Whether you need money to improve your home or cover a gap in employment, one way to obtain it fast and easily is with a personal loan.
What's more, personal loans are often less expensive and offer more favorable terms than other ways of borrowing money.
Denying yourself the opportunity of a personal loan not only means you deny yourself the possibility of getting your wants or needs met in the time frame that serves your circumstances. It could also have consequences far more dire.
For example, you may opt for an alternative means to obtain that wanted or needed money that costs you more and has stricter terms and more severe consequences should you default on repayment.
Alternatively, you may forego purchases that could improve your quality of life or, even, protect your health and safety.
By the end of this article, you'll understand the opportunity personal loans offer, the benefits and risks they pose, how to decide whether a personal loan is right for you and how to go about getting one.
A personal loan is money you borrow from a credit union or other lender that you pay back in installments, or fixed monthly payments.
All personal loans, no matter the lender, are comprised of several factors:
A typical installment period for a personal loan is two to seven years, and a typical Annual Percentage Rate (APR) is 6%-36%, as of this Summer 2020 writing.
Most lenders base eligibility for a personal loan on several of the same basic factors.
Your credit score is a numerical encapsulation of your creditworthiness to lenders based on a set of factors, such as your current lines of credit and credit limits and the size of your current balances.
There are a few different scoring methods and entities, and different lenders use different ones in their assessments of applications, though they all use similar criteria.
Many lenders have strict rules around credit score ranges that do or don't qualify for certain loans and their interest rates and terms.
Lenders want to make sure you can repay your loan according to the repayment terms of your loan agreement.
Your income is obviously a key factor in making this assessment. One way to improve your creditworthiness to lenders is to increase your income.
Consider taking on a second job or a part-time job in order to show a larger income on your personal loan application.
Your credit report gives lenders more insight into the factors that influence your credit score.
If your credit score is too low to get the personal loan you want, look up your credit reports with the three major agencies (Equifax, Experian and Transunion) to see what issue, exactly, is pulling down your score.
You can look up your credit report from each of the three agencies once per year for free at annualcreditreport.com.
Beware of other websites claiming free credit reports that end up charging you money after all.
In some case, you may find an error negatively impacting your credit score, in which case you can contact the particular agency with proof of the error to correct on your credit report.
A month or so after a change occurs to your credit report, that change is reflected in your credit score.
Lenders also look for red flags in credit reports that tell them not to lend to a particular applicant, such as bankruptcies, foreclosures, delinquent payments and collection accounts.
Note: One key factor most lenders will consider when examining these criteria is your debt-to-income ratio. This metric shows lenders how financially stretched you are already and gives them a reasonable idea of how easily you'll be able to meet your repayment obligations to them with your current income and considering your other current obligations.
Be aware, as well, that every time a lender looks up your credit report, it impacts your credit score. You can significantly reduce this impact, however, by consolidating all these queries to a short period of time.
In other words, submit all your personal-loan applications within a short frame of time so that their successive credit report inquiries won't successively damage your credit score and, consequently, apparent creditworthiness.
You can qualify for a personal loan with less-than-perfect criteria, but you should expect your loan terms, such as interest rate, payment size, payment term, loan limit and fees, to differ accordingly.
Similarly, if you can't qualify for an unsecured loan, which requires no collateral, you may qualify for a secured loan, which does, or a co-signed loan, which requires a second person to take responsibility with you for the loan.
Like all financial instruments, while a personal loan does have its advantages, it also can have its risks.
Therefore, to make sure a personal loan is right for you and that your decision to get one won't have unintended negative consequences, make sure to be aware of all the risks as well as the benefits of personal loans before you follow through with one.
Personal loans offer many advantages over and above other common options for accessing money or credit.
Just because a personal loan may be available to you, it doesn't mean you should automatically take advantage of it.
First, there are certain precautions you should take into consideration.
As you now understand, not all personal loans are built alike. Therefore, if you decide to pursue a personal loan for yourself, you need to look at what are the personal loans best for you.
When comparing different personal loans, examine these key criteria:
A personal loan can be a powerful tool to help you weather a storm or improve your quality of life.
To make a personal loan work right for you, however, it requires a careful consideration of the advantages and drawbacks, both of personal loans in general and the specific personal loans you're considering.
To explore the personal loan options available to you in Jacksonville, Florida and the surrounding parts of Northern Florida, speak with one of our knowledgeable and friendly loan representatives at 121 Financial Credit Union.
He or she can even show you estimated rates you may qualify for with no affect to your credit score.
Visit us us at 121FCU.org or call us at 800-342-2352.