If you are trying to manage debt or planning to apply for a loan, knowing the details about secured debt vs unsecured debt is critical. It is important whether a debt is secured or unsecured because it can impact your ability to pay it back, as well as the interest rate and terms of repayment.
To put things simply, the main difference between secured and unsecured debt is that secured debt is backed by collateral, while unsecured debt is not.
Collateral is an asset or assets from the borrower which acts as a guarantee to the lender that the debt will be repaid. If the borrower fails to repay the debt, the lender can seize the collateral and use it to recoup their losses.
Interested in learning more about secured debt vs unsecured debt? Read on for a detailed explanation of each type of debt, as well as their key differences.
Secured debt is debt that is backed by collateral.
This kind of debt benefits the lender because they can take your assets if you default on the loan. Loans can be secured by a variety of things and assets including but not limited to:
In most cases, a secured debt is secured by the very item you're borrowing the money to purchase. For example, if you're taking out a loan to buy a car, the car would be used as collateral for the loan. The same goes for a home mortgage — the house is the collateral. If you default on secured debt payments, the lender can repossess your assets.
Unsecured debt is debt that is not backed by collateral.
This kind of debt is money that's borrowed by the individual and is not secured by any assets. Take for example, credit card debt — it's often unsecured. If a borrower defaults on their payments, the lender can't take any of their assets as a form of payment.
Instead, they can only try to collect the debt through other methods, like a wage garnishment or legal action. Another common type of unsecured debt is medical debt.
While unsecured debt doesn't have any collateral associated with it, that doesn't mean it's risk-free for lenders. They still expect to be repaid and will often charge higher interest rates to offset the additional risk they're taking on by lending money to someone without any collateral.
In most cases, lenders typically look at a borrower's creditworthiness and decide whether or not they're a good candidate for unsecured debt based on that. They also look at the borrower's history of borrowing as well as the borrower's income to see if they can comfortably afford the payments.
The absence of security in one debt and the presence of it in the other is the primary difference between secured and unsecured debt.
Unsecured debt is not tied to any asset, so if a borrower defaults on their payments, the lender can't take any of their assets as a form of payment. With secured debt, the collateralized asset can be seized if the borrower doesn't make their payments.
Let's go through each debt's pros and cons to better understand how they work.
Advantages of Unsecured Debt
Disadvantages of Unsecured Debt
Advantages of Secured Debt
Disadvantages of Secured Debt
Here are some of the best examples of unsecured debt:
Here are some types of secured debt:
Whatever loans you may have, secured or unsecured, having a plan on how to pay off debt is important. You’ll generally want to prioritize paying off high-interest debt first because it costs you the most money in the long run. However, there may be other strategies that make more sense for your unique financial situation.
Secured debt is the most obvious debt to pay off first. This is because if you don’t make your payments, the lender can repossess your collateral. This is especially critical if your collateral is your car or your home. You don't want to end up losing your home or having your car repossessed because you couldn't make the payments.
The CFPB, or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, offers two methods for repaying your debts:
This method has you list your debts from smallest to largest, regardless of interest rate. You make the minimum payment on all debts except the smallest one. That means you are going to put as much money as you can towards the smallest debt until it is paid off. Then, you move on to the next debt on your list and treat it the same way. The goal is to pay off each debt one by one until you are debt-free.
Referred to as the "highest interest rate method", the Avalanche approach has you list your debts from highest to lowest interest rate. The minimum payments are made on all debts except the one with the highest interest rate. You will put as much money as you can towards the debt with the highest interest until it is paid off and then move on to the next debt on your list.
This is important if you have a debt that has an interest rate that stands out as significantly higher than the others. This way, you are not paying more in interest than you have to and you'll become debt-free from the higher interest debt quicker.
It is important to have a list of your debts so you can see better which debt you need to focus on first.
Debt is not an ideal situation to have in your life, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. In many cases, people can find they have too much debt and feel like they are drowning. If this is you, don’t worry, you are not alone.
Creating a plan and taking action to get out of debt is the best thing you can do for yourself. Whether you have secured or unsecured debt, make a plan and focus on paying off your debt one step at a time.
At 121 Financial Credit Union, we help people manage their finances using our free online banking tool. Access your finances with a click by simply logging in to your account. You'll be able to see all of your accounts, including loans and credit cards, in one place.
We also provide home and auto loans, as well as personal loans, to help you pay off debt. If you are in Jacksonville, feel free to contact us and learn how 121 Financial Credit Union can help you work towards becoming debt-free.