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Understanding the difference between secured vs. unsecured personal loan
Suppose you find yourself looking to apply for a personal loan to fund a new car, renovations or something else. You’ll need to get a better understanding of the difference between an unsecured personal loan vs. secured personal loan.
Personal loans from banks
Australian banks have paved the way when it comes to offering personal loans, although non-banking institutions also offer similar facilities.
What are personal loans from banks?
The banking industry was deregulated in the 1980s and since then competition has increased significantly. This has prompted many banks to lower their interest rates. All this is good news for you, the customer, as you have not only increased choice when seeking a personal loan but also a wider range of lenders from which to choose. Often personal loans from banks offer an excellent alternative to non-banking institutions. Banks must hold a banking licence and are required to conform to the specific regulations and rules laid down by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA).
Why do people use personal loans from banks?
There are a number of reasons why you might want to apply for a personal loan from a bank:
- A personal loan can be a very flexible way to manage your finances, with opportunities to link it to other types of accounts, for example transaction or everyday accounts;
- Banks charge fees and set rates, however, it’s often possible to negotiate these, which can work to your advantage;
- You can use a personal loan for a variety of reasons, from supporting a student to making repairs to your home or buying a new car.
What are the main features?
Individual banks offer different products, so it’s always best to enquire about specific features you’re interested in. You might want to know, for example, whether the financial institution will charge you extra if you pay your personal loan off early. You might also want to check if they will allow you to make flexible repayments, including occasional overpayments to reduce the costs of the loan. Some banks permit interest only payments and often there are rules applicable to the reason you are taking out a personal loan. Other banks offer redraw facilities but you should be aware they might charge you for this feature.
What are the pros and cons of personal loans from banks?
Applying for a personal loan is more straightforward than it used to be with many lenders offering online access. As a result of the formal regulations you can be confident that the bank will operate within the law and that your accounts will be secure.
You should compare a variety of personal loan offers from banks just as you would compare other financial products such as savings and everyday accounts. It’s important to check that interest rates quoted by the various banks you are comparing are for the same amount and over the same period of time. The same is true when it comes to checking fees for loan application and settlement; be aware that additional charges may be made, such as an annual or monthly fee.
Banks can offer you a larger number of products than non-banking lenders, so you may well get access to additional linked items such as a credit card or transaction account.
Kate was one of RateCity's Personal Finance Commentators. She has been a journalist for more than a decade, most of which has been spent writing about money. Most recently, she was the Australian Financial Review's personal finance correspondent. She is passionate about personal finance and women's independence.
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Frequently asked questions
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 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.
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.
Where can I get a personal loan?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Can single mothers get personal loans online?
Many lenders offer online applications for personal loans, which can be convenient for borrowers who have busy lives. If you’re not confident your personal loan application will be approved, you may want to consider contacting the lender by email, live chat, phone, or by visiting a branch, to discuss your situation before applying.
Can I get a no credit check personal loan?
Personal loans with no credit checks are available and called ‘payday loans’. These are sometimes used as short-term solutions for cash-strapped Australians. They often carry higher interest rates and fees than regular personal loans, and individuals risk putting themselves into a worsened cycle of debt.
What are the pros and cons of personal loans?
The advantages of personal loans are that they’re easier to obtain than mortgages and usually have lower interest rates than credit cards.
One disadvantage with personal loans is that you have to go through a formal application process, unlike when you borrow money on your credit card. Another disadvantage is that you’ll be charged a higher interest rate than if you borrowed the money as part of a mortgage.
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.
Can unemployed single parents get personal loans?
It can be more difficult for unemployed borrowers to successfully apply for a personal loan. Most lenders require borrowers to have a regular income available to cover the cost of loan repayments.
If you’re self-employed, or if less than half of your income comes from Centrelink, you may not be eligible for some personal loan options. Consider contacting the lender before applying.
How long does it take to get a student personal loan?
Completing an online personal loan application can often take anywhere from 10 minutes to 1 hour. Depending on your lender, processing your personal loan application may take anywhere between 1 and 24 hours. If your personal loan application is approved, you may receive the money in your bank account the following business day, or, in some cases, the same day.
What do single parents need for a personal loan application?
Much like applying for other personal loans, applying for personal loans for single parents will likely require the following:
- Proof of identity
- Proof of residence
- Proof of income
- Details of assets (e.g. car, home)
- Details of liabilities (e.g. credit cards, other loans)
- Loan amount
- Loan term
Are there low doc personal loans?
Self-employed borrowers may be eligible for low doc personal loans, which require less documentation in their application process than many other personal loan options.
It’s important to remember that though low doc personal loans may require less paperwork, you may need to provide additional security, or pay a higher interest rate.
What are the pros and cons of debt consolidation?
In some instances, debt consolidation can help borrowers reduce their repayments or simplify them. For example, someone might take out a $7,000 personal loan at an interest rate of 8 per cent so they can repay an existing $4,000 personal loan at 10 per cent and a $3,000 credit card loan at 20 per cent.
However, debt consolidation can backfire if the borrower spends the extra money instead of using it to repay the new loan.
How can I improve my credit rating/score?
Your credit score will improve if you demonstrate that you’ve become more credit-worthy. You can do that by minimising loan applications, clearing up defaults and paying bills on time.
Another tip is to get the one free credit report you’re entitled to each year – that way, you’ll be able to identify and fix any errors.
If you want to fix an error, the first thing you should do is speak with the credit reporting body, which may take care of the problem or contact credit providers on your behalf.
The next step would be to contact your credit provider. If that doesn’t work, you can refer the matter to the credit provider’s independent dispute resolution scheme, which would be the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA).
AFCA provides consumers and small businesses with fair, free and independent dispute resolution for financial complaints.
If that doesn’t work, your final options are to contact the Privacy Commissioner and then the Office of the Information Commissioner.
Can I get a personal loan if I receive Centrelink payments?
It is hard, but not impossible, to qualify for a personal loan if you receive Centrelink payments.
Some lenders won’t lend money to people who are on welfare. However, other lenders will simply consider Centrelink payments as another factor to weigh up when they assess a person’s capacity to repay a loan. You should check with any prospective lender about their criteria before making a personal loan application.
Can I get guaranteed approval for a bad credit personal loan?
Few, if any, lenders would be willing to give guaranteed approval for a bad credit personal loan. Borrowers with bad credit histories can have more complicated financial circumstances than other borrowers, so lenders will want time to study your application.
It’s all about risk. When someone applies for a personal loan, the lender evaluates how likely that borrower would be to repay the money. Lenders are more willing to give personal loans to borrowers with good credit than bad credit because there’s a higher likelihood that the personal loan will be repaid.
So a borrower with good credit is more likely to have a loan approved and to be approved faster, while a borrower with bad credit is less likely to have a loan approved and, if they are approved, may be approved slower.