Personal loans vs. home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) |

Compare personal loans vs. home equity lines of credit (HELOCs)

We value our editorial independence, basing our comparison results, content and reviews on objective analysis without bias. But we may receive compensation when you click links on our site. Learn more about how we make money from our partners.

Which of these two borrowing options are best for your needs?

When you’re looking for financing, you’ll find options to fit most any situation or goal. Two of the most popular otpions are personal loans and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs). Both can get you the money you need, but with key differences that involve your personal assets and overall financial security.

Credible Personal Loans

Our top pick: Credible

Quickly get personal loan offers from top online lenders.

  • Minimum Loan Amount: $1,000
  • Maximum Loan Amount: $100,000
  • Loan Terms: 2–7 years
  • One simple form
  • Must have good to excellent credit

    Quick snapshot: 4 ways personal loans and HELOCs differ

    Personal loanHELOC
    CollateralDepends on whether you choose a secured or unsecured loanHELOCs use the equity of your home as security
    Access to funds Direct deposit to your bank account from the lenderApproved funds can be taken as needed during the draw period
    Interest rateFixed rate or variable rate depending on the lenderVariable rate
    Repayment terms Monthly repayments, including your principal and interest over a specified timeMonthly repayments, only for the amount you withdrew during the draw period

    How do personal loans differ from HELOCs?

    There are some major differences between personal loans and home equity lines of credit. When you’re looking to borrow, keep these major points in mind.

    Is collateral required?

    Personal loans
    Whether or not you need collateral depends on the type of loan you’re looking to borrow. Unsecured loans don’t require any collateral while secured loans do. While you may not want to risk losing your collateral if you default, secured loans may save you money by charging lower interest rates.
    A home equity line of credit is secured by the equity of your primary residence. This is the collateral for your loan. And because it’s secured, you may be charged even lower interest rates than you would with a secured personal loan.

    How are funds disbursed?

    Personal loans
    With a personal loan, a lender disburses your approved funding in one go.
    In most cases, funds are disbursed directly to your bank account a week or two after you complete your loan agreement.
    With a home equity line of credit, you’re approved for a specific amount, but you take from it only what you need as you need it during a draw period — the window of access to your funds. This can last up to 20 years.

    How is interest calculated?

    Personal loans
    Your interest will vary based on your loan terms. Some personal loans have fixed interest rates, meaning you pay the same amount every month. Others have variable rates which change based on market conditions and the Prime Rate published by the Wall Street Journal.
    Lenders usually only have variable rates available for HELOCs. You might start with a low interest rate — and possibly interest-only payments during your draw period — but your rate and monthly payment will fluctuate over your loan term. This is because a HELOC’s interest rate is determined by the Prime Rate plus the margin designated by your bank or lender.
    Pro tip: When you’re comparing HELOCs, pay extra attention to the margin . Make sure to ask what the margin is during the draw period and the repayment period, as sometimes lenders will have a higher margin during the repayment period, which could cost you much more in the long run.

    How is the loan repaid?

    Personal loans
    Personal loans come with monthly repayments that include your principal and interest over a specified time. Some lenders will even offer rate discounts if you sign up for autopay.
    With a HELOC, you make monthly repayments only for the amount you withdrew during the draw period. You might even have the option of repaying only interest during your draw period.

    Compare personal loan options

    Rates last updated October 16th, 2018

    Reveal your potential loan offers and rates

    Answer two quick questions to filter the loan offers and get the best one for you.

    Select your credit score range

    I don't know my credit score

    Finally, select where you live.

    To get your credit score:

    Experian logo

    Experian is a leading provider of personal and business credit reporting. Find out your FICO score now for less than the cost of a cup of coffee.

    Unfortunately, none of the personal loan providers offer loans for that credit score. If you are in urgent need of a small loan, you might want to consider a short term loan.
    Name Product Product Description Min. Credit Score Max. Loan Amount APR
    Credible Personal Loans
    Get personalized rates in minutes and then choose a loan offer from several top online lenders.
    Good to excellent credit
    4.99%–36% (fixed)
    Upgrade Personal Loans*
    Affordable loans with two simple repayment terms and no prepayment penalties.
    6.99%-35.97% (fixed)
    Even Financial Personal Loans
    Get connected to competitive loan offers instantly from top online consumer lenders.
    4.99%–35.99% (fixed)
    LendingClub Personal Loan
    A peer-to-peer lender offering fair rates based on your credit score.
    6.95%–35.89% (fixed)
    Monevo Personal Loans
    Quickly compare multiple online lenders with competitive rates depending on your credit score.
    3.09%–35.99% (fixed)
    Conveniently check your loan options without affecting your credit score.
    9.95%–35.99% (fixed)
    FreedomPlus Personal Loans
    Consolidate debt and more with these low-interest loans. Cosigners welcome.
    4.99%–29.99% (fixed)
    SoFi Personal Loan Fixed Rate (with Autopay)
    No fees. Multiple member perks such as community events and career coaching.
    6.990% – 14.865% (fixed)
    Payoff Personal Loans
    Pay down your debt with a fixed APR and predictable monthly payments.
    5.99% to 24.99% (fixed)
    OneMain Financial Personal and Auto Loans
    An established online and in-store lender with quick turnaround times. Poor credit is OK.
    16.05%–35.99%* (fixed)
    NetCredit Personal Loan
    Check eligibility in minutes and get a personalized quote without affecting your credit score.
    34%–155% (Varies by state) (fixed)
    CashUSA Installment Loans
    A connection service for quick cash loans up to $10,000.
    Bad credit OK
    5.99%–35.99% (fixed)

    Compare up to 4 providers

    What are the benefits of personal loans and HELOCs?

    Personal loans

    • Collateral not required. You won’t need to secure your personal loan with assets like your home or car. There are plenty of unsecured personal loan options available.
    • Simple application. Your typical personal loan is easy to apply for and requires far less paperwork and time than a HELOC.
    • Quick turnaround. Depending on your lender, you could receive your loan funds in just a few days.


    • Typically lower initial rates. Because your home’s equity effectively secures what you borrow, your initial interest rate may be lower than with a personal loan.
    • Borrow only what you need. During your HELOC’s draw period, you withdraw only what you need up to your approved limit.
    • Tax-deductible interest. Like the interest you pay on your mortgage, you can usually deduct your HELOC’s interest from your taxes.
    • Longer loan terms. You’ll see some HELOCs with repayment terms of up to 20 years — far longer than your typical personal loan.

    What are the tax implications of personal loans?

    What are the drawbacks of personal loans and HELOCs?

    Personal loans

    • Higher interest. While personal loans tend to come with lower interest than credit cards, the rates are noticeably higher than those offered through HELOCs.
    • Typically lower maximums. While you’ll find a few banks and online lenders willing to lend you up to $100,000, personal loans typically top out at $50,000.
    • Good to excellent credit required. The more you want to borrow, the higher the credit score you should have. Your score will significantly influence how much you get and the loan’s APR.


    • Long application process. To establish equity, you need a home appraisal on top of the many fees and waiting period you’ll find with any mortgage.
    • You could lose your home. Because you’re essentially taking out credit secured by a lien on your home, if you default, you could lose your house to foreclosure.
    • More fees. HELOCs can require an appraisal fee, an application fee and even annual maintenance fees over your loan term.

    Which borrowing option is better suited for me?

    If you own a home, want to borrow a significant sum of money and are willing to use your property as collateral, a HELOC can get you a low initial rate and longer repayment terms than you’ll find with your typical personal loan. But you’ll need to confirm that you’ve built up enough equity in your home to cover the amount you need.

    If you don’t own a home or don’t want to risk its equity, a personal loan can offer predictable monthly payments at fixed or variable rates and terms to suit most any need.

    Bottom line

    When deciding between a personal loan or a HELOC, it comes down to how much money you’re looking for and if you have the home equity to support it. No matter which you ultimately choose, pay close attention to your specific repayment terms before signing a contract.
    You can compare your personal loan options against your home equity options to see which proves to be the better deal for your budget.

    Compare personal loans to even more borrowing options

    Personal loan vs. Line of credit
    Personal loan vs. Mortgage
    Personal loan vs. 401(k) loan
    Personal loan vs. Business loan
    Personal loan vs. Student loan
    Personal loan vs. Home equity loans

    Frequently asked questions

    Was this content helpful to you? No  Yes

    Ask an Expert

    You are about to post a question on

    • Do not enter personal information (eg. surname, phone number, bank details) as your question will be made public
    • is a financial comparison and information service, not a bank or product provider
    • We cannot provide you with personal advice or recommendations
    • Your answer might already be waiting – check previous questions below to see if yours has already been asked

    Finder only provides general advice and factual information, so consider your own circumstances, or seek advice before you decide to act on our content. By submitting a question, you're accepting our Privacy and Cookies Policy and Terms of Use.

    US Personal Loans Offers

    Important Information*
    Even Financial Personal Loans

    Get connected to competitive loan offers instantly from top online consumer lenders.

    Prosper Personal Loans

    Borrow only what you need for debt consolidation, home improvements and more — with APRs based on overall creditworthiness.

    LendingClub Personal Loan

    A peer-to-peer lender offering fair rates based on your credit score.

    SoFi Personal Loan Fixed Rate (with Autopay)

    No fees. Multiple member perks such as community events and career coaching.

    Go to site