Thinking about taking out a personal loan to pay for something special, such as a holiday or car?

Check that a loan allows you to make extra payments as you go along without a penalty, because the more payments you can make, the quicker you can pay off the loan. Some loans are set up for a fixed term and require fixed repayments. If the interest rate is fixed, you may have to pay a fee or penalty if you make extra payments.

How do personal loans work?

Personal loans are typically used for specific purchases, such as a holiday or car. You borrow an amount of money that you agree to repay within a certain period of time (called the term). This can vary, but is usually between 12 months and 7 years. You will have to sign a credit contract which will specify the amount borrowed, the Interest and charges and how you will repay it.

Organise your loan before you go shopping.

As with any credit product, compare interest rates, fees and charges to get the best deal.

If you want to borrow a small amount(less than $5000), you may have difficulty getting a personal loan from a bank or other mainstream credit provider:

Some credit providers offer small personal loans in return for comparatively high interest rates and fees. Watch out for with these kinds of loans.

For small amounts consider using a credit card, which may be a better option than other loans available to you.

If you are on a low income, you may be eligible for a no or low-interest loan. You can check at Money Smarts  Infoline on 1300 300 360 and they will send any of their factsheets to you for free.

Generally with a personal loan, you do not need to have an asset to offer as security. Unsecured loans are usually harder to get, as you need to convince credit providers that your credit worthiness and financial position are good enough for them to give you a loan without you having an asset to sell if you can't pay your debt.

If you fail to repay the loan, the credit provider can still take you to court in order to sell your property and recover the money, or Garnishee your wage to get their money.

Interest rates are usually higher than for secured loans, since the credit provider is taking a bigger risk.

Interest rates and fees can stack up, so do your homework before you sign up for a loan.

A loan may seem more attractive than other forms of credit because it offers a lower interest rate, spread over a longer term. But it could end up costing you more by the end of the loan term. Remember, the longer the term, the more interest you will pay.

Check if you will be charged a loan application fee (may be as high as $250), and whether there are any monthly service fees charged (may range up to $10 per month).

Most credit providers prefer you to make monthly payments by direct debit from your bank account so you don't miss any payments. Check whether your bank charges a late fee so you know what to expect if you do miss a payment. If you are paid on a regular date, set up the direct debit for the day after payday to minimise the chance of not having enough money in your account.

Ask if there are penalties for paying off the loan in full ahead of the agreed term. You need to offset this against how much you'd save in interest by paying it out early.


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Money Buckets ™ is a Trademark of Starlight Home Loans T/as Fast Debt Help

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Established 2010

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