With an unsecured personal loan you're borrowing money without putting up an asset (like a car) as security.
If you can't repay the loan there's nothing your lender can repossess and sell to recover your debt. Unsecured personal loans have slightly higher interest rates to compensate for the higher risk the lender is taking. They are typically easier to get than secured loans and rates can still be competitive.
With an unsecured loan you can borrow anywhere between $2,001 and $100,000 and terms range from 1 to 7 years.
Unsecured personal loans aren't tied to specific purposes in the way a home loan or a secured car loan is. They're quite flexible, and most lenders don't impose any restrictions on how you use the funds.
You can use an unsecured personal loan to:
Any money you borrow comes with risk if you can't repay it. The best way to minimise any risks that come a loan is to:
Borrowing a lot of money is riskier than a small amount, generally speaking. A 5% interest on a small loan won't cost you as much in interest charges as the same rate on a much bigger loan.
Here's a simple example.
|Loan A||Loan B|
|Loan term||3 years||3 years|
|Total loan cost (loan plus interest)||$3,588||$9,566|
These loans are otherwise identical, but the higher loan amount ends up costing the borrower more than $1,500 in interest. Whereas the smaller loan is just $588 of interest.
You might think that getting a very small unsecured personal loan is less risky. But if you want to borrow less than $2,000 you probably can't get a personal loan.
Borrowing under $2,000 means you're probably looking at a payday loan. These loans don't have standard interest charges, but come with hefty fees. The price of a small, fast unsecured loan can actually be much higher.
Applying for any loan impacts your credit score temporarily. That's why you should only apply for one product at a time and try to avoid getting your application rejected.
Aside from the initial impact of the application, taking out an unsecured personal loan won't necessarily hurt your credit score. If you make regular repayments and never miss one this will probably benefit your credit score.
Having multiple loans at the same time may hurt your credit score. And debts like credit cards or personal loans can have a bigger impact than something like a home loan.
Button link: Tips to improve your credit score
Unsecured personal loans are offered both by large, traditional banks such as NAB, and non-bank lenders like OMM or Harmoney. Non-banks are governed by the same regulations as banks, so both are safe and secure options for your borrowing needs.
The key difference between a bank and a non-bank is that non-banks hold a credit licence and not a banking licence. This means that they cannot provide some banking services, such as taking deposits. If you prefer to do all your banking in the same place, you may want to stick to the banks.
Typically, non-banks offer more competitive rates, with lower set-up and ongoing fees. However, they may have fewer loan options compared to traditional banks. Non-banks can also be more flexible and may provide better, personalised service when compared to traditional banks.
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