Credit cards are a great way to build credit, buy things, and earn rewards, but using a credit card can get pretty costly over time, especially if you carry large balances, or if you’re forced to use the cards to cover big ticket emergency expenses or things that you can’t pay off right away. That’s where personal loans come in.
You see, a personal loan, which is defined as an unsecured installment loan, typically has a much lower, fixed interest rate than credit cards and a set monthly payment, so you know when it will be paid off. And it usually takes a lot less time to pay off a personal loan than just making minimum payments on your credit card, so you’ll save lots of money on interest, especially if you have good to excellent credit. (Even those of us with less than perfect credit will normally still save money with a personal loan vs. a credit card, especially since credit card interest rates for fair to bad credit are still significantly higher than most personal loan rates for the same credit range.)
Not sure how to go about getting that personal loan? The first thing you’ll want to do is to figure out exactly how much you want to borrow, then check your credit score so you’ll know up front what kind of rate to expect when you apply. Next, you’ll want to start your search for the right personal loan for you – you can start with your bank, but don’t overlook online lenders, as they may offer better interest rates, with different qualifiers, so it may be easier to get the personal loan that you need. (And don’t be afraid to ask questions of the lenders you’re considering, compare their rates with those of other lenders, or even negotiate a little on the terms – the personal loan business is highly competitive and you can use this to your advantage!)
Once you’ve determined where you want to apply, you’ll need to fill out an application for the loan, but the process has been somewhat streamlined over the years, so it won’t take long to complete the application, provide proof of income, and assuming you’re approved, have the money deposited directly into your checking or savings account. (Most of the time, the entire process takes a few hours to a couple of days.)
Think a personal loan might be something that would work for you?
Here are a few lenders you might want to consider: