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Personal loan vs line of credit

What's the difference between a personal loan and a line of credit? The answer is in the details.

With so many financing options to choose from, it can get confusing when deciding between two basic borrowing options: personal loans and lines of credit.

Each works a bit differently from the other and has its own advantages and disadvantages. Read our guide to learn how you can make the best decision for your financial situation — and potentially save lots of money in interest and fees.

Line of credit vs loan: 6 differences

  1. Loan term. Personal loans have a predetermined term length, usually between one and seven years. They’re paid back in full by the end of that term and the loan closes. Lines of credit don’t come with a set repayment period, and the funds you borrow become available again after they’re repaid (plus interest). It essentially can stay open.
  2. Repayments. Both involve monthly repayments. However, personal loans have fixed monthly repayments while lines of credit depend on the previous balance, amount drawn, accruing interest and other factors.
  3. Time of disbursement. With personal loans, your lender will disburse your funds upfront as soon as you agree to the loan contract and sign it. With lines of credit, you’re able to withdraw up to your approved limit on an ongoing basis, as long as you’re meeting minimum monthly repayments.
  4. Fees. Personal loans usually charge monthly service and application fees, while lines of credit usually charge annual service fees. However, lenders for both personal loans as well as lines of credit may charge a variety of other hidden fees. Make sure you’re aware of all fees for any option you’re considering.
  5. Borrowing amounts. With a personal loan, you’re given a lump sum of money that you have to pay back in full. Lines of credit come with a borrowing limit instead — similar to a credit card. This means you can take only what you need, when you need it, but still have access to the full limit.
  6. Costs. Being able to borrow only what you need can make lines of credit less expensive. This is because you’re on the hook for less money, and therefore less interest — even if your rates are higher than a personal loan.

Benefits of personal loans and lines of credit

Personal loan

Personal loans provide your funds upfront and stipulate an agreed time period to pay back your loan (called the “loan term”). Interest is charged on the entire duration of your loan term and on your entire loan amount. In general, most personal loans involve the following features:

  • Upfront lump-sum. Once the lender approves your application and you agree to the loan contract, you’ll receive all your funds at one time.
  • Interest rate. Your lender will charge either a fixed interest rate that won’t change over the term of your loan, or a variable interest rate which can rise or fall depending on market rates.
  • Term. The period over which you’ll be making repayments to fully pay back the loan is called the loan term. It usually ranges from one to seven years.
  • Discount rates. Your lender may offer you a limited time discount if you take out a significant loan amount.
  • Flexible repayments. Depending on your lender, you may be able to choose exactly how and when you’ll be making monthly repayments.

Line of credit

Lines of credit have a maximum credit limit, and you’ll only be charged interest on the funds you actually use. Repayments are made monthly, but there’s no fixed “term” for a line of credit. As long as you’re making your minimum monthly repayments, your funds will always be available to you.

  • Option to increase maximum credit limit. Your lender may provide an option to increase the maximum credit limit in line with your specific needs.
  • Flexible withdrawals. You’ll be able to withdraw funds from your line of credit whenever you like, as long as it doesn’t exceed your maximum credit/daily limit.
  • No fixed repayments. As long as you’re making a minimum required monthly payment (a percentage of withdrawn funds), there’s no fixed repayment amount.
  • Interest rate. Interest is paid monthly and is only charged on the amount you borrow.

Compare personal loans

Name Product Interest Rate Loan Amount Loan Term Requirements Credit Score Link
LoanConnect Personal Loan
Secured from 1.90%, Unsecured from 5.75%-46.96%
$500 - $50,000
3 - 120 months
Currents debts must total less than 60% of income
Min. credit score: 300
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An online broker who helps inform clients towards better finances. Get pre-approved by different lenders for unsecured or secured loans in 5 minutes with any credit score.
goPeer Personal Loan
8.00% - 31.00%
$1,000 - $25,000
36 - 60 months
Recommended income of $40,000 /year
Min. credit score: 600
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Canada's first regulated consumer peer-to-peer lending platform offering unsecured loans. Connects creditworthy Canadians looking for a loan with Canadians looking to invest. goPeer strives to offer the most competitive interest rates. Apply in minutes and get a response within 24 hours.
Spring Financial Personal Loan
17.99% - 46.96%
$500 - $15,000
9 - 48 months
Min. income of $1,800 /month, 3+ months employed
Min. credit score: 400
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An online lender offering unsecured personal loans and credit builder loans. Those filing for bankruptcy or a consumer proposal can also apply. If you're not eligible for an unsecured loan, you may be offered a loan to help rebuild your credit.
ConsumerCapital Personal Loan
19.99% - 34.99%
$1,500 - $12,500
24 - 60 months
Min. income of $1,900 /month, 6+ months employed
Min. credit score: 600
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An online lender that provides fast unsecured personal loans. Complete an application in less than 10 minutes and get a decision within 24 hours. For faster loan approval, complete the Flinks bank integration in the app.
SkyCap Financial Personal Loan
12.99% - 39.99%
$500 - $10,000
9 - 36 months
Min. income of $1,200 /month, stable employment
Min. credit score: 550
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An online lender offering unsecured personal loans to borrowers with a wide range of credit scores. Apply in less than 5 minutes and if approved, receive financing in as little as 24 hours.
FlexMoney Personal Loan
18.90% - 46.93%
$500 - $15,000
6 - 60 months
Min. income of $2,000 /month, 3+ months employed
Min. credit score: 500
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An online lender offering flexible unsecured loans. Apply in less than 10 minutes and if approved, receive financing in as little as 24 hours. Pay off your loan at any time.
Loans Canada Personal Loan
Secured from 2.00%, Unsecured from 8.00% to 46.96%
$300 - $50,000
3 - 60 months
No min. income or employment requirements
Min. credit score: 300
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An online broker with the largest lender network in Canada. Get matched for free with lenders offering both unsecured and secured loans through one quick application regardless of your financial situation.
OFFER
Mogo Personal Loan
9.90% - 46.96%
$200 - $35,000
6 - 60 months
Min. income of $13,000 /year
Min. credit score: 500


Mogo offers a 100-day money-back guarantee. If you're not happy with your loan, pay back the principal and get your 100 days of paid interest and fees back.
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An online lender who aims for a hassle-free process through same-day unsecured loan approval and funding. Get a loan fast and track your credit score for free.
Fairstone Personal Loan (Unsecured)
26.99% - 39.99%
$500 - $25,000
6 - 60 months
Able to make monthly repayments on your loan
Min. credit score: 560
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An online lender with a team dedicated to professional service. Get a quote for an unsecured loan without impacting your credit score. Receive funds within as little as 24 hours. No prepayment fees.
Fairstone Personal Loan (Secured)
19.99% - 23.99%
$5,000 - $50,000
60 - 120 months
Must be a homeowner
Min. credit score: 560
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Use your home equity to get a secured loan up to $50,000 with flexible repayment options and a long loan term. Get a quote without impacting your credit score.
Loan Away Personal Loan
19.90% - 45.90%
$1,000 - $5,000
6 - 36 months
No min. income or employment requirements
Min. credit score: 300
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A lender that approves unsecured loans in as little as 20 minutes. Get affordable monthly repayments with any credit score.
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Compare lines of credit

Name Product Interest Rate Loan Amount Loan Term Requirements Credit Score Link
Mogo Mini Line of Credit
47.42%
$1,000 - $3,500
No end dates
Min. income of $13,000 /year
Min. credit score: 500
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An online lender offering a flexible line of credit up to $3,500. Apply online and get pre-approved in just 3 minutes. Non-employment income also accepted. Pay back the principal loan amount at any time.
Cash Money Line of Credit
46.93%
$100 (in store), $500 (online) - $10,000
No end dates
No min. income or employment requirements
Min. credit score: 560
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Cash Money offers line of credit loans up to $10,000 for AB, BC, NS, ON and SK residents. (Residents of MB or NB can apply in-store only.)
LendDirect Line of Credit
19.99% - 46.93%
$100 - $15,000
No end dates
Min. income of $1,500 /month
Min. credit score: 560
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Borrow up to $15,000, based on your income and credit history, with a line of credit from LendDirect.
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Which borrowing option is better suited for you?

Lines of credit are helpful for those who require an ongoing source of funding to be used when they see fit. Since lines of credit are revolving, you won’t be charged on funds you don’t withdraw, making them an excellent option for backup or emergency sources of funding.

Since interest rates could get expensive for lines of credit, they are suited to those looking for flexibility with their credit and an ongoing source of funds for purchases such as paying bills, consolidating short-term debt and home renovations.

Ultimately, a personal loan is suited to someone who wants structured repayments and an initial lump sum paid to them at the beginning of the loan term. A personal loan is appropriate for those looking to make large purchases such as paying for a wedding or c=vacation using that lump sum. Also, a personal loan can be beneficial for those looking to consolidate a large amount of debt.

Compare loans for different purposes

Compare personal loans to even more borrowing options

Personal loan vs. Mortgage
Personal loan vs. Home equity loan
Personal loan vs. RRSP loan
Personal loan vs. Business loan

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