With so many loan options out there, it can be hard to know which one to go for. Keep the following considerations in mind as you sift through providers:
What will you use the money for?
Some lenders offer loans you can use for just about any purpose (like personal loans), while others cater to a specific need (like car loans and students loans).
How much do you need?
Every lender has a maximum lending amount, so make sure you find one that offers the funds you need. Bear in mind that you may not qualify for the full amount you’re looking for, depending on the strength of your credit application. If you need a small amount of, say, $1,000 or less, make sure you find out lenders’ minimum loan amounts.
Do you need the money quickly?
Payday loans and short-term loans are often available very quickly (sometimes on the spot), while other loans may take longer to reach your account. The trade-off, though, is that you may be charged a higher interested rate for fast loans. Check out the time it takes to receive your funds before signing a loan agreement, and look for lenders that offer offer instant online application evaluation and speedy methods of transferring your money (like Interac e-Transfers).
How soon can you repay the loan?
The longer you take to pay off a loan, the more you’ll be out of pocket for interest fees. Take a realistic look at your budget, and figure out how soon you can pay back the funds. Look for lenders that offer loans within this time frame. If the budget is tight, you can opt for a long repayment period, but this will increase the overall cost of your loan.
Which lenders come highly recommended? (And which should you you stay away from?)
The Better Business Bureau and sites like Trust Pilot are good places to find customer reviews of different loan companies. Pay attention to what others say about customer service and transparency, and look for reliable lenders with a consistent track record of lending responsibly.
After finding lenders that offer what you’re looking for, narrow down your choices even further by comparing lenders on the following points:
What are the interest rates and repayment terms?
Compare lenders’ minimum and maximum interest rates to see which one can give you a better deal. But, you should never look at interest rates or repayment terms alone. A loan offering higher interest rate but a shorter loan term could cost less in the long run than if you made lower monthly payments spread out over a very long time.
Are there any other fees?
Be wary of lenders that aren’t upfront about the fees you’ll be charged. Besides interest, you could be on the hook for an origination fee to set up the loan, missed payment fees, insufficient funds (NSF) fees if there isn’t enough money in your account to make repayments and other charges. Make sure you fully understand what you’re getting into before signing a loan agreement.
Are you penalized for paying off the loan early?
Many private personal loan lenders advertise no penalties for early repayment, while auto loans and bank financing may be different. Do any of the lenders you’re interested in charge a fee for making extra payments and/or paying off your balance early? Factor this in when deciding on your loan term.
What are the eligibility requirements?
All lenders have minimum eligibility requirements that usually include a credit score and income that are at, or above, a certain threshold as well as a reliable credit history and a bank account from which payments can be withdrawn. If you have poor credit (under 600), you may be interest in getting a credit rebuilding loan to improve your score before applying for funds. If your score falls between bad and excellent (600-719), look for lenders that offer financing to people with fair or good credit.
Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
Be at least the age of majority in the province or territory in which you reside (either 18 or 19 years old)
Have an active bank account
Have a Social Insurance Number (SIN)
Watch out for scams!
Avoid lenders that require upfront payment for a loan or that guarantee approval to all applicants. There is no such thing as a truly guaranteed loan – legitimate lenders will require specific information from you to see if you can afford to repay a loan and they will consider your application carefully. Non-scamming lenders advertising 100% approval rates are likely issuing loans that must be backed by some form of security or collateral, a guarantor’s promise or a cash deposit from you. Without such backing, you won’t get approved.
How much does a loan cost?
The biggest cost of any loan will be the interest that you pay. Interest compounds over time, so the longer your loan term, the more you’ll pay. However, offers that come with short terms but high interest rates could also be expensive.
Don’t take for granted that an offer with a lower interest rate is better. Compare offers by calculating the cost of your monthly payment and adding up the total interest you’ll pay over the course of each loan. This is how to decide which loan is truly the best for you.
It is against Canada’s Criminal Code for lenders to charge more than 60% interest, although this doesn’t apply to payday lenders, which are provincially regulated and usually charge much more exorbitant rates (over 400%).
An origination fee to cover the administrative costs of setting up the loan.
A brokerage fee if you used third-party services to find a loan.
Late/missed payment fees if you don’t pay on time.
Insufficient funds (NSF) fees if the lender tries to withdraw a payment from your account but your balance isn’t high enough. You could be charged this fee twice – first by your bank, then by your lender.
An early repayment fee if you make extra payments and discharge the loan ahead of schedule. This fee is charged by some lenders to make up for forgone interest charges that would’ve been collected had you continued paying over the full term.
How to apply for a loan online
Once you’ve picked a suitable lender, the process of applying for a loan will be similar to the steps outlined below and doesn’t usually typically take longer than 10 minutes. Note that loans for major purchases such as vehicles, equipment and furniture are often available directly from retailers or dealerships and can be completed on-site when making a purchase.
1. Go to the lender’s website and navigate to the application screen.
Often, you simply click a button that says “Apply now” or something similar.
2. Fill in the required information.
You’ll have to input your personal, employment and financial information. If a credit check is required, you’ll be asked to give your consent for the lender to contact a credit bureau (Equifax, Trans Union or both) to obtain your credit report. This counts as a “hard pull” on your credit, which will temporarily lower your credit score. That’s why you shouldn’t apply to too many lenders at once – your score could take a big hit.
3. Submit documentation if necessary.
You may need to upload documents to supplement the information on your application. If you don’t, your application could be delayed or denied. Speak to your lender to find out exactly what sort of verification, if any, is required.
Proof of income. Includes Notices of Assessment from the past couple of tax years, pay stubs from the past 3-6 months or a letter of employment from your workplace.
Proof of Canadian residency. Could be a utility bill, phone bill, bank statement, credit card statement or similar document.
Government-Issued personal ID. This could include a valid passport, driver’s license or provincial ID card. In some provinces or territories, a health card may also be acceptable.
4. Submit your application, and wait for a response.
You may be able to get an instant response, or you could end up waiting anywhere for minutes to a day or 2. Lenders vary on their processing times, but if you submit all required documentation upfront and don’t leave out any information in your application, you can prevent processing delays.
5. Review your loan documents and agree to the terms.
Carefully look over the loan documents sent to you by the lender. Make sure you know your annual percentage rate (APR), repayment term, all applicable fees, how funds will be sent to you, how payments are to be made and any other important details. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact your lender. Once you’re satisfied, sign and submit the loan agreement.
Many online agreements provide an electronic signature option, so you don’t have to print out the document and sign it manually. However, certain lenders, particularly banks, may require you to physically come in to a branch to finalize the process.
6. Receive your funds.
The time it takes to receive your money varies by lender and is often based on the method the funds are sent and your bank’s processing time. Funds could take minutes up to several days to arrive, so you’ll have to check with your lender to find out for sure what the timing is.
You may be eligible for better rates by refinancing your current car loan.
Business loan guides
The landscape of business loans has evolved. You have more options than ever to get flexible financing that fits your business’s unique needs. Find out how much a business loan could cost you and more in our guides.
Reduce your monthly payment by changing up your student loan lender.
Alternative finance solutions
There’s no “one size fits all” option when it comes to loans. If you have bad credit, are unemployed or need money sooner than most traditional lenders can offer, you may want to look into alternative financing.
Accrued interest. Interest that has accumulated or grown but has not yet been paid to the party who earned it.
Annual percentage rate (APR). The yearly cost of carrying a loan, expressed as a percentage. This includes all fees and costs involved with getting and maintaining a loan over the course of a year, not just interest.
Assets. Anything you own that has inherent monetary value. This could include real estate, jewelry, artwork, collectible items, stocks, bonds, and vehicles, among other things.
Cash advance. Money withdrawn from available credit on a credit card. Unlike other credit card charges, cash advances begin accruing interest immediately, not after the grace period.
Collateral (also called security). Anything of value that is used to reduce the lender’s risk in giving a loan. If the borrower defaults, the lender has the right to confiscate the collateral to make up for his/her losses.
Cosigner. Anyone who agrees to take on loan repayments for someone else’s loan in the event of a default. This is used to decrease the lender’s risk of losing money, thus making it more likely that the loan will be granted.
Delinquency. Failing to make a required loan repayment by the due date. If an account is delinquent long enough, it may go into default.
Default. The status a lender assigns a loan that the borrower cannot, or will not, ever repay. Defaulted loans can damage borrowers’ credit scores and will stay on their credit histories for years.
Equity (also called net value). The amount of an asset that you own free and clear of any debt. If you’ve financed an asset, your equity is its leftover market value after subtracting the amount of debt you’ve paid down.
Loan. Anything of value that is lent with the expectation of being paid back. Usually, this refers to money that is lent with interest, so that the lender receives more back than what was originally given.
Loan-to-value ratio (LTV). The proportion of debt used to finance an asset relative to the market value of the asset. This is calculated by dividing the total amount borrowed by the asset’s selling price.
Payday loans (also called short term loans). A small amount of money loaned until the borrower’s next payday. Interest rates on payday loans tend to be very high, and there is a risk that borrowers could get stuck in a cycle of getting payday loans regularly to manage the cost.
Prime interest rate (often shortened to prime rate). A benchmark interest rate on which lenders voluntarily base their own interest rates for loans and other debt products. The rate is determined primarily by the Bank of Canada and is adjusted nightly. Changes in the prime rate can signal changes in the health of Canada’s economy.
Principal owing. The total amount borrowed that has yet to be paid back. This does not include interest and other fees, just the amount that was given to the borrower.
Refinancing. The process of using a new loan to pay off existing debt(s).
Surcharge. Any fee added onto a loan.
Term. The length of time over which a borrower will repay a debt.
Term loan. A monetary loan that will be repaid regularly over a predetermined time period. Term loans often last for 1-10 years, although it’s possible to have a longer repayment period.
Yes, there are lenders who specialize in offering loans to people with poor credit, though the interest rate will be higher. You might also want to work on improving your credit by getting a credit rebuilding loan or a secured credit card. Once your score improves, it’ll be easier to get financing with more favourable terms.
In Canada, credit scores range from 300-900. A good credit score starts at 650, and this is the point at which most lenders will consider you for a loan. To learn more about what a credit score is and why it’s important, check out our guide.
It’s still possible to get a loan with a lower credit score. However, your options may be limited, and you’ll likely be charged a higher interest rate to offset the increased risk that you won’t be able to pay back the loan.
Many payday loan providers offer no credit check loans, because the funds are secured by your next pay cheque. But these loans are much more expensive than other types of loans, and there is a high risk of getting caught in a debt cycle. Do your research before deciding whether to get a payday loan, and pursue other funding options if possible.
Yes, every time you apply for a loan, your credit score temporarily drops a little. However, as time passes and you manage your credit responsibly, it will rise again. Too many credit applications in a short span of time will hurt your credit score severely. You should try to wait at least 6 months between applications.
Your loan could be rejected for a number of reasons including insufficient income, a low credit score, a disproportionate debt-to-income ratio (you own more than you make) and/or failure to provide all the required information. Contact your lender for more details.
If you miss a payment, you may be charged a late payment fee. If there weren’t enough funds in your account, you may be on the hook for 2 insufficient funds (NSF) fees – one from your bank and the other from your lender. Some lenders allow 1 missed payment a year or may be willing to waive the missed payment fee if you contact them and make arrangements to submit the money. It doesn’t hurt to ask (especially if it’s your first missed payment).
Before signing any loan agreements, check with your lender to find out its exact policies.
A secured loan (like an auto title loan) is backed by collateral – such as an asset or some form of security. An unsecured loan (like some personal loans) does not require any collateral. Secured loans are less risky to lenders and therefore come with lower interest rates and an easier chance of approval. However, if you default on the loan, the lender has the right to confiscate your security.
Some loans allow you to do this, while others do not. Many auto lenders allow you to transfer loans, given that cars are often resold before being fully paid for. But you won’t be able to transfer student loans or personal loans as these are provided based on applicant-specific information.
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