An unsecured personal loan lets you borrow funds without using an asset as security. This type of loan comes gives you more flexibility in terms of how you use your loan amount. You can use your funds to make a large purchase, consolidate debt, or anything else you like. Find out if this type of loan is right for you and compare available offers.
Unsecured loans involve you receiving a certain amount of funds that you can use for any worthwhile purpose. You then pay the funds back with fees and interest.
While you can generally use the funds how you choose, when you apply for the loan you may be asked to list why you are applying for it and this will form part of the lender’s decision. When completing your application you will also need to list how much you want to borrow and for how long.
Unsecured personal loans offer the following features:
Loan amounts. varying between $1,000 and $50,000 (or more in some cases)
Loan terms. varying between 6 months and seven years.
Higher rates than secured loans. This is because the lender is taking on more of a risk.
Fees. Some lenders may have establishment fees, monthly fees and/or annual fees – so be sure to check these before you apply.
Fixed or variable and repayment restrictions. This differs between lenders, so you may be able to make additional repayments and repay your loan early without penalty, depending on the loan.
Unsecured vs secured loans
Interest rates on unsecured loans are higher than they are for secured loans as the lender is taking on a higher risk. If your loan is secured the lender can take the asset you have used as collateral to recoup the outstanding amount, but this isn’t possible with an unsecured loan. To safeguard themselves, lenders charge more interest so they have more to fall back on should you default.
How to compare unsecured personal loans
Comparing your unsecured personal loan options is an important part of finding the right loan for you. Here are some things to keep in mind when doing so:
Interest rate. Check whether the interest rate is fixed or variable and whether it is competitive.
Minimum and maximum loan amounts. All lenders will set a minimum you can borrow and the majority will have a maximum that usually varies between $1,000 and $50,000. While you may not be eligible for either, it is important to check the amount you need falls between the two.
Fees and charges. You may be charged upfront and ongoing fees with unsecured loans, so check what these are before you apply. You can look at the comparison rate to see an overall cost for the loan which includes these fees.
Additional features. Your loan may come with additional features you may find convenient, such as online account management; a redraw facility to access additional repayments, or discounts on additional products offered by the lender.
Financing a trip away
Horace is looking for a way to finance his travels over the break before he returns to work as a school teacher. He doesn’t have enough money saved and is looking to take out an unsecured loan, as he knows he is able to afford ongoing repayments on his current salary. He compares his options and finds a loan he can afford to repay within a year; as he does not want to run the risk of a longer repayment period in case he loses his job. He checks whether he is eligible and then applies. He soon finds out he has been approved and makes his way to the Canary Islands.
Pros and cons of unsecured personal loans
No asset needed for security. When getting an unsecured loan, there is no need to supply an asset as security. If you are purchasing an asset with your funds you won’t have to risk it being repossessed; and you also won’t need to risk an asset you already own.
Flexible loan purpose. You can use the funds however you like. Once you are approved, the funds will be transferred to you and you can use them to consolidate debt; purchase what you need; or to even invest.
Easy application process. Applying for one of these loans is fairly easy. The application typically takes place online, if you can provide the appropriate, requisite documentation. After application, you can usually expect a response within 60 seconds.
Can have higher fees. As there is no security with unsecured personal loans, there are higher fees enforced by the lender to compensate for the lack of security provided by you. This may come in the form of an establishment fee.
Penalties for missed payments. Again, due to the lack of a security asset on an unsecured loan, the lender can charge you higher fees for late payments. They may even take legal action against you or take you to court if you default on the loan.
Higher interest rates due to no collateral being offered. As there is higher risk involved for the lender, the interest rates are generally higher on unsecured loans. This is to cover the fact that no collateral is involved with the loan.
Common mistakes to avoid
Lying about what you need the funds for. Always be upfront with your lender about why you are applying for the loan, whether it be for business purposes or to consolidate debt.
Getting into too much debt. If you are taking out an unsecured loan to consolidate existing debt, you should be wary of getting yourself into financial trouble by increasing this debt. Make sure you pay less with this new loan than you are currently.
Borrowing from an unlicenced lender. Always make sure you are getting an unsecured personal loan from a licenced lender. All providers must be licenced with the Financial Market Authority. There are also joint provisions made with the Australian Securities Investment Commission in New Zealand for companies that offer products in both countries. All lenders featured on this page are licenced.
Not checking fees and charges. Where possible, always do your best to avoid excessive fees and charges. The best way to do this is to make sure you do your research, ask questions and compare.
How to apply for an unsecured personal loan
If you think an unsecured personal loan is for you, all you need to do is use the finder.com/nz comparison table to compare your unsecured loan options. After browsing through the table and finding a suitable loan, click the relevant link to go to the lender’s website and start the application process. Typically, to get an unsecured loan you will need to meet a range of criteria set by the lenders:
You must be at least 18 years old.
You must have a good credit rating and be able to provide proof that you can pay off the loan.
You may be asked to provide copies of your payslips, bank account statements and other credit contracts.
You also need to provide proof of ID, such as your driver’s licence or passport.
Some lenders may allow you to use the funds from an unsecured loan for business purposes, but others will not. You need to confirm this with the lender before you apply.
While unsecured personal loans do generally come with higher rates than secured personal loans, you may still be able to find a competitive low rate option. Compare your options using the table above and find a loan that meets your budget.
Fixed rate unsecured personal loans tend to offer terms of between six months and five years and variable rate unsecured personal loans tend to offer terms of between six months and seven years.
There are two reasons this might have happened: A lender may operate on a tiered-rate system, where your rate is determined by the information in your application; or the lender approved you but then found you to be a higher risk, so applied a higher rate to your account.
Matt Corke is the head of publishing emerging markets for Finder. He previously worked as the publisher for credit cards, home loans, personal loans and credit scores. Matt built his first website in 1999 and has been building computers since he was in his early teens. In that time he has survived the dot-com crash and countless Google algorithm updates.
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