Shop around for the best personal loan

Shop around for the best personal loan

Savvy borrowers thinking about using current low interest rates to shop for a new loan or refinance old debts will need to do their homework to find the best personal loan deals.

Australia’s official cash rate target may be down to 2 per cent but rates on personal loans range from under 6 per cent, up to a hefty 18 per cent.

But personal loans are often a cheaper option than many credit cards, so how do you make sure you find the best personal loan for your needs?

1. What’s your reason for borrowing?

Loans advertised specifically for the purpose of debt consolidation (rolling all your existing cards and lines of credit into one straightforward agreement and repayment schedule) usually have a higher interest rate.

Rates can be fixed or variable on consolidation loans but they are more likely to require that you provide security. They may also have an application fee and even an ongoing fee.

You can get a cheaper loan if you have a specific purpose for borrowing such as to purchase a car or to pay for home furnishings.

2. Fixed or variable rate?

Personal loans in Australia traditionally came with a fixed interest rate and repayment term. Their attraction was that you knew exactly what your repayment schedule would be for the life of the loan. Now fixed and variable rate personal loans are available from most lenders and the decision is really up to you and your personal circumstances. A fixed rate loan will give you the peace of mind to be able to budget for the long-term whereas as variable loan might go down if there is a rate cut, but this is by no means guaranteed, and you have to be prepared for the fact it could also go up.

3. Secured or unsecured?

It is possible to find an unsecured loan with a reasonably competitive interest rate, although the cheapest loans are currently secured. That means you need to provide an asset (such as a car) as security against the amount you are borrowing. The lenders decision to approve an unsecured loan will depend on the amount you are borrowing, your credit history and ability to repay.

4. What other features should you consider?

Don’t overlook fees, including the application fee and any ongoing charges. Also check penalties for missed repayments. Make sure you are able to make extra payments but also check if a penalty applies for early repayment of the loan (particularly if it has a fixed interest rate).

If you are concerned about job security it may be worth looking for a loan that allows you to defer repayments.

To find the lowest rates online, compare personal loans at RateCity today.

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Learn more about personal loans

Is a personal loan a variable or fixed-rate loan?

Depending on the personal loan lender, you may be able to choose between a fixed and a variable interest rate. But, there are a few distinct differences between the two, so it’s important to weigh up the pros and cons before deciding on what’s right for you.

A fixed interest rate loan gets you the convenience of knowing exactly how much you need to repay each fortnight or month. On the other hand, you generally won’t be able to make lump sum or advanced payments to close your personal loan early - or at least not without a penalty.

With a variable interest rate personal loan, you may be able to get a longer loan repayment term, with the option of paying off the loan early. You typically won’t need to pay any additional charges for an early full repayment either. The potential disadvantage with an interest rate that can change is that your repayment is not entirely predictable, as it can fluctuate with the market. However, you’ll likely have more options as more lenders offer a variable interest rate personal loan.

Should I get a fixed or variable personal loan?

Fixed personal loans keep your interest rate the same for the full loan term, while interest rates on variable personal loans may be raised or lowered during your loan term.

A fixed rate personal loan keeps your repayments consistent, which can help keep your budgeting consistent. You won't have to worry about higher repayments if your rates were to rise. However, on a fixed loan you’ll also potentially miss out on more affordable repayments if variable rates were to fall.

Can you refinance a $5000 personal loan?

Much like home loans, many personal loans can be refinanced. This is where you replace your current personal loan with another personal loan, often from another lender and at a lower interest rate. Switching personal loans may let you enjoy more affordable repayments, or useful features and benefits.

If you have a $5000 personal loan as well as other debts, you may be able to use a debt consolidations personal loan to combine these debts into one, potentially saving you money and simplifying your repayments.

What is the average interest rate on personal loans for single parents?

Like other types of personal loans, the average interest rate for personal loans for single parents changes regularly, as lenders add, remove, and vary their loan offers. The interest rate you’ll receive may depend on a range of different factors, including your loan amount, loan term, security, income, and credit score.

What is a bad credit personal loan?

A bad credit personal loan is a personal loan designed for somebody with a bad credit history. This type of personal loan has higher interest rates than regular personal loans as well as higher fees.

How much can you borrow with a bad credit personal loan?

Borrowers who take out bad credit personal loans don’t just pay higher interest rates than on regular personal loans, they also get loaned less money. Each lender has its own policies and loan limits, but you’ll find it hard to get approved for a bad credit personal loan above $50,000.

Does refinancing a personal loan hurt your credit score?

Personal loan refinancing means taking out a new loan with more desirable terms in order to access a more competitive interest rate, longer loan term, better features, or even to consolidate debts.

In some situations, refinancing a personal loan can improve your credit score, while in others, it may have a negative impact. If you refinance multiple loans by consolidating these into one loan, it could improve your credit score as you’ll have only one outstanding debt liability. Your credit may also improve if you consistently pay the instalments on time.

However, applying to refinance with multiple lenders could negatively affect your credit if your applications are rejected. Also, if you delay or default the repayment, your credit score reduces.

What is a personal loan?

A personal loan sits somewhere between a home loan and a credit card loan. Unlike with a credit card, you need to sign a formal contract to access a personal loan. However, the process is easier and faster than taking out a mortgage.

Loan sizes typically range from several hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars, while loan terms usually run from one to five years. Personal loans are generally used to consolidate debts, pay emergency bills or fund one-off expenses like holidays.

Can I merge my personal loan with my home loan?

Yes, you can refinance your home loan and, in the process, merge or consolidate your personal loan and home loan. By doing so, you can lower the number of debts you have, and you may also reduce the total interest you have to pay.

However, you should consult a financial advisor or a mortgage broker to confirm that you are decreasing your total outstanding debt, including interest payments. The repayment term for a home loan can be much longer than that for a personal loan, and by merging the two, you could be repaying a higher amount over the full term.

What is an unsecured bad credit personal loan?

A bad credit personal loan is ‘unsecured’ when the borrower doesn’t offer up an asset, such as a car or jewellery, as collateral or security. Lenders generally charge higher interest rates on unsecured loans than secured loans.

Do student personal loans require security?

While some personal loans can be secured by the value of an asset, such as a car or equity in a property, student personal loans are often unsecured, which typically have higher interest rates.

Some lenders also offer guarantor personal loans to students. These loans have lower interest rates, as a guarantor (usually a relative of the borrower with good credit) will fully or partially guarantee the loan, taking on the financial responsibility if the borrower defaults.

Can I repay a $3000 personal loan early?

If you receive a financial windfall (e.g. tax refund, inheritance, bonus), using some of this money to make extra repayments onto your personal loan or medium amount loan could help reduce the total interest you’re charged on your loan, or help clear your debt ahead of schedule.

Check your loan’s terms and conditions before paying extra onto your loan, as some lenders charge fees for making extra repayments, or early exit fees for clearing your debt ahead of the agreed term.

Can I include my spouse’s income on a personal loan?

If you apply for a joint personal loan with your spouse, you can include their income on the application. If approved, they then become jointly liable for the loan.

Both you and your spouse need to meet the eligibility criteria, such as income, age, and residency requirements, as stipulated by the lender. A joint loan could increase your chance of approval for a higher amount, as both borrowers’ incomes are assessed when determining borrowing capacity. 

Which lenders offer bad credit personal loans?

Several dozen lenders offer bad credit personal loans in Australia. These are generally smaller lenders that aren’t household names.