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What Is A Signature Loan? – Forbes Advisor

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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.

If you need to borrow money, you might be weighing whether a signature loan is worth it. Signature loans are also known as unsecured personal loans, which means that while you’re not at risk of losing any collateral if you don’t pay (at least not immediately), you also need to qualify based primarily on your credit score and financial profile.

A signature loan might be a good option if your credit is good, you want a quick and easy application process and you don’t want to (or can’t) put up collateral. Here’s what else you should know before you hit the “apply” button on a signature loan.

How Signature Loans Work

Loans generally come in two types: secured and unsecured. Secured loans get their name because they’re “secured” by some sort of collateral—i.e., something of value that you pledge, like a car or a savings account, that the lender can repossess if you don’t pay.

Unsecured loans don’t have any collateral per se. They’re “secured” by nothing other than your signature on the loan agreement, hence their alternate name, signature loans.

After you sign your name on the dotted line, your lender will give you the entire lump sum in a single payment, either by a deposit into your account or by writing you a check. Signature loans limits can vary drastically, from several hundred to several thousand dollars.

You’ll then make steady, even payments each month until the loan is paid off. Signature loans generally last from one to seven years, although three- or five-year term lengths are most common.

Signature Loan Costs

Signature personal loans come with a few costs, some of which you may pay upfront, while others are included in your monthly loan payments.

Interest Rate

For most loans, the biggest cost is interest. Your total loan cost is reflected in your annual percentage rate (APR). When you send the money in each month, it’ll be split up into a “principal” portion that goes toward paying down the loan balance, and an “interest” portion that goes to the lender.

The smaller your interest rate, the less you’ll pay to the lender with each payment. More money will also go toward paying down the loan, so this is why it’s so important to focus on the signature loan interest rate.

Origination Fees

Another big cost is an origination fee. Not all signature loans charge them, but if your credit is poor or you’re taking out a very large amount of money, it’s more common. This fee is taken out of your loan proceeds as a percentage.

For example, if you apply for a $10,000 loan with a 3% origination fee, you’ll only actually get $9,700 from the lender because the origination fee is $300. This is important to take into account when calculating how much you need to borrow.

Other Miscellaneous Fees

Most lenders will charge a late fee if you make a payment past the due date. They may also have certain other fees, such as for rolling your current loan into a new loan if you can’t afford it.

You may also see “prepayment penalties” mentioned to pay your loan off early on other sites. However, prepayment penalties are usually rare or nonexistent with reputable lenders.

Is a Signature Loan Right For Me?

Signature loans are good for when you want a simple, quick loan to apply for without too much hassle. Since lenders don’t require collateral, it’s often just a matter of checking your credit and your financial details to make a decision. Many signature loan lenders even offer same-day approvals, and possibly even same-day funding if you apply early enough in the day. You pay for this with a higher cost, however.

Even if your credit score is good, you often can still get a lower interest rate by applying for a secured loan instead with collateral, if you have it. If your credit score is good, though, the cost of a signature loan might not be that much higher than with a secured loan.

Signature loans are also a good choice when you want a steady, predictable payment in your budget. You know exactly when a signature loan will be paid off, because it’s in the loan agreement. Unlike a credit card or a line of credit, there’s no temptation to keep racking up a balance over time because you get all of the money upfront.

Where to Find Signature Loans

You can find signature loans, or unsecured personal loans, from:

  • Online lenders. It’s usually a quick process to shop around and apply for online signature loans. These businesses are often heavily automated, with no need to go into a physical location.
  • Banks and credit unions. Depending on the policies, you may also be able to apply for a signature loan entirely online or you may have to go into a branch. Credit unions often have cheaper rates than banks, although you’ll need to meet certain requirements to qualify for membership before you can apply for an account.
  • Payday lenders. Since payday loans aren’t backed by collateral, they technically qualify as a signature loan. However, we don’t recommend them because they’re extremely expensive, they don’t help you build your credit and they often employ shady business practices.

5 Steps to Get a Signature Loan

Signature loans are actually one of the easiest types of loans to apply for. Here are the steps you should take.

  1. Shop around: Check your rates with as many lenders as possible. The more lenders you check with, the better your chances of finding the best loan. Make sure each lender only does a soft credit pull first so that your credit isn’t affected.
  2. Choose a lender: Based on your rate shopping, pick the best lender. You’ll typically be able to complete your application online, but some lenders require you to call.
  3. Provide documents: Most lenders will require extra documents from you, such as your past tax returns, pay stubs, bank account statements and copies of your driver’s license. You can speed up your loan application by providing these as quickly as possible.
  4. Sign the signature loan agreement: If you’re approved, it’s time to put the “signature” on “signature loan.” Make sure you read the agreement carefully so you know exactly what you’re signing up for.
  5. Sign up for auto pay: You’re more likely to miss a payment if you have to do it manually each month. You can remove that worry from your list entirely if you sign up for auto pay.

Are There Signature Loans for Bad Credit?

Yes. It’s possible to get signature loans for bad credit, but one of two scenarios might happen:

You’ll Pay a Much Higher Interest Rate

Signature loans already tend to be more expensive than their secured loan counterparts. That’s especially true if you have bad credit. If you qualify for a signature loan for bad credit, the rates you’ll pay are similar to or even higher than those of credit cards, in the double-digit range.

You May Need a Co-signer

Some lenders allow for co-signers, which are people who agree to have backup responsibility to make payments if you don’t. If you have a friend or family member who trusts you and who has good credit themselves, you can consider asking them to co-sign on the loan for you in order to be approved.

It’s especially important to make sure you pay on time in this case because if you don’t, not only will your cosigner be on the hook for the money, they’ll also receive a hit to their credit score. The last thing you want in addition to a bad financial and credit mark is a broken relationship. But if you pay on time, a co-signed signature loan can be a good way to boost your credit score and get the money you need.

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Is The No Credit Check Loan The Best Option For You? | Branded Voices

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If you need extra cash and have considered applying for a loan even with a bad credit score, you might have already heard about the no credit check loan.

Image by Bermix Studio 

Many people opt for a no credit check loan as their last resort. Like any other loan options, a no credit check loan has its pros and cons. Knowing if this is the best option for you allows you to go consider both its advantages and disadvantages. 

But is it your best option? Is there another way to acquire cash without looking into your credit record?

The Advantages

Here are the other advantages of a no-credit loan:

No Credit Checks

You are considering this loan option because the lender will not bother to check your credit report. It doesn’t matter whether you have a good or a bad credit score as long as you are eligible and can comply with their requirements. 

This benefit is one reason why this loan option attracts many borrowers, especially those who don’t have an impressive credit score and those who are still building their credit records.

Other loan options will require you to provide a good reason why you are acquiring the loan. 

For example, lenders will ask you how you will use the loaned money aside from knowing your capability to repay the money you owe.  But with the no credit check loan, lenders will ask you this kind of question during your application. 

The Disadvantages 

Just like any other options available out there for you, a no credit check loan also has its disadvantages. These things may be huge factors for some consumers, while to others, they’re just minor inconveniences you need to deal with. 

Higher Interest Rates

One of the most common and obvious disadvantages of a no credit check loan is its higher interest rate. Since the lenders will not bother looking at your credit history and rating, they will impose a higher interest rate on your loan. 

The higher interest rates imposed are due to risks they take in lending you their money without even knowing if you can pay it back. This is a common rule for all lenders who offer a no credit check loan. 

Required a Minimum Loan Amount 

If you only need a small amount, a no credit check loan may not be the best option for you. Lenders require a minimum loan amount when you apply for a no credit check loan. Most personal loans with no credit check will require you to loan a higher amount than other loan options such as payday loans and single-payment loans. 

May Require A Collateral

Lenders may require you to have collateral as an assurance for the money you are borrowing from them. It is also to secure their part if ever you cannot pay back the cash you borrowed from them. If you default on your loan, the lender will forfeit the collateral. Collateral can be in the form of any valuable assets such as a house, vehicles, and jewelry.

Quick Process 

Another positive thing when acquiring a personal loan with no credit check is the speedy process. You can get the money in just a few minutes or hours as long as you comply with all of their requirements and are eligible for the loan.

Reminders Before Applying for This Loan 

There are things that you should watch out for when opting for this loan type, especially if you do it online, such as:

  • Watch Out For Fake Lenders

This is the risk associated with a no credit check loan. Some criminals use this to lure their victims for phishing and identity theft. Make sure that you choose a legitimate lender and never give out personal information prematurely. It is best to ask someone you trust for a recommendation or for help with securing a loan from a trusted lender.

  • Prepare The Requirements Ahead Of Time 

It is best to prepare all the requirements before applying for the loan to help you acquire the money quickly. Check your chosen lender’s website or print ads for a list of requirements they will need. 

Even though this loan option does not require a credit check, it does not mean you are guaranteed approval. If the lender finds out that you are not eligible for a loan, your application will be denied. 

Takeaway

Asking yourself if a specific loan option is good for you is one of the proper ways to assess if you should apply for it or not. This practice should be observed in applying for no credit check loans and other loan types available. Remember, not all loans are suitable for you. One loan may work better for others but may not work the same for you. Hence, be prudent and choose the loan option that suits best with your financial needs.

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Learn to avoid these credit card habits before you regret making costly mistakes

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Picture used for illustrative purposes only. Many still decide to confront bad credit card habits only after they are thousands of dirhams in debt.
Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: Many still decide to confront bad credit card habits only after they are thousands of dirhams in debt. Here we discuss some lessons many regretted not learning before making mistakes that proved costly.

Although credit cards offer convenience, security, and rewards, overspending with a credit card and the interest and fees can bury you financially. So it’s important to know whether you possess such habits in the first place.

Four questions to ask yourself first

If you don’t know whether you have a bad credit card habit here are four questions to ask yourself to find out. If the answer to any of the below is yes, you are inching towards a credit card debtpile.

1. Do you pay only interest fees or minimum payments when you send in your credit card payment?

2. Have you ever paid your credit card late because you didn’t have the money for the payment?

3. Do you use your credit card when you don’t have enough cash?

4. When your issuer raises your credit limit, do you spend more because you can?

Bad credit card habits

While common mistakes include habitually paying your credit card late and taking out costly cash advances on your credit card, here are some uncommon-yet-dire mistakes that may slip under any user’s radar.

Habit #1: Missing out unauthorised or fraudulent charges

Keep in mind that one of the main benefits to reading your credit card statement is, it is one of the best ways to catch unauthorised charges and billing errors.

Don’t check your credit card statement for your balance and payment information, review the entire statement to verify your account activity.

By routinely checking your online or physical statement, you can also find out well before hand if your credit limit was lowered since you last checked – as it can change because of your credit habits or your credit history.

Habit #2: Paying only the minimum can cost you dearly

It is evidently easier to make the minimum payment and this is a habit credit card companies profit from as well.

Although paying just the minimum is more convenient than to figure how much extra you can pay towards your outstanding credit card bill, keep in mind that when you’re making only the minimum payment, you’re not making much progress toward paying off your credit card bill.

Moreover, unless you have a very low balance or a zero per cent interest promotion, you’re probably paying much more in finance charges than you have to.

Habit #3: Using your credit card more than your debit card

While it’s recommended you use your credit card to amass cashback rewards or points and also pay off your credit card balance every month, you shouldn’t opt to use your credit card over your debit card, if those aren’t the reasons why you would go about using them.

Your debit card is your direct access to the funds you should use for everyday purchases, like groceries, gas, clothing, and other expenses. If you use your credit card, it should be a decision with a plan for paying off what you’re charging on the card.

Habit #4: If you are transferring balances just to avoid payments

Although promotions like balance transfers are a widely recommended strategy to pay off a high-interest rate balance on your credit card, matter experts reveal that if you’re in the habit of pursuing such promotions to avoid paying payments on your credit card, this leads to amassing long-term debts.

Financial planners reiterate that many don’t realise that balance transfers typically have fees that will increase your overall balance if you’re never making payments toward the transfer. Moreover, if you’re making purchases on the card with such a promotion, the problem gets bigger.

Expert tips to take control of these credit card habits

Lesson #1: Pay your credit card in full each month

The best way to keep your credit utilisation ratio low and avoid costly interest charges is to pay your credit card balance in full each month – which also means you also don’t incur any large due.

It’s effective to control spending by not spending more than you can comfortably pay down each month, as this helps you reduce the likelihood of developing long-running credit card debt.

If you want to take in one step further, setting a monthly spending limit that’s well within your budget increases the chances that you’ll actually be able to zero out your monthly balance and avoid interest charges.

Lesson #2: Keep your credit utilisation ratio low

What it means by ‘credit utilisation ratio’ is essentially the link between your credit card balances and your aggregate spending limit. For example, a Dh2,000 balance on a credit card with a Dh5,000 credit limit equates to a 40 per cent credit utilisation ratio.

As a rule of thumb, your credit utilisation ratio shouldn’t exceed 40 per cent, and keep in mind that high ratios may adversely impact your credit score.

Financial advisors recommend aiming for a 30 per cent credit utilisation ratio, as that gives you some leeway to cover urgent one-off expenses, which can come unexpectedly as a result of maybe losing your job during the ongoing pandemic.

Lesson #3: Setting up customised spending alerts

If controlling your credit card spending is burdening you, it has been widely advised to set up customised spending alerts.

This will let you know when you’ve made an abnormally large payment or exceed a certain balance threshold and you also can pair these data alerts with security alerts to help flag any sham spending patterns.

Lesson #4: Using credit card rewards and points to your advantage

If you have a rewards credit card, you can use it to your advantage. If you have a pure cash back credit card, use any cash rewards you receive to put toward your account balance or directly deposit it into your savings account.

Alternatively, if you have a rewards points credit card, you can use your rewards to buy discounted gift cards to the stores you know, which will help save on future purchases without having to use your credit card.

If not, you could always redeem your reward points for cash redemption to put into savings or towards your account. However, ensure you know when your rewards expire to get the most out of them financially.

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When Can I Get an Auto Loan After a Repo?

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There’s nothing saying you can’t apply for an auto loan immediately after a repo, but the tough part is actually being able to qualify for the loan. Since many auto lenders don’t approve borrowers with a repo that’s less than a year old, you may have to consider in-house financing.

Repossessions and Your Next Car Loan

Unfortunately, most traditional auto lenders don’t work with borrowers that have a recent repo on their credit reports. When we say traditional, we’re referring to lending institutions such as banks, credit unions, online lenders, and the captive lenders of some automakers. These lenders often require a good credit score and clean credit reports.

Where does that leave you? Well, likely in-house financing is the next logical step if you need a car loan after a repossession.

More on In-House Financing

Buy here pay here (BHPH) dealerships use in-house financing. This way of auto financing involves working with the dealer who’s also your lender. There’s no need to find a third-party lender or preapproval – the dealer takes care of all that. This setup can be convenient, and often, borrowers are able to walk away with a vehicle the same day they first set foot on the lot.

Since these dealers may not check your credit reports to determine your eligibility for auto financing, your recent repossession generally isn’t an issue. If you can meet income requirements, prove you have stable work, secure auto insurance, and prove your identity, you might get into a vehicle after a repo with in-house financing.

Here are a few more details on in-house financing:

  • Used cars only – BHPH dealers only offer used vehicles. However, used cars are a good option for bad credit borrowers. They’re almost always less expensive than a brand-new car, and affordable is a good price when you need to get back on your feet after a repo.
  • Anticipate a higher interest rate – Without a credit check, lenders are taking a risk approving a car loan without knowing much about your credit history. To make up for this, they tend to assign higher interest rates. A high interest rate may be considered a good trade-off for an auto loan with bad credit in many cases, especially if you heavily rely on a vehicle to get by.
  • Credit repair may not be an option – If you get an auto loan with a lender that doesn’t check your credit, it’s a possibility that your on-time payments aren’t going to be reported to the credit bureaus. If you want to repair your credit with a car loan, ask the lender about their credit reporting practices before you sign on the dotted line.
  • Down payments are required – Few things are certain in the auto lending world, but one thing you can count on is needing a down payment if your credit is less than perfect. BHPH dealers often require a down payment of up to 20% of the vehicle’s selling price.
  • Prepare your documents – While a BHPH dealer may not check your credit, they’re likely to ask about your income and possibly your work history. You need proof of income to qualify for a car loan, no matter what lender you work with, so prepare at least a month of computer-generated check stubs. If you don’t have W-2 income, have copies of your last two to three years of tax returns.

Looking Forward After a Repo

When Can I Get a Car After a Repo?After one year, your auto loan options open up a little bit more and you’re more likely to qualify for a subprime car loan. Subprime lenders are equipped to assist bad credit borrowers. These lenders offer you a chance for credit repair because they report their loans and work with poor credit borrowers.

If you need a vehicle quickly, a BHPH dealership could be your first step in getting back on the road. Once some time has passed, and your repossession loses some impact on your credit reports, you can try for an auto loan that has the potential to repair your credit.

Here at Auto Credit Express, we know a thing or two about bad credit auto loans, and we have a nationwide network of dealerships that assist bad credit borrowers. We aim to match consumers to dealers in their local area that help with credit challenges. If you’re in need of auto financing, start right now by filling out our free auto loan request form. We’ll look for a dealer in your local area at no cost and with no obligation.

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