debt consolidation loans
Debt consolidation loans are taken out to consolidate the monthly payments of other debts. Debt consolidation loans are personal loans that can be used to pay off high-interest debt, most commonly credit card bills. By consolidating debt, borrowers can use one loan to pay off one or many credit card balances, simplifying repayment plans.
With a title loan, ownership of an asset, including your car, can be used as collateral for the loan. If you default on the loan, your vehicle can be repossessed by the lender.
Title loans are popular for two main reasons. First, due to looser requirements for application, a title loan can be approved quickly for amounts as low as $100.
A payday loan provides funds that are borrowed against your future paycheck. Interest charged on payday loans can vary greatly. Payday and title loans often have the highest interest rates. While there isn’t a set definition for a payday loan, it is usually a high-cost, short-term loan, commonly for $500 or less. The loan is typically due on your next payday unless other arrangements have been determined. Depending on which state you live in, payday loans may be available online or through storefront lenders.
A pawnshop provides borrowers with small loans by using a valuable item such as electronics or jewelry to secure the loan. If you accept the loan, you will be paid in cash and given a pawn ticket which you need to keep to get your item back.
If the borrower does not repay the loan within the pre-determined time, the pawnshop can keep and sell the collateral item.
If you can’t pay within the term, you may be able to renew the loan or extend it, but it is at the pawn shop’s discretion.
Personal loans can be used for almost anything, including:
- To provide additional cash during a personal crisis.
- To buy a used car.
- For an emergency expense like a car repair or medical bill.
- To consolidate other high-interest rate debts.
Before taking on additional debt, you should consider all options. Be sure to view the terms and rates. You should choose a loan with an affordable payment that you are confident you can repay according to loan terms.
Applying for a loan
While individual lenders have their qualification requirements and application process for personal loan borrowers, lenders typically look for a low debt-to-income ratio, a steady income, and a good credit history.
For the best interest rates, it helps to shop around.
If money is needed for an emergency, look for a loan that can be approved and then funded quickly. Additionally, ensure the loan has no hidden fees, clear terms, and a set payment schedule.