How To Choose a Personal Loan

As the cost of living continues to rise, many people are finding it increasingly difficult to pay for basic necessities. In this challenging economic climate, personal loans are becoming increasingly popular. 

Last year, the number of personal loan accounts increased by 16% to 25.1 million. If you have been considering taking out a personal loan, understanding the different types of personal loans available and choosing the right one for your individual circumstances can be an important step towards financial security.

What Is a Personal Loan?

A personal loan is a type of loan that you can use for things like paying for a major purchase or consolidating high-interest debt. Personal loans are most often unsecured, meaning you will not have to put up collateral (such as a car or house) in order to be approved. 


What Are The Rates of Personal Loans?

Personal loans can start from 4% APR for people with the best credit scores and affordability metrics. However, whilst you often see this rate advertised, it is really reserved for the elite customers and paying 6%, 12% or 30% is more probably. Look out for advertising which says ‘representative APR’ because this is only given to at least 51% of customers and you could be paying much less or much more. For payday loans, at the other end of the spectrum, this could be from 400% APR in the US or 1,000% APR in the UK.


What Factors Should I Consider When Choosing a Personal Loan?

There are several factors to consider when choosing a personal loan, including the following:

  • Your credit score
  • The loan amount and term
  • The interest rate
  • Any fees associated with the loan, including early repayment fees


How Does My Credit Score Impact My Personal Loan Options?

Your credit score is a major factor in determining whether you qualify for a personal loan and what interest rate you might be offered. Generally, a higher credit score will result in a lower interest rate, while a lower credit score may result in a higher interest rate or a denial of the loan altogether. 

This is because higher credit scores prove to lenders that you are more likely to be able to pay off your debts on time. This means that lenders will be taking on less risk by lending you money.



What Fees Should I Look Out for When Choosing a Personal Loan?

Some common fees associated with personal loans include:

  • Origination fees: These are fees charged by a lender to cover the cost of processing a loan application and originating a loan. Origination fees are typically shown as a percentage of the loan amount.
  • Prepayment penalties: Also known as early repayment fees, these are fees charged by a lender if a borrower pays off all or part of a loan before the end of the loan term. Their purpose is to compensate the lender for any loss of interest that they would have received if the borrower had continued to make regular payments on the loan.
  • Late payment fees: These are fees charged by a lender when a borrower fails to make a loan payment on time. 


Can I Use a Personal Loan for Any Purpose?

Yes, personal loans can generally be used for any purpose, including debt consolidation, home improvement, medical expenses, education expenses, car repairs and more. Be aware that some lenders may have restrictions on how the loan can be used.


How Do I Save Money on a Personal Loan?

Before applying for a personal loan, research various lenders and compare interest rates and fees. Keep in mind that although a longer loan term may lower your monthly payments, it will increase the amount of interest you pay over the life of the loan. 

You should also review your credit report and credit score. A higher credit score can qualify you for a lower interest rate, so try and do what you can to improve your credit score, including:

  • Making all your payments on time
  • Avoiding applying for too many loans in one go
  • Avoiding opening new credit accounts

Finally, if you can, try and pay more than the minimum payment each month. This will help you pay off the loan faster and reduce the amount of interest you pay over the life of the loan, provided there is not a heavy early repayment fee.