Taking Out a Loan: Important Things to Consider

The difference between a problem debt and a useful financial tool can sometimes be whether you have made the right considerations before taking out a loan. Some of the most important things to consider are:

Alternatives

The first thing to think about is whether you really need to take out credit. Because of interest, you will end up repaying more than you borrow (with 0% credit cards being the most prominent exception), and usually the difference will be significant. That is how lenders are able to make money after all. If you could afford to use your own money to meet whatever expense you are faced with and would just prefer not to, you may want to think again as you will be better off in the long run. If you have any other alternative available, such as borrowing from a spouse or close family member, this may also be preferable. The more strain a loan is likely to put on your finances, the more important this step becomes. If you will have trouble making the repayments, or if it will leave you with little spare income for unexpected expenses, the more taking out a loan should be considered a last resort.

Types of Loan

If you have decided that a loan is your best or only option, the next step is to think about what kind of credit you wish to take out. This can make a huge difference to the kinds of interest rates that are available to you and therefore the amount you repay in the end. To take an extreme example, payday loans – which are almost always something to avoid – could come with an interest rate of well over 1,000% but the same amount may be available with a longer repayment period through a 0% credit card. In between these two extremes are things like “standard” personal loans and peer-to-peer loans.

Shopping Around

Always shop around for the best rate. Even within a single kind of product, interest rates and repayment terms can vary massively, so there is a lot to be gained from getting the best deal. As with insurance products and utility providers, online comparison websites are your best friends when you come to this step. No single comparison sites covers every lender, and some may even have access to slightly different deals from the same lender, so for best results you should use two or three different comparison tools and then find the best deal from among them all.

Three Ways Not to Borrow

Sometimes, you may need to borrow in order to make ends meet. Sometimes it can seem like you have no choice but to borrow new money to pay off older debts. However, there are several kinds of borrowing that you should not consider unless completely, unavoidably necessary. The types of borrowing that you should not consider except as an absolute last resort include:

Payday Loans

Payday loans are essentially designed as short-term products, and are therefore high interest. Unless you are absolutely, 100% confident that you can pay them back when you receive your next paycheque without putting yourself in financial difficulty, steer clear. Even if you are completely certain that you can do this, there is still a strong chance you can find some alternative solution that does not carry the same high interest rates. Those who can’t pay back the loans within the (very short) terms often get caught in a spiral of taking out fresh loans to cover the old ones. This means the high interest rates designed for short-term borrowing get applied over a much longer period, and the debt becomes rapidly much harder to repay.

Secured Lending

Secured loans can be tempting because they offer better interest rates on account of being less risky for lenders. When you borrow using a secured loan, you offer some valuable object as security, usually a house or car. If you are unable to repay the loan, the lender can take possession of that object to recoup their money. This is a very significant risk. If you have trouble repaying the loan you will not just accrue interest that you will eventually have to pay, but will risk losing your car or even your home. Mortgages and car finance options are technically secured loans, but for obvious reasons these are excluded from the rule of avoiding secured lending.

Logbook Loans

Logbook loans are a very specific kind of secured loan, using your car as security. However, they deserve special mention as they are a particularly risky kind of loan to take on as the lender essentially owns your car until the loan is repaid. If you cannot keep up repayments, the lender can promptly take possession of your car without the need for a court order. On top of that, where most forms of secured lending have low interest rates, logbook loans tend to offer very high interest rates. In essence, a logbook loan amplifies the risks of any other loan secured against a vehicle and does not even offer the attractive interest rates you would usually get in return. The only factor they do have in their favour is that they are accessible to people with poor credit ratings, and unfortunately this can make them look tempting to people who are experiencing financial difficulties.