Fixed rate personal loans let you lock in a rate at the beginning of the term, which keeps your repayments set for the duration of your loan. This type of loan comes with many benefits, but also a few added restrictions when compared to its variable rate counterpart. We break these down for you in this guide, to help you decide if a fixed rate loan is right for you.
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How do fixed rate personal loans work?
Fixed rate personal loans have an interest rate that does not increase or decrease for the duration of the loan term stated in your contract. Typical fixed rate personal loans last from one to five years, but some extend up to seven years.
Having repayments remain fixed for the life of a loan is a big benefit, but it is important to understand fixed rate personal loans generally come with restrictions and these mostly have to do with repayments. For example, you may not be able to make additional repayments or you may only be able to make repayments up to a set cap (amount). You may also not be able to repay the loan early.
What features come with these loans?
Fixed rate personal loans come with a number of benefits, but also a few restrictions. Here are the typical features you can expect:
- Loan term. Lenders offer varying loan terms depending on the type of loan (ie secured or unsecured), as well as a number of other factors, but you can usually expect a term of between one and five years, with some lenders extending this up to seven years. With some loans part of the term can be fixed, while the other part of the term has a variable rate attached.
- Repayments stability. The interest rate is fixed and this means your repayments stay the same for the entirety of your loan term. This will not change, no matter what happens to rates in the market.
- Early payment penalties. Fixed rate personal loans usually attract penalties for paying your loan back early or for making additional repayments. These differ between lenders, but generally because you want to end the fixed term early, you are expected to pay a fee. You may also find some lenders only charge fees if you repay your loan early within a certain period, for example, in the first year.
- Upfront and ongoing fees. Look out for fees for establishing the loan or ongoing monthly fees. These aren’t the standard fees for fixed rate personal loans, so remember to compare what is available.
What can you use a fixed rate personal loan for?
Personal loans that come with a fixed interest rate can be suitable to help you finance a range of different purposes. These may include:
- Purchasing a new or used car
- Home improvements
- Buying a vehicle such as a motorbike
- Taking a holiday
- Consolidating debt from loans and/or credit cards
- To get married
“I want a personal loan with a fixed rate – how can I compare my options?”
Given there is no shortage of fixed rate personal loans to choose from, compare your options to ensure you end up with the best possible deal. You need to consider the following:
- Is the loan secured or unsecured? These are the two most basic types of fixed rate personal loans. If you are looking to buy a vehicle or property you can consider a secured fixed rate loan and use assets you own (or are looking to buy) as a guarantee. Secured loans come with a lower interest rate than their unsecured counterparts because they are less risky for lenders. However, remember you will lose the asset if you fail to repay the loan.
- What is the interest rate? Comparing interest rates is important, as this is the rate you will be paying for the whole term of your loan. Compare the loan against similar offerings on the market to get an idea if it is competitive.
- How long is the loan term? This ultimately comes down to how long you need. You can expect most lenders to offer repayment terms of between one and five years, but some lenders extend their offerings up to seven years. How long do you need to repay the loan? You can lower your repayments with a longer term but you will ultimately pay more interest. Decide what you need and then compare lenders so you can find a loan that is right for you.
- What fees and penalties will I be charged? Look out for upfront charges such as establishment fees and any ongoing costs in the form of monthly or annual fees. In addition, what will you be charged if you repay the loan early or make extra repayments? Other costs to watch out for include penalties for late payments.
Benefits and drawbacks of fixed rate personal loans
- No change in what you pay. Your monthly repayments will stay the same for the entire loan term, allowing you to easily budget.
- Your rate won’t be affected if the market conditions take a turn. If market interest rates decrease you won’t have to worry about your loan interest rate increasing.
- You still have flexibility with your repayments. You usually get the choice between weekly, fortnightly or monthly repayments and a choice in how long your loan term is. While early and additional repayment fees are common they do differ, so compare lenders to find those that offer lesser fees or do not charge them.
- There are additional fees. Fixed rate loans tend to attract fees that variable rate loans do not eg early repayment and making additional payments.
- You can’t benefit from favourable market conditions. If market interest rates improve, the rate applied to your loan won’t decrease.
- There may be restrictions on your repayments. You may not be able to make additional repayments or repay your loan early.
What you need to avoid with fixed rate loans
- Taking on a longer loan term than you need. While your repayments might be lower with a longer loan term, you will end up paying more interest. Budget your repayments before you apply and work out a repayment period you can afford.
- Taking a loan you can’t afford. Establish your ability to repay the loan before you fill in the application. While this is especially true if you take out a secured loan, as you stand to lose your collateral, defaulting on any loan can mean a bad credit rating for the next five years.
- Not reading the fine print. Go over your loan contract carefully so you are aware of all fees, charges and conditions.