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What Is a Personal Loan?

What Is A Personal Loan

You should know what a personal loan is before taking one out. If you’re strapped for cash, perhaps you’ve thought of borrowing money for necessities or luxuries. That is why you should know about these debt options and their aspects such as personal loan terms. You should also know the qualification requirements and the available varieties.

There are personal loans for all your needs and numerous outlets to request them from. Once you’ve given them their required documents, you will eventually be given your loan. Make sure to make diligent payments when borrowing money, as failure may impact your credit rating. It affects loan terms and your long-term financial health.

What Is a Personal Loan?

Personal loan

A personal loan is an amount of money that people borrow from credit unions, banks, or online lenders. It requires monthly payments that have varying interest rates. Most aren’t secured, meaning your assets aren’t risked as collateral as a penalty. Still, unsecured personal loans affect your credit score found on your credit report. 

If you make diligent payments, the rating increases, but it decreases if you’re late. In turn, this affects your likelihood to access services and take out more loans. Personal loan interest rates and other loan conditions are determined by your credit history. That’s why you must make sure to complete payments diligently.

You may use personal loans for all kinds of purposes. For instance, you may take out auto loans for a brand-new vehicle or a small business loan for your startup. On the other hand, more essential needs like higher education may be accessed by taking out student loans. 

These are virtually ubiquitous, but conditions such as personal loan terms depend on several factors.

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How to Qualify for a Personal Loan

To verify your eligibility for personal loans, you must first check your credit report. If lenders check your credit rating, it’s usually by a hard credit check that may lower it. However, checking it by yourself is considered a soft credit check, so your credit report won’t be affected. Your credit score must be 690 or higher to qualify for personal loans.

Get Credit Report

Credit report

If you have poor credit, you may receive high-interest rates and other unfavorable loan terms. On the other hand, having excellent credit means you’re qualified for the lowest rates and other lenient conditions. 

Consequently, you may want to improve your credit before taking out a loan. For example, you may take out a credit builder loan that helps increase your credit rating.

Check Available Lenders

You must find all the lending options available and find the one that suits you best. You may ask your local brick-and-mortar lender for their available offers. Moreover, you should check online as they even have tools that facilitate loan applications. 

You may also check if they stipulate the prepayment penalty, origination fees, and other repayment terms.

Proceed With Pre-qualification

After selecting the best lenders, it’s time to ask them for pre-qualification. This involves filling out a form and having a soft credit check. With it, your lender will decide your eligibility and determine your terms such as personal loan rates. You may receive results within the same business day or a few days after.

Gather Required Documents

Personal loan requirements

After approval, you must provide the documents needed for the actual application. These typically include your identification, such as a driver’s license or a passport. 

You must prove your home address usually with lease agreements. Lastly, you must verify your source of income with files such as income tax returns.

Finalize The Loan

Upon approval, you will receive the agreement for the loan. Read and understand the fine print thoroughly, and ask to clarify any info in the agreement. 

If you’re certain about the conditions, you may sign the agreement. You may receive the loan on the same day or several, depending on your lender.

Read More: Personal Loans Versus Credit Cards?

Types of Personal Loans

As we’ve mentioned, there are various personal loan options available to suit every need. There are short-term personal loans you may take out for urgent needs. You may even request a second-chance loan if you suffered a personal tragedy. Even those with no credit or poor credit have options specifically for them.

In addition, there are those with specific requirements that may have better personal loan rates. For instance, you may borrow from your home’s equity: its current value minus your existing mortgage. It can be taken as a hefty personal loan or smaller amounts from a line of credit. Military personnel have exclusive access to military payday loans.

Personal loans offer a flexible financing option for borrowers, catering to a wide range of needs and financial situations. Here are some common types of personal loans available in the market:

Unsecured Personal Loans

These loans don’t require collateral and are based on the borrower’s creditworthiness. They are typically used for consolidating debt, financing large purchases, or covering personal expenses.

Secured Personal Loans

Unlike unsecured loans, secured loans require collateral, such as a car or savings account. If the borrower defaults, the lender can take possession of the collateral. Secured loans often have lower interest rates due to the reduced risk to lenders.

Fixed-Rate Loans

Another type of loan is a fixed-rate loan. These loans have an interest rate that remains constant throughout the loan term, making it easier for borrowers to budget their monthly payments.

Variable-Rate Loans

The interest rates on these loans can fluctuate over time based on changes in the market interest rates, affecting the monthly payment amounts.

Debt Consolidation Loans

Specifically designed to consolidate multiple high-interest debts into a single loan with a lower interest rate, making it easier to manage payments and potentially save money on interest over time.

Co-signer Loans

For borrowers with poor or limited credit history, having a co-signer with good credit can improve the chances of approval and secure a lower interest rate.

Personal Line of Credit

Similar to a credit card, this offers a revolving credit line that borrowers can draw from as needed, only paying interest on the amount used.

Home Improvement Loans

These unsecured personal loans are intended for home renovations and repairs, allowing homeowners to finance their projects without tapping into home equity.

Medical Loans

Designed to cover medical expenses, these loans can help manage healthcare costs that aren’t covered by insurance.

Wedding Loans

Offered specifically to cover the costs associated with weddings and related expenses, allowing couples to finance their big day.

Vacation Loans

These loans are for financing travel costs, allowing borrowers to pay for their vacations over time.

Education Loans

Beyond traditional student loans, these personal loans can cover education-related expenses not included in federal student loan programs.

Each type of personal loan comes with its own set of terms, interest rates, and requirements, making it important for borrowers to carefully consider their options and choose the loan that best fits their needs and financial situation.

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Are Personal Loans Better than Credit Cards?

Personal loans vs credit cards

Aside from personal loans, credit cards may also be used to borrow money. Which one you use will depend on your personal needs, as both have distinct pros and cons. Generally, personal loans are better for borrowing sizable amounts. In contrast, credit cards are typically used for smaller, day-to-day expenses.

Personal loans are better for expensive purchases like homes and cars. After all, they usually have lower interest rates compared to credit cards. They provide you with a lump sum, but you may have to pay for origination fees and other payments. Worse, some may be secured, meaning you risk losing your home or your car.

On the other hand, you’re only required to pay credit cards when you use the funds. Those with bad credit may use it to improve their rating, while those with better credit get the best terms. Having excellent credit allows you to increase your credit limit. However, beware of the higher interest rate that easily accumulates interest over time.

Read More: How To Get A Loan And Avoid Loan Scams in 2024


Understanding personal loans and their various aspects, including interest rates and qualification criteria, is essential before taking one out. Personal loans offer a flexible solution for a wide range of financial needs. These loans come in many forms to suit different purposes, with terms and rates influenced by your credit history. It’s crucial to research and understand all loan terms and maintain diligent payment practices to secure your financial health and meet your goals.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Use a Household Income for Personal Loan?

Yes, you can use household income to qualify for a personal loan, as many lenders consider the total income of your household, especially if you’re applying with a co-applicant or if your spouse’s income contributes significantly to your financial stability. This approach can enhance your loan eligibility and potentially secure more favorable terms by demonstrating a higher income level.

What Is Considered a Small Loan? 

A small loan typically refers to a loan amount ranging from $1,000 to $5,000, designed to meet immediate or short-term financial needs. These loans are offered by various lenders, including banks, credit unions, and online platforms, often with shorter repayment terms compared to larger personal loans.

How Much Collateral Is Needed for a Personal Loan?

For a personal loan, collateral is not typically required if the loan is unsecured, which is common for most personal loans. However, if you opt for a secured personal loan, the amount of collateral needed varies by lender and is based on the loan amount, your creditworthiness, and the lender’s policies.

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