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Secured Loans Definition

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What Are Secured Loans?

Secured loans are business or personal loans that require some type of collateral as a condition of borrowing. A bank or lender can request collateral for large loans for which the money is being used to purchase a specific asset or in cases where your credit scores aren’t sufficient to qualify for an unsecured loan. Secured loans may allow borrowers to enjoy lower interest rates, as they present a lower risk to lenders. However, certain types of secured loans—including bad credit personal loans and short-term installment loans—can carry higher interest rates. 

Key Takeaways

  • Secured loans are loans that are secured by a specific form of collateral, including physical assets such as property and vehicles or liquid assets such as cash. 
  • Both personal loans and business loans can be secured, though a secured business loan may also require a personal guarantee. 
  • Banks, credit unions, and online lenders can offer secured personal and business loans to qualified borrowers. 
  • The interest rates, fees, and loan terms can vary widely for secured loans, depending on the lender. 

Understanding Secured Loans

Loans—whether they’re personal loans or business loans—can be secured or unsecured. With an unsecured loan, no collateral of any kind is required to obtain it. Instead, the lender allows you to borrow based on the strength of your credit score and financial history. 

Secured loans, on the other hand, require collateral to borrow. In some cases the collateral for a secured loan may be the asset you’re using the money to purchase. If you’re getting a mortgage for a home, for example, the loan is secured by the property you’re buying. The same would be true with a car loan.

If you default on the loan, meaning you stop making payments, the lender can seize the collateral that was used to secure the loan. So with a mortgage loan, for instance, the lender could initiate a foreclosure proceeding. The home would be auctioned off and the proceeds used to repay what was owed on the defaulted mortgage.

Types of Secured Loans

Secured loans can be used for a number of different purposes. For example, if you’re borrowing money for personal uses, secured loan options can include:

  • Vehicle loans
  • Mortgage loans
  • Share-secured or savings-secured Loans
  • Secured credit cards
  • Secured lines of credit
  • Car title loans
  • Pawnshop loans
  • Life insurance loans
  • Bad credit loans

As mentioned, vehicle loans and mortgage loans are secured by their respective assets. Share-secured or savings-secured loans work a little differently. These loans are secured by amounts you have saved in a savings account or certificate of deposit (CD) account at a credit union or bank. This type of secured loan can be useful for building credit if you’re unable to get approved for other types of loans or credit cards. 

In the case of a secured credit card or line of credit, the collateral you offer may not be a physical asset. Instead, the credit card company or lender may ask for a cash deposit to hold as collateral. A secured credit card, for instance, may require a cash deposit of a few hundred dollars to open. This cash deposit then doubles as your credit limit.

In some cases, a credit card company may convert your account to an unsecured card after you have made a certain number of consecutive monthly payments on time. 

Business Loans

Business loans can also be secured, though unsecured ones can be had. An equipment loan, for instance, is a type of secured business loan. Say you own a construction business and need to purchase a new dump truck. You could use an equipment loan, secured by the dump truck you plan to purchase, to pay for it. As long as you pay the loan on time, you wouldn’t be at risk of losing the equipment you purchased. 

One thing to note about secured business loans is that you may also be required to sign a personal guarantee. This means that you agree to be personally liable for any debts taken out by your business if the business defaults on the loan. So if your business runs into cash flow issues, for example, you could be personally sued for a defaulted loan.

Car Title Loans and Pawnshop Loans

Other types of secured loans include car title loans and pawnshop loans. Car title loans allow you to borrow money using your car title as collateral. Pawnshop loans can use anything from tools to jewelry to video game consoles as collateral, depending on what you’re willing to pawn. These are generally short-term loans that allow you to borrow small amounts of money.

Car title loans and pawnshop loans can carry interest rates that are well above average compared with other types of secured loans, and if you fail to repay them, you could lose your car or your personal assets held in pawn. 

Life Insurance Loans

A life insurance loan lets you borrow money against a life insurance policy using its cash value as collateral. You could then repay the loan during your lifetime or allow the loan amount to be deducted from the death benefit paid to your beneficiaries when you pass away. This type of loan is available with permanent life insurance policies, such as variable or whole life insurance.

Bad Credit Loans

Bad credit personal loans are another category of secured loans. These are personal loans that are designed for people with poor credit history. Lenders can offer bad credit personal loans, but they may require some type of cash security, similar to share-secured loans, secured credit cards, and secured lines of credit. Note that a lower credit score can translate to a higher interest rate and/or fees with a bad credit secured loan. 

Where to Find Secured Loans

Secured loans can be found at banks, credit unions, or online lenders. When comparing secured loans, there are some important things to keep in mind. For example, you’ll want to look at:

Comparing loan rates and terms with multiple lenders can give you an idea of how much a secured loan is likely to cost. You can also compare them using an online secured loan calculator to estimate your monthly payments and the total amount of interest paid. 

In the case of a secured business loan, you want to be sure to check the requirements for a personal guarantee. While this practice is fairly common with both secured and unsecured business loans, you don’t want to be taken by surprise. And with a secured credit card, it’s helpful to ask the credit card company if there’s any way down the line to have the account converted to an unsecured card and your security deposit refunded to you. 

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Martin Lewis issues guidance on using credit cards to build ratings – best deals | Personal Finance | Finance

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Martin Lewis regularly urges savers to use caution when utilising debt themed products but at the same time, he acknowledges the need for a decent credit rating to get by financially. Today, the Money Saving Expert was questioned by viewer Miranda on how one can build their credit rating in difficult circumstances.

“What I’d then like you to do is go and do £50 a month of normal spending on it, things you’d buy anyway.

“[Then] Make sure you pay the card off in full every month, preferably by direct debit so you’re never missing it because the interest rate is hideous.

“That way you won’t pay any interest.

“You do that for a year, you’ll start to build that credit history, showing them you’re a good credit citizen.

“Then you’ll be able to move into the sort of more normal credit card range.

“So, bizarrely, to get credit you need credit. What credit will you get? Bad credit, go get the bad credit just make sure it doesn’t cost you.”

Consumers of all kinds may not have the best options at the moment as recent analysis from moneyfacts.co.uk revealed.

In mid-November, they detailed that a number of high street banks have cut the perks and interest on a number of their current account deals.

On top of this, the Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Bank made credit interest cuts of up to 0.5 percent.

Rachel Springall, a Finance Expert at moneyfacts.co.uk commented on the few options consumers and savers currently have available: “Clearly, it is vital consumers decide carefully if now is the time to switch, but if they wait too long, they may well miss out on a free cash switching perk.

“At present, providers will be assessing how they can sustain any lucrative offers in light of the pandemic.

“With this in mind, we could well see more changes in the months to come and if this does indeed occur, consumers would be wise to review whether their account is still worth keeping.”



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Should you use a balance transfer to pay off debt?

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Should you use a balance transfer to pay off debt?
Image source: Getty Images.


A balance transfer might be the solution if you have debts and want to gain control over your finances. But whether a balance transfer is right for you will depend on a number of factors.

Things to consider before using a balance transfer

The size of your debt

If you want to apply for a balance transfer credit card, be aware that most providers will allow you to transfer up to 90% of your credit limit.

Your credit limit will be dependent on your own personal circumstances, including your salary, your credit history and your residential status (homeowner or renter).

Be realistic about your debt. For example, if you earn £25,000 per year and you have a debt of more than £15,000, a balance transfer might not be cheapest way to pay the debt.

The time taken to pay the debt

The main advantage of a balance transfer credit card is that many offer an interest-free period on the balance. So, if you can pay off your balance in that period, you won’t accrue any further interest charges.

However, these periods typically range from 18 to 24 months, so if you think you will need more time to pay the debt, you may need to factor in additional interest charges when the interest-free period ends.

Whether or not a balance transfer is the right debt payment solution will depend on your personal circumstances. Check our balance transfer calculator if you want to work out how much a balance transfer could save you in interest payments.

Your credit score

The advantage of a good credit score cannot be underestimated in this situation.

When applying for a balance transfer credit card, the company will check your credit score. Based on this score, they could refuse your application.

Even if you are accepted, if you have a bad credit score they could reduce your credit limit. Ultimately, this will determine the benefit of a balance transfer as a suitable debt payment solution.

If you think your credit score might be a problem, it’s worth checking with the credit reference agencies before applying. That way you can avoid any nasty surprises.

There are three main consumer credit reference agencies in the UK. They are Equifax, Experian and TransUnion (Noodle).

Alternative solutions to balance transfers

You could still use a balance transfer even if the size of your debt is bigger than the credit limit.

Transferring part of the debt would enable you to benefit from any interest-free period, where applicable.

Alternatively, if you have multiple debts, you could consolidate all of your debts so that you can make a single regular payment. If necessary, you could do this using an unsecured personal loan over a period longer than 24 months.

Take home

Look at your own personal circumstances with a critical eye. Remember that you need to factor in living expenses when thinking about how long it will take you to pay off your debt.

Balance transfers are a useful method for debt repayment, but be aware that credit cards are an expensive way to borrow money. Take full advantage of any 0% deals wherever possible. Check out our list of the best 0% credit cards.


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Turn credit declines into a win-win | 2020-11-20

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The pandemic has left millions of people needing credit at a time when lending standards are tightening. The result is a lose-lose situation—the consumer gets a bad credit decline experience and the credit union misses out on a lending opportunity. How can this be turned into a win-win?

The case for coaching

Let’s start by deconstructing the credit decline process: The consumer is first encouraged to apply. The application process can be invasive, requiring significant time commitment and thoughtful inputs from the applicant.

After all that, many consumers are declined with a form letter with little to no advice on actions the applicant can take to improve their credit strength. It is no wonder that credit declines receive a poor Net Promoter Score (NPS) of 50 or often much worse.

On the flip side, forward-looking credit unions provide post-decline credit advice. This is a compelling opportunity for several reasons:

  • Improved customer satisfaction. One financial institution learned that simply offering personalized coaching, regardless of whether or not consumers used it, increased their customer satisfaction by double digits.
  • Future lending opportunities. Post-decline financial coaching can position members for borrowing needs even beyond the product for which they were initially declined.
  • Increased trust. Quality financial advice helps build trust. A J.D. Power study noted that, of the 58% of customers who desire advice from financial institutions, only 12% receive it. When consumers do receive helpful advice, more than 90% report a high level of trust in their financial institution.

Provide cost-effective, high-quality advice

AI-powered virtual coaching tools can help credit unions turn declines into opportunities. Such coaches can deliver step-by-step guidance and personalized advice experiences. The added benefit is easy and consistent compliance, enabled by automation.

AI-based solutions are even more powerful when they follow coaching best practices:

  • Bite-sized simplicity. Advice is most effective when it is reinforced with small action steps to gradually nurture members without overwhelming them. This approach helps the member build momentum and confidence.
  • Plain language. Deliver advice in friendly, jargon-free language.
  • Behavioral nudges. Best-practice nudges help customers make progress on their action plan. These nudges emulate a human coach, providing motivational reminders and celebrating progress.
  • Gamification. A digital coach can infuse fun into the financial wellness journey with challenges and rewards like contests, badges, and gifts.

Virtual financial coaching, starting with reversing credit declines, represents a huge market opportunity for credit unions. To help credit unions tap into that opportunity, eGain, an award-winning AI and digital engagement pioneer, and GreenPath, a leading financial wellness nonprofit, have partnered to create the industry’s first virtual financial coach. To learn more, visit egain.com.

EVAN SIEGEL is vice president of financial services AI at eGain.

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