We’ve all experienced situations where we need some extra money. Maybe it’s because of an unexpected expense, a long-awaited improvement project, or a need to consolidate multiple outstanding debts. If you’re in such a situation right now, you may be considering a personal loan.
The simplest definition of a “personal loan” is any loan given to an individual consumer, rather than to a business or corporate entity. Most personal loans are unsecured, which means they do not require you to pledge an asset (like a home or car title) as collateral, and can be used for any purpose.
Typically, you will receive a lump sum credit (the principal) from a lender, and pay it back at a cost (interest rate plus any fees). Payments are made in regular installments over the term of the loan. Typical personal loan terms range from as short as three months to as long as five years (60 months).
The cost of a loan can vary depending on the lender, the borrower’s creditworthiness, and the size and duration of the loan. Interest rates are usually fixed, and can be expressed as an annual percentage rate (APR).
NetCredit Personal Loans
Personal loans come in various types. They also come with various interest rates and repayment periods. But the best personal loans are just that — personal.
That’s what NetCredit is all about. We provide a more “personal” personal loan that gives you the ability to customize your terms, so you can create a loan that is right for you and your individual financial needs.
Our series of television commercials are helping customers discover what makes NetCredit a great choice for their personal lending needs.
Is a personal loan right for you?
If you need extra funds to cover expenses, a personal loan can be very beneficial. Most lenders do not place limitations on how personal loan funds can be used, letting you use your personal loan for any purpose you need.
For example, you could use a short-term personal loan to cover an emergency or unforeseen expense, such as a car repair or medical expense. Alternatively, you could use a longer-term personal installment loan to cover a larger expense, such as a home improvement project or an automobile purchase.
Of course, personal loans are just one available funding option. Before accepting any personal loan offer, it’s a good idea to research various products, conducting due diligence on lenders and consulting with a knowledgeable financial adviser.
What amounts and terms can personal loans have?
Personal loans are typically structured as installment loans, which are repaid in equal payments (or “installments”) over a defined period of time. Loan amounts and durations can range broadly, depending on the state and the lender. Interest rates for personal loans are generally set by the lender, and can vary depending on factors such as the borrower’s creditworthiness and the size and duration of the loan requested. Rates will usually be fixed for the life of the loan and can be expressed as an annual percentage rate (APR).
What are the different types of personal loans?
Individual consumers shopping for personal loans have a variety of options at their disposal. In general, personal loan offerings fall into two categories: installment loans and lines of credit.
Installment Loans: Much like traditional mortgage loans or automobile financing, personal installment loans are repaid over time in a number of fixed payments called “installments.” The installments are calculated to pay off the entire loan principal balance as well as all interest charges accrued over the term of the loan. Installment payments may be scheduled monthly, biweekly or weekly, depending on the program.
Installment loans come in two forms: unsecured and secured. Unsecured personal loans do not require you to pledge any assets as collateral. These are sometimes called “signature loans.” By contrast, secured personal loans require you to pledge an asset — such as a car or other valuable item — as collateral. If you are unable to repay the loan, the lender may seize these assets.
Personal Lines of Credit: An alternative to personal installment loans, personal lines of credit function similarly to credit cards. They are typically open-ended, allowing the borrower to draw against their credit limit multiple times, as long as they have available credit. The repayments required for a line of credit usually depend on the outstanding balance at the time of your last statement.
What is the difference between a secured loan and an unsecured loan?
An unsecured personal loan is a type of consumer financing that does not require the pledging of collateral to the lender as a condition of loan approval.
By contrast, a secured loan requires an item such as the title of an automobile, a piece of equipment, or other appraisable asset to be pledged to the lender as security. Should a secured loan go into default, the borrower may be forced to forfeit ownership of the asset to the lender. An unsecured personal loan requires no such pledge.
What kind of entities provide personal loans?
Consumers have many options when it comes to personal loans and consumer financing programs. Whether they’re searching for traditional credit cards, secured credit cards, unsecured loans, secured personal loans or automobile title loans, people can find personal credit and loan providers in many locations. Most Americans can obtain personal loans from six basic types of personal loan providers:
Banks: Traditionally, the first place you might turn to when looking for a personal loan is the local or community bank you already use for checking, savings and other consumer finance needs. Although automobile loans and home mortgage financing are two of the most popular financing products offered by consumer banks, many banks also offer personal loans.
Credit Unions: Credit unions are a popular alternative to banks. Much like mutual banks, credit unions are owned by their members. They offer their loan products, including personal loans, primarily to their members. Credit unions are often able to offer lower rates and charge lower fees than many banks because they are nonprofit entities.
Credit unions do have membership requirements, though some are based primarily on geography rather than occupation or demographics. Credit unions are usually direct lenders of personal loans, using funds provided by their member depositors.
Finance Companies: In contrast to credit unions, finance companies are typically for-profit private entities. And unlike banks, finance companies are usually focused only on lending, so they don’t generally handle customer deposit accounts like checking and savings accounts. The funds that finance companies use to provide personal loans come from investors and loans from commercial lenders.
Private Lenders: Unlike banks and credit unions, private lenders are typically non-institutional. They are often individuals or groups of individuals who provide financing on a project or case-by-case basis and treat their loans more as direct investments.
Peer-to-Peer Lenders: Also called person-to-person, social or P2P lending, peer-to-peer lending is what typically happens when a person borrows from other individuals. These are often informal loans between friends, families and colleagues, though they may also include formal agreements.
Loan Brokers: Another source for personal loans is the loan broker. Unlike direct lenders who lend their own funds, loan brokers connect prospective borrowers with lenders. They often provide marketing services for and are paid by the lender.
Regardless of which loan source an individual selects, consumers should always do their due diligence and compare different personal loan programs and sources.