Personal Loans Frequently Asked Questions
Comprehensive credit reporting was introduced to make credit reports fairer and more accurate. Under the previous system, credit providers only saw negative information about potential borrowers. Now, they're able to see both positive and negative information, which means that credit providers can see if a borrower’s negative credit behaviour is consistent or a mere one-off.
Debt consolidation is the process of rolling several old debts into one new debt, usually to save money or for the sake of convenience.
Your credit history covers everything to do with applying for loans. It includes the number of loans you’ve applied for, the amounts you’ve borrowed and your record of meeting repayment schedules.
Some lenders are able to approve applications with little documentation and within minutes. However, there is a catch. People who take out easy/instant loans generally pay higher interest rates and are restricted to lower amounts than people who follow a traditional borrowing process.
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.
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.
It’s unusual for a lender to provide a personal loan of above $100,000, although there is no formal limit. As with all lending products, each lender sets its own policies, while each borrower is assessed on a case-by-case basis.
The Australian personal loans market contains dozens of lenders offering several hundred different products. Personal loans are available through a range of institutions, including:
- The big four banks (ANZ, Commonwealth Bank, NAB and Westpac)
- Smaller banks (such as Bank of Queensland, Bendigo Bank and MyState)
- Mutual banks (such as Heritage Bank, Greater Bank and Newcastle Permanent)
- Credit unions (such as People’s Choice Credit Union, BCU and Community First Credit Union)
- Non-bank lenders (such as Pepper Money, Liberty and RACV)
- Peer-to-peer marketplaces (such as Harmoney, SocietyOne and RateSetter)
There are three main ways to access personal loans. You can go through a comparison website, such as RateCity. You can use a finance broker. Or you can directly contact the lender.
The No Interest Loans Scheme (NILS) allows low-income borrowers to take out no-interest loans for up to $1500 to purchase essential goods and services.
There are also similar low-interest loan schemes available to borrowers in financial hardship who are having a tough time getting finance approved.
Lenders aren’t allowed to charge interest on loans of $2,000 and under. Instead, they make their money by charging a one-off establishment fee of up to 20 per cent and a monthly account-keeping fee of up to four per cent. Lenders might also ask you to pay a government fee.
For loans between $2,001 and $5,000, lenders can make their money in only two ways: a one-off fee of $400 and annual interest rates of up to 48 per cent.
For loans of $5,001 and above, or for loans that have terms longer than two years, lenders can charge annual interest rates of up to 48 per cent.
Those fee caps don’t apply to loans offered by authorised deposit-taking institutions such as banks, building societies or credit unions, although such institutions are highly unlikely to charge interest rates of anywhere near 48 per cent.
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