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Everything you need to know about personal loan deals

If you’re taking out a personal loan, it’s highly likely that you’re experiencing some sort of financial difficulty. Whether it’s a small, temporary setback or a large, longer-term problem, the better your personal loan, the easier you’ll find it to bring order to your finances and your life.

That’s why it’s important that you resist the temptation to sign up for the very first personal loan you come across. Instead, you should take the time to research any personal loan specials that are currently on the market, in the hopes of finding a better deal. Hopefully, you’ll end up finding a product with a lower interest rate and/or lower fees.

These specials might include interest rate reductions, fee reductions or some sort of an incentive gift, any of which might make the product significantly more attractive.

The reason lenders sometimes unveil short-term deals is because the personal loan marketplace is incredibly competitive, with dozens of institutions fighting for your business. Lenders run these specials not because they want to do you a favour, but because they want to bring more customers through their doors. Of course, these specials need to be attractive to borrowers, otherwise nobody will take them up.

So scroll up and have a look at the personal loans specials on this page. How do they compare do the offerings you’ve already encountered?

Do a comparison search

Another thing you should do during your research is to use a personal loan comparison tool, like the one provided by RateCity. This will allow you to quickly and easily compare more than 200 products, based on interest rates, fees and loan features.

It might seem strange to look at regular loan offerings when there are specials available. However, sometimes one lender’s regular offering is better than another lender’s special. Also, some specials won’t be applicable to every borrower.

Get the full picture

During your research, don’t fall into the trap of assuming that interest rate is everything, for two main reasons.

First, the advertised interest rate won’t give you a full understanding of the costs involved. Why? Because it doesn’t include fees. That’s why you should also pay attention to the comparison rate, which does include fees and therefore represents the effective rate on the loan.

(According to the industry standard, a comparison rate is calculated based on a loan of $30,000 over five years. So if your loan profile is different, the comparison rate will be slightly inaccurate.)

Second, a personal loan’s features can also be very important. For example, some loans allow you the flexibility of using a redraw facility, while others don’t. Depending on your circumstances, a higher-rate loan with more features could be better than a lower-rate loan with fewer features.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that the interest rate isn’t important – just that it has to be considered in the full context of the personal loan product you’re researching.

Do you really need the loan?

Once you’ve finished your research, take the time to think about whether you really need a personal loan.

If, for example, you’re in a debt hole, is taking out more debt going to make your situation better or worse?

If you’re currently struggling to find the money to meet your day-to-day expenses, will it become easier or harder once you’re forced to make regular interest repayments?

The key is to ask yourself why you feel compelled to consider a personal loan. Everybody’s financial circumstances are unique, so blanket judgements are impossible. Sometimes, a personal loan is the best way to handle a particular life event; at other times, it isn’t.

Personal loan alternatives

With that in mind, here are three possible alternatives to taking out a personal loan.

  1. Find ways to reduce your expenses. Examples include:
  • Bring your lunch to work instead of buying it
  • Sell your car and use public transport
  • Quit smoking
  • Don’t drink alcohol for three months
  • Don’t go out on the town for three months
  1. Find ways to increase your income. Examples include:
  • Get a second job
  • Ask for extra shifts
  • Become a pet-sitter
  • Rent out a spare room through Airbnb
  • Rent out empty cupboards through Spacer
  • Rent out possessions through Spinlister
  • Rent out clothing through Style Lend
  1. Borrow the money with your credit card – provided you’re able to repay the entire debt during the interest-free period. If you do, you won’t have to pay a cent of interest. But beware: if you don’t repay the entire debt during this period, it could be extremely costly, because interest rates are usually higher for credit cards than personal loans.