Personal loan rates have fallen slightly: For those with excellent credit, the average interest rates on personal loans with 60-month terms dipped to 14.36% and for 36-month terms 12.95%. But if your credit score isn’t among the cream of the crop, expect to pay more. For personal loans with 36-month terms, overall average interest rates were 22.65%, while personal loans with 60-month, or 5-year terms, were 23.71%, according to the latest data from Bankrate for the week ending April 11. You can see the lowest personal loan rates you can qualify for here.
What is a personal loan?
Personal loans from banks, credit unions and online lenders give borrowers a lump sum of cash that’s scheduled to be paid back with interest between 1 and 7 years after the loan has been funded. Personal loans most commonly range between $1,000 to $100,000 and are offered as either secured (you provide collateral) or unsecured (no collateral) loans, though most tend to be unsecured, making it easier for borrowers to get approved.
Why should you take out a personal loan?
If you find yourself in need of a sum of cash that you don’t have handy, a personal loan can help you deal with high-interest debt consolidation, unexpected expenses, home improvement projects, medical debt and more. Personal loans are popular for many reasons, but one of the things that sets them apart from other types of loans is how quickly they’re able to fund. In fact, some personal loans take just about one day before money becomes available to the borrower. That said, personal loans are often fraught with higher interest rates than loans like HELOCs or other types of lending services that require collateral.
Something else to consider before taking out a personal loan is exactly how much money you intend to use. Because it can be quite easy to get a personal loan, borrowers may have a tendency to get more than they actually need or spend frivolously simply because non-essential expenses suddenly become within reach once someone has cash in hand. Taking out more money than you need means you’ll be on the hook to repay a larger amount, which will in turn collect more interest and cost you more money in the long run. For this reason, experts recommend using a personal loan for specific planned reasons, rather than just taking out a loan to have extra cash around. Defaulting on a personal loan can negatively impact your credit score as well as affect your ability to qualify for loans in the future.
Personal loans aren’t totally headache free. They may come with a variety of fees, including origination fees which can range from 1% to 8% of the amount of the loan. This means that if you’re taking out $100,000 and the origination fee is 4%, you’ll actually need to apply to take out $104,000 to cover the cost of the fees which are usually shaved off the top of the loan. Make sure you understand the fee structure of your loan so that you don’t come up short when your loan funds.
How to get the best rate on a personal loan
With any loan, the higher your credit score, the more favorable your interest rates will be. To get an idea of what you can expect to pay on a personal loan, experts suggest engaging in the prequalification process, which entails a soft credit check that doesn’t affect your credit score. This will tell you what sort of interest rate you’ll likely pay and can help you determine which loan makes the most sense for your needs. As for the necessary documents and information you’ll need to have to get a personal loan, this guide will help you navigate the murky waters of applying for a personal loan.