Business Insider recommends credit cards based on their overall value and ease of use. Sometimes, we receive a commission through The Points Guy affiliate network if you apply and are approved for a card, but our choices are always independent and objective.
These are the best credit cards by category:
Given the wide range of benefits, rewards, and annual fees available, it’s impossible to name one single best credit card. But if you’re looking to find the best credit card for you, breaking it down by category is a good way to approach your search.
For example, if you’re just getting started with credit, a student card or a card that doesn’t require a high credit score is an ideal pick. If you’re looking to earn travel rewards, on the other hand, you’ll want to look at cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card.
This guide highlights the best credit card option for several different types of users. If you want a to-the-point recommendation for maximizing your spending and enjoying benefits like an intro APR period, this guide will help you find a quick answer. However, if you want to go deeper, check out our in-depth credit card guides for the following categories:
Keep in mind that we’re focusing on the rewards and perks that make these credit cards great options, not things like interest rates and late fees, which will far outweigh the value of any points or miles. It’s important to practice financial discipline when using credit cards by paying your balances in full each month, making payments on time, and only spending what you can afford to pay back.
Annual fee: $0
Pros: Longest intro APR period on balance transfers
Cons: Balance transfer fee, no rewards (though rewards shouldn’t be a priority if you’re carrying credit card debt)
If you’re looking to transfer your existing credit card balance to a new card that offers a long introductory APR period, you can’t do better than the Citi Simplicity card. It offers 0% APR on balance transfers for 21 months from the date of your first transfer. (You must complete your balance transfers in the first four months from your account-opening date.) After the 21-month intro APR period on balance transfers ends, there’s a variable rate of 16.24% to 26.24%. There’s a balance transfer fee of 5%, with a minimum charge of $5.
To get the full benefit out of the Simplicity card, you’ll want to make sure you pay off your balance before the 21-month introductory period is over. The key to using credit cards responsibly is to avoid carrying any debt, so the Simplicity card can be a useful tool in your strategy to get back on track with good financial habits.
In addition to the stellar introductory offer for balance transfers, the Simplicity card offers 0% intro APR on purchases for 12 months from your account-opening date. After that, it will be a variable rate of 16.24% to 26.24%
Read more about the Citi Simplicity card:
Annual fee: $0
Pros: 15-month introductory APR period, strong cash-back rate on all purchases, you can combine rewards with premium Chase cards
Cons: Other cards earn more cash back
The Chase Freedom Unlimited card offers a long introductory 0% APR period of 15 months on both purchases and balance transfers, after which there’s a variable rate of 16.49% to 25.24%.
Not only does this card help you pay down credit card debt with a generous introductory APR period, but it also offers solid ongoing rewards. You’ll earn 1.5% cash back on every purchase, and if you have a Chase card that earns Ultimate Rewards points, such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred or the Chase Sapphire Reserve, you can combine your rewards balances and gain the option to redeem your earnings from the Freedom Unlimited as points that can be used to book travel.
Read more about the Chase Freedom Unlimited:
Annual fee: $0
Pros: No foreign transaction fee, several bonus categories
Cons: It’s essentially a cash-back card, so you won’t get higher-than-average value using rewards points for travel
The Wells Fargo Propel card packs in a lot of benefits for a card without an annual fee. We love that it doesn’t charge a foreign transaction fee (that’s relatively rare for no-annual-fee cards), and it offers several bonus categories for earning more points.
You’ll earn 3x points on eating out and ordering in, and on travel (including flights, hotels, homestays, and car rentals), gas stations, rideshares, transit, and popular streaming services, and 1 point per dollar on everything else.
You can redeem points from the Wells Fargo Propel for cash back or for travel through the Go Far Rewards program. Each point is worth 1 cent, so there’s no opportunity to maximize your redemptions, like you can with rewards programs such as Amex Membership Rewards and Chase Ultimate Rewards. But if simplicity and avoiding an annual fee are your priorities, this card is a great option.
Read more about the Wells Fargo Propel card:
Annual fee: $0
Pros: No bonus categories to keep track of, no annual fee, you can combine rewards with other Citi cards
Cons: Some cash-back cards with bonus categories earn you more
Not only does the Citi Double cash card offer one of the longest introductory APR periods, but it’s also a great option for earning cash back. In fact, it’s one of our top picks for the best cash-back cards thanks to its straightforward earning structure — you get 1% cash back when you make a purchase, and 1% back when you pay your bill.
As a new cardholder, you get the first 18 months with 0% APR on balance transfers — after that, there’s a variable rate of 15.49% to 25.49%.
While the Citi Double Cash is a cash-back card, if you also have a premium Citi card like the Citi Premier℠ Card or the Citi Prestige® Card, you can combine your cash-back rewards with one of those accounts for the opportunity to redeem them as ThankYou points toward travel.
Read more about the Citi Double Cash card:
Annual fee: $95
Pros: Great sign-up bonus, multiple options for redeeming points for travel, valuable travel protections
Cons: Other cards offer more competitive bonus categories
If you want to earn travel rewards, you’ll find that Chase Ultimate Rewards points are the most user-friendly of the various bank currencies, which are also referred to as transferable points because you can transfer them over to various airline and hotel partners. In the case of Chase points, you can redeem them with partners like British Airways, Hyatt, United Airlines, and Singapore Airlines, or you can choose to book travel directly through Chase. If you choose the latter, your points are worth 1.25 cents apiece — a 25% bonus.
The Chase Sapphire Preferred starts you off with a sign-up bonus of 60,000 points after you spend $4,000 in the first three months. Those points are worth $750 in travel booked through Chase, or potentially even more if you decide to redeem with the program’s transfer partners.
You’ll earn 2 points per dollar on all travel and dining purchases, and 1 point per dollar on everything else. Beyond the rewards, the Sapphire Preferred offers some valuable coverage benefits, including primary car rental insurance, trip delay insurance, and baggage delay insurance.
Read more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred card:
Annual fee: $0
Pros: It’s an attainable option even if you have bad credit, and it earns rewards — which is rare for a secured card
Cons: Some secured cards have lower minimum deposit requirements
If you have a very limited credit history or are looking to repair bad credit, many of the cards on this list won’t be available to you. Most of the top rewards cards require credit scores in the 600s or higher — if that’s not where your credit is, you may need to consider a secured card to repair your credit.
Secured credit cards are easy to get approved for because they require a cash deposit up front, which minimizes the issuer’s risk. Your credit limit is equal to the cash deposit you put down.
If a secured card seems like the right option for you, the Discover it Secured is an especially good option, because it’s the rare secured card to offer rewards. You’ll earn 2% cash back at gas stations and restaurants on up to $1,000 in purchases each quarter (then 1%), and 1% cash back on all other purchases. Plus, Discover will match all the cash back you’ve earned at the end of the first year.
Annual fee: $0
Pros: Earns 1.5% cash back on every purchase, no foreign transaction fees
Cons: Other cards offer better rewards
If you have a credit score in the “fair” range (580-669, according to FICO), you have a good chance for being approved for this card. It offers a respectable 1.5% cash back on all purchases, and there are no foreign transaction fees.
The Capital One Quicksilver card also offers 0% intro APR for 15 months on both purchases and balance transfers (then a variable rate of 15.49% to 25.49%).
Annual fee: $95 (waived the first year)
Pros: No bonus categories to keep track of, solid earning rate
Cons: Other business cards offer higher rewards and more benefits — but they come with higher annual fees
There are lots of great business credit cards, and if you travel constantly, it could be worth paying the high annual fee for a more premium option like the Business Platinum® Card from American Express. But if you just want a card that maximizes your cash back on spending, the Capital One Spark Cash for Business is a great choice.
You’ll earn an unlimited 2% cash back on all your spending, and you can get free employee cards that earn 2% back as well. It’s a simple card, but for users who want to put money back into their business it’s a great option.
Read more about the Capital One Spark Miles for Business:
Annual fee: $0
Pros: Cash-back reward for good grades, earns up to 5% cash back, no foreign transaction fee
Cons: Other cards offer a higher cash-back rate on non-bonus spending
The Discover it Student Cash Back is a pretty rewarding card, with a neat Good Grades Reward benefit targeted to those in school. Each year your GPA is 3.0 or higher, you’ll get a $20 statement credit.
Beyond that, the card offers 5% cash back on up to $1,500 of purchases in rotating bonus categories each quarter when you activate, and 1% back on everything else. Discover will even match your cash-back earnings after your first cardmember year. Overall, this card is a great entry point into the world of cash-back rewards.
Other credit cards that we considered that just missed the cut
- Capital One Venture card: You get a lot of perks, and solid rewards, in exchange for a $95 annual fee that’s waived the first year, but your options for redeeming miles for travel aren’t the most competitive due to confusing transfer ratios and only one US airline partner.
- The Platinum Card® from American Express: While this premium card has a long list of travel benefits like airport lounge access, Uber credits, and complimentary hotel elite status that can cancel out the $550 annual fee if you put them to use, not everyone will be able to justify that cost.
- Chase Sapphire Reserve: The higher-end sibling of the Chase Sapphire Preferred is another card that offers some great high-end travel perks — like up to $300 in statement credits each year — but with a $550 annual fee it’s not the best travel card for everyone.
- Capital One® Savor® Cash Rewards Credit Card — It earns 4% cash back on dining and entertainment, plus 2% at grocery stores and 1% back on everything else, but many people prefer earning a higher rate of cash back on all their purchases without any bonus categories.
- Chase Freedom — The Freedom can help you earn 5% cash back/5x points on rotating quarterly bonus categories (on up to $1,500 each quarter when you activate), but again not everyone wants to keep track of bonus categories, especially when they change several times throughout the year.
- Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express — It earns 6% back on select US streaming subscriptions and 6% back on up to $6,000 spent at US supermarkets each year (then 1%), so it’s another solid option for those who want maximum cash back on select purchases rather than a higher rate of cash back on all purchases.
- Capital One® Spark® Miles for Business — It earns miles instead of cash back, but if you prefer travel rewards this card is a great option.
- Business Platinum Amex card — With a $595 annual fee, it has lots of travel benefits that could be worth it if you’re constantly on the road.
- Ink Business Preferred Credit Card — Chase’s premium business credit card has solid bonus categories, a great sign-up bonus, and a reasonable annual fee of $95, but it’s best for those who want to redeem rewards for travel.
Methodology: How we chose the best credit cards for 2020
Our list of the best credit cards is the result of an in-depth comparison between credit cards in each sub-category. We looked at America’s largest credit card issuers, as well as cards frequently recommended by blogs, forums, and travel communities.
The values we prioritized when coming up with this list were:
- Simplicity — not everyone wants to invest lots of time and energy into maximizing their credit cards, so we focused on cards that make things as straightforward as possible
- Affordability — while there’s a case to be made for paying a high annual fee when you’re getting high value in return, most credit card users aren’t looking for a card that costs $450 or more
- Value — whether we’re talking about a credit card with or without an annual fee, it’s important that the benefits and features are worth it
Frequently asked questions
Why should I get a credit card?
Credit cards can be powerful tools for improving your credit score and earning rewards — if you use them responsibly. It’s important to only spend what you can afford to pay off each month so you don’t end up in debt and start amassing steep interest fees.
Provided you’re in a position to pay off your credit card statements and spend within your means, there are several reasons opening a credit card could be a good idea. For one, credit cards offer better fraud protection than debit cards or cash — if an unauthorized purchase is made with your card, you won’t be on the hook. Using a credit card responsibly can also help you build and repair your credit, since your on-time payments will be reported to the credit bureaus. Finally, a credit card can help you maximize every dollar you spend, by earning you cash back, points, or miles.
What is the best credit card?
It’s impossible to name just one best credit card, because there are so many options for so many different types of users. A credit card that earns travel rewards could be the best option for one person, but if you’re looking to earn cash back, you’ll be better served by another pick.
How do I choose a credit card?
Focus on your priorities, and be realistic about what cards you’re able to get approved for. Most of the top rewards cards require credit scores in the high 600s at a bare minimum, so if your credit score isn’t there yet, you’ll want to look at options for bad to fair credit scores so you can focus on building your credit back up.
Beyond that, decide what annual fee you’re comfortable paying. Some people avoid paying credit card annual fees completely, and there are several great cards in the no-annual-fee category, but it could be worth paying a modest annual fee of $95 to $99 for a travel or cash-back card that earns you higher rewards. Also decide whether you want to earn cash back or travel rewards. Keep in mind that redeeming rewards for travel is more work than simply getting cash back in your account – the payoff can be big, but focus on what is the best option for you.
How do I build credit with a credit card?
Your credit card use is a huge factor in determining your credit score — every on-time payment you make is reported to the credit bureaus and shows potential lenders that you’re able to use credit responsibly. The key to building credit with a credit card is to only spend what you can afford to pay off each month.
What is a Credit Builder Loan and Where Do I Get One?
Your credit score plays an important role in your financial life. If you have good credit you can qualify for loans and borrow money at lower interest rates. If you don’t have a credit score or have poor credit, it can be hard to get loans and you’ll be forced to pay higher rates when you do qualify.
Building credit can be like a chicken and egg problem. If you have no credit or bad credit, you’ll have trouble getting a loan. At the same time, you need to get a loan so you have an opportunity to build credit.
What Is a Credit Builder Loan?
A credit builder loan is a special type of loan designed to help people who have poor or no credit improve their credit score.
In many ways, credit builder loans are less like loans and more like forced savings plans. When you get a credit builder loan, the lender places the money in a bank account that you can’t access. You then start receiving a monthly bill for the loan. As you make those payments, the lender reports that information to the credit bureaus, helping you build up a payment history. This improves your credit score.
Once you finish the payment plan, the lender will release the bank account to you and stop sending bills.
In the end, you’ll wind up with slightly less money than you paid overall, due to fees and interest charges. For example, let’s say you get a credit builder loan for $1,000, the lender may make you make a monthly payment of $90 each month for a year. After the year ends, you’ll get the $1,000 from the lender, but may pay $1,080 overall.
Why Get a Credit Builder Loan?
The main reason to get a credit builder loan is right in the name: They help you build your credit. If you don’t have any credit history or if you’ve damaged your credit by missing payments, it’s much easier to qualify for a credit builder loan than a traditional loan from a lender.
The companies offering credit builder loans take on almost no risk because they don’t give you the money until you’ve finished paying the loan, so they’re willing to approve people who have severely damaged credit.
Credit builder loans will help you build your credit history if you make your monthly payments, but you do have to pay fees and interest to do so. There are other ways to build credit that don’t require paying any money. For example, if you get a fee-free credit card and pay your balance in full each month, you’ll build credit without paying any interest or fees.
This makes credit builder loans best for people who have tried and failed to qualify for other loans and credit cards.
There is also some value in the forced savings provided by credit builder loans, but the interest and fees eat away at that savings. If saving is your goal, it’s best to use a different strategy to help you save, but if you want to save and build credit at the same time, a credit builder loan might be worth using.
Where to Find Credit Builder Loans?
There are many companies that offer credit builder loans. Each lender offers different loan terms, fees, and interest rates.
One of the top credit builder loan providers is Self. The company offers credit builder loans with payment plans as low as $25 per month, making it easy for almost anyone to afford a credit builder loan.
With Self, you can also qualify for a Visa credit card after you’ve made at least 3 payments on your credit builder loan and made $100 of progress toward paying off the loan. You can set your own credit limit, up toward the total amount of progress you’ve made on the loan.
The card doesn’t have any additional upfront costs and can help you gain experience with using a credit card. It can also help you build your credit by giving you another account to make payments on, providing you with more opportunities to build a good payment history.
What to Look for?
When you’re looking for credit builder loans, there are a few factors to consider.
The first thing to think about is the monthly payment. The point of a credit builder loan is to show the credit bureaus that you can make regular payments on your debts, which will help build your credit score. If a lender’s minimum payment is more than you can afford each month, you won’t be able to build your credit with that lender’s credit builder loan.
It’s also important to think about the cost of the loan. Credit builder loans often come with stiff fees and you also have to pay interest on the money you’ve borrowed, even if you don’t get access to it until you pay the loan off.
The fewer fees and the less interest you have to pay, the better. You should look very carefully at each lender’s fee structure to choose the best deal.
Finally, take some time to see how easy it is to qualify. While credit builder loans are targeted at people with bad credit, some lenders will still check your credit history and might deny your application.
If you have very bad credit, you might want to look for a lender that advertises credit builder loans with no credit check.
Alternatives to a Credit Builder Loan
Credit builder loans can be a good way to build credit for some people, but they come with interest charges and fees. There are other ways you can build credit worth considering. Some of them won’t cost any money, which may make them a better choice than a credit builder loan.
Secured Credit Cards
A secured credit card is a special type of credit card that is much easier to qualify for than a typical card.
With a secured card, you have to provide a security deposit when you open the account. The credit limit of your card will usually be equal to the deposit you provide. For example, if you want a $200 credit limit, you’ll have to give the card issuer $200 as collateral.
Because you give the lender cash to secure the card, it’s much easier to qualify for a secured credit card. The lender assumes almost no risk. Once you get the card, it works like any other credit card. You can use it to spend up to your credit limit and you’ll get a bill each month. If you pay the bill on time, you can build credit.
Many secured cards charge high interest rates and have hefty fees, but there are some fee-free options available. One great secured card is the Discover it Secured Credit Card, which has no annual fee and offers cash back rewards.
Become an Authorized User
Most credit card issuers let cardholders add other people as authorized users on their accounts. Authorized users get their own cards and can use them to spend money just like the main cardholder.
Some issuers will report account information to the credit reports of both the main cardholder and any authorized users. If you know someone that is willing to make you an authorized user on their credit card account, this may help you build your credit so you can qualify for a card of your own.
Not every issuer will report information to authorized users’ credit reports. It’s also worth keeping in mind that if you become an authorized user on a card and the cardholder stops making payments or racks up a huge balance, that will show up on your report as well, damaging your credit further. That can make this strategy risky.
Personal Loans with a Cosigner
Personal loans are highly flexible loans that you can use for almost any reason. If you need to borrow money, you can try to find someone who is willing to cosign on the loan. Having a cosigner can make it easier to qualify, even if you have poor credit, giving you a chance to build your credit score.
When someone cosigns on a loan, they’re promising to take responsibility for your debt if you stop making payments. Lenders will look at both your credit and your cosigner’s credit when you apply, so having a cosigner with strong credit can help you get the loan or reduce the interest rate of the loan.
Keep in mind that your cosigner is putting themselves at risk by cosigning on a loan. It’s even more important that you make your payments every month. If you don’t, your cosigner will have to pick up the slack.
Personal Loans without a Cosigner
Even if you have poor credit, you may be able to qualify for a personal loan designed for people that don’t have strong credit. Just keep in mind that you’ll have to pay higher fees and interest rates to compensate for your poor credit score.
If you’re looking for a personal loan and have poor credit, shopping around for the best deal becomes even more important. You can use a loan comparison site, like Fiona, to get quotes from multiple lenders so you can find the cheapest loan.
Related: Best Emergency Loans for Bad Credit
What Is the Difference Between a Credit-Builder Loan and a Personal Loan?
A personal loan is a type of loan that you can get for almost any reason, such as consolidating debts, starting a home improvement project, paying an unexpected bill, or even going on vacation. They’re offered by many lenders and banks.
A credit builder loan is less a loan and more a forced saving plan. When you get a credit builder loan, the lender doesn’t actually give you any money. Instead, it places the amount you’re borrowing in an account you can’t access. Once you finish paying the loan, the lender releases the money in that account to you.
Credit builder loans tend to be much easier to qualify for than personal loans because the lender doesn’t have to take on much risk. They’re mostly used by people who want to build or rebuild their credit score.
On the other hand, personal loans are less popular for building credit and more useful for providing funding when borrowers need cash to cover an expense.
Pros and Cons of a Credit Builder Loan
Before applying for a credit builder loan, consider these pros and cons.
- Easy to qualify for
- Helps you build savings
- Payments are usually small
- Helps you build payment history
- Not really a loan
- Fees and interest rates can be high
- There are cheaper alternatives to build credit
These are some of the most frequently asked questions about credit builder loans.
Like most loans, it is possible to repay a credit builder loan ahead of schedule, but there are a few downsides to consider. One is that many lenders add an early repayment fee to their loans, so you’ll have to pay that fee if you want to get out of the credit builder loan. The other is that repaying the loan early somewhat defeats the purpose. Each monthly payment you make toward the loan helps you build your credit. If you pay the loan off early, you’ll make fewer monthly payments, which means less improvement in your credit.
Missing a payment on a credit builder loan is like missing a payment on any loan. You’ll likely owe a late fee and it will damage your credit. This is one of the reasons it’s important to make sure you can afford the monthly payment before signing up for a credit builder loan. If you can’t make your payments, the loan will wind up damaging your credit instead of helping it.
Credit builder loans can be a good way to build or rebuild your credit, but they’re not your only option. They often involve paying fees and interest, so you should search around for the best deal or look for cheaper (or free) alternatives, such as secured credit cards.
How to lower your credit card interest rate and save money
Why pay high interest on your credit cards when you can simply bargain a lower rate? These tips can help you save big money on your bill.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A lot of people have struggled to pay their bills during the COVID-19 pandemic and many have turned to credit cards so they can kick the can down the road. Now the time has come to pay it down and some of the bills are eye-popping.
Did you know you can bargain that interest rate down and save quite a bit of money?
You could ask for a lower rate, but according to a new study, you can bargain down 10 percentage points. So, if your interest rate is 24%, it could mean paying 14% instead. That’s still high but it’s a lot better than 24% interest.
These numbers are staggering and can be a bit overwhelming. Americans have an average credit card balance of $5,300, totaling $807 billion across 506 million credit card accounts. Why are these numbers important? Because they want to keep you spending, which means you have leverage to bargain.
“It is absolutely possible to negotiate your rate down. In fact, your chances of doing so are better than you think they are. Close to 80% surveyed said they did just that,” Matt Schultz, an industry expert with LendingTree, said. “You can save serious money, especially if your balance is bigger.”
You have to try, and you have to keep trying, even if the lender says no. Take it higher to a manager and keep pushing. Drops of 10% are possible and that could save you hundreds, or maybe even thousands, of dollars.
“So, a lot of people have bad credit, some are thankful to have it at all. Is it possible for them too? Yes, absolutely it’s possible,” Schultz said. “Credit card companies are willing to talk with you because they want to keep your business. It benefits them to lower your rate to keep their card in your wallet.”
Paying down debt is liberating. Less debt is more buying power but you must advocate for yourself. If you don’t, the card companies are just as happy to take your money at the higher rate.
LendingTree offers these suggestions if you plan to ask for a lower rate:
How to ask for a lower APR
Before you make the call, come armed with ammunition in the form of other offers you’ve seen at a site like LendingTree.com or that you may have received in your snail mail. Take that offer and use it to frame the conversation:
“I’ve been a good customer of yours for a long time and I like my card. However, the APR is 25% and I’ve just been offered one with a 19% APR. Would you be able to match it?”
As survey data shows, they’ll likely be willing to work with you, at least to some degree.
How to ask for a waived annual fee
Before you make the call, think about what you will accept. If you ask for a fee to be waived altogether and they only offer to reduce it, is that good enough? What if they offer you extra rewards points or miles or make some other counteroffer instead of a reduced fee? And perhaps most important, what if they say no?
As with many negotiations, you have more leverage if you’re willing to walk away, so that could be an option. However, you shouldn’t make that threat unless you’re willing to follow through with it, and you shouldn’t follow through with it unless you’ve thought about what that would mean for your credit.
How to ask for a waived late fee
Just pick up the phone and be polite. If you’re a long-time customer with good credit and this is your first offense, the odds are in your favor. In fact, some card issuers will even waive a first late fee as a matter of policy. If you’ve been late multiple times in the recent past, however, your chances probably aren’t as good. Even so, it never hurts to ask.
How to ask for a higher credit limit
Start with a number in mind based on your current limit. The average increase reported in our survey was about $1,500, but your situation will vary. If your current limit is $500, a $1,500 bump might be asking too much. However, if your current limit is $5,000, that request might be just fine.
Think about why you’re asking for the increase — for some extra spending power or to help your credit score — and then decide what to ask for. Just remember that it’s always better to start a negotiation by asking for a little too much. That way, when you negotiate, you can give a little bit and still get what you want.
Can A Moving Loan Help Your Relocation? Find Out Here – Forbes Advisor
Editorial Note: Forbes may earn a commission on sales made from partner links on this page, but that doesn’t affect our editors’ opinions or evaluations.
Whether you’re relocating to another city or state, moving can be expensive. You might need money to pay for a moving van or movers, new furniture or your security deposit. If you don’t have money on hand to cover those expenses, a moving loan can help you fill in the gap.
Before you take out a relocation loan, learn what they are and how to compare your options to understand if it’s a good choice for your situation.
What Is a Moving Loan?
A moving loan—also referred to as a relocation loan—is an unsecured personal loan you can use to help cover your moving expenses. Unsecured loans don’t require you to use a personal asset to secure the loan. Because the loan is unsecured, lenders base your eligibility on factors like your credit score, income and debt-to-income (DTI) ratio. Like with other types of personal loans, you’ll have to repay your loan through fixed monthly installments.
When Should You Get a Moving Loan?
Although the answer varies based on your financial circumstances, it may make sense to get a moving loan if you can secure a good interest rate and can afford to repay the loan as promised. However, if you believe it might be hard for you to repay the loan, then it’s probably a good idea to avoid taking one out. Falling behind on payments can damage your credit score, making it harder for you to qualify for future loans.
How to Get a Moving Loan
- Search for lenders: To find lenders that offer relocation loans, search for the best personal loans online. A good place to start might be a lender comparison website. While there, carefully review the terms, minimum credit score requirements, fees and annual percentage range (APR) range of each lender. In addition, you can check with your local bank or credit union to see if it offers personal loans for moving.
- Prequalify with multiple lenders: Once you narrow down your list of the best lenders, prequalify with each one of them (if available). This allows you to see what terms and APR you might receive if approved. Make sure the lender does a soft credit check to protect your credit score from any pitfalls.
- Determine the amount you need to borrow: Estimate your moving or relocation expenses to see how large of a loan you need to take out. Different lenders have different minimum loan amounts. Also, some states have rules about the minimum amount you can borrow, which may affect the size of your loan.
- Apply for your moving loan: After you select the lender that matches your needs, complete the application process. Prepare to provide the lender with personal information, such as your income, date of birth and Social Security number (SSN). Some lenders will require you to provide W2’s, pay stubs or bank statements to confirm your income.
- Wait for the lender to make a loan decision: After you apply, wait for the lender to review your application. Some lenders might approve you within seconds, while others may take longer. If a lender denies your loan, ask them for an explanation. Applying with a co-borrower or co-signer, improving your credit score, reviewing your credit report for errors or requesting a smaller amount may improve your chances of approval.
- Sign the loan agreement and receive funds: Once approved, the lender will send you a loan agreement to sign. After you sign the agreement, the lender will most likely deposit your funds directly into your account. The time of funding varies for different lenders—some lenders can issue the funds the same day while others may take a week or longer.
- Repay your loan: Finally, repay your loan as promised. Making late payments or defaulting on the loan can damage your credit score. Setting up autopay is one way to ensure you’ll never miss a payment.
Pros of Moving Loans
- Quick access to funds: If your loan application is approved, some lenders may deposit your funds into your bank account the same day or within a week.
- Flexible loan terms: Some lenders allow you to take out personal loans for moving with loan terms as short as 12 months and as long as 84 months. A long-term loan may have a lower minimum monthly payment, which might better suit your budget. However, the downside is that you’ll pay more in interest over the life of the loan.
- Lower interest rates than credit cards: The average interest rates for personal loans are usually lower than those for credit cards. If you have a good credit score (at least 670) and a stable income, you may be able to secure a good interest rate—an interest rate that’s lower than the national average.
- No collateral required: Since loans for moving typically require no collateral—an asset that secures the loan—you won’t have to worry about a lender taking your asset (at least without a court’s permission).
Cons of Moving Loans
- Fees: Some lenders charge origination fees between 1% and 8%—these fees can be a huge drawback since the lender usually subtracts them from your loan amount. Other common personal loan fees include application fees, returned check fees, late payment fees and prepayment fees.
- Potentially high interest rates: If you have less-than-stellar credit or minimal credit history, your lender may charge you high interest rates. Some lenders have APRs above 30%.
- Missed payments can damage your credit score: If you miss a payment or default on the loan, it can damage your credit score. This will make it more difficult for you to qualify for future loans.
Moving Loan Alternatives
If you want to avoid the potential cons of a relocation loan, consider these alternative options to help cover your moving expenses or rent.
0% APR Credit Card
Borrowers with good to excellent credit scores (at least 670) can avoid paying interest and high fees with a 0% APR credit card. These cards come with interest-free promotion periods, which can last for up to 21 months. If you pay off your balance before the promotion period expires, you won’t have to worry about paying interest. However, providers will charge interest on unpaid balances once the introductory period ends.
Family loans are another way to avoid paying interest or to pay minimal interest when it comes to your relocation expenses. With this option, you can also avoid the formal loan application process. The loan agreement between you and the family member should spell out the terms and conditions of the loan. Repay the loan as promised to avoid causing damage to your relationship.
Payday Alternative Loan
If you can’t qualify for a relocation loan or have trouble finding moving loans for bad credit, consider using a payday alternative loan. Some federal credit unions offer these loans, which are designed to help you avoid the high-interest charges of payday loans. You can borrow up to $2,000; loan terms range from one to 12 months and the maximum interest rate is 28%. To use this option, you must be a member of a federal credit union or be eligible for membership.
Instead of using a personal loan for moving, it might be better to use your savings, if possible. If you know how much it will cost, then create an automatic savings plan to cover most or all of your relocation expenses.
If you’re moving for a new job, ask your new employer if it will cover some of your relocation expenses. Some employers offer this to employees as an incentive to accept the job offer. Even if the employer doesn’t offer this, you can ask for a relocation bonus or try negotiating a higher salary.
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