There are many situations where a personal loan is the best overall funding solution for an upcoming project or when caught in a short-term financial pinch.
A payday loan may not allow enough money to be borrowed and not give sufficient time for payback (besides having an unnecessarily high interest rate.) A home loan would force you to go through a much slower and more involved approval process at a bank and put your home equity at risk.
A personal loan finds that “middle ground” that is perfect for consolidation of debts, home or small business improvement projects, and a host of other situations. But with so many options available, how do you decide where to apply for a personal loan?
The Application Process
Where to seek a personal loan may depend in part on your credit history. Interest rates often vary from around 10% to 35%. If you have good credit, insist on a lender that rewards you for that fact with a low-end interest rate. If you have poor to average credit, some lenders will still give you the loan, though at a higher rate, but still comparison shop for the lowest rate possible.
Expect to be asked for basic personal ID information on the application form, along with information about your income source/level. You should not have to submit a large amount of data, however. Steer clear of lenders who ask for too much information or who act as if no information at all were required.
A reputable lender will also likely not give out these types of loans to those under 18, to non-U.S. residents, to those in bankruptcy/foreclosure, or to those without a U.S. bank account.
Benefits to Look For
The most basic benefit of a personal loan is that it is unsecured, but a good lender will offer further incentives to potential borrowers, including the following:
- Ability to consolidate credit card and other debts into a single, lower monthly payment (and often with a lower interest rate than credit cards).
- Easy, quick, and often online application process. You should get an answer on approval within 24 hours in most cases.
- Flexibility in setting your own terms as to repayment schedules.
- Access to expert loan representatives who can help guide you in finding your ideal loan and explain to you how personal loans can be used to improve your credit score.
Personal loans are, in certain situations, the most advantageous type of loan to take out, but it is crucial to carefully select your lender and to understand what your best obtainable terms are.
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