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You could take out a personal loan for a range of different reasons. While one person might need a personal loan to buy a car, another might take one out to renovate a home or consolidate debt. There are a large number of personal loans available, so how do you find the best one for you?
Must read: Looking for the best personal loan?
There’s no single loan that’s best for everyone as all our needs are different - and what’s best for you might not be best for someone else.
What's in this guide?
- Some of the best personal loans on Finder*
- 3 steps to help you find the best personal loan
- What type of personal loan will best suit my needs?
- How to compare personal loans to find the best one for you
- What should I keep in mind when looking for the best personal loan?
- How to submit your personal loan application
3 steps to help you find the best personal loan
1. Match the loan type with the reason why you're borrowing
Why are you taking out a personal loan? Are you consolidating debt, buying something or investing? Different types of personal loans are suited to different loan purposes. For example, a secured personal loan may be a good way to finance a used car and an unsecured personal loan is suitable to consolidate debt. Find the loan that will work for your loan purpose.
2. Compare loans to get features that matter to you
Think about the features that you want in your loan. Do you want to be able to repay the loan early without penalty? Do you want to be able to make additional repayments? Do you want a redraw facility? How much do you want to borrow and how long do you want to repay? Then compare your loan options to find a loan with the features you want.
3. Get the most affordable loan that meets your needs
You need to find a loan you can afford. Compare the interest rate that you will be charged as well as the upfront and ongoing fees. The comparison rate will give you an indication of the overall cost of the loan. Make sure you compare your options to get the most affordable loan with all the features you want. Choosing a loan that you can afford to make extra repayments will also allow you to pay it back faster.
What type of personal loan will best suit my needs?
Not sure what type of personal loan you need? Look at the information below to find the loan that may be suitable for your borrowing needs.
Loans designed for your loan purpose or borrowing situation
If you want to consolidate debt across your existing credit cards and/or personal loans, a personal loan might work for you.
If you want to make a large purchase, such as furniture, electronics or a holiday, or you need funds for an investment, an unsecured personal loan might suit your needs.
If you need access to funds for an ongoing period or you aren't sure how much you need to borrow, you may want to consider a line of credit personal loan.
If you're purchasing a new or used car, you can benefit from a lower interest rate when you take out a secured car loan.
Secured personal loans let you benefit from lower interest rates when you attach an asset you already own as security. You can then use the funds however you need to.
Short-term lenders may consider you for a loan since some don't run a credit check, but keep in mind that the costs are much higher than with standard personal loans.
How to compare personal loans to find the best one for you
When you want to apply for a loan, you should first compare multiple personal loan offerings so you can track down the right product. Pay attention to the following features and you could enjoy considerable savings:
- Secured or unsecured?
Both of these loans suit different purposes. If you're looking at buying something like a car or you already own an asset like a car, you can consider a secured personal loan. You will benefit from a lower interest rate personal loan by using the asset as security, but you risk losing it if you default on the loan. An unsecured personal loan may come with a slightly higher interest rate, but it doesn't require security and allows you to use the funds however you want.
- Fixed or variable?
Both fixed and variable rate personal loans have pros and cons, depending on your preferences and circumstances. The interest of a fixed rate loan will not change for the life of the loan, so your repayments will never go up. Variable rate loans, on the other hand, can fluctuate, so your repayments could increase or decrease. Fixed rate loans have terms of up to five years and variable rate loans up to seven years. Variable rate loans also tend to be more flexible than fixed rate loans in terms of repayments.
- What is the interest and comparison rate?
Compare interest rates against similar loans. While you should also check the fees you will be charged, the comparison rate will give you an idea of the true cost of the loan as it is comprised of both interest and fees.
- What fees are charged?
Consider both upfront and ongoing fees. For example, upfront fees may include application or establishment fees and ongoing fees can include monthly or annual fees.
- How much can you borrow?
The amount you can borrow should also factor into your decision. You will not find out how much you will be approved for before you apply, but lenders will have a set minimum and maximum borrowing amount. Ensure how much you want to borrow falls within these limits.
- What restrictions apply to the loan?
Are there restrictions on additional repayments or repaying the loan early? Are there restrictions on how you can use the loan amount? Is the loan limited to borrowers with excellent credit? Find out what restrictions apply with the loan.
- What will the term of your loan be?
Work out how much you can afford to repay and what repayment terms you will need. Then, make sure the loan you are applying for offers these terms.
Is the lowest interest rate an indication of the "best personal loan"?
Yes, and no. Finding the lowest interest rate is definitely a good indication of a competitive personal loan. And obviously, finding the lowest interest rate possible for your circumstances is often in your best interests when it comes to saving money. However, as outlined above, interest rates are not the only feature worth considering when it comes to finding the best personal loan cost-wise. It's also important to consider other fees and features involved.
As well as considering the costs and features involved with a personal loan, it's important to be aware of your circumstances and have a good idea of what you can qualify for. Applying for the lowest interest rate loan you can find when you have a poor credit score will usually see your application rejected and can negatively affect your credit rating. Therefore, it's a good idea to know your credit score before you apply for any form of finance.
What should I keep in mind when looking for the best personal loan?
While personal loans are helpful in many scenarios, it’s in your best interest to avoid certain traps and pitfalls.
- Read the fine print.
Scrutinise all your options carefully right from the start and remember to look for ongoing account-keeping fees, early repayment fees and late payment fees. Read the terms and conditions document from start to finish and ensure you are aware of all fees and restrictions.
- Don't take on a loan you can't afford.
When borrowing money, it is always important to use a personal loan calculator to find out what your repayments will be. If you can comfortably afford a loan, don't feel tempted to consider borrowing more in the event that you can't afford it.
How to submit your personal loan application
Before you apply for a personal loan, establish how much you want to borrow and your monthly repayment ability. You should find out how long it might take for you to pay the loan off completely, remembering that you can usually choose between making weekly, fortnightly or monthly payments.
Read through the eligibility criteria set by the lender and then ensure you meet them. Also make sure you have the required documents – usually your driver's licence, financial and employment documents and bank details – on hand. If you're applying for a secured loan you will need details of the asset.
Once you find a loan you wish to apply for in the table above, proceed to the lender’s website by clicking "Go to Site" and start the application process.
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Personal Loan OffersImportant Information*
You'll receive a fixed rate between 6.99% p.a. and 25.69% p.a. based on your risk profile.
Apply for a loan up to $50,000 and repay your loan over 3 or 5 years terms.
You'll receive a fixed rate between 9.99% p.a. and 18.99% p.a. ( 10.88% p.a. to 19.83% p.a. comparison rate) based on your risk profile
An unsecured loan up to $55,000 you can use for a range of purposes and pay off over up to 7 years. Note: Majority of customers will get the headline rate of 12.69% p.a. (13.56% p.a. comparison rate) or less. See Comparison rate warning in (i) above.
You'll receive a fixed rate between 6.99% p.a. and 20.49% p.a. based on your risk profile
A loan from $5,000 to use for a range of purposes. Benefit from no ongoing fees and no early repayment fee.
You'll receive a fixed rate between 6.95% p.a. and 17.95% p.a. based on your risk profile
A loan from $5,000 to use for a range of purposes. Make additional repayments or pay off the loan early, penalty-free.
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