Credit
March 2, 2016

Shopping for Personal Loans: The Do’s and Don’ts

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

Personal loans can give you a chance to consolidate debts to make repayment easier and more affordable. Follow these do’s and don’ts to make sure your personal loan works for you. Otherwise, you could spend more money than necessary, or even accumulate more debt.

Interest rates can vary significantly from lender to lender. If you have good credit, then you can often get interest rates around 4 percent or 5 percent. Chances are you don’t have great credit, though, since a lot of people use personal loans to repair their credit scores.

If you have bad credit, some lenders will charge you more than 30 percent. Don’t automatically accept those offers, as there are plenty of lenders out there willing to offer lower rates to people with less-than-perfect credit.

It’s tempting for people to borrow more money than they really need. Instead of just paying off your credit card bills, you could have an aging room remodeled. Do not give in to this temptation. The more you borrow, the more you have to repay.

Personal loans will only help you rebuild your credit if you follow the repayment schedule. While it’s unlikely that a lender will report you to the credit bureaus for making one payment late, it is possible.Missing a payment could also give the lender authority to charge you extra fees.

The worst thing about missing a payment is that it sets a bad precedent. If you do it once, you are likely to do it again. It doesn’t take long before your debt problems are back.

Most lenders will give you the option to add payment protection to your personal loan. On the surface, payment protection insurance (PPI) sounds like a good idea, especially if you are worried that you will slip back into bad financial habits.

A closer look at PPI shows that it is rarely a good idea for the borrower. PPI can add 10 percent or more to your loan. If you borrow $5,000, PPI will increase your overall repayment by at least $500. It is often higher for people with bad credit scores. If taking out a personal loan makes sense for you, take a look at our review of Lending Club and Prosper.

If you are worried that you cannot make your payments every month, then this will not help. Instead, focus on lowering your expenses so you can make every payment on time.

Now that you know more about what you should and shouldn’t do when shopping for personal loans, you can take advantage of offers that match your needs. With some effort, you could get out of debt within a couple years.

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