Average personal loan APRs fell for both three-year and five-year loans, according to data released Monday by Bankrate for the week ending Dec. 13. If you have excellent credit (i.e. a score of 751 or more), the drop in rates has been particularly pronounced: the average APR for personal loans has fallen to 12.56% for a three-year loan. (it was 14.25% a week earlier) and 13.36% for a five-year loan (14.80% a week earlier). These are the lowest rates in 108 and 115 weeks, respectively. And you could get a much lower than average rate because a number of issuers offer rates starting at around 5% for qualified borrowers. Having said that, the rates for those with a lower credit score are much higher.
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What is a personal loan?
A personal loan is a loan from an online lender, bank, or credit union, typically in the amount of around $ 1,000 to $ 100,000. You often repay personal loans at regular intervals, such as monthly, over a period of one to seven years. You can often get these loans quickly, sometimes in as little as a day or two, and they sometimes carry lower interest rates than credit cards, but usually higher interest rates than home equity loans or home equity lines of credit.
Who could benefit from a personal loan?
If you need a loan quickly, this might be a good option for you, assuming, of course, you can pay it off and get a good rate. âObtaining a personal loan often allows you to accomplish something faster by giving you funds up front rather than waiting to save for it,â says Lauren Anastasio, Certified Financial Planner at SoFi. And Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com, notes that in addition to quick financing, these loans are often easier to obtain than other types of financing like business loans, especially if you are just starting out and are you don’t have much. , where applicable, the company’s income.
âPersonal loans can be very useful tools depending on how you use them,â adds Anastasio. This is because you could use a personal loan to consolidate your debt and potentially save money if you got a lower interest rate on the personal loan than you had on your debt. Another advantage? When moving credit card balances to a personal loan, moving revolving debt to an installment loan can significantly improve one’s credit, says Matt Schulz, chief credit analyst at LendingTree. âYour credit mix, or the variety of loan types on your credit report is an important factor in FICO credit scoring formulas,â he explains.
Personal loans also work well for home improvement projects that you want to get started quickly, like a roof repair, because you can usually go from demand to finance in a week or less, experts say. They can also be an alternative to small business loans, and if you have good credit, they can come with lower interest rates than business and personal credit cards.
But experts say you shouldn’t be using personal loans to cover discretionary purchases like vacations and retail splurges. âPersonal loans are a big commitment for short-term discretionary purchases. Everyone is eager to get out and travel these days, but even the smallest personal loans often have repayment schedules of a year or more, âsays Annie Millerbernd, personal loans expert at NerdWallet.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of personal loans?
Besides being financed quickly, these loans also have other advantages. âNot only do you avoid putting your home or car at risk, but you also avoid giving up any equity in your business,â says Rossman; this is because most of these loans are unsecured which means that the borrower does not have to post any collateral to secure the loan.
However, their interest rates may be higher than other types of loans like home equity loans and HELOCs. And you have to pay attention to the costs. Millerbernd cautions borrowers to be careful with origination fees. âLenders who charge a origination fee often take a percentage of the amount you borrow from the loan before it reaches your account, which is something to consider if you are trying to borrow a specific amount because with of setup costs, you could find yourself short of a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, âsays Millerbernd. And she adds, âPersonal loans also have the potential to speed up spending, giving you the ability to pay for a large expense without having to save for it.
What do personal lenders look for in a borrower?
Rossman says every lender is different, but they usually don’t give too much importance to the reason for your personal loan. âTypically, they’re much more concerned with your credit score, income, debt-to-debt ratio, and other factors that influence the likelihood of you paying them off,â says Rossman. The debt to income ratio can be calculated by adding up all of your monthly debt payments and dividing them by your gross monthly income; many lenders are looking for a DTI of 35-40% or less, although many lend to people with a higher ratio.
How to get a personal loan if your credit score is lower
In general, the lower your credit score, the more interest you will pay on a personal loan. And some borrowers may not qualify at all. With that said, there are some things you can do that could take you from being rejected to being accepted by a lender. âIf you’re near the threshold, making a large payment on a revolving balance or using something like Experian Boost could get you on your way relatively quickly,â says McBride. Additionally, “if you make all of your debt and bill payments on time and pay off all revolving debts, time will heal the wounds,” he adds. Remember, you need to pay off a personal loan in full and on time to make sure it doesn’t affect your credit score down the road.