You can use a personal loan to cover your next big purchase, consolidate debt or any other personal expense. However, depending on the interest rate and applicable fees, you could end up paying much more than you borrow, especially if you take out a loan over a long term. Low interest personal loans help to keep your ongoing costs down and your repayments manageable.
Read on to find out which lenders offer low interest personal loans and how you can compare your options.
A low interest personal loan is a loan that has a below-average interest rate. It works like any other personal loan: you borrow money and then pay it back with interest and fees. But because of their low interest rates, they tend to cost much less than the average personal loan.
To qualify for a low interest loan, you typically need to have a good to excellent credit score and a strong financial history. Many lenders advertise their interest rates as a range, and then assign a rate to you based on your individual circumstances.
There are three main types of personal loans in the market to suit most borrowers’ needs, and some of these offer low rates. Here is a breakdown of the types of personal loans available:
Secured loans This type of loan comes with the most competitive interest rate because you use an asset such as a car or property as collateral against the loan. Secured loans have more restrictions than unsecured loans. For example, some lenders base the loan amount on the value of the asset you use as security. If you are using the loan to purchase a vehicle, this vehicle can be used as security but you’ll need to take out comprehensive car insurance and have the lender named on the policy.
Unsecured loans An unsecured personal loan does not require you to use an asset as security. Due to the increased amount of risk the lender is taking, interest rates for these loans are usually higher, but you can still find competitive rates if you compare your options. Unsecured loans are also more flexible when it comes to restrictions the lender places on the loan. For example, you are able to use the loan amount for whatever purchase you like, whether it’s for travel, medical expenses, school fees or other reason.
Debt consolidation loans Another reason people opt for low interest rate personal loans is to help them consolidate their debt. By moving all of your debt into one personal loan you may be able to save yourself money and better manage your repayments. These loans are unsecured and you can find low rates when you compare your options.
How to compare low interest rate personal loans
A personal loan with a low interest rate can help you keep your ongoing repayments down while giving you access to the funds you need. When you compare low interest rate loans, it’s important to look at the loan as a whole product package rather than just the interest rate. Consider the following features before you decide which loan to choose:
What type of loan do you need? Personal loans can be secured or unsecured and mainly come in the form of a lump sum payment. Alternatively, you can opt for a personal overdraft or line of credit. Determine what is best for your borrowing needs.
What fees apply? While a low interest rate can help you save, high ongoing fees can make a loan more expensive than it needs to be. Most loans have some form of establishment fee, which could be as much as $500. Weekly or monthly maintenance fees are applied to a loan by some lenders, plus you may have additional charges for direct debits. Compare your options using the overall cost of the loan with interest, fees and charges included.
How flexible are the loan repayments? Most lenders offer the option of making weekly, fortnightly or monthly repayments, but not all do. It is also important to check how easy it is to make repayments. Are they automatically deducted from your account on the due date and can you manage your account easily online?
Can you repay the loan early? Repaying a loan early or making extra lump sum payments means that you’ll be able to pay your loan off faster than the term set out in your loan agreement. Check if there is any limit on additional repayments (you may only be able to repay a certain amount per year) and if you will be charged a penalty for paying off the loan early.
What are the minimum and maximum loan terms? Are you able to borrow the amount you need and for the time period that will enable you to pay off the balance? Many lenders offer loans with terms of between six months and five years, but some lenders have a maximum of three years. It is possible to take out a loan for up to seven years, but keep in mind that the longer the loan term, the more interest you will pay.
What is the eligibility criteria? You generally need to be over the age of 18 and a permanent New Zealand resident or citizen, but some lenders issue loans for temporary residents on a work visa. Most lenders also set a minimum income which is usually a minimum of approximately $400 a week. No matter what your income is, you will need to prove that you can afford the loan repayments once you have paid your essential living costs and other debt repayments.
What extra features does the loan come with? These could be easy account management in the form of a mobile app or online account, or a redraw facility to access extra funds in the future.
Consider these benefits before applying
Savings. If you take a low-interest personal loan that you want to repay in a few years, you can end up saving a tidy sum in interest.
Simple process. You can usually apply online using any Internet-enabled device, and some lenders provide apps for mobile devices as well. Many lenders even let you complete the identification and document checking process online.
Repayment flexibility. You can find lenders that let you make payments that match with your pay schedule, be it weekly, fortnightly or monthly. Some will let you repay your loan early without charging any extra fees or penalties.
…and the drawbacks
Prepayment penalties. Always check to see if your lender charges any prepayment penalties. These can put a dent in your plans if you plan to repay your loan ahead of time.
Scams. The online world is not devoid of scammers. Before you apply for a low interest loan online, find out if the lender you choose is legit.
Bad credit is a problem. Finding low-interest personal loans for bad credit is near impossible, unless you consider getting a secured loan that uses one of your assets as collateral.
Eligibility criteria will differ between loans, but generally, you will need to meet the following requirements:
Be over the age of 18
Have a good credit rating
Be a New Zealand citizen or permanent New Zealand resident
Agree to a credit check
Have a regular income
The information you are required to provide will be different depending on the type of loan you apply for, but you will most likely need to provide the following:
Personal details including your name, contact information and proof of identification
Name and contact details of your employer
Details of your employment, including income amount and how you are employed
Financial details including assets, liabilities and any other active credit accounts
Online applications can often be approved in less than an hour or on the same day you apply if all necessary information and documents have been provided. Some lenders may take a little longer, but in most cases, if you are approved, you will have access to your funds within 48 hours or less.
Jeremy is finder's Global Head of Publishing & Editorial. Jeremy has been with finder since the very beginning and is part of the founding team working closely with Fred and Frank to build finder.com into the comparison network it is today.
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