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 usually 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.
There is a strong link between credit scores and personal loan interest rates because many lenders use credit scores to decide what interest rates to offer to potential borrowers.
If you have a higher credit score, lenders will probably classify you as a lower-risk borrower. That means they’ll be keen to win your business, so they may offer you a lower interest rate.
If you have a lower credit score, lenders will probably classify you as a higher-risk borrower. That means they might be concerned about you defaulting on the loan and costing them money. As a result, they might protect themselves by charging you a higher interest rate.
Many personal loans, much like home 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.
A bad credit personal loan is a personal loan designed for somebody with a bad credit history. They have higher interest rates than regular personal loans and are also harder to access.
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.
Some lenders are able to approve applications over the internet 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.