Do You Need Collateral for a Personal Loan?

Personal loans are a financial tool for people seeking to fund a variety of needs — from consolidating debt to paying for surprise expenses. The question of whether collateral is required for a personal loan can be a common source of confusion, however.

In this blog post, we’ll address the ins and outs of using collateral for personal loans, and go over alternatives for those with bad credit.

Do You Need Collateral to Get a Personal Loan?

The short answer is: in many cases, no.

Personal loans are often unsecured. This means they don’t require collateral. Types of personal loans that don’t require collateral include unsecured installment loans and lines of credit.

On the other hand, some types of personal loans do require collateral. This includes loans that provide larger funding amounts, such as home equity lines of credit. In some cases, lender’s use collateral to offset the risk of default when offering loans to borrowers with low credit scores. Some examples of secured loans for bad credit include title loans and pawn shop loans.

Since unsecured loans do not require collateral, borrowers don’t risk losing their pledged property if they default. With secured loans, borrowers do — which in the case of title loans means they would lose their vehicle.

What Is Collateral?

Collateral is a valuable asset that a borrower pledges to a lender as security for a loan. In the event the borrower defaults on loan payments, the lender can seize and sell the collateral to recover the owed amount. Collateral provides somewhat of an insurance policy or safety net for lenders, reducing their risk and potentially enabling them to offer lower personal loan rates.

How Big of a Personal Loan Can You Get Without Collateral?

If you have great credit, some lenders offer unsecured personal loans up to $100,000. In the majority of cases, however, loan amounts are smaller — in the range of $500 to $25,000.

Ultimately, the amount a lender offers will rest on a number of factors. These include:

Credit score. Your credit score is one of the most significant factors that lenders consider when deciding how much you can borrow without collateral.

Debt-to-income ratio. Lenders assess your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio, which is the percentage of your monthly income that goes toward paying debts.

Employment history and financial stability. Lenders often prefer borrowers with a stable employment history. If you have a consistent job with a good income, lenders may be more willing to offer larger loan amounts.

Loan terms and interest rates. Loan terms, including the length of the loan and the interest rate, also impact the maximum loan amount.

Lender policies and requirements. Different lenders have varying policies and criteria for unsecured personal loans. Some may be more conservative in their lending approach, while others may be more flexible.

Existing financial obligations. Lenders consider your existing financial obligations, including other loans and credit card balances, when determining your eligibility for a personal loan.

Types of Personal Loans That Don’t Require Collateral

There are a number of ways to secure financial resources without the need for collateral. Some common options include:

Unsecured personal loans. Personal loans stand as a versatile solution for a range of financial needs. Whether you’re renovating your home or have urgent bills to pay, a personal loan can be tailored to suit your specific requirements.

Unsecured lines of credit. Lines of credit provide a flexible source of funds that you can access whenever you need, up to a predetermined limit. The interest is typically charged only on the amount you use, making it a cost-effective option.

Credit cards. Credit cards provide a revolving line of credit that you can utilize for daily expenses, emergencies, and larger purchases. Credit cards offer the convenience of immediate spending power, but they require diligent management to avoid accumulating high-interest debt.

Payday loans. Payday loans are short-term, unsecured loans designed to bridge the gap between paychecks. They are often sought in emergencies when immediate funds are needed. However, payday loans come with high interest rates and fees, making them a more expensive form of borrowing.

Types of Personal Loan Options with Collateral

Here are some common loan options that involve pledging assets as collateral:

Secured personal loans. Secured personal loans are a twist on traditional unsecured personal loans. Borrowers provide collateral to secure lump-sum funds in their bank account. This can often result in lower interest rates and potentially more accessible approval, even for individuals with less-than-perfect credit scores. The pledged collateral offers lenders a sense of security, allowing them to extend loans to a broader range of applicants.

Home equity loans. Homeowners with substantial equity in their properties might consider home equity loans. These loans allow borrowers to leverage the value of their homes as collateral. The loan amount is typically determined by the difference between the property’s market value and the outstanding mortgage balance. Home equity loans often come with competitive interest rates and longer repayment terms.

Home equity lines of credit. HELOCs are a form of revolving credit that also utilizes home equity as collateral. They provide borrowers with a credit line that can be tapped into as needed, similar to a credit card. Borrowers usually only pay interest on the amount they withdraw. HELOCs can be particularly useful for ongoing expenses, like home improvements or educational costs.

Auto loans. Car loans are a prime example of collateral-backed loans. When financing a vehicle purchase, the vehicle itself serves as collateral. This allows borrowers to secure loans with relatively lower interest rates, even if their credit scores are less than stellar. However, it’s essential to stay current on monthly payments to avoid the risk of vehicle repossession.

Title loans. Somewhat similar to auto loans are title loans. With a title loan, you can get a lump sum of money using the title to your vehicle as collateral. They can be a very risky form of secured funding however in that you can lose your car if you don’t repay the loan.

Secured credit cards. Secured credit cards are another way to establish or rebuild credit while utilizing collateral. Cardholders provide a security deposit that serves as collateral, typically equal to the credit limit. This deposit minimizes risk for the card issuer and can make it easier for individuals with limited credit history or bad credit to obtain a credit card.

Pawn shop loans. In dire financial circumstances, some individuals turn to pawn shops for short-term loans. In this scenario, borrowers bring in valuable items like jewelry, electronics, collectibles or instruments to use as collateral for the loan. If the loan isn’t repaid within the agreed-upon loan terms, the pawn shop gains ownership of the item.

What Can Be Used as Collateral for a Personal Loan?

When collateral is required, lenders typically accept tangible assets that hold value. Common types of collateral for secured loans include:

Real estate. Homes, properties, or land can serve as collateral, allowing borrowers to access larger loan amounts at relatively favorable terms.

Vehicles. Cars, motorcycles, boats, and other vehicles are often used as collateral, especially in auto and title loans.

Savings accounts or certificates of deposit (CDs). In some cases, lenders may allow borrowers to use their savings accounts or CDs as collateral.

Valuables. Jewelry, fine art and other valuable possessions can be used as collateral, although this is less common and requires careful appraisal.

Some Pros and Cons of Collateral


Higher loan amounts. Collateral-backed loans generally allow borrowers to access higher loan amounts compared to unsecured loans.

Lower interest rates. Lenders are more likely to offer lower annual percentage rates on secured loans due to the reduced risk.

Easier approval. Borrowers with a poor credit report or limited credit history might find it easier to secure a loan with collateral.


Risk of asset loss. The most significant drawback of collateral is the risk of losing the pledged asset if loan payments aren’t made.

Complex process. Securing a loan with collateral often involves a more complex application process and appraisal requirements.

Limited accessibility. Not everyone has valuable assets to pledge as collateral, making this option unavailable to some borrowers.

Where Can I Find the Best Personal Loans If I Have Bad Credit?

Having bad credit can be a roadblock when seeking traditional financial services such as personal loans. However, several alternatives are available:

Online lenders. Numerous online lenders specialize in offering online personal loans to individuals with bad credit. These lenders consider factors beyond credit scores, such as income and employment history.

Credit unions. Credit unions are member-based financial institutions known for their community-oriented approach. They might offer more lenient terms and lower interest rates than traditional banks.

Peer-to-peer lending. Peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platforms connect borrowers with individual investors willing to fund loans. These platforms often consider a wider range of borrower profiles.

Co-signers. Having a co-signer with good credit can increase your chances of having your loan application approved. Keep in mind that the co-signer assumes responsibility if you default.

The necessity of collateral for a personal loan depends on the type of loan and the lender’s requirements. While collateral offers advantages like lower interest rates and higher loan amounts, it also carries the risk of asset loss in case of default. As with any financial decision, careful consideration of your circumstances and loan offers is essential to make an informed choice that aligns with your goals.

DISCLAIMER: This content is for educational and informational purposes only, and is not intended as financial, investment, or legal advice.

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